Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another journal converts to OA

The British Journal of Healthcare Computing & Information Management has moved to a new publisher (Birchley Hall Press) and converted to OA at the same time.  For more details, see the June 18 announcement.

Birchley Hall Press also publishes the OA journal, Medical Technology Business Europe.

Measuring the "added value" of copy editing

Alma Swan, What a difference a publisher makes, Optimal Scholarship, July 7, 2007.  Excerpt;

How important, how much, how good? Sometimes it’s needed and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it's not even provided. Does it matter? Copy editing, that’s what I’m talking about. It’s a special little focus of interest at the moment because publishers claim it as an important area of added value and want to demonstrate how much they contribute to the integrity of scholarly literature through providing it, while the proponents of self-archiving counter-claim that the author’s final version of an article – the one which contains all the changes advised or required by the peer review process – is a perfectly adequate version to be deposited in a digital repository for open access purposes....

[A] couple of studies have been published recently that have examined the differences between published and author-final versions of articles. Wates and Campbell looked at copy editing changes carried out on a set of science, humanities and social science articles at Blackwell Publishing (as was) and reported that the biggest category of corrections by the publisher was concerned with the references (42.7% of all copy editing changes), the next biggest category (34.5%) was concerned with minor syntactical or grammatical changes and a small proportion (5.5%) of changes corrected author ‘errors that might otherwise have led to misunderstanding or misinterpretation’.

In the other study, Goodman, Dowson and Yaremchuk looked at journals in biology and social sciences and found that publishers had corrected numerous small errors that affected readability, that there were a number of differences between author-final and published versions that were ‘confusing’ and that sometimes the publisher version and sometimes the author version was the more confusing. They also found that in two cases the publisher had omitted data ‘necessary to evaluate the validity of the conclusions’: introduced an error during copy editing, in other words....

So, where do these studies leave us? Somewhat confused, I’d say. Does copy editing add significant value? Does it add insignificant value? Does it even plague an article by introducing errors that weren’t there before? Is the author’s final version adequate for scholarly purposes? 'Yes' seems to be a possible answer to all these questions....

Note: thanks to the authors of the two studies cited above for self-archiving them somewhere so that I could read them in full.

NLM joins the DLF

The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) has joined the Digital Library Federation (DLF).  For details, see the blogged announcement by Peter Brantley, the Executive Director of the DLF.  Excerpt:

I am thrilled to be able to announce that the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library, has joined my organization, the Digital Library Federation (DLF), as its 36th Strategic Member. The NLM joins the U.S. Library of Congress, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the British Library, Oxford University, and many of the most prestigious U.S. research libraries in the DLF's efforts to shape and define the preservation and access of digital cultural and educational resources for the public community.

NLM is most widely known for Medline, the national Clinical Trials database, the PubMed database of journal articles, and the PubMedCentral (PMC) database of over one million full-text journal articles in the health sciences. It has been a leader in many other areas of note, including the Visible Human Project, and the preservation of much rare information on the international history and development of medicine - for example, the unique Islamic Medical Manuscripts collection.

The NLM is a leading proponent of open-access. In the midst of high-profile commercial digitization projects, many people do not realize that the NLM has long been at the forefront of journal digitization, and with the assistance of the Wellcome Trust and JISC in the U.K., has facilitated the entry in the public domain of hundreds of thousands of important medical articles....

Do recent OA journals last longer than recent TA journals?

Heather Morrison, Are open access journals ten times more likely to survive?  Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, July 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

Of the scholarly journals started from 2000 - 2006 recorded in Ulrich's, the open access journals were ten times more likely to be still active, strongly suggesting an open access survival advantage for new journals.

Data from Ulrich's, July 5, 2007:

  • # of online, refereed, scholarly / academic journals started 2000 - 2006:  2,253
  • # of above ceased:  59 = .026%
  • # of online, refereed, scholarly / academic journals, open access journals started 2000 - 2006:  724
  • # of above ceased:  2 = .0027

The period 2000 - 2006 was selected, to help control for older, subscription-only journals that would have ceased before open access was an option the journal would have considered.

It should be noted that this is a quick study, which has not explored or controlled for all variables; conclusions should be drawn with caution. The data do, however, strongly suggest an hypothesis worthy of testing.

PS:  For some data on the mortality rate of the first generation of OA journals --those launched between 1994 and 2004-- see Walt Crawford's two-part study (Part I, Part II) from October 2006 (or my blogged excerpt).

New OA journal of social sciences

The International Journal of Social Sciences is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology.  Its first issue isn't out yet, but it already has a general call for papers and a specific call for papers for a special issue to appear in Vol. 2 (February 2008).

New OA journal of physics students

The Journal of Physics Students is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.  It hasn't yet published its inaugural issue but is now circulating a call for papers.  From its Open Letter to Supervisors:

It is a truth that maybe the most important scientific knowledge exchange platforms are the scientific journals. There are now over 70.000 journals are published in all fields of science. Most of them is not for your academic discipline and most of them is expensive. As you may notice in last decade, the internet has revolutionized the production of, and access to, academic journals. Currently, there is a movement in academia called “open access” that the article can be searched for and read for free. Today, we want to introduce a new journal for you and your student’s needs....

JPS aims to train students for peer-review publication processes....

More on the pricing crisis and the OA alternative

Steffan Heuer, Mash-ups für Professoren, Technology Review, July 6, 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read the German original or Google's English.

Attitudes toward OA journals in South Africa

Allison Fullard, South African responses to Open Access publishing: a survey of the research community, South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 73, 1, (2007) pp. 40-50.  Self-archived, July 7, 2007.

Abstract:   Open access publishing offers wide benefits to the scholarly community and may also afford relief to financially embattled academic libraries. The progress of the open access model rests upon the acceptance and validation of open access journals and open archives or institutional repositories by the academic mainstream, particularly by publishing researchers. To what extent are the key actors in the South African research system aware of the advantages of open access? This article reports on the findings of a recent survey undertaken to assess the current awareness, concerns and depth of support for open access amongst local researchers, research managers and policy makers in South Africa. The study focuses on issues of quality, article or author charges and the established academic reward system. It concludes that within the prevailing framework, there is little prospect that academics would choose to publish within open access journals. Recommendations for advocacy by the library community are proposed.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More on OA and the new German copyright law

Monika Ermert, German Parliament Reforms Copyright Law, Leaves Unfinished Work, IP Watch, July 6, 2007.  This is a very detailed, English-language account of the new bill.  Here's what she says about its implications for OA:

...The bigger problem of the new law lies elsewhere, said [Volker Kitz, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law and former legal expert at BITKOM]. “It’s a pity that the German Parliament did not follow proposals coming for example from the Bundesrat (the upper house of the German Parliament populated by the governments of the states) to promote open access models for research publications,” he said. “It’s in the interest of the general public that research can be accessed easily over the Internet.”

Rainer Kuhlen, professor at the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Konstanz and spokesperson for the “Coalition for Action ‘Copyright for Education and Research’” is more blunt: “The law cares for a permeation of obsolete business models, instead of opening the space for innovation and open access models,” he said.

The criticism of scientists and representatives of the opposition in the Parliament – the Green Party and the left - mainly is addressed at “exemptions from copyright for research and education” that are so tightly restricted that the coalition calls them “grotesque.”

Libraries in the future will be allowed to offer their readers electronic versions of books but are restricted to offering only as many electronic copies as they have on their shelf in order not to hamper publishers’ business. The principle of the so-called “double asset accessoriness” applauded by some members of the coalition and the German liberals shall prevent, for example, universities buying a book once and making it electronically available to every student. This was reintroduced overnight on Tuesday by the Legal Committee after being taken out because of protests. Members of Parliament only got the final draft Wednesday evening.

The second “exemption,” intended to introduce a form of “fair use” in German copyright law, addresses the possibility of ordering copies of documents available from other universities. The electronic document delivery service of research libraries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Subito, might have to be restricted to fax and old-fashioned mail delivery, depending on whether there is a reasonable offer from the publisher....[T]his will lead to a price for an email-delivered article of about 15 euros in the future, warned Kuhlen.

While scientists themselves might be able to route around the problems and ask their colleagues for a private email of the article, Kuhlen said, the price increase might add up to the costs for students, on top of recently introduced fees. Students also have started to solve the problem their way by just using what they can find through Google or Wikipedia, he said, adding that the crux is, “making information a scarce resource creates the wrong attitude and will have bad effects in the long run.”

Open access models now are on the list of some who declared a third basket was necessary. The “coalition” in a press release welcomed the third basket....

Draft Kronberg declaration on knowledge sharing

The UNESCO High Level Group of Visionaries on Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing met in Kronberg/Taunis, Germany, on June 22-23, 2007.  One result of the meeting is the draft Kronberg Declaration on the Future of Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing, which focuses more on education than research.  (Thanks to John Daly.)  Excerpt from the current draft:

[I]n the next twenty-five years: ...Open access to and free flow of content will be of crucial importance for equitable knowledge acquisition and sharing....

[We must] stress the need to: ...Support open access to and free flow of content by the development of open standards, open data structures, and standardized info-structures; ...

Also see the meeting's working document, program and participants, and the home page the group established for The Future of Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing.


  • It appears that the Kronberg declaration is independent of the German UNESCO Commission's June 28 resolution in support of OA (at Dessau).  But if there's a connection between then, I'd be grateful if someone would drop me a line.
  • If the Kronberg delegates believe that "Open access to and free flow of content will be of crucial importance for equitable knowledge acquisition and sharing," then their declaration really ought to make a clear and useful recommendation to promote OA.  For example:  Governments ought to mandate OA to the results of publicly-funded research.  Or:  Universities ought to mandate OA to their research output.  But since we already have some usefully specific declarations, it's more important to get on with the job of implementing them than to improve the Kronberg declaration.

South African bill would change IP rules for publicly-funded research

Eve Gray, A new draft bill on IP rights in publicly funded research, Gray Area, July 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

We have known for a while that there was a [South African] bill in the offing on the management of IP in publicly funded research and this Draft Bill is now available for perusal on the website of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group. The Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, when he visited CET, said that there would be a period for comment on the Bill and, as this draft Bill does affect universities and researchers in universities, I am providing a heads-up for those of you who have a particular interest in the management and ownership of the IP in the research that you carry out.

I was half expecting a Bill on the rights of public access to publicly funded research, along the lines of discussions in the UK, the USA and the EU, among others, for access to research publication. South Africa is a signatory of the OECD Declaration on Access to Knowledge from Publicly Funded Research, so probably needs to enact provisions of this kind at some stage.

This Draft Bill is not along those lines at all. It appears to be about institutional and government control of the commercialization of research and provisions for any research that is potentially patentable. I have not had time to peruse it properly nor think through its implications....

Comment.  Eve is right that the bill focuses on patents and doesn't directly regulate public access to publicly-funded research.  However, it does regulate the copyright on works reporting patentable discoveries and appears to assign such copyrights and the associated patents to the discoverer's institution.  This could well affect public access to articles reporting the discoveries.

Report on London OA conference

Evelyn Harvey, Momentum and meritocracy: Open Access as a model for the future? Nature Network, June 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

Is Open Access (OA) publishing an unstoppable force? Does it face immovable objects in the shape of publication costs, quality control and copyright? The Third London Open Research Conference on 11 June, organised by SHERPA-LEAP provided a forum for lively debate from several viewpoints.

Around 70 delegates gathered at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre....OA proponents included representatives from Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the consultancy Key Perspectives. Non-OA publishers were represented by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP)....

OA publication makes research available without access barriers or subscription costs. BioMedCentral and others have shown that it can be a strong publishing business model, and resources such as the Directory of Open Access Journals help researchers keep track of the ~2,500 publications available. Research is also archived pre- or post-publication in online repositories such as PubMed Central....

Frank Scholze of the University of Stuttgart illustrated how the coordination of repositories and online OA journals allows individual researcher profiles to develop. Individual researcher rankings, based on personal citation rates and even readership, are made possible by searches of OA journals and repositories....

In his critical presentation, Nick Evans, Chief Operating Officer of the ALPSP, likened OA to a ‘shark’. Journal subscriptions are a major source of income for learned societies, Evans argued, and removing this will damage research, bursaries and conferences currently funded by the societies.

Small publishers are certainly threatened by OA, but are there ways to adapt to the changes? Some, including the BMJ, have adopted a mixed approach, requiring subscriptions for editorial content, while research articles are free. Others are diversifying into special features such as podcasts for subscribers.

Many delegates were concerned that OA will compromise quality by allowing ‘self-publication’ and inadequate review. The high citation rates and increasing impact factors of OA journals such as those of PLoS belie perceived quality issues, countered Dr Swan, as do the acceptance standards set by many OA repositories....

National, international and inter-agency policy will affect the progress of OA over the next few years. The Budapest Initiative (2002) and Berlin Declaration on OA followed the Lisbon Agenda (2000), and the European Commission is currently considering a mandatory OA self-archiving proposal.
Speaking for RCUK, which now has a mandatory policy on OA, Dr Astrid Wissenburg commented that policies such as six month embargoes on OA publishing may be hampering progress. She added that a lag of three to four years could be expected before new policies take effect....

[O]ne researcher said when confronted with the copyright risks of OA: “My problem isn’t plagiarism, it’s obscurity!”

Upgrade for mixed open/closed pharma database

Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD) has launched an upgrade to its pharma database with both free and priced datasets.  From yesterday's press release:

Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD, Inc) is pleased to announce the introduction of its next generation database technology. Collaborative Drug Discovery's Web-based database enables scientists to collaborate in novel, global efforts to more effectively develop new drug candidates for commercial and humanitarian markets. The technology enables novel community-based research efforts that become more and more useful as additional participants contribute data. Publicly available data sets currently in the system include the FDA orphan and approved drugs and small molecule drug discovery data dating back over half a century. These data sets pertain to a diverse group of neglected diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, African Sleeping Sickness, Chagas Disease and Leishmania.

Customers can also securely archive, mine, and collaborate around their small molecule preclinical drug discovery data in invitation-only, username-password protected groups....

Researchers can choose to keep their data private or share any or all of it with other research groups in the community. By default, labs using the CDD database only share their imported data privately with fellow lab members. A subset of the data is available openly to the public at no cost (please contact for access)....

Download milestone for BMC article

Iain Hrynaszkiewicz, Open access article on consensus definition of acute renal failure has been accessed more than 100,000 times, BioMed Central blog, July 6, 2007.  Hrynaszkiewicz is BMC's in-house Editor of Critical CareExcerpt:

The most highly accessed article on BioMed Central's most viewed articles page recently surpassed 100,000 accesses.

Bellomo et al.’s article, published in Critical Care in 2004, presented the first consensus definition of acute renal failure and followed a two day conference of the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative (ADQI) Group. It has been cited more than 90 times according to both Google Scholar and Scopus.

These impressive access and impact statistics demonstrate the effectiveness with which important research articles can be disseminated, thanks to the wide-reaching visibility achieved by open access. Evidence continues to accumulate that open access research has an advantage in terms of being rapidly read and widely cited by peers....

New German copyright law impedes research access

Stefan Krempl, German parliament passes new Copyright Act, Heise Online, July 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

On Thursday, a majority of the members of the Bundestag from the governing grand coalition and the FDP voted in favor of the government's controversial proposal (PDF file) for a second version of the country's Copyright Act for the Information Society, which includes the amendments proposed by the parliament's legal committee. Members of Parliament from the Greens mostly abstained, while members of the new Left Party voted against the so-called "second basket" of the revised Copyright Act, which will now be sent to the Bundesrat for review.

Germany's Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries (SPD) said she was pleased that "we have finally completed such an important project" and added that the amendments "make the Copyright Act ready for the digital future." In contrast, Petra Sitte of the Left Party accused the governing coalition of having "lost sight of the interests of researchers and educators." She fears that access to knowledge will become more expensive....

[Jerzy Montag of the Green Party] countered that while copyright applies to everyone, no property right is absolute; after all, all protection offered by the state "is limited by the rights of others." He feels bad the new exceptions provided for education and research are "not future-proof." Rather, he says that all educational institutions should be able to set up as many reading terminals as students need. Jörg Tauss and Carsten Müller, who handle education policy for the SPD and the CDU, respectively, also said that the new amendments leave something to be desired in this respect. For instance, knowledge promoted by public funding should also be made available to the public in compliance with the Open Access Model. Tauss says that copyright violations pose a great threat if data retention archives are open. Then, lawyers would have a "heyday" in search of offenses currently considered minor.

Open content licensing for govt info

The Queensland government in Australia has released a major new report, Government Information and Open Content Licensing: An Access and Use Strategy Government Information Licensing Framework Project prepared by the Queensland Spatial Information Council.  Although it's dated October 2006, it was not released until June 2007.  Excerpt:


1.1 This report outlines work undertaken during Stage 2 of the Government Information Licensing Framework Project.

1.2 Stage 1 of the project resulted in endorsement by the Queensland Spatial Information Council (QSIC) and the Information Queensland Steering Committee of an open content licensing model, based on Creative Commons (CC).

1.3 Stage 2 of the project was initiated to bring QSIC licensing arrangements up to date, and to create a Draft Government Information Licensing Framework based on an open content licensing model to support data and information transactions between the Queensland Government, other government jurisdictions and the private sector.

1.4 Other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas are moving to more open access and use arrangements to support social and economic development, and are introducing policies and principles and implementing appropriate licences to support this move. Background research during Stage 2 has resulted in the recommendation that the Queensland Government also move to open access and use arrangements, balanced with appropriate protection for private and confidential information collected or held by government.

1.5 The project proved valuable in testing the CC licences against a sample of existing licences used within the Queensland Government. A detailed legal analysis of existing licences was undertaken to identify key characteristics and to map these to CC licence provisions....

1.9 There is an opportunity to progress a generic standard for government information licensing in partnership with CC....


2.1 That the Queensland Government establish a policy position that, while ensuring that confidential, security classified and private information collected and held by government continues to be appropriately protected, enables greater use and re-use of other publicly available government data and facilitates data-sharing arrangements.

2.2 That the CC open content licensing model be adopted by the Queensland Government to enable greater use of publicly available government data and to support data-sharing arrangements.

2.3 That QSIC and the Office of Economic and Statistical Research continue to work closely with the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to ensure that any privacy provisions developed also support new data use, re-use and sharing policies....

2.5 That the Draft Government Information Licensing Framework toolkit, which incorporates the six iCommons (Creative Commons Australia) licences, be endorsed for use in pilot projects proposed for Stage 3....

More on momentum for OA mandates

Ted Agres, 'Open access' opening wider, The Scientist, July 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

As a growing number of research institutes and professional societies move to embrace open or free public access publishing, legislation is pending in Congress that would mandate scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health to post their final peer-reviewed manuscripts online within 12 months after journal publication.

But don't expect the door to unencumbered access be thrown wide open anytime soon: a number of professional research societies still oppose various aspects of open access, and the mandatory NIH directive is in danger of being scuttled because it is included in NIH's Fiscal 2008 budget bill, which President Bush has pledged to veto if it exceeds predefined spending limits.

Nevertheless, the trend is growing. On June 26 the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that starting next year it will require its scientists to deposit copies of journal articles in NIH's PubMed Central free database within six months of publication....

Last week (July 1), the American Physiological Society (APS) announced a new open access publishing option that allows authors for its 13 journals to post studies online immediately after being accepted for publication....

Since May 2005, NIH policy requests scientists to submit their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts with PubMed Central "as soon as possible" after acceptance for publication but not later than 12 months. But with compliance averaging less than 5%, NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni conceded the voluntary approach wasn't working. "A mandatory policy seems to be the one that will be necessary," Zerhouni told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in March. He asked lawmakers to make public access within 12 months a condition of NIH grant funding, which they have done....

New OA journal of Marxism and interdisciplinary inquiry

New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry is a new peer-reviewed OA journal sponsored by the University of British Columbia Library and Department of Anthropology.  The inaugural issue appeared in May.  Also see its blog.  (Thanks to

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Presentations from Rome OA conference

The presentations from the conference, Institutional archives for research: experiences and projects in Open Access (Rome, November 30 - December 1, 2006), are now online.  All are OA-related and most are in English.  (Thanks to Paola De Castro.)

Summary of Harvard conference

Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has released report summarizing its Internet & Society 2007 Conference (Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 31 - June 1, 2007).  Excerpt:

We asked participants to think about the role of University in cyberspace and to envision how University might reinvent itself in this new digital age....

Top questions asked were: What is the role of University in cyberspace? How are universities similar to and different from for-profit businesses? What are the implications for their rights as owners and users of intellectual property? Should all publicly funded research be in the public domain? Will becoming more open threaten the standing of University or would it enhance it? How do we create open access journals that are fiscally sustainable? ...

The issue of knowledge dissemination also sparked a particularly illuminating discussion as the majority of panelists considered the challenges that University faces in publishing a journal intended to serve the wider global community and universities in less developed countries. Participants drew a distinction between the digital dissemination of copyrighted works for the same use as originally created and the ability of content owners to be flexible within the realm of alternative, non-profit uses. Public broadcasting norms provided a salient parallel, in that public broadcasters have a mission similar to that of University, promoting wide access to knowledge and attempting to negotiate openness by standardizing use and copyright parameters....

A huge number of suggestions came out of the working groups, and certain sessions produced innovative ideas that may provide platforms for further action. The librarians advocated for the creation of clear guidelines to govern a sustainable multi-institutional repository to house the “wide world” of university resources, including classroom presentations, multimedia materials, and other university-produced works....

The ambitious agenda for the remainder of the [second] day consisted of ten working groups, focusing on some of the most pressing issues affecting University in the digital age. Groups discussed a wide range of topics, including an agenda for fair use, alternative models for scholarly publications, the concept of intellectual property....Topics also included consideration of University and its approach to...Open Access....

Registry of open-knowledge projects

The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) has officially launched its Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN).  From yesterday's announcement:

After a year of (off and on) development we are delighted today to announce the official launch of the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN for short):

CKAN is a registry of open knowledge packages and projects — be that a set of Shakespeare’s works, a global population density database, the voting records of MPs, or 30 years of US patents.

CKAN is the place to search for open knowledge resources as well as register your own....

CKAN is a key part of our long-term roadmap and completes our work on the first layer of open knowledge tools:

CKAN links in especially closely with our recent discussions of componentization: we envision a future in which open knowledge is provided in a much more componentized form (packages) so as to facilitate greater reuse and recombination similar to what occurs with software today (see the recent XTech presentation for more details). For this to occur we need to make it much easier for people to share, find, download, and ‘plug into’ the open knowledge packages that are produced. An essential first step in achieving this is to have a metadata registry where people can register their work and where relevant metadata (both structured and unstructured) can be gradually added over time....

[T]his [is a] beta version...and we look to user feedback (and we include ourselves here as users) to determine the future direction of development of the system.


What kinds of things do you expect people to register in CKAN?

Anything and everything — when we say knowledge we mean any kind of content, data or information. That said there are two main recommendations regarding what you register:

  • First, we are looking for people to register ‘packages’ that is collections with some kind of structure rather than individual items. So a substantial set of photos, a datasets of all kinds, the writings of Shakespeare but not an individual blog, or your flickr photo collection (unless it is really big!).
  • Second, we’re looking for stuff that’s open: that is material that people are free to use, reuse and redistribute without restriction (other than, perhaps, a requirement to share-alike).

Why Not Just Use the Creative Commons Search Facility in Google/Yahoo/etc

Two main reasons:

  1. We focus on work that is open. Simply put the set of open work and the set of CC-licensed works are not identical because (a) not all Creative Commons licensed work is open (for example those which use the non-commercial provision are not) and (b) there are plenty of open works which do not use CC licenses (e.g. Wikipedia)

  2. The registry is designed to support holding much more metadata than simply whether the work is open on not. In particular we want to be able to support automated installation of knowledge packages in the future (which requires things like dependency and version information)....

The state of OA in the Nordic countries

Turid Hedlund and Ingegerd Rabow, Open Access in the Nordic Countries: A State of the Art Report, Nordbib, undated.  The authors' preface is signed February 28, 2007, but the report was announced today.  From the report summary:

The report describes the present situation in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland) regarding Open Access in scientific publishing....

The reports deals with primary Open Access publishing of scientific journals, working paper series and doctoral theses as well as parallel publishing of scientific articles in publication repositories. The role of the publishers will also be examined in connection with questions about agreements....

The report considers the central questions and initiatives to solutions to the copyright problems....

The report gives examples on differences between, for example, medicine and humanities/social sciences concerning publishing as a means for research communication....

The introduction of the report is a section about the background to the Open Access or free access to scientific publications. We try to provide a picture of the central stages in the development of scientific publishing and the Open Access movement. This illustrated the shortcomings of the publishing process and offered the possibilities of the Internet to distribute research publications with free access to all interested....Scientific journal publishing, specifically in the Nordic countries with small language areas and small circles of readers, is one of the problem areas in the report. In section four, alternatives for solutions through some pilot studies in the Nordic countries are described. In sections five to nine a country report of each Nordic country is given (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). The report finishes with a discussion about future and existing challenges.

This report is commissioned by the Nordbib project, and the report will primarily function as a basis for discussion at a workshop, arranged by Nordbib, during the spring 2007. Nordbib emphasises that both the report and the workshop shall form a basis in support of discussions between different parties to promote the access to research publications....

CCAHTE Journal converts to OA

Canadian Creative Arts in Health, Training and Education has officially announced its conversion to an OA journal.  From the announcement:

CCAHTE, Canadian Creative Arts in Health, Training and Education, recently announced the journal has transitioned to open access. CCAHTE Journal (ISSN 1911-9755), the first interdisciplinary open access peer reviewed electronic journal of the creative arts in health, training and education has been established with a mission to disseminate worldwide, quality information and research about the creative arts in action and practice in health, training and education....

In keeping with its mission, to disseminate worldwide, quality information and research about the creative arts in action and practice in health, training and education, CCAHTE will provide quality, timely and efficient peer review services for papers welcoming research articles while publishing work that will enhance and add to the world’s knowledge in this growing field.

Society publishers should embrace OA

Chris Armbruster, Society Publishing, the Internet and Open Access: Shifting Mission-Orientation from Content Holding to Certification and Navigation Services?  A preprint, self-archived July 5, 2007. 

Abstract:   The internet and the rise of e-Science alter the conditions for scholarly communication. In signing declarations against open access mandates, society publishers indicate that they feel most threatened by the emergence of institutional repositories and the self-archiving mandates that these make possible. However, I suggest that more attention should be paid to the impact of e-Science, the rise of internet-based guild publishers and the entrance of players from the new economy.

In the Philosophical Transactions, Henry Oldenbourg in 1665 provided the model of academic journal publishing, conjoining dissemination and certification, and setting up the journal as a register and archive of knowledge claims. With the internet, however, the time has come to step out of Oldenbourg's long shadow. Society journals should stop aspiring to such functions as registration and archiving and should shed electronic dissemination, while enhancing certification and investing in (new) navigation services.

From the body of the paper:

[P]rofessional societies have done exceptionally well in applying their knowledge networks and tools to produce outstanding journals. They stand to benefit from open access because society publishers are embedded within their specific community, which they serve in a number of ways. They are ideally placed to utilise the rise of digital peer production (e.g. e-Science, but also the textgrid for the humanities) and global epistemic networks (researchers sharing a broadly defined research programme and, for example, sharing pre-prints) to deliver value-adding services to a global audience of users. Society publishers may find that institutional repositories and, more generally, digital libraries, could become partners in publishing. If repositories and libraries collect, disseminate and curate the content, then society publishers may concentrate on providing what they do best: adding value through certification and navigation services....

By ensuring the creation of well-populated repositories, deposit mandates will facilitate the emergence of these new overlay services. I suggest that societies should therefore consider engaging research funders and research organisations in discussion of how best to organise the deposition of publications and data in an open fashion, so that valuable new services may be developed by societies.

New OA journal on linguistics

Language Documentation & Conservation is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the National Foreign Language Resource Center and the University of Hawai'i Press.  The inaugural issue is now online.  (Thanks to Language Log.)

Also see Paul Newman's article from the inaugural issue, Copyright Essentials for Linguists:

Abstract:   This paper addresses copyright issues that linguists confront in their capacity as users and creators of scholarly work. It is organized in a simple question-answer format. Questions 1–3 present the basics of U.S. copyright law, including the fundamental nature of copyright as a bundle of intellectual property rights and the role of registration. Questions 4–5 treat issues of copyright notice. Questions 6–8 explain licenses, especially Creative Commons licenses, and the function of an Author’s Addendum. Questions 9–10 look at copyright in the context of online open access publishing. Question 11 discusses the concept of Fair Use. Question 12 analyzes the problem of what are called Orphan Works. Questions 13–19 explore issues of copyright ownership, including Work for Hire, joint authorship, and attribution. Questions 20–22 deal with copyright with specific reference to fieldwork situations and indigenous rights. The paper concludes with a brief presentation of key sources for further study and clarification.

Comment.  Newman makes a good point, but leaves a false impression, in answering Question 10:  "If I take an article from a free, open-access online journal, is it fair to assume that I can use the material for whatever academic purposes I want?"  He correctly says that OA journals are still under copyright and that, in the absence of a CC license or equivalent, users will be limited to fair use.  What he could have added is that most OA journals do use a CC license or equivalent.  Hence, it usually is safe to assume that OA journals expressly permit scholarly uses beyond fair use.

PKP conference presentations

The presentations (abstracts and/or full texts) for the upcoming First International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference (Vancouver, July 11-13, 2007) are now online.  More than 20 explicitly address OA.

Elsevier invites Google and Google Scholar to index its journals

Peter Brantley, Science Direct-ly into Google, O'Reilly Radar, July 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

ScienceDirect (SD) is a compendium of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) literature from Reed Elsevier....SD is an expensive, and often contentious product in Higher Education due to high year-on-year pricing increases, but it is a highly desirable one, nonetheless.

It was therefore notable when its absence from Google Scholar, Google's search interface for scholarly-related material, was realized....Elsevier has long supported its own search interface for scholarly literature, Scopus, and it was no surprise to many that they avoided inclusion. However, they doubtless lost eyeballs as more and more of this traffic migrated to the freely available Scholar product.

Elsevier has now undertaken to have the majority of its SD journals (those for which it holds or can obtain the copyrights) crawled and indexed by Google....

Ale de Vries, the SD product manager, informs me in an email:

About Google/Google Scholar: we're making good progress. As you may be aware, we did a pilot with some journals on SD first, and now we are working to get them all indexed. We're making good progress there - it's a lot of content to be crawled, but going along nicely. Both Google Scholar and main Google are gradually covering more and more of our journals.

This is notable for a wide range of reasons. One of the most prominent is that Elsevier clearly feels comfortable with having its core intellectual property crawled and analyzed by Google to augment discovery. In contrast to the various European newspaper publisher-related lawsuits, Elsevier has clearly felt that...their ability to execute business strategy is unimpeded by encouraging greater content exposure....

More on OA textbooks, esp. in India

Frederick Noronha, Now obtain free textbooks - online!  India eNews, July 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Now there are quite a few examples of textbooks being made available online - free of cost - though one hasn't heard about such initiatives in India.

While is free only to developing countries, the California Open Source Textbook Project can be accessed at and a similar project is on There are also free high school science texts at and the Open Textbook Project at

Libertas Academica OA textbooks are available at while MedRounds Publications can be accessed via, Next/Text at and the Potto Project at

Textbook Revolution is a portal and collection, and is often labelled the 'best single site' at and Wikibooks, linked to the Wikipedia project, is at

India-based activist Prabhala, who till not long ago headed the Southern African Access to Learning Materials project at the Consumer Institute, South Africa, works on issues related to accessing textbooks.

One of the recent studies he worked on was about barriers to access to learning materials in primary and secondary schools in selected 'developing countries', with a focus on copyright law.

Yet another was on the feasibility of an 'open textbook policy' for primary and secondary education textbooks, to be adopted by the South African government.

Prabhala told IANS: 'I'm not aware of any initiatives that create or distribute open access textbooks in India. One important example is the Free High School Science Texts project in South Africa (' ...

Prabhala noted that textbooks in Karnataka were available online, were freely downloadable and could be republished, thanks to the Azim Premji Foundation that has been working with the state education department.

'So while in theory all government textbooks are open access - not all states, nor the central government, have their books up online,' Prabhala said....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Higher impact factors for Hindawi's OA journals

The impact factors for Hindawi's OA journals increased by an average of 14% last year.  From today's announcement:

The Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce a steady increase in the Impact Factors of its open access journals. According to Thomson Scientific's 2006 Journal Citation Report, the Impact Factors of Hindawi's journals rose by an average of 14% over the previous year....

Of the 21 journals in Hindawi's open access collection that have been reviewed for inclusion in the Science Citation Index, nine titles have already received an Impact Factor, and seven additional titles have been accepted for citation tracking and should receive their initial Impact Factors within the next two years.

Progress toward OA for Indian ETDs

Anup Kumar Das, B. K. Sen, and Chaitali Dutta, ETD Policies, Strategies and Initiatives in India: a Critical Appraisal, a presentation at ETD 2007 (Uppsala, June 13-16, 2007). 

Abstract:   The fruits of research from the formal research programmes of conventional universities and academic research institutions in India were under-utilized as the access to theses, dissertations and research reports were very limited to the next generation researchers and scholars. Modern information and communication technology (ICT) acts as an effective intervener for paradigm shifting from closed access theses and dissertations to open access electronic theses and dissertations (ETD). Now, the researchers in national institutions and universities in India have greater access to research literature, due to subscription to many e-journals and scholarly databases in most subject areas. But, the access to thesis and dissertation literature is very limited due to lack of national databases of theses and dissertations, both in bibliographic and full-text formats. Recently, India's University Grants Commission enacted "UGC (Submission of Metadata and Full-text of Doctoral Theses in Electronic Format) Regulations, 2005" to strengthen national capability of producing electronic theses and dissertations, and, to maintain university-level and national level databases of theses and dissertations. Some elite research institutions, such as Indian Institute of Science, have already started providing access to ETDs through open access archives. Some other institutions have taken initiatives to provide access to ETDs only through intranet (within the campus). The Vidyanidhi, INDEST Consortium, CSIR and INFLIBNET Centre are working towards implementation of open access ETD and/or bibliographic databases of theses and dissertations, but they also have some limitations. National policies on open access to ETD and other research literature, particularly the public funded ones, are yet to be ready. In India, some advocacy and pressure groups also exist that support open access to scholarly literature. Present paper explores the policy frameworks, strategic dimensions and analyses SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of existing ETD initiatives in India.

Plain-text access to Google-scanned PD books

Bethany Poole, Greater access to public domain works for all users, Inside Google Book Search, July 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

Today we launched a new feature for Book Search to help more people access the world's great public domain works. Whenever you find an out-of-copyright book in our index, you'll see a "View plain text" link, which lets anyone access the text layer of the book. As Dr. T.V. Raman explains on the main Google blog, this opens the book to adaptive technologies such as screen readers and Braille display, allowing visually impaired users to read these books just as easily as users with sight.

This is an exciting step for us in our mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. To learn more about Google's efforts to make books and other digitized content more accessible to everyone, check out Dr. Raman's full post.


  • Access for the visually impaired is important and long overdue.  But the new plain-text layer also provides access for cutting and pasting, text-mining, and other forms of processing.  Making these books accessible as texts, and not merely as images, is a breakthrough for all users.
  • Google always had plain text behind the scenes for searching.  That is, it had to perform OCR on the scanned images in order to build the search index which was the raison d’être of the projectI've been assuming that Google didn't want to provide OA to the text versions because it didn't want to provide crawlable texts for rival search engines to index.  If so, then what's changed?  Are the newly accessible texts inferior to the versions Google uses to build its index?  (If so, how?)  Or has Google decided, like the OCA, that it doesn't need to be the exclusive indexer of the books it digitizes?

New OA journal of choice modelling

The Journal of Choice Modelling is a new peer-reviewed no-fee OA journal.  (Thanks to Decision Science News.)  It hasn't published its inaugural issue yet, but has released a launch announcement and call for papers.

Interview with Timo Hannay

John Dupuis, Interview with Timo Hannay, Head of Web Publishing, Nature Publishing Group, Confessions of a Science Librarian, July 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

Welcome to the most recent installment in my occasional series of interviews with people in the scitech world. This time around the subject is Timo Hannay, Head of Web Publishing at Nature Publishing Group....

Q4. And speaking of Web 2.0, peer review is a core value in science. There's a lot of experimentation going on out there with alternatives to peer review, even Nature has stuck it's toe into the water. Where do you think this is headed -- no big deal or long-awaited revolution?

My personal view is that peer review is headed for a revolution at some point....

I basically buy the "wisdom of crowds" argument: there are plenty of examples of the web causing new, open and collaborative approaches to replace traditional, closed and proprietary ones -- from open-source software to Wikipedia. You don’t always get a better result to begin with, which is why skeptics find it easy to be dismissive (as they were with both open-source software and Wikipedia in the early days). But as they evolve, and particularly as more people join in, they get better until the results match or even exceed the traditional approaches, often at much lower cost....

I also believe that the web is particularly well suited to a "publish then filter" approach rather than the traditional "filter then publish" approach that was required when publishing was necessarily a physical-world process....

I’m convinced enough to know that we ought to be pushing the boundaries, because peer review is completely central to what we do, and if there’s a better way to do it then we ought to be the ones to find it. But at least in science, no one has found it yet....

Q7. How about journal publishing itself? In 5 or 10 years will we be able to recognize whatever it is that journals have evolved into? Is the very nature of scientific publishing headed for some sort of transformation?

I think the concept of the scientific "paper" will remain intact (even if that name will seem increasingly anachronistic). There’s real value in this unit of publication, which tells a story by explaining how something previously unknown has become know through a particular set of experiments. But beyond that, there’s a lot of potential for change. Smaller units of discovery will be published -- whether through blogs or databases or whatever -- because the barriers to publishing them are now so low. This, in turn, will create the need for new services to find and collate this information, preferably in a personalized way, and new measures of scientific impact that take into account such contributions, which will be much smaller and more numerous than published papers.

Journals will become better linked, easier to search, and more dynamic. Many databases will take more seriously the need for curation, peer review, citability and archiving. In this way, journals and databases will be harder and harder to tell apart, and I think the distinction between them will ultimately become meaningless....

Q9. Who do you think your biggest competitor is? Open Access journals, other society or commercial publishers or even just the notion that everything is available for free on the web?

None of the above. ;-) To be honest, I don’t spend much time thinking about any of those. Open access will come about mainly through funder-mandated self-archiving, not author- or sponsor-funded journals. Of course we compete with other established publishers too, but they are a relatively known quantity. Your point about everything being free is related to an issue that I think is critical for publishers of all stripes: how to create viable business models that don’t involve charging for content (whether readers or authors). That’s not because I believe it’s necessarily going to become impossible to do charge readers, but it won’t always be the optimal (or even a viable) business model, especially for collaborative online services, so we need other options. In short, we need to get much better at monetizing traffic.

But to answer your question, I think our biggest competitor is the unknown grad student in his (or her) dorm room hatching a plan to turn scientific communication upside down in the same way that Napster, Google and Wikipedia disrupted other industries....

Q10. Nature Precedings almost seems like the boldest of Nature's recent web offerings, nudging the larger scientific community into the same direction as, say, the physicists. What was the rationale behind introducing the service, and what do you see as it's place in the Nature suite of web products?

The basic rationale is that it’s in the interests of science for researchers to share their findings with each other as early and openly as possible. As you say, this already happens in physics through (and Paul Ginsparg, who runs that service, has very kindly offered his advice as we’ve been setting up Nature Precedings).

There are all sorts of theories about why it doesn’t happen so much in biology and other fields, but we thought the time was right to try and kick-start it. For one thing, there seems to be an increasing acceptance and understanding of the power and value of the web in enabling open collaboration....

We were also able to get public support from some outstanding partners: the British Library, the European Bioinformatics Institute, Science Commons, and the Wellcome Trust (with more to come, I anticipate). This is key because the barriers to adoption are much more social than technical, and no one organisation has the right mix of skills and influence to pull this off on its own.

For the same reason, we’re also reaching out to other publishers. I expect a few of them will be cautious at first, but many of them clearly appreciate what we’re doing, which is about complementing the journal system, not competing with it, and about building an open federated system, not a closed proprietary one. For our own part, Nature Precedings helps us to engage with scientists at an earlier stage of the research process, which supports our traditional journal activities.

Also, by moving early we hope to be among the first to work out how best to make this kind of service economically self-sustaining. We’ve already made clear that that won’t involve charging for access -- and we’re working with some of our partners to set up open mirror sites to guarantee that....

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Access levels for ecology articles in Google Scholar

Marilyn Christianson, Ecology Articles in Google Scholar: Levels of Access to Articles in Core Journals, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Winter 2007. 

Abstract:   Eight-hundred forty articles from core ecology journals were searched in Google Scholar (GS) to determine level and completeness of indexing and access. Testing occurred both on campus and off, and within each venue searching was divided evenly into basic and advanced modes. Off campus, about nine percent and on campus, about thirty-eight percent of links led to text that could be opened directly, without barriers. Fifty-seven percent of test articles had full citations or better, and over seventy-seven percent had at least some type of completable citation. Older articles were less likely to be represented. Full-text articles were concentrated at author sites and at a small number of provider sites. The advanced search found somewhat more full text than did the basic search. Highly cited articles were more likely to be included in Google Scholar.

Toward OA journals

Joan C. Bevan, Towards open access journals/Vers des revues en libre accès, Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, July 1, 2007.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

American Physiological Society launches hybrid journal program

The American Physiological Society has launched a hybrid OA journal program called Author Choice.  From the June 29 announcement:

Authors who publish with the American Physiological Society (APS) and want to provide the public with immediate access to their research results will now be able to do so under a plan announced today by the APS.

Under the new program, Author Choice, researchers who publish their studies in APS journals can make their results immediately available by paying an open access (OA) fee. The plan, which takes effect July 1, 2007, also guarantees that researchers who are required to provide open access as a condition of funding can quickly and easily do so....

According to Martin Frank, Ph.D., APS' Executive Director, "...Ten years ago we made online access to our journals immediately available for a nominal fee. Seven years ago we made all articles free online after 12 months. Two years ago we made articles available to all patients in need, at no charge. Now we are letting the researchers and their organizations dictate when the results of their research are made available to the public free of charge. Given today's market forces, it makes sense to let the authors decide what timing best suits their needs."

The plan goes into effect after several years of experimentation with the APS journal Physiological Genomics. During a three year period, APS offered authors the choice of whether to pay an open access fee plus standard author charges. At the end of the test period, 18 percent of authors opted for open access....

Authors who choose immediate access for their work will pay the $2,000 Author Choice fee, plus the customary author fees. Open access choice will apply to all of the APS' 10 monthly research publications: American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology; American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism; American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology; American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology; American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology; American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative & Comparative Physiology; American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology; Journal of Applied Physiology; Journal of Neurophysiology; and Physiological Genomics.

Some 4,000 Research Articles Have Potential to be "Open" ...

From the Author Choice FAQ:

The [$2,000] AuthorChoice fee was determined by calculating the real average cost of publishing an article in an APS journal, and subtracting the actual average amount already paid by authors in author fees (page charges and color fees). The AuthorChoice fee was designed to completely cover the cost of publishing an article. If enough authors choose open access, the journals will become open access, and we will forego subscription revenue for an author-pays revenue system.

The FAQ doesn't indicate the average author fees, but the copyright transfer agreement for Physiological Genomics requires page charges of $70 per printed page and color charges of $400 per figure.  No waivers are allowed.  Hence a 10 page paper with two figures would incur page and color fees of $1,500, and an Author Choice fee of $2,000, for a total of $3,500.

Comment.  Like other hybrid OA journal program, this one is welcome to the extent that it enlarges the body of peer-reviewed OA literature.  Unfortunately I'm not optimistic.  Author Choice meets none of my nine criteria for a hybrid journal policy:

  • Nothing in the announcement or FAQ says that Author Choice authors may retain copyright.  So I assume that they must sign the standard APS agreement, which transfers all rights to the publisher.  For the same reason, I assume that participating authors do not have the option to use CC licenses or the equivalent.  APS will host the free online copies itself and will not apparently allow authors to deposit copies in OA repositories independent of the APS.  If APS will not waive page and color charges in cases of economic hardship, I assume it will not waive OA fees either.  While the total price for short papers might be lower than the industry high-end, it is as high as any for long papers.  APS even demands the Author Choice fee from authors who must provide OA to the final version of their peer-reviewed manuscript (not the published edition) in order to comply with a previous funding contract.  Before Author Choice, APS authors funded by NIH or Wellcome Trust could comply with their funder's OA policy without paying their publisher for the privilege.
  • The next criterion is a little more complicated.  The APS doesn't promise to reduce its subscription prices in proportion to author  uptake.  But it does say in the FAQ that "[i]f enough authors choose open access, the journals will become open access, and we will forego subscription revenue for an author-pays revenue system."  Is that good enough?  No:  It means that APS will use a double-charge business model (OA fees plus subscriptions) until the day, if ever, when the journals convert to full OA.
  • The only good news is that the hybrid program hasn't made APS retreat from a green self-archiving policy.  But the reason is that APS did not have a green self-archiving policy.  It did not allow preprint or postprint archiving before it adopted Author Choice, with an exception for authors under a request or requirement from their funding agency.  And it does not allow them now.  On the other hand, APS will still provide free online access to non-Author-Choice papers 12 months after publication, just as it did for all its published papers before Author Choice.

Update. Also see the short article on Author Choice in Library Journal Academic Newswire for July 10. Excerpt:

The option is also a necessary move for APS, which relies heavily on income from its journals. In a report published in its newsletter, The Physiologist, APS officials noted that subscription revenue accounted for 58 percent of all revenue and "publication revenue," accounted for 83 percent, revenue streams that have been under increasing pressure recently. "This revenue was seen to be at risk because of the activities of advocates of the OA movement," the report states. Offering an OA option will "diversify" APS's publishing revenue streams.

CMAJ editors congratulate OM editors

The editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) have published Congratulations to our colleagues at Open Medicine, July 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

On Apr. 18, 2007, the world of medical publishing became larger with the debut of Open Medicine, a new online-only general medical journal. We welcome the arrival of a new venue that shares CMAJ's objective of providing timely dissemination of research findings and clinical knowledge to as broad a community as possible. If successful, this new journal will be a positive development for the world in general and Canada in particular. With a second general medical journal based in Canada, yet open to the world, there is no good reason why Canadian researchers, who are world leaders in scientific productivity, should have to leave home in order to find a suitable medium for dissemination of their best work.

Like CMAJ, Open Medicine is an open-access journal, available free to all who wish to read it and free for all who wish to contribute to it. As open access remains disappointingly rare among general medical journals (Table 1), this is both commendable and of great significance. The birth of Open Medicine thus provides us with a valuable opportunity to remind our readers why open access to the medical literature is important and necessary....

It should be obvious that barriers to access, financial or otherwise, directly contradict [the] mission [of a medical journal]....It therefore seems paradoxical that most of the world's journals, particularly those that historically have had the greatest impact on the biomedical community, continue to feel that their mission is best served by hiding their content behind password-protected firewalls....

Open access allows journals to reach an audience that is not just larger, but one that is also substantially more diverse. Access to medical information is also greatly enhanced for non-traditional audiences, including academics outside the biomedical community, patients and other members of the general public. However, open access is equally important for traditional users of medical journals within the health care community, for whom formidable financial barriers remain in the form of subscription and article charges. These financial barriers are not limited to health care workers in developing countries, but pose problems for health care providers everywhere. This problem is fuelled by the enormous and continuing growth of the medical literature and of the number of journals that publish it. According to the latest data from the US National Library of Medicine, the number of articles published in medical journals in 2006 totalled over 14.1 million, compared with 10.8 million in 2000. Over the same time period, the number of journals indexed in MEDLINE increased from 4332 to 5020....For an individual user to purchase subscriptions or articles from so many sources in order to stay current is not practical or sustainable....Even large libraries are finding it increasingly challenging to maintain comprehensive collections in the face of this rapid expansion. It is not surprising, therefore, that institutions are increasingly endorsing open access as a remedy.

As we at CMAJ have observed, open access has transformed the habits and expectations of scientific publishing. The Internet...has had a parallel rapid and profound impact on the culture of biomedical research and clinical practice....

Arguments against open access are often based on the need for journals to support themselves through subscription fees....Nevertheless, such arguments underestimate the capacity for motivated journals to find successful strategies for open-access publishing, as illustrated by CMAJ. Moreover, such economic protests fail to consider that the true value of scientific information is ultimately determined by its dissemination and impact, not by its price. Few people would deny that information has a commercial value, yet many people also acknowledge that health care and science information is of such great importance to society that it cannot be treated merely as a commodity....

Science is a public good, as is the health of individuals and populations. It is increasingly recognized that the results of publicly funded research must be publicly available....

Starting up a new medical journal from scratch poses tremendous challenges that are not for the faint of heart. Open Medicine is fortunate to have an experienced editorial team of talented and creative people. We at CMAJ know this first-hand because many of these same individuals, we are proud to acknowledge, are former members of our team. Indeed, it was the prudent decisions and hard work of some of these individuals that made CMAJ the world's leading open-access general medical journal.

We congratulate our friends at Open Medicine on their achievement and wish them the very best of luck with this new venture.

The editors at Open Medicine have published a response:

Although the endorsement by CMAJ’s editors of open access medical publishing is welcome, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify several points raised in their commentary. First, there is an important distinction between open versus free-access publication. Open Medicine has not only adopted the principle of free access, that is, making content fully available online, but endorses the definition of open access publication drafted by the Bethesda Meeting on Open Access Publishing. This definition stipulates that the copyright holder grants to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute works derived from the original work, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship. Given that CMAJ holds copyright and charges reprint and permission fees, it is not in fact an open access journal.

In comparison, Open Medicine does not assume the copyright of our authors’ work....Open Medicine does not charge reprint or permission fees, and our work is available for reproduction for educational and teaching purposes without copyright limitations or charges.  We use a Creative Commons Copyright License that also ensures derivative works are available through an open access forum....

Comment.  The CMAJ editorial is a strong argument for OA to medical research.  It's also a gracious olive branch to the editors of OM, especially in light of the past friction between the principals.  I wish the OM response had acknowledged the olive branch, and not just the argument for OA, before making the correct and important point that OA removes permission barriers, not just price barriers.

Update. Also see Chris Surridge's post on the PLoS Blog.

OA to the author's peer-reviewed manuscript v. OA to the published edition

David Goodman, Sarah Dowson, and Jean Yaremchuk, Open access and accuracy: author-archived manuscripts vs. published articles, an OA (self-archived) edition of an article that appeared in July 2007 issue of Learned Publishing

Abstract:   Some approaches to Open Access (OA) use authors' manuscript copies for the OA version, in the form accepted after peer review but prior to full editing. Advocates of such approaches are certain that these versions differ only trivially from the publishers' versions; many of those who oppose them are equally certain that there can be major discrepancies. In a pilot study, we have examined the actual differences in a small number of such article pairs in the social sciences and in biology. Using an operational classification of the extent of error, we have determined that neither pronouncement is likely to be correct. We found numerous small differences that affect readability between open access and publishers' versions. We also found a low frequency of potentially confusing errors, but sometimes it was the publisher’s and sometimes the manuscript version that was more accurate. We found two cases where errors introduced by the publisher omit technical details that are necessary to evaluate the validity of the conclusions. However, we found no error that actually affected the validity of the data or results.

Special issue of Encontros Biblio on open archives

The Brazilian journal Encontros Biblio has published a special issue on Tecnologia da Informação e Arquivos Abertos [Technology of information and open archives].  Although all but one of the articles are in Portuguese only, I'm using their English titles here.  The exception is the Harnad interview, which is published in both English and Portuguese:

Quick survey of OA

Ronald Bailey, News Ages Quickly: Scientific publishing moves into the 21st century at last, Reason Online, July 3, 2007. 

Bailey opens with some historical perspective:

Arguably, the Information Age began in 1665. That was the year the Journal des scavans and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London started regular publication. Making new scientific information more easily and widely available was the spark that ignited the Industrial Revolution.  The founding editor of the Journal des scavans, Denis de Sallo, chose to publish his new journal weekly because, as he explained, "news ages quickly." Scientific news ages even more quickly in the 21st century than it did in the 17th century....

Then he reviews some major OA initiatives (arXiv, PubMed Central, BioMed Central, SPARC, DOAJ, the NIH policy, and Nature Precedings) and concludes:

As Ginsparg noted eleven years ago at a UNESCO conference on the future of electronic publishing, "in some fields of physics, the on-line electronic archives immediately became the primary means of communicating ongoing research information, with conventional journals entirely supplanted in this role." Science, Nature, and Cell have nothing to worry about if it turns out that open access and pre-print websites don't attract cutting edge articles. On the other hand, it a good bet that opening access and speeding research to the public via online archives will accelerate scientific and technological progress just as their 17th century precursors did.

New wiki on open science

Michael Barton of Bioinformatics Zen has launched a wiki on open science.  (Thanks to Frank Gibson.) 

How well are mass digitization projects serving scholars?

Peter Brantley, Scholarship and Mass Digitization, O'Reilly Radar, June 28, 2007.  (Thanks to DigitalKoans.)  Excerpt:

I was delighted to hear today that the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has just received a small grant from the Mellon Foundation to study the utility of major mass digitization projects such as Google Book Search, Microsoft Live Book Search, and the Open Content Alliance for scholarship.

To paraphrase some of their supporting grant documentation (not presently online):

We are now either at or very close to the point where the body of originally analogue material now in digital form is of such quantity and quality that we must facilitate the design and operation of broad-scale distributed digital libraries. Looking closely at the quality and functionality of these projects for scholars is vital to making sure that operationalization supports these important social uses, ones that Google and others are not likely have as first priority....

CLIR's project will have several aims:

  1. Assess selected large scale digitization programs by exploring their efficacy and utility for conducting scholarship, in multiple fields or disciplines (humanities, sciences, etc.).
  2. Write and issue a report with findings and recommendations for improving the design of mass digitization projects.
  3. Create a Collegium that can serve in the long-term as an advisory group to mass digitization efforts, helping to assure and obtain the highest possible data quality and utility.
  4. Convene a series of meetings amongst scholars, libraries, publishers, and digitizing organizations to discuss ways of achieving these quality and design improvements.

Update. For more on CLIR's Mellon grant, see the short write-up in CLIR Issues for July/August 2007. From the same issue, also see CLIR's call for comments on its forthcoming white paper (available August 22, 2007) on preserving the digital results of mass-digitization projects.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Indian OA journal and Nature discuss a partnership

Divya Gandhi, Current Science, Nature in tie-up, The Hindu, July 3, 2007.

[India's] premier science journal, Current Science, will, in all likelihood, soon bear on its cover the logo of the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), publishers of Nature magazine. The U.K.-based NPG and Current Science Association are set to get into a unique publishing partnership, the proposal for which is in the initial stages....

One of the “pre-requisites” the IAS [Indian Academy of Sciences] insisted upon for the future tie-up was that Current Science, which has open-source access online, must be allowed to retain it, said [G. Madhavan, executive secretary of the IAS]. The title links for the article will direct the user to the IAS server, where the full text can be viewed.

Nature does not normally allow open access for content on its website. In fact, much of the negotiations between the two publications revolved around this issue, and it appears that Current Science won its point.

“It is perhaps the first time that Nature will have on its site a journal that has an open access, even if on another site” said Mr. Madhavan....


Update. I asked Timo Hannay (Director of Web Publishing at Nature) whether I missed any of Nature's OA projects or experiments in my list above. He replied:

You certainly got most of our major open access projects. You could possibly have added:

Miriam Drake on OA

Miriam Drake, "Open Access:  The Yellow Brick Road, Its Walls, and Speed Bumps," Searcher, July/August 2007.  Only this blurb is free online, at least so far:

It’s a complex time for those seeking and those publishing STM information. As Miriam Drake reports, the issue of open access is still unresolved with attempts to create new models of profit-generation still being resisted.

Openness in higher ed

Brian Kelly, Scott Wilson, and Randy Metcalfe, Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access, a paper presented at ElPub 2007 (Vienna, June 13-15, 2007). 

Abstract:   For national advisory services in the UK (UKOLN, CETIS, and OSS Watch), varieties of openness (open source software, open standards, and open access to research publications and data) present an interesting challenge. Higher education is often keen to embrace openness, including new tools such as blogs and wikis for students and staff. For advisory services, the goal is to achieve the best solution for any individual institution's needs, balancing its enthusiasm with its own internal constraints and long term commitments. For example, open standards are a genuine good, but they may fail to gain market acceptance. Rushing headlong to standardize on open standards may not be the best approach. Instead a healthy dose of pragmatism is required. Similarly, open source software is an excellent choice when it best meets the needs of an institution, but not perhaps without reference to those needs. Providing open access to data owned by museums sounds like the right thing to do, but progress towards open access needs to also consider the sustainability plan for the service. Regrettably institutional policies and practices may not be in step with the possibilities that present themselves. Often a period of reflection on the implications of such activity is what is needed. Advisory services can help to provide this reflective moment. UKOLN, for example, has developed of a Quality Assurance (QA) model for making use of open standards. Originally developed to support the Joint Information Systems Committee’s (JISC) digital library development programmes, it has subsequently been extended across other programmes areas. Another example is provided by OSS Watch’s contribution to the development of JISC’s own policy on open source software for its projects and services. The JISC policy does not mandate the use of open source, but instead guides development projects through a series of steps dealing with IPR issues, code management, and community development, which serve to enhance any JISC-funded project that takes up an open source development methodology. CETIS has provided a range of services to support community awareness and capability to make effective decisions about open standards in e-learning, and has informed the JISC policy and practices in relation to open standards in e-learning development. Again, rather than a mandate, the policy requires development projects to become involved in a community of practice relevant to their domain where there is a contextualised understanding of open standards.

More on the Science Commons and SPARC author addenda

Tracey Caldwell, Commons copyright targets scientists, Information World Review, June 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Authors can hold onto their copyright more easily with the release of new online tools.

Science Commons, a project by copyright body Creative Commons, has got together with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to draft amendments to copyright agreements that will make it easier for authors to retain rights, including the right to reuse their articles and to post them in repositories.

“This is about authors’ rights,” said John Wilbanks, vice-president of Science Commons. “Right now, authors trade the most important rights – like the right to make copies of their own scholarly works – to traditional publishers. That trade has led to an imbalanced world of restricted access to knowledge, skyrocketing journal prices, and an inability to apply new technologies to the scholarly canon of knowledge.”

He told IWR that there had been little publisher response to the announcement. “So far it has been pretty quiet from publishers, which is not surprising. There is not a lot of interest in making it clear that you don’t want authors to have the right to make copies of their own work.”

The Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine allows authors to choose from four addenda which will generate amendments to a publisher’s copyright agreement to give authors the right to reuse their own work....

Publishers oppose strengthening the NIH policy, again

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released a June 25 letter from a group of society publishers to members of Congress.  The letter opposes appropriations bills now before Congress that would strengthen the NIH public access policy by converting it from a request to a requirement.

The publisher arguments are old, tired, and weak, and Congress now sees through them:  an OA mandate at NIH will kill peer review; it will violate copyright; there's no need to compromise since publishers provide all the added value here and taxpayers none of it; European countries are not really adopting similar policies; researchers don't want it; the compliance rate with the current voluntary policy is not as dismal as it looks; and bad as the proposal is, it duplicates what publishers are already doing.

I won't write a detailed rebuttal to this letter.  But for detailed rebuttals to very similar past letters, see my March 30, 2007, response to a March 26 AAP letter opposed to strengthening the NIH policy, or my May 10, 2006, response to a May 9 AAP letter opposed to FRPAA .

Note to researchers:  If your society signed this letter and didn't discuss the question first in an open forum with members, then ask your leaders why not.  Make your views known now --in blogs, discussion lists, emails to colleagues, society meetings, and society publications.  Elect leaders who consult the membership on important policy questions, who want the society to act more like a research organization than a commercial publisher, and who will stop spending society funds to lobby Congress to thwart the public interest in public access to publicly-funded research.

NIEHS re-commits to its OA journal

NIEHS vows "full support" of journal; skeptics wait for check to clear, Society of Environmental Journalists WatchDog TipSheet, June 29, 2007.  (Thanks to Mike Lotz.)  Excerpt:

Top leaders at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences reversed field and publicly promised full support for the institute's embattled peer-reviewed [PS: and open-access] journal June 27, 2007, as an ethics scandal involving the institute's director metastasized.

"We are committed to full support of the journal within our appropriated funds," said NIEHS' William J. Martin, who has assumed responsibility for the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), after Director David Schwartz was recused in January 2007 from decisions relating to it.

The apparent reversal came as a second congressional investigation into Schwartz's conduct at the helm of NIEHS was revealed, and the Washington Post published an account [June 27, 2007] of ethics violations by Schwartz....Those revelations came on the same day NIEHS held a "roundtable" discussion session with "stakeholders" on the future of the EHP journal. The Society of Environmental Journalists participated in that session. SEJ has opposed privatization or downsizing of the journal....

At the roundtable meeting NIEHS and NIH leaders voiced commitments to funding the journal at or above a "steady state" level of $3.5 million...and guaranteeing free "open access" by the public to the contents of the journal....

The Request for Proposals (RFP) publicly posted June 27 was significantly revised from one issued earlier, in October 2006. One key difference was stronger and more explicit requirements that the current "open access" publishing model be continued. Free public access to all journal content — proposed in 2003 and begun in 2004 — is an important principle supported by SEJ and open government groups.

The RFP states that the journal contents will continue to be placed in PubMed [PS:  PubMed Central?], NIH's online database which offers free public access to the full text or journals. Placing it in PubMed will also guarantee continued free public access to all archived content from EHP....

The RFP specifies that a key part of the contractor's job is "providing free full-text access to all scientific articles with DOI numbers within 24 hours of the article being accepted for publication."

The new RFP differs from the October 2006 RFP, which urged the contractor to "maximize" revenues, and did not explicitly forbid charging for online content....

PS:  For background, see my earlier blog posts on Environmental Health Perspectives.

Legal guide to data access and reuse

Australia's Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project has released a major (258 pp.) new report by Anne Fitzgerald and Kylie Pappalardo, Building the Infrastructure for Data Access and Reuse In Collaborative Research: An Analysis of the Legal Context (June 2007).  From the Executive Summary:

This Report examines the broad legal framework within which research data is generated, managed, disseminated and used. The background to the Report is the growing support for systems that enable research data generated in publicly-funded research projects to be made available for access and use by others in the research community.

The Report provides an overview of the operation of copyright law, contract and confidentiality laws, as well as a range of legislation - privacy, public records and freedom of information legislation, etc – that is of relevance to research data. The Report considers how these legal rules apply to define rights in research data and regulate the generation, management and sharing of data. In any given research project there will be a multitude of different parties with varying interests – legal and otherwise – in the data produced. These parties include researchers, research funders, licensees and other users, for example members of the general public who access the data online. The Report examines the relationships between these parties and the legal arrangements that must be implemented to ensure that research data is properly and effectively managed, so that it can be accessed and used by other researchers.

Important in the context of collaborative research and open access, the Report describes and explains current practices and attitudes towards data sharing. A wide array of databases is analysed to ascertain the arrangements currently in place to manage and provide access to research data. Often these practices are informed by international and national policies on access and use, formulated by international organisations and conferences, research funders and research bodies. The Report considers these policies at length and canvasses the development of the open access to research data movement.

Finally, the Report encourages researchers and research organisations to adopt proper management and legal frameworks for research data outputs. It provides practical guidance on the development and implementation of legal frameworks for data management with the objective of ensuring that research data can be accessed and used by other researchers. The Report describes best practice strategies and mechanisms for organising, preserving and enabling access to and reuse of research data, including data management policies and principles, data management plans and data management toolkits. Proposals are made for further work to be undertaken on data access policies, frameworks, strategies and mechanisms.

New OA journal on infection in developing countries

The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries (JIDC) is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by Open Learning on Enteric Pathogens.  (Thanks to Afrihealth Optonet Association.)

Notes on the Bloomsbury e-publishing conference

Chris Armstrong has blogged some notes (Day 1 and Day 2) on the First Bloomsbury conference on E-Publishing and E-Publications (London, June 28-29, 2007).  Excerpt from his notes on Day 2:

Day 2...introduced three new drivers of change: open access, web 2.0 and new technology, and changes in scholarly communications. If one topic was guaranteed to spark debate it was open access, and various papers on or around the topic generated some lively discussion on both sides of the argument: publishers - from Graham Taylor on Day 1 onwards seemed nervous, and a little bit defensive, about the idea while other speakers saw it as a natural progression in scholarly publishing. It seemed to me that if institutional repositories began setting in place mechanisms for peer review and generating journals from the repositories another step might have been made... and indeed there is work being done on OVERLAY journals....

Michael Jubb highlighted the gap between discovery and access (particularly the 'subscription barrier') and welcomed the CIBER/Centre for Publishing e-Book Observatory which through Deep Log Analysis enhanced by qualitative research would help funding bodies and others to understand the research process.

I think it was Michael who also made the point that there is nothing new about open access - authors have always forwarded offprints of articles!

The afternoon panel began with four papers: Martin Richardson of OUP asked where are mainstream journal publishers with new models? He was followed by Leo Walford, Sage Publishing, who talked about making journals more accessible. Matthew Cockerill of BioMed Central looked at new, emerging, and potential models....

After a short question and answer session with the afternoon's panel - including a request for a Medium Deal instead of a Big Deal for journals - the librarians in the audience did not agree with Graham Taylor's opening remarks that the Big Deal was working! Also the comment that there was no need for journal articles to look like the print model - why don't they (and e-books) make more use of the electronic environment to enhance the content? ...

Pushing for OA to law in the UK and Ireland

The state of Open Access to Law in the UK and Ireland,, July 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

...While I was already sold on the idea of open access publishing — I’m an early adopter of the Open Access Law Pledge and work on an open access law journal as well as having several open access publications — [John Willinsky's book, The Access Principle, MIT Press, 2005, print edition, OA edition] did however make me really think about the state of open access in law in the UK, Ireland, and Europe more generally.

My thoughts are that we are in a pretty poor state of affairs over here and I would like to issue a “call to arms” on kick starting open access to law. Here is why.

I know that SCRIPTed is open access...but I haven’t found a comprehensive list of just UK and IE [OA] law journals....

The Science Commons...maintains an Open Access Law Program. As part of this project, they list law journals that follow the Open Access Law Journal Principles. There are only two publications listed as adhering to open access in the UK and none in Ireland. There are over 30 listed in the US. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has a handful out of the 53 journals from the UK and IE.

If you are on one, please email your journal details so that this list can be built out quickly. I may be wrong — there may be tons of you out there.  But until we start to get things together, we may miss some great opportunities to work together....

When you publish an article in a legal academic journal, is it solely to get some points for the RAE or advance your career, or is it have an impact on the field of law? ...

Public interest organisations are interested in what we legal scholars are producing, but they have no access to our papers because they do not have expensive Westlaw subscriptions or educational institutional affiliations....

I think we need our own conference or a stream at a conference to explore ways to work together on open access publishing. We can figure out what works for us, and how we can grow our journals and increase our impact.  I have a couple of suggestions on how this could take place....

And finally, create our own conference! I suggest an Open Access Law stream at a new UK conference on open content and open access....

I think that we need to see a greater push for open access to law in the UK, and we need to get together to start that push.

OA publishing in the life sciences

William H. Walters and Esther Isabelle Wilder, "The Cost Implications of Open-access Publishing in the Life Sciences," BioScience, July/August, 2007.  I link to the journal, not the article, because not even a TOC or abstract is free online, at least so far.

Update (7/18/07). The article is now OA from the publisher.

German UNESCO Commission endorses OA

The German UNESCO Commission (Deutschen UNESCO-Kommission or DUK) adopted a resolution in support of OA on June 28.  The resolution calls for OA to publicly-funded research.  (Thanks to the Informationsplattform Open Access.)  

Read the resolution in the original German or in Google's English.

PS:  Also see the DUK's OA Handbook published earlier in June.


I just mailed the July issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the problems OA solves, the opportunities it seizes, and the importance of remembering the difference.  The round-up section briefly notes 110 OA developments from June. 

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rector of U of Oslo supports OA

Geir Ellingsrud, Bør forskningen demokratiseres? A presentation (in Norwegian) supporting OA at Forskerforbundet (Oslo, June 13, 2007).  Ellingsrud is the Rector of Oslo University.

Here's a short summary of the conference presentations, also in Norwegian.  Thanks to Caroline Sutton for the alert and for this English translation of the summary of Ellingsrud's talk: 

Should research be democratized?

Open Access involves scientific publications being made freely available on the internet, but free does not necessarily mean free. This statement was made by Geir Ellingsrud from the University of Oslo as he introduced a debate at the Forskerforbundets breakfast seminar on publication patterns and open access in academia. The seminar, held 13 June, assembled nearly 100 participants.

Ellingsrud also showed that the public financial support for research should be made publicly available, and that there was a growing opposition to the large publishers publication- and price policies.

Digitalization has changed the publisher’s role and cost structure, and open access will change how research publications are financed, stated Ellingsrud.

Richard Poynder interviews Stevan Harnad

Richard Poynder, The OA Interviews: Stevan Harnad, Open and Shut? July 1, 2007.  Even by the standard of Poynder's rich, detailed interviews, this one is unusually long and comprehensive (53 pages).  Since I can't capture its detail in an excerpt, I'll just capture the introduction.  Read the rest for Harnad's thoughts on OA strategy, his argumentative style, criticism of OA and criticism of his style, his concrete contributions to OA beyond advocacy, and how OA fits into his wider academic interests on the evolution of language and cognition.  Excerpt:

Stevan Harnad is a cognitive scientist based at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is also one of the leading lights of the Open Access (OA) Movement, and a self-styled "archivangelist".

Harnad is often portrayed as a bully and a fanatic — a man so determined to get fellow researchers to make their papers freely available on the Web that he will brook no disagreement, responding to all contrary views and dissenting voices with such a relentless barrage of rebuttals and reproaches that his opponents are eventually forced to retreat.

But this is too simplistic a picture of the man. For Harnad, OA is not — as his critics claim — the obsession of a pedant with a one-dimensional view of the world, but the prelude to a fourth revolution in human cognition and communication. (The first three, he says, were language, writing, and print).

The goal of OA, Harnad says, is to unleash a potential long latent in mankind's unique language capacity, one that will allow us to exploit at last the full power of our collective intellect through "scholarly skywriting" — a form of communication, he contends, for which our brains were pre-adapted a hundred thousand years ago, but that has been awaiting the online era for its realisation.

However, before we can exploit the potential of this new form of communication, he says, we first need to make all research OA — an obvious next step that has been within our reach since the onset of the online era, but that we have still failed to take. And until we do, he says, we are denying ourselves access to our full potential.

If his OA advocacy is at times on the testy side, adds Harnad, this is not so much evidence of an intemperate nature as of a patience that has been sorely tried by the inordinate amount of time it is taking us to grasp what is already well within our reach.

What cannot be denied is that Harnad has exerted a very powerful influence on the development of the OA Movement. To a great extent he is the person who has articulated the main issues, and it is he who has — obsessively perhaps — kept people's minds focused, both on why OA is essential, and how we can best, and most rapidly, achieve it.

Moreover, as Harnad is keen to point out, in addition to archivangelising for the last thirteen years, he has also created and commissioned many of the concrete practical tools now being used in our faltering steps toward OA....

Two new reports on OA to public info in the UK

Michael Cross, Government on the back foot over policies for pricing data, The Guardian, June 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

You can have your data, so long as it doesn't start costing us money to serve you. That, roughly, is the message of two government statements released this week.

The long-awaited reports, from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Cabinet Office, recommend that the government make more data available without strings to community and commercial ventures....

Both reports, however, avoid the central demand of Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign - that government should stop running information businesses, and instead give all data away to stimulate the knowledge economy.

The statements, published on Monday, respond to two criticisms of government information policy. Last December, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) warned that potentially unfair restrictions could be stifling the market potential of public- sector information by about £500m annually. And earlier this month, an independent review for the Cabinet Office, the Power of Information, called on the government to loosen some restrictions on the re-use of its data as part of a wide-ranging programme of measures to engage with the web 2.0 movement....

The decision to publish both responses simultaneously marks a welcome move towards joined-up thinking. Unfortunately, from the point of view of the free data movement, that thinking predominantly echoes one department's point of view: the Treasury's. Its stance is that the cost of change is a showstopper, at least in the short term....

Open source biology in our future

Freeman Dyson, Our Biotech Future, New York Times Review of Books, July 19, 2007.  An important and wide-ranging essay.  By focusing on the OA connection, I'm regrettably truncating it:

...The epoch of Darwinian evolution based on competition between species ended about ten thousand years ago, when a single species, Homo sapiens, began to dominate and reorganize the biosphere. Since that time, cultural evolution has replaced biological evolution as the main driving force of change. Cultural evolution is not Darwinian. Cultures spread by horizontal transfer of ideas more than by genetic inheritance. Cultural evolution is running a thousand times faster than Darwinian evolution, taking us into a new era of cultural interdependence which we call globalization. And now, as Homo sapiens domesticates the new biotechnology, we are reviving the ancient pre-Darwinian practice of horizontal gene transfer, moving genes easily from microbes to plants and animals, blurring the boundaries between species. We are moving rapidly into the post-Darwinian era, when species other than our own will no longer exist, and the rules of Open Source sharing will be extended from the exchange of software to the exchange of genes. Then the evolution of life will once again be communal, as it was in the good old days before separate species and intellectual property were invented....

In the era of Open Source biology, the magic of genes will be available to anyone with the skill and imagination to use it. The way will be open for biotechnology to move into the mainstream of economic development, to help us solve some of our urgent social problems and ameliorate the human condition all over the earth. Open Source biology could be a powerful tool, giving us access to cheap and abundant solar energy....

OSTI E-print Network mirrored to Internet Archive

Trudy Walsh, OSTI archives scientific data on the Web, GCN, June 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[T]he Energy Department’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has set up a partnership with Internet Archive to provide uninterrupted access to more than a million online research papers from OSTI’s E-print Network....

OSTI worked with the Internet Archive’s archiving service, Archive-It, a Web application that helps harvest, manage, search and preserve collections of archived Web pages.

The OSTI collection is permanently archived at [Archive-It], where it can be viewed for free by the public. The E-print Network is the largest federal collection that has been preserved through Archive-It.

The E-Print Network accesses more than 25,000 scientific Web sites and contains information created by researchers in chemistry, biology and life sciences, materials science, nuclear sciences and engineering, energy research, and computer and information technologies. Users can browse Web sites, receive alerts, and search and access scientific e-prints, documents that are circulated electronically among researchers.

“Without a way to periodically archive this material, important science content within this ever-growing, ever-changing online, e-print environment could disappear,” said Walter Warnick, director of OSTI.

OA abstracts create demand for OA full-texts

John Willinsky and Mia Quint-Rapoport, How Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners Use PubMed, Journal of Medical Internet Research, June 29, 2007.   From the abstract:

...Methods: In this study, 10 chiropractors, 7 registered massage therapists, and a homeopath (N = 18), 11 with prior research training and 7 without, were taken through a 2-hour introductory session with PubMed. The 10 PubMed tools and services considered in this study can be divided into three functions: (1) information retrieval (Boolean Search, Limits, Related Articles, Author Links, MeSH), (2) information access (Publisher Link, LinkOut, Bookshelf ), and (3) information management (History, Send To, Email Alert). Participants were introduced to between six and 10 of these tools and services. The participants were asked to provide feedback on the value of each tool or service in terms of their information needs, which was ranked as positive, positive with emphasis, negative, or indifferent.

Results: The participants in this study expressed an interest in the three types of PubMed tools and services (information retrieval, access, and management), with less well-regarded tools including MeSH Database and Bookshelf. In terms of their comprehension of the research, the tools and services led the participants to reflect on their understanding as well as their critical reading and use of the research. There was universal support among the participants for greater access to complete articles, beyond the approximately 15% that are currently open access. The abstracts provided by PubMed were felt to be necessary in selecting literature to read but entirely inadequate for both evaluating and learning from the research. Thus, the restrictions and fees the participants faced in accessing full-text articles were points of frustration.

Conclusions: The study found strong indications of PubMed’s potential value in the professional development of these complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in terms of engaging with and understanding research. It provides support for the various initiatives intended to increase access, including a recommendation that the National Library of Medicine tap into the published research that is being archived by authors in institutional archives and through other websites.

From the body of the paper:

PubMed provides access to the complete articles that it indexes through a publisher’s link on the article’s abstract page..., as well as a link to PubMed Central if the journal’s contents have been placed in this open-access repository....In addition, PubMed clearly identifies that a small proportion (roughly 15%) of the literature has been made “open access” by its publisher, either immediately upon publication or after a certain period (“moving wall” model), typically from 6 to 24 months following publication....

It was PubMed’s clear identification of, as well as links to, the open-access articles that was the one aspect which participants consistently valued. The participants felt strongly about the importance of being able to read the full text, and while a few had access to research libraries (McGill and University of British Columbia cited), others were willing to consider paying for that access. But in all cases, the value of open access to this literature was judged as a critical aspect in becoming better informed about what the research had to offer their professional practice....

The NLM should make every effort to capture an otherwise missing and substantial source of open access to research and scholarship, namely, the published health sciences research that has been posted by authors in institutional repositories and on websites. While PubMed has an excellent system for identifying and connecting to open-access articles made available by publishers, it needs to develop similarly effective systems for tapping the published work that authors have posted, with the publisher’s permission, in archives and on websites. With numerous archiving mandates, both in place and pending, for this form of open access to research that has been funded by governments and foundations, PubMed needs to ensure that it is able to take advantage of this movement to greater openness. For example, PubMed could include a means of searching the more than 800 repositories worldwide....

Trashing of EPA libraries may be halted, reversed

Norman Oder, Senate Committee Funds Restoration of EPA Library Network, Library Journal, June 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its FY08 Interior Appropriations bill, has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse course and reopen at least five closed libraries, offering $2 million —the amount the EPA had hoped to save— to do so. The measure, according to the American Library Association’s Washington Office, now goes to the full Senate. Should it pass, it would have to be harmonized with the counterpart bill passed by the House of Representatives, which does not address the EPA library issue.

The Senate measure states, "While the Committee approves of efforts to make environmental data collections available electronically, the Committee does not agree to further library closures or consolidations without evidence of how the public would be served by these changes. Therefore, the Committee expects the EPA to restore publicly available library facilities in each region. EPA is directed to submit a plan on how it will use this funding increase to reopen facilities and maintain a robust collection of environmental data and resources in each region by December 31, 2007."

PS:  For background, see my earlier posts on the gutting of the EPA libraries.

OA keeps growing

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access June 2007 Update, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, June 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues, on both the gold (open access publishing) and green (open access self-archiving) roads. Some noteworthy highlights: PubMedCentral, the world's largest open access archive, noted a significant milestone on June 21: the millionth article....An OAIster search now includes close to 12 million items, an increase of over 4 million items over the past year. The number of repositories continues to increase; OAIster searches include more than 200 more repositories than one year ago. Scientific Commons now includes more than 12 million items, by more than 6 million authors.

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 2,731 titles, an increase of 439 titles from June 2006, or an average of 1.2 new titles per calendar day. According to Jan Sczepanski on Liblicense, there were over 13,000 open access journals listed on Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliotek - Electronic Journals Library.

Growth rates of open access archives tracked range from 14% over the past year (arXiv), 33% for rePEC, and 54% for E-LIS and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Metadata Harvester.

For [a spreadsheet of] full data and additional comments, please see The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Open Data Edition, June 30, 2007.