Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tell Congress to support an OA mandate at the NIH

Let me take the unusual step of repeating a call to action from yesterday in case it got buried in the avalanche of news. 

The House Appropriations Committee approved language establishing an OA mandate at the NIH.  The full House is scheduled to vote on the appropriations bill containing that language on Tuesday, July 17

Publishers are lobbying hard to delete this language.  If you are a US citizen and support public access for publicly-funded research, please ask your representative to support this bill, and to oppose any attempt to amend or strike the language.  Contact your representative now, before you forget.

Time is short.  Offices are closed on the weekend, but emails and faxes will go through.  Send an email or fax right now or telephone before Monday afternoon.

Because the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the same language in June, you should contact your Senators with the same message.  But the vote by the full House is in three days, while the vote by the full Senate has not yet been scheduled.

For help in composing your message, see

Then spread the word!

OA for text, data, and code to make research reproducible

The Audiovisual Communications Laboratory at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has an enlightened policy on Reproducible Research, which takes seriously the fact that removing access barriers facilitates reproducibility.  (Thanks to Patrick Vandewalle.)  From its RR page:

In our lab, we try to make our research reproducible. This means that all the results from a paper can be reproduced with the code and data available online.

Reproducible papers from our lab

Join us in a discussion about the use of reproducible research and how to make it work on our reproducible research forum!

For the latest news on reproducible research, please have a look at our RR Blog! ...

Of course, it all starts with a good description of the theory, algorithm, or experiments in the paper. A block diagram or a pseudo-code description can do miracles! Once this is done, make a web page containing the following information:

  1. Title
  2. Authors (with links to the authors' websites)
  3. Abstract
  4. Full reference of your paper, with current publication status, and a PDF of your paper
  5. All the code to reproduce all the results, images and tables. Make sure all the code is well documented, and that there is a readme file explaining how to execute it
  6. All the data (images, measurements, etc) to reproduce all the results, images and tables. Add a readme file explaining what the data represent
  7. A list of configurations on which you tested your code (software version, platform)
  8. An e-mail address that people can use for comments and remarks (and to report bugs) ...

For examples, see the list of reproducible papers above. Note that we are currently working on an automated setup using EPrints to simplify this process. Keep an eye on this webpage!

Elsevier restates its self-archiving policy

Ways to Use Journal Articles Published by Elsevier: A Practical Guide, Elsevier, Version 1.0, June 2007.  (Thanks to Rea Devakos.)  Elsevier compiled this guide for its journal editors, but it may also be useful for authors and readers.  Excerpt:

Elsevier believes it is important to communicate clearly about our policies regarding the use of articles we publish....However, this guide does not amend, replace or cancel any part of an existing license with Elsevier....

Authors publishing in Elsevier journals retain wide rights to continue to use their works to support scientific advancement, teaching and scholarly communication.

An author can, without asking permission, do the following after publication of the author’s article in an Elsevier-published journal:

  • Make copies (print or electronic) of the author’s article for personal use or the author’s own classroom teaching.
  • Make copies of the article and distribute them (including via email) to known research colleagues for their personal use but not for commercial purposes as described below [PS: omitted here].
  • Present the article at a meeting or conference and distribute copies of the article to attendees.
  • Allow the author’s employer to use the article in full or in part for other intracompany use (e.g., training).
  • Retain patent and trademark rights and rights to any process or procedure described in the article.
  • Include the article in full or in part in a thesis or dissertation.
  • Use the article in full or in part in a printed compilation of the author’s, such as collected writings and lecture notes.
  • Use the article in full or in part to prepare other derivative works, including expanding the article to book-length form, with each such work to include full acknowledgment of the article’s original publication in the Elsevier journal.
  • Post, as described below, the article to certain websites or servers....

Web posting of articles

Elsevier understands researchers want widespread distribution of their work and supports authors by enabling such distribution within the context of orderly peer review and publication.

Most journals published by Elsevier will consider (for peer review and publication) papers already posted in pre-publication versions to the Web. Pre-publication posting is common practice in, for example, physics and mathematics. However, some Elsevier clinical and biomedical journals, including The Lancet and Cell Press journals, follow the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and do not consider for publication papers that have already been posted publicly. Anyone with a question regarding pre-publication posting and subsequent submission of a paper to an Elsevier journal should consult that journal’s instructions to authors or contact the editor.

An author can, without asking permission, do the following with the author’s article that has been or will be published in an Elsevier journal:

  • Post a pre-print version of the article on Internet websites including electronic pre-print servers, and retain indefinitely this version on such servers or sites (unless prohibited in a specific Elsevier journal’s instructions to authors).
  • Post a personal manuscript version of the article on the author’s personal or institutional website or server, provided each such posting includes a link to the article’s Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and includes a complete citation for the article. This means an author can update a personal manuscript version (e.g., in Word or TeX format) of the article to reflect changes made during the peer-review and editing process. Note such posting may not be for commercial purposes and may not be to any external, third-party website.

Elsevier-published authors employed by corporations may post their revised personal manuscript versions of their final articles to their corporate intranets if they are secure and do not allow public access.

This policy permitting open posting of revised personal manuscript versions applies to authors publishing articles in any Elsevier journals, including The Lancet and Cell Press journals.

If an article has multiple authors, each author has the same posting rights.

To preserve the integrity of the official record of publication, the final published version of an article as it appears (in PDF or HTML) in an Elsevier journal will continue to be available only on an Elsevier site....

Presentations at MS Research Summit

Abstracts of some of the presentations at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2007 (Redmond, July 15-17, 2007) are now online.  Stevan Harnad has blogged those most relevant to OA.

Metrics and Mandates for OA

Stevan Harnad, Acesso livre: Que? Por quê? Como? Onde? Quando? Métricas e mandatos, a presentation at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Scientific Progress, in the session on Publicar ou Perecer: Acesso Livre é Sobreviver ("Publish or Perish: Open Access and Survive"), Belém, Brazil, July 8-13, 2007.  Mostly in Portuguese with some English.

Another researcher tries open notebook science

 Jeremiah Faith, Giving Open Notebook Science a try, J’s Blog, July 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

I don't want to explain Open Science, particularly since it's not clear exactly what it is yet. But Bill Hooker at 3 quarks daily wrote a nice three part series (I, II, III) on the subject, which you should read if you're interested in the details. Here I'm only going to discuss Open Notebook Science, which is a term coined by Jean-Claude Bradley. The idea is simply that the heart of every person's research - their lab notebook - should be open to the world.

Since most of our scientific work is funded by tax payers who expect their money to be well-spent, it's interesting that openness isn't required. Science typically builds on the body of available knowledge - the more knowledge available the faster science goes. It's striking when you visit other labs in person; you see all of their unpublished work, and you know that most of their results and data won't be available to the bulk of the scientific community until a year after each particular scientific project is finished. By the time papers are in print, it's old news to the insiders. More striking is when you visit labs whose work you've thought about replicating and expanding on. It's not too uncommon to find that only one person in the entire lab is able to get the technique to work, and even for him the technique only works on Wednesdays. This type of information would be useful to know before you embark on a useless three months trying to adapt their method. But scientific publications are covered in a thick coat of high-gloss finish, making these unacknowledged difficulties hard to detect.

Lab notebooks on the other hand are flat black. As long as people keep them regularly updated, they contain the good, the bad, and the completely nonsensical results.

Today I test the waters of Open Notebook Science…

Thanks to Bill Hooker for the alert and for this comment:

This is simply fantastic. One of the things that Open Science advocates most sorely lack is concrete examples. Doing research in public, instead of in secret, is a new and somewhat unnerving idea for most scientists; early adopters like Jeremiah are essential to take the edge off that unfamiliarity.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Does the Istanbul Declaration call for OA?

Jesse Robbins writes on O'Reilly Radar that

The Istanbul Declaration signed at the [OECD World Forum in Istanbul, June 27-30, 2007] calls for governments to make their statistical data freely available online as a "public good."

Just for the record, the Istanbul Declaration does not call on governments to make their statistical data freely available online. That's why I didn't blog it when it came out, although I did add it to the BOAI FAQ list of city-named declarations in the same general subject area.

Here's what the Istanbul Declaration does say:

The availability of statistical indicators of economic, social, and environmental outcomes and their dissemination to citizens can contribute to promoting good governance and the improvement of democratic processes....

Official statistics are a key "public good" that foster the progress of societies. The development of indicators of societal progress offers an opportunity to reinforce the role of national statistical authorities as key providers of relevant, reliable, timely and comparable data and the indicators required for national and international reporting. We encourage governments to invest resources to develop reliable data and indicators....

It doesn't mention "free" or "open" availability and it doesn't mention availability "online" or on the "internet" or "web".  It does say that the availability of official statistics can be useful and it does call them a public good. These are reasons to make them OA, but so far the Istanbul Declaration only asserts the premises, not the conclusion.

It also says:

To take this work forward we need to: ...improve the availability of data and indicators...

But this is compatible with priced access, indeed with priced, printed access.

I wish the Istanbul Declaration had called for free online access to public statistics, like the UK Free Our Data initiative, the recent Australian report on Government Information and Open Content Licensing (dated October 2006 but released June 2007), or even the OECD's own earlier report on Public Sector Information and Content (March 2006). 

If the OECD meant for the Istanbul Declaration to call for free online access to public statistics, I'd be glad to hear it and report it.

How the South African IP bill would obstruct the flow of publicly-funded research

Eve Gray, Intellectual Property in Publicly Funded Research - what the Bill says, Gray Area, July 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Department of Science and Technology has, as I noted in my last blog, published a Draft Bill on IP in Publicly Funded Research for comment - and comments have to be submitted by 18 July which is next Wednesday....

Briefly, the Draft Bill requires all publicly funded institutions (which includes all universities) to have an IP Management Office and provides for the creation of a National IP Management Office....

The Bill provides for the IP in all patentable inventions to reside in the university. If the university does not want to patent a particular invention, then the right passes to the National IP Office. Only if the national office does not want to patent an invention do the rights pass back to the researcher concerned. The Bill also provides for the sharing of rewards in the patented invention.

In other words, it appears to be modelled on the Bayh-Dole Act in the US. But there are also important differences....[T]he Bill extends beyond the protection of patents to 'copyrights in any work related to patentable inventions' which also become the IP of the university. This seems to me, as a publisher, to be very wide, as it looks as if the university would have IP and would therefore control for publication purposes a very large number of potential publications. Would a researcher be able to publish, without university permission, a conference paper or journal article on her research even after the patent is registered? ...

The universities and their employees (and students) seem to be obliged to exploit commercially any research that is capable of commercialisation. If they do not, they can be subject to disciplinary action....

Then - and this startles me as a publisher - the university IP office has to screen 'all publications from the institution for potential IP that through publication might lose protection in terms of the Patent Act.' All publications? I ask. That would mean journal articles, conference papers, chapters in books, research reports, etc, before they are published. Because a 'publication' is not defined, it probably means blogs, website, online discussion forums as well. In other words, researchers are constrained from communication until their work has been vetted by the IP office to ensure that they are not revealing something about a potential patent. I cannot imagine this being carried out unless the university hires teams of specialist people to scan all publications at pre-publication stage. This would surely have a seriously chilling effect on publication....

It also looks as if, given the copyright provisions in this Bill, that stipulations and mandates from funders for Open Access dissemination would be seriously constrained....

Also see Eve's follow-up post, IP in Publicly Funded Research Bill - does the cure match the disease? July 13, 2007.

The first question that arises in relation to this piece of legislation is why it has been drafted - what perceived need does it fill? ...

As far as I can establish, there are two separate areas that the government feels needs addressing. One is the perception that the universities are not performing well enough in delivering value for the money that is being invested in public research in the country. The other is that South African knowledge resources and intellectual property - as is common across the developing world - risk being pillaged by patent-seekers from the global North, particularly from the USA. In the later view, unless we protect ourselves with a strong IP regime, we will risk losing the exploitation of our intellectual capital to more powerful Northern pirates and raiders.

As South Africa's National Research and Development Strategy (2002) said: 'These are valid concerns. More South African research needs to be more effectively disseminated and exploited for the national benefit. And the risk of predatory raids by US bounty hunters is real enough....The problem is in the solution being proposed, which, I would suggest, is in fact contrary to some of the DST's most enlightened - and most central - policy-making....'

The assumption that a strong IP regime on its own fosters development and economic growth is one that is being increasingly challenged worldwide....

The DST's policy on Science and Technology puts the role of technology and the changes being wrought by ICT at the heart of its proposals for development. As the White Paper on Science and Technology says:

The world is in the throes of a revolution that will change forever the way we live, work, play, organise our societies and ultimately define ourselves ... The ability to maximise the use of information is now considered to be the single most important factor in defining the competitiveness of countries as well as their ability to empower their citizens through enhanced access to information.

This perspective seems to be missing from the Draft Bill....

Governments across the world, including the UK, the USA, the EU, and Australia, have convened commissions to discuss and explore this issue. Ironically, South Africa is part of this movement and is a signatory of the OECD Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding, something that would be rendered problematic by this Bill....

Also see this interpretation by Andrew Rens:

As the Bill is currently worded it will likely delay all scholarly publications even longer than they are currently delayed, as researcher lose control of their work to not one but two bureaucratic offices, one in the university (or national research council) and yet another central one.

Researchers, and this includes students, will not be legally entitled to submit their work to Open Access journals or archives until they’ve been screened by those two offices, and not at all where their work is found to be related to a patent.

Brasilia presentations on IRs

Two presentations from the 1st Ibero-American Conference On Electronic Publishing In The Context Of Scholarly Communication (Brasilia, April 25-28, 2006) were self-archived yesterday in E-LIS. (No presentations are yet available at the conference web site.)

  1. Sely Maria de Souza Costa and Fernando César Lima Leite, Repositórios institucionais: potencial para maximizar o acesso e o impacto da pesquisa em universidades. In Portuguese but with this English-language abstract: Open Access digital institutional repositories have motivated a strong debate on electronic publishing in specialized literature. More focused on questions related to the so called Open Access Movement of the Scientific Information, they have raised discussions both in the context of the academy and the government and the industry (this related to the scientific publication work). It is subject, therefore, of constant concern of all the scientific community actors, to name scientific authors (researchers), publishers, scientific societies, funding agencies, libraries and access and service providers. The text deals with university institutional repositories focusing some of the main questions that guide the discussions of the subject. It emphasizes the impact of research aspects and motivation that certainly is part of their dissemination on the Web, and it reflects a scientific community reaction to the business model of the scientific publishing companies.
  2. Fernando César Lima Leite and Sely Maria de Souza Costa, Repositórios institucionais sob a perspectiva da gestão do conhecimento científico. In Portuguese but with this English-language abstract: From theoretical reflections, the institutional repositories are discussed under the prism of the scientific knowledge management, both the point of view of knowledge conversion model (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1997) and the basic processes of knowledge management. One suggests that the institutional repositories appear both as alternative to speed up the scientific communication processes and the scientific knowledge management.

Shared infrastructure for sharing research

Amy Friedlander, Cyberinfrastructure: It's All about Sharing, CLIR Issues, July/August, 2007. Excerpt:

More than A decade ago, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) launched a series of studies on the history of large-scale, technology-intensive infrastructures in the United States with the explicit goal of informing the development of a national information infrastructure. Infrastructure was understood as a system with at least four properties: it is widely accessible, it is shared and ubiquitous, and it confers economic advantage....

[T]he notion of sharability implies the existence of multiple stakeholders who trust a shared system, even though their individual interests may be neither uniform nor congruent....Thus, the key characteristic of infrastructure is overall coherence, not uniformity at every level.

We can think, then, of cyberinfrastructure as a shared layer that supports multiple disciplines, activities, and scholars and that offers a platform for new kinds of scholarship and inquiry. That shared layer encompasses the organizational framework in which standards and codes of practice are developed and made available to users, enabling the shared layer to become widely accessible and hence ubiquitous....

Resistance to digital scholarship undermines academic excellence

Stephen Nichols, Digital Scholarship: What's All the Fuss? CLIR Issues, July/August, 2007. Excerpt:

...Academia's allegiance to analog scholarship is especially pernicious for younger scholars who would like to explore the horizons of digital scholarship but are warned that their academic future lies with traditional print scholarship. The rule might as well be cast in stone: you must have several articles published in reputable, refereed [print] journals to be hired. To have your contract renewed, you must have published still more articles and have a book manuscript nearly ready for submission. For tenure at the associate professor level, you need a published book, or at least a contract for a manuscript. Finally, for promotion to full professor, two or more books are required.

This formula has changed little for the past century. Now, however, it threatens to undermine the very concept of academic excellence it was designed to preserve. Those who adamantly insist on it fail to recognize that the Web and Internet have placed us in the midst of a revolution that has the potential for transforming how we think about, and access, our objects of study....

Take as an example my own discipline, medieval literature. Medievalists have always studied literary works in critical editions -modern editions of a work edited by a scholar other than the original author- even though the works were originally transmitted by manuscripts that gave different (sometimes quite different) versions of the work. Since the manuscripts are preserved in geographically remote repositories, it was not possible to consult different manuscript versions of a work side by side. This meant that the edited text was used for research, even though it was modern rather than medieval in origin.

With the possibility of having digital libraries of medieval manuscripts online, everything changes. Now, for the first time, scholars can study authentically medieval versions of texts side by side....

We need to come to grips with the consequences of our having at our fingertips scores of manuscripts for study and comparison. Access to this material will change long-held assumptions [based on smaller samples]....

Heather Joseph on OA strategies

Heather Joseph, Strategies Towards Open Access, a presentation at the PKP Preconference, Transitioning to Open Access: Action and Advocacy (Vancouver, July 11, 2007).

Abstract: SPARC has been active in engaging in open access advocacy on the local institutional, federal and international policy levels. SPARC's strategy is focused on reducing barriers to access, sharing and use of scholarly information, and its highest priority is advancing the understanding and implementation of open access to research results. Heather Joseph provides an update on SPARC's recent advocacy activities as well as a snapshot of the current open access policy climate....

Access to Australia's cultural heritage

Australian Framework And Action Plan For Digital Heritage Collections, Collections Council of Australia, July 9, 2007. (Thanks to DigitalKoans.) Excerpt:

As the creation and exchange of digital information grows exponentially, there is a pressing need to act immediately to ensure ongoing access to Australia's cultural heritage in digital form....

PS: The report emphasizes preservation more than access, but it takes the enlightened position that preservation is long-term survival for the sake of long-term access. It doesn't mention open access, but seems to mean it whenever it refers to online access.

26 Nobel laureates support OA mandate at NIH

Twenty-six US Nobel laureates in science have written an open letter to Congress calling for an OA mandate at the NIH (July 8, 2007).  This is actually their second such letter.  The first letter (PDF), signed by 25 Nobel laureates, was sent on August 26, 2004.  Excerpt from the new letter:

As scientists and Nobel laureates, we are writing to express our strong support for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees' recent directive to the NIH to enact a mandatory policy that allows public access to published reports of work supported by the agency. We believe that the time is now for Congress to enact this enlightened policy to ensure that the results of research conducted by NIH can be more readily accessed, shared and built upon – to maximize the return on our collective investment in science and to further the public good.

As we noted in a letter to Congress urging action on this policy nearly three years ago, we object to barriers that hinder, delay or block the spread of scientific knowledge supported by federal tax dollars – including our own works. Thanks to the internet, we can transform the speed and ease with which the results of research can be shared and built upon. However, to our great frustration, the results of NIH-supported medical research continue to be largely inaccessible to taxpayers who have already paid for it.

Despite best intentions, the voluntary policy enacted by NIH over two years ago has simply not improved public access significantly. As active scientists, it does not surprise us that a request – with neither incentives nor consequences attached – to submit our articles so that they are freely available simply does not make the lengthy “to-do” lists of our colleagues. We firmly agree with NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, who indicated in his testimony to the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee this year that only a mandatory policy will be an effective policy. Requiring compliance is not a punitive measure, but rather a simple step to ensure that everyone, including scientists themselves, will reap the benefits that public access can provide. We have seen this amply demonstrated in other innovative efforts within the NIH – most notably with the database that contains the outcome of the Human Genome Project.

The public at large also has a significant stake in seeing that this research is made more widely available....Librarians, physicians, health care workers, students, journalists, and investigators at thousands of academic institutions and companies are currently hindered by unnecessary costs and delays in gaining access to publicly funded research results.

Over the past three years, public access to work produced in other countries has been greatly expanded. Both government and philanthropic funding agencies in several nations have outpaced the U.S. in advancing policies for sharing the results of their funded research, with rules that are more stringent than those now employed by the NIH. In the United Kingdom alone, 5 of the 7 Research Councils and the leading foundations that support science have enacted mandatory public access policies; it is now estimated that 90% of the biomedical research funded in the U.K. is covered by a mandatory enhanced- or open-access policy.

Enhanced public access will not, of course, mean the end of medical and scientific journals at all....The experience of dozens of publishers has shown that even with embargo periods of 6 months (or shorter), journals continue to thrive. In addition, since this policy will apply only to NIH-funded research, journals will contain significant numbers of articles not covered by this requirement as well as other articles and commentary invaluable to the science community....

We strongly encourage you to realize this overdue reform by adopting language in the FY08 Appropriations measure that requires the NIH Public Access Policy to be made mandatory.

Signed by 26 Nobel Laureates:

Peter Agre, Chemistry, 2003
Sidney Altman, Chemistry, 1989
Paul Berg, Chemistry, 1980
Michael Bishop, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
Baruch Blumberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1976
Gunter Blobel, Physiology or Medicine, 1999
Paul Boyer, Chemistry, 1997
Sydney Brenner, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Johann Deisenhofer, Chemistry, 1988
Edmond Fischer, Physiology or Medicine, 1992
Paul Greengard, Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Leland Hartwell, Physiology or Medicine, 2001
Robert Horvitz, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Eric Kandel, Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Arthur Kornberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1959
Harold Kroto, Chemistry, 1996
Roderick MacKinnon, Chemistry, 2003
Kary Mullis, Chemistry, 1993
Ferid Murad, Physiology or Medicine, 1998
Joseph Murray, Physiology or Medicine, 1990
Marshall Nirenberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1968
Stanley Prusiner, Physiology or Medicine, 1997
Richard Roberts, Physiology or Medicine, 1993
Hamilton Smith, Physiology or Medicine, 1978
Harold Varmus, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
James Watson, Physiology or Medicine, 1962

House vote on OA mandate next Tuesday

Yesterday when I posted the good news that the House Appropriations Committee had approved an OA mandate for the NIH, I didn’t have the exact language of the bill. Now I do:

Sec. 217: The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

The new appropriations bill is scheduled to come up for a vote by the full House next Tuesday, July 17, and publishers are sure to lobby hard to delete this language. If you are a US citizen and support public access for publicly-funded research, it’s critically important to contact your representative and ask him/her to support this bill or at least to oppose any efforts to amend or strike the language on the OA mandate for the NIH. Contact your rep now, before you forget, and spread the word.

Background on CLA support for IRs

Kathleen Shearer, The Canadian Association of Research Libraries Institutional Repositories Program, a presentation at the PKP Preconference, Transitioning to Open Access: Action and Advocacy (Vancouver, July 11, 2007). Abstract:

Institutional repositories (IRs) are one of the major planks in the strategy for achieving open access. In 2002, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries launched an institutional repository project to support their members in implementing IRs. Kathleen Shearer provides an overview of the project and discuss the opportunities and challenges for research libraries in supporting the open access movement.

Context: Members of the CLA Task Force on Open Access, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) discussed the transition to Open Access and also offered a workshop. The presentations and workshop were given during the CLA Preconference on Open Access Meeting at the 1st International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference in Vancouver, British-Columbia (Canada) from July 11-13, 2007.

Background on the Canadian Library Association's OA policy

Heather Morrison, Canadian Library Association: Task Force on Open Access, a presentation at the PKP Preconference, Transitioning to Open Access: Action and Advocacy (Vancouver, July 11, 2007).  Abstract:  

The Canadian Library Association adopted a Resolution on Open Access in 2005. The mandate of the CLA Task Force on Open Access is to draft recommendations on policy for CLA's own publications, draft a position statement on open access for Canadian libraries on behalf of CLA, and liaise with other library associations, such as CARL. Heather Morrison reports on activities to date, such as drafted a response to the CIHR Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs.

Context: Members of the CLA Task Force on Open Access, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) discussed the transition to Open Access and also offered a workshop. The presentations and workshop were given during the CLA Preconference on Open Access Meeting at the 1st International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference in Vancouver, British-Columbia (Canada) from July 11-13, 2007.

Also see Heather's presentation at the main conference, Rethinking Collections : Libraries and Librarians in an Open Age:

Abstract: Depending on the perspective, the transition from subscriptions to open access can be overwhelmingly complex, or elegantly simple - as simple as rethinking the basic purpose of a library collection, and rewriting your collection policy accordingly. This presentation focuses on the theoretical aspects, and practical implications, of transitioning to open access for libraries and librarians.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Publisher objections fail, OA mandate for NIH passes another hurdle

Publishers Fight Hard to Strike NIH Policy, but Congress Holding Firm, Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Although the bill's official language has not yet been released, sources tell the Library Journal Academic Newswire that the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) policy proposal that mandates deposit of NIH-funded research papers into PubMed Central has survived the House Committee on Appropriations, which approved the FY 2008 appropriations bill deliberations yesterday. If not modified at the 11th hour, the NIH policy is further down the path to becoming law, but still would have to be passed by Congress as a whole and signed by the president.

Although the battle has not been waged in the headlines as fiercely as it was in 2005, publisher opposition to the NIH policy is said to be stronger and more organized than ever. Indeed, after consulting public relations consultant Eric Dezenhall last year, publishers have pressed a new case to lawmakers: that the mandatory deposit policy might violate U.S. copyright law and/or international copyright treaties, an argument has apparently gained some traction with lawmakers.

In a letter obtained by the Library Journal Academic Newswire, Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Howard Coble (R-NC), ranking members of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property urged Reps. David Obey (D-WI) and James Walsh (R-NY), ranking members on the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations, to kill the NIH language. "In light of the importance and complexity of the intellectual property and peer review issues impacted by this proposal, we respectfully urge your Committee to take no action to alter the current NIH policy until the Judiciary Committee has examined its implications for the copyright protections of these important works," they wrote.

Although Berman and Coble said they "understand and share the goal of widely disseminating the results of publicly funded research," they suggested that there "are concerns the provision may, through blanket application, ultimately undermine incentives for publishers." Berman and Coble suggested that the NIH policy proposal was in fact a "major change," and required further, deeper consideration by Congress, and pledged to hold hearings on the issue, should the policy be delayed to illuminate the issues....

Comment.  This is big.  Now the NIH OA mandate has been approved by the appropriations committees in both the House and Senate.  Moreover, the House committee was not impressed by the Berman/Coble copyright objections and request for delay.  We still need votes by the full House and Senate, and a presidential signature, but the momentum is building.

Report on Caribbean digital libraries conference

UNESCO supports Caribbean digital libraries, a press release from UNESCO, July 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

A workshop on Caribbean Digital Libraries and Digital Repositories: Recent Initiatives and Future Development was held in Trinidad and Tobago [July 10-13, 2007].

The workshop was organized by the National Library and Information System of Trinidad and Tobago (NALIS), in collaboration with UNESCO....

Stakeholders examined areas of possible cooperation in developing digital collections, discussed the development of a Caribbean Digital Library Initiative (a cooperative formed through the award of a grant from the US Department of Education Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) in 2005), and deliberated on the Caribbean’s participation in the [OA] World Digital Library Project....

Initially the workshop was designed to accommodate forty participants. However, over three hundred applications were received....

Is the Swedish Research Council still considering an OA policy?

Bridge to the Future – and between two people, Co-Action, July 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Swedish Research Council has issued its “Review of the year 2006-2007” (on July 10th) in which recent research and policy discussions are presented. The Report can be accessed in English here.

* A single page is dedicated to OA, “Research Gains from Open Access” (p. 38). The Swedish Research Council has signed both the Berlin Declaration and the Petition for Guaranteed Public Access addressed to the EC. However, the Council itself still does not have a policy. Back in April, as Co-Action then mentioned, Håkan Billig, who is responsible for drawing new guidelines on how research funded by the Council should be published, promised a policy statement late in the autumn. There is no mention of this in the present report....

Direct the Columbia U Center for Digital Research and Scholarship

Columbia University is hiring a Director for its Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (no web site yet).  The online ad is undated (!) but was apparently posted in May 2007.  This is a great opportunity to advance OA on the ground:

...[T]he Center will advance the use of new media and digital technologies in research and scholarly communication activities with a focus on the following areas: scholarly databases, institutional repository, research data and cyber infrastructure, electronic scholarly publishing, scholarly communication policy and practice, web site development and design services, and video services....

Shifting access policies at "OA journals"

Hajar Sotudeh and Abbas Horri, Tracking open access journals evolution: Some considerations in open access data collection validation, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, July 11, 2007.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

This article examines the evolution of a collection of open access journals (OAJs,) indexed by the Science Citation Index (SCI; Thomson Scientific Philadelphia, PA) against four validity criteria including a free, immediate, full and constant access policy for at least 5 years. Few journals are found to be wrongly identified as OAJ or to have a dubious access policy. Some delayed journals evolved into gold OA; however, these are scarce compared to the number of journals that withdrew from gold OA to be an embargoed or a partially OAJ. A majority of the journals meet three of the criteria as they provide free and immediate access to their entire contents. Although a lot are found to follow a constant policy, a large number has an OA lifetime shorter than 5 years, due to the high frequency of newly launched or newly converted journals. That is the major factor affecting the validity of the collection. Only half of the collection meets all the requirements.

Comment.  This result confirms my view that all journals --OA or not-- should post their access policies in some clear, up-to-date, and accessible form.  It won't keep policies from shifting, but it will keep shifting policies from confusing authors, readers, and libraries.

HINARI, AGORA, and OARE extended until 2015

The HINARI, AGORA, and OARE projects have been extended until 2015.  For details, see yesterday's announcement.

Adding CC licenses to PDFs

Nathan Yergler, Cogniview Brings CC Licensing to PDF Output, CC News, July 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

This has already been picked up by at least one blogger, and I’ve been remiss in not blogging it earlier. Cogniview has developed an open source tool for embedding CC license metadata in PDF output. You can find a screencast and download information on their website....

Comment.  For publishers who insist on using PDFs, this is good news.  But my hope is that publishers will adopt CC licenses and drop PDFs. 

Update. I should have been clearer: I don't mind if publishers use PDFs, provided they offer an HTML alternative.

Access policies at the UK Data Archive

Chris Rusbridge, Open Access everyone? Or not?  Digital Curation Blog, July 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

I occasionally look at the OpenDOAR service, which list information about repositories, and check out those which claim to include data....Last time I looked there were 7 listed in the UK which claimed to collect datasets; 4 of these were institutional repositories, one is the Southampton eCrystals archive, the 6th is the National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD), which collects government datasets on behalf of The National Archive, and the 7th is Nature Precedings....

At the UKDA’s 40th birthday celebrations yesterday, it was clear that Kevin Schurer (Director of UKDA [UK Data Archive]) doesn’t quite share [the] view [that "open access is a good thing"]. The view expressed certainly was not a total rejection of Open Access in favour of a commercial approach. But he was certainly arguing for some barriers between some data and the users. In particular, while access to UKDA data is free for certain categories of users (certainly UK academics and probably some others), ALL users are required to register. Kevin made a strong case for this being an advantage; registration means that he can report to his funders who his users are (including how many of them might be independent or Government researchers as well as academic ones), and can also monitor which datasets they are using. He knows, for example, that the user base has grown from 25 or so after the first 5 years to 45,000 (I don't remember the exact figure, but of that order) after the first 40 years.

The same registration mechanism (and associated authentication and authorisation mechanisms) also allow them to apply greater access controls to more sensitive datasets, including the possibility that the user may have to sign and observe special licences. It’s worth remembering that much of the data they hold is about people, and some is extremely sensitive information, which has been provided (under “informed consent”) for certain specific purposes....

What the UKDA approach might do is make certain kinds of comparative work, including automated data mining, more difficult....

Transitioning to OA

Michael Lines has blogged some notes on the Public Knowledge Project's Scholarly Publishing Conference 2007 (Vancouver, July 11, 2007).  Excerpt:

Today I went to a CLA workshop called Transitioning to Open Access on how librarians can engage in the practice of open access (OA). There were three presenters, Heather Joseph of SPARC, Kathleen Shearer of CARL, and Heather Morrison of the CLA. The presentations will be available on E-LIS later today.

Heather J.'s presentation was a overview of the state of OA, and a reminder of some of the major challenges faced by librarians and library systems that are involved in the support of OA projects, be they journals or repositories. She also highlighted the issue of author rights and talked on how to advocate policy support for OA initiatives. Her take away was that librarians can educate colleagues and administrators on OA realities, and can encourage the initiation of OA projects and OA-friendly policies. Toward these goals, she highlighted the DOAJ as a promotional tool, and announced the Canadian version of SPARC's author's addendum. In addition she recommended ROMEO database, and invited us to look forward to a SPARC database of publishers' current copyright practices.

Kathleen Shearer of CARL
started out by noting that decision makers at Canadian universities have recognized the "unsustainability" of current publishing business models, under which research information is paid for three times (by the granting body, by the underpaid editorial work of professors, and by libraries who purchase journals). As evidence, she cited John Lorinc's The Bottom Line on Open Access. She then outlined CARL's history as a promoter and tester of OA projects with its Institutional Repository Program (almost all major Canadian research libraries now host repositories), and identified the next step as finding ways to populate these resources. CARL is now producing an "IR Advocacy Toolkit" (available in the spring), it initiating a discipline-specific Repository Pilot, is enriching its CARLCORE Metadata standard, and is developing tools to support the production of repository usage statistics.

Heather M's presentation focussed on the CLA's history with OA, and it was very instructive. The CLA endorsed OA principles in 2002, and has since moved to sign both the major international OA declarations, and has taken steps to make all their materials available in OA-compatible ways. To paraphrase her "We decided that our members do not join primarily for the benefit of getting a print publication delivered to their home, just in case they are caught out with nothing to read." One of the major benefits, she said, of all this policy work at the CLA has been to make it much easier to respond when called upon to make contributions to public debates. As we heard several times in this workshop, publishers have sophisticated means to make their views known to government, and government has repeatedly called for input from other interest groups....

Harvesting articles for local repositories through the DOAJ

Article-Level OAI-PMH Harvest Available from DOAJ, Disruptive Technology Library Jester, July 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

Earlier this year the DOAJ began offering a new schema for registered articles that significantly improves the value of OAI-PMH harvested article content. Prior to this addition the only scheme available was Dublin Core, which as a metadata schema for describing article content is woefully inadequate....The new schema...includes elements for ISSN/eISSN, volume/issue, start/end page numbers, and author affiliation. There is also a <fullTextUrl> element that is a link to the article content itself (not the splash page of the article on the publisher’s site).

Article content using this schema is harvestable through the DOAJ OAI-PMH provider site....This is, in fact, the same schema journal publishers use to submit article content to the DOAJ article database. With these pieces in place, it is now conceivable to harvest open access journal article content through the DOAJ and add it to a local journal article repository (such as the Electronic Journal Center in the case of OhioLINK).

Thanks go out to the DOAJ folks for making this available!

Also see this comment by Eric Lease Morgan:

Yep, kudos to DOAJ.

I saw this a week or two ago, and while I did not take advantage of their article-specific metadata scheme, I did use the Dublin Core metadata scheme to harvest about 54,000 of the articles and save them into a MyLibrary instance. I then used an indexer called Kinosearch to make them searchable. Finally I created a rudimentary searchable/browsable interface to the whole thing. See [this].  Ah, the possibilities are almost endless!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The EU is funding "conclusive experiments with OA"

In May I blogged the planned call for proposals 2007 from the 2007 Work Programme of the EU's eContentPlus project.  The final call for proposals is now online.  (Thanks to Napoleon Miradon.)  Excerpt from the English-language edition:

5.3. Targeted projects for scientific/scholarly content

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

Conditions:  In addition to the common requirements for Targeted Projects [see Section 2.3], proposals should meet the following conditions:

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

Expected results:  Digital scientific/scholarly content held by different types of stakeholders is aggregated and made interoperable and available for open access across borders.

Applications are due on October 4, 2007.  The awards will be announced in May 2008.

Croatian Medical Journal rejects invitations from large commercial publishers

Marko Kljaković-Gašpić and three co-authors, For Free or for Fee? Dilemma of Small Scientific Journals, Croatian Medical Journal, 48 (2007) pp. 292-299.  An editorial.  (Thanks to Matt Hodgkinson.)  Excerpt:

The Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ) has recently been approached by two major [commercial, non-OA] publishing companies and offered to become one of the journals in their cluster. The five benefits offered to the journal were the following: increasing the journal’s international market presence; working with the editors-in-chief and publisher’s academic relations on the improvement of the impact factor of the journal; copyediting and typesetting via publisher’s offices; marketing for subscription and non subscription revenue and paying royalties on the revenues received by publisher to the present owner of the journal; and input marketing to attract papers....The editorial decision was to join neither of the publishers....

In a “publish online or perish” situation, it seems that an improvement would mean better “findability” of a journal. The CMJ’s online user statistics shows that, since introducing LinkOut (MEDLINEs’ method of linking to publishers Web site), there is an average of 5000 hits per month from MEDLINE to CMJ’s online full-text articles in PDF. Another 7000 visits come from Google Scholar. Higher percentage of visits from Google Scholar is recognized by other journals as well. Taking these numbers into consideration, it is plausible that the CMJ would in fact not benefit from joining a major publisher in terms of visibility, since the majority of our current readers find CMJ online from free search engines....

For at least two reasons, the CMJ has always had a mission that was beyond a simple competition for a higher impact factor. First, it is not realistically possible for a regional journal such as the CMJ to truly compete with some other journals from the field of general medicine, which have a long history of far-reaching global influence. Furthermore, the primary mission of the CMJ has always been promoting good science in Croatia and other small and emerging scientific communities....Therefore, the benefit of a larger impact factor also does not speak in favor of joining a big commercial publisher....

The CMJ is definitely a not for profit journal. The CMJ’s owners are all four Croatian medical schools, each contributing either financially and/or logistically. Major financial support is provided by the Ministry of Science, Education, and Sports. This kind of support is financially more than satisfactory and also ensures the journal’s independence....

After analyzing pros and cons for commercial publishing, we concluded that the CMJ would not benefit from such a change. Our interests are beyond making a profit and we still think that setting the standards and education are the fundamental aims of the CMJ....Therefore, we may conclude that, for the time being, there are no pressing reasons for the journal to join any big commercial publisher....

SURF is funding OA projects

The Dutch SURF Foundation is funding projects that enhance knowledge-sharing in higher education.  From its July 10 announcement:

SURFfoundation issued three Calls for Tender on Friday 6 July, challenging the education sector to submit project proposals focusing on three different topics: collaboratories (web-based collaborative environments), open access plus (publication of research data) and knowledge dissemination for universities of applied sciences. The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2007. A total of EUR 420,000 has been made available for the projects.

SURFfoundation is calling for tenders for short-term pilot projects that focus on innovating the process of communication and collaboration in higher education and enhancing the knowledge infrastructure at universities of applied sciences. The proposals should involve the following:

  • Collaboratories: web-based collaborative environments that enable researchers based in different locations to work together and share their knowledge and sources;
  • Open Access plus: publishing articles or other research publications such as dissertations along with their underlying research data, models or visualisations; other possibilities include open review systems or a structured open annotation process.
  • Applied science knowledge dissemination: improving the dissemination of practical knowledge accrued and developed at universities of applied sciences, not only among the universities themselves but also between them and the public and private sectors.

The Calls for Tender have been issued under the SURFshare programme, the successor to the DARE programme (which concluded in late 2006). Whereas the emphasis within DARE was on creating a network of Digital Academic Repositories, in the SURFshare programme the main focus is on Sharing of Academic Resources. DARE resulted in open access to more than 125,000 scientific and scholarly articles via [DARENet]. SURFshare aims to make the datasets, simulations, models, visualisations and other material used in research available in addition to the published results (working designation: enriched publications)....

SURFfoundation has made a total of EUR 420,000 available for the projects. Projects involving Collaboratories and Open Access will be awarded a maximum of EUR 60,000 each, and projects involving Applied Science Knowledge Dissemination EUR 80,000 each. Matching funds are required, with SURFfoundation covering a maximum of 50% of the costs. The deadline for submitting project proposals is 30 September 2007.

Keio U joins the Google Library Project

Keio University is the first Japanese university to join the Google Library Project.  From Google's announcement:

Last week, Keio University became the latest partner to join Google Books Library Project, and our first library partner in Japan. The combined collections of the Keio University libraries total more than two million printed works. Working together, Google and the Keio University Library will digitize at least 120,000 public domain books from these collections, so that readers around the world can view, browse, read, and even download public domain materials by simply searching online at (You can also search these books by typing your search term in Japanese on ...

This is the 26th library to join the Google Books Library Project, which digitizes books from major libraries around the world and makes their collections searchable on Google Book Search.

OA in critical management studies

CMS Open Access Publishing is a new Google Group on promoting OA within the field of Critical Management Studies.  For details, see Stephen Boehm's opening message, CMS open access manifesto, July 10, 2007.

Access barriers at ACS and Blackwell hybrid journals

In three detailed posts, Peter Murray-Rust documents the access barriers at the hybrid journals from the ACS (Author Choice) and Blackwell (Online Open).  These are barriers left in place even after authors or author-sponsors pay for the "open" or "free" access options.


  • Peter examined the access barriers at the Springer hybrid journals (Open Choice) on July 8.  
  • These are valuable studies, especially when supplemented by clarifying publisher responses (like Jan Velterop's response to Peter's post on Springer).  When a hybrid program doesn't claim to offer "open access", then I don't criticize it for falling short of the BBB definition of OA, even if I criticize it on other grounds.  But some of the hybrid programs do claim to offer OA; and even when they carefully pick new terms and avoid promising OA, their access barriers should be well-documented to help authors, funders, and universities decide whether their fees are worth paying.  Journals should clearly describe their access policies --OA or not-- and when they don't, we count on independent investigations like Peter's.

Encouraging faculty to use an author addendum

Yesterday the U of Illinois Provost, Linda Katehi, sent this email letter to U of Illinois faculty:

New opportunities created by electronic publishing and archiving are changing the business of scholarly publication. Because traditional publication agreements transfer copyrights to publishers and restrict electronic distribution by the author and their institution, publishers appear to have captured much of the benefit of these changes.

In November 2006, faculty governance leaders from CIC universities discussed these issues that affect scholarly communication and called for a concrete strategy that would help faculty retain more control over their published intellectual property. Subsequently, the CIC provosts issued a
Statement on Publishing Agreements and an Addendum to Publication Agreements for CIC Authors. The Addendum is intended to be used by faculty entering into publication agreements with journal publishers or presses. It supports authors rights to use their own published work in teaching and research, to post a publication on a personal website, or to deposit it in a repository maintained by their institution or a professional association. IDEALS is the University of Illinois institutional repository.

Late this Spring [April 30, 2007], the U of I Senate endorsed the principles expressed in the CIC Provosts Statement and Addendum; encouraged faculty to consider using it as well as other publication agreement addenda that increase their rights in reproducing, distributing, and archiving their own work; and asked the CIC Provosts to provide leadership in negotiating with publishers to develop new publication agreements that provide CIC authors and institutions greater rights for use, distribution and archiving their published scholarly works.

It is our responsibility as scholars to ensure that our work is available as widely as possible to maximize its scholarly impact, accessibility, and educational use. I encourage you to use the Addendum and to deposit your research and scholarship in IDEALS, which provides reliable and persistent access to its holdings.

(Thanks to Katie Newman on the U of I Scholarly Communication blog.)

Comment.  The U of I is right to encourage faculty to use the CIC author addendum.  But in the June SOAN, I hoped that CIC institutions would go further:

...[I]t's not clear what form the encouragement will take.  Will it be limited to the abstract encouragement of passing a resolution in the Faculty Senate?  Or will there also be some case-by-case encouragement? ...In a standoff between a publisher and faculty member, what will universities do to support their faculty member? 

Here's the bigger question:  What else will these universities do to encourage OA archiving?  If they take the step of adopting an author addendum, they should also adopt a policy to require OA archiving.  If permission is not a problem (because publishers already give it or because an addendum worked), what will these institutions do to insure that faculty postprints are actually archived? ...

The permission problem is worth solving, but we have to remember that solving it is only a means to the end of OA.  Universities adopting an author addendum are moving in the right direction, but they must keep moving.  Permission for OA isn't yet OA itself....

What's important is not how often U of I faculty use the author addendum, but how often they self-archive.  I hope Provost Katehi's office monitors the self-archiving rate and is ready to adopt an effective policy to move it toward 100%.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Berkman-CALI collaboration on OA legal texts

Gene Koo, Berkman and CALI to Create a Legal Commons, The Filter, July 10, 2007 (scroll about 40% down the file).  Excerpt: 

...[T]he Internet is opening vast new possibilities for scholarship and teaching that can transform how the next generation of lawyers learn.

To capture these opportunities, the Berkman Center is partnering with CALI (Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction) to research and develop new methods of scholarship and teaching that exploit the Internet's open and collaborative possibilities. CALI is a nonprofit consortium comprising over 200 American and Canadian law schools that has long been a leader in pushing innovation and exploring the intersection between computers and legal education....

[T]he Berkman-CALI partnership will ...[create] a commons where law professors can share their teaching materials: syllabi, "course packs," and even entire textbooks. Dubbed "eLangdell" after the Harvard dean who invented the casebook, the project will enable law teachers to assemble disparate resources into a structured coursepack or textbook, publish them to the class, and share these assembled materials with colleagues....

In supporting eLangdell, Berkman advances its mission of opening access to knowledge in an area of scholarship particularly close to home. In a practical way, with real constituents, eLangdell puts into action ideas about collaboration, intellectual property, and networked knowledge that Berkman faculty and fellows have been developing for years. A potential revolution in publishing awaits....

Press Release Announcing Berkman-CALI Effort [June 19, 2007]

CALI's John Mayer on "common casebooks"

More on the bill to strengthen the NIH policy

Battle to Resume as NIH Seeks to Require Deposit in PubMed Central, Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

A familiar conflict is heating up once again, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) again seeks to establish a policy that would require investigators funded wholly or in part by the agency to deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts in PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's online archive. The House Committee on Appropriations should consider the policy in its deliberations, beginning July 11, regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Despite support from the NIH director and many in Congress, the policy change is opposed by STM publishers, who are lobbying to have the language stricken from the bill or changed.

The change recalls the fierce debate of 2004-2005. In February 2005, the NIH was set to mandate deposit in PubMed Central, but the policy was modified at the eleventh hour from a "requirement" to deposit the articles within six months to a request that NIH-funded researchers voluntarily deposit their articles within a year. Not surprisingly, compliance since the weakened policy was implemented has been remarkably low, with as little as five percent of NIH-funded researchers depositing their papers. That lagging compliance rate did not escape the scrutiny of Congress, note advocates of the policy. The Senate's 2008 appropriations bill, introduced by Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) requires NIH-funded researchers to deposit in PubMed Central an electronic copy of their peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication in a journal. Articles would then become publicly available "no later than 12 months after publication." ...

Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), said that, after three years of pushing, "the momentum is real and Congress understands the public's interest."

Signs of that momentum have emerged from a number of funding agencies and institutions worldwide, such as the Wellcome Trust in the UK, which now requires the research it funds to made freely publicly available. Last month, the Maryland-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that it will require its scientists to publish their original research articles in scientific journals that allow articles to be "made freely accessible in a public repository within six months of publication." ...

OA and IR news from Ghana, Hong Kong, and South Africa

The July/August issue of the Newsletter is now online.  Highlights from its section on OA:

Open Access Workshop in Ghana

An Open Access and Institutional repository workshop was held on the 12-13 June 2007, University of Ghana, Accra. The workshop was presented by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH), under the leadership of Helena Asamoah-Hassan, eIFL country coordinator. Susan Veldsman and her team conducted the workshop. All together 15 Institutions, with 24 participants attended....

Feedback from the group was that they were very impressed with the level of presentations, the issues dealt with and what they learned. Everybody thought they knew what IR’s [were] about, but they did confess afterwards that the workshop made them realized that there were more to IR’s than just installing the software. They acknowledged the importance of issues e.g. advocacy in an institution, Copyright, standards in IR’s and the difference in the different software.

Charl Roberts, who presented and demonstrated the technical side of IR’s, prepared a CD for each institution, with all the necessary different IR and operating software and step-by-step instructions for installation. This proved to be very valuable for all the institutions, and very positive comments and appreciation were expressed by them.

In general the group will go back and report to their immediate management who nominated them for participation, and also make a presentation to their Library Committee.

Open Access Conference in Hong Kong

eIFL co-organized an Open Access Conference in Hong Kong with the University of Hong Kong on 17-18 May. Speakers included Heather Joseph of SPARC, Robert Kiley of the Wellcome Trust, Leslie Chan of Bioline International, Colin Steele of Australia National Library, Diana Chan from the City University of Hong Kong, Roland Chin of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council, Melissa Hagemann, and Prof. Xiaolin Zhang of the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Over 80 participants from the eight universities in Hong Kong attended. There was strong support from the participants to adopt mandates for deposit of material in their universities’ repositories. In addition, Prof. Zhang’s presentation was quite interesting, as he provided a great overview of the obstacles he has faced in trying to promote OA within the Academy over the past two years since our conference there in 2005 and the strategies he has devised to overcome these problems. The full conference program as well as links to the presentations are available at

eIFL IR Workshop in partnership with the Carnegie Research Library Consortium

During 2006, three major university libraries in South Africa (University of Cape Town, University of Kwa Zulu-Natal and University of Witwatersrand) received a Carnegie Grant over a three year period. These grantees have named themselves the Carnegie Research Library Consortium. One of the outcomes of this grant will be, that in each institution, interoperable institutional repositories should have been set up. A workshop will be held on the 16-19 July, where all the relevant issues of IR’s will be discussed. The challenging outcome of this workshop will be to set up a workplan, with a list of activities and responsibilities over a three year period, in order to comply with the grant.

eIFL Harvests metadata of member countries

eIFL is in the process, with the assistance of DARE, to harvest the metadata of 59 existing institutional repositories in the members countries. Herewith eIFL tries to determine the value, possibility, problems and viability of harvesting metadata. We hope that the data will be available in July for evaluation.  This repository will represent a collation of developing country repositories, a first internationally!

Free search tools for scientific research

ResourceShelf has put together A Quick Look at a Few Free Science Search Tools.  Among the tools and resources it covers are BioMed Central, CiteSeer, DOAJ, Global Science Gateway, Google Scholar, Highwire Press, Microsoft Live Search Academic, National Science Digital Library, OAIster, PubMed Central,, Scirus, and Scitopia.

PLoS ONE adds ratings

Chris Surridge, Rate Early, Rate Often, PLoS blog, July 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

I’ve been waiting to write this Blog posting for a while and now I can. As from today PLoS ONE has a user rating system for its articles. All users can now rate articles in three subjective categories: Insight, Reliability and Style. We have made the tool, now we need you to come and use it....

Despite the obvious advantages to hard pressed scientists trying to get to grips with a vast literature this simple system hasn’t been much applied to scientific papers up to this point....

[I]f you go to any of the six hundred or so papers that PLoS ONE has so far published and look in the right had column you will see a little box containing five small stars. Those indicate the overall aggregate rating of the paper based on individual ‘votes’ from individual users.

You can also see there how many users have rated a paper and can expand the box to show the average rating in all three categories. You can also open up a separate page which shows you exactly who has rated a paper, what their ratings were and any comments they have made.

By far the most important thing in the ratings box though is the link marked “Rate This Article”. That will open up a box the window which allows you to give your own opinion....

There is also the opportunity to leave a comment along with your rating.  Rating comments are intended to be shorter and pithier than annotation and discussion comments....

I could go on at length about how to use ratings but since it is all written up neatly and using proper grammar on our Guidelines for Rating page I won’t go on about it here. Instead I have a call to arms.

Any user rating system relies, like any system of voting, works better the more people engage with it. So here is my request to everyone reading this blog:

Never read a paper on PLoS ONE without leaving a rating

Bepress will sell its IR platform directly, not through ProQuest

The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) will no longer sell its repository platform through ProQuest and will now sell it directly.  From the announcement (dated June 27 but released today):

The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) announced today that it would begin selling its Institutional Repository platform directly. The bepress Institutional Repository platform currently powers the eScholarship Repository of the University of California system as well as over 50 schools under the name of Digital Commons sold by ProQuest Information and Learning....

For the past three years, the bepress platform has been licensed exclusively by ProQuest Information and Learning. Henceforth, all new licenses will be made directly by bepress....

According to [Bepress'] Tim Tamminga, “the bepress IR product completes the bepress package of open access publication tools, with SelectedWorks for individuals to create their own websites for showcasing their intellectual accomplishments, EdiKit to manage the workflow processes of creating and managing the publication of journals and individual working paper series, and now IRs to host an entire organization’s intellectual output. Integration of all these capabilities into the Institutional Repository service will be our focus for the short term.” ...

OA economics research portal coming in September

In September, the Nereus consortium of European academic libraries will launch an OA economics research portal called NEEO (Network of European Economists Online).  From today's announcement:

...The members of the [Nereus] consortium, including many of the top-twenty European academic economics institutions, together with other leading European economics research institutes, will create a networked service providing open access to economics information, showcasing Europe’s leading research results.

Based on the content of the institutional repositories of the partners, the Network will provide:

  • integrated academic output, including, journal articles, working papers, chapters, conference proceedings and datasets
  • a central multilingual portal and full-text search service with links to the full-text research publications and primary data output
  • more comprehensive access to the life’s work of 500 leading researchers
  • access to the current research results of leading institutions in the area of economics
  • primary datasets with links to the publications based upon them.

Content from the partner institutions will be complemented with other European and worldwide open access economics content to create a new portal of open access economics content. NEEO content will also appear in information retrieval services of significance to the economics author and reader.

“We are very pleased with the support the European Commission is giving to this project. It confirms the interest of the EC in Institutional Repositories, open access and increasing the visibility of European research. It is encouraging that so many prominent institutions will collaborate in this area.” Hans Geleijnse, Director of Library and IT Services at Tilburg University and Director of the Project.

Tilburg University will lead the project on behalf of the Nereus Consortium. The project will begin in September 2007.

PS:  NEEO doesn't yet have a home page.  But it does have an introduction page, not quite the same as the press release above.

BMC button for Google Toolbar

BioMed Central now has a BMC button for the Google Toolbar.  From yesterday's announcement:

[The button] makes it easy to search BioMed Central's content right from the browser toolbar.  What's more, if you click and hold the button, you can see a list of the latest postings from the BioMed Central blog.  Find out more...

Les Carr's new blog on running a repository

Les Carr has launched a blog, RepositoryMan.  He describes it as

The Blog of a repository administrator. Les Carr is a researcher and lecturer who runs a research repository for the School of Electronics and Computer Science in the University of Southampton in the UK. This blog is to record the day to day activities of a repository manager.

From his third post, Some Background:

Just for the record, I ought to explain a bit about the repository that I manage.

The repository contains about 10,000 records and gets about 600 new deposits per year. There are 2400 papers published since 2004, of which 1400 have open access full texts. I'll have more to say on this percentage later.

It started off life as a bibliography database and was migrated to EPrints in Spring 2000. Its use as a bibliographic record of all school output was already well established but a full text mandate was added in January 2003....

In the steady state, therefore, once you have got your repository up and running and everyone is used to using it, you can see that the resource requirements for a school repository are not onerous! ...

PS:  Les is a frequent contributor to OA discussions and I expect that RepositoryMan will often cover OA.  Welcome to the blogosphere, Les!

Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein adopts OA policy

If you recall, the Hamburg University Press became an all-OA publisher on July 1, publishing each of its books in an OA edition and a print-on-demand (POD) edition. 

Yesterday the press signed an agreement to publish the works of the Schleswig-Holstein state archive (Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein) on the same terms.  Read the announcement in German or in Google's English.

Update on Semantics and Pragmatics

If you recall, Kai von Fintel and David Beaver announced plans in May to launch a new peer-reviewed OA journal, Semantics and Pragmatics.  On June 15, Beaver announced major progress (thanks to Lemmings):

I’m very happy to announce that Semantics and Pragmatics has now been officially accepted as an affiliated journal of the Linguistic Society of America as part of their eLanguage initiative....

[LSA] will be hosting the journal for us, and providing technical support, meaning that Kai and I can concentrate on getting top quality content into the journal....

The LSA executive initially planned a restriction that eLanguage journal authors would have to be LSA members, as is the case for Language authors. But, and Kai and I think this is great, they’ve now decided to impose no such restriction. So Semantics and Pragmatics will truly be free: it will not only be free to read, but also free to write for. And, or course, we also plan to accept free advice from reviewers, advisory board members, and, well, anyone who wants to contact us....

Update. The folks behind the LSA eLanguage initiative have launched an eLanguage blog. (Thanks to Cornelius Puschmann.) It's the best way to follow the progress of the nascent S&P journal.

Access and preservation

The July issue of First Monday is devoted to stewardship and preservation in the digital age. 

One article connects access issues with preservation issues:  Deanna B. Marcum, Digitizing for Access and Preservation: Strategies of the Library of Congress.  Marcum is the Associate Librarian of Congress for library services.  Excerpt:

I call this paper, “Digitization for Access and Preservation.” The thought that the two could be linked is important to me because we at the Library of Congress have so many resources to preserve. We must provide stewardship for more than 132 million items. These include more than 58 million manuscripts, 30 million books, 13 million prints, five million maps, five million pieces of music, three million sound recordings, and one million films and videos. Moreover, our collections grow by approximately 13 thousand items every day.

Now we have the opportunity to make much of this material accessible far beyond our buildings’ walls in Washington, D.C....

By the year 2000, we exceeded our goal of putting five million items on the [open access American Memory collection]. Today it contains nine million items in more than 100 thematic collections. Included are digital copies of books, manuscripts, pamphlets, prints, photographs, maps, sheet music, sound recordings, and films. Each collection appears with explanatory features. And all collections can be searched electronically....

But at the same time, most of us realized that we did not know how long we could preserve the resources we were creating....We did not digitize with the intent of replacing original materials. But we wanted to preserve also the digital copies in which we made such substantial investments...Thus our gains in access brought new challenges in preservation. The challenges increased when we started accepting materials created digitally....

But we want also to ensure that digital copies will be accessible for a long time....

A society OA journal rises to the top of its impact category

Optics Express, an OA journal from the Optical Society of America, was the most cited journal in the field of optics in 2006.

CommentOptics Express is notable in several respects.  It's not only the most cited journal in its field, and an OA journal from a society publisher, but it's one of the first OA journals to show a profit or surplus.  Remember OE when someone argues that OA will harm society publishers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

New OA journal from Knowledge Ecology International

Knowledge Ecology Studies is a new OA journal from Knowledge Ecology International, a public-interest non-profit active in A2K issues. 

One of the articles in the inaugural issue is An Interview with James Boyle.  Excerpt:

Some highly visible groups have focused on the need for access and the freedom to use works. There are also discussions about new "business models" for knowledge goods, and the need to address the problems of earning a living. How do we reconcile the need for access with the need for investments and paychecks?

...I think we can learn from the environmental movement in both of those areas.

At its best, the environmental movement has worked because of the size of its big tent, and the diversity of the approaches being used within it. Greenpeace is very different from the Environmental Defense Fund, and both are different from the Audubon Society or a land trust. The combination of methods and perspectives is actually a strength not a weakness. The Access to Knowledge (A2K) movement strikes me as having many of the same virtues. As for business models and economic underpinnings, one of the interesting things about this movement is that a set of social justice movements (for example, those focused on Access to Medicines) and a set of groups who are interested in different business models based around distributed creativity (for example, open source software developers) have found common cause in criticizing aspects of the current "1 size fits all" model of intellectual property.

My own view is a very pragmatic one. Environmentalists initially distrusted market mechanisms. I think that a majority would now say that market based systems such as "cap and trade" are valuable tools in reducing emissions. The same goes for working with groups who aim to profit from distributed creativity. If companies such as IBM find shortcomings in our current system of intellectual property and knowledge transfer, then it is much more likely that those criticisms will be heard. This will be a much more effective attempt at legal reform if people are unable to tar it as anti-business or econophobic.

Also see Teresa Hackett's article, Open WIPO?, which was written before the recent good news that WIPO agreed to revise its mandate to include A2K issues.

Read this OA article and call me in the morning

Lola Butcher, What the Devil Is Information Therapy? Managed Care Magazine, June 2007.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

When Ted Eytan, MD, treats a patient with a broken rib, he positions the computer screen in the exam room so that his patient can look at the X-ray. He describes what the image shows, then clicks to call up a drawing of the rib to give context to the discussion.

"It makes a huge difference, even if it's just a fracture, to say 'Here's the part of the bone that we want to heal,'" says Eytan, a family practice physician who contracts with Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

Welcome to information therapy, the practice of providing more and better information to patients so they can contribute more to their healing....

[Paul Wallace, MD, medical director of health and productivity management programs at Kaiser Permanente], Eytan, and others are part of the effort to increase the use of information therapy in American health care. Their premise is that the huge gap between what the physician knows and what the patient understands is detrimental to a patient's health, leading to poor outcomes and higher-than-necessary costs.

"We know that between 50 percent and 80 percent of everything a patient hears in a doctor's office is completely forgotten by the time he or she gets home," says Joshua Seidman, PhD, president and CEO of the Center for Information Therapy. The abundance of health information available on the Internet is not always as useful as its authors intend it to be....

For some providers, information therapy is literally a physician-written prescription telling a patient to read specific information, learn it, and apply it. For others, information therapy is used to help a patient make treatment decisions, such as whether to continue chemotherapy....

James Hereford, executive vice president for strategic services and quality at Group Health Cooperative, says that GHC physicians use information therapy to connect the exam room with the living room — regardless of who in the living room is best able to use the information.

If that patient with a broken rib is computer-savvy, for example, Eytan identifies a Web site that will reinforce information that the doctor covers during the appointment: the best way to lie down, pain-relief options, likely recovery time, and so forth. Because it is the same information that has been discussed during the office visit, patients can use it to remind themselves of what the doctor said — or to conduct further research....


  • This is a great example of how OA changes clinical practice and improves health care.  Imagine doing this with toll-access literature.  ("Will my insurance company cover that pay-per-view fee?")
  • For a similar initiative, see the NLM's Information Rx pilot project, launched in February 2005.

More on OA editions that stimulate net sales of print books

Peter Darbyshire, Setting them free: Why writers are giving away digital versions of their books, Calgary Herald, July 8, 2007.  (Thanks to Distant Librarian.)  Excerpt:

The hottest literary news of the year...[is] the sudden surge of writers giving away their books for free online. Not unpublished books by wannabe writers, but published, critically acclaimed books by award-winning writers.

The trend began a few years ago with Cory Doctorow, a Canadian globetrotter and co-editor of one of the world's most popular websites, Doctorow publishes his novels and short-story collections with Tor and other large publishing houses, but he also offers the books for free download on his personal website,, in text, PDF and audio files, as well as any other digital format you can think of.

Doctorow assumes he loses a few sales of the print versions of his books by offering such freebies, but he figures he makes more in the long run by all the attention his work gets from being easily accessed and passed around online.

It's an assumption that's backed up by the experiences of other writers. Canada's Peter Watts recently released his latest book, Blindsight, a tale of humanity's first contact with aliens, to tepid sales. The book had an initial print run of 3,700 copies, and there were no plans for more....

But after Watts released Blindsight for free online, sales skyrocketed and rave reviews flooded the Internet. The book has since gone into multiple printings and been nominated for prestigious awards, including the Hugo award....

[Quoting Watts:]  "I figured I was faced with a choice between a book which tanked commercially and nobody read, or a book that tanked commercially but which everyone could read for free....Having the typical novelist's ego, I figured I'd take a shot at fame if I couldn't have the money. I posted the whole thing online in both PDF and HTML formats, and held my breath." ...

"It turns out I have fans in Russia, South America, Romania, all sorts of places where the dead-tree edition would never have shipped," he says. "And a small, but nontrivial fraction of these folks leave anywhere from $5 to $50 in my online tip jar, even though they're under absolutely no obligation to do so. The smallest donation I've ever received is significantly more than what I'd take home from the sale of one traditional copy. So I'm not complaining." ...

PS:  Darbyshire also tells the story of David Wellington who provided OA to his novel (Monster Island) in order to snag a publisher, and succeeded.

More on Springer Open Choice, con and pro

Peter Murray-Rust, Springer - I resign from your Journal, A Scientist and the Web, July 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Till today I was a member of the editorial board of Journal of Molecular Modeling · Computational Chemistry - Life Sciences - Advanced Materials - New Methods - published by Springer....

I looked to see what the authors were getting - at least they would get “full open access” - and I could rely on this since Jan Velterop [Springer's Open Access Director] is a signatory of the Budapest Declaration....

I found the overall TOC. This advertises...

Permissions Request To request reuse of content from this Springer Science+Business Media journal, please e-mail Springer Rights & Permissions directly at for assistance.This journal is not currently supported for reuse licensing through Rightslink.  Please include content information available on (article title, author, date, issn, volume, issue), your request details, your contact information, and a link to the content on SpringerLink if available.

so it is absolutely clear that Springer has no intention of actually making this article Open Access even by their own “Your Research. Your Choice” promise, let alone the BOAI....

So I’m using this blog to resign from the editorial board of JMolMod. I cannot be associated with such practices....

The best that can be said is that Springer don’t care a green fig about Open Choice - they clearly have made no effort to implement it with the care that is required. That’s certainly the impression that most of the large publishers give - they want to be able to say “we offered this choice but hardly anyone wanted to take it up”....

Also see the comments in response.  See especially Jan Velterop's response:

...It is more than a little ironic and sad that the integrity of the one large publisher who is trying to move open access forward is put into doubt, to say it mildly. Is everything perfect? I would be the first to admit that more work has to be done. But does that call for being put in the stocks and having ‘false pretences’, ‘not caring a green fig’, or the rotten eggs of a trashed integrity thrown at you?

First I want to clear up a basic misunderstanding, that open access equals authors keeping copyright. Of course, authors *can* keep their copyright, but *any* copyright holder can make an article open access, and this *includes* the publisher. Having open access articles with the publisher’s copyright is not an oxymoron in the slightest. In fact, as far as Springer Open Choice articles go, it may well still be the majority, and I will explain that in a moment. But open access articles with the publisher’s copyright line on them are *no less* open access than those with the author’s copyright. They are labelled ‘Open Choice’ in SpringerLink (and in their metadata) and they can be used for any non-commercial purpose, according to what Creative Commons licence (the non-commercial one; the one you also use for your blog) and our web site stipulate. This is wholly in line with the definition of open access in the Bethesda Declaration. The ‘permission’ button is a general one that appears on any article and that goes off to RightsLink. It is a flaw that clicking the button didn’t tell you that permissions for non-commercial use of Open Choice articles are not needed, and there were some issues with RightsLink distinguishing the Open Choice articles. Those issues, if they haven’t been solved completely yet, are certainly recognised and will be resolved soon.

There are reasons for not showing an author copyright line on all the Springer Open Choice articles. First of all, the choice is often taken rather late by authors, and the article has already been produced and published when the decision is taken. This is probably a consequence of the fact that we only allow the choice being made after an article has gone through peer-review and has been accepted for publication. This is a way of avoiding that any knowledge that an article would be paid for could lead to inappropriate acceptance decisions. Secondly, not all Open Choice articles have been paid for by authors or their funders, as we have decided ourselves to make article Open Choice in order to track downloads and citations and compare those to other, non-open articles. Thirdly, we have made a few arrangements with universities whereby articles from their researchers have been made Open Choice retrospectively. Just last week, for instance, a thousand or so articles from The Netherlands have been made Open Choice, as a result of just such an arrangement (which provides for Open Choice for all articles from Dutch universities to be Open Choice). Which other major publisher has done anything of the sort?

That said, we do recognise that where authors themselves opt for Open Choice, the copyright line should carry their name, and we are working hard to make sure the procedures we have in place for all of our journals are more robust in making sure that the choice can indeed be made in time for the production of the article....

As for articles being deposited in PubMed Central, we habitually do that if Open Choice is ordered and paid for, and if it is an article that falls within the scope of PMC (obviously civil engineering is not, for instance). Any Open Choice articles, also the ‘complimentary’ ones, can always be deposited in any repository, including PMC....The articles with the label Open Choice’ are fully open, are most definitely *not* “being wrapped in rights management tools to control their use.”

With best wishes, and the hope that you can levy any future criticism in a constructive spirit, without wrapping it in doubts about my — and the company’s — integrity.

Update. The discussion continues on Peter Murray-Rust's blog. I won't be excerpting each new response, but see Peter's July 9 reply to Jan, and Jan's July 10 reply to Peter.

Update. Also see comments by Mark Ware and Matt Hodgkinson.

Overview of the DRIVER project

Natalia Manola, The DRIVER Project: Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research, a slide presentation at the Belief-EELA e-Infrastructures conference (Rio de Janeiro, June 25-28, 2007).

OA advocacy in Serbia

Coturnix, Fighting for Open Access in SerbiaA Blog Around the Clock, July 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

Vedran Vucic is a Linux aficionado in Serbia. He and his organization have gone all around Serbia, wired up the schools, taught the teachers and students how to use Linux, taught the teachers and students how to use various online educational resources ranging from blogs to ATutor, etc....

He is now putting a lot of energy into persuading scientists, especially the young, not-yet-entrenched ones, to go online and to promote Open Access. It is an uphill battle, but he is persistent! ...

PS:  Good luck, Vedran.

Jumpstarting participation in open review

Bora Zivkovic (a.k.a. Coturnix) is the new Online Community Coordinator at PLoS ONE.  His job is to stimulate participation in open review and he wants your help.  From his blog post about it, First Day at PloS:

As most of you probably know, I got a job as an Online Community Coordinator at PLoS ONE. Today is my first day at the job! I got the job in an unusual way as well - by posting about it on my blog (and the managing editor posting a comment "Is this a formal application?"). The rest is, as they say, history....

While my CV and the cover letter were fine, what really got me the job were my blog commenters! That is: YOU! You demonstrated my ability to build an online community better than any Resume can reveal. Although, to be fair, it took me three years to build this community and now I have three months to build one on PLoS! So, I need your help and I am unabashedly begging for it.

So, my #1 to dramatically increase the number of comments and annotations on the PLoS ONE papers, without compromising their quality....

As you are aware of, commenting is a positive feedback loop. If you go to a blog post (or a PLoS ONE paper) and see "0 comments" you are unlikely to be the first one to comment (but you are still more likely to do so than a scientist with no experience on blogs whatsoever!). But if you see "3 comments" or "7 comments" or "35 comments" you will be curious and you will click to see what others are saying. By the time you are done reading through the comments, you are already deeply involved and thus much more likely to decide to post a comment of your own (especially if you disagree with some statement there)....

PS:  Good luck, Bora.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

US National Archivist promises access improvements

Allen Weinstein, Progress toward a Goal of Greater Access, Prologue, Summer 2007.  Weinstein is the US National Archivist.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

...With [public] records, Americans hold their government officials accountable, guarantee individual rights and entitlements, and preserve the nation's history for future generations. But these documents are of little use or benefit to citizens unless they have access to them.

Those concerned with maximizing timely access to public records government-wide, as we are at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), received encouragement this year as a result of some developments in policy and change of mood in Washington....

In the past year or two, a wide variety of records have been opened, both in response to FOIA and as a result of systematic reviews. They include the files of then-Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito, the post-presidential papers of Dwight Eisenhower, the personal papers of Rose Kennedy, 60 additional hours of Lyndon Johnson's phone conversations, National Security Council files from the Ford administration, domestic policy papers from the Clinton White House, portions of files from independent counsels from the Iran/Contra and Whitewater investigations, and the official and confidential files of J. Edgar Hoover....

NARA has made visible progress on a number of its strategic goals in the past two years—goals of greater access to our holdings:

  • We are moving steadily toward an Electronic Records Archives that will ensure preservation of, and access to, today's electronic records far into the future. ERA's first increment is scheduled to begin in late 2007 or early 2008.
  • We are working closely with the intelligence community and other key agencies to ensure that we can develop a National Declassification Initiative to transform the way documents are reviewed and released.
  • We are working with the private sector to digitize key collections and to enable Internet search engines wider and deeper access to our vast databases....

PS:  For more on the third bullet point, see my blog post from January 19, 2007.  The US National Archives made a non-exclusive deal with Footnote, Inc., allowing Footnote to digitize some of the archive's public-domain documents and sell them online.  Footnote will charge $100/year or $1.99/page for access to these public documents until 2012, when access will be free.

Shore Communications webcast on OA

The ShoreViews video for July 6, 2007 (from Shore Communications) contains a section titled, Open Access Scholarly Content Gains Steam.  I haven't had time to watch it, so I don't have other details:  what the OA segment covers, how long it is, or how far in it begins.

New OA database and search engine for chemistry

ChemXSeer is a new (March 2007) OA database and search engine for chemical literature, formulae, tables, and data.  One of the co-developers is C. Lee Giles, who was also one of the co-developers of CiteSeer.  From the site:

Research in environmental chemistry is becoming increasingly collaborative and multidisciplinary in scope and approach. For example, within the Penn State Center for Environmental Kinetics Analysis (CEKA), researchers are taking a multidisciplinary approach to linking kinetic information in environmental chemistry across spatial and temporal scales. A main goal of such research is to integrate experimental, analytical, and simulation results performed on systems from molecular to field scales in order to approximate the complex physical, chemical, and biological interactions controlling the fate and transport of contaminants better. New scientific questions can be generated when users have access to a broad spectrum of related results. As connections are made among field observations, experimental kinetics, spectroscopic analyses, and model predictions, gaps in the information web will become apparent. Approaches to filling these gaps can then be addressed by the collaborative team. An easily queried, intelligent database will provide access to critically relevant data for a diverse community of users, enabling these users to achieve higher order scientific goals. In short, data collection and synthesis will lead to better science and improved education of scientists.

ChemXSeer is an integrated digital library and database allowing for intelligent search of documents in the chemistry domain and data obtained from chemical kinetics. Currently, we have designed and implemented the following:

  1. Chemical Entity Search : The tool identifies chemical formulae and chemical names, disambiguates the terms from other general terms, and tags them. Novel similarity scores, ranking functions and search methods are used to enable searching for chemical entities.

  2. TableSeer : This tool automatically identifies tables in digital documents and extracts the contents in the cells of the tables. The contents are stored in a queryable table in a database. TableSeer extracts table metadata, and uses a novel ranking function to search for tables relevant to user queries.

  3. Databases : Our data repository contains experimental data obtained from various sources. Our tools can process, store and link data in multiple formats, e.g., Excel, XML, Gaussian, and Charmm. A metadata ad-on can help annotate the data and link multiple datasets.

The metadata is then used to link the data to published articles allow the end-user to search for relevant data.

Built using a novel architecture, our digital library will also utilize novel focused crawling and query expansion and rewriting techniques to utilize the limited resources available at hand and to enhance the quality of the search respectively.