Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 25, 2007

OA for NASA's images

NASA and Internet Archive Team to Digitize Space Imagery, a press release from NASA and the Internet Archive, August 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

NASA and Internet Archive of San Francisco are partnering to scan, archive and manage the agency's vast collection of photographs, historic film and video. The imagery will be available through the Internet and free to the public, historians, scholars, students and researchers.

Currently, NASA has more than 20 major imagery collections online. With this partnership, those collections will be made available through a single, searchable "one-stop-shop" archive of NASA imagery....

NASA selected Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization, as a partner for digitizing and distributing agency imagery through a competitive process. The two organizations are teaming through a non-exclusive Space Act agreement to help NASA consolidate and digitize its imagery archives at no cost to the agency....

Under the terms of this five-year agreement, Internet Archive will digitize, host and manage still, moving and computer-generated imagery produced by NASA....

In addition, Internet Archive will work with NASA to create a system through which new imagery will be captured, catalogued and included in the online archive automatically. To open this wealth of knowledge to people worldwide, Internet Archive will provide free public access to the online imagery, including downloads and search tools....

More OA MRI datasets

Daniel S. Marcus and five co-authors, Open Access Series of Imaging Studies (OASIS): Cross-sectional MRI Data in Young, Middle Aged, Nondemented, and Demented Older Adults, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, September 2007.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

The Open Access Series of Imaging Studies is a series of magnetic resonance imaging data sets that is publicly available for study and analysis. The initial data set consists of a cross-sectional collection of 416 subjects aged 18 to 96 years. One hundred of the included subjects older than 60 years have been clinically diagnosed with very mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The subjects are all right-handed and include both men and women. For each subject, three or four individual T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans obtained in single imaging sessions are included. Multiple within-session acquisitions provide extremely high contrast-to-noise ratio, making the data amenable to a wide range of analytic approaches including automated computational analysis. Additionally, a reliability data set is included containing 20 subjects without dementia imaged on a subsequent visit within 90 days of their initial session. Automated calculation of whole-brain volume and estimated total intracranial volume are presented to demonstrate use of the data for measuring differences associated with normal aging and Alzheimer's disease.

Population growth tilts the copyright balance

Tom W. Bell, More Authors, Less Copyright, Technology Liberation Front, August 23, 2007.

How does market growth affect the efficiency of copyright? I earlier argued that, holding all else equal, the low marginal cost of reproducing expressive works ensures that a larger audience will tend to reward copyright owners with larger profits. Population increases thus threaten to throw copyright policy out of balance, making the costs of its restrictions outweigh the benefits of its incentives. I’d here like to air a related but distinctly different argument: Holding all else equal, an increase in population, because it brings an increase in the number of authors motivated by non-pecuniary incentives, tends to render copyright less necessary....

More on PRISM

Rachel Deahl, AAP Tries to Keep Government Out of Science Publishing, Publishers Weekly, August 23, 2007.

To blunt the growing movement trying to force not-for-profit and commercial publishers to turn over published articles to the federal government for free online access, the AAP has launched a coalition called the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM)....

PRISM members are concerned that if government becomes involved in the publication of scientific and scholarly work, changing the standard peer review process that has long been in place, the work could lose its integrity. As Dr. Brian Crawford, chairman of the AAP’s Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division explained, changing the peer review process could ultimately open the gates for “agenda-driven research and bad science.” ...


  • Deahl has adopted the PRISM message hook, line, and sinker.  Not a single one of the OA policies or proposals that PRISM opposes would force publishers to “turn over” their articles or change the methods of peer review.  Shouldn’t journalists notice and mention background facts like that?
  • For more detail, see my point by point rebuttal to PRISM’s disinformation.

Update.  Thanks to William Walsh for these reminders:

[Publishers Weekly], as you know, is owned by Reed Business, a division of Reed Elsevier. According to the Giles article [in Nature], employees of Reed Elsevier participated in discussions with Eric Dezenhall in which he advised them to equate peer review with traditional publishing and public access to censorship.

Speaking of Elsevier, I noticed that PRISM's "In the News" section features a statement by Representative John Conyers voicing his concerns over a mandatory NIH access policy. According to, Reed Elsevier, through its PAC, contributed $2,000 to his campaign during the 2006 election cycle. It also contributed $2,000 during the 2004 cycle and $1,000 during the 2002 cycle. Since Opensecret's data was last updated in June, I checked the Reed Elsevier Inc. PAC's 2007 mid-year report from the FEC. It lists a $500 contribution for the 2008 cycle....

(When journalists let us down, thank goodness there are bloggers.)

Update. Also see Bill Hooker's constructive letter to Rachel Deahl about her article.

Update. William Walsh has done some more digging:

The brief article by Daniel Griffin on PRISM today in IWR is nearly identical to the one from last week by Rachel Deahl that appeared in PW.

IWR is a publication of VNU Business, which is a division of Incisive Media.

Incisive Media is owned by Apax Partners, a private equity investment group which, along with OMERS Capital Partners, recently acquired Thomson Learning (now Cengage Learning).

Thomson Learning is still listed as a member of the AAP.

Friday, August 24, 2007

More on PRISM

Tom Wilson, Publisher panic, Information Research Weblog, August 24, 2007.

The commercial journal publishers are really in a state of panic. Reports from various sources point to their launch of PRISM: The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, a lobby organization to help them try to persuade the US Congress (and presumably Parliament in the UK) to ban Open Access. Of course, they don't say that: we have the usual weasel-worded statement that lobby organizations in the USA seem to be adept at....

[On the alleged threat to peer review] they are simply lying, and they know it. Free OA, scholarly journals operate the same peer review process as do commercial journals: if they didn't scholars wouldn't publish in them, but free, collaboratively supported journals are growing in number and take away submissions from the commercial journals, which will find it harder and harder to maintain quality....

What this recent initiative by the publishers points to is that the only sure way for the scholarly communities to take charge of the scholarly communication process is to rid themselves of their commercial exploiters and promote the publication of free, collaboratively produced and subsidised journals....

Defining an open service

The Open Knowledge Foundation has created a web site to finish drafting and collect comments on its Open Service Definition

More on OA for CRS Reports

Ari Schwartz is proposing a smart, systematic, web-2.0 approach to the problem of OA for CRS Reports (thanks to Free Government Information):

We have been having some good conversations with individual offices [of members of Congress] on the issue and one member (anonymously) gave us the list of the new reports from the past 6 weeks.  From this list, we know that we've gotten 76 of 100 new reports from that time frame.

Because Congress still has no time frame to release the reports, we are going to start putting out the missing reports as a checklist when we get these lists  and asking Internet users to help us get them all.

Librarians call missing documents "fugitives," that might help the picture in your mind as you call.  We are posting here first and we will be posting whatever is left on the CDT blog tomorrow.

All you need to do is:

1) Pick a report that sounds interesting from the list below
2) Call up one of your representatives offices in DC
3) Ask them to email you a pdf of the report
4) Post it at

[PS:  Here omitting the checklist itself.]

Update. Also see Anonymous Lawmaker Helps to Build OpenCRS Database, a press release from the Center for Democracy and Technology, August 23, 2007.

U of Minnesota launches an IR

Yesterday the University of Minnesota officially launched its institutional repository, the University Digital Conservancy.  (Thanks to UM’s Transforming Scholarly Communication blog.)

The UDC was online as early as last June, when Minnesota librarians linked to it while explaining Minnesota’s commitment to the CIC Author Addendum.  Among the services provided by the UDC will be “Expert consultation on copyright, digital formats, and authors' rights.”

Also see the UDC FAQ, policies, and best practices.

Explaining the correlation between OA and citation impact

Stevan Harnad, Quality Advantage, Competitive Advantage, and the Rationale for Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, August 23, 2007. 

Summary:  The five most probable causal factors underlying the positive correlation between OA and research impact (as listed in: "Incentivizing the Open Access Research Web") are:

Early Advantage (EA): Self-archiving preprints before publication increases citations (higher-quality articles benefit more)

Quality Advantage (QA): Self-archiving postprints upon publication increases citations (higher-quality articles benefit more)

Usage Advantage (UA): Self-archiving increases downloads (higher-quality articles benefit more)

(Competitive Advantage [CA]): OA/non-OA advantage (CA disappears at 100% OA)

(Quality Bias [QB]): Higher-quality articles are self-selectively self-archived more (QB disappears at 100% OA)

The primary rationale for OA is to maximize research usage and impact. Most basic research output will never be used in teaching and, apart from health-relevant findings, most basic research output will never be sought for reading by the general public. Nor is the need for accessibility to science journalists the primary rationale for OA, otherwise publishers could simply agree to the compromise of making their online sites freely accessible to designated journalists. Nor is OA needed for the sake of accessibility to bloggers: The important bloggings about research will come from researchers themselves, in the form of Open Peer Commentary, and are part of the Early Advantage (EA). About 10% of articles receive about 90% of all citations. This means that the most useful articles are used most. It is also the most useful articles that benefit most from OA (the Quality Advantage: QA). The competitive advantage (CA) will disappear at 100% OA, but today, when we are still only at around 15% OA, the competitive advantage is an especially important incentive to self-archive and to mandate OA self-archiving. Once OA is at 100% and the competitive advantage is all gone, there will be a level playing field, with what is used and cited being determined solely by its intrinsic quality and usefulness (QA, UA), no longer constrained by the affordability and accessibility of the journal in which it is published, as now. Hence it is the enhancement of research usage and impact, and thereby research productivity and progress, that is the strongest rationale for OA.

Washington U reaffirms its BMC membership

In light of the well-publicized Yale decision to drop its institutional membership in BioMed Central, Washington University has made a point of publicly reaffirming its BMC membership

(If you recall, Berkeley also reaffirmed its BMC membership earlier this month.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

OA database of anonymized patient data

Bernard Lane, Red tape fragments health data, The Australian, August 22, 2007.  (Thanks to iHealthBeat.)  Excerpt:

If you can't link up vital data about sickness and treatment, you compromise the health of Australians, says Marienne Hibbert of the Molecular Medicine Informatics Mode [MMIM].

The Melbourne-based MMIM has already made a promising start. Online access to 150,000-plus anonymous patient records enables researchers across the country to do the kind of work that can save lives, but so much more could be done....

"The whole model is about protecting the data and ensuring research collaboration," Dr Hibbert said.

[The difficulty of medical research is] nothing compared with the complex web of law, regulation and institutional interest that stands in the way of bigger and better data linkages.  "The issues are never the IT," Dr Hibbert said.  Rather, it's IP, or intellectual property: who owns the data, raw and analysed.

"I probably didn't expect the IP to cause so much angst," she said. It took 18 months to hammer out the agreement that would allow MMIM to go to work; this was the "prenup" for a marriage of data and research teams. "It got converted from 10 (IP) principles to something like a 70-page document," Dr Hibbert said. Privacy clearance, by contrast, was quicker than expected....

[T]he Australian Institute of Health and Welfare...records on date and cause of death [could] speed the study of cancer survival rates.

The campaign to link up is being driven by advances in genetic science, information technology that encourages research collaboration and the promise of startling new findings as fragmented information is brought together in a vast database.

CommentPress edition of Ithaka report

Ben Vershbow, Ithaka university publishing report in commentpress, if:book, August 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library has just released an interactive, CommentPress-powered edition of "University Publishing In A Digital Age," the Ithaka report that in recent weeks has sent ripples through the scholarly publishing community. Please spread the word and take part in the discussion that hopefully will unfold there....

Incidentally, this site uses the just-released version 1.3 of CommentPress, which I'll talk more about tomorrow. Here's the intro from the good folks at Michigan (thanks especially to Maria Bonn and Shana Kimball for taking the initiative on this):

On July 26, 2007, Ithaka released "University Publishing In A Digital Age." The report has been met with great interest by the academic community and has already engendered a great deal of lively discussion.

Coincidentally, that same week, the Institute For the Future of the Book released CommentPress, an online textual annotation tool with great promise for promoting scholarly discussion and collaboration.

At the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library we have watched both of these developments with keen interest....

The happy simultaneity of the release of the Ithaka Report and CommentPress prompted us to view the report as ideal material with which to experiment with CommentPress. With the gracious cooperation of the authors of the report, we have created a version of "University Publishing In A Digital Age" which invites public commentary and which we hope will serve as a basis for further discussions in our community....

Comment.  This edition should foster discussion of the Ithaka report and showcase the utility of CommentPress.  Thanks to Michigan’s SPO for putting it together.

Bentham creates web sites for 209 forthcoming OA journals

Bentham Science Publishers plans to become the world’s largest OA publisher by launching over 300 OA journals before the end of 2007.  (Background here.) 

To follow its progress, see Bentham Open and pages to which it links.  The wheels are turning.  Bentham has recently put up a page listing 209 new OA journals.  Each has a web site, but I haven’t clicked through on each one to see how many have actually launched.

Publishers launch an anti-OA lobbying organization

The AAP/PSP has launched PRISM (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine).  I’m quoting today’s press release in its entirety so that I can respond to it at length:

A new initiative was announced today to bring together like minded scholarly societies, publishers, researchers and other professionals in an effort to safeguard the scientific and medical peer-review process and educate the public about the risks of proposed government interference with the scholarly communication process.
The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine is a coalition launched with developmental support from the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to alert Congress to the unintended consequences of government interference in scientific and scholarly publishing.
The group has launched a website at, where it articulates the PRISM Principles, an affirmation of publishers’ contribution to science, research, and peer review, and an expression of support for continued private sector efforts to expand access to scientific information.
“We are enthusiastic about this initiative and the potential of our new website to educate policy makers and citizens about our efforts to increase access to information, to alert them to the very real threat to peer review that ill-considered government interference represents, and to explore the ways in which we can safeguard peer review as a critical component of scientific integrity,” said Patricia Schroeder, president and CEO of AAP.  “Only by preserving the essential integrity of the peer-review process can we ensure that scientific and medical research remains accurate, authoritative, and free from manipulation and censorship and distinguishable from junk science.” 

Recently, there have been legislative and regulatory efforts to compel not-for-profit and commercial journals to surrender to the Federal government a large number of published articles that scholarly journals have paid to peer review, publish, promote, archive and distribute.  Mrs. Schroeder stressed that government interference in scientific publishing would force journals to give away their intellectual property and weaken the copyright protections that motivate journal publishers to make the enormous investments in content and infrastructure needed to ensure widespread access to journal articles.  It would jeopardize the financial viability of the journals that conduct peer review, placing the entire scholarly communication process at risk.
“Peer review has been the global standard for validating scholarly research for more than 400 years and we want to make sure it remains free of unnecessary government interference, agenda-driven research, and bad science,” said Dr. Brian Crawford, chairman of the executive council of AAP’s Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division.  “The free market of scholarly publishing is responsive to the needs of scholars and scientists and balances the interests of all stakeholders.”
Critics argue that peer reviewed articles resulting from government funded research should be available at no cost.  However, the expenses of peer review, promotion, distribution and archiving of articles are paid for by private sector publishers, and not with tax dollars. Mrs. Schroeder pointed out that these expenses amount to hundreds of millions of dollars each year for non-profit and commercial publishers.  “Why would a federal agency want to duplicate such expenses instead of putting the money into more research funding?” she said.
The PRISM website includes factual information and reasoned commentary designed to educate citizens and policy makers, to dispel inaccuracies and counter the rhetorical excesses indulged in by some advocates of open access, who believe that no one should have to pay for information that is peer reviewed at the expense of non-profit and commercial publishers.
Featured on the PRISM website are backgrounders on peer review, dissemination and access, preservation of the scholarly record and new approaches publishers are taking along with discussion about the risks of government intervention to the sustainability of peer review, copyright infringement, the possibility of selective bias in the record of science, federal budget uncertainties and inefficient allocation of government funding that duplicates private sector investments. Importantly, the site has information to assist the public in making their concerns known to Congress.
“We want to share as much scientific and medical information as possible with the entire world.  That’s why we got into this business in the first place,” Mrs. Schroeder said.
Anyone who wishes to sign on to the PRISM Principles may do so on the site.


  1. Pat Schroeder and Brian Crawford defend peer review when it is not under attack, and they attack public access to publicly-funded research without showing that it would undermine peer review.  As they have many times before, they cloak their concern about publisher revenue with concern about the “integrity” of scholarship and peer review.  This is straight out of the playbook of the PR consultant Eric Dezenhall, who advised the AAP “to equate traditional publishing models with peer review.” 
  2. But asserting that traditional toll-access (TA) publishing equates with peer review, or implying that OA will undermine peer review, doesn’t make it so.  I’ll have more to say about this in the September issue of SOAN, next week.  [PS update, 9/2/07:  My SOAN response is now online.]  Meantime here are some point-by-point responses to the press release.
  3. “Recently, there have been legislative and regulatory efforts to compel not-for-profit and commercial journals to surrender to the Federal government a large number of published articles that scholarly journals have paid to peer review, publish, promote, archive and distribute.”  The word “surrender” here is false and dishonest.  Recent legislative and regulatory efforts have encouraged free online access to peer-reviewed manuscripts within 12 months of publication.  A few efforts, which have not yet passed, would require this kind of free online access.  But every one of these efforts (1) has applied to the final version of the author’s peer-reviewed manuscript, not to the published edition, and (2) has been scrupulous to avoid amending copyright law or interferring with the transfer of copyright.  Under these policies, researchers may still hold copyrights to their writings, may still transfer their copyrights to publishers, and publishers may still hold and exercise those copyrights.  (The OA policies have not changed existing law that publications by government-employed researchers, as opposed to government-funded researchers, are uncopyrightable.)  These policies don’t require publishers to surrender their articles or their copyrights.  If authors transfer copyright to publishers, which is still the custom, then publishers remain the exclusive rights holders for the life of copyright.  The policies only require that the version on which they may hold copyright coexist with a free online copy of an earlier version, starting 6–12 months after publication.
  4. “[OA policies] would jeopardize the financial viability of the journals that conduct peer review, placing the entire scholarly communication process at risk.”  As usual, this is unargued.  If we look at existing evidence, as opposed to existing fear, then we have to come to the opposite conclusion.  Physics is the field with the highest level and longest history of OA archiving, and in physics TA publishers have publicly acknowledged that they’ve seen no cancellations attributable to OA archiving.  In fact, two publishers of TA physics journals, the American Physical Society and Institute of Physics have launched their own mirrors of arXiv, the premier OA archive in the field.  Yes, it’s possible that the consequences of high-volume OA archiving in other disciplines will differ from the consequences in physics.  But why not start with the evidence, or at least acknowledge the evidence, before turning to unargued fear-mongering?
  5. “The free market of scholarly publishing is responsive to the needs of scholars and scientists and balances the interests of all stakeholders.”  Calling the current system a “free market” is another distortion.  (So is the claim that it balances the interests of all stakeholders, but I’ll leave that to one side here.)  Most scientific research is funded by taxpayers.  Most researcher salaries are paid by taxpayers.  Most TA journal subscriptions are paid by taxpayers.  And publishers receive both the articles and the referee reports as donations from authors and referees.  Publishers don’t actually say that government money and policymaking should keep out of this sector, because that would really undermine their revenue.  What they want is government intervention in all these areas except public access to publicly-funded research.  What they want is the present arrangement of government subsidies for the work they publish, government subsidies for their own subscription fees, volunteer labor from authors and peer reviewers, double-payments from taxpayers who want access —and the label “free market” to wrap it all up in.
  6. “Why would a federal agency want to duplicate such expenses instead of putting the money into more research funding?”  Another distortion.  Some publishers are providing OA to some content when it's sufficiently old. But this is a far cry from providing OA to virtually all publicly-funded research within 6–12 months of publication. If the AAP is saying that the voluntary efforts of publishers will approach what the proposed OA policies would mandate, then the duplication argument starts to make sense.  But in that case they have to stop arguing that OA to publicly-funded research would kill their revenues, kill their journals, and kill peer review.  They can't have it both ways.
  7. And what about government spending money on OA archives instead of research?  It’s true that government OA policies have costs, and at research funding agencies these costs may reduce the overall research budget.  But put the costs in perspective.  The US spends about $55 billion of public money every year on unclassified research without the tiny investment needed to make the results available to all who could use, apply, build on, or benefit from them.  How tiny?  The cost of implementing the NIH's policy is $2-4 million/year, or about 0.01% of its $28 billion/year budget.  It’s a bargain, and the alternative is to undermine our investment by locking away expensive research where few can use it.  Studies by John Houghton and Peter Sheehan have shown that diverting a bit from the research budget in order to make all funded research OA hugely amplifies the return on investment:  Quoting Houghton and Sheehan:  “With the United Kingdom's GERD [Gross Expenditure on Research and Development] at USD 33.7 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency [their conservative estimate] would have been worth USD 1.7 billion; and...With the United State's GERD at USD 312.5 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 16 billion.”
  8. We want to share as much scientific and medical information as possible with the entire world.”  This is clearly not true.  They want to sell as much as they can and only permit sharing that does not jeopardize sales.
  9. “[T]he expenses of peer review, promotion, distribution and archiving of articles are paid for by private sector publishers, and not with tax dollars.”  This is almost true.  The costs of facilitating peer review by unpaid volunteers are paid by the journals.  But (as noted) public subisidies for research, researchers, and subscriptions all benefit journals and help pay these costs.  Moreover, the NIH pays $30 million/year directly to TA journals in the form of page and color charges —about 10 times the amount needed to provide OA to the agency’s entire research output.  But like the publishers, let’s suppose that these subsidies didn’t exist.  The OA policies are still a good balance of public and private interests.  Publishers provide the costs of peer review and taxpayers provide the costs of research, which are often thousands of times greater than the costs of peer review.  Here’s how I finished the argument in an article earlier this month: 

    But if publishers and taxpayers both make a contribution to the value of peer-reviewed articles arising from publicly-funded research, then the right question is not which side to favor, without compromise, but which compromise to favor.  So far I haven't heard a better solution than a period of exclusivity for the publisher followed by free online access for the public. This compromise-by-time is buttressed by a second compromise-by-version:  publishers retain control over the published edition for the life of copyright while the public receives OA to the peer-reviewed but unedited author manuscript.  Publishers who want to block OA mandates per se, rather than just negotiate the embargo period, are saying that there should be no compromise, that the public should get nothing for its investment, and that publishers should control access to research conducted by others, written up by others, and funded by taxpayers.

Update.  I was so busy responding to the press release that I failed to point out that the PRISM home page makes another Dezenhall argument:

What’s at risk

Policies are being proposed that threaten to introduce undue government intervention in science and scholarly publishing, putting at risk the integrity of scientific research by: ...opening the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record; ...

(According to Nature, Dezenhall also advised the AAP “to focus on simple messages, such as “Public access equals government censorship’”.) 

The Orwellian censorship argument doesn’t need or deserve an answer.  But if you want one, here’s how I answered it in SOAN for February 2007:

[FRPAA, like other OA mandates,] only applies to articles that have already been published in peer-reviewed journals....[I]t's about archiving copies, not manipulating originals.  Hence, the possibility of censorship doesn't come up.  The originals will be in libraries and independent web sites around the world, wherever the publisher's market reach, distribution system, and preservation back-ups have managed to place them.  If some of the published originals are not in fact copied for OA archiving, or if some copies are removed after deposit, that would be regrettable (and violate the policy).  But it would not affect the originals at all.  It would not delete them from libraries and independent web sites around the world, shrink the range of their distribution, change their access policies, or reduce their visibility.  To use the word "censorship" to describe the incomplete copying of literature already published, distributed, stored, curated, and preserved in independent locations is incoherent newspeak.  Or (to play along), if occasional non-archiving really is a kind of censorship, then publishers who want to defeat an OA archiving mandate like FRPAA want systematic non-archiving and mass censorship.

More on the AnthroSource move to Wiley-Blackwell

Stevan Harnad, What matters is Green OA Policy, not Commercial Vs. Non-Commercial Publication, Open Access Archivangelism, August 23, 2007.  Excerpt:

I do not quite understand all the fuss about the American Anthropological Association's switch in publishers from the University of California Press to Wiley/Blackwell. Yes, Wiley/Blackwell is a commercial publisher, and UC Press is a university press. But both are "Green" on author Open Access self-archiving, meaning they have both endorsed immediate self-archiving of the author's final, accepted draft (postprint) in the author's Institutional Repository, providing immediate Open Access to the article [but see FOOTNOTE].

The time to raise a hew and cry would be if and when Wiley/Blackwell ever contemplated changing their green self-archiving policy. But green policies (62% of journals currently) are growing in number, not shrinking, and this is largely because university and research-funder Green OA mandates, requiring their researchers to deposit their postprints, are growing in number.... 

FOOTNOTE: There is one substantive point, however, about the AAA's transition to Wiley/Blackwell, which is that some of Blackwell's journals impose embargos on the date at which access to the deposit can be set as Open Access.

If the AAA membership wishes to raise objections to something, then objecting to any OA embargos would be a good target.

But even that is far less important that ensuring that all postprints are immediately deposited, and that immediate-deposit mandates are adopted by all universities and research funders. For universal deposit is the surest guarantor that universal immediate OA will soon follow....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Two useful demo services tap DOAJ data

Eric Lease Morgan has launched two demos to show how Notre Dame’s MyLibrary software can make use of journal and article data from the DOAJ:

  1. Article Index.  From the about page:

    ...Article Index serves two purposes: 1) to illustrate ways DOAJ content can be re-used and repurposed, and 2) to demonstrate how MyLibrary can be used to support digital library collections and services.

    DOAJ is an OAI-PMH data repository. It supports at least two different data sets: 1) metadata regarding journals, and 2) metadata regarding articles. We here at Notre Dame wrote a simple OAI-PMH harvesting program that pulls down the article-level metadata. We store the data in a MyLibrary database, and then provide searchable/browsable interfaces to the result. The browsable interface is rudimentary, including only publishers, sources (journal titles), and broad DOAJ-specific "subject headings". With more work a browsable author list could be created too. The entire content of the system is...searchable....

    Ideally, if all (scholarly) journal article content were exposed via OAI-PMH, then indexes like this one, or even more specialized ones, could become the norm. A publisher does not need to expose the the articles themselves, just the metadata. The articles themselves could retrievable only via subscribers.

    Article Index is not intended to be a production service. It is only intended to demonstrate ways DOAJ content can be used and reused. It also demonstrates the flexibility of MyLibrary.

  2. Reading List.  From the about page:

    [Reading List serves the same two purposes as Articles Index above, and makes the same disclaimer that it is only a demo.]

    A MyLibrary system consists of: 1) information resources, 2) users, and 3) librarians. In the case of Reading List, the information resources are journal titles. This MyLibrary implementation allows people to create accounts for themselves -- the users. By associating users with journal titles, a list of "my journals" can be created -- a reading list. If users and information resources shared a controlled vocabulary, then relationships between the users and the resources could be created to implement things like, "If you like this, then you might like that." Alas, this implementation does support such functionality, yet....

Leibniz Society converts another journal to OA

The Leibniz Gemeinschaft’s Zentrum fr Psychologische Information und Dokumentation (ZPID) has converted its Journal fr Psychologie to OA, starting with the current issue.  The editors announce the change in an editorial (Google’s English).

Correction. The journal has converted to OA but the decision was made by Pabst Science Publishers, its current publisher, not by the ZPID.

Can law catch up with e-research?

Bernard Lane, Hi-tech research outpaces law, The Australian, August 22, 2007.

Researchers riding the wave of hi-tech collaboration may leave lawyers and policymakers in their wake, commentators have warned following what is believed to be the first survey of legal issues raised by e-research.  "One of the fears is that researchers out of their frustration will avoid the law," Queensland University of Technology [QUT] legal academic Brian Fitzgerald said....

In the QUT survey [report], released today, researchers complain that formal agreements for collaboration can take longer than [their research projects]; they prefer to work around university lawyers whenever they can; and they see the need for a plain English legal guide to the use of databases....

"The moment's now for e-research because data is coming up everywhere and the value of the data rises as the volume rises," Australian e-Research Infrastructure Council executive director Rhys Francis said....The council, which met for the first time last month, will oversee $75 million of public spending.

This includes the start of work on an Australian Access Federation, which would replace cumbersome bilateral agreements for sharing access to scholarly resources throughout the sector with an automated system ultimately to be hooked into an international network.

E-research ranges from simple web-based collaboration through to open-access publishing, high-speed computing, global sharing of massive data sets and control of scientific instruments. Some observers say the term e-research will become redundant as technology reaches into all fields of research and makes the solo researcher a rare species.

The QUT survey, Legal and Project Agreement Issues in Collaboration and e-Research, involved 176 mostly university researchers, research managers, lawyers and others working in commercialisation offices....

To show what was at stake, [Fitzgerald] drew a parallel with music downloads, where practice fast outstripped the law.  "We'd rather the whole e-research system works from the get-go on a legal foundation," he said....

Update. The report is by Maree Heffernan and Nikki David, Legal and project agreement issues in collaboration and e-Research: Survey Results, Queensland University of Technology, August 2007. Much of the survey covers researcher attitudes toward OA licenses for data.

More on the AAA decision to move AnthroSource to Wiley-Blackwell

Scott Jaschik, Publishing and Values, Inside Higher Ed, August 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Some object to the move from a university press [University of California Press] to a commercial entity and fear a lessening of commitment to important scholarship that may not make money. Others see this as a sign that the anthropology association — which has won praise for the online offerings of its journals — is taking a hard line against the open access movement embraced by many of its members (and the library world). Still others see the move as a sign that scholarly societies are facing tough decisions about their missions — without good mechanisms for involving the academic rank and file in making decisions....

Adding to the situation is that the anthropology association has been extremely tight-lipped about its plans (ditto Wiley-Blackwell) so many of those concerned don’t know the details of the deal. An association spokesman said Tuesday that no one would agree to talk about what was going on, and he reiterated that view when told many members were complaining about a lack of information. Late Tuesday, Bill Davis, executive director of the association, did return a call, but only to say that he would not respond to criticisms of the move until the deal with Wiley-Blackwell is finalized. To those arguing that more anthropologists should have been involved in the decision, he said that the board voted to proceed with Wiley-Blackwell only after months of discussions and an RFP process and that “the board is authorized to make decisions like this.”

A number of outside observers believe that the tensions visible in anthropology this week are challenging other disciplines, too. “At the most fundamental level, we’ve got a lot of these scholarly societies facing a set of frankly difficult decisions,” said Clifford A. Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, a collection of scholarly, computing and library groups. “They’ve got missions that often speak very broadly to disseminating and advancing knowledge in their discipline. They’ve got a membership that in some disciplines is increasingly convinced that the way to do that is more openness in publication and more innovation in publication, but these societies have got sort of addicted to these revenue streams from their publication programs over the last few decades, and are trying to figure out if they want to make the transition to a new model and — if so — how do they navigate the transition.”

Scholars face “fundamental choices” about their journals (a key tool of scholarship) and their societies (the way they meet and speak as a whole), Lynch said. “One of the first things you need to talk about is what are the priorities in a scholarly communications program being run out of the society. Is the priority broadest dissemination, meaning open access? Is the primary goal revenue? Or is the priority really innovation in modes of scholarly communication, which may take you to a very different place than open access?” ...

But because journal revenue — either individually or through AnthroSource — has been a key part of the association’s budget, it sided last year with publishers’ groups in opposing legislation in Congress that would have required research backed by federal funds to be made available online and free, six months after publication elsewhere. Many anthropologists — who view sharing their research as directly related to their discipline’s calling of sharing knowledge about different groups of people — were enthusiastic about the legislation and were stunned and angry to find their association coming out against it....

The image of locked-up research is something that troubles many observers of the publishing scene. Christine L. Borgman is a professor of information studies at the University of California at Los Angeles and author of Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet, to be published in October by MIT Press. She is also on the editorial board of a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell, The Journal of the American Society for Information Science.

That editorial board, she said, has been pushing Wiley to liberalize its author agreements, so that authors have more leeway to place their papers in online repositories. Currently, they have wide access to place their writings on their own Web sites, but limits elsewhere. Borgman said this model no longer makes sense competitively. More and more scholars, she said, “want repository-friendly journals” and won’t publish in places they don’t view as committed to some measure of open access. Why publish in a journal that is closed off, she said, when you can be in a journal where more people will find your research?

Borgman said that the journal’s editorial board is still waiting for a response from the publisher.

Librarians are also judging journals by their approach on these issues. “I would be worried as an author: Is anybody going to be able to read my material? If the bulk of material is available, but your stuff is in journals that are locked up and only available to people with a library that can afford it, do you want to publish there?” asked Suzanne Calpestri, director of the anthropology library at the University of California at Berkeley....

Lynch, of the Coalition for Networked Information, said...“The innovation side of this is particularly tough,” he said, and much more difficult financially than just going open access and putting basic articles online. “When you start thinking not only about can we go digital in our publishing because it makes it easier to get worldwide access, but because it may allow us to publish different kinds of things, exploring a richer palette of scholarly communication and bringing in primary data and visual materials, that takes capital,” he said. “It takes human capital. It takes financial capital. It takes technical capital. And a lot of these societies don’t have it and don’t have access to it, which is why some of them feel they have to go off to large players,” he said....

Jason Baird Jackson, associate professor of folklore at Indiana University at Bloomington and editor of the journal Museum Anthropology (which is part of the anthropology association’s collection), said he viewed the concern as not so much about dues but about the discipline’s values. “Our work is engaged with the world, and we convey things we’ve learned, and the idea that those communities [that anthropologists study] would have needlessly high barriers to accessing the fruits of the collaboration — that’s what’s driving these discussions.” (Jackson stressed that he was speaking for himself and not his journal or the association.)

Jackson, who said he believes scholarly associations should be exploring open access models, said that one of his concerns about the debate is that so few of his fellow anthropologists feel that they know what is going on....

One anthropologist who asked not to be identified said that the open access and publishing debates have shined light on problems for the association and the discipline. Traditionally, he said, the “big issues” confronting the association (what stance to take on the Vietnam or Iraq wars, for example) have been debated by members at open meetings, while the business decisions have been made, largely out of view and without much member interest, by association staff. Open access is an issue that “connects anthropological ethics with our scholarly institution’s bottom line, and many of us are learning for the first time” that they aren’t controlling decisions made on their behalf. Editors, he said, “are concerned but in the dark.”

This anthropologist continued: “Will Wiley-Blackwell transform our publications program into a money making machine with generous use rights for our content? Will it run them into the ground? We simply have absolutely no idea. Regardless of the consequences — and I’m not optimistic — this represents a failure of the AAA to make decisions in a transparent and rational way. Until we learn how to do that, we have bigger fish to fry than open access.”

Update.  See the comments by Sandy Thatcher and Stevan Harnad.  (Sorry, IHE doesn’t support deep links for comments.)  Stevan points out that Wiley-Blackwell is green on self-archiving.

Another society journal converts to OA

The Indian Association for Medical Informatics (IAMI) has converted its journal, the Indian Journal of Medical Informatics (IJMI), to OA.  (Thanks to Sukhdev Singh.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More on Carl Malamud's campaign for OA to public domain information

Tim O’Reilly, Carl Malamud Takes on WestLaw, O’Reilly Radar, August 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

Carl Malamud has this funny idea that public domain information ought to be... well, public. He has a history of creating public access databases on the net when the provider of the data has failed to do so or has licensed its data only to a private company that provides it only for pay. His technique is to build a high-profile demonstration project with the intent of getting the actual holder of the public domain information (usually a government agency) to take over the job.

Carl's done this in the past with the SEC's Edgar database, with the Smithsonian, and with Congressional hearings. But now, he's set his eyes on the crown jewels of public data available for profit: the body of Federal case law that is the foundation of multi-billion dollar businesses such as WestLaw.

In a site that just went live tonight, Carl has begun publishing the full text of legal opinions, starting back in 1880, and outlined a process that will eventually lead to a full database of US Case law. Carl writes:

1. The short-term goal is the creation of an unencumbered full-text repository of the Federal Reporter, the Federal Supplement, and the Federal Appendix.
2. The medium-term goal is the creation of an unencumbered full-text repository of all state and federal cases and codes.

This is clearly public data, but as Carl wrote in a letter to West Publishing that accompanies the first data release on his site, asking for clarification about what information West considers proprietary versus public domain....

In private email, Carl wrote:

The SEC database was fairly straightforward, taking a couple of years of hard work. But, getting patents online took 5 years of drawing lines in the sand and sending shots across the bow. Our line in the sand here is all state and federal cases and codes, and I guess our shot across the bow is publishing a 3.6 gbyte tiff file and announcing our intention to systematically walk through the 5 million or so pages of federal case law.

That's a big challenge, but with computing power and storage getting ever cheaper, and with the dedication of volunteers like Carl, it does indeed seem like a possible project. (After all, when Carl pressured the SEC to put its Edgar database online in the early 90's, they said it would take years and millions of dollars. Carl did it in six weeks, and operated the database for two years before persuading the SEC to take it over.) ...

Update. Also see this comment by Susan Crawford:

Go, Carl.

Routing around traditional publishers who want to create friction (or barriers to entry) for online access to data isn't easy. This is the same extended tussle that is engaged in. In the end, the gatekeepers should lose, particularly where the public benefits so far outweigh the private returns to the publishers. A cure for Parkinson's, made possible because scientists can easily share data across disease silos, or another royalty for Reed Elsevier? You be the judge.

OA for sermons and theology journals

Rob Mitchell, Future Trends and Open Access: Good for the church, too, The Naked Church, August 20, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Making information available for free is a good thing, and the most innovative and influential churches and ecclesial organizations have already begun making things like sermons and sermon outlines available online for free download. There are still some organizations and churches that want to charge exhorbitant prices to get a CD of audio talks (like those of speeches given at denominational General Assemblies, for instance.) And there are organizations that are simply out of touch culturally and technologically who sell cassette tapes for $5.00 or $10.00 by mail....

Hey, fellow Christians, if I may bring something to your notice, your problem is not creating revenue with your sermons, nor is your problem the potential for someone stealing your sermon content and using it without your permission. Your problem is obscurity....

The affinities that exist between the way the church ought to act in culture and the movements of Free Culture and Open Access to Knowledge are manifold. In this case, I think that the secular shapers of culture are way out in front of the church....

A small number of theological journals are already openly accessible, but most aren’t....What I would like to see is the creation of an Internet Commons of theological articles....

The bottom line for churches, seminaries, leadership organizations, conferences and colloquia is this: Share your information. Post your audio files and documents on the web. If they’re good, they are needed. If they’re bad, at least posting is very cheap....

Google Scholar's OA gap

Philipp Mayr and Anne-Kathrin Walter, An exploratory study of Google Scholar, a preprint.  Self-archived July 24, 2007
Abstract:  The paper discusses and analyzes the scientific search service Google Scholar (GS). The focus is on an exploratory study which investigates the coverage of scientific serials in GS. The study shows deficiencies in the coverage and up-to-dateness of the GS index. Furthermore, the study points up which Web servers are the most important data providers for this search service and which information sources are highly represented. We can show that there is a relatively large gap in Google Scholars coverage of German literature as well as weaknesses in the accessibility of Open Access content.

A wiki to track science journals and publishers

MathSciJournalWiki was such a good idea that its developers have expanded it to cover all scientific disciplines and renamed it Eureka Science Journal Watch.  From the front page:

EUREKA is a freely-editable source of information on scientific journals, starting with mathematics. It aims to be a central resource for understanding the journal system, and a catalyst for change — change away from the current system of corporate-run journal monopolies, towards an open-access system run by the scholars themselves....

This site needs your help! There are three main categories of things you can get involved in:

  • Adding content. This ranges from filling in editors' names, to adding news about journals, to creating entries about publishers and exposing their sneaky tricks.
  • Discussing the basic principles and philosophy of the site. For instance, to what extent should the content in the site behave like data in a database? To discuss this issue, go to Talk:Data Storage.
  • Helping out with the technical side. There are many simple things to be done, especially extracting journal data from the relevant websites. See Extracting Data on Journals and the To Do List.

To get started, go to the the discussion page. If you're new to editing wikis, try this. To ask a technical question, go to the Dumb Questions page.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The case for OA in Africa

Eve Gray, ASSAf Journal Editors' Forum holds its inaugural meeting, Gray Zone, August 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Academy of Science of South Africa's (ASSAf’s) first Journal Editor's Forum held its inaugural meeting in late July....This event marks the first step in implementing the recommendations of ASSA'fs five-year research study of the state of scholarly publication in South Africa. The wide range of recommendations focuses primarily on the strengthening of both the quality and the volume of scholarly publishing, particularly of journals, using an Open Access model....

The meeting was remarkably well attended, with upwards of 100 journal editors and other interested bodies participating. Discussion was wide-ranging and lively and there appeared to be general degree of support for the proposals, including the Open Access proposals, with the biggest stumbling blocks appearing to be a perceived need to retain print publications, with the sustainability issues that that raised; and the question of society publishers....

Dr Wieland Gevers outlined the mission of the Academy of Science of South Africa. The Academy, in line with its international colleagues, he said, is a consultative body aimed to offer the best expertise, independently of government, on science-based policy issues. The first project it has undertaken has been its research and policy proposals on scholarly publishing and knowledge production. The Report on Scholarly Publishing in South Africa arising out of this research took note of the potential of new technologies and of Open Access publishing. The recommendations made in the Report focus on the need to support and grow an indigenous South African scholarly publishing industry with international stature, using an Open Access publishing model....

Dr Gevers said that there was an opportunity for the country, using the modality of Open Access gold route publishing, to grow the output and reach of its research publishing, with sustainability coming from government subsidy supplemented by author and institutional charges, as well as other streams of finance. He said that in South Africa, if we are to deliver a high profile publication programme, we cannot avoid Open Access as the major option of the future. When one looks at the traditional, print and subscription model of journal publishing, with its small print runs and slow turnaround times, it is clear that there is no option, he argued, as OA would greatly enhance the impact, reach and speed of the dissemination of South African scholarship....

Questions were also asked about the policy for Green Route research repositories, in line with recommendations being made in the rest of the world. Wieland Gevers pointed out that the recommendations of the ASSAf report included support for a national system of harvesting of institutional repositories. This would be particularly important in providing access to pre-and post-prints of articles published in expensive toll-access international journals....

Monica Seeber, representing the Association for Academic and Non-Fiction Writers, pointed to clash in DST policy, given that the provisions for the Draft Bill on Intellectual Property Rights in Publicly Funded Research appeared to contradict the Open Access policies for publication that were being debated here. Many delegates expressed reservations during the course of the day about the very wide-ranging scope of the provisions of the Draft IPR Bill and its potential to derail scholarly publishing. In the afternoon workshop sessions it was agreed that the Draft Bill would be very damaging to scholarly publishing and that ASSAf should take this up with the DST....

In the second session of the day, which focused on publishing models for Open Access publishing, presentations were made by Paul Peters of Hindawi Publishing Corporation in Egypt and Pierre de Villiers of the South African Family Practice journal.

Paul Peters gave an impassioned account of the success story of Hindawi, an African-based publisher which has developed a financially sustainable and successful Open Access journal publishing business, now the third-largest commercial Open Access publisher in the world. It was a powerful presentation which held the undivided attention of his audience of journal editors for nearly an hour, as he spelled out the different ingredients of Hindawi's recipe for success. His main message was that African scholarly publishers cannot afford not to go Open Access: all the evidence shows that this is the one way of expanding access to African journals, increasing visibility, attracting a wide range of high quality authors from across the world, and growing the impact of the journals....

Traditional subscription systems limit accessibility, Peters said, and are an artefact of the paper world. For smaller journals , he said, Open Access is not an option, but is essential, as it is simply not possible for smaller developing country journals to get their publications out into the world in the print subscription model. The choice is an Open Access model or a failing subscription model....

Carl Malamud strikes again, this time at judicial opinions

John Markoff, A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free, New York Times, August 20, 2007.  (Thanks to Mel DeSart.)  Excerpt:

The domination of two legal research services over the publication of federal and state court decisions is being challenged by an Internet gadfly who has embarked on an ambitious project to make more than 10 million pages of case law available free online.

The project is the latest effort of Carl Malamud, an activist who founded in March, with the broad intent of building “public works” accessible via the network, and with the specific plan to force the federal government to make information more publicly accessible.

Last week, Mr. Malamud began using advanced computer scanning technology to copy decisions, which have been available only in law libraries or via subscription from the Thomson West unit of the Canadian publishing conglomerate Thomson, and LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier, based in London. The two companies control the bulk of the nearly $5 billion legal publishing market....

He has placed the first batch of 1,000 pages of court decisions from the 1880s online at the site. He obtained the documents from a used Thomson microfiche, he said.

Mr. Malamud, who is a self-styled Robin Hood of the information age, has confounded executives and administrators at organizations as diverse as the Smithsonian Institution, the House of Representatives and the Commerce Department by asserting the public’s right to government information and then proceeding to digitize it and place it in the public domain.

“I don’t mind people making billions,” Mr. Malamud said, “but I hate barriers to entry.” ...

In a letter to West Publishing last Wednesday, Mr. Malamud said his intent was to make federal and state court decisions available to a population that cannot afford the subscription costs.

Legal codes and cases are the “operating system” of the nation, he said. “The system only works if we can all openly read the primary sources,” he said in the letter. “It is crucial that the public domain data be available for anybody to build upon.”

John Shaughnessy, a spokesman for Thomson, said: “We have received the letter from Public Resource and Mr. Malamud raises a number of interesting but complex points. We are looking at them now and then will be in touch directly with Mr. Malamud.” ...

Quick update on OA progress

Heather Morrison has put together some Quick Stats, Fast Facts for those who need a quick update on the progress of OA.  Excerpt:

How much open access is there?  The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists over 2,800 journals as of August 2007. Growth rate: more than 1 title per calendar day.

An OAIster search encompasses more than 12 million records from over 850 repositories.

Scientific Commons includes more than 16 million publications by more than 6 million authors in 877 repositories.

The world's largest open access archive is PubMed Central, which exceeded the one million mark in June 2007....

Heathrow archaeology data released under CC license

Archaeologists excavating Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 are releasing their raw data under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 License.  (Thanks to Open Archaeology.)

HHMI will pay publication fees at BMC journals

HMMI to centrally fund publications by its researchers in BioMed Central's journals, an announcement on the BMC blog, August 20, 2007.  Excerpt:

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has signed up for BioMed Central Membership under which HHMI will centrally fund the article processing charges for all research published by HHMI investigators in BioMed Central journals.  The agreement will take effect from September 1st, 2007.

HHMI is the 2nd largest biomedical funder in the U.S. and commits almost $700 million a year for research and distributes $80 million in grant support for science.  This agreement comes soon after HHMI announced their open access policy, which requires that results of research funded by HHMI investigators must be deposited in PubMed Central.  This agreement with BioMed Central reinforces HHMI's ongoing commitment to open access to maximize the impact and visibility of the research that they fund and is a big step in the right direction for providing sustainable funding for open access publishing.   

HHMI-funded researchers already publish a signficant number of research articles with BioMed Central, paid for directly out of investigators funds.  View some of the latest open access research published by HHMI-funded researchers in BioMed Central journals.  Generally, when insitutions set up a Membership arrangement with BioMed Central, removing the burden of payment from investigators grants, this results in a significant increase in submissions, and we would expect the same to be true in the case of HHMI Membership.

Comment.  This is a welcome step.  Unlike the agreement with Elsevier, in which HHMI paid for green OA, HHMI is here paying for gold OA.  I’ve long recommended that funders who can afford to do so should offer to pay publication fees when their grantees choose to publish their research in fee-based OA journals.

What is open science?

Bill Hooker, What do we mean by open science? Open Reading Frame, August 20, 2007.

(Addressed in absentia to "Tools for Open Science", Second Life, Aug 20 2007.  I am sorry I could not be there.)

I think we all know what we want, and I think we all want much the same thing, which boils down to just this: cooperation.  A way forward for science, a way out of the spiralling inefficiency of patent thickets, secret experiments and dog-eat-dog competition.  But we use a variety of terms, and probably mean slightly different things even when we use the same terms.  It might -- I am not sure -- be useful at this point to come together on an agreed definition for an agreed term or set of terms  -- something equivalent to the Berlin/Bethesda/Budapest Open Access Declarations.

If this does not seem like a "tool for open science", consider what the BBB definition has done for Open Access.  It provides cohesion, a point of reference and a standard introduction for newcomers, and acts as a nucleation center for an effective movement with clear and agreed goals.  Since this SL session takes off from SciFoo, and SciFoo is by all accounts very good at converting brainstorming sessions into practical outcomes, I thought perhaps the idea of a definition or declaration of Open Science might be a suitable topic.  In what I hope is the spirit of SciFoo, here are some ideas that might be useful in such a discussion....

Sources and Models

We don't have to re-invent the wheel:


We don't want to start a cult, and we don't want to bog anyone down in semantics.  There's no purity test or loyalty oath.  My own view is that Open Science (or whatever we end up calling it) is not an ideology but an hypothesis: that openly shared, collaborative research models will prove more productive than the highly competitive "standard model" under which we now operate. 

Openness in scientific research covers a range of practices, from tentative explorations with a single small side-project all the way to Open Notebook Science la Jean-Claude, and we should welcome every step away from the current hypercompetitive model.  Open Notebook Science provides a useful marker for the Open end of the spectrum; perhaps all a Declaration need do is identify the minimum requirements that mark the other end of the spectrum?


What standards must a research project or programme meet in order to be considered Open?

  • obvious: Open Access publication
  • equally crucial: Open Data, that is, raw data as freely available (including machine access) as OA text
  • probably indispensable: Open Licensing so as to avoid confusion as to what is truly available and for what purposes; as per Peters Suber and Murray-Rust, this must be
    • explicit
    • conspicuous
    • machine-readable
  • Open Semantics: perhaps none of this will be much good without metadata and standards to allow interoperability and free flow of information
  • desirable: Free/Open Source Software
  • David Wiley: "four Rs" of Open Content (cf. Stallman's four fundamental freedoms for software):
    • Reuse - Use the work verbatim, just exactly as you found it
    • Rework - Alter or transform the work so that it better meets your needs
    • Remix - Combine the (verbatim or altered) work with other works to better meet your needs
    • Redistribute - Share the verbatim work, the reworked work, or the remixed work with others
  • OKF definition of Open Knowledge

"YouTube for scientists" from PLoS and partners

From Slashdot:

The National Science Foundation, Public Library of Science and the San Diego Supercomputing Center have partnered to set up what can best be described as a "YouTube for scientists", SciVee". Scientists can upload their research papers, accompanied by a video where they describe the work in the form of a short lecture, accompanied by a presentation. The formulaic, technical style of scientific writing, the heavy jargonization and the need for careful elaboration often renders reading papers a laborious effort. SciVee's creators hope that that the appeal of a video or audio explanation of paper will make it easier for others to more quickly grasp the concepts of a paper and make it more digestible both to colleagues and to the general public.

Also see the SciVee about page and FAQ.  From the FAQ:

We are unable to accept non-open access publications, but we encourage you to have your paper published with an online open access publisher....

You can make a video of yourself speaking about a paper you have published, or even just record your voice, and then (using the SciVee website) synchronize your presentation with the display of text and figures from your paper. It is kind of like giving a talk at a conference where the audience can see you and also see your visual aids - except the SciVee fits on a computer screen and the audience can view it anytime, anyplace (as long as they have an internet connection)....

We hope that SciVees will encourage and faciliate communication between peers through supportive comments and ideas about about how to improve or extend the research. You could also consider the comments as a place to write a short review of the article or direct readers to other SciVees or papers of interest....

OA press launched at Athabasca University

Athabasca University has launched the OA-focused Athabasca University Press.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From today’s announcement:

AU Press, Canada’s first 21st century university press, is dedicated to disseminating knowledge emanating from scholarly research to a broad audience through open access digital media and in a variety of formats (e.g., journals, monographs, author podcasts).

Our publications are of the highest quality and are assessed by peer review; however, we are dedicated to working with emerging writers and researchers to promote success in scholarly publishing.

Our geographical focus is Canada, the West, and the Circumpolar North, and we are mandated to publish innovative and experimental works that challenge the limits of established canons, subjects and formats. Series under development in several subject areas will promote and contribute to specific academic disciplines, and we aim to revitalize neglected forms such as diary, memoir and oral history....

More on the AnthroSource move to Wiley-Blackwell

Rex, AnthroSource drops UC Press for Wiley-Blackwell, Savage Minds, August 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

While the news has not been made official yet, many of us have already heard unofficially that AnthroSource is dropping its contract with University of California Press and moving to Wiley-Blackwell. We don’t know much about the deal so far, but at this point a couple of obvious things jump out that are worth mentioning.

First, the University of California press was very author-friendly and interested in exploring new forms of digital scholarship, including ones that attempted to innovate traditional publishing business models. Wiley-Blackwell, on the other hand, is a newly-minted merger of Wiley and Blackwell in which Wiley acquired Blackwell for 572 million pounds, and altogether the new company will publish over one thousand journals. Compared to the UC’s relatively modest journals program, Wiley-Blackwell is clearly ‘big content’ with a capital ‘C’. Library groups opposed the merger writing letters to the Department of Justice and European Commission.

The original goal of AnthroSource was to do something new and innovative—to find a way to transform a scholarly publishing program. While everyone wanted the AAA’s publishing program to be sustainable they wanted to try new ways of achieving this goal, and this was a goal that the University of California Press was interested in exploring with us. The move to Wiley-Blackwell, then, signals that the AAA has given up this goal and decided instead to get into the business of digital publishing in a very traditional model....[A]s one commenter put it in a private email, “This is not only a sad day for scholarly publishing, but a sad commentary on the state of scholarly publishing. By going with Wiley-Blackwell, AnthroSource is destined to be just another electronic journal package, and anthropological scholarship will be no more accessible than during the print era, locked behind closed silos.”

Overall, then, it appears that publishing in anthropology is polarizing into large organizations interested in enforcing scarcity in the digital space and smaller groups trying to find ways to allow scholarship to flourish under the new circumstances that it finds itself. It is a bit sad to find that, as the middle drops out of this field, the AAA has chosen to ally itself with Big Content in this regard....

It will probably be some time before we see any concrete changes in AnthroSource based on this switch. But when we do some of the main issues to track will be:

  • Will the AAA publishing program manage to break even? If so, at what price?
  • What will happen with the current AAA author’s agreement? The AnthroSource Steering Committee worked hard to create an author’s agreement that preserved the author’s right to archive their work. If we see this agreement change, then I think we should all really start panicking....