Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Open education needs open scholarship

Gavin Baker will be blogging on open education and open access at Terra Incognita, the online education blog at Penn State University. 

Gavin will write about linkages between open access journal literature and open educational resources, arguing that free education needs free scholarship.

PS:  Gavin is sharp on these issues.  I’ll be tuning in.

Jon Udell interviews Barbara Aronson of HINARI

Jon Udell has done a podcast interview with Barbara Aronson, the Project Manager for HINARI at the WHO.

More on early impact v. increased impact

Henk F. Moed, The effect of “open access” on citation impact: An analysis of ArXiv's condensed matter section, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, August 30, 2007.  (Thanks to William Walsh.)

Abstract:   This article statistically analyzes how the citation impact of articles deposited in the Condensed Matter section of the preprint server ArXiv (hosted by Cornell University), and subsequently published in a scientific journal, compares to that of articles in the same journal that were not deposited in the archive. Its principal aim is to further illustrate and roughly estimate the effect of two factors, “early view” and “quality bias,” on differences in citation impact between these two sets of papers, using citation data from Thomson Scientific's Web of Science. It presents estimates for a number of journals in the field of condensed matter physics. To discriminate between an “open access” effect and an early view effect, longitudinal citation data were analyzed covering a time period as long as 7 years. Quality bias was measured by calculating ArXiv citation impact differentials at the level of individual authors publishing in a journal, taking into account coauthorship. The analysis provided evidence of a strong quality bias and early view effect. Correcting for these effects, there is in a sample of six condensed matter physics journals studied in detail no sign of a general “open access advantage” of papers deposited in ArXiv. The study does provide evidence that ArXiv accelerates citation due to the fact that ArXiv makes papers available earlier rather than makes them freely available. 

PS:  I blogged the preprint of this article on November 15, 2006.

Open letter to Cambridge UP about PRISM

Peter Murray-Rust, PRISM: Open Letter to Cambridge University Press, A Scientist and the Web, September 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

I have sent the following letter to the Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press requesting factual information about the involvement of CUP in PRISM, and have asked that I can publish the reply on this blog Open Letter to Stephen Bourne, Chief Executive Cambridge University Press

Dear Stephen Bourne,

I am writing as an individual member of staff in [Cambridge] University (heavily engaged in developing new approaches to scientific scholarly publishing) to ask about CUP’s involvement with the recently launched PRISM initiative from the AAP. This initiative is an undisguised coalition to discredit Open Access publishing and its launch a few days ago has generated universal dismay and anger in many quarters including several outside mainstream publishing. The press release was reported in full by Peter Suber on his Open Access News blog where he has objectively answered and dismissed the basis of PRISM and its methods. As an example of the language of PRISM it implies that publishing in Open Access journals (as I do on occasions) is “junk science”. There is much more from PRISM which is both deliberately factually incorrect and misleading and I cannot see how a reputable scholarly organisation such as CUP could be associated with it. Indeed at least one similar publisher (Rockefeller University Press) writes:

“I am writing to request that a disclaimer be placed on the PRISM website indicating that the views presented on the site do not necessarily reflect those of all members of the AAP. We at the Rockefeller University Press strongly disagree with the spin that has been placed on the issue of open access by PRISM.” [rest of letter omitted here]

The purpose of my letter is simply to request factual information from CUP about its involvement with PRISM. Since PRISM itself has not reacted to any of the recent comment I can simply speculate that not all members of the AAP (perhaps including yourselves) were consulted before PRISM made its press release and new site. In particular it is unclear whether PRISM is de facto composed of all the members of the AAP or whether it uses their unsought goodwill to reinforce the apparent strength of the PRISM organization.

This mail is an Open Letter (posted on my blog) and I would intend to publish your reply in toto and unedited since your position (and those of similar publishers) is of great public interest. If there is anything you would not wish to be published, please indicate. Alternatively you may leave a comment on the blog itself. (My blog itself, though strongly advocating Open Access and particularly Open Data, attempts to be fair and accurate).

Comment.  These are fair questions well put.  I hope other researchers will send similar letters to their own university presses and to the publishers where they have submitted work and built up a relationship, at least when these publishers are members of AAP or (especially) members of AAP’s Professional/Scholarly Publishing division.  I suspect that AAP/PSP did not consult its members before launching PRISM.  But in any case the members should know that the launch of PRISM tarnishes them, alienates authors, readers, and referees, and, if successful, will only harm science by entrenching rather than removing access barriers to the results of publicly-funded research.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The anti-OA lobby is worried about loss of subscription revenue, not the loss of peer review

Stevan Harnad, Primer on Peer Review, Payment and Publishing, Open Access Archivangelism, August 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

As there is a concerted disinformation campaign now underway on the part of some (but not all) members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), faithfully following the high-priced pit-bull script that AAP purchased from corporate image trouble-shooter Eric Dezenhall in January 2007 for the express purpose of combatting Open Access, I would like to bring some simple home truths to the attention of all interested parties (for free):

(1) Peer-Reviewed Journal-Article Authors Give Journals Their Articles for Free: No Royalties. The authors of peer-reviewed journal articles, unlike all other authors, donate their articles to journal publishers for free, allowing the publisher to sell their articles for a (subscription) fee that goes exclusively to the publisher: Not a penny of royalty revenue, salaries or fees is sought or received by these authors (or their funders, or their employers) out of the total income that their publishers earn from selling their articles. This is not "work for hire." ...

(2) Peers Review for Free. The peers who review the papers that these authors submit to journals likewise donate their expertise and time for free. Not a penny of compensation for their services is sought or received by the peer reviewers (or their employers) from the journal publisher....The peers' reviewing work and time are funded by salaries from their employers (mostly universities).

(3) Publisher Revenues from Institutional Subscriptions Are Currently Paying the Full Cost of Managing the Peer Review, Several Times Over. The cost of managing the peer review process is recovered by the journal publisher out of a small portion of the income earned from selling subscriptions to the paper and online edition of the journal (mostly to authors' institutions)....

These authors, however (who are also the peers, as well as the users, and whose progress and careers depend on the uptake of their research by other author/researchers) have never been satisfied with leaving their research accessible only to those users whose institutions could afford subscription access to the journal in which it was published. In the paper era, if a would-be user lacked subscription access, they would write to the author to request a reprint, which the author would then mail to the requester, at the author's own expense.

Then email made it faster and cheaper to send eprints to requesters by email. And finally the web made it possible to self-archive the eprint in the author's institutional repository....

But this is not what the anti-OA lobbying is about, because the proposed and adopted funder and university Green OA mandates can allow access embargoes....

The anti-OA lobbying is instead based on the remarkable (and alarming) claim that OA mandates will destroy peer review, and thereby scientific quality.

But just a little reflection should make not only the falsity but the self-servingness of this claim completely transparent:

(4) If Institutional Subscriptions Are Ever Cancelled, Peer Review Management Costs Will Be Paid Out of the Institutional Subscription Cancellation Savings. If and when institutional subscriptions were ever cancelled unsustainably as a consequence of Green OA, the cost of peer review could easily be paid for directly by institutions, on behalf of their employees, per paper submitted, out of just a fraction of the very same funds they have saved from their institutional subscription cancellations. All access and archiving would then be provided by the network of institutional OA repositories instead of the publisher, who would only provide the peer review. This is called "OA publishing" or "Gold OA." ...

Hence what the anti-OA lobby is actually worrying about is the loss of their subscription revenues, not the loss of peer review....

This is not about peer review at all, but about an industry trying to resist adapting to technological developments in the online era merely in order to maximize its own interests, at the expense of the public interest.

PS:  All of this is true and important.  For my own take on the same issues, see the lead article in the September issue of SOAN, to mail in two days.

Report on Australian meeting to improve research access

Australia’s National Scholarly Communications Forum (NSCF) has released a report on its meeting, Improving Access to Australian Publicly Funded Research (Canberra, Australia, July 16, 2007).  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  From the summary:

NSCF Speakers and participants emphasised, while acknowledging significant progress to date, the need for an increased openness of access to publicly funded research findings, (notably in research data and publications). Maximising the economic and social benefits of research and enabling innovation, depends upon the effective distribution of research outputs.

Policy-frameworks and focussed research are needed, however, to progress beyond a simple advocacy of accessibility. There is a need to focus strategically on the full life cycle of scholarly communications (Houghton Report 2006). The benefits of increased access to Australia’s wide variety of research outputs can only be realised through structured and widely understood policies, practices and support systems.

A key issue to be addressed is examination of the issues arising in the Australian settings of embedding the cost of disseminating research outputs within the total cost of the research process. Further research is required, in this context, on the impact on traditional publishing models of ‘open’ initiatives.

Institutional policies and practices are largely out of step with, or ignorant of, the potential of wider accessibility frameworks. Institutions need to build curation of their scholarly publications and research data into information strategies to enable their research to be disseminated for the greatest possible impact.

Attention also needs to be paid within universities to make open access alternatives effective and easy to understand and use for authors. A crucial issue in this context is an understanding of intellectual property and copyright issues and implementation of coherent and supportive policies.

Increasing involvement with the academic community at the individual and disciplinary level is essential. Researchers need to be aware of the opportunities offered by new scholarly commun ication frameworks.

Research evaluation and funding conditions are primary points of leverage. There is need to ensure the RQF, and other evaluative measures, support and encourage, rather than hinder, more open research communication.

A  ‘joined up’ and systematic national approach to facilitate cultural and institutional change should be enacted.  National and organisational incentives, including tailored disciplinary advocacy programmes, need to be developed. Projects such as the Dutch Cream of Science initiative should be considered in Australia. Open Scholarship Australia or AusOpen Access would be counterpart titles of overseas nationally focussed initiatives.

Conclusion.  Greater national collaboration and action is required by Government departments, universities, relevant industry sectors and Research Councils to ensure the effective implementation of open innovation and accessibility frameworks.

Also see Arthur Sale’s report of the same meeting (blogged here July 23, 2007).

Against the Ingelfinger Rule

Bob Ward, We ought to get all findings out fast, Times Higher Education Supplement, August 31, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  An argument against the Ingelfinger Rule.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  Excerpt:

...Whatever the advantages of preventing disclosure of results before they have undergone peer review, it is less clear what public benefit there is to delaying media coverage of a paper once it has been accepted for publication. Preparing a paper for appearance in a journal once it has cleared peer review depends on the volume of work and the resources available to the publisher. The length of delay also depends on the publisher's schedule, which takes account of marketing priorities. Journals like to publish at regular intervals, with batches of papers of roughly the same size. An article can take longer to appear if it is stuck in a queue.

But another decisive factor is that most journals want to gain publicity for themselves through media coverage of the papers they publish. If an author talks to journalists about his or her paper once it has been accepted but before it has been published, there is a danger that the publication will not receive a credit in any resulting media coverage. And these days, many publishers believe that media coverage increases demand for their products and hence boosts their income.

As a result, there is often a gap of many weeks or months between the date on which a paper is accepted and the date on which the media are able to report its existence. In the case of research that might influence the behaviour of policy-makers, businesses or citizens, this delay might mean that decisions are made without crucial information that would be otherwise available if it were not for the marketing strategy of a journal. In such cases, enforcement of the Ingelfinger rule creates a conflict between the interests of the journal and the public.

It does not have to be this way. Members of the public do not need a paper to be in its final published form before they learn of its contents. Journal papers are often too technical and jargon-laden for a layperson and frequently omit a proper discussion of implications for the public. Journalists really need access only to the authors, and perhaps the manuscript, to prepare a full and accurate report. There must be a case for journals to set aside their marketing interests to promote the public interest by making manuscripts available as soon as they are approved for publication. This would finally loosen the steel grip that Franz Ingelfinger is still applying nearly three decades after his death.

California survey of faculty attitudes and behavior

The University of California has released an extensive study of UC faculty, Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication: Survey Findings from the University of California, August 2007.  Also see the executive summary, the survey instrument, and today’s announcement from John Ober, Director of UC’s Office of Scholarly Communication.  From the executive summary:

There is limited but significant use of alternative forms of scholarship, with 21% of faculty having published in open-access journals, and 14% having posted peer-reviewed articles in institutional repositories or disciplinary repositories. Such publishing appears to be seen as supplementing rather than substituting for traditional forms of publication. Furthermore, the large majority of faculty authors readily cede their copyright rights to scholarly societies and to commercial publishers. However, 7% of faculty authors have modified the copyright terms of a publication contract, and 4% have refused to agree to terms and thereby have forgone the opportunity to publish in a significant journal....

Furthermore, UC faculty appear to believe that nearly all published materials eventually appear online through the efforts of publishers or aggregators, and are accessible to almost anyone on the Internet. Such is not the case, however, as many published materials are legally accessible only by subscription or with the explicit author/institutional act of alternative or supplementary dissemination. These misconceptions may well stem from the UC faculty’s access to an unusually rich set of subscriptions and resource-sharing services managed by the University’s libraries....

In May 2006, a special committee of the UC Academic Council proposed that faculty routinely grant to the University a limited, nonexclusive license to place their scholarly publications in a noncommercial, publicly accessible online repository.  Under the proposal, granting this license would be the default situation, but faculty could choose to opt out. Despite full faculty governance review and discussion, the survey revealed that the vast majority of the faculty was unaware of the proposal. Asked to opine, based on a short précis of the proposal, 50% of the respondents expressed [word missing?]; support was tempered by concerns about implementation and impact....

Approximately two-thirds of faculty respondents reported being aware of or knowledgeable about open-access journals and repositories of open-access content. Faculty appear unwilling to undertake activities, such as forcing changes on publishers, that might undermine the viability of the system or threaten their personal success as traditionally evaluated....There is no dominant view about the potential impact of open-access publishing. However, a number of free-form comments highlighted concern that new forms of scholarly communication might come at the expense of existing publishers. For example, with regard to open access, some respondents voiced concern that it would undermine the financial viability of societies or commercial publishers, or that new payment models might simply shift the cost burden from institutions to individual faculty authors....

Consistently throughout the survey’s free-form comments, faculty indicated that they want to preserve the quality of published works, regardless of the form or venue. Many respondents voiced concerns that new forms of scholarly communication, such as openaccess journals or repositories, might produce a flood of low-quality output. Faculty showed broad and strong loyalty to the current peer-review system as the primary means of ensuring the quality of published works now and in the future, regardless of form or venue....

[In addition to] the lack of faculty knowledge about the potential change in University policy (mentioned above)...respondents were overwhelmingly unaware of eScholarship services, a University-wide set of tools and electronic publishing services for enabling the electronic creation and dissemination of published and unpublished works. This is an interesting contrast to the relative success of eScholarship, as evidenced by the significant quantity, quality, and regularity of contributions and the heavy use that content receives....

Comment.  As I said about an earlier study:  “All the fears or reservations documented by this study can be answered.  But it reminds us that we still have a long way to go in educating authors.  If we distinguish obstacles from objections, this study is all about obstacles, and none of the obstacles amounts to an objection.”  To repeat:  We still have a long way to go in educating authors.

Update. Also see Chris Armbruster's comments comparing the results of this survey with the results of a July 2006 Berkeley survey. "While [the 2006 study] interprets its indicating that academic values stand in the way of progress, the [new study] interprets its survey results as showing that institutional policies are the primary obstacle."

Update. The survey was conducted by Greenhouse Associates, which has posted five lessons it draws from the survey:



  • There is a gap in scholars’ attitudes versus actual behaviors regarding where and how they disseminate their scholarly output. While UC faculty feel that the current scholarly communication systems need to be changed and updated, they generally conform to conventional behavior in their own chosen outlets, favoring traditional print journals over open-access journals or other alternatives. Lesson: Concern does not always translate into immediate changes in behavior.
  • The current academic tenure and promotion system, which generally rewards faculty for publishing articles in well-established journals, impedes changes in faculty behavior. UC’s faculty consistently express concern about the existing promotion and tenure system, complain that it is not keeping up to date with new forms of dissemination, and say that the existing reward systems favor traditional publishing forms and venues. Lesson: The apparent advantages of new technology or other innovation do not always win out over established ways of doing business, especially when individual preferences may be subordinate to institutional rules.
  • While faculty show interest in learning about dissemination modes occurring across the scholarly community, their awareness of alternative scholarly communication opportunities is generally low. Further, they express varying levels of concern about issues relating to commercial and society publishers, publishing costs, and copyright. Lesson: Where there’s smoke, there’s not necessarily fire. Despite an active dialogue in the press and on blogs about these issues, they are not yet part of the discourse among mainstream academic scholars.
  • Despite widespread dissatisfaction with the current scholarly communications system, scholars are concerned about preserving their current publishing outlets, and few faculty members express willingness to engage actively in fomenting change within their academic institutions or academic societies or with commercial publishers. Lesson: Personal reward systems can be a strong factor affecting change.
  • Senior faculty may be the most fertile targets for innovation in scholarly communication. Younger faculty, while likely to be more comfortable with new technologies, are less likely to adopt new forms of scholarly communication because tenure and promotion systems drive them to publish in traditional ways. Lesson: Even when a market (e.g., academic scholars) appears homogeneous, analyzing the market to understand different segments, their needs, and behaviors can yield important insights that are critical for fostering change (or marketing products).

Cornell reinvigorates its IR

Cornell University has revamped and renamed its institutional repository, and is using the occasion to remind faculty of its purpose and benefits.  (The old URL resolves to the new URL.)  From Bill Steele’s August 30 story in the Cornell Chronicle:

Not long ago, wandering into DSpace, Cornell's online digital repository, was like exploring that dusty room in the basement of the town library, full of zoning maps and town council minutes from the early 1900s. There were gems here and there, but you had to know where to look.

Now Cornell librarians have moved everything upstairs, dusted it off, put a new sign on the door and, most importantly, added a lot of new stuff. What once was known as DSpace has become eCommons@Cornell, an expanding repository for Cornell research and scholarship.

"It's important to have a place to capture, preserve and make accessible the digital output of the university," says John Saylor, interim associate university librarian for scholarly communication and collections and chair of the committee that overhauled DSpace.

eCommons can contain images, audio, video and datasets. Researchers and scholars can use the repository to post preprints of journal articles, supporting material associated with published articles, book chapters or anything else they want to make available. If necessary, some material can be posted with limited access. The repository is indexed by major search engines....

Saylor is working toward the mandatory deposit of graduate theses, which is currently optional for students. To date, 605 Cornell theses have been voluntarily deposited in eCommons....

More on PRISM

Here are a few more recent comments on PRISM.

From Andrew Leonard at Salon:

How the World Works [Leonard’s column at Salon] has been hard on the commercial science publishers for their ham-handed efforts to equate public access to government-funded research with "censorship." So it's only fair to applaud a publisher who thinks that the stance of the American Association of Publishers (AAP) is just as ridiculous as we do.  [Leonard then reprints the public statement from Rockefeller University Press, dissociating iself from PRISM.] 

From Jonathan Eisen at The Tree of Life:

...I think academics and the public need to fight back against this attempt to mislead the public about the issues surrounding Open Access publishing. And one way to fight back is to recommend that the members of AAP drop out or request termination of the PRISM effort. So here is a list (see below for the full list) with links of the members of AAP. If you are involved or have connections to any of these groups, consider writing or calling them and suggesting they reconsider involvement in AAP. Look, for example at all the University presses. If they do not back out of PRISM we should consider launching a boycott of AAP members....

From Steve Mount at On Genes:

...The Association of American Publishers made a mistake by seeking to distort this debate. The AAP web site claims that the organization seeks “To promote intellectual freedom and to oppose all forms of censorship, at home and abroad.” Publishing is inherently about providing information, and it is not a field that naturally attracts people who prefer to win the debate than to find the truth. When the AAP hired this pit bull they were working against their own nature. They goofed. Like Michael Vick, they are free to change their ways. The pit bull can then go work for another client, one who has less to lose by offending those who care about integrity.

Finally, Andrew Walkingshaw has a point-by-point rebuttal to the PRISM page of Myth vs. Fact.

Scientists talk about OA on video

BMC has announced New additions to the Video Author Website.  Excerpt:

The BioMed Central author video website has recently been updated and offers the opportunity to watch and listen to pioneering researchers share their views on open access publishing and their experience of publishing in BioMed Central’s open access journals.

You can now view a video interview with Marcel Hommel, the Editor-in-Chief of Malaria Journal.  Discussing the necessity of Open Access publishing, Professor Hommel emphasises the importance of these publications for researchers in developing countries and the tremendous difference they have on their work. Marcel Hommel is a professor of Tropical Medicine at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

The website also features an interview with Michael Ashburner, Professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge.  Professor Ashburner discusses in detail the benefits and limitations of Open Access publishing, the major role in plays in developing countries, and contemplates on its future.

Dr. Tony Peatfield, Head of Corporate Governance and Policy at the Medical Research Council (MRC), also appears on the website. In his interview, Dr. Peatfield...explains how the MRC encourages its researchers to publish in Open Access Journals, in order to make the outcome of their research as freely available as possible....

Searching open education

Peter Brantley, Open Education Search, O’Reilly Radar, August 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Hewlett Foundation has announced that it is working with the Creative Common's ccLearn division to build a web search portal dedicated to open educational resources, with the assistance of Google. Organizations that sponsor repositories or collections of open educational materials are invited to submit information to CCLearn's OE Search project.

The initiative's goal is to build a comprehensive directory of open educational resources, encouraging their broader discovery and use. There are a large number of open content repositories, but they have been difficult to find in larger, more aggregated search tools, their riches often lost in the forest of commercial or deep web results....

Update. Also see the UNESCO press release, September 3, 2007.

Removing the barriers to open data

Peter Murray-Rust, Open Access to Research Data: surmountable challenges, A Scientist and the Web, August 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

This is the abstract I have submiitted for the Berlin-5 meeting: Berlin 5 Open Access: From Practice to Impact: Consequences of Knowledge Dissemination

Open Access to Research Data: surmountable challenges

Many scientists and organisations have recognised the power and importance of “Data-driven Science” where existing data is a primary resource in scientific research. In some communities (astronomy, particle physics, and some biosciences) this type of work flourishes and the primary challenges are technical - size, complexity, metadata, automation, etc. In many fields however, and almost all multidisciplinary endeavours the major obstacle is finding scattered, heterogeneous data. Many of the data first occur in scholarly publications and, while they can be interpreted and understood in low volume by humans, are poorly presented for re-use by machines. As an example, over 1 million new chemical compounds are published yearly, but are scattered through hundreds or thousands of journals.

In principle this could be solved by robotic indexing and the use of search engines. In chemistry, for example, we have developed text-mining techniques which can recognise as chemicals over 80% of terms in mainstream publications, and identify a similar percentage. Our tools could rapidly index the scientific chemical web and add significant semantic value.

The biggest problem, however, is that many publishers forbid or obstruct this activity. Most chemistry journals are closed and thereby immediately inaccessible to many. Even for subscribers there are usually lengthy licences which are fuzzy and difficult even for experts to interpret. There is an imbedded fear of offending publishers’ conditions either because of breaking copyright (even unintentionally) or being cut off by the publishers machinery (anecdotally very common). Many publishers specifically forbid robotic indexing.

The problem is solved for any “Open Access” publisher that adopts the spirit of the BBB declarations. Taken logically BBB requires that all content can be indexed and downloaded without permission. Unfortunately many publishers use “Open Access” but decorate their web site with additional licence conditions which are logically and ethically incompatible.

The label “Open Access” is a weak tool when describing access to, and re-use of, data. I and others have promoted the term “Open Data” ( and references therein) to describe the need to consider data as a critical resource which needs political and legal activity. The use of Creative/Science Commons licences is extremely valuable but will need refinement as the principles of Open Access and Open Source do not translate automatically to data.

I shall give demonstrations of Open Data resources and outline some of the issues that the scholarly community must address rapidly if we are not to be impoverished by the “land grabbers” in the digital dataverse. We need a radical rethink of conventional information protection and need to be braver and more outspoken.

Legal scholarship on blogs

Margaret A. Schilt, Is the Future of Legal Scholarship in the Blogosphere?, August 31, 2007.  A good review of the world of scholarly blogging by law professors.

June OA presentations from Berlin

The presentations from the 2007 Berliner Methodentreffen Qualitative Forschung (Berlin, June 29–30, 2007), devoted to Open Access und Elektronisches Publizieren, are now online.  (Thanks to Strenge Jacke.)

BioMed Central on PRISM

Brian Vickery, PRISM Bends the Truth, as well as Light, BioMed Central blog, August 30, 2007.  Vickery is the Deputy Publisher of BioMed Central.  Excerpt:

...Ahead of an upcoming vote in the U.S. Senate that would require open access to all National Institute of Health funded research within 12 months of original publication, lobbyists for traditional publishers fearing change are again engaging in a mudslinging campaign against advocates of all forms of open access....

The press release to launch PRISM uses emotive terms such as “safeguard peer-review,” “scientific integrity,” and “government interference”. The evidence that open access to scientific research does not harm the peer review process, compromise the integrity of research through government censorship, and certainly doesn’t only cater to “junk science,” is so well established that it merits no further defense.

Last year, however, Eric Dezenhall (“PR's pit bull”), advised the AAP “to equate traditional publishing models with peer review,” i.e. to say that peer review, the cornerstone of scientific research, is under attack or prone to deterioration by open access publishers, and that only traditional publishing models can somehow be used to preserve and defend it. It should be noted that peer review is practiced as stringently by open access publishers as it has always been throughout the history of scientific publishing. As a result, impact factors for open access journals continue to increase annually, speaking to the sound nature of the research featured in those publications. BioMed Central’s Malaria Journal, for example, was recently determined by Thomson Scientific to be the number one journal in the field of tropical medicine. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the most disciplined attention to peer review....

The real goal of PRISM seems to be protecting publishers’ perceived entitlement to copyright the research results of authors they publish (a standard practice in traditional scientific publishing) which gives the publisher the right to erect cost barriers in exchange for access to results (otherwise known as a subscription model). These subscription barriers are counter to PRISM’s desire to “share as much scientific and medical information as possible with the entire world.”

PRISM suggests that open access “would jeopardize the financial viability of the journals that conduct peer review, placing the entire scholarly communication process at risk,” because the publisher can no longer recover their costs and make large profits through subscriptions. But the viability of these journals is only possible because the market is broken, and the library community is held over a barrel and forced to funnel vast amounts of money into them through subscriptions.

Under open access, the intellectual property rights rest with the author under a Creative Commons license, the publisher provides a service (submission/tracking systems, peer-review, XML markup/PDF creation, marketing, customer service, distribution and archiving) for which the publisher is paid, and the research output is made freely available.

What PRISM truly represents is an entrenched industry still attempting to hold at bay the disruptive effect of 21st Century communications. In the same way that the music industry was forced to adapt to iTunes, and cinema and television had no choice but to use sites like YouTube to their advantage, so will the scientific publishing industry have to eventually determine a way to use today’s technology to its advantage. Anything less than a commitment to this principle is to the detriment of scientific discovery and the global public, which stands to benefit enormously from greater access to publicly-funded research.

Prisms have a wonderful ability to take in a uniform band and split it into its constituent parts. Let’s hope the increasing criticism over the launch of PRISM does a similar job of fragmenting this coalition, and exposing their true colors.

More on OA to monographs, a blog discussion

There’s a good blog discussion taking place about the accessibility of Samir Chopra and Scott Dexter’s new book, Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software (Routledge, August 14, 2007).  Understandably, the authors and their audience would like it to be OA or published under some flavor of open license.  The book is neither, although Chopra and Dexter did ask Routledge for an open variation on the standard license and were turned down. 

The discussion started with a blog post by Biella Coleman, announcing the book’s availability.  A growing number of comments on the post (now up to 23) discuss the access and licensing question.  Then separate posts by Chopra and Dexter (one, two) explain what they wanted and what they tried.  At a third blog, ACRLog, a post by Marc Meola launched new discussion yesterday.


  • I’m sympathetic:  I also have a Routledge book that Routledge will not allow to become OA, even now, nine years after publication.  One year after publication (1999) I got permission to provide OA to the preface and introduction.  Six years after publication (2004), when the OA edition of Lessig’s Code came out and more monograph publishers were experimenting with dual editions, I asked Routledge to try its own experiment and volunteered to let it use my book (thinking it might have difficulty finding a Routledge author willing to put his/her royalties at risk).  But I was turned down again.  One mitigation is that my book has a paperback edition, and so far Chopra and Dexter’s does not. 
  • There’s a good reason why the OA movement focuses on literature that “scholars give to the world without expectation of payment” (as the BOAI put it) —in short, journal articles rather than books.  The economics are easier, and the legal prerequisites, in author and/or publisher consent, are easier.  I’m one who would still like to see OA to royalty-producing monographs, and I believe that many authors and publishers can be persuaded that the benefits outweigh the costs.  (Dexter quotes my thoughts on this in one of his posts.)  But it’s important to remember that OA to royalty-producing literature is higher-hanging fruit than OA to royalty-free literature.  It’s also important to remember that book authors have fewer OA options among prestigious publishers than authors of journal articles, and face much longer turn-around times in between submissions if they decide to make the access conditions a deal-breaker. 

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More on the ALPSP hybrid program

Daniel Griffin, Learned Publishing journal to experiment with Open Access trial, Information World Review, August 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) is to trial a hybrid Open Access business model on its Learned Publishing title. Dubbed ALPSP Author Choice, contributing authors to the journal will be able to make an online version of their article available for free. However, the authors will face a fee of £1,250 ($2,500) for using the service, for non-members of the ALPSP the cost rises to £1,500 ($3,000).

ALPSP say they are testing a hybrid model to “see if it provides a viable way of sustaining the costs of peer review, editing and other aspects of journal publication,” Learned Publishing already operates a delayed Open Access model which allows free online access of papers after an initial 12-month wait.

Ian Russell, CEO of ALPSP, explained the organisations reasons for this latest move, he said; “Many of the over 350 members of ALPSP are trialling open access business models for their journals. We have always supported the need for serious debate backed by experimentation in order to help determine the effects, both positive and negative, of Open Access.” ...

The trial period will run for 12 months, once that time frame has elapsed the ALPSP Council will review the success of the model as well as the level of current subscription rates.

Adding to Russell’s comments, Sally Morris, Editor-In-Chief of Learned Publishing said, “Our journal carries many articles reflecting the great interest in the topic of Open Access. I am delighted that our publisher feels able to test the water itself, by launching an ‘Open Access choice’ for our own authors. We shall be monitoring author’s responses with close interest.”

PS: For background, see the ALPSP announcement and my blog comments on it, both from July 30, 2007.

PRISM doesn't speak for Rockefeller University Press

Mike Rossner, Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press, has allowed me to distribute this version of a letter he sent the Association of American Publishers (AAP):

To the Association of American Publishers:

I am writing to request that a disclaimer be placed on the PRISM website indicating that the views presented on the site do not necessarily reflect those of all members of the AAP. We at the Rockefeller University Press strongly disagree with the spin that has been placed on the issue of open access by PRISM.

First, the website implies that the NIH (and other funding agencies who mandate release of content after a short delay) are advocating the demise of peer review. Nothing could be further from the truth. These agencies completely understand the need to balance public access to journal content with the necessity for publishers to recoup the costs of peer review. After extended discussions with publishers, these agencies have determined that delayed release of content (none of them are advocating immediate release unless publishers are compensated handsomely for such release) is consistent with the STM subscription business model, in which peer review is a basic tenet.

Second, how can PRISM refer to bias when the government is mandating that ALL papers resulting from research they fund be released to the public after a short delay? The major potential for bias by the government and other funding agencies has already occurred when they decide what research to fund (e.g., stem cell research).

Third, PRISM takes issue with government spending on a repository of papers resulting from government-funded research. The government has been forced into this position by those publishers who refuse to ever release most of their content to the public.

Fourth, PRISM maintains that published papers are private property. Most of the research published by STM publishers only exists because of public funding. No public funding - no research,­ no millions in profit. Publishers thus have an obligation to give some of their private property back to the public, on whose taxes they depend for their very existence.

Finally, we take issue with the title: Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine. The use of the term "research integrity" is inappropriate in this context. The common use of this term refers to whether the data presented are accurate representations of what was actually observed. In other words, has any misconduct occurred? This is not the primary concern of peer reviewers, who ask whether the data presented support the conclusions drawn. It is thus incorrect to link the term research integrity directly with peer review.

I could go on, but I think you will get the point that we strongly disagree with the tack AAP has taken on this issue. We urge you to put a disclaimer on the PRISM site, to make it clear that your assertions do not represent the views of all of your members.


  • Rockefeller University Press is the first AAP-member publisher to publicly dissociate itself from PRISM.  Kudos to Rossner for taking this step.  I hope that other members of AAP, and especially members of AAP’s Professional/Scholarly Publishing division, will speak up.  Even those who share the AAP/PSP’s opposition to government OA policies can call on it to engage in a more honest debate. 
  • If PRISM adds the disclaimer to its site, authors, readers, and subscribers will still want to know which publishers, and how many, dissent from the PRISM campaign.  I hope that a disclaimer doesn’t stop others from speaking out.  I’ll keep track of any that do here on OAN.
  • Universities and libraries:  your subscription fees are paying for the PRISM campaign.  If you’re not happy about that, please ask other publishers to join Rockefeller. 

OpeningScholarship at the U of Cape Town

OpeningScholarship is a new project at the University of Cape Town, funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation.  From the web site:

The OpeningScholarship project explores the transformative potential of information and communication technologies in the context of the University of Cape Town, one of  South Africa’s leading research universities. Open Education Resources and Open Access digital publication offer wider and more effective dissemination of teaching and learning materials and research results among students and scholars, offering powerful advantages for a developing country. But the potential offered by new technologies reaches even further - the use of Web 2.0 interactive and social networking tools, supported by Open Source developments, are also creating new ways of tackling research, teaching and learning, as well as enhanced possibilities for ensuring that research impacts on the country's crucial development needs....

This year-long project commenced in 2007 and is funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation Interesting aspects from our investigation will be included in our project blog. Eve [Gray] will continue to update her Gray Area blog on Open Access issues in particular.  Ray [Steenkamp] will bookmark ongoing list of interesting Open Educational Resources and Open Access sites.

From Eve Gray’s announcement:

The OpeningScholarship project, with myself as the Strategic Project Director and Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams as Research Manager, will explore the transformative potential of information and communication technologies in the context of the University of Cape Town, selected for this project as one of South Africa’s leading research universities....

Some of the research questions that we will be asking are:

  • How can an institution such as UCT best build collaboration for scholarly communications across the institution?
  • What could an ICT system such as that at UCT offer in terms of new and opened up communications in teaching, learning and research?
  • How can the ICT systems that are in place help deliver much greater intellectual capacity, allowing the university (and by extension, the country) to rely on its own intellectual capital rather than on imported content? ...
  • How can existing projects – both departmental initiatives and donor-funded projects - be coordinated to achieve an effective and collaborative institution-wide scholarly communication system?
  • What policies and practices would need to be encouraged if the university is to achieve the maximum impact for its scholarly communications for research, teaching and learning, and outreach?

The intervention will aim to explore the potential of the full range of formal and informal communication strategies available to UCT in the 21st century, from formal scholarly publications to repositories, blogs, wikis, mobile technology, podcasts and video streaming....

More power to the Free Our Data campaign

Information World Review joins Free Our Data campaign, Free Our Data: the blog, August 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

We’re pleased to welcome our first official partner in the campaign: Information World Review, a VNU publication, has joined the campaign.

In a posting on the IWR blog, IWR’s editor Mark Chillingworth notes that

it would be great if Information World Review and its readers can be part of a campaign to make the information we already own more easily available.

IWR - motto “Information for competitive advantage” - is Europe’s leading newspaper for the information industry, covering both content and information management issues from the perspective of information professionals and managers responsible for intranets, extranets, portals and content management. It is circulated to information professionals, information managers and content managers working in corporations, consultancies, and public sector organisations in the UK....

Another German university signs the Berlin Declaration

Germany’s Technische Fachhochschule Wildau (University of Applied Sciences Wildau) has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge.

More on PRISM

A few more recent comments on PRISM:

From William Walsh at Issues in Scholarly Communication:

...Ellen Faran of the MIT Press, publisher of The Access Principle, among many other good things, is a current member of the Executive Council [of the AAP/PSP, which launched PRISM], as is James Jordan of Columbia University Press and Paula Barker Duffy of the University of Chicago Press.

Many of us recognize the challenges [university presses] face.  This was an honest attempt to address legitimate concerns; this is not.

From Barry Graubart at Content Matters:

...While some of the journal publishers, most notably Nature, have proven adept at navigating the new world of content, too many of the scientific publishers and aggregators have dug in their heels in an effort to keep the old system in place.  That system, using the research community for peer review, with all the revenues going to the journals, might have made sense when there were no alternative models, but clearly make little sense today.

It seems evident that the journal publishers are going to take the RIAA approach, hoping to use litigation and legislative lobbying, to try to protect their model.  That's a shame and in the long run seems unlikely to succeed.  It's ironic that these publishers of scientific journals seem to have missed the key element of Darwinism: Evolve or Perish.

From Adam Hodgkin at Exact Editions:

...[The publishers’] PR move has really just drawn attention to the impossible position they appear to be defending -- that it is a good and necessary thing for the results of publicly funded research not to be freely available to the public. Whatever you do, you dont want to appear to be arguing for that....

From Janet Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics and Science:

...I'd be thrilled if this lobbying group would choose some word other than "Integrity" to fill in the "I" in their acronym. At least in the context of scientific practice, it's not clear that they understand what integrity means.

From John Baez and Blake Stacey at Science after Sunclipse:  For this one, you’ll have to click through to see the images.

John Blossom on PRISM

John Blossom, PRISM Promotes the Interests of Scientific Publishers: Is it Better to Lobby or to Change? ContentBlogger, August 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

Wired Science has the most in-your-face coverage of the formation of PRISM, an advocacy group formed by scholarly publishers to stem the legislative movement towards free access to government-funded scholarly research. This in and of itself is not a surprise, but Wired claims that the site is an example of astroturf advocacy, meaning an organization that tries to position itself as a grass-roots movement when in fact it is created by others wanting to appear to have grass roots support. PRISM is the creation of the Association of American Publishers, so one assumes that the roots of this organization are more likely to grow in the yards of scholarly publishers than the scientists providing the research....

The primary problem with PRISM is that it seems to be advocating on a range of issues which, while valid in their own right, are more about fear, uncertainty and doubt - those familiar sales tools - than the real issues at hand....

[The claim that OA will undermine peer review] seems to be somewhat disingenuous, in that there may be alternative methods for supporting effective peer review that have not been explored by scientific publishers. Certainly a government-mandated publishing of research for free that doesn't take into account how that research is produced has the potential to be an unfunded mandate that could place an undue burden on scientific publishers. This is a real issue, but the answers to the issue may not lie with the government itself - they may lie with addressing how the peer review process is funded in general....

Surely politics should stay out of science, but there's no indication at this time that the government would have the ability to influence the peer review process politically through these proposed [OA] mandates any more than it does today....

If the purpose of PRISM is to convince legislators that there is an advocacy group that supports the publishers' goals then my sense is that they are going to fail. The site is not very convincing and lacks information about its supporters or any input from them that would influence people into thinking that there is a broad base of support for PRISM's views. PRISM does raise some important issues that need to be addressed in the rush to make access to government-funded research public, especially in how to support the peer review process realistically in an era in which public access to research is becoming a given. But the broader outlines of the solutions to many of these problems would seem to lie in how the scholarly publishing community has resisted changes in publishing technologies that disrupt their traditional business models.

With some added focus and some sponsorship of honest debate between government research sponsors, scientists and publishers PRISM may yet serve a positive and constructive purpose as an advocacy group. But if PRISM remains little more than an "astroturf" organization that defends the commercial interests of publishers then it's not likely to gain the needed respect from any of the parties that it needs to influence in this debate. Publishers in general are reluctant to engage their markets in a more conversational manner, but if scholarly publishers can position PRISM as a tool to build an honest conversation about the future of commercial and non-commercial scholarly publishing then they may be able to make some headway. At the moment I wouldn't bet on that happening, but you never know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stevan Harnad on PRISM

Stevan Harnad, Association of American Publishers' Anti-Open-Access Lobby: PRISM, Open Access Archivangelism, August 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has launched "PRISM" (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine), an anti-OA lobbying organization, to counteract the accelerating growth of OA and the dramatic success of the pro-OA Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) lobbying organization in the US and the EC Open Access Petition in Europe.

See Peter Suber's splendid, measured critique of PRISM's statements in Open Access News (more to come in Peter's September SPARC Open Access Newsletter [SOAN]).

The blogosphere is also on the case. (See especially the brilliant caricature of the publishing lobby's arguments here.) Unlike the pro-OA lobby, which has a huge and growing public support base worldwide, the anti-OA lobby is up against the problem that it has neither a public support constituency, nor any ethical or practical case to build one on. It is simply an industry trying to favor its corporate interests over the public interest without quite saying so. Hence PRISM is now applying, quite literally, the "pit-bull" tactics recommended to them by the PR firm of Eric Dezenhall, namely, to pretend that OA (i) represents government interference in both the corporate sector and the research sphere and that it (ii) puts both peer-review and scientific quality at risk.

Although the bickering and blogging and spinning on this will be frenetic, the actual issues behind it are extremely simple: ...

(2) OA is therefore in the best interests of research, researchers, research institutions (universities), research funders (private and governmental), the vast R&D industry, and the tax-paying public that funds the research and the research institutions, and for whose benefit the research is being conducted.

(3) OA might, however, be in conflict with the best interests of the peer-reviewed journal publishing industry, as it might reduce their subscription revenues or even eventually force them to downsize and change their cost-recovery model from subscription charges paid by the user-institution to peer-review service charges paid by the author-institution. (So far none of this has happened, but with the growth of OA, it might.) ...

(5) Researchers' institutions and funders cannot mandate the transition of publishers to Gold OA, but they can mandate their own transition to Green OA.

(6) Hence it is these Green OA mandates, being adopted and proposed worldwide, that are the real target of the anti-OA lobby.

(7) The anti-OA lobby's argument against OA and OA mandates is that they represent (7a) government interference in private-sector industry and (7b) they will destroy peer-reviewed journals, peer-review, and the research quality that peer-review certifies.

(8) The reply is very simple:
(8a) Inasmuch as research is publicly funded, it is for the funders to decide the conditions under which that public money is spent;

(8b) it is also up to the universities to decide on the conditions under which their employees publish their findings;

(8c) peer review is done by researchers for free; publishers merely fund the management of the peer review process;

(8d) if and when subscription demand can no longer sustain the cost of managing peer review, that cost can be covered through a conversion to the Gold OA cost-recovery model, with the OA institutional repositories themselves providing all the access and the archiving, and the Gold OA journals merely managing the peer review and certifying its outcome with their name.

That's all there is to it: The online era has made possible an obvious benefit for research, and the publishing lobby is trying to resist adapting to it. What needs to be kept clearly in mind is that research is not conducted and funded as a service to the publishing industry, but vice versa.

Fortunately, the very openness of the online era is to the benefit of the pro-OA lobby, as the specious arguments of the anti-OA lobby can be openly exposed and answered rather than being left to be voiced solely in closed corridors (lobbies), where their obvious rebuttals cannot be promptly echoed in reply....

Update. See Daniel Griffin's story in Information World Review based on Stevan's blog post.

Chance for OA to copyrighted German literature published before 1995

Klaus Graf, Urheberrechtsnovelle - Implikationen für die Wissenschaft, H-Soz-u-Kult, August 29, 2007.  Read the German or Google’s English.

In short:  German copyright law will change in late 2007 or early 2008, and authors will have one year to decide whether they want to own the exclusive electronic rights to their works published in Germany before 1995, or transfer the rights to their publishers.  If authors choose to keep the electronic rights, and tell their publishers within a year, then by law they will own those rights and may therefore authorize OA for those works.  If they don’t, then the rights will vest in the publisher.  Graf includes a sample letter to send to publishers to deny them electronic publishing rights.  The new rules apply to authors of any nationality who published with a German publisher before 1995.


  • The issue is very similar to the one raised by New York Times v. Tasini in the US in June 2001.  (See my brief article on it from July 2001.)  Early publishing contracts were silent on electronic rights, and as the internet grew authors and publishers both needed to know who owned those rights.  In the US, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the authors.  Roughly:  if the contract didn’t expressly transfer electronic rights to publishers, then the rights were never transferred.  In Germany, the issue was decided by legislation and in nearly the opposite way.  The rights will go to the publisher unless authors expressly communicate their opposite desire to the publisher within a year. 
  • If your rights are at stake, read the German law and don’t rely on my very imperfect paraphrase.
  • Please spread the word to authors who might be affected.  It’s a shame that authors must act or lose rights that they never knowingly transferred.  But if they do act, they could authorize OA for an enormous body of copyrighted German literature.

Update (11/13/07). Klaus has updated his appeal and linked to some others who join him in making it.

Update (11/23/07). See Klaus' latest update and my own.

Clifford Lynch on cyberinfrastructure and e-research

Clifford Lynch, The Institutional Challenges of Cyberinfrastructure and E-Research, Educause Connect, August 22, 2007.  An 80 minute podcast of Lynch’s keynote address the 2007 Seminars On Academic Computing (Snowmass Village, Colorado, August 8, 2007).

Abstract:   It has become clear that scholarly practice and scholarly communication across a wide range of disciplines are being transfigured by a series of developments in IT and networked information.  While this has been widely discussed at the national and international levels in the context of large-scale advanced scientific projects, the challenges at the level of individual universities and colleges may prove more complex and more difficult.  This presentation will focus on these challenges, as well as the development of truly institution-wide strategies that can support and advance the promises of e-research.

OA for Latin American neuroscientists

A.J. Dorta-Contreras, Possible repercussions of the open access revolution for Latin American neuroscientistsRevista de Neurología, June 16, 2007 (English title of a Spanish article).  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Balancing access, privacy, discoverer-priority, and IP in a new NIH

Jeffrey Brainard, NIH Releases Final Policy on Centralized Database of Human Genetic Data, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 29, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

The National Institutes of Health announced on Tuesday the final version of a policy governing a powerful, central repository of human genetic data that the agency will establish for the study of diseases.

Among other provisions, the policy will give scientists who contribute data to the repository exclusive rights for up to 12 months to publish scholarly analyses based on the data.

In other respects, the final policy, published in the Federal Register, is similar to a draft version published last year for comment (The Chronicle, August 31, 2006). The agency said it received nearly 200 comments, a large response reflecting controversy over some aspects of the new database, including privacy protections and controls over publishing and intellectual property.

The NIH and biomedical researchers are viewing the database as a promising tool that will help bring about the next phase in the development of medicine: new understanding of the contribution of genes to many common diseases. Scientists have already begun such research using smaller databases. Such work aims to correlate, for example, conditions like heart disease and diabetes with variations in particular genes.

The success of such studies, called genome-wide association studies, depends on having data from large-enough populations to yield statistically significant results. The NIH's data repository will allow the pooling of smaller databases containing similar information. Scientists financed by the agency to conduct such studies will be required to contribute their data to the repository....

The agency will also require scientists who want to study the database to agree not to publicly distribute it. Privacy advocates have worried that health insurers, for example, might obtain information from the database that identified individuals as having a genetic susceptibility to certain diseases and deny them coverage as a result....

The final policy also clarified the original proposal to specify that publication encompasses forms of public dissemination besides peer-reviewed journals, including meeting abstracts, oral presentations, and Web sites and blogs.

As for intellectual property, the NIH's policy says that it will expect users of the database not to use patents to block other researchers from using the data.

The policy will take effect in January.

PS:  For background, see my August 2006 post on the call for public comments and my December 2006 post on the NIH launch of the dbGaP database.

The PISD Coalition

The Partnership for Integrity in Scientific Dis-semination is PISD.  From the FAQ:

Peer reviewing doesn't cost journals anything—scientists usually referee papers for free. Isn't that a little unfair?

It is indeed a source of consternation to many in the publishing industry that current publishing conventions provide scientists with the opportunity to referee papers at no cost. Consider all the benefits reviewers accrue: (a) they get to read potentially important manuscripts several months or years before they're officially published and become popular; (b) they're afforded an easy opportunity to silence or scoop competitors by stalling their publications; (c) they might learn something, and you know how scientists are always saying you can't put a price on knowledge! Given all these benefits, it's pretty clear that peer reviewers are taking advantage of publishers' goodwill in a way that publishers never intended. Fortunately, the current outdated model will soon give way to a new, auction-based model currently under development at one of the larger publishing companies....

But why are the subscription fees charged by journals so high? Couldn't publishers get by while charging much lower rates and possibly encouraging wider readership?

We don't believe it's a publisher's place to make the value judgment that dissemination of scientific information is a greater social good than the increase in capital associated with charging higher subscription rates. That judgment should be made by politicians, ethicists, economists, and other valuable members of society. If you would like to know more, we suggest you consult review articles on the theory of utility or the laws of supply and demand. If your institution doesn’t provide access to such articles, we'll be happy to sell them to you at a reasonable price....

Interview with David Lipman

Heather Morrison has posted some of notes on Sundar Raman’s podcast interview with David Lipman, Director of the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, the division of the National Library of Medicine that manages PubMed Central.  Excerpt:

There were three reasons for developing PMC:

  1. Archiving. One of the traditional roles of the National Library of Medicine has been archiving of the medical literature, something that journals have never really taken responsibility for.
  2. Access - not all publications will remain available on the publishers' web site. Note: PubMedCentral is not necessarily open access; many of the journals PMC works with provided free access after an embargo period.
  3. Integration with underlying scientific data, i.e. making the articles much more useful. This requires a kind of expertise in areas that have simply not been the domain of publishers. This integration was a part of the original vision of Dr. Harold Varmus, who came up with the idea of PMC. Journals were invited to participate in this free database, and many do; some provide articles right away, others after an embargo period of 6 months to a year....
Sharing of data - gene and protein sequence information, for example - has been happening for the past 20 years, and the value in speeding up discovery is well understood. The discoveries not only come faster, but interestingly, often come serendipitously. This potential for serendipitous discovery appears to be a driving force behind recent and upcoming developments at NLM, such as the Discovery Initiative that will be the focus for he next couple of years, actively seeking ways to connect readers with articles that interest them, that they might not know to look for, as well as how to connect readers with the best works in an area, such as the Systematic Reviews that currently only specialists are likely to know to look for.

Dr. Lipman talked about the work towards PMC International, an international, voluntary collaborative network of biomedical repositories. PMC-UK is already up and running; beta testing is occurring in a number of countries, including Italy, South Africa, Korea, Vietnam, and Canada.

As for the next few years, David's view is that there is a pent-up energy to change the scientific communications so long constrained by the traditional journal. It is hard to say what the changes will look like; perhaps articles will be longer or shorter or contain different types or formats of information, or maybe there will changes in what constitutes peer review....

More comments on PRISM

Again without trying to be complete, here are some notable recent comments on PRISM.

From John Dupuis at Confessions of a Science Librarian:

...I would like to talk a little about the makeup of The Executive Council of the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division [which launched PRISM].

Who are the members of this Committee? Sure, the usual suspects, representatives of the major commercial publishers such as a bunch from Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw Hill, Wolters Kluwer Health, Springer Science + Business Media, SAGE Publications, ISI Thomson Scientific....Given that they are for-profit companies, however, it's not surprising that they would act to protect their profits....

Thank god, you're thinking, that the list above does not include any representatives from scholarly or professional societies. Surely they must understand the importance of free and open access to information, something which can surely only benefit their members, scholarship and society as a whole. Sadly, the Exec Committee also includes members from the IEEE (2, including the chair of the journals committee), American Chemical Society (2, including the chair), American Society of Clinical Oncology, New England Journal of Medicine, Columbia University Press, MIT Press, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Institute of Physics and University of Chicago Press. Unfortunately, scholarly societies see OA as a threat to the income from their publishing programs, which is used to finance all the other membership programs that they have like conferences and continuing education. It's really unfortunate that they can't see past these concerns to what the true interest of their members is: for their research to have as high an impact as possible and, as a byproduct of that impact, to benefit scholarship in their discipline and, hopefully, society as a whole as much as possible....

(See here for a list of all the members organizations of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. It's basically everybody.)

From Mike Dunford at Questionable Authority:

...If you look closely at the publishing industry's complaints, I think you'll find something interesting. The complaints are really an admission that the billion dollar profits of the academic publishing industry are nothing more than a hidden government subsidy. Your tax dollars are used to conduct the research that is reported in these papers. Your tax dollars are used, in many cases, to pay for portions of the publication process. Your tax dollars are then used to allow other researchers (often funded by your tax dollars) to buy access to that research. The publishing industry is fighting tooth and nail right now to make sure that they get to continue to extract as many government dollars as possible....

From Brandom Keim at Wired Science:

...PRISM was formed, their website tells us, to "protect the quality of scientific research" against policies "that threaten to introduce undue government intervention in science and scholarly publishing, putting at risk the integrity of scientific research." This is an issue of "vital concern" to "scientific, medical and other scholarly researchers ... institutions ... publishers ... physicians, clinicians, engineers and other intellectual pioneers."

So who are the scientists, doctors and intellectual pioneers who've joined PRISM in their noble battle? Well ... um ... there aren't any. At least, none are listed on the website. And while it's arguably unfair to expect a roster of signatories to a week-old group, it's certainly reasonable to expect a few. After all, they do call themselves a coalition.

In fact, it's pretty hard to figure out exactly who is part of PRISM. The only clue is in the contact section: send your mail in care of the Association of American Publishers. That's right, the folks who make their money off yearly journal subscriptions that cost thousands of dollars are the intellectual pioneers of PRISM. It's a classic case of astroturfing....

From Nick Anthis at The Scientific Activist:

...It's understandable that [publishers] are going to try to protect their own interests, but what appears on PRISM's website are outright lies and scare tactics. PRISM claims that the new open access legislation will succeed in "undermining the peer review process" and "opening the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record." These arguments are so incredibly absurd that I hardly believe anyone in this industry is thick enough to actually believe them. Either this industry group is intentionally and flagrantly misleading the public, or its members are just incredibly clueless....

[M]y beef here is not with the traditional publishers. There are excellent open access journals out there, and there are excellent journals published in the traditional mold. Open access is an exciting and promising new phenomenon, though, and one that the traditional publishers are going to have to adjust to. The methods employed by this new industry group, however, are totally outrageous....

From Madahnuc:

When ideologues trash science and the scientific process it is not news. But when disseminators of scientific knowledge do it, it is appalling....

Microsoft may adapt Word to the needs of scientific publishing

If you remember, Science and Nature are not accepting submissions created by Microsoft Word 2007.  Now Howard Ratner reports on Nature’s blog, Nascent, that Microsoft is meeting with scientific publishers to discuss “how Microsoft, third-party vendors and publishers can work make Word 2007 work within the STM publishing ecosystem.”

Andrew Leonard on PRISM

Andrew Leonard, Science publishers get even stupider, Salon, August 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

For fans of increased public access to taxpayer-funded scientific research, 2007 got off to an eye-opening start when Nature broke the news in January that Eric Dezenhall, a public relations high flier, was advising a group of scientific publishers to start pushing the theme that "public access equals government censorship."

I had some fun with that tidbit: "... any publisher of scientific research who even begins to entertain the notion that free access to scientific information can or should be equated with government censorship should be mocked mercilessly in every publication, online or off, free or subscription required, evanescent as a blog or solid as a hard-copy Encyclopedia Britannica, from now until they beg forgiveness from every human on this planet for their disingenuous mendacity." ...

Despite my rhetoric, I can't say I actually believed that the publishers would take Dezenhall's advice. But that is exactly what has happened, reports Peter Suber, the author of a blog exquisitely focused on the topic of open access. On Aug. 23, the Association of American Publishers announced that it was forming a lobbying organization, the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM), to fight back against the perfidious influence of the open access revolutionaries.

A specter is haunting commercial science publishers:

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 ... undermining the peer review process by compromising the viability of non-profit and commercial journals that manage and fund it [AND] opening the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record.  

...I stand by my original opinion. The American Association of Publishers and everyone associated with it should be ashamed of trying to protect their profit margins by slandering the open access movement as government intervention and censorship. Research paid for with government funds should be freely accessible to the general public. Peer review will survive. PRISM, however, will be doomed by its own weasel words, which represent a betrayal of everything science stands for....

Let the mocking begin.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A wiki for the NSDL

The US National Science Digital Library (NSDL) has launched the NSDL Wiki.  From the site:

The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Wiki provides a collaborative online environment where users can organize, create, and annotate resources. Vetted articles and referenced resources can then be added to the library for search and discovery on After registering, you or your group can use the NSDL wiki to develop specific topic areas for use in classrooms or research....

German publishers give their first impressions of OA

The German association of specialized publishers, Deutsche Fachpress, has released the results of a short member survey on OA.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) 

Only 7.5% said that OA was already affecting their business models and 40% admitted they didn’t know how to evaluate it.  Nevertheless, 72.5% said that they could not do their jobs as well as they do now under OA.   For more, read the press release in German or Google’s English.

PS:  This was a quick survey (“Blitzumfrage”) that only required five minutes of each respondent’s time.  I haven’t seen the questions, but they could not have been very nuanced.

More comments on PRISM

I don’t plan to collect all the blog comments on PRISM, or even all the good ones.  There are too many!  But here are some notable ones since yesterday:

From Shelley Batts:

PRISM's issue is this: if more and more research is made open access (ie, free) how will traditional publishers make any money? The concern is legitimate, but the hoopla, rhetoric, and obfuscation shown on their website suggests that they would rather bend the facts to create a non-issue (that peer review is under attack) rather than face a more real, but less sympathetic issue (how to keep making money). Their main beef seems to be the nebulous threat of "government interference," specifically that the government would like open access to the research that, ya know, it pays for. GASP.

This is bothersome, because I think that a real conversation could be had between 'old school' publishers and open-access publishers without running to a slick PR firm. It seems that the Association of American Publishers would rather the issue be weighed in the court of mis-informed public opinion rather than in the light of day, where both monetary concerns can be considered along with what is paramount to the scientific endeavor.

From Neurotopia:

I have little doubt that the publishing industry feels rather threatened by PLoS and other open access journals, which obviously not suffer one whit from open access policies initiated by the federal government. But why actually expect corporate cronyism to care about the public interest....

And god forbid we have priorities that include the public good at the expense of that bottom line. There's a lesson to be learned here: if you have an ideological difference of opinion, fine, just say so. But don't go spreading falsehoods just to convince others that your ideology is the correct one. It just makes you look intellectually bankrupt.

From Random Walker:

It that seems a group running by the rather Orwellian sounding name PRISM (“Partnerships for Research in Science and Medicine”)...are busy doing all they can to try to lock up academic publication....

Remove the perverse incentives to publish in restrictive publications and the vast majority of quality content will soon move exclusively to open platforms....

From Tom Wilson:

Here's my message to the UCU [University and College Union]....

The most recent development is the establishment in the USA of 'PRISM', the somewhat (and deliberately) misleading "Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine". In spite of its title, this is, in fact a lobby group for the publishing industry and, no doubt it will seek to extend its activities in some way or other to the UK....

What is the UCU intending to do to counteract the highly misleading propositions put forward on the PRISM Web page? ...

From Alex Palazzo:

...PRISM claims to have support from

scientific, medical and other scholarly researchers who advance the cause of knowledge; the institutions that encourage and support them; the publishers who disseminate, archive and ensure the quality control of this research; and the physicians, clinicians, engineers and other intellectual pioneers who put knowledge into action.

Like who exactly? If PRISM wants to be a credible organization they should name their supporters. But they won't because it'll mostly be the scientific publishers.

Report on Rome meeting on IRs and OA

Elena Giglia, Institutional Archives for Research: Experiences and Projects in Open Access, Library Hi-Tech News, 24, 2 (2007) pp. 6–8.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – To share an important national meeting in Italy that provided an international overview of the Open Access movement to date and how progressive the European commitments have been in mandating OA publishing profiles, and more comprehensively how OA is being practiced in Italy.

Design/methodology/approach – A summary of the main points of the meeting.

Findings – This Congress included the major themes that brought together the research communities, the libraries and librarians, the scholarly publishing enterprises and highlighted the technologies in place to make OA a viable solution to the scholarly communication problems that currently exist.

Originality/value – By reviewing OA strategies and initiatives in place around the world at different institutions in different countries it is clear that there are ways to lay this groundwork so that long-term success can be achieved. Lessons learned and best practices in place lead to more articulate and comprehensive ways to approach the ongoing problems to ensure that widespread adoption is close in Italy.

PS:  The “important national meeting in Italy” was Institutional archives for research: experiences and projects in Open Access (Rome, November 30 - December 1, 2006).

OA portal of US case law

Columbia Law School and the University of Colorado Law School have launched, an OA portal of US case law.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From Columbia’s August 23 press release: contains nearly 170,000 decisions dating back to the early 1990s from the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Appellate courts. The site’s creators, Columbia Law School’s Timothy Wu and Stuart Sierra, and University of Colorado Law School’s Paul Ohm, said the site’s database will grow over time.
Wu said he started to build because he wanted a way to quickly search through court decisions the same way that the public now can search a wide array of information through such Internet search engines as Google and Yahoo!
“It’s been more than 10 years since the start of the Internet revolution, and case law is one area that has not budged. Somebody has to take the initiative,” Wu said. “We want to open the law to the public.” ...
Ohm wrote the thousands of lines of code that download cases to from more than a dozen court websites each night. He said the data comes from the courts themselves, and is designed as an extremely open platform so that others can take the raw material and use it in various ways.
“This is what we call the ‘law commons’ part of the design,” Ohm said.  “The touchstone of is openness, and this means that not only will users be able to search cases, but they'll also be able to make copies of all of the cases in our database to reuse or remix in any way that they'd like.” ...

Reproduction fees rise at NARA

If you remember, the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) proposed raising its reproduction fees back in February and took public comments on the idea until April.  Now it has announced that it will raise its fees.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From NARA’s August 23 press release:

A final rule published in the Federal Register August 17, 2007, amends the fees for reproduction of archival materials in National Archives facilities nationwide. In addition to Federal records, this includes donated historical materials, Presidential records, and records filed with the Office of the Federal Register. This rule will become effective on Monday, October 1, 2007.

The fees are being changed to reflect current costs of providing the reproductions. The National Archives current fees were established in October 2000 based on a 1999 cost study. As a result of a cost study conducted in 2006, fees for copying records must increase to recover costs. This is the first fee increase in seven years.

Has PRISM violated copyright?

From Dave Munger, Opening knowledge -- or locking it up (when it's convenient):

...Prism describes itself as an organization to "protect the quality of scientific research", which it hopes to do by opposing policies "that threaten to introduce undue government intervention in science and scholarly publishing." What policies are they opposed to? Why, this one, which recommends that NIH-funded research results be freely available to the public when they are published.

In short, they want to protect science by locking it up under copyright. They want to restrict access to publicly-funded research results by requiring that everyone pay a fee to see it. There are plenty of reasons why PRISM's logic falls apart (see here for a thorough bashing), but I wanted to point out just one: they're hypocritical. While their entire web site advocates strict enforcement of copyright laws, the images they've used on their front page are a violation of copyright law. Take a look at this screenshot from their front page:  [PS: omitting image.]

Notice how the hairdo of the handsome scientist in the large photo is marred by the "Getty Images" logo? That's a digital water mark that stock photo suppliers use to keep unscrupulous publishers from "borrowing" their images. A quick search of the Getty Images web site locates the identical photo, with the identical watermark:  [PS: omitting image.]

Clearly PRISM was too cheap, or in too much of a hurry, to bother with copyright (if you look closely at the other two photos, you'll see watermarks on them as well).

However, they're happy to make it expensive and inconvenient for taxpayers to access the research they've paid for.

[Update: Looks like they've now replaced the watermarked images with paid versions. Apparently facing a Slashdot avalanche was enough to set them straight. But the point still holds: Dealing with copyright and DRM is expensive and inconvenient, and taxpayers who've already paid for research once shouldn't have to pay again to see the results.]

From Slashdot:

Commercial scholarly publishers are beginning to get afraid of the open access movement. They've hired a high-priced consultant to help them sway public opinion in favor of copyright restrictions on taxpayer-funded research. Funny thing is, their own website contains several copyright violations. It seems they pulled their images directly from the Getty Images website — watermarks and all — without paying for their use.

Also see William Walsh’s blog coverage and Nick Farrell’s story in The Inquirer. 

Marquette will launch 8 OA journals in 2008

Marquette Books will launch eight peer-reviewed OA journals in January 2008.  (Thanks to Kay Vyhnanek.)  From yesterday’s announcement:

Eight new scientific journals that focus on communication processes and effects will be available free of charge to scholars and the public in 2008, Marquette Books LLC of Spokane, Washington, announced today.

MB Publisher David Demers said he believes this is the first time a privately owned publishing house has made all of its journals open access.  According to the Directory of Open Access Journals, almost all open access journals are published by universities or nonprofit organizations, which in turn receive financial support from tax revenues or private donations.
"At a time when most for-profit publishers are increasing the costs of their journals," said Demers, "we decided to go the opposite route and offer all of our journals free of charge. We want the scholarship in our journals to be read by as many people as possible." ...
To compensate for some of the loss of subscription revenue, Demers said the online portal through which scholars and the public will access the PDF content of MB journals will contain some advertising for MB's scholarly and trade books. But he doesn't expect sales of those books or institutional subscriptions to the hard copy versions of MB journals (priced at $85 for one journal and $35 for each additional journal) to cover the costs of making the journals open access.
"This is a long-term strategy," he said. "We believe open-access along with our policy of allowing scholars to keep the copyright to their submissions will enhance the quality of our journals as well as our brand name."
Quoting book industry expert John B. Thompson, Demers said private publishing houses have increased the subscription rates of academic journals by an average of 226% from 1986 to 2000.  During the same time period, the consumer price index increased only 57%.
"Many of the for-profit publishers, and some academic publishing houses that publish journals, are holding librarians hostage," Demers said. "They know that librarians are reluctant to end subscriptions of top journals."  In fact, libraries spent 192% more on academic journals from 1986 to 2000. To compensate for the increased costs, most libraries cut purchases of scientific books. Sales of book monographs declined 17% over the same period.
Demers said many higher education librarians are upset with publishers who charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year for journal subscriptions. "The best kept secret in book publishing is that journal publishing is the most profitable arm of the industry," Demers said. "There clearly isn't enough competition in this market."

Demers said he supports the American Library Association's efforts to require scholars who receive federal funding for their research to publish their papers in open access journals. "It's wrong for the public to fund research that eventually ends up in scientific journals that are difficult or impossible to access in many areas of the country," he said. "That knowledge should be widely available, because the public is paying for it." ...

The eight journals scheduled for publication in Winter 2008 are Journal of Media Sociology, Journal of Global Mass Communication, Russian Journal of Communication, Journal of Health & Mass Communication, Journal of Media Law & Ethics, American Journal of Media Psychology, Journal of Communication Studies and International Journal of Media and Foreign Affairs.  More information about the journals can be found [here]. 

Comment.  Kudos to Marquette, a publisher who understands the access problem faced by libraries and scholars.  Just one correction:  The ALA supports policies that would mandate OA for publicly-funded research, but these policies would require deposit in OA archives, not publication in OA journals.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Special issue of OCLC Systems & Services on IRs

The new issue of OCLC Systems & Services (vol. 23, no. 2, 2007) is devoted to institutional repositories.  Here are the OA-related articles:

New developments at Google Scholar

Barbara Quint, Changes at Google Scholar: A Conversation With Anurag Acharya, Information Today NewsBreaks, August 27, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[A]nnouncements about changes in the constantly evolving service seem to occur rarely and with little ballyhoo. For example, did you know that Google Scholar has launched its own digitization project, separate from the high-profile Google Book Search mass digitization? Or what about the new Key Author feature? Or the expansion into non-English languages and non-U.S./Western European content? A conversation with Anurag Acharya, the designer and missionary behind Google Scholar, helped us catch up on the latest developments.

As to how much content Google Scholar now reaches, Acharya couldn’t say, beyond the understatement, “pretty large.” However, he described the growth in the volume of users as exponential. Arrangements with major content providers continue to expand Google Scholar’s reach. Acharya mentioned that Google was just completing the indexing of Elsevier’s Science Direct collection, with several new publishers on the horizon....

Representing another effort to reach currently inaccessible content, Google Scholar now has its own digitization program. “It’s a small program,” said Acharya. “We mainly look for journals that would otherwise never get digitized. Under our proposal, we will digitize and host journal articles with the provision that they must be openly reachable in collaboration with publishers, fully downloadable, and fully readable. Once you get out of the U.S. and Western European space into the rest of the world, the opportunities to get and digitize research are very limited. They are often grateful for the help. It gives us the opportunity to get that country’s material or make that scholarly society more visible.” ...

[T]his NewsBreak may represent the main public announcement of the existence of the Google Scholar digitization effort. No press release appeared describing the service....

However, a great many scholarly publications digitized by Google will not enter Google Scholar. Google Book Search has masses of back issues of journals digitized, as the bound volumes of periodicals come into the program from the stacks of its library partners. However, the metadata that Google Scholar needs to identify specific articles in specific issues does not exist and, at least for now, Acharya has no plans to create it. Searchers will have to remember to make a second search in Google Books, particularly for older journal content. However, scholarly book citations from Google Book Search do sometimes appear in Google Scholar search results.

Not only does Google Scholar continue to expand its content, but also its search features....

PS:  I covered Google Scholar’s journal digitization project in December 2006, but admittedly without a public announcement from Google.

Progress toward gold OA in library and information science

Heather Morrison, LIS literature and the gold road: 30% there! OA Librarian, August 25, 2007. 

The Directory of Open Access Journals currently lists 77 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly LIS journals. This list includes 2 titles with title changes, so the actual total is 75.

An Uhlrich's search for active, scholarly / academic refereed journals with "library" as a subject yields 246 titles.

This means that librarianship is already 30% of the way on the gold road, full open access publishing.

Analysis of recent journal start-ups is even more encouraging! For example, all of the journals listed in either DOAJ or Ulrich's with a start year of 2007 are open access. There are 9 journals in Uhlrich's with a start year of 2006, 8 in DOAJ (88%). There are more scholarly LIS journals with a start year of 2000 or later in DOAJ (39) than there are in Uhrich's (31)!

More on SciVee

Paula Hane, PLoS and Partners Offer Video Communications With SciVee, Information Today NewsBreaks, August 27, 2007.  Excerpt:

...SciVee is a new site that lets scientists communicate their works as multimedia presentations incorporated with the content of their published articles. SciVee is operated in partnership with the open access publisher the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). The so-called “YouTube for science” site has already garnered a great deal of interest and buzz in the blogosphere and media, even though it is still in “alpha” stage and its founders weren’t planning for a launch at this time.

According to one founder, Philip Bourne of the University of California–San Diego (UCSD) and founding editor in chief of PLoS Computational Biology, he talked about the project at a scientific meeting and the buzz began prematurely. “The good news,” he said, “is that more than 44,000 people have already looked at the site in the last few days; the bad news is that there’s not enough content yet.” (There look to be five pubcasts currently available.) The site is approaching 6 million hits and is drawing interest worldwide. The beta release is planned for September, and already some 700 people have volunteered to be beta testers....

The goal is to improve the dissemination and comprehension of science. It not only presents a platform for researchers to explain and share their work but a communication medium for commentary and discussion....Users will be able to subscribe to channels and groups of interest....

PLoS now publishes eight journals. SciVee currently lists content “channels” that correspond to these eight titles.

At this point, the site only accepts articles from PLoS journals. Bourne said that by the end of the year, the site will allow participants to upload all publications held in PubMed Central (a free digital archive of life sciences journals) and will accept abstracts from journals that are not open access. It will also accept papers in fields outside the life sciences. In the next phase, users will be able to create a personal profile and join or create their own science communities.

In addition, the site will eventually allow scientists to upload videos unrelated to a journal publication. “These might be scientific laboratory demonstrations, additional videos that support an existing pubcast, video responses to other scientific videos and pubcasts on our site, or another type of video that supports your scientific work. All these types of videos will be separated from the pubcast channel content, which is based on peer-reviewed publications, in order to ensure that our site features high quality scientific content.” ...

Profile of the IR at the U of Nebraska at Lincoln

Paul Royster, UNL Digital Commons -- An Introduction, August 2007.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Abstract:   A PDF'ed PowerPoint presentation on the rationale, organization, and operation of the UNL Digital Commons institutional repository. Updated August 2007.

PS:  Also see Royster’s article on the first year of the UNL repository.  Here’s the October 2006 preprint (OA), and here’s the published edition (OCLC Systems and Services, 23, 2, 2007, and not OA). 

More on the tension between indigenous knowledge and OA

Eric Kansa, Finding common ground in the Digital Commons, iCommons, August 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Access and open, participatory systems can help indigenous peoples have much greater say in how they are portrayed and represented....

While openness is empowering we need to remember that participation in open, collaborative systems should be a matter of choice and not compulsion. Few advocates of the commons would argue that it is ethical to broadcast confidential medical records or other personal secrets without the consent of people who are well informed of the risks of such exposure. Putting an “Attribution” licence on such content won’t make it any more ethical. In the same way, members of the global Commons need to recognise that ideas of privacy and secrecy vary widely, and indigenous ideas of what’s sacred, private, shareable, or secret vary tremendously. While Creative Commons licences can be a powerful tool for indigenous cultural expression, there are some cases where Creative Commons licence choices map poorly to local needs (Kansa et al 2005). To fill these gaps, other, non-standard, and incompatible licences may emerge as a result. Many elements of indigenous cultural heritage will probably never be neatly and cleanly compatible with global conceptualisations of “free culture” operating on a bedrock of compatible open licences. Much cross-cultural communication will likely take place in a necessarily “messy public sphere of contest, debate, and protest” (quoting Hayden 2003:46)....

What Google digitization can do for research

JISC has released a podcast of two notable librarians talking about what Google digitization can do for research and education.  From the description:

Google has quickly become a key player in the digitization of scholarly resources. In this podcast two librarians – Richard Ovenden of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and Mike Keller at Stanford University – who are both working with Google to digitize large parts of their collections, talk to Philip Pothen about the opportunities and the challenges of working with the private sector to digitize important scholarly resources.

Improving the UK RAE and fostering OA at the same time

Stevan Harnad, Validating Open Access Metrics for RAE 2008, Open Access Archivangelism, August 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

Summary:  The United Kingdom's Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has two pluses and two (correctable) minuses: ....

[The second correctable minus is that] RAE 2008 is needlessly insisting that researchers submit the publishers' PDFs for the 2008 exercise. It should instead require researchers to deposit their own peer-reviewed, revised, accepted final drafts in their own University's Institutional Repositories (IRs) for research assessment, where RAE can access them directly. This will not only provide the research database for assessment, but it will also help to accelerate the growth and benefits of Open Access in the UK and worldwide....

OA for Indian research

Stevan Harnad and Alma Swan, India, Open Access, the Law of Karma and the Golden Rule, Technical Report, ECS, University of Southampton, self-archived August 26, 2007.

Abstract:   India is peculiarly positioned to help herself while helping the entire planet as well. India needs to adopt a national OA self-archiving mandate for all of its research institutions and funders. The principle is simple, it is already embodied in India’s Law of Karma as well as in the West’s ‘Golden Rule’: ‘Self-Archive Unto Others As You Would Have Them Self-Archive Unto You’. If India sets the example, by officially adopting and implementing this rule, India’s own research access and impact will be maximised, the rest of the world will follow India’s example, and research progress worldwide will be the beneficiary.

Much more on PRISM

I was just going through the weekend’s flurry of blog comments on PRISM, thinking about how extensively to quote them and in what order, when I saw that Coturnix has already posted excerpts from each one, along with his own comments.  I’ve been busy writing the September SOAN, which will reply to PRISM in more detail, and I welcome this chance to save time and send you all to his blog

He quotes comments from Evolgen, Grrrlscientist, Entertaining Research, Jonathan Eisen, Bill Hooker (x2), Peter Murray-Rust, Nodalpoint, Andrew Walkinshaw, Dorothea Salo, Mike Simpson, William Walsh (x2), Tom Wilson (x3), Heather Morrison (x5), and Neil Saunders.

OA before Web 2.0 for academic libraries

Henk Ellermann, Web 2.0 is geen kerntaak van bibliotheken, Livre, August 21, 2007.  Ellermann argues that for academic libraries, open access is more important than Web 2.0 forms of communication.  Read his article in Dutch or his blog summary in English.

More on EThOS

Anthony Troman, Neil Jacobs, and Susan Copeland, A new electronic service for UK theses: access transformed by EThOS, Interlending & Document Supply, 35, 3 (2007) pp. 157–163.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – The paper aims to describe recent moves to establish a UK electronic thesis service. The existing arrangements for access to UK doctoral theses are not seen as ideal or sustainable. A range of stakeholders have come together in recent years to invest in an alternative. The resulting service model is one that is relevant to higher education across the UK and beyond.

Design/methodology/approach – The EThOS service model is a partnership between the British Library as the service provider and UK universities, and includes technical, legal, business and operational aspects. It has been achieved by a series of development projects undertaken since 2002, culminating now in the impending transition from prototype to live service.

Findings – The EThOS service model includes a range of partnership options to suit the varied requirements of UK higher education institutions. The main ambition of the model is to make electronic theses available open access via a financially viable and sustainable model. The core of the model is a “central hub”, offering discovery, digitisation and preservation functions, working with institutions, in part via their institutional repositories.

Practical implications – It is hoped that most UK higher education institutions will sign up for EThOS and benefit from this shift to both electronic theses and open access. Many have already indicated that they will do so.

Originality/value – The value of the EThOS service is likely to be considerable. Where theses are available open access, their use escalates. EThOS will enable UK theses to be more widely accessed, read, used and cited worldwide. Authors, institutions and the UK all benefit from this.

More on the Aquatic Commons

Jean Collins, Information Sharing Via The Aquatic Commons, FAO Aquaculuture Newsletter, No. 37, undated.  (Thanks to The Lubin Files.)  Excerpt:

...Aquatic Commons [is] an Open Access digital repository for the aquatic sciences, including fisheries and aquaculture.

One of the characteristics of the literature of fisheries and aquaculture – in particular the practical and management rather than the scientific aspects – is that it does not easily find its way into commercial journals. The results of research and the development lessons learned are often lost because of inadequate opportunities to publish, especially but not only in developing countries. It is precisely this unique, locally produced and diffi cult to locate ‘grey literature’ which the Aquatic Commons intends to capture.

The lack of access to timely and accurate information has been identified by many countries as one of the constraints to the implementation of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Aquatic Commons is seen as an opportunity to achieve the improved capture, dissemination and preservation of fi sheries and aquaculture information, based on the principles of equal ownership and resource sharing. Its specific aims include:  To:

  • improve sharing of information on fisheries and aquaculture management;
  • facilitate the sharing of knowledge and lessons learned;
  • ensure equal participation and coverage of the literature from developing and developed countries; 
  • empower managers and resource users to publish their findings;
  • provide free and Open Access to information for all; 
  • enable the use and validation of research results and avoid costly and wasteful duplication of effort; and 
  • ensure the preservation of information and its availability for future generations....

PS:  For background, see the Aquatic Commons proposal from its two leading partners, IAMSLIC (International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers) and the UN’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), blogged here in May.