Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reprint/eprint requests correlate with citation impact

Stevan Harnad, More Reasons for the Immediate Deposit Mandate and the Eprint Request Button, Open Access Archivangelism, September 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

In the online era, the days of reprint requests ought to be over, with Open Access taking their place. But some research funders and universities are still hesitating about mandating Open Access Self-Archiving, because they are concerned about publishers' embargoes. Here is the solution:

Even where a publisher embargoes or does not endorse OA self-archiving, universities and research funders can and should still go ahead and mandate immediate deposit anyway, with no exceptions or delays, but allowing the deposit to be made Closed Access instead of Open Access during any publisher-imposed embargo period.

The Institutional Repository's semi-automatized Email Eprint Request Button will provide almost-immediate, almost-OA to tide over all researcher usage needs webwide till the end of the embargo (or till embargoes die their natural and well-deserved deaths, under the growing pressure and increasingly apparent benefits of OA).

See how the paper reprint request era, and its prime innovator, Eugene Garfield, already anticipated most of this:

Drenth, JPH (2003) More reprint requests, more citations? Scientometrics 56: 283-286.
Abstract: Reprint requests are commonly used to obtain a copy of an article. This study aims to correlate the number of reprint requests from a 10-year-sample of articles with the number of citations. The database contained 28 articles published in over a 10-year-period (1992-2001). For each separate article the number of citations and and the number of reprint requests were retrieved. In total 303 reprint requests were analysed. Reviews (median 9, range 1 to 95) and original articles (median 8, range 1-36) attracted most reprint requests. There was an excellent correlation between the number of requests and citations to article (two-tailed non-parametric Spearman rank test r = 0.55; 95% confidence interval 0.18-0.78, P < 0.005). Articles that received most reprint requests are cited more often.

Swales, J. (1988), Language and scientific communication. The case of the reprint request. Scientometrics 13: 93–101.

Abstract: This paper reports on a study of Reprint Requests (RRs). It is estimated that tens of millions of RRs are mailed each year, most being triggered by Current Contents...

Garfield, E. (1999) From Photostats to Home Pages on the World Wide Web: A Tutorial on How to Create Your Electronic Archive. The Scientist 13(4):14.

Excerpt: It is the utopian expectation of those who live in cyberspace that eventually most researchers will create Web sites containing the full text of all their papers... The social, economic, and scholarly impact of this development has major consequences for the future.

Garfield, E. (1965) Is the 'free reprint system' free and/or obsolete? Essays of an Information Scientist 1:10-11.

Garfield, E. (1972) Reprint Exchange. 1. The multimillion dollar problem ordinaire, Essays of an Information Scientist 1:359-60.

More on PRISM

Here are a few more recent comments on PRISM.

From John Timmer at Ars Technica:

...In short, if PRISM is any indication, the commercial publishers have overplayed their hand. By grossly distorting the intent and likely result of potential Congressional action, they have both discredited any reasonable arguments they had and alienated some of those who might otherwise be their allies. That said, Congress has been known to act based on discredited arguments in the past, so the publishers' effort might succeed despite its shortcomings.

From Jack Stilgoe at Demos:

...The arguments for making research open access are irresistible. PRISM’s aim is to counter them with an easy-to-understand but utterly disingenuous line that open access means state control of science. First, this is untrue. Second, it assumes uses a model of unfettered science that is way out of date. Third, it sidesteps the real debate that is taking place about open access. Which is why so many people have taken against it....

From Kevin Smith at Scholarly Communications @ Duke:

...[T]he actual arguments and assertions made by PRISM are...transparent and easily refuted; I called them simple-minded in an earlier post (here), and I have seen nothing that changes that judgment....

But even a silly debate can produce significant points, and one of the most important contributions to this argument comes from William Patry, senior copyright counsel for Google, whose blog has been cited here several times before. The “PRISM principles” refer repeatedly to preventing “government intervention” in scientific research. The irony of complaining of government interference in research that is paid for from federal tax monies in the first place should be pretty obvious, but Patry adds another point that is worth our attention. As he says in this post, “Copyright is always Government Intervention.” By definition, copyright is a government-granted monopoly that artificially supports the price of intellectual property to provide an incentive to creation....

We can only wonder if PRISM, however, will be true to its professed disdain for government measures and support the total abolition of copyright. Such a change would create a genuinely free market, where publishers would be free to compete with each other by publishing the same works at competitive prices; consumers would likely benefit from lower prices for books and movies, but it is pretty certain that creativity would suffer in the long run.

From Dorothea Salo at Caveat Lector:

...I talked to a roomful of publishers last December....A lot of my audience represented folks whose publishers are nominally (key word, that) part of the PRISM initiative....[I]f they were at my talk, there is no excuse for saying they didn’t know PRISM would blow up in their face.  Because I told them.

I told them about the American Anthropological Association, which was in the middle of a messy crack-up over open access. The funny thing is, open access turned out to be almost a side issue. The real problem was that top brass, smugly sure everyone in the organization thought as they did, pulled a big stunt without asking anybody, and when they were called on it, they stonewalled. Result? Chaos, disaffection shading into open revolt, and (ironically) a strengthening of the very movement top brass wanted stopped. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, I said; lay your cards on the table and discuss, don’t be arrogant, because AAA has weakened itself with this and you’d be shocked at how easy it is for you to do the same....

When the Dezenhall thing broke, I told ’em again. Get away from this, I said, far away. I didn’t say “it will win you no friends and make you plenty of enemies” because honestly, I thought that was obvious.  Guess not....

From Bosco at Trapped in the USA:

...For those of you who can’t be bothered unpacking its double-speak [in the PRISM press release], I’ve provided a translation: ...

The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine is a coalition launched with developmental support from the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to alert Congress to the unintended consequences of government interference in scientific and scholarly publishing.

Our business model siphons money from government-funded scientists and sells their research back to them. The scientists, of course, pays us more money to read our journals from government grants. Any change in government policy would turn this spigot dry....

...said Patricia Schroeder, president and CEO of AAP[:] “Only by preserving the essential integrity of the peer-review process can we ensure that scientific and medical research remains accurate, authoritative, and free from manipulation and censorship and distinguishable from junk science.”

If we try to say that open-access does not involve peer-review often enough, we might even believe it. Open-access does not involve peer-review. Open-access does not involve peer-review.  These are not the droids you are looking for.  Move along....

OA mandates from state governments and universities

Gavin Baker, Funder mandates and open access: states and universities, This place is pretty ugly, September 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

A lot of the momentum propelling the open access movement recently has come from self-archiving mandates from public funders of research – specifically, national-level government entities....

But national agencies are not the only public funders of academic research, at least in the U.S. State and local governments also fund research, as do academic institutions themselves. The dollar figures amount to far less, but the principles are the same; the public access argument applies equally....

R&D Expenditures: U.S., FY 2005


Federal government

State and local government
$2.9b ...

Source: NSF, 2007 ...

OA is a good idea; where are the states willing to try it? (I don’t see any in ROARMAP.) ...

Importantly, states may choose not to follow the NIH precedent that agencies can’t (or won’t) mandate public access without legislative authorization. In other words, if you can convince the agency it’s the right thing to do, the agency itself could adopt the policy, avoiding the need to legislate.

Another potential difference is the way state funders frame their research output. It seems that federal research is seen primarily as a public good that must be provided – “If we don’t do this, nobody will” – and only secondarily as a means to differentiate the U.S. from its peers or selectively advance American researchers or institutions. For states, the reverse is true: funding is seen as a way to attract top researchers to the state, to improve the competitiveness of institutions in the state, and to stimulate local economies (e.g. by germinating start-ups)....I can imagine, for example, a repository to showcase state-funded research might be a popular idea among state funders and legislators....

[I]nstitutional mandates haven’t much caught on....Institutional funders, however, may have more leverage....


  • Gavin is right that the taxpayer argument for OA applies as much to states and provinces as to national governments. 
  • In the US to date, the state-level initiative with the most energy is the campaign for OA to California-funded stem cell research.  For example, the University of California Academic Senate urged California policy-makers to mandate OA for this research (April 2005).  The UC President supported the Academic Senate with his own letter (May 2005).  After the research-funding agencies agreed to a data-sharing policy, industry lobbyists succeeded in watering down (July 2006).  California citizens were invited to make their own case for OA directly to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and many did so, apparently with some effect, using background materials prepared by OA advocates at the UC (September 2006).  But as far as I know, the campaign is still stalled at partial success --a story with depressing similarities to the NIH policy.  For more detail, see my blog posts on the campaign.
  • Note that Manitoba has had a progressive, provincial-level open data policy since 2000.

What license should Citizendium use?

Citizendium is calling for "well-reasoned position statements, from anyone...about what licensing scheme" it should use.  If you have a proposal, founder Larry Sanger asks that you submit it by October 20.

New book of guidelines for creating an IR

From Atilio Bustos González on the JISC-Repositories list:

I'm very pleased to send you the book Guidelines for the creation of institutional repositories at universities and higher education institutions, prepared by the Group of Scientific Information Repositories coordinated by Antonio Fernández Porcel, of Granada University.

The document is presented in a trilingual mode; with the purpose of represent the languages that embrace a great number of partner institutions of ALFA Network Babel Library, as well as to make more accessible its contents to a wider audience.

We will shortly have available in a few weeks the Handbook of didactic strategies for the use of ICT's in higher education institutions.

The post was forwarded to JISC-Repositories by I.M. Johnson, who added:

These are some of the outputs from a recent project funded by the European Commission aimed at sharing best practice with Latin American Universities.

The full-text book (87 pp.) is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More on OA to biodiversity data

Donat Agosti, Licences, copyright, IPR and more - some thoughts, Biodivcontext, September 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

Here some thoughts which came up whilst preparing for the TDWG meeting [Biodiversity Information Standards Annual Conference 2007] next week.

TDWG is about making data interoperable, thus leading, in the best case, to a seamless system of our knowledge linked to those of other domains.

This is a huge technical challenge, but by getting closer to technical solutions, other issues become relevant, such as who is generating content, how is content acknowledged and how is copyright and IPR handled.

This is especially important, since we now face for the first time a system, which aims at being the mother of all the biodiversity information, the Encyclopedia of Life which is playing the same game as the publishers of our scientific knowledge. Being corporate, they care about the copyright and IPR, and thus send out forms to transfer your rights to them. These are individual licenses which often lead to the situation, that you lose all rights, and thus we can not access our publications in an open way, be it as open access or via self archiving.

Our community has to be more vigilant the way we operate in this realm. We need to define what we want, and act accordingly. If we want to be able to have open access to our data, we should not sign contract which do not allow this....

New OA journal of engineering education

Advances in Engineering Education is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the American Society for Engineering Education.  It encourages multimedia and charges a publication fee of only $75.  The inaugural issue is now online.  (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.) 

Comment.  I commend the ASEE for this launch.  Society publishers have much to gain from OA, and I'm always glad to see another one announce a launch or experiment.  However, I'm concerned that the journal is so reticent about its access policies.  For example, it doesn't describe itself as OA.  It doesn't even use phrases like "free online access".  The statements in the inaugural issue from the journal editor and society director don't discuss price or access.  I call it OA only because all the articles in the inaugural issue are free online and nothing at the site mentions subscriptions.  (Nor does the site say, e.g. that the first issue is only free as a trial and that future issues will be priced.)  I don't know its copyright policy:  the author's guide doesn't mention copyright, the articles (sample) don't use CC licenses or equivalents, and they don't even include copyright statements.  I like the idea that OA will one day be the default, and that it will be more important for TA journals to say they are TA than for OA journals to say they are OA.  But we're not there yet, and new OA journals could help OA and help themselves by making clear that they are OA.  They could also help users by using explicit open licenses, so that users know what is permitted beyond fair use and needn't err on the side of asking permission.

Deciding that a university press isn't a profit center

James F. Reische, Ronald Reagan vs. the University Press, Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2007.  Excerpt:

...American universities have frequently undermined their presses, displacing their dedication to scholarly values in favor of an incoherent amalgam of free-market ideas about competition and profit. Scholarly publishing in 2007 is a hollow shell of its former self. We now seem to be witnessing a merciful reversal of this trend at the 11th hour; but unless the reversal is made permanent, our system of scholarly communication will remain in terrible peril....

At first glance, the defunding of presses seemed like a legitimate market correction: After all, if consumer demand for university press books was insufficient to support their publication, why should the presses be allowed to continue producing them at the same rate? ...

Unfortunately, this way of thinking incorporated two critical fallacies:

1. A book is not a book is not a book. University presses were established out of a recognition that academic monographs were never going to be profitable. They were too technical, their audiences too small to support mass-market publication. Instead, the closed cycle (scholar as author, university as publisher, library as consumer) was supposed to subsidize work that was of significant intellectual and scientific value to a small but influential cadre of experts. In other words, university presses were specifically designed to produce a public good, exempt from market forces....

2. Even if all other things were equal — which they weren’t — commercial publishing faced serious problems of its own....

[U]niversity leaders, instead of recognizing the inability of the market to properly value scholarly books, saddled their presses with a pair of contradictory missions: to produce the most advanced research for a small audience, while simultaneously earning their own way with at best a minimal subsidy....

If the real value of university presses is their role as the stewards of peer review — the rigorous scrutiny of research by qualified experts, and the publication of high-level scholarship for a specialized readership — then profits, no matter what the preferred strategy to achieve them, should never be a presumptive goal....

A number of savvy administrators and press directors have decided to reach for the digital lifeboat, despite the considerable risks involved....The result is an odd paradox: despite the fact that everyone agrees in principle on the promise of digital media, university presses are not on the whole being equipped to move decisively into the digital domain. This was perhaps the main finding of the Ithaka report, and one of the reasons why press directors and university administrators have damned the report with faint praise, by lauding its clear assessment of the problem while, by implication, lamenting its failure to propose a practical solution....

Comment.  Reische doesn't discuss OA.  But if universities take his advice, then more university presses will be willing to join the handful of pioneers in publishing OA journals and monographs, which require smaller subsidies than their print counterparts and spread knowledge further.  What's missing is the university willingness to admit that the press is a service to scholarship, not a profit center, and to adjust funding and expectations accordingly.  The AAUP made a similar point in its Statement on Open Access (from February 2007):

For university presses, unlike commercial and society publishers, open access does not necessarily pose a threat to their operation and their pursuit of the mission to “advance knowledge, and to diffuse it...far and wide.” Presses can exist in a gift economy for at least the most scholarly of their publishing functions if costs are internally reallocated (from library purchases to faculty grants and press subsidies). But presses have increasingly been required by their parent universities to operate in the market economy....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another society publisher converts a TA journal to OA

The Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons (SLS) has converted Laparoscopy Today to OA.  At the same time it provided OA to the full back run, from 2002. 

SLS also publishes the Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, which is TA but since 2006 has provided OA to its back issues after just a three month embargo.  Finally, SLS publishes a book, Prevention & Management of Laparoendoscopic Surgical Complications, which was originally print only but since 2006 has been available in an OA edition as well.

Facilitating XML interoperability

Mike Linksvayer, Your copyright metadata on a GRDDL, Creative Commons blog, September 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

As of yesterday GRDDL, pronounced “griddle”, is a World Wide Web Consortium recommendation. GRDDL allows one to describe in a standard way how to map information between different XML formats. The acronym stands for “Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages”....

This is important to Creative Commons because across science, education, and the web there are lots of formats used to describe copyrightable works (and in science, much more than that) and associated rights....

GRDDL makes it easier to process data from diverse formats in an interoperable fashion, when that is appropriate. There’s no requirement to access data via GRDDL, but hopefully the mere opportunity to do so occasionally will make people consider interoperability requirements earlier than they would have otherwise, facilitating lower costs for collaboration across space and time in another way....

More on OA to conference proceedings

Dean Giustini interviewed Josh Illig for the UBC Academic Search - Google Scholar blog, September 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

Josh works for an organization in the United States called Conference Archives, Inc. (CAI)....

[Illig:]  CAI produces Ekatius, which is a platform solution to aid in the accessibility, discoverability, and exposure issues for scientific conferences - what we are calling event-based science (EBS). It has been estimated that abstracts accepted for presentation at biomedical meetings have only a 45% publication rate within six years of presentation. With Ekatius, associations can make their events available on the Web in one place and disseminate it to educators, academics, and physicians globally....

More on Elevier's OncologySTAT

Barbara Fister at ACRLog:

So, let me get this straight: Having big pharma fund access is okay, but public funding is not because it might corrupt the peer review process. Huh?

Julian Fisher on LibLicense:

While Elsevier is taking its bows, we at Scholarly Exchange have had that model for our wide array of journals for the past two years. It helps reduce the total annual running cost of $750 per journal per year to somewhat less - and for journals in the proper fields, may turn them into - heaven forbid - profit centers!

Free supplement on Neglected Diseases from Nature

Nature has launched a free online supplement on Neglected Diseases.

Bill to strengthen NIH policy steers clear of copyright problems

SPARC, ARL, and the ALA have released an important joint brief, Mandatory Public Access to Federally Funded Research Does Not Violate Copyright Obligations.  (While dated July 2007, it was released yesterday.)  Excerpt:

In recent communications to members of Congress, several publishers of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals have argued that the proposed legislative changes to the NIH Public Access Policy would violate U.S. treaty obligations under Article 13 of TRIPS and Article 9 of the Berne Convention, and potentially constitute a “compulsory license.” These arguments have no merit....

Contrary to the STM publishers’ assertions, this policy does not create a statutory exception or limitation to an investigator’s copyright. Rather, it merely requires the NIH to condition its grant of funding to the investigator on his agreement to provide PMC with a copy of his article for the purpose of making the article publicly available via PMC.

In other words, if the investigator chooses not to receive NIH funding, he need not provide his article to PMC. But if he elects to receive NIH funding, he must accept certain reasonable conditions....This condition serves the interests of the public, which funded the research, and of NIH, which depends on awareness of and application of its research findings to drive medical advances.

The proposed legislation concerns contract terms, not copyright exceptions. As such, the proposed legislation in no way implicates Article 13 of TRIPS or Article 9 of the Berne Convention, which address permissible copyright exceptions. These treaty provisions are completely silent on the issue of the terms a funder or other licensee can require of a copyright owner in exchange for valuable consideration.

Similarly, the proposed provision does not constitute a “compulsory license” or a “taking,” as some publishers have suggested. A compulsory license arises when the statute requires the copyright owner to permit others to use his work without his authorization. By contrast, under the proposed legislation, the copyright owner retains complete control of his work, unless he chooses to accept NIH funding. The proposed provision simply provides that, in exchange for public funding, the investigator must deposit a copy of the articles stemming from that funding with PMC so that it can make it publicly available.

The proposed provision also does not implicate the publisher’s copyright. Many STM publishers require the investigator to transfer the copyright in the article as a condition to agreeing to publish the article. If, as a condition for receiving NIH funding, the investigator has granted PMC a non-exclusive license to use the article, then the copyright the investigator subsequently transfers to the publisher is already subject to this license. This means that the proposed provision does not change the scope of the publisher’s copyright after the publisher has acquired it. Rather, the investigator will have agreed to grant PMC a license long before the publisher even enters into the picture.

Significantly, there is nothing unusual about a federal agency placing conditions on its funding of research projects. These conditions relate to a wide range of issues, including intellectual property rights. The proposed provision is consistent with this tradition....

The proposed provision...[contains] the proviso that “the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with the copyright law”....This proviso was specifically added to address concerns regarding the proposed change in the NIH public access policy.

Comment.  This is clear and compelling.  It only needs to be spelled out because publisher lobbying organizations, like PRISM, are trying every conceivable argument.  But because they are trying hard, US citizens please remember to contact your Senators.

OA for ITU standards

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has converted its large database of ITU standards to OA.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From the ITU's September 10 press release:

...ITU Standards produced by the Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) are now available online without charge. The announcement follows a highly successful trial conducted from January-October 2007, during which some two million ITU-T Recommendations were downloaded throughout the world....

Now, anyone with Internet access will be able to download any of over 3000 ITU-T Recommendations. These are used by equipment manufacturers, telecommunication network operators and service providers throughout the world to drive the information society....

Mr Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB)...said had helped efforts to bridge the “standardization gap” between countries with resources to pursue standardization issues and those without....“Last year exactly 500 ITU-T Recommendations had been sold to developing countries; this year, after allowing free access, they have downloaded some 300 000.” ...

OA repository on forced migration migrates

Over the next two years, Oxford's Forced Migration Online (FMO) Digital Library will itself migrate to a Fedora platform.  The goal is to simplify management, enhance preservation, and add interoperability by using open source software and open standards.  For more, see these details or yesterday's announcement.

Prospects for open data in New Zealand

David Penman, An information revolution,, September 13, 2007.  Penman is Assistant Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the College of Science, University of Canterbury, and Chair of the Governing Board of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.  Excerpt:

...It is somewhat ironic that the internet was conceived as a means to share scientific data, yet it is now an enormous vehicle for social change and commercial benefit. Somehow, the scientists have become the laggards in sharing information, yet there are enormous benefits that can come from a greater sharing of data....

ECan [Environment Canterbury] has some pilot projects in real-time monitoring of water resources that water users and communities can access. Wouldn't it be fantastic to roll out such a system across Canterbury and make the information freely and openly available to all? Can we not envisage information on water use, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, public transport use, air quality, waste generation etc being available on television, the internet or even in Cathedral Square? Is this the sort of information we need to change our behaviour in the drive for sustainability?

Why can't we just do it, then? We require an information infrastructure....

Open Access is a rapidly growing movement committed to making data openly and freely available. Where data are generated using taxpayers funds, it should be made openly and freely available. This is now a requirement for some of the major US and European science funds. Basically scientists will have two years to publish papers based on their data, and then the data become available to others. Many journals now require authors to at least indicate where the raw data may be located.

The internet then becomes what it was intended to be – a means to share scientific data.

So what is the situation in New Zealand? Our scientific institutions have been required to make data publicly available at the cost of access if the information was contained within a designated "nationally significant database or collection" and only if the request was for a "public good" purpose. If a commercial product might emerge, then an agreement to pay a commercial rate was negotiated. Other data from publicly-funded research are not generally available.

The great temptation for institutions is to hold the data because it might be commercially significant. In a few cases this may be so, but mostly there is a false sense of value of individual data sets. Experience tells us that the real value comes from looking at multiple data sets in new ways and with new tools.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is now reviewing its data policy and moving towards the norm for the OECD – greater open access for publicly-funded data. Rather than the research provider deciding on access, all information is openly and freely available unless restrictions such as national security, environmental damage (eg, the GPS co-ordinates of threatened species), or clear commercial disadvantage can be justified.

Our researchers will also have to change. No longer can they sit with filing cabinets full of data waiting for the definitive experiment or the life time monograph. Publish quickly in electronic media, make your data and models freely available and get rewards from both publishing and showing that your data are being used by others – this should become the norm.

Many initiatives are now underway to liberate data. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility, of which New Zealand is a member, has just launched its new data access portal ( and now makes over 130 million records on species openly and freely available....

More on the ARL critique of PRISM

Andrew Albanese, ARL Challenges Publishers' PR Campaign Against Open Access Legislation, Library Journal, September 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has issued a statement criticizing a new initiative in what it called an "ongoing PR campaign" against public access legislation, supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). ARL officials said the latest effort, dubbed PRISM (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine), "frequently distorts the nature of ongoing and substantive discussions about open access and public access to federally funded research."

The PRISM web site argues that public access efforts will undermine peer review and harm journal publishers; will open the door to "scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record"; subject the scientific record to "the uncertainty that comes with changing federal budget priorities and bureaucratic meddling"; and will introduce "duplication and inefficiencies that will divert resources that would otherwise be dedicated to research."

ARL officials noted that the PRISM arguments closely follow the advice of PR "pit bull" Eric Dezenhall, whom publishers consulted in the last year to develop a strategy for fighting public access legislation. Nature first reported publishers' plans to launch their PR campaign in January of 2007. ARL officials said the PR campaign offers libraries and researchers an opportunity to engage the campus community "concerning the changes to the scholarly communication" and provides a memo with talking points it hopes will help guide that discussion. OA public access supporters have already hit the blogs, both dissecting PRISM's arguments and expressing their displeasure over the coalition's tactics.

Swedish funding for OA projects

Thanks to Tom Wilson for this English summary of a Swedish announcement on the next phase of the Open research program:

...The information is all in Swedish and my knowledge of the language amounts to little more than saying 'Hej!' - but that, plus a dictionary suggests the following.

The programme has three elements in its 2007 call for proposals:

  1. The contents of open archives in universities and university colleges. This has two elements to it: creating critical mass in the free availability of scientific publications; and, Expanding the contents of open archives with new types of material.
  2. Promoting the use of material in open archives and OA journals.
  3. Quality issues - towards determining the framework for certifying open archives in Sweden and such issues as the services to be offered, etc.

A news item on the [Kungliga Biblioteket] site notes that the KK-Stiftelsen (the Swedish Research Council) is contributing 2.5 million Swedish kroner (approx. £183,000 or $371,000) to the programme for 2008-2009.

Clearly, Sweden means business :-)

Update.  Jan Hagerlid, the Programme Co-ordinator of the, tells me that KK Stiftelsen prefers the English name, Knowledge Foundation, and adds that Tom Wilson's translation was "Brilliant for a non-native".  (Congratulations, Tom.)  He also sent along a few new details:

The support from the Knowledge Foundation to the comes with a request that 1.5 million SEK of the 2.5 million should be used to promote access to digital learning resources created within universities. So the part of the call about expanding content in Open Archives includes both research data and learning resources. Personally I think this is a logical development. You would have the whole life-cycle from research data to publications up to learning resources within the same repository, perhaps with different points of access.

The support from the Knowledge Foundation is very positive in several respects. We can raise the level of support for development efforts and it will boost the interest for the programme and the issue of Open Access in general among Swedish researchers and in business circles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More on PRISM

Dana Blankenhorn, Publisher war against open access, Open Source (a ZDNet blog), September 12, 2007.

The first freedom in open source is access. But access threatens business models, so when publishers felt the heat of open source advocates, they did what any other business would do.

They launched a PR War. Its aim is to stop a requirement that research funded by the NIH be placed on the agency’s PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. The House has passed it in the new budget, the Senate is considering it.

Getting research onto the Web would end the publishers’ current exclusive on older research, and would cost them money.

So the Association of American Publishers have launched a Web site, PRISM, which aims to convince lawmakers that “Public access equals government censorship.”

It’s the product of Eric Dezenhall....

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Association of Research Libraries has gotten angry enough to send its members a PDF ”talking points memo” calling the AAP’s rhetoric inaccurate....

Peter Suber, the open access project director at Public Knowledge, has covered PRISM and the backlash against it on his blog. He says [PRISM's] lobbying is more of a threat to open access than the message put out by PRISM.

In the past, questions of academic publishing were elite topics argued mainly among elites. With PRISM, the publishing industry has broken out of this frame, targeting politicians and the public.

Without some serious pushback the first essential of open source could easily be lost.

Permission to harvest data from online files

Peter Murray-Rust, Nature: How much content can our robots access? A Scientist and the Web, September 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

In this blog (Copyrighted Data: replies [1], Wiley and eMolecules: unacceptable; an explanation would be welcome - [2]) , and elsewhere we have been discussing the “copyright” of factual information, or “data”. In [2] I ask a major publisher whether copyright applies to some or all of the factual scientific record they publish. So far I have had no reply. Here I ask another, Nature, who - at least through Timo Hannay - have been very helpful in discussing aspects of publication (most other publishers have been silent).

The issue arises in “supplemental data” or “supporting information” which is the factual record of the experiment - increasingly required as proof of correctness. Some major publishers (Royal Soc Chemistry, Int. Union of Crystallography, Nature) do not claim copyright over this; others such as American Chemical Society and Angewandte Chemie (Wiley) appear to do so, though I haven’t had a definitive public statement from either....

Our vision for the future is that a large part of published scientific data could be made directly machine-understandable, if the publishers collaborate in this....

So I am going to ask Nature what I can do and what I can’t. What my robots can do and what the can’t. If the answer is not “YES” to a question it is “NO” - there can be no “middle ground” for robots. If you don’t know then the answer is NO. If I have to ask for permission the answer is NO....

PMR elaborates in a follow-up post, showing the kinds of data and images he'd like to be able to harvest and re-use.

OA to 500 scientific memoirs

The US National Academy of Sciences is providing OA to 500 scientific memoirs representing 150 years of scientific history.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  From yesterday's announcement:

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is making 150 years of American scientific history available by publishing its entire collection of Biographical Memoirs on the Internet. Biographical Memoirs are brief biographies of deceased NAS members written by those who knew them or their work.

Since 1877, NAS has published over 1,400 memoirs. Although the memoirs published since 1995 have been freely available on the Academy's Web site, over 900 memoirs were available previously only through archives and libraries.  "This is a ‘historic’ event that will have substantial scholarly value and be of general interest to the public....

Among the additional 500 memoirs published online are those of famed naturalist Louis Agassiz; Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Thomas Edison; Alexander Graham Bell; noted anthropologist Margaret Mead; and psychologist and philosopher John Dewey. More memoirs will be published regularly until the entire collection is available online....

OA repositories in China

ShuYong Jiang, Open Mind, Open Access, a preprint, self-archived March 24, 2007.  (Thanks to Law Librarian Blog.)

Abstract:   Open access is a modern notion of resource sharing in the technology era. It began as a bold reaction of the academic community to the rapidly increased cost of scholarly publishing, and it is now an important concept in digitization and digital libraries. It has hanged the way in which scholarly information is disseminated. While the development of electronic resources and digitization in China in recent years provides rich opportunities for scholarly information exchange, open access both as a concept and as a practice, is yet to be accepted. Open access repositories are very limited in number. Open access as a concept was not on the agenda for digital resource development until 2005 and the first open access library and information repository by National Library of China was launched in July 2006. Prior to this, there were very few open access resources available. Most of them were experimental in nature and inoperable with mainstream Internet tools. Not only do these open access resources not carry the same academic value as other scholarly publications, but also they lack support from both information providers and consumers. By looking at the current status of open access resources in China, this paper will examine some of the primary open access resources in China, such as Qiji Wenku (“Miracle Library”). It will raise issues related to open access in China such as scholarly resource sharing; the cooperation among information providers, creators and consumers; the implication of online copyright in a digital environment; and, the promotion of the idea of resource and technology sharing in the global information transition.

18 OA journals from the ABA

John Reidelbach, American Bar Association Online Journals, Criss Library Focus on Online, September 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Who would have thought that the ABA would have any online journals freely available? Well, not me that's for sure. I have completed my review of 44 ABA journals in the American Bar Association Online Journals database in Serials Solutions and found that 18 of those journals allowed open access. These freely accessible journals seem to be primarily what I would consider newsletter types of publications, but hey, I don't turn down anything that gives our users free access....  [PS: Omitting the list of 18.]

Time to contact the Senate

An alert from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access:

As the Senate considers Appropriations measures for the 2008 fiscal year this fall, please take a moment to remind your Senators of your strong support for public access to publicly funded research and ­ specifically ­ ensuring the success of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy by making deposit mandatory for researchers.

Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives passed legislation with language that directs the NIH to make this change.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure.  Now, as the Appropriations process moves forward, it is critically important that our Senators are reminded of the breadth and depth of support for enhanced public access to the results of NIH-funded research. Please take a moment to weigh in with your Senator now.

Contact information for your Senator is included below. Please fax a letter with your support **no later than Friday, September 28, 2007**.

Feel free to draw upon the following talking points:

  • American taxpayers are entitled to open access on the Internet to the peer-reviewed scientific articles on research funded by the U.S. government. Widespread access to the information contained in these articles is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science.
  • The Fiscal Year 2008 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill reported out of committee contains language directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy so that it requires NIH-funded researchers to deposit copies of agency-funded research articles into the National Library of Medicine's online archive.
  • Over the more than two years since its implementation, the NIH's current voluntary policy has failed to achieve any of the agency's stated goals, attaining a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual researchers. A mandate is required to ensure deposit in NIH's online archive of articles describing findings of all research funded by the agency.
  • We urge the Senate to support the inclusion of language put forth in the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill directing the NIH to implement a mandatory policy and ensuring free, timely access to all research articles stemming from NIH-funded research ­ without change ­ in any appropriate vehicle.

(We'll be making additional resources for patient advocates ­ including the recording of our August 30 Web cast and specific talking points ­ available shortly as well. Watch the ATA Web site or email me directly for updates.)

Again, please take a moment to express your support for public access to research to your Senator as soon as possible and no later than September 28. As always, we'd appreciate it if you'd let us know of what action you're able to take, or send a copy your letter to the ATA through (202) 872-0884 (fax). Thank you!


Update. To make it easier to contact your Senators, use the web form set up by the ALA and the message put together by Charles Bailey. More details here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

OA math, not meth

Martin Smith is the coordinator of a Canadian methamphetamine treatment community called Camp One.  Its motto is Math Not Meth.  He wrote to me recently to explain that

Camp One is successful because Open Access is successful. We are the largest consumer on the arXiv server, averaging 250 downloads a week....

Here's a little more background from the Math Not Meth blog:

MATH Not METH is based on a premise developed in 1994 to break a cycle of Heroin addiction within an institutional setting. The premise was a simple one – If you can divert the attention of an addict away from the ‘Game of Getting’ and focused on the ‘Game of Knowledge’ the Pleasure associated with the ‘Score’ followed by the inevitable disappointment in the High, is replaced by the quest for Knowledge.

And a little more from one of Smith's emails:

Camp One started in 2003 to answer the need for a sanctuary for people who had made it back from the abyss that is Chrystal Meth addiction. It is a 196 Room Float Camp at the Moya Bay Bulkhead at Hesguait on Nootka Sound near Gold River British Columbia. The facility is fully integrated with a 960 processor Xserve core and 256 PowerBook workstations. There is a resident Mathematica 6 Program as well as Open implementations of several other of the major programs available for grid infrastructures. We also have a 32 Tbyte Raid array which has a growing library of Open Software and educational resources which are growing exponentially as people discover the benefit of Learning for the Joy of it, rather than a means to an end....

Finally, some detail from a recent Smith comment on another blog:

Allow me to share what the profound power of Open Access can achieve –

‘When ‘Dave’ first asked me for help...he had a $250.00/Day Meth habit. I introduced him to the Zome tool and hooked him up to my network. In time he became interested in High Energy Physics and devoured everything available from the folks at SLAC, Fermilab, and CERN. He the discovered arXiv and more recently Eprintweb at Cornell and read every dispatch, sometimes sent running to our data miner to find out more on topics he could not grasp.

‘He discovered he could Email the authors of the reports and started asking questions about things he could not understand. A sort of Adhoc support group formed around the questions he asked because he had asked questions they had not thought of. This relationship as grown to the point that ‘Dave’ has been invited to the first firing of the LHC next Spring at CERN. All this from a young man who I was told by the local Judicial authorities was a dead loss.’

Open Access has a thus affected the people I have contact with and as I have said in a few other venues, anyone who opposes it, can either Lead, Follow or Get out of the way, for change, it comes.

Comment.  This is a remarkable story.  I'm used to hearing about unexpected benefits of OA, but this one tops my list.  Bravo to Martin Smith and all the good people at Camp One. 

Siva Vaidhyanathan on Google's book-scanning program

First Monday is distributing a podcast of Siva Vaidhyanathan's 2007 Ted Samore Lecture at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, The Googlization of Everything: Digitization and the Future of Books.  It's also distributing a podcast and transcript of an interview with him and a preview edition of his article from next month's issue of First Monday, The State of Copyright Activism.  (Thanks to Brock Read.)

From the interview:

...So one of my big fears is that if Google either settles out of court and decided not to digitize all these copyrighted works in such an aggressive fashion, or loses in court, then every other player is going to be coward away from doing this. In other words, it’s going to be that much harder to convince libraries that they should be doing it. It’s going to be that much harder to convince the other open access advocates, like Brewster Kahle, to push forward and digitize copyrighted material....

The fact is this is a massive privatization of a public good. It is a massive privatization of years of collection development, years of choice and investment by the public and by librarians in these collections. And Google is getting all of this stuff essentially for free without any sort of quality control built into the system....

And so what I would like to see? I would like to see all the major public universities, public research universities, in the country gather together and raise the money or persuade Congress to deliver the money to do this sort of thing because it’s in the public interest, not because it’s in Google’s interest. If it really is this important we should be able to mount a public campaign, a set of arguments and convince the people with the purse strings that this should be done right....

Elsevier hires another US lobbying firm

Reed Elsevier Hires Lobbyist, Associated Press, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

The U.S. unit of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, the Anglo-Dutch publishing and information company, hired Barbour Griffith & Rogers LLC to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form.

The firm will provide advice on policy issues important to the publishing industry, according to the form posted online Friday by the Senate's public records office....

Comment.  Elsevier's budget for lobbying Congress increased 610% from 1998  to 2006, and this is another escalation.  The apparent cause is the bill now before Congress to strengthen the NIH policy from a request to a requirement.

Identifying OA works for link resolvers

The British Columbia Electronic Library Network (BC ELN) has launched an Open Access Collections Group.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  From today's announcement:

BC ELN and SFU Library invite all CUFTS libraries to participate in an Open Access Collections Group. The purpose of this group is to collaborate on the development and maintenance of open access title lists for CUFTS (for link resolving through GODOT, and inclusion in A to Z journal lists for CJDB users). Lists created to date include the SFU-developed Open Access Journals and Free Government Serials, and the BC ELN-inspired Open Access Magazines.

For more information, please see the draft Terms of Reference, available for download [here]....

CFHSS launches a series of OA books

Yesterday the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) launched a new project, Books in Open Access.  (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.)  From the site:

The scholarship of academics working with the Federation is designed to add to the body of humanity's knowledge and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada and the world. Since 1941, the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) has helped scholars disseminate their research by supporting the publication of nearly 5,000 scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences.

The advent of new communications technology now allows scholars to share their research on a greater scale than ever before imagined. Placing scholarly books online in open access format makes their treasures available to millions of people, allowing users to read entire works online and conduct searches within them. The ASPP seeks to play its own part in this increasingly-important dissemination movement, with a particular view to bringing back into the light the many rich and valuable works it has supported in the past that are now difficult to find.

Since 1989, the ASPP has awarded four annual Scholarly Book Prizes to the finest books it supports each year. We now feature four of our past Scholarly Book Prize winners here in open access format. We hope these will be just the first in a long line of ASPP-supported books to appear in open access through the Federation's site. Click here to see and read these titles--and keep your eyes open for more to come in the near future! ...

More dissents from PRISM

Jennifer Howard, University-Press Leader Quit Publishers' Panel Over Anti-Open-Access Campaign, Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, September 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

At least one top university-press director spoke out against the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, or Prism, a controversial new anti-open-access campaign sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, before it went public.

In an e-mail message, James D. Jordan, president and director of Columbia University Press, told The Chronicle today that he had tendered his resignation from the Executive Council of the AAP's Professional and Scholarly Publishing division on August 28, five days after Prism was announced. A task force of the Executive Council put the campaign together.

"I resigned from the Executive Council because I did not feel that serving at this time was the best use of my time or Columbia resources," Mr. Jordan wrote, "and because I had vocally opposed the launch of the Prism Web site and did not subscribe to arguments supporting it and opposing the NIH's public-access proposals." ...

Mr. Jordan said that his press remained "a member of PSP and the AAP, as both associations serve important educational missions for the scholarly-publishing community even though we do not always agree with every majority view of such a diverse community."

Another university-press leader, Stephen Bourne, chief executive officer of Cambridge University Press, has also made clear his displeasure about Prism. In an e-mail message to The Chronicle, he wrote that Cambridge "has in no way been involved in, or consulted on, the Prism initiative." He added that "Prism's message is oversimplistic and ill-judged, with the unwelcome consequence of creating tension between the publishing community and the proponents of open access."

Update. Peter Murray-Rust has blogged the full statement of Cambridge UP's Stephen Bourne.

Update. This story has been picked up and amplified in The Scientist (9/12/07) and Library Journal Academic Newswire (9/13/07).

DBpedia upgrade

DBpedia 2.0, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

DBpedia recently released the new version of their dataset. The project aims to extract structured information from Wikipedia so that this can be queried like a database. On their blog they say:

The renewed DBpedia dataset describes 1,950,000 “things”, including at least 80,000 persons, 70,000 places, 35,000 music albums, 12,000 films. It contains 657,000 links to images, 1,600,000 links to relevant external web pages and 440,000 external links into other RDF datasets. Altogether, the DBpedia dataset now consists of around 103 million RDF triples.

As well as improving the quality of the data, the new release includes coordinates for geographical locations and a new classificatory schema based on Wordnet synonym sets. It is also extensively linked with many other open datasets, including: “Geonames, Musicbrainz, WordNet, World Factbook, EuroStat, Book Mashup, DBLP Bibliography and Project Gutenberg datasets”.

This is probably one of the largest open data projects currently out there - and it looks like they have done an excellent job at integrating structured data from Wikipedia with data from other sources. (For more on this see the W3C SWEO Linking Open Data project - which exists precisely in order to link more or less open datasets together.)

Comment.  DBpedia harvests from Wikipedia because Wikipedia is large and free.  But something similar could be done with unfree databases.  The trick (apart from access) is to extract uncopyrightable facts and paraphrased assertions, not copyrighted expressions.  Wikipedia may be the inexpensive way to prove the concept, but the concept is of much wider application.  See some examples of DBpedia fact and assertion harvesting, and let your imagination run free.

A teaching moment on campuses

Marc Meola, Use PRISM To Start A Dialogue On Open Access, ACRLog, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

...PRISM, an anti-open access group of the Association of American Publishers, has launched a nasty PR campaign that attempts to demonize open access publishing by using simple slogans to equate open access with lack of peer review, government censorship, and theft of intellectual property. (I know, it’s funny, but they are actually saying this stuff. Good thing librarians know how to evaluate information, right?)

As noted in the SPARC letter to members,

the launch of this initiative provides a timely opportunity for engaging faculty members, researchers, students and administrators in dialogue on important issues in scholarly communications....

Most encouragingly, the Association of Research Libraries has produced an excellent issue brief with talking points that effectively counter the PRISM propaganda. ARL points out:  On peer review-

The peer review system, based almost completely on the voluntary free labor of the research community, is independent of a particular mode of publishing or business model....

...[I]f you need more ammo or a broader overview of the issue, Open Access and the Progress of Science is a well-written argument for open access to science literature in general and proposes the simple solution that scientists just deposit their papers in repositories as soon as they are peer reviewed.

Peter Suber, of course, is always a good source for debunking anti-open access arguments. One of the anti-open access claims is that open access will result in journal cancellations by libraries and collapse of the whole scholarly publishing system....Suber points out, however, that open access in physics has not led to journal cancellations by libraries....

The question for librarians, higher ed administrators and scholars then, is why hasn’t open access in physics led to journal cancellations? Do we really want to set up two systems, an open access repository system while maintaining the old system with publisher embargoes so that libraries will have to maintain subscriptions? Do we really want to “partner” with the kind of companies that have launched such a deceptive and distorted PR campaign? ...

US plan to digitize more archived documents for OA

Library group supports new OA policy at CIHR

The British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) has sent a letter of congratulations to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) on the new CIHR OA policy.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Excerpt:

...This is an enlightened policy. As you yourself note in the press release, results of this policy will accelerate the understanding of human health and disease, and leverage the Canadian health research dollar....

The Open Access to Research Outputs policy means expanded access to health research across the country, and around the globe. Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals outside the major centres will have access to this literature, increasing their ability to provide evidence-based care. Smaller colleges will be better equipped to train new nurses....

This policy will, in many respects, be seen as a model for other funding agencies....

BCLA and its members look forward to ongoing developments as the policy is implemented. Libraries and librarians throughout British Columbia will be working with researchers and readers to raise awareness of this wonderful initiative....

Evaluating OA law projects in Africa

Ivan Mokanov, Are LIIs making lawyers more competent?, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

The question is now being asked in Western Africa. The International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC) has engaged in an assessment of the outcome of free access to law initiatives in four African countries – Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The evaluation will be focused more specifically on the impact of free circulation of legal information on the competence of lawyers.

In all those countries, where access to legal information is limited, if any, the local Bar Associations supported by the IDRC are involved in free access to law projects. In two of the countries, free access to law websites are already up and running (JuriBurkina and JuriNiger).

IDRC hopes to deliver an indicator-based framework that will assist Law Societies and other stakeholders involved in the free access to law movement worldwide in measuring the outcome of their efforts.

OA in the Earth sciences

Andrea Bollini and Andrea Marchitelli, Communicating Earth: open access in Earth sciences, a slide presentation at Geoitalia 2007 - W05: I luoghi e i modi dell'informazione sulle scienze della terra: dalla biblioteca al web (Rimini, September 11, 2007).  In Italian but with this English-language abstract:

Earth sciences are among the most data-intensive sciences, with a remarkable cooperative work at international level. Data collecting and experiments are often expensive and last long years. So, logistics and system costs are very high. A main reason for publishing data and results is to maximize access and enable potential reuse in many more contexts than with traditional communication means. Fast availability of data and results is a must that cannot attend the traditional publishers’ timeline. Open access is the simplest choice to facilitate fast access to and reuse of scholarly communication and data about Earth sciences: publications and related primary data have to be freely accessible in the broadest and fastest way. A system of OAI-PMH-compliant data and service providers is the most effective way to improve the dissemination and impact of research. CILEA (a non-profit consortium of Italian universities) supports Open Access and is among the first signatories of the Berlin Declaration. Since 2003 CILEA operates the AePIC service, providing innovative solutions for electronic publishing and digital libraries at very competitive costs and timetable, employing open-source and OAI-PMH-compliant software. In the field of Earth sciences, CILEA-AePIC holds a significant role. It provides technical support and hosting to Earth prints, the open archive created and maintained by Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) with the collaboration of Programma Nazionale Ricerche in Antartide. Earth-prints started in the last quarter of 2004 and grows rapidly and steadily. The goal of this repository is to collect, capture, disseminate and preserve the results of research in the fields of Atmosphere, Cryosphere, Hydrosphere and Solid Earth. In the last months CILEA-AePIC is working on the new archive of National Research Council - Research area of Potenza, called ArchEnviMat, that will allow scientists from Potenza Research Area to post and disseminate on-line, at no cost, their scientific work in electronic format.

Timo Hannay on PRISM and some of the debate about it

Timo Hannay, PRISM: Publishers' and Researchers' Intensifying Sense of Mistrust, Nascent (a Nature blog), September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

For anyone who's interested here is Nature Publishing Group's (NPG's) take on PRISM: Although Nature America is a member of the AAP, we are not involved in PRISM and we have not been consulted about it. NPG has supported self-archiving in various ways (from submitting manuscripts to PubMed Central on behalf of our authors to establishing Nature Precedings), and our policies are already compliant with the proposed NIH mandate.

Those are facts. What follows is just my personal opinion.

PRISM has understandably provoked a great deal of anger among those scientists who care about how the fruits of research are communicated.  (In this sense, PRISM has achieved the exact opposite of dog-whistle politics: the only people to sit up and take notice have been those who were outraged by it. Nice work, guys.)  My main emotion, however, is closer to bewilderment. Do PRISM's proponents (whoever they are) really think that their approach will do anyone, including themselves, any good? It's tempting to suggest that they are out of touch (e.g., with the ways in which technology is changing science and scientific communication), but it's equally possible that I'm out of touch (e.g., with Beltway politics), so I guess all I can conclude is that they inhabit a different universe to the one I'm in....

The things that I find most ill advised about PRISM are the needless belligerence of the message, the crude them-and-us stance, and the distortion of complex issues into unrecognisable caricatures. I wouldn't mind so much if the issues themselves were inconsequential, but they're not. Questions about how scientific communication should be funded, and what roles government should or should not play, are central to scientific progress....

It therefore troubled me that the initial counterattacks on PRISM were themselves often lacking in nuance and discrimination. Given the high emotion generated, this was understandable, but that's not the same as saying it was correct or helpful. The most general error has been to lump all publishers together in declaring them "evil", "afraid", "money-grabbing", and so on. True, PRISM seems to have come out of the AAP, which is a publishing industry body, but right from the beginning (when I also didn't have a clue what was going on) it was fairly clear to anyone who cared to make the distinction that PRISM was not the same as the AAP....

In reinventing scientific communication for the 21st Century we face genuinely difficult challenges. Many of us, in our own different ways, are trying to find solutions. PRISM certainly doesn't help, but nor do some of the more indiscriminate responses. The best antidote to its crude belligerence is not more of the same, but an open, fair and grown-up debate. These issues are too important to be addressed in any other way.

More on OA for development

Dalindyebo Shabalala, Towards a Digital Agenda for Developing Countries, South Centre, August 2007.  Excerpt:

...Many developing countries have not fully analyzed the policy implications of access to, and control over, digital and internet content. This paper analyzes the implications of digital and internet content policy for access to knowledge in developing countries and makes some initial recommendations for developing countries....

Technological protection measures and digital rights management systems present a real and present danger to access for developing countries and provide no added value for the development of indigenous industries such as publishing and music industries....

A significant factor for developing country educators and scholars is the growth of open access scholarship repositories into which more and more scholars are placing their work. These repositories, while not necessarily peer-reviewed, also include papers published elsewhere in peer-reviewed journals. Works can be uploaded and downloaded fairly easily for free and can enable two-way traffic by allowing scholars from the South to place their works in such repositories and by enabling access to the most up to date writings in their field. In this way the commons of scholarship can grow and such articles and writing can provide a free basis on which developing country scholars and educators can build reading lists, based on South scholarship as well as scholarship from developed countries....

A major advantage of such repositories is that they provide a clear incentive for scholars to deposit their works so that they can not only have their work placed in prestigious journals, but also have that work disseminated and cited as widely as possible....

For now, subscription journals, while having the potential to increase access, are not yet a viable tool....However, the rise of free electronic journals provides an alternative mode of access, while maintaining the crucial peer review and filtering mechanism. Taking advantage of the freeing up of distribution channels and the lowering of production costs, scholars in different subject matter areas are collaborating to produce free electronic journals that provide the advantage of peer review without the subscription costs....This is a godsend for librarians who can build their journal collections without having to purchase expensive journal subscriptions....

CNRS institute funds OA for French physics in JHEP

Open access to high energies, a press release from CNRS, September 10, 2007.  (Thanks to Martin G. Smith.) 

The CNRS Institut de physique nucléaire et de physique des particules (IN2P3) has just signed an agreement with the Journal of High Energy Physics stating that the articles written by its researchers will be made freely available without charge to the whole international community. In doing this, the Institute is pursuing its commitment to publications in open access scientific peer-reviewed journals.

IN2P3 was already committed to the international movement for making scientific publications freely available to all. It is one of the key players in the European project, the "Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics" (SCOAP3), launched by CERN in 2006, which includes European physicists, funding bodies and libraries. The aim is to create a new model for funding publications, where the funding comes from the research institutions to which the researchers belong, and not the readers, as previously. This should make it possible to circulate results openly, at no cost to readers.

The signing of the agreement today marks a new step in the process. The signatories are the IN2P3 and the Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP), one of the leading journals in the field of high energies, published by the Institute of Physics, an international organization working to further understanding and applications of physics. Based on this agreement, any articles published in the JHEP having one of its authors affiliated to a French organization will, from now on, be financed by the IN2P3 and made freely available in open access to the whole of the international community.

This important progress in open access publishing meets the scientific quality recommendations of the SCOAP3 project, because quality of open access articles is as high as those of hard copy articles, since they go through the same channels of validation and selection by peer review.

More on PRISM

Jennifer Howard, Project of Publishers' Association Is Criticized by Some of Its Members and Open-Access Advocates, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 11, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

The Association of American Publishers has landed in hot water with university presses and research librarians, as well as open-access advocates, thanks to a new undertaking that is billed as an attempt to "safeguard the scientific and medical peer-review process and educate the public about the risks of proposed government interference with the scholarly communication process."

That effort, known as the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, or Prism, is the latest twist in a continuing public-relations war between the association and the open-access camp.

In January, the association created a ruckus by hiring Eric Dezenhall, a high-powered media consultant described by the journal Nature as a "pit bull" (The Chronicle, January 26). Mr. Dezenhall's advice to the publishers' association, says Nature, included a suggestion that it focus on messages such as "Public access equals government censorship."  ...

Prism arrives as the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a spending bill for the National Institutes of Health that would require research supported by the agency to be made publicly available....

Reactions to Prism have been widespread and vigorous, with some commentators calling for a boycott of the association. The news provoked one university-press director, Mike Rossner of Rockefeller University Press, to make a public request that a disclaimer be placed on the Prism Web site "indicating that the views presented on the site do not necessarily represent those of all members of the AAP." Mr. Rossner continued, "We at the Rockefeller University Press strongly disagree with the spin that has been placed on the issue of open access by Prism."

The Association of Research Libraries sent its members a talking-points memo, dated September 4, that deals with some of the arguments made on the Prism site. The librarians' group wrote that Prism "repeatedly conflates policies regarding access to federally funded research with hypothesized dire consequences ultimately resulting in the loss of any effective system of scholarly publishing. Many commentators agree that inaccuracies abound in the initiative's rhetoric."

One of those commentators, Tom Wilson, took his own advice that "academics should resign from editorial boards of journals published by the supporters of Prism": He posted an open letter on the Information Research Weblog announcing his resignation from the editorial board of the International Journal of Information Management. Mr. Wilson, a professor emeritus of information technology at the University of Sheffield, in England, was founding editor of that journal....

Brian D. Crawford, chairman of the executive council of the AAP's professional and scholarly publishing division, acknowledged that the strength of the negative reaction had taken his group by surprise. "We did not expect to have encountered the sort of criticism that we have seen thus far," Mr. Crawford told The Chronicle. "We were truly hoping to establish this as a way to have a very productive dialogue on what are important and nuanced issues."

A task force composed of members of the executive council put Prism together. It had been in the works about a year, according to Mr. Crawford. (Representatives of three academic presses -- those of the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Columbia University -- sit on the council.) The press association's general membership was not consulted during that process....

He added that the association was "using the announcement of the initiative itself as the initial means to engage in the outreach and recruitment of individual publishers."

It is not clear how many publishers have responded positively to that call.

Mr. Crawford also confirmed that Mr. Dezenhall, the PR maven, was still consulting for the publishers' group, although he would not say whether the consultant had been directly involved in formulating Prism.

Mr. Crawford defended his group against charges that it is anti-open access. "We're definitely not saying that open access equals faulty science," he said. "What we're saying is, It's important for publishers to have the flexibility to introduce and experiment with whatever business model they wish to, without government intervention."

Because of the criticisms, however, the publishers' group is taking "under advisement" the idea of adding a disclaimer, as Mr. Rossner suggested. It's also possible that the association will decide to revise the language on the Prism Web site in response to the concerns of university presses and libraries.

Peter Suber, a professor of philosophy at Earlham College and one of the leaders of the open-access movement, has been closely tracking responses to Prism on his Open Access News blog....Asked what effect Prism is likely to have, Mr. Suber noted that the publishers' group has the resources to back it up on Capitol Hill. "The message is no threat at all," he said. "The message is a laughingstock. But the lobbying behind the message might be effective."

Michael Geist on the CIHR OA mandate

Michael Geist, New research policy a victory for 'open access', Toronto Star, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

...The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the federal government's health research granting agency, unveiled a new open access policy for the research that it funds.

The new policy – the first of its kind for Ottawa's three major research granting institutions that dole out hundreds of millions of dollars each year – will revolutionize access to health research by mandating that thousands of articles published each year be made freely available online to a global audience.

This marks an important step in the "open access" movement in Canada, which had been falling behind peer institutions in the United States, Europe and Australia. It also places heightened pressure on the publishing industry to adapt their policies to permit greater access to publicly funded research....

Notwithstanding this important development, the publishing industry remains skeptical about open access.

Last month, the Association of American Publishers launched PRISM, a lobbying effort geared toward convincing U.S. lawmakers that open access threatens independent research and smacks of government censorship. While such outlandish claims are easily countered, the lobby has forced the scientific community to spend more of its time justifying policies to make their research available, rather than focusing on the research itself.

Indeed, critics have noted the publisher pressure may have led to a last-minute change in the CIHR policy. The policy is not iron-clad since publication in an online repository is conditional on permission from the publisher....

While it is tempting to say that the policy does not go far enough in light of this loophole, the CIHR policy is likely to place renewed pressure on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the federal government's two other major granting councils to follow suit.

To date, the SSHRC has launched only a small open access pilot project after opposition from publishers such as the University of Toronto Press short-circuited bolder plans. NSERC has proven even more apathetic, as internal documents reveal that council personnel admit that open access is not a priority.

That may change as new Industry Minister Jim Prentice focuses on Canadian economic competitiveness and fiscal responsibility. With the health field now leading the way, Canadians may at long last gain open access to the world-class research they have funded, while the publishing industry adapts to the new realities of access to research.

Abolishing crown copyright in the UK

Michael Cross, Time to take the jewels from the crown?  The Guardian, September 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

What does the King James Bible have in common with an Ordnance Survey map? Both are subject to crown copyright, an ancient institution whose function is increasingly open to question. Ownership of almost all information produced at taxpayers' expense is one of the main legal weapons government has to control - or block - the re-use of public sector information in the knowledge economy.

By contrast, the US government does not claim copyright in its works. We argue that the UK government should follow the US in making all raw taxpayer-funded data available to the knowledge economy - except where that data compromises personal privacy or national security.

Some of our supporters say that a short cut to this state of affairs would be to abolish crown copyright itself. The idea is worth examining. Abolition was last floated in 1998, as part of a series of examinations in to what the government should do with its publishing arm, Her Majesty's Stationery Office. A green paper, Crown Copyright in the Information Age, proposed abolition as one of seven options for crown copyright.

In the public consultation that followed, abolition emerged as the most popular....The snag was that although abolition was the most popular response, it was also the least popular, receiving the largest number of "unacceptable" votes.

Faced with this polarised response, the government chose compromise....


Dorothea Salo just solved a problem with the OAN interface that I've wanted to solve for a long time.  Now the permalink for each blog post displays the post on a page to itself.  When you click on a permalink, you don't have to load one of my large archive files and hope your browser jumps the right distance down the page. 

This feature is old hat for blogs nowadays and I'm long overdue in implementing it.  I was slow because I knew that making the switch would change the form of the post URL (from a standardized number to a fragment of the post's title), and I didn't want to break links to old posts. 

To appreciate the difference, here's a short post in the old and new forms:

Dorothea also helped with another interface tweak:  You can now find the permalink at the top of a post (in the title) as well as the bottom (in the "page" icon).  So far this feature is only implemented for the front page but will soon work for all the archived pages as well.

(Thank you, Dorothea!)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Data points for measuring the growth of OA

Heather Morrison has a useful series of blog posts on the Dramatic Growth of Open Access.  (I regularly blog excerpts here.)  If you run an OA resource and wonder why Heather doesn't track your growth in her series, or what it might take to get her to start tracking it, see her latest post on her inclusion criteria.

Keeping data away from US spy agencies

Dan Carnevale, Fearing Prying U.S. Eyes, Canada's Colleges Crack Down on Computing, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 14, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers) .  Excerpt:

The USA Patriot Act is having far-reaching effects on the kinds of data that wind up on some academics' computers in Canada. Canadian colleges, responding to provincial laws passed in reaction to the Patriot Act, are preventing professors from entering the United States with students' private data on their laptops and limiting the locations of servers where academic data are stored.

The provincial privacy laws call on government institutions, including public colleges, to keep data in Canada and away from the potential prying eyes of U.S. agencies given investigative powers under the Patriot Act....

Attempts to play it safe are proving to be expensive for some colleges, possibly tripling the cost of data storage. Not playing it safe could also be expensive: In one province violators face a $500,000 fine....

American companies, meanwhile, are discovering that, to keep doing business with Canadian colleges, they have to relocate some of their computer equipment into Canada....

PS:  I haven't heard of anyone taking these precautions for research data.  But research data are so various that I'd be surprised if the Canadian laws didn't apply to at least some datasets for research projects e.g. on university students or medical patients. 

More on OA and development

Jutta Haider, Of the rich and the poor and other curious minds: on open access and “development”, ASLIB Proceedings, 59, 4/5 (2007) pp. 449-461.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – The paper seeks to reconsider open access and its relation to issues of “development” by highlighting the ties the open access movement has with the hegemonic discourse of development and to question some of the assumptions about science and scientific communication upon which the open access debates are based. The paper also aims to bring out the conflict arising from the convergence of the hegemonic discourses of science and development with the contemporary discourse of openness.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of a critical reading of a range of published work on open access and the so-called “developing world” as well as of various open access declarations. The argument is supported by insights from post-development studies.

Findings – Open access is presented as an issue of moral concern beyond the narrow scope of scholarly communication. Claims are made based on hegemonic discourses that are positioned as a priori and universal. The construction of open access as an issue of unquestionable moral necessity also impedes the problematisation of its own heritage.

Originality/value – This paper is intended to open up the view for open access's less obvious alliances and conflicting discursive ties and thus to initiate a politisation, which is necessary in order to further the debate in a more fruitful way.

Elsevier provides free online access to 100+ oncology journals

Milt Freudenheim, A Medical Publisher’s Unusual Prescription: Online Ads, New York Times, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

By some measures, the medical publishing world has met the advent of the Internet with a shrug, sticking to its time-honored revenue model of charging high subscription fees for specialized journals that often attract few, if any, advertisements.

Over the weekend, went live.

But now Reed Elsevier, which publishes more than 400 medical and scientific journals, is trying an experiment that stands this model on its head. Over the weekend it introduced a Web portal,, that gives doctors free access to the latest articles from 100 of its own pricey medical journals and that plans to sell advertisements against the content.

The new site asks oncologists to register their personal information. In exchange, it gives them immediate access to the latest cancer-related articles from Elsevier journals like The Lancet and Surgical Oncology. Prices for journals can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.

Elsevier hopes to sign up 150,000 professional users within the next 12 months and to attract advertising and sponsorships, especially from pharmaceutical companies with cancer drugs to sell. The publisher also hopes to cash in on the site’s list of registered professionals, which it can sell to advertisers....

“It’s a calculated risk, a bold step into the unknown,” said Dan Penny, a senior analyst in London at Outsell, a market research firm.

Monique Fayad, an Elsevier senior vice president, said the total online advertising market was growing “in double digits” and added, “We expect it will be a $1 billion opportunity within the next two years.”

In just the last two years, the number of visits by physicians to online medical journals increased 27 percent, while readers of the printed versions declined 14 percent, according to Manhattan Research, a health care market research firm....

Although Elsevier’s medical and scientific journal business is profitable, revenue is flat and online readership is growing faster than print subscriptions....

The new Elsevier site’s target users include doctors like Dr. Peter Yi, a cancer specialist in Princeton, N.J. Like the vast majority of oncologists, Dr. Yi already logs in regularly. He searches the Internet for updates as he treats patients....Looking at OncologySTAT for the first time, Dr. Yi said he liked the features it offers, like chemotherapy regimens, conference reports, drug interactions and the ability to search by cancer type. “Having it all under one roof makes it easier,” he said.

But Dr. Leonard B. Saltz, a colon cancer expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer, said, “Another Web site was not what we desperately need.” He added, “I know the literature of my area often before it is published.” Beyond that, he uses the government site, PubMed, and the Google Scholar search engine to drill into research issues.

Doctors like Dr. Saltz who work at the big teaching centers have free access to most, if not all, of the journals. But oncologists away from those centers, like Dr. Yi in Princeton, see 85 percent of all cancer patients and rely on the Internet as their link to the knowledge base.

Getting the relevant answers promptly may be more important to doctors than not having to pay for them, said Elizabeth W. Boehm, a principal analyst at Forrester Research....


  • This reminds me of Elsevier's decision (June 2004) to permit postprint archiving.  (See my two-part coverage of that decision:  one, two.)  It helps researchers; coming from Elsevier, it may be unexpected and surprising; but it makes sense for the company.  Why does it make sense for Elsevier?  Two big reasons:  first, because it tests the waters for going beyond the subscription model, which is unsustainable, and second, because it will increase the audience and impact for articles published by the OncologySTAT journals, which in turn should raise their impact factors and increase submissions.  Even if OncologySTAT reduces profit margins for participating journals, Elsevier will have reasons to continue the program, and it's well-situated to do so.
  • You needn't see this as open access to see it as beneficial for researchers, physicians, and patients.  (And I still believe it's important to praise forward steps even if they stop short of full OA.)  OncologySTAT removes the price barrier for readers, which will help accelerate research, share knowledge, and improve patient care in oncology.  On the other side, the registration requirement means that access is closed to (most) machines for harvesting, indexing, and mining.  And all the content is under copyright by Elsevier or its licensors with no waivers:  "You may not copy, display, distribute, modify, publish, reproduce, store, transmit, create derivative works from, or sell or license all or any part of the Content, products or services obtained from this Site in any medium to anyone, except as otherwise expressly permitted under applicable law or as described in these Terms and Conditions or relevant license or subscriber agreement.  You may print or download Content from the Site for your own personal, non-commercial use, provided that you keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices. You may not engage in systematic retrieval of Content from the Site...."
  • Despite its limitations, this kind of experiment is even more helpful than hybrid OA journals (which Elsevier is also trying) because every article in the participating journals is free to read, not just a small subset, and there are no author-side publication fees.  Some hybrid OA journals remove more permission barriers than OncologySTAT, but many do not and Elsevier's are in the latter category. 
  • Expect to see this model spread in medicine (to other publishers and other medical specializations), but not much beyond medicine.  Insofar as it depends on advertising, it's limited to fields where advertising can be lucrative. 
  • Advertising doesn't prevent OA and can even support it.  But some OA medical journals try to avoid it for other reasons.  See for example, James Maskalyk's editorial in the inaugural issue of Open Medicine:  "Too much of the revenue that sustains medical journals comes from pharmaceutical advertising that attempts to influence physicians into making decisions based on brand recognition rather than on discerning scholarship."  Or see the analysis by Fugh-Berman et al. (2006), which concludes, "Advertisements and other financial arrangements with pharmaceutical companies compromise the objectivity of journals."  The PLoS Medicine position is simply that "PLoS Medicine does not accept advertisements for pharmaceutical products or medical devices." 
  • Non-oncologists may register for OncologySTAT.  Indeed, anyone may register.  The registration form asks for your profession, but includes the category "consumer/other".  The form offers a link to the Registered User Agreement, for those who want to read the fine print before binding themselves.  But when I clicked on it before registering, I just got another copy of the registration form without the user agreement.  I saw another link after I registered and this time it worked. 
  • The NYTimes story doesn't seem to be aware that there are already full OA medical journals.  Why not?
  • When Elsevier launched its hybrid OA journals in May 2006, I wrote two comments, which apply to the OncologySTAT launch as well: 
    1. "When Elsevier went green and permitted postprint archiving, I noted that it was perfectly consistent for the company to be friendly to OA archiving but unfriendly to OA journals.  But what is it now?  It might still oppose full OA journals, at least in its own case, but will it still argue that OA journals are unsustainable, second-rate, a threat to peer review and the publishing industry?" ...
    2. "In October 2003 the French financial analysis firm, BNP Paribas, said there was a 50% chance that in 10 years the major commercial publishers would convert to OA and continue to dominate scholarly publishing as they do today, "retaining their market share but with less pricing power."   We're not seeing that yet, but we may be seeing intelligent probes by one such company to learn where the paths are in this still largely unmapped landscape."

Update.  Also see Elsevier's press release (September 7, 2007).

Universities paying twice v. publishers charging twice

Stevan Harnad, The "Double-Pay"/"Buy-Back" Argument for Open Access is Invalid, Open Access Archivangelism, September 9, 2007.

Summary:  There are many valid arguments for Open Access (OA), but the claim that researchers or their universities are currently "double-paying" to "buy back" access to their own research output -- by (1) paying for the conduct of the research, giving it to journals, and then (2) paying for subscriptions to access it -- is invalid. Researchers already have their own results, and so does their own university. What their university library subscriptions are paying for is to buy-in (not buy-back) the research output of other universities, exactly as with books written by authors from other universities. (Some research, universities and university libraries are funded by public funds, some not. Unless OA is to be limited to only that subset, that is not a sufficient rationale for OA either.)

There is a valid "double-payment" argument, though, when it is not the payer (the researcher, funder, or university) paying twice, but the payee -- the publisher -- getting paid twice (not necessarily by the same payer): This is the "Trojan Horse" of paying a "hybrid Gold OA" publisher (i.e., not a pure Gold OA publisher but a subscription-based publisher who offers the option of making individual articles OA in exchange for a fee) at a time when the potential funds for doing so are still tied up in the university subscriptions that are already paying that publisher's costs in full.

Publishers need only be paid once. If mandated Green OA should ever make cost-recovery from subscription payments unsustainable (because it makes university subscription demand disappear), then the resultant university subscription windfall savings can be redirected to pay for the peer review on the Gold OA model, with all access-provision and archiving off-loaded onto the distributed network of university OA Repositories.

Four NZ universities launch consortial repository

Stephen Ballantyne, Universities join forces to manage their libraries, National Business Review, September 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[F]our of [New Zealand's] universities have set up the Library Consortium of New Zealand (LCoNZ), a project aimed at unifying the data storage strategies of their libraries.

LCoNZ general manager Jean Ballantyne, based at Victoria University, said the company was set up for three main reasons.

"First, to implement a shared library management system for all four of the universities, a need which came up in 2004 for all of them. Second was to enhance that system by adding other types of products, such as federated searching and link resolvers. And third was to manage support for storage and access to locally created digital objects.

"The first two aspects have been completed now, and we're working on the third part, which we're doing by creating a shared multi-institutional research repository." ...

"Our prime issue is to get open access for research and to make that research as widely available as possible, and to preserve it for the long term." ...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Will the singularity be open?

Jamais Cascio, Openness and the Metaverse Singularity, a presentation at the Singularity Summit 2007 (San Francisco September 8-9, 2007).  In this sense, the singularity is "the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence."  Excerpt:

Many of us rightly worry about what might happen that analyze our life logs, that monitor our every step and word, that track our behavior online so as to offer us the safest possible society -- or best possible spam. Imagine the risks associated with trusting that when the creators of emerging self-aware systems say that they have our best interests in mind, they mean the same thing by that phrase that we do.

For me, the solution is clear. Trust depends upon transparency. Transparency, in turn, requires openness.

We need an Open Singularity.

At minimum, this means expanding the conversation about the shape that a singularity might take beyond a self-selected group of technologists and philosophers. An "open access" singularity, if you will....

My preferred pathway would be to "open source" the singularity, to bring in the eyes and minds of millions of collaborators to examine and co-create the relevant software and models, seeking out flaws and making the code more broadly reflective of a variety of interests....This is not simply speculation; we've seen time and again, from digital security to the global response to SARS, that open access to information-laden risks ultimately makes them more manageable....

If the singularity is in fact near, the fundamental tools of information, collaboration and access will be our best hope for making it happen in a way that spreads its benefits and minimizes its dangers -- in short, making it happen in a way that lets us be good ancestors....

Profile of the Biodiversity Digital Library

Tom Garnett and Martin R. Kalfatovic, Open Access to Biodiversity Literature: The Biodiversity Heritage Library, a slide presentation at the AIBS Council meeting (Washington DC, May 14-15, 2007).

Need a standard contract? Try a repository instead of a lawyer.

Tom Scott launched OwnTerms last month, an OA repository of "stock legal documents".  (Thanks to Most Searched.)  From the site:

OwnTerms is designed as a repository for “boilerplate” legal documents: those that every web site, startup, or entrepreneur needs but doesn’t want to draft in a lawyer for.

All the documents on OwnTerms are licensed under a Creative Commons license, enabling anyone to take them and edit them for their own use provided certain conditions are met....

Why? Because most businesses starting out just rip their terms and conditions from another site; because most freelance designers don’t want the expense of having a contract specially written for them, and wouldn’t know where to start; because Creative Commons-licensed documents can make people’s lives easier.

Peter Murray-Rust on eTheses

Peter Murray-Rust, The power of the Scientific eThesis, 67-minute webcast of a presentation at CalTech, with audio, video, and an incredible 441 slides.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

CARL welcomes OA mandate at CIHR

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has issued a press release celebrating the new OA mandate from CIHR.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Excerpt:

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) welcomed the new CIHR Policy on Access to Research Outputs. CIHR is the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada.

Under the new Policy “grant recipients must make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed research articles are freely available as soon as possible after publication.”

“CARL welcomes the new CIHR policy “stated Carolynne Presser, Chair of the CARL Scholarly Communication Committee. “We would prefer to see full and immediate public access to all CIHR-funded research. However this is a step in the right direction.”

“The new Policy should mean that all Canadians – the general public, healthcare practitioners and researchers - will enjoy increasing free access to publicly-funded Canadian health research through the Internet” noted CARL President, Ms. Leslie Weir.  “It is encouraging to see CIHR’s commitment that ‘timely and unrestricted access to research findings is a defining feature of science, and is essential for advancing knowledge and accelerating our understanding of human health and disease.’ CARL looks forward to working with CIHR to implement the Policy and to make it a success for other funding agencies to follow.”