Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Is there a Steve Jobs of journal publishing?

Alexandre Linhares, A modest (billion-dollar) proposal, The Human Intuition Project, October 6, 2007.  Linhares is the Director-General of the Brazilian Chapter of the Club of Rome.  Excerpt:

Imagine the following scenario. A secretive meeting, years ago, when Apple's Steve Jobs, the benevolent dictator, put in place a strategy to get into the music business....I have no idea how that meeting went, but one thing is for sure: many people afterwards must have been back-stabbing Jobs, and mentioning "the music business? We're going to sell music? This guy has totally lost it."

Fact of the matter was, technology had forever changed the economics of the music business, and Jobs could see it.

Having said that, I'd like to make a modest, billion-dollar, proposal, to the likes of Adobe, Yahoo, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and whomever else might be up to the task.

Think about science publishing....

The economics of science publishing is completely crazy for this day and age....

[T]echnology has forever changed the economics of the scientific publishing business, and it's high time for someone like Jobs to step forward.

Adobe Buzzword is specially suited to do this. Most scientific publishers (Elsevier, Springer) and societies (IEEE, ACM, APA, APS, INFORMS) have just one or two typesetting styles for papers. I imagine a version of Buzzword which carries only the particular typesetting style(s) of the final published document, and researchers would already prepare those manuscripts ready for publication....A submit button would submit the papers for evaluation, either to a journal or a conference. Referees could make comments and annotation on the electronic manuscript....

Buzzword is just my favorite option....Other options could be desktop processors (MsWord, Pages, OpenOffice, etc)....

Now, why would the people in Adobe, Yahoo, SUN, IBM, Microsoft, Google, or others actually want to do a thing like that?  There are two reasons. The first one is goodwill, the second one is money....

One crucial point is for the platform to be freely accessible to all. But you can do that, and still block the googlebot, the yahoobot, and all others "bots", but your own. Let's say, for instance, that Microsoft does something of the sort. In some years time, not only it gets the goodwill of graduate students who are studying papers published by (as opposed to hey-sucker-pay-thirty-bucks-for-your-own-paper-Elsevier), but also the way to search for such information would be only through that website. As we all know, advertising is moving online: according to a recent study, the last year saw "$24 billion spent on internet advertising and $450 billion spent on all advertising". Soon we'll reach US$100 Billion/year in advertising on the web. And imagine having a privileged position in the eyeballs of graduate-educated people, from medicine to science to economics to business to engineering to history....

Google might want to do it just to preempt some other company from blocking the googlebot to get its hands on valuable scientific research. Microsoft, the Dracula of the day, certainly needs the goodwill, and it could help it to hang on to the MS-Word lock in. Maybe Amazon would find this interesting--fits nicely with their web storage and search dreams. Yahoo would have the same reason as Google....


  • I have no thoughts on Linhares' particular proposal --basically, a publisher-ready stylesheet and submit button for author apps, a platform to receive submissions and coordinate unpaid peer reviewers, open access compromised only by exclusive search indexing, and ads on search pages-- except that we're making good progress toward uncompromised OA without it. 
  • But his proposal raises a larger and more important question.  I'd put it this way.  Journal publishing is dysfunctional and unsustainable in its dominant form.  Open access allows wider distribution and lower costs at the same time.  Tools to produce it, services to exploit it, and business models to support it are all multiplying fast.  There may be a trajectory in all this activity (and I believe there is), but at least there is ferment.  The ferment smells like readiness.  Now:  Is journal publishing susceptible to a sudden transformation from an unexpected player using a killer app and business plan?  Is there a Steve Jobs of journal publishing ready to act?

Healthy returns on the investment in OA

Charles Arthur, Free products can generate real money, The Guardian, October 5, 2007.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

...I once asked Google's head of open source how much it would cost the company if it ran Windows on its servers, rather than Linux. I recommend it as a question to Googlers if you want to see eyes bulge....

Ask yourself this: if Linux didn't exist, would Google? ... "Free" underpins a huge amount of effort on the internet now, and that translates into real world commerce: Amazon uses those free building blocks too for its business, which is largely about shipping atoms, not bits....

Using those free products, Google and Amazon and hundreds or thousands of other companies out there generate real value, real money, real taxes....

[Another example is the] Global Positioning Systems, aka GPS, aka sat-nav. GPS didn't just fall into the sky. It cost a lot of money to put it up there, and a fair bit to keep going - about $400m annually, including satellite updates.

But here's the thing about GPS: it's free to use, and in the short time that it's been available outside the military, its use has exploded. Figures for the value of the market are hard to come by, but EADS-Astrium estimates (in the graph at the end of the link) that this year it's worth about €40 billion. That's a hell of a multiplier on something that you give away for free, given a comparatively small investment....

Friday, October 05, 2007

Robin Peek on PRISM

Robin Peek, I Interview Me on Open Access, Wikis@GSLIS, October 5, 2007.

This is a preprint of my November column "Focus on Publishing" in Information Today....

Anyone who reads this column knows that I take on topics on Open Access (OA) frequently, increasingly frequently as OA events are occurring at an almost staggering rate. With the launch of Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine (PRISM) and some other events over the past couple of months, I have been quite peppered with questions. So, here is my salt to the dialog....

[I]t is unclear how representative PRISM is of the views of its member publishers, many of whom are engaged is some form of OA --even if it is just providing delayed access....

The publishing lobby has always been an obstacle to OA but OA started happening anyway. They are putting a higher gloss on the rhetoric but you have to remember that the publishing lobby has always had access to spin-doctors. Just try to interview a major publishing figure without their PR person listening in on the other line. OA came from much more humble roots (as in grassroots) in terms of message but its sophistication has grown. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is one example that particularly stands out because the organizational members bring their own lobbying and PR knowledge to the discussion.

However, I think PRISM also represents the fact that the OA message is reaching beyond the usual “suspects” and they are seeking to capitalize on the fact that, sadly, people will accept spin without looking to see if there is any factual information to back it up. Frankly I have found it strange that an industry that claims to bank itself on facts are not offering much in the way of facts, particularly peer-reviewed research, to support their arguments. I defer to Peter Suber’s September issue of the Open Access Newsletter, where he outlines this in much greater detail than I have space to do here. Newcomers to OA will find this journey down the road already traveled (and traveled over again) very useful....

We already have OA and peer review is intact. The PRISM members know this as they have members who already allow the same type of OA that the National Institute of Health (NIH) puts forth as the mandate for the research it funds....The “sky is falling on peer review” is a fear tactic....

“Stop OA and everything will be okay” may well be the unofficial motto of PRISM (okay, I made up the motto) but this is like Microsoft campaigning to make Google go away....

Comment.  You don't see this everyday:  an OA preprint of a newspaper column, and one about OA to boot.  Kudos to Robin for trying it and to Information Today for allowing it.

This explains a lot

Paul D. Thacker, Investigative reporting can produce a “higher obligation”, SEJournal, Summer 2007.  Excerpt:

...[P]ublishing executives and senior editors at ACS get bonuses based on how well the publishing operation performs. These bonuses are approved through the committee on executive compensation....


  • We've long known that the American Chemical Society (ACS) pays very high salaries to its executives, at least for a non-profit scientific society.  For example, according to its 2005 tax returns, it paid Madeleine Jacobs $919,251 and Bob Massie $1,033,330.  At the time, Jacobs was the the society's CEO and Massie was president of its Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS).
  • We've also long known that the ACS strongly opposed government OA policies, from PubChem to the NIH policy and FRPAA.  According to Nature, the ACS was one of only three publishers (with Wiley and Elsevier) to hear the Dezenhall proposal that recently evolved into PRISM
  • Thacker's full article is of interest for another reason:  he explains why he was fired from his job as a reporter for one of the ACS journals --after a phone call to his editor from an industry executive who happens to chair the ACS committee on executive compensation. 
  • The article includes a sidebar in which two ACS officers dispute parts of Thacker's account.  Excerpt:  "Bill Carroll, former ACS president, wrote to say...that he chaired the compensation committee but it does not evaluate or award bonuses to editorial employees."
  • If your professional society has opposed government OA policies, try to find out whether its executives get bonuses based on the revenues or profits of its publications.  If they do, ask in a public meeting whether they believe this is a conflict of interest.

More hybrid OA journals from T&F

Taylor & Francis has added 31 journals to its hybrid OA journal program.  From yesterday's announcement:

Taylor & Francis is delighted to announce that its "iOpenAccess" option has been extended to cover 31 journals in environmental and agricultural sciences, behavioural sciences and development studies. This is in addition to the 175 journals from T&F's Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics portfolios, 7 behavioural science journals from Psychology Press, and medical and bioscience journals from Informa Healthcare....

We undertake to review the subscription prices of each journal with respect to the uptake of the iOpenAccess initiative, and the relevant information will be published [here]. The assessment of the first group of iOpenAccces titles will take place in early 2008....

OA for ETDs at the U of Florida

Digital Library Center provides online dissertations, Inside UF, September 27, 2007.  Excerpt:

More than 9,500 dissertations from University of Florida graduate students of years gone by now languish on UF library shelves. The dissertations have been cast aside in the digital age which demands instant information.

But, if a new project at the George A. Smathers Libraries Digital Library Center is successful, decades of writings will soon be available around the world, with just the click of a mouse.

“What I’d like people to see is that the University of Florida is doing good work, and that we have in the past as well,” said Cathy Martyniak, head of the Library Preservation department.

Dissertations were first submitted electronically in 1998 at UF, and since 2001, the university required electronic submission for all dissertations. Martyniak said. Copyright restrictions require any doctoral candidate who completed work before 2001 to sign a release granting permission for scanning and Internet distribution....

Once a release form is submitted, the dissertation is scanned at the Digital Library Center and information called “metadata” provides information about the work, such as title, author, subject, year of publication and length. The work is then uploaded to the Digital Collections’ Web site, where the metadata allows for easy and accurate retrieval....

To participate in this project, UF dissertation authors are encouraged to visit [here].

EU Parliament calls for more OA books

Parliamentarians call for more books to be put online, EurActiv, September 27, 2007.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

The European Parliament has asked the Commission to speed up the process of setting up a European Digital Library, which aims to become a one-stop shop for accessing literary and scientific works online....

Digital libraries are essential for enabling scholars and students to access the rapidly growing number of scientific publications worldwide, as well as ensuring the accessibility of Europe's cultural heritage....

In a resolution adopted on 27 September 2007, the European Parliament supported the Commission's two-year old Communication....They recommended that the European Library "must initially concentrate on the potential offered by text material that is free of rights" and invited "all European libraries to make available to the European Digital Library works that are free of rights which they already hold in digital form"....

Pioneer OA journal still pioneering

Ehud Ben Zvi, A Prototype for Further Publication Development of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and Other Open-Access Journals, Society of Biblical Literature Forum, September 2007.  (Thanks to Sansblogue.)  Excerpt:

Worldwide, completely free, and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed journal literature is a social and academic good. It is important for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, and as such to the academic guild and to society in general. It is important for individual researchers, students, libraries, and the general educated public.

The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (JHS) is one of the academic, blind peer-reviewed, open access journals that provide such access electronically and whose contents are freely and permanently available to all. The number of articles and reviews it publishes yearly has grown steadily since 1996 — the year in which it is established — and so has its readership....

[T]he journal has become well-established....[T]he time has arrived to think about future developments in electronic open-access scholarly publication....

Worldwide, free, and unrestricted distribution of peer-reviewed articles and reviews using Internet technology was "revolutionary" a decade ago — and perhaps still is in many ways. However, the actual format in which the material was disseminated was, and still is, not "revolutionary" at all. We, as almost anyone else in the field of open-access journals, publish articles and reviews as PDF and HTML files....Our presentation of textual information follows the Gutenbergian model of a printed page, which in fact goes back for millennia to early writings....

The first challenge today for e-publication in our field is not to create new formats for the sake of "newness," but to think of textual presentations, or systems of textual presentations, that are more reader-friendly for the purposes, and within the mode, in which we read. In other words, we must think about how we read scholarly texts. We do read texts in linear ways, and therefore any new presentation should keep the text at least as friendly as it is now for that type of reading. But we also read texts in non-linear ways. When we read an article, we often stop to check a verse and then continue our reading; we then stop to read a footnote and at times go and grab another article or monograph to see what X or Z said about the issue....

[At JHS we decided to] keep the usual pdf format as the main way of publishing articles, but on the other we should develop and provide in our site marked xml files of the same texts.

The purpose of these xml files is to allow readers to create their own hypertexts, if they so wish, within the limitations of open access databases....[O]ur xml files should allow easy inclusion of future resources.

What kind of hypertexts do we imagine our readers would like, beyond the system of footnotes? We thought of the co-texts that people tend to have around their desks. For instance, we imagined that readers would like to be able, if they wish, to click on a reference to a verse (or verses) and view it in its original language, or gather relevant discursive, syntactical, or morphological information, or view several ancient and a variety of contemporary translations, or bibliographical databases mentioning works that deal with this verse....

We also thought that improving search capabilities would make documents more helpful....

[T]o implement all of these while keeping the journal open access, which is a non-negotiable issue for us, is a tough act. It involves technical, financial, and general resources challenges....

Finding OA sources in Infomine

If you use Infomine, this tip should help:

...There are a few ways to isolate open access electronic journals in your search. From the INFOMINE Electronic Journals search page, either select "Free" in the Resource Access dropdown, or enter the term "open access resource" with your search term in the main search field. Shared Cataloging Program records in INFOMINE generally use this tag to indicate a free resource, though it may also indicate (and provide a link to) a portion of free resources within an otherwise access-restricted site. In this way, searching with the included term of "open access resource" may return a larger number of records than simply selecting "Free" in the Resource Access box....

German publishers discuss OA

Ulrich Herb, Online oder unsichtbar, Telepolis, October 5, 2007.  A report on the meeting, Open Access Policies deutscher Verlage (Stuttgart, September 26, 2007).  Read it in the original German or in Google's English.

PS:  If someone could post an English summary of this article, or first-hand observations of the September 26 meeting, to SOAF, then I'd link to it from this post.

Update. For a partial English summary, see Charlotte Hubbard's BMC blog post of October 9, 2007.

Springer deal with U of Goettingen

Under a new agreement between the University of Göttingen and Springer, all articles by Göttingen faculty published in Springer journals will be OA under the Springer Open Choice program.  Read yesterday's announcement in German or in Google's English.

Comment.  The press release doesn't say whether Göttingen is paying anything beyond its current Springer subscriptions for this extra benefit.  (The Open Choice publication fee is normally $3,000 per article.)  If so, then the deal is much like an institutional membership program.  But if not, then it's like the Springer deal with the Dutch library consortium, Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (UKB), in which current subscription payments are considered to cover publication fees as well.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

In my newsletter article Tuesday on Flipping a journal to open access, I cited the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) as an example of an OA publication adopting a strategy similar to the second stage of a two-flip conversion.  (Sorry.  I know this won't make sense for those who haven't read the article.)

SEP's Principal Editor Ed Zalta and Senior Editor Uri Nodelman believe I may have given a false impression of SEP's fund-raising program, and they may be right.  The full story of SEP's fund-raising strategy is interestingly complicated and I've often blogged the details.  However, in the Tuesday newsletter I only described it as much as necessary to show the connection to the second half of a two-flip conversion.  As a result, I omitted many details and may have created a false impression.  I'm happy to post this clarification from Zalta and Nodelman:

...We are grateful for your mention of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and we hope you don't mind if we clarify a few of the points you made in the newsletter.  You write:

The second flip in this process is not as novel as it may appear. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is in the middle of something very similar right now.  To build an endowment to cover its expenses,  it's asking institutions to make payments that resemble "flipped subscriptions":  institutions make annual payments, as they  would for subscription or publication fees, but when SEP has raised enough money, the payments stop and the encyclopedia is OA, no-fee, and self-sustaining.

We'd first like to note a few minor points: (a) libraries need not make annual payments to the SEP; they may instead make a one-time payment if they can pay their membership dues in one go (indeed, many universities have done just that).  With a one-time payment, they are done.  But we also allow libraries to spread out the payment over 3 years.  (b) The SEP is OA now, and has always been so, and so the clause that starts "but when ..." might give some librarians the wrong impression that it won't be OA until we have raised enough money.  (c) It is to be remembered that the SEP never underwent the first flip: we never conceived of library membership dues as author fees.

Second, it seems to us that the result of the second flip is a situation where institutions make general payments to the OA publication instead of author-based or "upload" payments.  This resultant situation is analogous to the situation in which the SEP currently finds itself (with the caveats noted above):  namely, an OA work that accepts general payments instead of payments tied to any direct upload/download activity.

Consequently, it seems that the SEP will be doing a third kind of flip -- from one where institutions make general payments to cover expenses, to one where no payments are required at all.   One might imagine other OA publications trying to make this 3rd flip by either (a) setting the price of the expense payments to a level that will allow for some investment into an endowment or (b) finding some partner(s) or grant agencies willing to cover the cost of operating expenses so that the payments can be used wholly for endowment funds.   One reason this might be acceptable to contributing institutions is that in the case of the SEP, the money received from libraries as membership dues is put entirely into the endowment and actually *held in trust* for these institutions; it would be returned (together with any interest and appreciation in excess of the annual payout) if the publication closes down.  This is the most distinctive part of the SEP's funding model.

We think this latter idea is the one worthy of emulation.

PS:  For more background, see the SEP's page on its fund-raising strategy.

More on the OCA project with Boston-area libraries

For OCA's New Partners, Scan Plan Is a Commitment of Dollars and "Sense", Library Journal Academic Newswire, October 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

Brewster Kahle can be an effective speaker, no question about it —so effective, in fact, that when he pitched the Open Content Alliance (OCA) at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) meeting in 2005, shortly after its inception, librarians in the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) were hooked. "Barbara Preece (BLC), Maura Marx (Boston Public Library), and I saw Brewster's presentation at CNI," Brinley Franklin, vice provost for university libraries at the University of Connecticut (UConn), told the LJ Academic Newswire. "We were immediately interested in the concept."

That concept is now being put into practice as part of a sweeping plan unveiled last week by the BLC to scan millions of pages of public domain materials in its collections in conjunction with the OCA. "In total, I believe the BLC has pledged almost $500,000 a year for two years," Franklin said, augmented by financial support offered by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has granted BLC funding to host "a summit on open access." Doron Weber, program officer at the Sloan Foundation, has also vowed "continued support in light of our recent commitment to the OCA," Franklin added.

UConn, where library budgets have remained flat in recent years, has pledged both staff and capital. The library will invest $50,000 a year for two years toward the scanning. "This is slightly less than one percent of our collections budget, which will be our funding source," Franklin said. In addition, this fall UConn will hire a full-time "digital projects librarian" as well as reallocate several existing staff, mostly from collections services, to support digitization efforts. Franklin said David Lowe, UConn's digital preservation librarian, will serve on the BLC/OCA Implementation Team, and will lead the project at UConn....

UConn joins 18 other institutions in the BLC, as pioneers of sorts. It is the first large consortium to embark on a self-funded project with the Open Content Alliance. In all, members plan to scan at least ten million pages over two years, one million pages of which are set to come from UConn, as well as major collections such as the Boston Public Library's John Adams collection; documents from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which includes collections from Harvard; the Marine Biological Laboratory; and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Most importantly, all of the scans, Franklin stressed, will be open, accessible from any browser, downloadable, and usable, unlike competing commercial plans, which place proprietary restrictions on their scans. Franklin said UConn is committed not only financially but in principle to the OCA's efforts to keep the public domain restriction-free, a policy that seeks to ensure a vibrant role for libraries. "The library staff at UConn was unanimous in its endorsement of unrestricted access to materials we digitize," Franklin says. "We are ready to turn down funding from companies that restrict searching digital collections through their proprietary search engine."

PS:  For more on the UConn participation in the project, see the October 1 story in the UConn weekly newspaper.

MIT Press dissociates itself from PRISM

Jennifer Howard, Anti-Open-Access Effort by Publishing Group Loses Another University Press, Chronicle of Higher Education News blog, October 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

Another top university press has registered its displeasure with Prism, a controversial anti-open-access lobbying effort undertaken by the Association of American Publishers. Ellen Faran, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, has resigned from the executive council of the association’s Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. Even so, Ms. Faran told The Chronicle in an e-mail message, “The Prism Web site continues to give the incorrect impression that it has the unanimous support of the Executive Council.”

The Web site states that Prism, or the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine, “was established by the Executive Council of the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to educate policy makers and the American people about the risks posed by government intervention in scholarly publishing.” The group has made some language changes elsewhere on the site since the first round of publishers’ protests.

Ms. Faran’s exit from the executive council follows that of James D. Jordan, president and director of Columbia University Press, who stepped down on August 28, five days after Prism went public.  Mr. Jordan told The Chronicle that he had resigned in part “because I had vocally opposed the launch of the Prism Web site and did not subscribe to arguments supporting it.” Other academic publishers, including Cambridge University Press and Rockefeller University Press, have also publicly criticized Prism.


TA journal deposits its new articles in PMC after six months

Emma Hill, JCB content automatically deposited in PubMed Central (PMC), Journal of Cell Biology, October 1, 2007.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Public access to JCB content

The JCB has long been a leader in providing free, public access to the science we publish. Since January 2001 we have released our content six months after publication, and we also provide immediate free-access to colleagues in 143 developing nations. And, in this my first editorial in the journal, I am delighted to announce another enhancement to our commitment to public access. As of November 2007 we will deposit all JCB content in PubMed Central (PMC), where it will available to the public six months after publication.

PMC, developed and managed by the NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in the National Library of Medicine (NLM), is a free digital archive of literature from biomedical and life science journals. Despite a previous reluctance on our side, we are now happy to provide the NLM with all of our content in XML format. The process requires a certain amount of finessing to ensure accurate conversion (hence the short delay until November). This change in our policy stems from the realization that XML content may have greater longevity than PDF files. We also recognize the necessity for multiple archives of our electronic content as print is phased out.

Additional placement of JCB content in the PMC archive ensures permanent and free access in a central repository alongside research from other leading journals. Our routine deposit in PMC represents de facto compliance for authors with policies formulated by many funding agencies requiring access to research they have funded after a short delay. This service will be free of charge to authors (although HHMI are welcome to pay us $1,000–$1,500 a pop if they so choose)....

We continue to derive our revenue from journal subscriptions in addition to author billings, and we thus delay the public release of our content for six months. However, as has been the case since July 2000, if authors want to make their papers available sooner, they may post the final, published, PDF version on their own websites immediately after publication....

Comment.  This goes well beyond standard green policies that permit self-archiving.  It even goes beyond the few that positively encourage self-archiving.  It guarantees OA archiving and doesn't leave it to the initiative of busy authors unfamiliar with their options.  Automatic deposit in PMC is routine for OA journals at PLoS and BMC, but don't forget that JCB is a TA journal.  Moreover, JCB is depositing the published editions of its articles, not the unedited author manuscripts, and doing so from self-interest, not the goad of payments from authors or funding agencies.  Compare the HHMI deal with Elsevier in which Elsevier would not deposit even the unedited author manuscripts in PMC without payment of $1,000-1,500 per paper.  If other journals follow the lead of JCB, then the OA percentage of the new literature will rapidly approach 100% and funding agencies like HHMI will never again accede to archiving demands like those of Elsevier.  Kudos to JCB and Rockefeller University Press. changes its name

Nelson Pavlosky, is now Students for Free Culture,, October 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

One result of the new bylaws that our chapters just ratified is that our name is changing officially from “” to “Students for Free Culture”....

One problem that we’ve run into repeatedly in the past is that people have been confused about the exact nature of our organization upon hearing our name. For example, at our last US national conference, many people showed up who were not aware that we were a student organization, and many of them didn’t figure this out until the end of the conference. This name change reaffirms our focus on student activism on campuses across the country and around the world....

OA repository for regulatory sequence annotations

Elodie Portales-Casamar and seven co-authors, PAZAR: a framework for collection and dissemination of cis-regulatory sequence annotation, GenomeBiology, October 4, 2007.

Abstract:   PAZAR is an open-access and open-source database of transcription factor and regulatory sequence annotation with associated web interface and programming tools for data submission and extraction. Curated boutique data collections can be maintained and disseminated through the unified schema of the mall-like PAZAR repository. The Pleiades Promoter Project collection of brain-linked regulatory sequences is introduced to demonstrate the depth of annotation possible within PAZAR. open for business.

From the PAZAR Project Outline:

PAZAR is a software framework for the construction and maintenance of regulatory sequence data annotations; a framework which allows multiple boutique databases to function independently within a larger system (or information mall). Our goal is to be the public repository for regulatory data.

Filling the IR at Bond U

Bond University has more than 1,000 papers in its institutional repository.  From today's announcement:

Over 1,000 papers are now available online through e-publications@Bond.

Bond’s digital repository has achieved this milestone within a year of its formal launch last November. Steady growth has been accomplished with contributions of articles from every faculty, together with the recent appearance of some notable Bond University journals such as Spreadsheets in Education and Bond University Student Law Review who have made e-publications@ Bond their official home.

The 1,000th paper in fact belongs to our latest addition to the journal fold, Bond Law ReviewThis journal commenced in 1989 and it continues to be an influential publication today.  The upload of all available volumes is expected to be completed in the very near future....

More on applying trade embargoes to scientific editing

Peter Monaghan, Publishers and Treasury Office Settle Suit Over Restrictions on Authors in Nations Under Embargo, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 3, 2007 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

In steps that could help end a long-running dispute over how American publishers of academic books and journals may deal with works submitted by scholars in some "enemy" countries, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued new regulations clarifying publishers' rights, and it has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by several groups representing publishers and authors.

The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC, published the new regulations in the Federal Register on August 30, and on Monday it agreed to settle the lawsuit, which was filed by the Association of American University Presses and other groups after a series of earlier decisions by that office that had imposed various conditions on publishers regarding works by authors in countries under U.S. trade embargoes.

The earlier regulations, which dated from 1999 but were not widely publicized until 2003, required American publishers to get prior government approval, in the form of a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, before editing manuscripts submitted by authors in embargoed countries. The rules also restricted other services, such as paying royalties to or collaborating with such authors, and adding photographs to or otherwise enhancing the value of their work. The regulations carried stiff penalties for violators: Editors, publishers, and even officers of academic organizations that acted as publishers could face fines of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in jail.

The regulations at first required publishers to obtain a special license on a case-by-case basis before editing or publishing work by authors in Cuba, Iran, or Sudan. In 2004 the regulation was eased to require only a more easily obtained "general license" for dealing with such works. (Burma was added to the list of restricted countries in 2005.)

In this week's settlement agreement, both OFAC and the plaintiffs have won victories, to some degree symbolic. The treasury office will keep its general-license requirement, which appears to be a formality other than in unusual cases involving military sensitivity or direct involvement of embargoed foreign governments in research papers, and it will continue to restrict publication in those cases. The plaintiffs won a stipulation that works published in electronic formats enjoy the same protections as those published in print. Previously, the regulations had not specifically included digital publications among the kinds of "informational materials" that could be freely traded by Americans.

While the lawsuit had challenged the office's authority to impose even a general-license requirement, representatives of the plaintiffs applauded the settlement....

Comment.  This is one issue on which I see eye to eye with the publishers.  It was a scandal that the Treasury Department ever applied trade embargoes to scientific editing, as if ironing out an awkward sentence or fixing a diction error were analogous to exporting munitions.  The settlement is a major step forward, but the continuing requirement for a government license to edit manuscripts submitted by scientists from "enemy" nations is a serious impediment to the freedom of the press and the dissemination of research.  For background, see my many previous posts on this long-running controversy.

Update. Also see the press release on the settlement from the AAP/PSP, AAUP, PEN American Center, and Arcade Publishing.

Don't expect OA for LexisNexis

Richard Poynder, The IP world is not for the weak minded, Open and Shut, October 3, 2007. 

Richard interviews Peter Vanderheyden, the Vice President for Global Intellectual Property at Elsevier's LexisNexis.  At the close of the interview, Vanderheyden explains why he believes OA would not work for a high-end patent database and why he's not considering it for LexisNexis generally.

I welcome the challenge [of competition] and believe that offering "must have" value added solutions built around the way our customers work will continue to create value that customers are willing to pay for.

Berkeley offers OA lectures on YouTube

Yasmin Anwar, Campus launches YouTube channel, UC Berkeley News, October 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

Further expanding public access to its intellectual riches through the most popular Web destinations, the University of California, Berkeley, announced today (Wednesday, Oct. 3) that it is making entire course lectures and special events available, free of charge, on YouTube.

UC Berkeley is the first university to make videos of full courses available through YouTube. Visitors to the site at can view more than 300 hours of videotaped courses and events. Topics range from bioengineering, to peace and conflict studies, to "Physics for Future Presidents," the title of a popular campus course. Building on its initial offerings, UC Berkeley will continue to expand the catalog of videos available on YouTube....

UC Berkeley has been a leader in the open-source video movement in higher education since fall 2001, when the campus's Educational Technology Services (ETS) launched, a local site that delivers course and event content as podcasts and streaming video.

In April 2006, UC Berkeley launched its audio podcast program, making audio content available as free downloads through webcast.berkeley....

More on the benefits of OA for students

Peter Becker and Jos van Helvoort, Benefits of Open Access Publishing for students in higher education, in Proceedings EADI IMWG Conference 2007, The Hague, 2007.  Self-archived October 4, 2007.

Abstract:   Most students in higher education have some experience with Open Access when doing their desk research. They appreciate the free access of scholar publications on the World Wide Web. But students in higher education also develop their competences as junior researchers and publishers. Can Open Access Publishing help them to get some reputation in the international academic society? And how appreciate they the readers’ feedback on papers published on the internet? The Millennium Generation has grown up with free accessible information. They are supposed to embrace the idea of Open Access Publishing. However, students also may be anxious for publishing (preprints of) their papers, for instance for copyright reasons. It seems that good communication about the possibilities of Open Access Publishing by their educators (tutors, professors and librarians!) is very important.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

OA journal provides OA to its back run

The journal Oral Tradition, which converted to OA in September 2006, has now provided OA to all 22 years of its back run.

More on flipping journals

In my newsletter article yesterday on Flipping a journal to open access, I gave a couple of examples that came close to embodying the concept. 

Here's one I missed.  Jan Velterop wrote to remind me of the Springer deal with the Dutch library consortium, Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (UKB).   Here's the key provision in the agreement:

Within the framework of the existing licensing agreement with UKB, Springer undertakes to offer free and immediate world-wide access to articles which have been accepted for publication in one of Springer's journals in 2007 by corresponding authors whose main affiliation is with one of the UKB members....

The UKB member institutions are already paying subscription fees, and now, with no extra payment, they are considered to be paying publication fees on behalf of their faculty.  Unlike a full Rowsean flip, the journals don't become OA.  But the new articles by authors at UKB member institutions will be OA, and for the same money that formerly bought reader access (to the non-OA articles in Springer journals), the UKB member institutions are now buying both reader access to non-OA articles and author access to OA articles.

For background, see the Springer press release on the agreement (June 21, 2007) and my blog post on it.

If I missed other examples, I'd very much like to hear about them.

Departments can lead universities to OA

Stevan Harnad, Departmental Repositories, Institutional Repositories, and Research Record-Keeping, Open Access Archivangelism, October 2, 2007.

Summary:  Individual departments should not sit and wait for their university to get its act together: Unless a consensus on adopting a top-down university-wide mandate can be reached promptly, departments should go ahead and adopt their own bottom-up mandates (the "patchwork mandates" recommended by Arthur Sale), as Southampton's ECS did in 2003. Apart from maximising the visibility, accessibility, usage and impact of departmental/institutional research output, an OA Repository (with a self-archiving mandate) can serve as its internal record, ending an institution's or department's need to rely on external proprietary databases in order to monitor and assess its own research output. (Southampton now has at least 13 EPrints Repositories to date; Cal Tech has a whopping 25.) ...

More on teaching and OA

Michael Wong has blogged some notes on Teaching for a World of Increasing Access to Knowledge (Vancouver, September 18, 2007).  Excerpt:

In late September at UBC, Professor John Willinsky from the Faculty of Education and Brian Lamb from the Office of Learning Technology participated in a Teaching & Learning with Technology session entitled “Teaching for a World of Increasing Access to Knowledge.” It was a remarkable discussion, mostly due to the passion and candour of the speakers as they reviewed the opportunities resulting from the emergence of open source, open access, and open educational resources.

Only 15 to 20 percent of the information available to students these days could be categorized as Open Access, and the presenters were adamant that those numbers have to go up for a post secondary education to be meaningful (and useful)....

[E]ducational institutes should be leading the way by opening up access to their research studies....

One such example of open access is a new policy adapted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)....

Another example of open access can be seen with the recent development of UBC Circle, an institutional repository where scholarly publications and articles are stored, indexed, and subsequently made available to the public for free....

Dr. Willinsky noted that the UBC Faculty of Education has seen an 80% increase in citations since publications have been uploaded into UBC Circle and made available to the public. This means that more scholars and researchers are viewing their articles and are using this information in their own publications, students have access to this material to use in their own research papers, and the general public is able to access this material to get a better understanding about a certain topic....

[Brian Lamb argued that] open access education is equipping students for life-long learning, at a time when they have access to more and more information. Learning should not stop after one finishes school, and open access to information allows people to continue exploring this information....

Students and instructors need to continue to demand more open access to material, create their own weblogs and websites to share information, and continue to pursue a “right to know”. Professor Willinsky and Brian Lamb would be happy to show you how it’s done.

Elsevier's license for PMC-archived articles

Elsevier has released the license it will use when it deposits articles in PubMed Central (PMC) or UKPMC on behalf of funding agencies who have paid it to do so.  Excerpt:

Elsevier has, through certain arrangements with funding agencies, agreed to post sponsored final documents (hereafter referred to as “documents”) used to generate the definitive published journal article, to PubMed Central (PMC) or PMC mirror sites for non-commercial purposes.

Documents posted to PMC are protected by copyright and are posted to PMC by permission of Elsevier. At the time of deposit, posted documents included all changes made during peer review, copyediting, and publishing. PMC and PMC mirror site host organizations are responsible for all links within the document and for incorporating any publisher-supplied amendments or retractions issued subsequently. For a document that has been sponsored, the published journal article, guaranteed to be such by Elsevier, is available for free to non-subscribers on Elsevier’s publishing platforms including ScienceDirect.

For non-commercial purposes users may access, download, copy, display and redistribute documents as well as adapt, translate, text and data mine content contained in documents, subject to the following conditions:

  • The authors' moral right to the integrity of their work is not compromised....
  • If documents are copied or downloaded for non-commercial research and education purposes the appropriate bibliographic citation (authors, journal, article title, volume, issue, page numbers, DOI and the link to the definitive published version on ScienceDirect) should be maintained. Copyright notices and disclaimers should not be deleted.
  • Use of documents for commercial purposes is prohibited. Commercial purposes include....
  • Any translations, for which a prior translation agreement with Elsevier has not been established, must prominently display the statement: “This is an unofficial translation of an article that appeared in an Elsevier publication. Elsevier has not endorsed this translation.”
  • For permission to use documents beyond permitted here, visit [here]....

Documents posted to PubMed Central are without warranty from Elsevier of any kind....


  • I'm glad to see that the license grants significant re-use rights, for example to "access, download, copy, display and redistribute documents as well as adapt, translate, text and data mine content contained in documents...."  It could go further but this is a notable step up not only from other Elsevier licenses but from the default deposit in PMC, which is limited to fair use.
  • It seems that this license only applies when Elsevier deposits the published editions of Elsevier articles.  In that case it would apply to all articles deposited on behalf of the eight members of the UKPMC Funders Group, including for example the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.  But it would not apply when it deposits peer-reviewed but unedited author manuscripts, as it does for the NIH and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The OA mandate at JISC

JISC adopted an OA policy in the April 2007 version of its Generic terms and conditions of grant[s].  I didn't know about it until today when it was added to ROARMAP.  Excerpt:

21. JISC supports unrestricted access to the published output of publicly-funded research and wishes to encourage open access to research outputs to ensure that the fruits of UK research are made more widely available.

22. JISC firmly believes in the value of repositories as a means of improving access to the results of publicly-funded research and is investing significantly in this area. As part of this, JISC is funding The Depot; a repository which can host research outputs should institutions not have a repository in which to deposit. A national support project is also available to help institutions develop repositories and share practice.

23. JISC expects that the full text of all published research papers and conference proceedings arising from JISC-funded work should be deposited in an open access institutional repository, or if that isn't available, ‘The Depot’ or a subject repository. Deposit should include biographical metadata relating to such articles, and should be completed within six months of the publication date of the paper.

24. Which version of the article should be deposited depends upon publishers’ agreements with their authors but JISC mandates that articles should be made available through publishers that adopt the RoMEO 'green' approach as a minimum. Authors should go to another journal if the journal chosen does not adopt the RoMEO 'green' conditions.

25. JISC mandates the deposit of the native version (Word, PPT, etc.), with PDF as well if wanted, but certainly with a format from which usable xml can in principle be derived (not PDF).


  • There have long been rumors that JISC was planning to adopt an OA mandate.  For example, when UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) was launched in January 2007, JISC issued a press release explaining that all nine members of the UKPMC Funders Group would soon require OA for the research they fund.  At the time, JISC was a member, although it's no longer listed on the member page. All eight other members have since adopted OA mandates.
  • I consider the April 2007 grant guidelines to be an OA mandate even if it's not the rumored policy.  Many other OA mandates use the same language of expectation rather than requirement, and even the policies that use stronger language succeed because they create expectations, not sanctions.  The policy has three other strengths:  the reasonable embargo, the flexibility about the destination repositories, and the firmness that asks grantees to change publishers rather than compromise on OA.  Kudos to all involved.

Australian author survey

Scott Kiel-Chisholm, Academic Authorship, Publishing Agreements and Open Access Survey, OAK Law Project blog, October 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Project is undertaking a survey of academic and scholarly authors in Australia to obtain an understanding of authors’ knowledge of publishing agreements and their experience in dealing with publishers in order to provide an accurate perspective on current academic publishing practices. The results received from the survey will be used in developing model publishing agreements, toolkits and training materials for academic authors and publishers.

The OAK Law Project seeks to promote strategies for the management of copyright so as to facilitate optimal access to research output, especially that which is publicly funded.

We know that your time is valuable, yet we encourage you to complete the survey as we are confident that the results will assist us in developing practical tools that can be used by authors to better manage their copyright.

If you are an academic or scholarly author in Australia, please complete the survey by clicking here....

10 day extension for US citizens

The latest intelligence is that the Senate will vote on the bill to mandate OA at the NIH sometime during the week of October 15-19.  That gives us more time to ask our Senators to support the bill. 

I've collected all the info you need right here.  If you haven't already contacted your Senators, please do.  And please spread the word to others.  Messages should arrive before the end of business on Friday, October 12, to be sure that Senators see them in time.  That's 10 days.

An OA database of transcriptomic and proteomic data

A. Hijikata and 39 co-authors, Construction of an open-access database that integrates cross-reference information from the transcriptome and proteome of immune cells, Bioinformatics, September 25, 2007.  I'm linking to the PubMed abstract because the relevant issue of the journal isn't yet online.

Motivation:  Although a huge amount of mammalian genomic data does become publicly available, there are still hurdles for biologists to overcome before such data can be fully exploited. One of the challenges for gaining biological insight from genomic data has been the inability to cross-reference transcriptomic and proteomic data using a single informational platform. To address this, we constructed an open-access database that enabled us to cross-reference transcriptomic and proteomic data obtained from immune cells. RESULTS: The database, named RefDIC (Reference genomics Database of Immune Cells), currently contains: (i) quantitative mRNA profiles for human and mouse immune cells/tissues obtained using Affymetrix GeneChip technology; (ii) quantitative protein profiles for mouse immune cells obtained using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) followed by image analysis and mass spectrometry; and (iii) various visualization tools to cross-reference the mRNA and protein profiles of immune cells. RefDIC is the first open-access database for immunogenomics and serves as an important information-sharing platform, enabling a focused genomic approach in immunology.

Availability:  All raw data and information can be accessed from [the RCAI RefDIC]. The microarray data is also available at [CIBEX] under CIBEX accession no. CBX19, and [PRIDE] under PRIDE accession nos. 2354 to 2378 and 2414.

Update. Rufus Pollock points out that this database does not permit commercial re-use.

More on OA journal articles for open education

Gavin Baker, Open Access Journal Literature as an Open Educational Resource, a presentation at the Advisory Committee on Open Education Resources of the Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science

See Gavin's substantial blog post on the same topic from last month.

The committee is also willing to hear comments from the public on OERs.  Send them to Patrick Cushing.

Publisher stress at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Jean-Baptiste Piggin, Book industry resists free internet access to text, EUX.TV, October 2, 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerrpt:

Fearing that it will lose out financially, much of the book industry is resisting internet pioneers' vision of putting the world's entire store of published information online. 

Some European libraries have portrayed the bid to digitize 500 years of books and newspapers as an imperialist plot, because the big players such as Google are based in the United States.

But other libraries have signed accords with Google. Most readers and internet users who have used services like Google Book Search have been delighted at how it helps track down useful books.

Digitizing, and whether or not it is a threat to "book culture," will be an issue looming over the October 10-14 Frankfurt Book Fair....

Supporters say Google cannot proceed any other way [than with an opt-out policy], since many copyright owners are dead, no longer trading or practically untraceable. But publishers accuse Google of "stealing" the books whenever it copies the content into its huge servers....

Work began in 2005 on the VTO project, which stands for Volltextsuche Online (full-text search online). The VTO is set to be unveiled as a working system with a stock of 7,000 in-print books at the October 10-14 Frankfurt Book Fair....

Publishers' attempts to shut out the "other internet players" are also being resisted by people who say the public should have "open access" to taxpayer-funded scholarly and scientific research....

In Germany, copyright legislation is expected to come into force at the end of this year granting publishers the online rights to pre-1995 work. Before that time, online publication was undreamed of and rights to it were not mentioned in contracts.

Klaus Graf, an open-access advocate in Germany, is encouraging academics to use a one-year opt-out period to claim those online rights to their pre-1995 work and put the papers on the internet.

The prospect of scientists publishing on the internet instead of in paper journals has prompted academic publishers such as Springer to offer authors an open-access option, if they are willing to pay.

Even more worrying, from a publisher's perspective, is the prospect of expensive college textbooks being replaced by e-books that would be free to students. A British government agency, JISC, announced in September a nationwide trial with 26 books issued free....

Prototype of the European Digital Library

Laying the foundations for the European Digital Library, a press release from EDLnet, October 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

A project has begun to bring the European heritage online through a single portal.

Seventy senior managers and technical experts from museums, archives, audio-visual collections and libraries across Europe came together to plan the European Digital Library. The meeting took place at the National Library of the Netherlands.

The initiative stems from the call by Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media to ‘make the wealth of material in Europe’s libraries, museums and archives accessible to all’.

This reflects growing user interest in major digitisation projects that are creating large-scale online heritage resources. However, this is the first initiative to focus on providing a multilingual interface to digital artefacts, texts and media from across the European heritage.

Such collaboration between the archival, library, audio-visual and museum domains on this scale is a significant new move....

The project – the European Digital Library network (EDLnet) – runs for two years, and will develop a prototype that demonstrates proof of concept, bringing together content from some of Europe’s major cultural organisations. The project will be run by The European Library together with the National Library of the Netherlands. 

The project will look at the political, human, technical and semantic issues that will contribute to the creation of an interoperable system able to access fully digitised content. It will invite feedback from different types of users in order to create a service that enriches the widest public and answers the needs of researchers, students, teachers and the creative industries.

EDLnet is an initiative developed following the European Commission’s recommendation on 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material. It is a Thematic Network funded under the eContentplus programme as part of the i2010 policy

EDLnet builds on the success of The European Library, a portal that enables people to search across 150 million titles, from 172 collections in 31 European national libraries. The European Library is a service of the Conference of European National Librarians....

October SOAN

I just mailed the October issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at an idea of Mark Rowse, former CEO of Ingenta, for converting subscription journals to open access.  The round-up section briefly notes 98 OA developments from September.

CBCRA formally requests OA to the research it funds

CBCRA Introduces Policy on Open Access, Breast Cancer Research Bulletin, the Spring/Summer 2007 (scroll to p. 7).  The CBCRA is the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, a public-private partnership.  Thanks to Jim Till for the alert and for presenting the new policy alongside my coverage of the old policy.  From the new announcement: 

CBCRA launched its Open Access Archive, hosted by University of Toronto Libraries, in May 2006....

CBCRA supports the underlying principle of Open Access....CBCRA expects this initiative to amplify the impact of the research on the generation of new knowledge, and on its practical applications....

This initiative clearly addresses two of CBCRA’s strategic goals: to publicize findings of research funded by CBCRA and to develop CBCRA’s presence on the international stage, by making breast cancer research results available to anyone who has access to the Internet.

CBCRA’s policy on Open Access was adopted in April 2007....

CBCRA Open Access Policy

CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants. These articles will be posted on the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted. The document must be either a publisher-generated PDF or the author’s final, accepted version, including changes introduced by the peer review process.

CBCRA encourages authors to retain copyright of their works whenever possible. Authors are encouraged to specify in the publisher’s copyright transfer agreement that they retain the right to make the article available in CBCRA’s Open Access Archive. Suggested wording: The Journal acknowledges that the Author retains the right to provide a copy of the Publisher’s final version (preferred) OR the Author’s final version of the paper to CBCRA upon acceptance for publication or thereafter, for public archiving in the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication....

If authors are unable to negotiate an amendment to the copyright agreement, CBCRA will work with the Author and the publisher to license back specific rights to facilitate posting the article on the CBCRA Open Access Archive....

CBCRA has provisions in the grant application process to cover the cost of any article processing fees that may be charged for open access to publications in online journals.

From my newsletter coverage of CBCRA's previous policy (August 2006):

The CBCRA doesn't mandate OA to its research, although it's thinking about a mandate for the future.  It simply tries to provide OA to all the CBCRA-funded research that it can.  Instead of doing this by contract, at the time of funding, it does it by painstaking requests for permission sent to grantee-authors and their publishers after they have published research based on CBCRA funding.  First it tracks down authors and asks them to sign a license.  Then it contacts their publisher and asks for permission to post an OA copy of the article to the CBCRA repository.  It doesn't send its queries until at least 12 months after publication, when publishers are more likely to agree.  When it gets no replies, it sends out its letters again.

Using this arduous method since February of this year, CBCRA has been able to provide OA to about 25% of its research.  About 62% of authors and 70% of publishers have agreed to the OA proposition.  It's considering a mandate in part to enlarge its OA coverage to 100% and in part to reduce or eliminate the large administrative burden of permission-seeking.


  • I commend CBCRA for going beyond its informal practice to a formal policy, but I wish it had also gone beyond a request to a requirement, as it originally thought of doing.  The NIH has proved that requesting compliance from busy researchers, without requiring it, results in a dismally low rate of compliance.  CBCRA should understand that funders are upstream from publishers and create enforceable funding contracts with researchers long before researchers sign copyright transfer agreements with publishers.  Funders needn't defer to publishers, and can assure OA to the results of their own research they fund if they want to.  But if CBCRA doesn't want to assert its rights in this strong sense, it could mandate deposit of the author's manuscript upon acceptance by a journal, immediate OA release of metadata, and permit delayed release of the OA full-text (the dual deposit / release or  immediate deposit / optional access strategy).
  • Beyond the request, the policy has several strong elements:  the reasonable embargo period, the suggested language for use with publishers, its willingness to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals, and its willingness to take extra steps to capture papers for its archive when authors fail in their own negotiations with publishers.  (Note, however, that if CBCRA were willing to make OA a simple and enforceable condition of funding, then authors needn't negotiate with publishers and CBCRA needn't mop up unsuccessful negotiations.)

First articles from PhysMath Central

PMC Physics A has published its first articles.  It's the first journal from PhysMath Central, the OA spinoff of BioMed Central.  From today's announcement:

PhysMath Central, BioMed Central’s open access publishing platform for the fields of physics, mathematics and computer science, today announced that PMC Physics A, the first PhysMath Central journal, has published its first research articles. The articles included a groundbreaking study that could change the way physicists understand dark matter....

PhysMath Central also announces that its second journal, PMC Physics B will be edited jointly by Prof. Peter Hatton, Professor of Physics, Durham University, and Prof. Steve Buckman of Australian National University. The new journal will focus on condensed matter and atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics.

“This is exciting news for us as we continue our aim of bringing new open access journals to all areas of physics,” said Chris Leonard, associate publisher, PhysMath Central....

Launched to meet the increasing need for open access journals from major research institutes (such as CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and other funding organizations and government bodies, PhysMath Central seeks to make research in physics, mathematics and computer science more widely available and increase access to this research to all institutes and individuals, free of subscription charges....

Harvard students endorse emerging OA policy

All for Open Access, an unsigned editorial in the Harvard Crimson, October 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

It seems that the for-profit academic publishing industry’s days are numbered. The model it was built on depended on the necessity of ink and paper for its viability. But today, the Internet has made the exchange and storage of information and ideas so cheap, that taxing the free marketplace of ideas and knowledge that academia is founded upon no longer makes economic sense.

Enter the open access movement, which is slowly marching its way across academia. The open access movement seeks to displace the expensive, subscription-only elite journals that have long held a stranglehold on academic papers by publishing scholarly works online for free or at very low cost....The publishers of print journals may be harmed, but open access makes academia thrive.

In this vein, we applaud the Harvard Faculty Council’s move to make manuscripts of articles written by Harvard professors in traditional scholarly journals available online for free. The measure, advanced last week, proposes creating Harvard’s very own online system of open access, where professors could put their work online at no cost, either on a personal or university Web site.

The creation of the open access system, however, would bear little fruit without professor participation. Though the proposed system would be “opt-out,” we encourage all professors to participate in this system, and further, urge Harvard to centralize every article in an organized, online database.

The free flow of information and research that would result from more universities taking up similar open access initiatives to Harvard’s would benefit researchers, students, and laypeople alike. We hope the Faculty as a whole goes through with the Faculty Council’s proposal and that other institutions will follow suit.

Update. Also see the follow-up letter to the editor, Open Access, But Who Really Pays? by H. Frederick Dylla (executive director of the American Institute of Physics) and Gene D. Sprouse (editor-in-chief of the American Physical Society).

Monday, October 01, 2007

More on the costs of not moving to OA

A. A. Adams, Copyright and research: an archivangelist’s perspective, SCRIPT-ed, September 2007.  Excerpt:

...And in all the economic discussion the real cost of not moving to OA is ignored: the constant and huge loss of efficient communication between scholars, and in particular the stifling of innovative interdisciplinary research and cross-discipline synergy of research....

Reduction in the profits of publishers would not diminish economic activity but allow academia to divert the money from the pockets of publishers and back to the research itself....

To be an academic carries with it a great deal of freedom, or at least it should. At a time when pressures on academic freedom are rife, everywhere from Australia to Zimbabwe, academics should be confronting the responsibilities that go with their cherished and fought-for freedoms. That responsibility is to disseminate one’s work as widely as possible, to hold it up for criticism and to allow others to build on it. To do so demands that we hold Open Access to our articles as a categorical imperative and not allow the tail of academic publishing to wag the dog of academic communication.

PS:  Much of Adams' article is a critique of an earlier SCRIPT-ed article by Kevin Taylor.  Also see my own critique of Taylor's article.

Update. Also see Stevan Harnad's comments on Adams' paper.

NIH launches large OA SHARe database

NIH Launches Extensive Open-Access Dataset of Genetic and Clinical Data, a press release from the NIH, October 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — the nation's medical research agency — is launching one of the most extensive collections of genetic and clinical data ever made freely available to researchers worldwide. Called SHARe (SNP Health Association Resource), the Web-based dataset enables qualified researchers to access a wealth of data from large population-based studies, starting with the landmark Framingham Heart Study. Funded by the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), SHARe will accelerate discoveries linking genes and health, thereby advancing scientists' understanding of the causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease and other disorders....

SHARe is accessed through dbGaP, or the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, a Web-based resource for archiving and distributing data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). GWAS explore the associations between genes (genotype information) and observable traits (phenotypes), such as weight, cholesterol levels, or the presence or absence of a disease. Launched in December 2006, dbGaP was developed and is operated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of NIH's National Library of Medicine (NLM).

The dbGaP also provides, for the first time, a central repository where study documentation, such as protocols and questionnaires, is linked to summary data of measured variables. For example, in Framingham SHARe, researchers can search for summary data on the average blood pressure value at a visit and easily find the associated protocol for measuring blood pressure....

More on OA books from Rice University Press

Chad Trevitte interviews Charles Henry about the revived all-OA Rice University Press for the October/November issue of Innovate

From the synopsis:

In this interview Charles Henry, publisher of the Rice University Press (RUP), discusses RUP's rebirth as a fully digital university press. Henry addresses the circumstances that led to this decision, and he further outlines the RUP business model whereby the press will publish its own titles—both digitally and in print-on-demand—while collaborating with other presses to publish works that would otherwise have been deemed too expensive to print. Henry proposes that the digitization of academic publishing will provide more cost-effective ways of disseminating valuable scholarship while simultaneously opening vital new venues for academic writers to reach readers. In describing Connexions, RUP's open-source technological platform, Henry also explains how other presses may adopt this technology if they are willing to allow free and open access to their titles under a Creative Commons license. After commenting on the need for universities to abandon the privileging of print media, Henry discusses the response the RUP initiative has received in the academic community, and he provides further information on upcoming developments at the press.

From the body of the interview:

CT: What are the economic advantages for university presses that may be considering a similar step towards an electronic format?

CH: ...The logic of what we have done is therefore intuitive: We have unbundled nearly every aspect of the print-based model and either automated it or outsourced it....Once the final version [of a new book] has been digitized and released, it will be available either in electronic format or in print format. In turn, all of our printing, mailing, and financial transactions with the buyer are done by QOOP, the print-on-demand company we have partnered with. This outsourcing of production and distribution allows us to devote our resources almost exclusively to editorial tasks. We essentially will retain all the advantages of the traditional publishing model—peer review by an editorial board and quality control by an in-house staff of copyeditors and designers—while minimizing the financial burdens of production.

The challenge for the academic presses is to develop a means to migrate from their current business model to one that can include digital objects and outsourced functions. We will announce next month a partnership with Stanford University Press in the hope that such a transitional process can be achieved and replicated, at a considerable savings of cost and effort. I would like at some point to see the Rice University Press as an agent that supports dozens of university presses....

CT: I see that Connexions is an open source software platform. Does this mean that other academic publishers that are considering digitization will be able to adopt this technology—and thus reduce their start-up costs? ...

CH: Connexions is free for any publisher to use—and more or less usable without assistance—as far as publishing a digital version of a given book is concerned. When it comes to making a printed book from the Connexions version, a publisher would have to work out an agreement with Connexions regarding the distribution of revenues. Meanwhile, the digitized version would be on the Connexions server, accessible through a Connexions portal page that appears on the publisher's site. (For an example, see "Art History and Its Publications in an Electronic Age" [2006], a digital publication currently available at the Rice University Press Web site.) As far as rights are concerned, the publisher/author would have the copyright, but all work published on Connexions is licensed under Creative Commons, thus allowing free reuse and modification for noncommercial purposes as long as the original author or authors are given proper attribution....

CT: So if other publishers wanted to rely on Connexions as their platform—with or without a partnership with Rice University Press—they would need to allow some measure of free access to their publications. In your own digital publications, it seems that you do not anticipate too substantial a loss of sales revenue in this arrangement.

CH: Our thinking is that making the book freely available in digital form will actually raise rather than lower sales. But of course we don't know one way or the other at this point. It's basically an experiment. But the books will be available in printed form at prices reasonable enough, I think, to justify buying them. We're pretty sure that the best advertisement for the book is the book itself—that the more of it people can preview, the more copies we can sell. But as I noted earlier, our business model will take about three years to prove itself, so we'll see. Meanwhile, even for those publishers who are unwilling to take the step towards Creative Commons licensing, the step towards digitization still holds substantial advantages simply in terms of reducing the production costs associated with the traditional print-based model....

This time a real threat to peer review and quality control

Sergio Sismondo, Ghost Management: How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry?  PLoS Medicine, September 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

There are many reports of medical journal articles being researched and written by or on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, and then published under the name of academics who had played little role earlier in the research and writing process. In extreme cases, drug companies pay for trials by contract research organizations (CROs), analyze the data in-house, have professionals write manuscripts, ask academics to serve as authors of those manuscripts, and pay communication companies to shepherd them through publication in the best journals. The resulting articles affect the conclusions found in the medical literature, and are used in promoting drugs to doctors....

This article enlarges the focus from ghost writing to the more general ghost management of medical research and publishing....

Several of the publication planning firms identified are owned by major publishing houses. For example, Excerpta Medica is “an Elsevier business” and writes that its “relationship with Elsevier allows… access to editors and editorial boards who provide professional advice and deep opinion leader networks”. Wolters Kluwer Health draws attention to its publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, with “nearly 275 periodicals and 1,500 books in more than 100 disciplines,” and to Ovid and its other medical information providers, emphasizing the links it can make between its different arms. Vertical integration is attractive in the industry as a whole: at least three of the world's largest advertising agencies own not only MECCs [medical education and communication companies], but also CROs....

The CMD [an MECC working for Pfizer] document obtained by [David] Healy suggests that during key marketing periods as many as 40% of published articles focusing on specific drugs are ghost managed....

Comment.  What's the OA connection?  Some publishers worry out loud and groundlessly that OA will undermine peer review and quality control, but then work with pharma companies to undermine peer review and quality control themselves and profit handsomely from it. 

"This product isn't theirs to sell"

Peter Brantley, Making a Brouhaha in the Blogosphere, O'Reilly Radar, September 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Two weeks ago, Carl Malamud and I wrote to the U.S. Copyright Office seeking the release of their copyright registration database to the public without restriction. The letter, co-signed by prominent librarians and legal experts, asserts that the copyright catalog of monographs, documents, and serials should be freely available; it is a public resource, the fuel driving the copyright system itself.

Presently, the Copyright Office charges $55,125 to obtain the retrospective online database, and $31,500 for a current-year subscription that must be annually renewed, for an entry cost of $86,625. Copyright records are available for free only on what the Copyright Office calls a "record-oriented" interface, which has the functionality one would expect of an IBM 3270 terminal emulator dressed up in a style sheet.

In a voicemail that Marybeth Peters, the U.S. Register of Copyrights, left for Carl Malamud, Ms. Peters clarified that there is no copyright on any of the Copyright Office records; that they are "public records" and they should be "openly available." Ms. Peters identified the Library of Congress' Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) as the unit responsible for providing access to the database; the CDS asserts it was mandated by the U.S. Congress to provide this service "at a charge of production and distribution cost plus 10%." Carl and I have learned they have only two customers for this particular "product" and we don't quite get the business model behind this constitutionally-mandated database.

The Library of Congress has responded to our request to fully release the database solely by describing it as "a bit of a blogospheric brouhaha over what the Library of Congress charges."

We're sympathetic with the desire of the Library to raise revenues, but this product isn't theirs to sell. This is a public resource and all 21 million records of the database are now available in bulk, without restrictions [http | ftp].


  • Kudos to the team that took this direct action.  This is a very satisfying result. 
  • Sometimes the gap between the public domain and open access can only be bridged with a big digitization project and a ready host, and both can be difficult to arrange.  But sometimes these conditions are already met and we only need courage.  I hope to see so many more of these civic-minded acts that we no longer need even courage.
  • The host for the new copy of the database,, links to Carl Malamud's as a "related" site and seems to be PublicResource's storehouse for liberated public-domain information. 

More evidence that OA mandates work

Stevan Harnad, Success Rate of the First of the Self-Archiving Mandates: Southampton ECS, Open Access Archivangelism, September 30, 2007. 

SummaryAdopted in January 2003, the self-archiving mandate of the University of Southampton Department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) was the world's first. It has since served as a model for a growing number of such mandates worldwide. (As of October 2007, 32 funder and institutional/departmental Green OA self-archiving mandates have been adopted, and 8 more proposed.) In 2004-5, two large international, interdisciplinary author surveys by Alma Swan had predicted that the willing compliance rate for such self-archiving mandates would be over 80%. In 2005-6, Arthur Sale estimated from data on actual depositing behaviour in Australian repositories that mandates would reach Swan's predicted compliance rate in about two years.

Now Southampton's Les Carr has confirmed Swan's survey predictions and Sale's Australian extrapolations: the ECS Departmental Repository's deposit rate in 2006 is over 80% for an ISI Web of Knowledge sample and nearly 100% for an ACM Digital Library sample. This should encourage other universities to adopt self-archiving mandates and help persuade US legislators to upgrade the failed NIH "public access" policy to a mandate in the next US Senate Appropriations Bill.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Early wisdom of the Canadian Library Association

Yesterday Heather Morrison added four blog posts to her series on Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement:

OA growth update

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


Open Access continues to show amazingly strong growth, in every measure tracked, in the 3rd quarter of 2007. Highlights: more than 100,000 new authors contribute to the Scientific Commons; OAIster increased by more than 42% over the past year, and E-LIS by 53%. The DOAJ now has 2,846 titles, and the DOAJ net growth rate is 1.2 titles per calendar day. The Electronic Journals Library includes more than 15,000 free journals, an increase of more than 2,000 titles over the past quarter. Even Highwire Free - where many free journals are embargoed - is showing steady growth in fully free sites. With 40 recent open access mandate policies (32 in place, 8 in development) so far, the dramatic growth of open access is certain to continue. RePEC, Research Papers in Economics, quietly passed a significant milestone this quarter, with more than half a million records (a little under 400,000 are free online). Congratulations, RePEC! ...

Open Access Journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals...lists a total of 2,846 journals, 445 more journals today than a year ago, a net growth rate of 1.2 titles per calendar day over the past year. The larger Electronic Journals Library lists over 15,000 titles, more than 2,000 added in the last quarter. Note: it is not clear whether this many more journals became free or open during this period, or if this was the number of journals that was discovered in this time frame....

Open Access Archives

More than 100,000 new authors contributed to the Scientific Commons in this quarter, boosting the content of Scientific Commons by more than half a million items, to a current total of more than 16 million items. An OAIster search today encompasses close to 4 million items more than a year ago, a 42% increase in one year. E-LIS shows similarly strong growth, with an increase in content of more than 50% over last year, while the mature archives arXiv and RePEC continued with strong growth rates of 14% and 22% respectively. RePEC, Research Papers in Economics, quietly passed an important milestone, exceeding half a million records for the first time. Congratulations, RePEC! OPEN DOAR, the Directory of Open Access Archives, lists 950 archives, 41 more than in June 2007.

The strongest growth rates are shown by the institutions with open access mandates. Steven Harnad provides a summary and links to the data, along with the very important number of open access mandates: 40 (32 in place, 8 proposed), in his Success Rate of the Self-Archiving Mandates: Southamption ECS, on Open Access Archivangelism.

Update. Sųren Bertil Fabricius Dorch has translated highlights of Heather's post into Danish.

Guerilla OA advocacy in Edinburgh

Graham Steele, Conference Report, McBlawg, September 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

Here is a report in relation to my attendance of NeuroPrion 2007 26th - 28th September, Edinburgh, Scotland....

Given the approximate number (~ 800) [of attendees], clearly, it would not be possible to cover OA/IR’s with many on a one-on-one basis as originally planned. Having unfortunately previously *lost* my short podium slot, I started to consider other methods of getting my message across....Thankfully, with "Research Made Public" brazened on the front of my t-shirt all that day, this set the tone. A large proportion of delegates noticed this and I was the only person present with any *message carrying* clothing on that I was aware of.

I chose my "I'm Open" t-shirt for day 2 since it was a much more visible and striking one.

More familiar with the surroundings/set up, I noted that there was a 2 hour lunch/poster session which appeared to be, on paper at least, the best time to swoop into action. One hour in though, the only manned booths were commerce diagnostic related - so I had to quickly think of something else....Since I clearly couldn't "post" on posters, I rapidly started to leave some basic "Open Access" posters and postcards on the tables where all the delegates were in discussion with one another. Process took only a few minutes and then *I vanished*.

The ~ 950 were all on the lower floor with only two means of exit to ground level:- stair or escalator. I decided to leave a trail of the same "Open Access" postcards meaning that almost all (delegates) of them would see them....On the tables on the ground floor, I chose to leave some more of the same posters along with a few dozen DOAJ postcards....

To a smaller extent, a few seeds were dropped up to level 3 where the main auditorium is situated....Within 20 minutes, I managed to place *something* on ~ 800 seats/armrests. Armrests are great since they cover two seats at once....A trickle of delegates started to arrive just as I was finishing so *I vanished* again....

Upon my return, I could see hundreds of delegates reading/looking at what had *appeared* whilst they were away....

Since the entrance area to both suites was quiet - I set up an "Open Access" stall on the most prominently placed empty (nice fluke) table. One of the most eye catching *goodies* I had was the blue/silver PLoS goblet which I proudly placed at the centre of *my stall* which contained a broad selection of what I had left. I also left a couple of our glossy "CJD Alliance" ring-bound *brochures* on display so that passers by got the connection to what I was doing. It was cool to sit at *my stall* with the ever so fitting "I'm Open" message across my chest.  I then *vanished* again....

My final activity was to clear my stall and then stick up a final "Open Access" poster on the back of the prominently placed entry sign to the main auditorium. This meant that when all left it that day, they had their final reminder....

Of those that I was able to discuss OA/IR’s with, almost all of the feedback was positive in nature. I was easily able to respond to any less positive feedback....