Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chemistry Central gives referees a discount on publication fees

Gino D'Oca, 20% discount on article processing charge for peer reviewers, Chemistry Central blog, October 1o, 2007.

We are delighted to announce that a reviewer discount now exits for all those who review manuscripts for Chemistry Central Journal, and this is linked to the rest of the the BMC series journals. The review must have been received on time, and during the last 12 months....

For more information on this discount and the others available please visit the BioMed Central APC FAQ page.

More on the Open Archaeology Prize

The Alexandria Archive Institute has announced the first annual ASOR Open Archaeology Prize.  From the announcement:

The Open Archaeology Prize is an award for the best open-access, open-licensed, digital contribution to Near Eastern archaeology by an ASOR member. This competition is open to all ASOR members. Members may submit their own project or nominate the project of another ASOR member. A panel of researchers will judge the quality and significance of submitted materials. Evaluations will be based on its scholarly merits and its potential for reuse in research or teaching. To be eligible, projects must be freely available on the Web and downloadable in an open, reusable format. All content must be provided under licensing terms no more restrictive than the Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share-Alike License (see details below). These open licensing terms will help maximize the impact of your research and ensure that others can build on your contributions.

The deadline for submissions is October 26, 2007.

Please email submissions/nominations to ...

First Prize: $500
Runner Up: A $200 gift certificate from the David Brown Book Co.

Examples of Eligible Projects:

  • A published paper with accompanying data (in spreadsheet format)
  • Digital materials (videos, games, slideshows) to enhance museum exhibits or instruction
  • Software (and its documentation) that can further scholarship in the archaeological community
  • A “library” of media (such as slides) with associated metadata (keywords, notes, etc.)
  • A video or slide show with accompanying source files and materials that facilitate reuse
  • A specialist database (such as a faunal or plant assemblage, or a corpus of seals, beads, or ceramics), with contextual information and photos, if available....

The Open Archaeology Prize competition is sponsored by the Alexandria Archive Institute, promoting the development and use of open educational resources in archaeology and related disciplines. The Open Archaeology Prize aims to enhance community recognition of open scholarly communication. The competition is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David Brown Book Company.


  • "ASOR" is unexplained in the announcement and Google shows many possibilities.  I suppose the members of the relevant ASOR know who they are.
  • In July 2006, the Alexandria Archive Institute announced an apparently different open archaeology prize especially for young scholars.  But my comment on that one applies to the new one as well:  "This is a great way to stimulate good scholarship, bring OA to the attention of...scholars, and (above all) mix the two and ensure that some of the best new scholarship is also OA. Organizations in other disciplines should adapt the idea to their own fields. Kudos to the AAI."
  • AAI also gave an open archaeology prize at an April 2007 conference.

New blog on open chemistry

Will Griffiths has launched Open Chemistry Web, a blog from ChemSpider.  From the October 11 inaugural post:

...This blog is a parallel blog to the ChemSpider Blog and ChemSpider News so that we can discuss the ins and outs of text indexing of the chemistry literature. At a time when there is a great deal of openly available literature and data in this arena, it is time there was an openly available service with the cheminformatics and text indexing capabilities to search this effectively. We want to play a role in making that happen. We look forward to dialoguing with you. Please add Open Chemistry Web to your Blog Reader…

More on opening access to public sector info in the UK

Nick Holmes, Free access is not open access, Binary Law, October 11, 2007.

I highlight again a single point from para 87 of the Power of Information review from my acronymically-entitled previous post PSI4U:

It is relatively easy to suggest changes that would give citizens and organisations better access to information held by government. These include … republishing information in open standards or as web services.

Let’s look at some examples central to the legal profession:

  • The publication of the Statute Law Database as a free access, public resource was a huge step forward and did represent a “sea change” in the government’s attitude, but free access to its web views does not open up the data. You cannot easily extract, re-use or repurpose the data as you are at the mercy of its formatting and a URI scheme that relies on its internal document IDs; and there are no RSS feeds of new legislation....

These are all materials which there is no argument we should be able to use and re-use freely, but for the sake of a few days’ programming time, we are denied the keys to open access which would unlock the data’s potential....

We do have, in many cases, free access to the data in that we can, via the appropriate website, query the fundholders’ data for the information we need, but it is served up in small chunks, and if we want to do anything with a meaningful set of data, we are reduced to scraping the websites. That’s fair or foul depending your conscience rather than the niceties of copyright law.

If you’ve any interest in leveraging public sector information, then do publicise (via a link in your blogroll or wherever) and contribute to the PSI Re-use Request Forum that OPSI have set up.

OA articles should allow harvesting and repurposing

Peter Murray-Rust, Outrage: Repurposing Open Access material is allowed without explicit permission, A Scientist and the Web, October 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

In One Day I’ll Have Lunch with Egon Willighagen Too…, Chemspiderman wrote

“So what can we do now to help making connections between papers and molecules? Peter Corbett, who works with Peter Murray Rust, is working on automated methods of getting computers to read chemistry papers and output semantic markup of them. “

AW> Over at ChemSpider we are working with Will Griffiths who developed ChemRefer . We have already extracted 10s of thousands of chemical names and will be linking them up to ChemSpider structures to enable Open Access papers to be structure/substructure searchable. However, we’ve hit a bit of a hurdle…more details on this will follow shortly but we have been asked to remove thousands of articles indexed according to what we believe is a standard search engine policy from the ChemRefer index. During our conversation today with the publisher the conversion of chemical names to chemical structures to provide a structure searchable index of the articles was deemed to be “re-purposing” of the Open Access articles and is NOT allowable....

PMR: This makes no sense at all. As I understand it Chemrefer indexes Open Access chemistry articles (I did a brief search and verified that there were no articles from ACS, RSC. Wiley, Elsevier and all those other publishers who help scientific communication by closing information)....

What what in the world is happening above? The articles are either Open Access or they are not. If they are not, then they had better not be labelled Open Access. If they are, then they cannot and should not and for goodness’ sake should not want to restrict any repurposing.

Who is the publisher. We have to know. I have a good idea, but it would be quite improper to say.

Because if the report above is true, it’s outrageous.

Harnessing the crowd to make OA texts from public-domain print sources

Tim Armstrong, Crowdsourcing and Open Access, Info/Law, October 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

I gave a short talk earlier today to my colleagues about the open access movement in legal scholarship, about which the three of us here at Info/Law have blogged from time to time (check out our open access tag for more). I used the occasion to go public with my own minor contribution to improving access to primary legal source materials....

The House Report on the Copyright Act of 1976 is a key reference in the intellectual property domain, routinely cited by courts in copyright cases. It has been indispensable in resolving disputes as to legislative intent in the face of uncertain statutory text. But so far as I’ve been able to determine, it’s not freely available online...That’s unfortunate. As has often been noted, the copyright statute is intractably, even maddeningly, vague in places, and the legislative reports have been crucial tools in figuring out just what Congress was trying to do across a host of issues.

Taking advantage of our spiffy new copier, I scanned the entire House Report, working a few pages at a time over the course of a couple of weeks. That left me with a big folder full of TIFF files on my PC, which I scrubbed with the wonderful tool unpaper before converting to PDF. You can now download the completed PDF here, although be warned that it’s a very large file (155 MB): House Report No. 94-1476 (PDF).

Getting the scanned page images online, though, is only part of the battle. What I ultimately would like to see online is the text of the report, freely searchable, copyable, and indexable, rather than just the images. Because I don’t have the time or energy to convert the images to text myself, I’ve thrown the project open as an experiment in crowdsourcing. All my page scans are now available on Wikimedia Commons, and volunteers are slowly converting the raw OCR output to intelligible text on Wikisource. It’s a lengthy document, but given enough eyeballs, as they say. The Wikisource index to the scanned pages already appears on the first page of the Google search results for “House Report 94-1476.” Eventually, this process should produce a fairly well cleaned-up version of the source text.

Assuming this ultimately works (a big “if,” to be sure), what are some other public domain legal source texts that should get the crowdsourcing treatment? ...

Retaining rights and increasing research impact

Ellen Duranceau, Retaining Copyrights to Increase Research Impact: Online Tutorial Now Available, MIT Libraries News, October 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

A new MIT Libraries’ tutorial “Scholarly Publication and Copyright: Retaining Rights & Increasing the Impact of Research” is now available online.

  • Part 1 focuses on how copyright law intersects with the publication process. Download part 1 (5:38 min.)
  • Part 2 reviews why you might want to retain rights when you publish and how you can do so. Download Part 2 (9:47 min.)
  • Part 3 provides information on increasing the impact of your research by making it available through open access channels. Download Part 3 (8:55 min.)

Together, these three parts are intended to explain how copyright relates to publication agreements for research articles, and how authors can increase the impact of their work by negotiating to retain rights to post their articles on the web or reuse them in other ways.

This 3-part tutorial is also linked from the scholarly publishing website, where these themes are developed in more depth....

Presentations from the Ottawa OA workshop

Two of the four presentations from Open Access: the New World of Research Communication (Ottawa, October 12, 2007) are now online:

  1. Michael Geist, Unlocking Access.  Abstract:   We hold the key to unlocking access! This dynamic presentation covers open access in the broader context of the potential of the internet. Reasons for providing open access include: it's required (for example, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research open access policy), it's easy, and there are many benefits. Discusses open licenses, open digitization methods, new means of delivering content, open content and collaborative content development. This presentation includes many examples of interesting open access projects, particularly within the Canadian context, such as the IDRC digital library, Alouette Canada, OA books such as In the Public Interest, the Public Knowledge Project and Open Medicine, YouTube and more.
  2. Kathleen Shearer, The What's, How's, and Why's of Open Access.  Abstract:   This presentation, designed for faculty members, presents an overview of why open access is necessary, and how to go about it. Provides samples of the high cost of journal prices and pay-per-view, definition of open access, and the two means of providing open access: OA publishing, and self-archiving. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) new author search is featured, as is the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Institutional Repository project.

Update. Slides of all four presentations, a webcast and a podcast are now online.

Roy Rosenzweig, 1950 - 2007

Adam Bernstein, Digital Historian Roy A. Rosenzweig, Washington Post, October 13, 2007.  (Thanks to John Willinsky.)  Excerpt:

Roy A. Rosenzweig, 57, a social and cultural historian at George Mason University who became a prominent advocate for "digital history," a field combining historical scholarship with digital media's broad reach and interactive possibilities, died Oct. 11 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County. He had lung cancer.

Dr. Rosenzweig, who taught history at GMU for the past 26 years, founded the university's Center for History and New Media in 1994....

Dr. Rosenzweig was an author, filmmaker and documenter of oral histories. His books, including a social history of New York's Central Park and the labor movement's struggle in the 19th century for a shorter workday, underscored his interest in presenting what he called "perspectives of ordinary men and women" over the wealthy and powerful.

In the early 1990s, he helped create an award-winning U.S. history survey presented on CD-ROM. He then started the Center for History and New Media, which stemmed from his wish "to democratize the study of the past -- both by incorporating forgotten voices and by presenting the fullest possible story of the past to diverse audiences."

Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond, who conducted early digital history projects as a University of Virginia history professor, said Dr. Rosenzweig "was the real pioneer in this."

Ayers said that Dr. Rosenzweig's CD-ROM "Who Built America?" (1994), created with the help of two other historians, "first showed the possibilities of digital history" and that he remained important as an advocate by writing articles and reviews of Web sites for professional journals, through which he was a "facilitator and translator of digital history." ...

CommentRoy Rosenzweig was the leading US advocate for OA in the field of history, and one of the leading advocates anywhere for OA in the humanities.  His most important article on OA was Should Historical Scholarship Be Free? (Perspectives, April 2005).  In a blog post from April 15, 2005, I said, "I wish every discipline had a high-profile essay of this cogency to kick the ball forward."  Here are some excerpts from that article:

...Although the original force of the initiative was diluted through industry lobbying, the NIH measure represents government recognition of the principle that research, especially government-supported research, belongs to the public, which should not have to pay the prohibitively high subscription charges levied by many scholarly journals. The new policy affects few historians, but its implications ought to give us serious pause. After all, historical research also benefits directly (albeit considerably less generously) through grants from federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities; even more of us are on the payroll of state universities, where research support makes it possible for us to write our books and articles. If we extend the notion of "public funding" to private universities and foundations (who are, of course, major beneficiaries of the federal tax codes), it can be argued that public support underwrites almost all historical scholarship....The advantages of open access are fairly obvious....Open access to scholarship fits perfectly with the founding principles of scholarly societies....But the more important reason to consider how we can achieve open access is that the benefits of broad and democratic access to scholarship --benefits that are within our grasp in a digital era-- are much too great to simply continue business as usual.

He and co-author Daniel Cohen wrote an OA guidebook for historians, Digital History:  A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, and his Center for History and New Media at George Mason put theory into practice by developing Zotero, the Firefox-based tool for gathering and organizing online scholarship.

He wrote what is still one of the best scholarly assessments of Wikipedia:  Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past, The Journal of American History, June 2006.  

Commenting on MIT's Open Courseware project, he once said, "We should be in the business of having people steal our stuff, because we're trying to foster innovation, exchange, communication, and dialogue."  He will be missed.

Update. The History News Network is collecting tributes to Roy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

New OA journal on ethics and global politics

Ethics & Global Politics is a new peer reviewed OA journal published by Co-Action Publishing and the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University.  The first issue will be published in 2008, but a call for papers is already online.  From the press release:

Commenting on the choice to publish the journal Open Access, Editor-in-Chief Eva Erman stated, “It is important that a journal dedicated to global ethical issues should be accessible to a global audience and not just to those who can afford a subscription. Being Open Access, the journal will reach the widest possible audience of researchers, professionals, graduate students, policy-makers and activists....”

Introducing the Open Research Society

Jakoblog has blogged some notes on the Conference on Metadata and Semantics Research (Achileion, October 11-12, 2007).  Excerpt:

After a short break at the MTSR 2007...Miltiadis Lytras introduced the Open Research Society (ORS) and raised some important general questions: Why do we do research? Who can benefit from our research? Which alternatives to the current system of publication and review exist? How can we overcome the digital divide? The Open Research Society will also participates in the Open Knowledge Summit in Athens (24-26 September 2008) and it is going to publish a couple of new Open Access journals - have a look at their website and welcome this new organization in the area of Open Access and Open Content!

Miguel-Angel Sicilia explained the ORS plans in more detail with his presentation From open access to open research and information sustainability. The proposed ORS Journals (which ORS should not be limited to) are going to be full open access without author fees and all research data must be provided. Peer review is planned to be double-blind but there will be additional experiments with other review methods to find out how peer review could be changed. Sicilia also talked about Open Access and Information Sustainability which is a hard challenge given the explosion of publication....

Gore and IPCC could boost OA to research on climate change

Al Gore and the UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel peace prize today.  More coverage.

Comments.  What's the OA connection? 

  • I believe that book authors have every right to choose royalties over OA, and I haven't changed my mind.  But this would be a good time for Al Gore to consider OA for his book and DVD.  (The teachers guides are already OA.)  He might decide that a year's worth of royalties is enough and at this point the value of spreading the word outweighs the value of future royalties.  He might decide to test the theory (clearly confirmed for some monographs) that an OA edition can increase net sales of a print edition.  He might decide that any losses from an OA edition are offset by the Nobel prize money. 
  • At a press conference, Gore said, "I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness, and the change in urgency."  OA is an essential part of any plan to speed up change in awareness.
  • At least Gore should create an OA web page citing sources for the scientific claims in the book and DVD.  The absence of citations in the book needlessly feeds skepticism, and the presence of citations would do nothing to undermine sales.
  • The IPCC doesn't conduct or fund original research, but it does review published research and it does publish its reports.  According to its about page, "A number of IPCC reports are published commercially. Summaries, CD ROMs and Technical Papers can be obtained free of charge. A limited number of full reports are available from the IPCC Secretariat for developing countries and countries with economies in transition."  Hence, I make the same OA recommendation to the IPCC.  Please consider making all your reports OA. 
  • Gore and IPCC could have an even greater impact by jointly recommending (1) that all peer-reviewed journals publishing research on climate change permit immediate postprint archiving, if they don't do so already, and (2) that all authors of such research self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints without delay.  The principle is:  the more knowledge matters, the more open access to that knowledge matters.
  • According to the Nobel Committee announcement, Gore and the IPCC won the prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."  OA would unquestionably magnify the same good work.
  • For other efforts to provide OA to research on climate change, see my blog posts on the subject.

Update. Adam Hodgkin makes a similar argument at ExactEditions: "Given the environmental message of the author it is strange that Gore has not insisted that his publishers promote with open access versions of his book. The book is so beautifully produced that more copies would surely be sold."

Recapping the method and benefits of self-archiving

Nishith K Singh, The self-archiving principle: a momentous trek, Postgraduate Medical Journal, 2007.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

Abstract:  In the existing scholarly publishing empire, authors give away their valued research work to various commercial journals, thereby restricting free accessibility to the published useful work. Triggered by the gargantuan promise of the internet, the self-archiving principle is a new and revolutionary concept which potentially lets all research work become freely available online. It involves deposition of research documents at a publicly accessible website, and its proponents see the initiative as a means to set entire author works free of all access and impact barriers. This review briefly discusses the allied concepts, the course and implications of the initiative.

Retroactive OA for key articles on superconductivity

Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer Theory of Superconductivity Papers Now Open Access, Issues in Scholarly Communication, October 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

From the American Physical Society...

To honor the 50th anniversary celebration of the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer Theory of Superconductivity being held Oct 10-13 at the Univ. of Illinois, the APS has made the three original BCS papers "Free-to-Read":

Comment.  Kudos to the APS.  I proposed a similar strategy a couple of years ago ("When a scientist wins the Nobel Prize, clearly the journals that published his or her work would benefit science as well as their own standing if they provided open access [retroactively] to the breakthrough articles").  I don't flatter myself that APS got the idea from me, but I'm always glad to see steps to provide OA to past research articles, starting with the most important.

Update. Also see the APS announcement.

Update. The American Institute of Physics has taken a similar step, and provided OA copies to 10 articles by this year's physics laureates. (Thanks to George Porter.)

Update. By contrast, Wiley boasts that the Nobel laureates in chemistry, physics, medicine, and economics have published in Wiley journals, but doesn't make any of their articles OA.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Public comments on OA policy in Europe

The European Commission has released the preliminary results (September 2007) of the public comments on its green paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives (April 2007).  The public comment period closed on August 31.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  Excerpt:

...Over 80% of respondents welcome the concept of open access to both publications and raw data. It should be noted however that access to scientific data and access to scientific publications raise different issues and concerns among stakeholders. The majority of researchers, research organisations and libraries call for immediate access to both and express a need for improvement of access and dissemination. A library association emphasises that "there are still significant barriers to access in researchers' information channels", a situation which leads to "unbalanced and ineffective knowledge sharing, so limiting the potential of the ERA".

On the other hand, industry and certain libraries give some caveats regarding open access to commercially sensitive data, in particular. An industry association highlights that "To get excellence in European Research, the broadest possible access to the state of the art knowledge must be guaranteed for all researchers, in private as well as in public... However […] in many instances giving immediate and totally open access to the results of publicly funded research may not be in the long term and best interests of EU citizens… Publicly funded research especially in cutting-edge areas of technology can potentially give rise to valuable intellectual property rights which if properly managed by the relevant public research institution can give rise to tangible benefits (e.g. through the creation of revenue streams) which can be used to support general educational aims or increase further the scale and quality of the European science base".

The issue of compatibility of existing intellectual property legislation and open access is also highlighted by several respondents. While publishers recall the economic importance of current copyright arrangements, a governmental research body questioned their underlying principles: "… current copyright law should be evaluated with a view to finding ways in which the law guarantees scientific authors the right to publish their research results under an open access regime …".

Scientific publishers underline the added value that they bring to the scientific process and the fact that they are open to new business models providing that their costs were covered. That said, some highlight concerns about the Commission's intentions in this field. Indeed, a publisher states that they were "concerned at the possible development of a policy, implied by the questionnaire, that requires researchers to post their accepted author manuscripts in a repository at a single specified time frame", and consider that "such a one-size-fits-all policy would be detrimental to journals because each journal’s economic and usage profile is unique, and that such a policy would harm science and its beneficiaries". Many publishers also call for the Commission to collaborate closely with them, in order to find possible solutions to the question of researcher access to publications....

Comment.  There's nothing new in these comments, pro or con.  When the green paper appeared in April 2007, the European Commission had already received extensive comments on OA from all stakeholders in the build-up to the EC-hosted Brussels conference of February 2007.  For example, on the pro-OA side, it received strong recommendations from an EC-sponsored study in 2006, a December 2006 statement from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), a January 2007 report from the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB), and a petition signed at the time by more than 20,000 European researchers and research institution (and signed today by more than 26,000).  The EC's own Research Directorate-General --which also released the green paper-- supported OA in its February 2007 Communication (p. 7):  "Initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced on the basis of public funding."  The EC heard the anti-OA arguments in the Brussels Declaration from the STM, the ALPSP, and a host of signatory publishers (February 2007).  The mere fact that the green paper had to ask, in April 2007, for further comments on OA policy is a sign of delay and indecision.  And even if it was a good faith effort to beat the bushes for comments it hadn't heard before, it doesn't appear to have worked.  It's time for the EC to adopt the recommendations from the study it sponsored in 2006, firm up its commitment to its own policy guidelines in the communication of February 2007, and give effect to the policy arguments of the overwhelming majority of the respondents to the green paper.  There are enough studies and surveys.  It's time to act.

Alma Swan's OA Calendar now in print

Alma Swan is now selling a print edition of her Open Access Calendar.  The OA edition is still available, of course.

What makes a good research librarian?

Rose at Rose's Library has made a list of the skills and competencies possessed by a good research librarian.  Excerpt:

  • Supports open access....

Comment.  I like this.  Next up:  what makes a good researcher, provost, editor, publisher, funding manager, society officer, legislator, voter...?

Will OA hurt libraries?

T. Scott Plutchak anticipates his debate with Rick Anderson at the upcoming Charleston Conference (Charleston, November 7-10, 2007) on the consequences of OA for libraries.  Excerpt:

I'm looking forward to my debate with Rick Anderson at the Charleston Conference in another few weeks.  We did a session at the North Carolina Serials Conference a couple of years ago....

We titled the session, "Open Access: Good for Society, Bad for Libraries?" and sent in this abstract:

Resolved: As open access becomes more widespread, and more scholarly material becomes available either in open access journals or institutional repositories, libraries will become more marginalized in higher education institutions as funds formerly devoted to collections are diverted to other institutional priorities.

It's intended to be hyperbolic, of course, and in reality I don't think there's a tremendous difference in Rick's and my actual views on the issues....

As the inveterate librarian optimist, I think that expanding OA presents some great opportunities for librarians, but there are plenty of potential hazards along the way.   It's been a disappointment that there's been so little substantive discussion (at least that I've seen) about the possible consequences for libraries....

And it just occurred to me that I don't think that Rick and I have sorted out who is taking the pro and who is taking the con position in our debate.  I'd better give him a call....

Wiley deflects questions about PRISM

Mark Chillingworth, Wiley boss side steps PRISM questions, Information World Review blog, October 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

Peter Wiley the chairman of international scientific publishing giants Wiley declined to discuss the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM) anti-OA campaign today. Wiley, a former journalist and a published author, was at the Frankfurt Book Fair and celebrating the company's 200th anniversary.

With an extension of the hand Chairman Wiley handed the issue to Stephen Smith, Senior VP for Europe and International Development. "Our general view of OA is, it's another business model," said Smith.

Both men were keen to point out, rightly, that publishing is an expensive business and agreed that greater clarity about the role and importance of peer review and the publishing process would benefit the sector right now. Something critics have said PRISM is preventing.

"OA fees are going up," Wiley said, expressing concern that the new sector is unsustainable, in his only comment on the subject.

Wiley would be drawn on authors understanding of the publishing process, saying that in academic and trade (novels etc sold in bookshop) there is a "lack of realism about the publishing process"....

PRISM is the Association of American Publisher's controversial lobbying group that is claiming that open access (OA) publishing is a threat to peer review.


  • Although PRISM hasn't named a single publisher belonging to its "coalition", Wiley seems to be one of them.  According to Nature, Wiley was one of only three publishers in the room (with Elsevier and ACS) when Eric Dezenhall pitched the PR proposal now embodied in PRISM.  Is Wiley dodging questions about PRISM simply to avoid controversy?  Or is it distancing itself from PRISM, rough the way the AAP/PSP (which launched PRISM) did when it removed all mention of PRISM from its web site?
  • Peter Wiley is right when he points out that "OA fees [at fee-based OA journals] are going up."  But that's not responsive to any of the criticism of PRISM.  PRISM opposes government OA policies, which one and all focus on deposits in OA repositories, not submissions to OA journals.  In any case, rising fees do not entail that "the new sector is unsustainable".  If it did, then all of Wiley's journals, and all other TA journals, would be unsustainable as well.  But in fact most OA journals charge no publication fees at all, and we can already point to examples of fee-based OA publishers making a profit (Hindawi) and no-fee OA publishers making a profit (MedKnow).  If Wiley won't respond to questions about PRISM, I wonder whether he'd respond to the conclusion of the University of California Academic Senate that "The economics of [subscription-based] scholarly journal publishing are incontrovertibly unsustainable."

OA in the Nordic countries

Jan Hagerlid, Scholarly Open Access Journals and Libraries, in M. Rundkvist (ed.), Scholarly journals between the past and the future, Stockholm: Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, Konferenser 65, 2007.  The article is in English and OA.

Abstract:   The role of academic libraries is changing in response to the profound transition of the scholarly communication system from a subscription-based to an Open Access model. The development of Open Access is briefly described and the concept defined. The options for the future of journals in the social sciences and humanities, focussing on the Nordic context, is discussed. Research councils and library funding bodies should support the transition of these journals to on-line and Open Access publishing. Libraries will in this process move from the role of a gate-keeper for research material owned by others to providing web access to content produced within their parent institutions.

PS:  The book in which this article appears collects the presentations from an April 2006 conference and came out in April 2007. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New OA journal of conference presentations

The Video Journal of Conference Presentations is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of, well, conference presentations.  A submission consists of a text file with author information and an abstract; a PowerPoint file; and an MP3 audio file.  From the site:

Individual submissions should come from the author who attended the conference and gave the presentation. Group submissions from conference organizers are encouraged but the organizers must have commitments from the presenting authors. In either case, the article copyright belongs to the listed authors. A group submission may be organized into a thematic issue if the conference organizers are willing to act as guest editors and provide an editorial forward....

The rise of the open-access model for scientific publishing relies on authors bearing the costs of publication. VJCP goes one step further — authors’ acceptance of publication charges for their papers in this journal is voluntary, under the following conditions. Only if authors appreciate the editorial service provided and the high visibility promised, and only if authors are able to pay, do they pay a suggested publication fee of US$300 per article....

Washington U revises its author addendum

Washington University has revised its author addendum.  From the announcement on the WU scholarly communications blog:

What is the WU Amendment to Publication Agreement? The WU Amendment is a tool to allow authors to retain some rights to their work and is used as an addendum to a publisher’s copyright agreement. The WU Amendment enables authors to reuse their work (the final published version) for research and teaching efforts, allows for deposit in Becker Library’s DSpace digital repository and helps authors comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.

The WU Amendment to Publication Agreement now includes a clause that addresses the issue of what authors should do if a publisher does not return a signed copy of the agreement. With the revised WU Amendment, publication of the article by the publisher will be deemed as acceptance of the terms of the WU Amendment by the publisher.  The new clause reads in Paragraph 6 as follows:

“In the absence of Publisher’s signature on this Amendment, Publication of the Article by the Publisher will be deemed acceptance of the terms of this Amendment by the Publisher.”

This new clause eliminates the “limbo” period for authors who do not receive a signed copy from publishers but their article is published.  Publication of the article will be construed as acceptance of the terms in the WU Amendment.

More on the UKPMC Publishers Panel statement of principle

Stevan Harnad, On Paid Gold OA, Central Repositories, and "Re-Use" Rights, Open Access Archivangelism, October 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

On Tue, 9 Oct 2007 Andrew Albanese, Associate Editor, Library Journal, wrote:

"[J]ust writing to see if you have any thoughts on the UKPMC [UK PubMed Central] statement on re-use...seems a little unnecessary to me. Stating the obvious? Rather than say "copyright still applies," would it not have been more useful to issue guidelines on, say, how to craft a copyright clause that facilitates open access? Do these broad statements help anyone?"

I agree that the UKPMC re-use statement is unnecessary and stating the obvious....

To begin with, the UKPMC statement is about paid Gold OA, and (for reasons I have adduced many times before) I believe that...paying for Gold OA at this time is unnecessary and a waste of money (until and unless most or all of the institutional money that is currently being spent on subscriptions is released to pay for Gold OA)....Gold OA is far from being either the fastest or surest way to scale up to 100% OA today....The fastest and surest way to provide 100% OA today is for authors to self-archive their (published) articles....

Comment.  I can't agree.  While the statement focuses on details of gold OA, it says nothing to encourage gold OA in preference to green OA, and when implemented it will do nothing to slow down green OA.  General arguments to prefer green OA are not germane here.  Nor does the agreement state the obvious.  It describes what re-use rights publishers should provide when funders pay for gold OA.  That's new, beneficial, and important.  From my blog comment on Monday:  "When a funder pays a publisher to make an article OA, the publisher should remove permission barriers as well as price barriers.  But too often publishers have only removed price barriers.  This agreement to remove a key set of permission barriers is an important step forward that will help users get their work done (both human and machine users), help funders get full value for their investment, and help all players live up to the full BBB definition of OA."

More on executive bonuses at the ACS

This memo from "ACS Insider" has been sent directly to many librarians and university administrators, and to at least one public listserv, NASW-Freelance from the National Association of Science Writers.  I received  a copy from one of the recipients.  I don't know anything about the pseudonymous author. 

I've been an ACS [American Chemical Society] employee for many, many years, but I've grown  concerned with the direction of the organization. I'm sending this email to  alert you that ACS has grown increasingly corporate in its structure and focus. Management is much more concerned with getting bonuses and growing their salaries rather than doing what is best for membership. For instance, Madeleine Jacobs now pulling in almost $1 million in salary and bonuses. That's almost 3X what Alan Leshner makes over at AAAS, and almost double what Drew Gilpin Faust makes to lead Harvard.

I think Madeleine is smart, but I'm not quite sure if she's in the  same category as Dr. Faust. She doesn't even have a PhD!

What really concerns me is a move by ACS management to undermine the open-access movement. Rudy Baum has been leading the fight with  several humorous editorials -- one in which he referred to open-access in the pages of C&EN as "socialized science." ACS has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership money to hire a company to lobby against open-access.

What troubles me the most is when ACS management decided to hire Dezenhall Resources to fight open-access. Nature got hold of some internal ACS emails written by Brian Crawford that discussed how Dezenhall could help us undermine open-access. Dezenhall later  created a group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and  Medicine (PRISM), which has this silly argument that open-access means "no more peer-review."

If you're wondering why ACS is fighting this, it's because people like Rudy Baum, Brian Crawford and other ACS managers receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates. Hurt the  publishing revenue; you hurt their bonuses.

I'm hoping that sending out this email will get people to force ACS executives to become more transparent in how they act and spend membership money. Not to mention their crazy need for fatter salaries.

It's time for some change. If you want to check out the sources for  this information, there is a wiki site that has all the articles and documents outlining what I've just written.  You can find it here.

Those of inside ACS know that it's time for things to change. But management won't alter their behavior. The money is just too good.


  • The claim that ACS executives "receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates" was also made by Paul Thacker in the Summer 2007 issue of SEJournal.  See my blog comments on it from last week. 
  • Thacker's article was published with a sidebar noting that "Bill Carroll, former ACS president, wrote to say...that he chaired the [ACS] compensation committee but it does not evaluate or award bonuses to editorial employees."  I regard this as a disputed question of fact and hope that someone can resolve it one way or the other before long.
  • But apart from what is or isn't happening at the ACS, there's an important issue here.  Are the societies most active in lobbying against government OA policies paying executive bonuses based on publication revenue?  When society executives speak out against OA, how often are they speaking for the interests of their societies and how often are they speaking from personal interest? 
  • Let me repeat this request from my blog comment last week:  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.

South Africa moving toward open data

Eve Gray, A policy workshop on access to data, Gray Area, October 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

On 27 and 28 September, the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) convened a high-level two-day workshop on access to research data. The workshop was designed to address what South Africa's response should be in relation to the OECD Declaration, Principles and Guidelines on Access to Research Data from Publicly Funded Research. A hint as to why this workshop was being convened now came from a press cutting included in the conference pack, reporting that South Africa is being considered as an additional member of the OECD, something that would be a major boost to the country if it were to come about. Another reason was mentioned by Owen Njamela, from the Chief Directorate, R&D Investments at the DST: that in the last few months the DST has announced a considerable increase in its strategic R&D targets for the next decade as a way of increasing the country's international competitiveness. This means that the number of postgraduate degrees and the levels of research output will need to grow radically in the next decade. It was good to see these targets being linked to open approaches to knowledge and information sharing, in contrast to the restrictive and lock-down approach of the Draft Bill on IPR for Publicly Funded Research published for comment a few months ago (see my blog entry of 13 July 2007). What the workshop was after, Njamela said, was to establish what it would take to create a really effective data sharing system in South Africa.

Because I see this as an important event, I am going to blog in this post the key outcomes, decisions and forward planning that...emerged from the workshop and then provide, here and on the OpeningScholarship project blog additional postings on the keynote speeches and the presentations from local speakers, as well as some South African case studies. Keynote speeches were by Paul Uhlir of the US National Academies of Science and CODATA, Bernard Minter, Chair of the World Data Centre System at ICSU and Professor of Geophysics at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California San Diego and Beatriz Torres, Programme Officer from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

The key understanding that emerged from the workshop was that, although there are a number of legitimate limitations on openness when it comes to research data – such as official secrets, personal privacy and the proprietary rights of private sector research – the default option, as spelled out by the OECD Guidelines, should be for open access and restrictions should be the exception and not the rule, only invoked with good reason. This is particularly important when data has been developed from publicly funded research. While locking up data in proprietary systems increases the fragmentation and cost and can become a barrier to the conduct of science, the keynote speakers argued that open access makes data available for use across disciplines and countries, allows for automated knowledge discovery, improves the potential for verification and accuracy and facilitates North-South and South-South transfer....

As the ASSAf Report on Scholarly Publishing in South Africa made clear, South Africa needs to increase its research visibility, needs to grow its output of high-quality publications and attract a younger cohort of scholars. And, as the ASSAf programme grows the output of local journals, I argued in my presentation that there need to be links between scholarly publications and underlying data sets if the maximum benefits are to be gained from research investment. Looking forward, the trends are towards greater interactivity between scientific journal articles and the underlying data, for collaboratories and virtual workspaces, for the additional layers of interpretation that can be offered by semantically-rich XML documents, and for automated analysis, abstraction and correlation of data. Open Access makes this much easier....

Also see Eve's post to Opening Scholarship on the same meeting, DST Workshop On National Access To Research Data – The South African Perspective, October 9, 2007

More on German publishers on OA

Charlotte Hubbard, Observations from the "Open Access Policies of German Publishers" conference, BioMed Central blog, October 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

Despite the continuing momentum of the open access movement, only a few German-language publishing houses have so far developed a clear position on open access. This was apparent at a recent conference organised by the Universitaetsbibliothek Stuttgart - for a summary of the day, see Ulrich Herb’s excellent article, (in German).

Whereas established publishing houses have been slow to adapt to the changing landscape, University presses (for instance in Goettingen) are undergoing a revival, offering services such as open access book publications (so far to theses and textbooks). Free availability of content and commercial sales can go hand in hand, and especially when combined with print-on-demand services they provide the basis for innovative publishing businesses. This was demonstrated by the memorable labelling of the free, online version as a “full-range teaser” by the founders of Monsenstein und Vannerdat – a phrase with potential to become part of standard terminology.

There is also strong and growing support for open access among researchers and research institutes. In BioMed Central journals alone, nearly 1,800 articles have been published with German researchers as the submitting author, accounting for nearly 7% of all articles. In addition, 35 German institutes/organisations have taken out a BioMed Central membership including the Max Planck Society. Earlier this year, the Universities of Bielefeld, Goettingen, Constance and the Free University of Berlin set up, an online information platform that intends to inform on the growing scientific and political significance of open access issues.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Open legal education

Matt Bodie's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: An Open-Access Approach to Legal Education, TaxProf Blog, October 8, 2007.  TaxProf Blog has been asking law professors, "What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?"  Here's the suggestion of Matthew Bodie of Saint Louis University School of Law:

Several of the other commenters have suggested dramatic changes to the curriculum. I would recommend that as part of your curricular reforms, you consider an open-access approach to legal education.

First, implement an open-source approach to course materials. As I describe in a forthcoming article, casebooks and other supplementary materials will soon all be in electronic form and online. An open-source approach would allow professors to collaborate freely while having much greater potential for individualization. Particularly if you implement a new regime of courses, an open-source approach would allow your faculty to join with colleagues around the country in developing new materials. Your impact on curricular reform will be far greater if you provide easy access for other schools and professors looking to follow your lead....

Tony Hey on e-Science and Scholarly Communication

Rice University now offers audio (MS, Real, MP3) and video of Tony Hey's public lecture on September 19, 2007, e-Science and Scholarly Communications

Summary:  In the future, frontier research in many fields will increasingly require the collaboration of globally distributed groups of researchers needing access to distributed computing, data resources and support for remote access to expensive, multi-national specialized facilities such as telescopes and accelerators or specialist data archives. There is also a general belief that an important road to innovation will be provided by multi-disciplinary and collaborative research - from bio-informatics and earth systems science to social science and archaeology. There will also be an explosion in the amount of research data collected in the next decade - 100's of Terabytes will be common in many fields. These future research requirements constitute the 'e-Research' agenda. Powerful software services will be widely deployed on top of the academic research networks to form the necessary 'Cyberinfrastructure' to provide a collaborative research environment for the global academic community. This talk will review the elements of this vision and describe how not only scientists and engineers but also social science and humanities researchers are collaborating with computer scientists and the IT industry to create this Cyberinfrastructure. A key part of this Cyberinfrastructure will be services for accessing digital research repositories containing text, data and software. Open access in some form or other to such institutional research repositories is likely to become widespread in the near future. In addition the whole nature of a scholarly research paper will change dramatically as Web 2.0 and other technologies allow the creation of live documents linked to RSS feeds and data, supplemented by blogs and wikis. This talk will survey examples of e-Research and Scholarly Communication in this context and end with some speculations on the future of research libraries.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Elsevier provides free online access to two medical magazines

Elsevier launches DoctorPortal, the independent online voice of UK doctors, a press release from Elsevier, October 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

Elsevier...has announced the launch of DoctorPortal, an online repository of the most current medical information. DoctorPortal is advertiser supported and based around enhanced online versions of the respected and freely available Doctor and Hospital Doctor magazines.  Aimed at the UK's 150,000 primary and secondary care doctors DoctorPortal promises to be the news source for UK doctors. 

As UK doctors rely increasingly on the internet for clinical information and Medicine 2.0 becomes today's tool for busy health professionals, Elsevier's DoctorPortal is a central source of information and online discussion for doctors.  Free to users, it provides a wide variety of news and clinical content of interest to both GP's and Consultants....

Content previously available only in the print editions of Doctor and Hospital Doctor magazines is now online and delivered via an efficient e-workflow tool. Users of the DoctorPortal can search and download both clinical and practice-orientated information, including:

  • Extended, authoritative daily news coverage;
  • Clinical, medico-political news and financial information;
  • Detailed analysis and opinion;
  • Coverage of professional journals and national press;
  • Growing and searchable archive of content aggregated across 26 key clinical practice areas....


  • This is much like OncologySTAT, which Elsevier launched one month earlier (September 7, 2007).  Both provide free online access to Elsevier content formerly behind a price wall and both are ad-supported.  But while OncologySTAT provides access to a large range of peer-reviewed journals, DoctorPortal provides access to two magazines, Doctor and Hospital Doctor, neither of which publishes peer reviewed research articles.  OncologySTAT is open to everyone, DoctorPortal only to doctors.  Both require registration, allowing Elsevier to sell the list to advertisers and spammers.
  • Here are some of the terms and conditions, to which Elsevier believes users are bound simply by "accessing or using" the site:  "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.....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 to create or compile, directly or indirectly, a collection, compilation, database or directory without prior written permission from Elsevier...."

TA publishers thinking about how to build on OA repositories

Stephane Goldstein has blogged some notes on the ALPSP conference,  Repositories - for better or worse? (London, October 5, 2007).  Excerpt:

...This was genuinely interesting, and the question in the title proved to be satisfyingly open.  Had such an event been run a couple of years ago, I suspect that the overwhelming consensus on the day would have been 'for worse' – but on this occasion, there was a real debate, symptomatic perhaps of changing attitudes.

This is not to say that concern and worry about the development of repositories has vanished among learned societies – far from it.  However, the discussion at the workshop underlined a willingness from many quarters to think about new business opportunities.  These include the provision of value added services and enhancements as text harvesting, dynamic formatting and Web 2.0 applications.  There was a suggestion that, on this basis, publishers could actually generate revenue from repository usage, effectively by providing services that can exploit their content. The possible role of publishers in relation to data publication was also evoked, and this elicited much interest.

To my mind, one of the most interesting ideas raised by one of the societies was that 'publishing', as an all-embracing term, is an outdated concept.  The view was that, from a business modelling, perspective, it is better to deconstruct ‘publishing’ into distinct but related processes that form an integral part of the research endeavour: broadly, (i) selection of scholarly material, (ii) validation, and (iii) editing - each of which could in principle be offered as a service, with cost implications, in its own right.  Incidentally, this is not dissimilar from the view contained in RCUK's original draft position statement (June 2005) on access to publication outputs.

All in all, this was a useful afternoon, and I can recommend ALPSP's programme of such activities (not the first I've attended), even for non-publishers....

Comment.  One of the brightest futures for all stakeholders is for TA publishers to see OA as a business opportunity, not a business killer, or to reconfigure their operations to make it a business opportunity.  This is the path of adaptation, not resistance.  In this future, publishers accept and even encourage OA to peer-reviewed articles, and make their money by selling enhanced editions of the basic OA texts and selling tools and services to build, and build on, that OA foundation.  There have been earlier signs of movement in this direction, from priced access to priced services for adding value to OA literature, but Goldstein's notes suggest that this meeting was one of the strongest to date.

2007 Annual Review of Anthropology

More on PRISM

Mark Chillingworth, Scientists, publishers and authors rage against PRISM, Information World Review, October 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Angry researchers, scientists and editors have called for action against the Association of American Publishers (AAP), one of the prime movers
behind the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine.

Announced last month, PRISM is a campaign group that has denounced open access (OA) publishing as “junk science” that is destroying the foundations of peer review. “Their claim that OA threatens the peer review process is nothing less than the ‘big lie’ – the propaganda techniques of Dr Goebbels,” said the founder of the International Journal of Information Management, Tom Wilson, in a resignation letter.

Well-known scientist and OA supporter Peter Murray-Rust from Cambridge added to the chorus of derision for PRISM. “This initiative is an undisguised coalition to discredit OA publishing and its launch has generated universal dismay and anger in many quarters,” he said.

“This campaign is clearly focused on the preservation of the status quo in scholarly publishing (along with the attendant revenues), and not on ensuring that scientific research results are distributed and used as widely as possible,” wrote Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

Senior publishers have also quit AAP’s scholarly publishing division. Many are now calling for action against PRISM and the AAP. “I shall in future refuse to undertake unpaid refereeing work for any journal which is not an OA publication,” Wilson said.

The Association of Research Libraries said PRISM’s attacks on OA and peer review “repeatedly conflates policies regarding access to federally funded research with hypothesised dire consequences”. It pointed out that no demand for public access to federally funded research “altered the traditional practice of peer review”.

Comment.  Chillingworth is right that publishers are part of the protest against PRISM, but he doesn't list those involved.  Here's my list from last week

How many publishers have publicly disavowed PRISM or distanced themselves from it?  Nine and counting (with links to their public statements): Cambridge University Press, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Columbia University Press, MIT Press, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press, Pennsylvania State University Press, Rockefeller University Press, University of Chicago Press.  How many publishers have been identified on the PRISM web site as members of the PRISM "coalition"?  Zero.

Funders and publishers agree to remove key permission barriers for fee-based OA articles

Statement of principle from the UKPMC Publishers Panel in relation to re-use of documents for which an open access fee has been paid, a joint statement from the UKPMC Publishers Panel (membership described in the statement itself), October 8, 2007.  Here it is in its entirety:


The UKPMC Publishers Panel is made up of representatives of the funders of UK PubMed Central and the following trade associations: The Publishers Association; the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers; and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. As such, the UKPMC Publishers Panel has no authority to bind individual rights-holders in relation to the terms governing re-use of content for which an open access fee has been paid. The UKPMC Publishers Panel has, however, agreed the following statement of principle in relation to the re-use of documents for which an open access or sponsorship fee has been paid.

Statement of Principle

1. It is in the interests of fostering and promoting research that such documents may be freely copied and used for text and data mining purposes, provided that such uses are fully attributed, undertaken on a non-commercial basis, and do not interfere with any moral rights of the author(s) of the documents. "Commercial" is taken here to include (but not be limited to) the use of documents by for-profit organisations for promotional purposes, whether for a fee or otherwise.

2. These documents are protected by copyright and/or other applicable law. Where content in the document is identified as belonging to a third party, consent should be obtained from the third party for the right to re-use this content.

3. In addition to making the document openly and freely accessible to all users worldwide at the time of publication, other re-use of the content, including but not limited to further redistribution, adaptation and translation, is encouraged under licence from individual rightsholders.

4. The UKPMC Funders recognise the value that publishers add to the research process and acknowledge that the costs associated with publishing are legitimate research costs and encourage the implementation of clear funding mechanisms for meeting these costs.

Also see today's press release from the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers.  Excerpt:

...In addition to making such papers open and freely accessible to all users worldwide at the time of publication, other re-use of the content ­ such as further redistribution, adaptation and translation ­ is encouraged under licence from individual rights-holders.

Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust welcomed this agreement. It is essential that full advantage is taken of the opportunities provided by open access to the results of research. Reading the results of the research is only the first step - if an important one! Huge added value can be added to research by linking the text of scientific papers to databases, such as protein sequence and structural databases and genome databases. Sophisticated text mining techniques can link related papers one to another, which may lead to the development of new scientific ideas or, alternatively question the significance of some results. This agreement between funders and publishers will help to maximise the value of research results, an outcome which is good for science and society."

A number of publishers already provide an open access option in accord with the principles agreed here including Springer, OUP and Elsevier....

“This statement demonstrates that funders and publishers can work together constructively for the benefit of scholarly communication”, commented Bob Campbell, Senior Publisher at Wiley-Blackwell....


  • I applaud this agreement.  When a funder pays a publisher to make an article OA, the publisher should remove permission barriers as well as price barriers.  But too often publishers have only removed price barriers.  This agreement to remove a key set of permission barriers is an important step forward that will help users get their work done (both human and machine users), help funders get full value for their investment, and help all players live up to the full BBB definition of OA.
  • For the first specific license to arise from these principles, see the license announced last week by Elsevier, and my comments welcoming it.  The Elsevier license is more progressive than the new statement of principles, explicitly permitting users to "access, download, copy, display and redistribute documents as well as adapt, translate, text and data mine content contained in documents...."  Note the rights to redistribute and translate, which Elsevier allows without restriction but which the statement of principles, in paragraph 3, allows only under a separate, apparently optional license.
  • I would like to see OA articles permit commercial reuse, but I don't expect TA publishers to permit commercial reuse.
  • The statement lists the publisher members of the drafting group but only refers to the funder members as "the funders of UK PubMed Central".  The UKPMC Funders Group consists of eight UK funding agencies, some public and some private, each of which requires OA to the results of the research it funds.

Update. Also see the press release from STM.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scirus indexes 26 more IRs

Scirus has added 26 institutional repositories from 10 countries to its search index.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Stevan Harnad on publisher dilemmas

Stevan Harnad, Gold Conversion: A Prisoners' Dilemma? Open Access Archivangelism, October 7, 2007.

Summary:  Given the undeniable, irreversible and growing clamour for Open Access (OA) worldwide, journal publishers face two Prisoners' Dilemmas. (1) The first concerns whether to continue business as usual, to mounting opprobrium from the academic community as well as the tax-paying public, or to convert directly to Gold OA now, at the risk that institutional subscriptions at current prices for incoming journals may not transmute stably into institutional "memberships" for outgoing article publication costs at the same institutional price. If publishers convert from institutional subscriptions to institutional Gold OA "memberships" today, they counter the opprobrium and lock in current subscription rates for a year (or whatever duration-deal is agreed with institutions), but they risk institutional memberships defecting after the duration elapses, with cost-recovery fragmented to an anarchic individual author/article level that may not be enough to make ends meet. (2) The second Prisoners' Dilemma facing publishers is that if they instead counter the opprobrium by converting to Green OA now (as 62% of them already have done), Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates may still force their conversion to Gold eventually, but because access-provision and archiving (and their costs) will by then be performed by the distributed network of mandated Green OA Institutional Repositories, the revenues (and expenses) of journal publishing then may be reduced from what they are now. (Perhaps this can all be integrated into just a single Prisoners' Dilemma -- or perhaps it is not a Prisoners' Dilemma at all: just the optimal and inevitable outcome of the powerful new potential unleashed by the online medium for the communication of peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific research.)

PS:  Though not evident from this summary, Stevan's full post includes a critique of Mark Rowse's idea for flipping a journal to open access that I summarized, elaborated, and recommended in the October issue of SOAN.

New EU project on the public domain

Communia is the new "European Thematic Network on the Public Domain in the Digital Age" from the EU's eContentPlus program.  From the site:

The COMMUNIA Thematic Network wants to place itself as the European point of reference for theoretical analysis and strategic policy discussion of existing and emerging issues to the public domain in the digital environment - as well as related topics including, but not limited, alternative forms of licensing for creative material; open access to scientific publications and research results; management of works whose authors are unknown (i.e. orphan works). The network will cover the whole geographical territory of the European Union as well as neighbouring and accessing countries; it will also build strategic relationships with third countries such as the United States, Brazil, etc, where similar policy discussion on the above topics ongoing.

The COMMUNIA project will base its 3-years long activity on a tight schedule of thematic workshops and conference (respectively, 3 and 1 per year) with the goal to maintain a strong link between all the participants and use face-to-face meetings as a source of material for the analytical and practical work of the project, including the production of a book; an academic journal; a "best practices" guide for European research and reference centres on the topics covered by COMMUNIA; a final strategic report containing policy guidelines that will help all the stakeholders - public and private, from the local to the European level - tacking the issues that the existence of a digital public domain have raised and will undoubtedly continue to raise.

The project was funded with one million Euros.  It was launched on September 1, 2007, and will end on August 31, 2010.

Update. Also see the Creative Commons blog post on Communia's kick-off meeting (Turin, September 28, 2007).

Review of UK science policy, minus OA

Lord David Sainsbury, The Race to the Top:  A Review of Government’s Science and Innovation Policies, HM Treasury, October 2007.  Also see the Treasury's press release on the report.


  • This review of science policy in the UK doesn't mention open access, except in one reference to OA for a database of patents.  It doesn't mention the OA mandates at the Research Councils UK, for example.  It doesn't recommend extending current OA policy, retreating, or even studying it. 
  • There are certainly many other major topics to cover.  But the report's focus is on "the role of science and innovation in ensuring the UK remains competitive in our increasingly globalised economy" (quoting the press release).  Is Sainsbury saying that OA has no role to play in stimulating innovation and keeping the UK competitive?
  • This reminds me of the May 2006 report from the Royal Society on communicating the results of science the public.  It didn't mention OA either.
  • David Sainsbury was the UK Under-Secretary of State for Science who refused to adopt the July 2004 OA recommendations of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.  While considering the recommendations, he met with OA opponents roughly twice as often as with OA proponents, and met with the Reed Elsevier CEO three times more often than with any other stakeholder. 

New OA repository for anthropology

Alex Golub, Please submit to Mana’o, Savage Minds, October 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

It is with great pleasure that I request submissions for MANAO —an Open Access repository for anthropology sponsored by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. In Hawai’ian “mana’o” means thoughts, ideas, knowledge, or opinions —when making decisions together people in Hawai’i often ask for each other’s mana’o. The Mana’o project combines anthropology’s commitment with the ideal of ‘open access’ with open source software’s focus on free technology. The goal is to provide tools that allow scholars to better communicate with each other and with the world.

Mana’o will ‘soft-launch’ in late-November 2007 during the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington D.C. We are currently inviting early adopters to submit work that will be featured in this launch. At the moment we are specifically interested in:

BA Theses
MA Theses
Ph.D. Theses
Articles in peer-reviewed journals
Papers given at academic conferences
Digitized books

If you would like to deposit your work with us, simply email it to and our staff will process it and deposit it in Mana’o. If you already have your publications online, simply send us the URL and we will process the material ourselves....

Anthropologists have long been concerned with making their world available to the public, including the communities with whom they have lived and conducted fieldwork. Mana’o represents an important step forward in creating concrete open access solutions for anthropology. I hope that you will be part of our initial program, and I look forward
to receiving your submission! ...

More on OA for cultural heritage in Germany

Ingo Bading, Museums- und Archivbestände öffentlich machen, Studium Generale, October 7, 2007.  Read the German original or Google's English.

Organizing institutional support for an IR

Fereshteh Afshari and Richard Jones, Developing an integrated institutional repository at Imperial College London, Program: electronic library and information systems,  41, 4 (2007) pp. 338-352.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – This paper aims to demonstrate how a highly integrated approach to repository development and deployment can be beneficial in producing a successful archive.

Design/methodology/approach – Imperial College London undertook a significant specifications process to gather and formalise requirements for its repository system. This was done through an initial proposal stage, and then the engagement of groups of College members with interest in the project to elucidate the requirements and allow the specification of a system that would be of genuine benefit. Then, using well understood technology for distributed systems, such as web services, and a well understood repository platform (DSpace), it was possible to undertake that work inside a structured project.

Findings – Demonstrates the advantages of producing integrated systems, especially with regard to lowering adoption barriers through easing academics' deposit workflows, introducing strong administrative tools for library administrators, and making research available in open access repositories in a well engineered environment.

Research limitations/implications – The service produced by the project is relatively new, and the long-term benefits or failings cannot yet be enumerated. The paper looks primarily at the management and organisational issues but does not deal with the technical details to any great extent.

Practical implications – A useful source of information for institutions considering heavy integration work and the use of the PRINCE2 methodology for engaging institutional support.

Originality/value – This paper introduces a heavily integrated repository system within UK higher education. A lack of literature on this topic suggests that this paper could be beneficial for others considering the same route.

Update. Here are two more articles from the same issue:

Update. There is now an OA edition of the Afshari-Jones paper.

Using TRIPS to pry open access to journal articles

Gavin Yamey, Using trade law to break publishing monopolies, PLoS blog, October 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Last Tuesday, I gave a talk at Stanford University to students and faculty about neglected tropical diseases, and I discussed the enormous difficulty that researchers in endemic countries face in accessing health research literature.

In the discussion session after the talk, an audience member (who was a former drug company rep) offered a fascinating suggestion. The audience member was Shahram Ahari MPH, co-author of a recent PLoS Medicine paper called "Following the Script: How Drug Reps Make Friends and Influence Doctors"....Shahram asked whether a case could be made to invoke the TRIPs agreement in order to disseminate journal articles in developing countries.

Here's a little background to explain why Shahram's idea is such a brilliant one.

The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO), is an international agreement that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property regulation (including patents on essential medicines).

In 2001 the WTO adopted the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which said that the TRIPS agreement “can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.” ...

Imagine a scenario in which a developing country is facing a national health emergency, and there's a research article that contains information that is highly relevant to addressing that emergency. Let’s say the emergency is an alarmingly high rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and a new study shows a major breakthrough in preventing such transmission. And let’s say that unfortunately the article copyright is owned by the publisher (not the author), and the article is locked away behind a typical subscription barrier (usually around $30 per person to view it).

Could the government, asked Shahram, invoke TRIPs to simply bypass the copyright holder and disseminate the article across the nation?

It would be an interesting proposition to test, and I’d be particularly keen to hear the views of lawyers or IP activists.

Using TRIPs to disseminate copyrighted knowledge could arguably save lives. Indeed the late James Grant, former executive director of Unicef, argued that: “The most urgent task before us is to get medical and health knowledge to those most in need of that knowledge. Of the approximately 50 million people who were dying each year in the late 1980s, fully two thirds could have been saved through the application of that knowledge.”

New OA journal of business research

Germany's Verband der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaft (German Academic Association for Business Research) has chosen OA for its new official journal, Business Research.  The journal has issued a call for papers for the inaugural issue, which is scheduled to appear in March 2008.

Librarians optimistic about OA

The LITA Blog has some notes on a discussion moderated by Gregg Silvis on libraries in 2023, apparently at the LITA Forum 2007 (Denver, October 4-7, 2007).  Excerpt:

The first question Silvis posed to the participants was, What if there were 100,000,000 books available for free in full text?

First the group critiqued NetLibrary’s business model, then brainstormed about a “killer app” that would make ebooks enjoyable to read. Some folks seemed more comfortable than others with the idea of a device that could be directly implanted into the optic nerve....

Whatever happens with ebooks, everyone agreed that maintaining equity of access will continue to be an important and central concern for libraries, and that our role as a place for people to connect will continue to be one of our mainstays.

Next, Silvis asked, What if copyright legislation were rewritten to more reasonably reflect real world practices?

We know we’re supposed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, to obey the speed limit, and thinking back on the prohibition era, to abstain completely from alcohol unless given a written prescription by a doctor (nice graphic, Gregg), but, well, you know how it is....

The conversation then turned to scholarly publishing, peer review, and one of my favorite topics, open access. There seemed to be a shared sense of optimism in the room about the future of scholarly publishing; specifically it was said that open access journals are developing a strong peer review infrastructure. That’s good news for those of us who won’t be up for tenure for a few years yet and who’d like to see all publicly funded research and scholarship be made freely available to everyone....