Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Official launch of Scitopia

Scitopia has moved out of beta and officially launched. 

Scitopia is a federated search engine for the journals of 15 society publishers.  The search engine is free to use, but the articles it finds are no more free to read than they were before.  I stand by my comments when Scitopia was first announced in April 2007.

OA spurring research and education

Joe Smydo, Internet fuels global learning community, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 16, 2007.  (Thanks to the Alexandria Archive Institute.)  Excerpt:

University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist Ron LaPorte said humanity benefits when the world's leading researchers share information about disease prevention.

He put that theory into practice seven years ago by creating Supercourse, an online library of 3,300 lectures in epidemiology, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. The lectures, accessible for free, were culled from Nobel Prize winners, professors and government researchers in 175 countries.

It's one example of the global, interdisciplinary learning fostered by the Internet. In field after field, the Internet is breaking down classroom walls and giving students and researchers unparalleled access to data and one another.

"This is the revolution I'd been dreaming about," said Dr. LaPorte, director of disease monitoring and telecommunications at the World Health Organization Collaborating Center at Pitt....

The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, was a 13-year, international, interdisciplinary effort to map the human genetic code. But the work is just beginning; the tremendous amounts of data posted online are being used as the starting point for other projects, just as organizers of the Human Genome Project intended.

"To my mind, this has been one of the most extensive opportunities for education in biology that there has ever been," said Dan Drell, biologist program manager with the U.S. Department of Energy, who worked on the Human Genome Project and now works on the Microbial Genome Project....

In the same vein as Supercourse are [arXiv], a Cornell University repository for articles on math, physics and related subjects; NIH's [PubMed Central], a site for biomedical and life sciences papers; and [Open Context], an archeology site developed by the California-based nonprofit Alexandria Archive Institute....

Because so much material is "open source," University of Washington astronomer and former Pitt faculty member Andrew Connolly called the Internet a democratizing force in science. Or, as Pitt's Dr. Larsen said, "You have the same chance as a Nobel guy." ...

Student scholarship in the age of OA

Eli Guinnee and Amy Buckland, Student Scholarship in the Open Access Age, a slide presentation, and audio, from the second annual GSLIS Skill Share at Simmons College (Boston, September 22, 2007), on the first year of operation for the OA Library Student Journal.  Guinee is the journal's founding editor and Buckland is the incoming editor-in-chief.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

The visible and invisible forms of anti-OA lobbying

Heather Morrison, Opposition to open access continues, while anti-OA coalition attempt implodes, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 19, 2007.

Abstract:    Opposition to open access continues, and so we OA advocates continue to have much work to do, to educate people about open access, and to counter misconceptions. However, in my opinion, the failure of PRISM is so complete as to suggest the possibility that the effort to build a publishing industry anti-OA coalition has imploded. If correct, this could be an important moment in the transition to open access; publishers who are no longer united in the fight against OA, are very likely to have more time and inclination to figure out how to make OA work.

Comment.  I agree that PRISM has failed, and even backfired.  But the publisher anti-OA lobby is well-funded and effective.  PRISM is only the public face of a lobbying campaign that continues unabated behind the scenes.  For recent signs of its work, see its success in reaching out to the White House and its success in persuading Senator Inhofe to add two harmful, last-minute amendments to the appropriations bill containing the provision that would mandate OA at the NIH.

Best practices from Australian repositories

Australia's RUBRIC project (Regional Universities building research infrastructure collaboratively) has released the RUBRIC Toolkit: Institutional Repository Solutions.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From the Toolkit's about page:

...The RUBRIC Project was funded to establish and develop institutional repositories in participating universities. The development of the repositories incorporates best practice emerging from other projects funded by DEST between 2002 and 2005, [especially] FRODO (Federated Repositories of Digital Objects) [and] MERRI (Managed Environments for Research Repository Infrastructure)....

The RUBRIC Toolkit is a legacy of the RUBRIC Project, reflecting the discussions, investigation, phases, processes, issues and experiences surrounding the implementation of an Institutional Repository (IR)....

The content for the RUBRIC Toolkit developed organically and collaboratively in the project wiki over an extended period of time. It was then refined and developed. Project members have populated the Toolkit with useful resources and tools that can be used by other Project Managers and Institutions implementing an IR.

The RUBRIC Toolkit was released in October 2007 and will continue to be updated until the end of the RUBRIC Project in December 2007. As such the Toolkit captures the "best" of available advice, experience and outcomes available for IR development in 2007 and provides links to further reading wherever possible.

SPIE Digital Library adds OA content

SPIE has enhanced its digital library by adding OA content.  From yesterday's announcement:

...The SPIE Digital Library was launched on the American Institute of Physics Scitation platform in June 2003. Scitation provides federated search, returning results from among publications of its 26 member societies in response to a single query. Scitation contains the world's largest collection of technical papers in optics and photonics science and engineering....

SPIE articles are among the most widely cited literature in patents related to optics and photonics, encompassing the broadest range of technologies in those topics.

New features of the SPIE Digital Library include: ...

  • Open access content. SPIE Letters, an online collection of rapid publications on topics of significant originality and interest from the six journals published in the SPIE Digital Library, presents a virtual table of contents with links to abstracts and free, full-text downloads of all letters in their parent journals....

The SPIE Digital Library includes approximately 250,000 articles from 1990 through the present published in [6 journals]....

PS:  SPIE was originally (in 1955) the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers.  But after several name-changes it decided this year to call itself simply SPIE.

Launch of an important European OA initiative

In Belgium last week, 14 European university rectors met at the University of Liege to launch a European campaign to persuade research institutions to adopt strong, local OA policies.  (Thanks to Alma Swan.)  From today's announcement:

On Thursday, October 18, the Rector of the University of Liege hosted the Rectors of the Universities of Trieste and Rome 2, Roma 3, Polytechnic of Catalonia in Barcelona, Vicenza, Porto, from Salford, Lancaster, Rotterdam (U. Erasmus), Turin, Antwerp, Ghent and Southampton, as well as the chairmen or directors of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the Instituto Superiore di Sanita, Caspur Consortium, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and a representative of the European Commission .

The purpose of the meeting was to establish the foundations of a European movement for Open Access to scientific and scholarly publications: EurOpenScholarship.

The Rector of U, Liege has been involved in the movement to free research publications from the financial straitjacket imposed on universities and research centers by the large publishers. Since 1993, while the price index rose by about 30%, journal prices have risen to more than 275%, making it impossible for a normally funded institution to access all the literature essential for conducting good research.

Despite the Berlin Declaration in 2003 and the European Petition of 2007, few universities have actually implemented a vigorous open access policy. That is why the Chancellor of U. Liege wanted to gather in Liege the senior leadership of the European universities that are the most advanced in this respect and to launch an initiative that provides a practical follow-up to the declaration already signed by so many research institutions.

The meeting resulted in the creation of the EurOpenScholarship whose goal will be to continue efforts by informing the European university communities about the opportunities available to researchers today for providing open access, as well as to establish, in the universities and research centers in Europe, a central institutional repository (in Liege, "DIGITHEQUE"), allowing publications to be deposited and, wherever possible, made openly accessible to all.

The University of Liege, which signed a massive OA petition in 2007 (the highest number of signatures from a single university) is positioning itself as a pioneer and clearly much of this is now considered the way of the future for scientific publication. The ambition is to spread this message across Europe.


  • This is important.  Universities can provide OA to their own research output without waiting for action by funding agencies or governments.  More than a dozen departments and universities around the world are already trying.  The Liege initiative is the first in which universities are acting in concert, both to work out strong policies for themselves and to persuade other universities to adopt strong policies.  Kudos to all involved, especially to Liege's rector, Bernard Rentier.
  • The University of Liege announcement not only gives the same news in French, but includes 22 photos of the event.
  • Liege itself adopted an OA mandate in March 2007.

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's 23 minute video, which was shown at the meeting.  Stevan writes:  "Please feel free to use it to promote Open Access Mandates and Metrics at your own institution. (The very brief intro is in French; the rest is in English.)"

Urgent action need to support the NIH bill

The provision to mandate OA at the NIH is in trouble.  Late Friday, just before the filing deadline, a Senator acting on behalf of the publishing lobby filed two harmful amendments, one to delete the provision and one to weaken it significantly.  We thought we'd done everything and only had to wait for the Senate vote.  But now we have to mobilize once more, and fast, to squash these amendments.  Here an announcement from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access:

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Tell your Senator to OPPOSE amendments that strike or change the NIH public access provision in the FY08 Labor/HHS appropriations bill

The Senate is currently considering the FY08 Labor-HHS Bill, which includes a provision (already approved by the House of Representatives and the full Senate Appropriations Committee), that directs the NIH to change its Public Access Policy so that participation is required (rather than requested) for researchers, and ensures free, timely public access to articles resulting from NIH-funded research. On Friday, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), filed two amendments (#3416 and #3417), which call for the language to either be stricken from the bill, or modified in a way that would gravely limit the policy’s effectiveness.

Amendment #3416 would eliminate the provision altogether. Amendment #3417 is likely to be presented to your Senator as a compromise that “balances” the needs of the public and of publishers. In reality, the current language in the NIH public access provision accomplishes that goal. Passage of either amendment would seriously undermine access to this important public resource, and damage the community’s ability to advance scientific research and discovery.

Please contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote “NO” on amendments #3416 and #3417. (Contact must be made before close of business on Monday, October 22). A sample email is provided for your use below. Feel free to personalize it, explaining why public access is important to you and your institution. Contact information and a tool to email your Senator are online [here]. No time to write? Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be patched through to your Senate office.

If you have written in support before, or when you do so today, please inform the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Contact Jennifer McLennan through or by fax at (202) 872-0884.

Thanks for your continued efforts to support public access at the National Institutes of Health.



Dear Senator:

On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to OPPOSE proposed Amendments #3416 and #3417 to the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill (S.1710). These amendments would seriously impede public access to taxpayer-funded biomedical research, stifling critical advancements in lifesaving research and scientific discovery. The current bill language was carefully crafted to balance the needs of ALL stakeholders, and to ensure that the American public is able to fully realize our collective investment in science.

To ensure public access to medical research findings, language was included in the in the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill directing the NIH to make a much-needed improvement to its Public Access Policy -- requiring that NIH-funded researchers deposit their manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine’s online database to be made publicly available within one year of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.  This change is supported by NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, and a broad coalition of educational institutions, scientific researchers, healthcare practitioners, publishers, patient groups, libraries, and student groups -- representing millions of taxpayers seeking to advance medical research.

Amendment #3416 would eliminate this important provision, leaving only a severely weakened, voluntary NIH policy in place. Under the voluntary policy (in place for more than two years) less than 5% of individual researchers have participated -- rendering the policy ineffective. The language in Amendment #3417 would place even further restrictions on the policy, ensuring that taxpayers – including doctors and scientists – are unable to take full advantage of this important public resource.

Supporting the current language in the FY08 LHHS Appropriations Bill is the best way to ensure that taxpayers’ investment in NIH-funded research is used as effectively as possible.  Taxpayer-funded NIH research belongs to the American public. They have paid for it, and it is for their benefit.

I urge you to join the millions of scientists, researchers, libraries, universities, and patient and consumer advocacy groups in supporting the current language in the FY08 LHHS Appropriations bill and require NIH grantees to deposit in PubMed Central final peer-reviewed manuscripts no later than 12 months following publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Vote NO on Amendments #3416 and #3417.

Comment.  The ATA is not exaggerating.  This is urgent.  If you're a US citizen, please contact your Senators and spread the word.  Note the short deadline.  Your Senators must hear from you before the end of business on Monday, October 22:  two days from now.

OA for drug data gleaned from journal literature

Free Access to Literature Data on Chagas' Disease Offered Online, a press release from Collaborative Drug Discovery, October 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. (CDD, Inc.) has captured extensive literature data from six years of recent publications focused on the fight against Chagas' disease. Now for the first time these data are available to researchers free of charge, via the CDD Database.

Sources include the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, the Journal of American Chemical Society, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Acta Topical, and Experimental Parasitology.

The data sets captured include 574 compound structures and just over 350 different enzyme, cell, animal, and toxicity based protocols. The data are conveniently organized so scientists can easily mine for hits, sub-structural motifs or keywords and obtain the original literature reference for more detailed analysis....

This project is the first of a series literature data capture projects focused on drug discovery research into neglected infectious diseases. In addition to literature data, community members also provide open access to some of their experimental results either pre- or post-publication....

A significant subset of all the community data -- and a range of other data sets such as Chagas' data -- is available openly to the public at no cost. For this historical set of data either visit [here]....

Comment.  This is exciting.  I don't know whether CDD can harvest these data without publisher permission, on the ground that the data elements themselves are uncopyrightable facts, or whether publishers have granted permission, on the ground that access to the data advances research without undercutting subscriptions.  Either way it's good news.

OA for Irish public geodata

Ryan announces free online access to Departmental spatial data, eGov monitor, October 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

Minister Eamon Ryan today announced that he would be making the bulk of the digital data held in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources available to people freely and easily online.

More than 5Tb of spatial data will now be made available for free download. These services will be made available via the Department’s website and the University sector’s internet backbone, the HEAnet.

Commenting on the announcement Minister Ryan said, “The free dissemination of this data is intended to stimulate the environmental, exploration, construction, and geoscience sectors. Some of the data could prove very useful for companies exploring for oil and gas resources for example. It will also provide important data for planners in achieving sustainable and responsible development and assist in the planning of major infrastructure projects.” ...

Friday, October 19, 2007

New OA journal on the commons

The International Journal of the Commons is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal published by the International Association for the Study of the Commons.  The inaugural issue is now online.  For more detail, see the editorial in the inaugural issue or today's press release.

OA book from Athabasca University

Athabasca University has published an OA book, Energy Management and the Environment: Challenges and the Future, edited by Anshuman Khare and Joel R. Nodelman, both from Athabasca's Centre for Innovative Management.  For more details, see the press release.

PS:  AU launched AU Press, with a focus on OA books, back in August.  Unfortunately, I can't find a URL for the new book on the press release, the AU home page, or the AU Press home page.

Update. The book is available here. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

Special issue of ZfBB on open access

The new issue of the Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie (Heft 4-5, 2007) is dedicated to open access.  All 22 articles are relevant --and toll-access, at least so far.  Two of the articles are in English, the rest in German.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Update (11/11/07). Five of the articles are now OA through the Humboldt University Berlin edoc-server. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Update. Here's another.

Update. Here's another.

Update. Klaus Graf has started a list on his blog of the OA editions of the articles in this special issue.

Senate action on NIH delayed until next week

According to a reliable source, the Senate will probably not act on the appropriations bill that would mandate OA at the NIH until next Monday or Tuesday. 

Apart from this, the latest news is in my update from yesterday.

Free online access for Booker-nominated novels

Man Booker Prize: Booker novels for download, The Telegraph, October 18, 2007.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

All the novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize could be made available online in a radical move being considered by publishers, it was reported today.

The short-listed authors for this year's Man Booker Prize

Negotiations are said to be in progress with the British Council to digitise the six shortlisted novels so they can be downloaded in full, all over the world.

It is hoped the initiative will capture new audiences - particularly in Asia and Africa - who may be unable to access the actual books.

Jonathan Taylor, chairman of The Booker Prize Foundation said the details of the plan are still being discussed. But it is thought to be linked to the 40th anniversary of the prize, which will be celebrated next year.

Those behind the venture hope it will boost, rather than detract from sales of the hard copy as readers who download the novel online, may be inspired to buy a paper version for themselves.

More than 10,000 publishers have already signed up to Google’s book-scanning project, which makes part of selected books available online. Initial results from the programme have suggested that publishing the tasters has increased sales of the books....

Comment.  I like this idea.  It echoes the recent decisions by the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics to provide free online access to the pathbreaking articles by this year's Nobel prize winners in physics.  When previously published work is recognized as important, then publishers who provide OA editions help spread important work and help secure their own reputations as publishers of important work.  In the case of science journal articles, there's very little revenue from old articles to undermine.  (I argue for this model at greater length in a 2004 article.)  And in the case of novels, it acknowledges the growing evidence that OA editions of full-text books can increase the net sales of print editions.

The proposed OA policies at Harvard and MIT

Ellen Duranceau, Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences Considering Open Access For Their Work, MIT Libraries News, October 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

Stuart Shieber, Harvard professor of computer science, introduced a motion to the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences on October 16 that would have the faculty uniformly grant a non-exclusive, limited license to Harvard to post their scholarly and research articles openly on the web.  

The final version of the motion has not been completed, but if passed, research articles authored by members of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences would be made freely available on the web, without permission or payment barriers to the reader, effectively making Harvard faculty work “open access.”

While this proposal is not university-wide (it does not, for example, cover the professional schools such as the medical, law, or business schools), it would apply to the entire Harvard College faculty, including every discipline studied by undergraduates, as well as the graduate school of arts & sciences, and the school of engineering and applied sciences.

Professor Shieber has been working on this issue for at least two years....

To take effect, the motion will need to be discussed further by the faculty and voted upon by the full faculty....

Related Efforts at MIT

Here at MIT, Professor of Geophysics Brian Evans has drafted a resolution under the auspices of the Faculty Committee on the Library System that addresses the same desire for open access to research that underlies the Harvard motion.  The draft resolution states that “Broad dissemination and rapid, free flow of information is essential to insuring vigorous intellectual debate and efficient progress in any academic field, humanistic, engineering or scientific; is a key ingredient in providing for informed public debate of critical social problems; and is an obligation for researchers receiving public funding” and it calls for MIT faculty to “support the general concept of open access, especially for publicly funded research, and recommend the use of the least restrictive copyright agreements, consistent with the academic and commercial intent under which the research was undertaken.”

Professor Evans spoke about the resolution at an IAP event in January 2007....

Video on the Open Content Alliance

For a short (five minute), inspiring video about the Open Content Alliance, see Libraries Going Open! and spread the word.  The OCA produced it for its annual meeting, Wednesday, in San Francisco.

Update. Also see some blogged notes on the meeting by GŁnter at HangingTogether.

250+ OA digital libraries and archives

The Online Education Database has compiled a list of 250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives.  Excerpt:

Hundreds of libraries and archives exist online, from university-supported sites to individual efforts. Each one has something to offer to researchers, students, and teachers. This list contains over 250 libraries and archives that focus mainly on localized, regional, and U.S. history, but it also includes larger collections, eText and eBook repositories, and a short list of directories to help you continue your research efforts.

The sites listed here are mainly open access, which means that the digital formats are viewable and usable by the general public. So, such sites as the Connecticut Digital Library (iCONN) are not listed, as they operate on the premise that the user has a Connecticut library card in his or her possession....

Open research helps national security

To Maintain National Security, U.S. Policies Should Continue to Promote Open Exchange of Research, a press release from the US National Academies.  (Thanks to Heather Joseph.)  Excerpt:

To strengthen the essential role that science and technology play in maintaining national and economic security, the United States should ensure the open exchange of unclassified research despite the small risk that it could be misused for harm by terrorists or rogue nations, says a new report by the National Research Council....

While concerns about certain types of research findings falling into the wrong hands are legitimate and safeguards are needed, the gains in science and technology that flow from the free exchange of information far outweigh the slight risks, the report says. Extreme measures to curtail the flow of essential information or people would significantly disrupt advances that are critical to U.S. military and economic security....

Although National Security Decision Directive 189 (NSDD 189) was enacted to assure that basic research remain open to publication and foreign participation, many government policies and practices have effectively reversed this in recent years, the report says....

After holding a series of regional meetings on university campuses with a broad range of officials from security and academic research institutions, the National Research Council committee identified specific actions that should be taken to foster open exchange of scientific research -- all of which could be addressed by the proposed Science and Security Commission. They include:

  • Ensuring that grants and contracts awarded to U.S. universities and research institutions do not restrict the publication of unclassified research....
  • Reviewing the number of research projects that are categorized as “sensitive but unclassified.” ...
  • [R]eviews are needed to justify limits on “deemed exports,” which refers to the transfer of information to a foreign national within the United States, such as a foreign-born scientist in a research laboratory or a graduate student.
  • Fostering a productive environment for international science and engineering scholars in the United States. Foreign-born researchers are significant contributors to U.S. science and technology endeavors, the report says. In fact, between 1990 and 2004, more than one-third of all Nobel prizes in the United States have gone to foreign-born recipients. The success of many U.S. universities and research institutions depends on attracting the best and brightest students both at home and abroad....

Comment.  The new report doesn't specifically recommend OA.  But it's of a piece with earlier reports from the National Academies recommending OA even for sensitive research, on the ground that the risk to security is outweighed by the many benefits, including the benefits for security.  For example, a September 2004 report recommended OA to the genome data on pathogens such as smallpox, anthrax, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever.  For more detail, and some reflections on the balance of openness and security, see my article in SOAN for September 2005.

Max Planck Society cancels 1,200 Springer journals

Richard Sietmann, Max Planck Society terminates licensing contract with Springer publishing house, Heise Online, October 19, 2007.

Following several fruitless rounds of talks the Max Planck Society (MPG) has, effective January 1, 2008, terminated the online contract with the Springer publishing house which for eight years now has given all institutes electronic access to some 1,200 scientific journals. The analysis of user statistics and comparisons with other important publishing houses had shown that Springer was charging twice the amount the MPG still considered justifiable for access to the journals, the Society declared. "And that 'justifiable' rate is still higher than comparable offers of other major publishing houses," a spokesman of the Max Planck Digital Library told heise online....

According to the MPG the failure of the talks with Springer marks "what for now is the high point" in a dispute with a number of globally operating scientific publishing houses. The soaring prices in the scientific information domain have already caused a change of attitude in a number of players. Thus MPG is one of the initiators of the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and the Humanities" -- the key demand of which is open access to the results of publicly funded research -- which to date has been signed by more than 240 scientific organizations.

When publishing houses have the market power to charge excessive prices and the legislator is unwilling to subject such inappropriate behavior to any form of legal control the only course that remains is for the scientific community to take matters into its own hands, the MPG stated. "Even at the very last minute the Springer publishing house had not been prepared to lower its inflated prices," MPG Vice President Kurt Mehlhorn said. "The MPG therefore had had no other option but to terminate the contract," he added.

Comment.  As far as I can tell, this is strictly about the reader-side subscription fees for Springer's subscription journals, not the author-side publication fees for Springer's hybrid Open Choice journals (which, importantly, are the same journals).  Hence, it's only relevant to OA in the way in which high subscription prices and mass cancellations are relevant to OA.  But it's one of the largest mass cancellations I've seen.  It's one more unmistakable sign that even affluent research institutions have breaking points, cannot continue to pay journal price increases, and suffer from significant access gaps.  It's one more sign that toll-access journals do not scale with the growth in published knowledge, especially when their prices rise faster than library budgets and faster than inflation.

Update. Also see the Max Planck press release, October 18, 2007.

My interview with Richard Poynder

Richard Poynder, The Basement Interviews: Peter Suber, Open and Shut?  October 19, 2007.  I'm grateful for Richard's good questions, his equal interest in depth and breadth, and the many opportunities he gave me for detail and reflection.  I've appreciated all his past interviews and am honored to part of his series.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Update on the Senate bill to mandate OA at the NIH

First see my post from yesterday on the White House Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) threatening to veto the bill in its current form.

Now see this news from Kelly Field in the Chronicle of Higher Education News blog:

In an effort to avert a presidential veto, Senate leaders have stripped language from a pending appropriations bill that would have expanded federal financing for research on human embryonic stem cells....

The move to drop the controversial language came this afternoon [October 17]....The Senate is expected to debate the bill for the rest of the week.

“We wanted to show that we are willing to compromise,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat of Iowa, in a floor statement. “We’re willing to try to meet the president halfway.”

But it’s unclear whether the concession will satisfy Mr. Bush, who has also threatened to veto the bill over its spending level....

Comment.  In yesterday's SAP, the White House outlined several grounds for the President's "strong opposition" to the bill.  The stem-cell provision was one of those --and the provision on the NIH was not.  If the Senate passes the bill in its new form, it's certainly possible that the President will still veto it.  But the very interesting possibility that he would not veto it has just become a couple of degrees more likely.  We'll see.

Stevan Harnad on what's needed and not needed for OA

Stevan Harnad, Time to Update the BBB Definition of Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, October 18, 2007. 

Summary:  The definition of Open Access (OA) is still young, and not yet etched in stone; it stands only to benefit from a rational, corrective update. Parts of the (increasingly gilded) BBB formulation turn out to have been unnecessary, counterproductive, and even incoherent. The right to re-publish, re-sell and create derivative works may be essential for Free Online Scholarship (FOS), and for the Creative Commons, but they are not essential for OA, and it would be an unnecessary, self-imposed handicap to insist that they should be, merely raising barriers to OA where there are and need be none. It is a good idea for authors to retain extra rights for their published articles, wherever possible, but it is definitely not a necessary prerequisite for Green OA self-archiving, nor for Green OA self-archiving mandates.

For the 62% of articles published in the Green journals that have explicitly endorsed the immediate OA self-archiving of the author's postprint, no further rights are needed to self-archive it, hence no further rights need to be negotiated as a precondition. And robotic harvesting and data-mining (Google, Scirus, OAIster) all come with the free online territory as surely as individual usage does.

For the 38% of articles published in non-Green journals, authors can still deposit them in their Institutional Repositories (IRs), immediately upon acceptance for publication, setting access as Closed Access. With the help of the IR's "Email Eprint Request" Button, this provides for (1) accessing, (2) reading, (3) downloading, (4) storing (5) printing-off, (6) individual data-mining, and (7) re-using content (but not text) in further publications. That is still not OA; it is only almost-OA: Missing is full-text (8*) robotic harvesting and (9*) robotic data-mining.

If all or most universities already mandated immediate-deposit as above (Open Access for the Green 62% and Closed Access for the non-Green 38%), there would be no problem at all about then going still further and trying to negotiate the retention of more rights -- even unnecessary ones! But instead declaring successful rights retention a precondition (by "definition') would simply hamstring self-archiving and self-archiving mandates, and hence OA.

PS:  There's much that I agree with here, mostly in the last three paragraphs, even though I believe the BBB definition of OA is right to call for the removal of permission barriers in addition to price barriers.  But I can't say more without saying much more, and I need time and space for that.  So for now I'll run Stevan's post without (additional) comment.  Note, BTW, that I've only run his summary and the full post is considerably longer.  For the full picture, please read his full post.

Repository software for architectural design data

The Art Institute of Chicago has developed the Digital Archive for Architecture (DAArch), an open-source modification of DSpace.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From the site:

The system is structured around the use of Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) metadata schema, and its underlying digital repository DSpace.

From the abstract of a conference presentation by Kristine K. Fallon, co-developer of DAArch (scroll down about 1/3 of the page):

...The Digital Archive for Architecture System - DAArch - is the culminating product of a three and a half year collaboration between the Department of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago and Kristine Fallon Associates, Inc. The final products of this collaboration include a functioning software system (DAArch) for ingest, cataloguing and archiving of electronics works, new accessioning process and legal documents appropriate for digital collections, methods for long-term preservation of digital design data, a small collection of catalogued digital architecture materials and guidance for the creation and maintenance of digital design data within architectural practices.

This effort began with the ground breaking study titled "Collecting, Archiving and Exhibiting Digital Design Data," published in 2004, which outlines best-practice scenarios for both museums and architecture firms and makes technical and organizational recommendations for establishing digital archives....

Genetic Alliance endorses OA mandate at NIH

The Genetic Alliance has released its October 17, 2007, letter to the Senate in support of an OA mandate at the NIH.  Here it is in full:

As an organization that includes more than 600 advocacy, research, and healthcare organizations that represent the interests of millions of individuals living with genetic conditions, we are writing to ask for your support to ensure that U.S. taxpayers have timely and free access to articles reporting on government-funded research. Specifically, we are interested in the inclusion of language put forth in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement a mandatory deposit policy for all research articles stemming from NIH-funded research. There has been extensive consideration of this change in policy and we request that the language neither change nor be removed from Appropriations measures.

American taxpayers are entitled to access on the Internet to the peer-reviewed scientific articles on research funded by the U.S. government. Widespread access to the information contained in these articles is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science.

Over the more than two years since its implementation, the NIH's current voluntary policy has failed to achieve any of the agency's stated goals, attaining a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual researchers. A mandate is required to ensure that NIH is able to track its investments and corresponding results in federally funded research, have a complete archive of this research, and enhance public access to these assets.

Background on the OA policy at the SSHRC

Christian Sylvain, Open Access and SSHRC, a presentation at Open Access: the New World of Research Communication (Ottawa, October 12, 2007). 

Abstract:   The presenter, Christian Sylvain, is the Director, Policy, Planning, and International Affairs of Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the primary funding agency for social sciences and humanities research in Canada. This session presents an overview of open access at SSHRC, beginning with the endorsement of the concept of open access by SSHRC Council in 2004. The objective is to remove barriers to access to publicly funded research, so as to increase circulation and impact. SSHRC funds research, and also has a subsidy program for academic journals in Canada. Discusses why SSHRC policy encourages rather than requires open access. SSHRC's focus is development of infrastructure, including the Synergies program, and plans to mainstream support for Open Access in the Aid to Journals program.

Interpreting current IR practices

Olyerickson, Collective Intelligence in the Institutional Repository:  Making DSpace Personal, PF-DSpace, October 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

Surveys of open repository adopters over the past two or three years have clearly highlighted the "institutional" nature of institutional repositories. The motivations for implementing IRs have always been those of the host institution, while the stated benefits to the individual user and contributor have either been those of the institution projected "down" to them, or happen to be shared goals such as enabling greater access to information or providing managed, long-term preservation of artifacts. Meanwhile, some of those same surveys identify sustaining a constant stream of contributions from the community as the chronic threat to the health of repositories; while all open repository platforms have been designed for self-service ingestion, it is a fact that the strongest and most current repositories are those that have professional staff who are responsible for content management, a luxury few institutions can afford. Even those institutions who have implemented mandatory submission policies, especially in light of increasingly "enlightened" publishers' policies on Open Access, still have not been able to achieve high levels of participation. The simple truth is that participation in an IR today represents extra effort for the busy scholar, effort that doesn't add real value to their research, their authorship, or their collaboration with others in their field.

We'd like to give researchers strong incentives to "live" within DSpace --- features that motivate them to spend significant time there, manage their content there, and make formal submission of content into the IR an easier and more natural part of their work. In general, we'd like their personal space or "desktop" within DSpace to be an amplifier of their research activities. For starters, we believe the user should have basic (but in this Web2.0 world, expected) capabilities available to them for relating their current activities and interests to other artifacts in local collections, so we're experimenting with features like item bookmarking and tagging within local collections and using this constructed "context" as a basis for recommending related items. We'd like to leverage this further as a basis for identifying and retrieving related items within that repository's federation (see our earlier notes on pf-dspace in this blog and elsewhere) and especially for identifying colleagues with related interests. And we want to apply this to identifying and harvesting related materials from other, heterogeneous sources such as external blogs, wikis, and web sources....

As scholarly journals increasing demand research to be submitted as "packages" containing not only text but also data sets and other content that has been culled from the set of collaborators and authenticated using robust techniques, the proper management of research artifacts in more active ways will become a central function of the IR....


  • By all means add new layers of utility to an IR, partly to help users and partly to increase incentives for authors to deposit.  But don't draw the wrong conclusions from the evidence of current practices.
  • For example, it may be that the most successful repositories have staff to make or assist with deposits, and it may be that the rate of author-initiated deposit is still low.  But it doesn't follow that the "effort [of self-archiving]...doesn't add real value to [authors'] research...."  It adds enormous value, primarily by increasing the author's audience and citation impact
  • Nor does it follow that busy authors labor under a real "extra burden" as opposed to a real but groundless fear of an extra burden.  Les Carr and Stevan Harnad have found that the time required for self-archiving averages 10 minutes per paper.  Alma Swan and Sheridan Brown have found that "Authors have frequently expressed reluctance to self-archive because of the perceived time required and possible technical difficulties in carrying out this activity, yet findings here show that only 20% of authors found some degree of difficulty with the first act of depositing an article in a repository, and that this dropped to 9% for subsequent deposits." 
  • Finally, it's not true that "Even those institutions who have implemented mandatory submission policies...still have not been able to achieve high levels of participation."  For the counter-evidence that mandates work to drive deposit rates toward 100%, see the empirical studies by Arthur Sale (one, two, three).

NetCoalition endorses OA mandate at NIH

NetCoalition has released its September 19, 2007, letter to the Senate, supporting an OA mandate at the NIH.  Here it is in full:

On behalf of the nation's leading Internet companies, I am writing to ask for your support for adoption of the National Institutes of Health's public access policy as part of S. 1710, the FY2008 Labor, Heath, and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, or any other appropriate legislation.

The proposed public access policy would require NIH-funded researchers to deposit copies of articles resulting from NIH funded research into the online archive of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central, no later than twelve months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

It is the mission of NetCoalition companies to help their users locate and access the information they need. The NIH public access policy would further this mission by placing valuable publicly-funded medical research in an online location where search engines operated by NetCoalition members could index and link to it.

The public access policy thus would simultaneously assist broad dissemination of important healthcare information and growth of the Internet. The NIH public access policy has been thoroughly vetted during the three years it has been before Congress. The House included it in its version of the FY2008 Labor, Heath, and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. Further delay would only harm the members of the public who could benefit from the availability of this potentially life-saving information.

New OA journal on participatory networks

Conversants:  The Future of the Journal is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Information Institute of Syracuse and ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP).  From the site:

Conversants is a limited-run, open-access journal about participatory networks....[T]he journal is a forum for the exchange of ideas relating to conversation-based theories as well as their applications in knowledge environments. Articles and essays are solicited not only to increase our understanding of participatory approaches to virtual and physical settings, but also to challenge the scholarly and practice communities. The emphasis of the journal is on durable concepts that transcend any particular technology or suite of functions.

UNESCO joins the World Digital Library

UNESCO and Library of Congress sign agreement for World Digital Library, an announcement from UNESCO, October 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

UNESCO and the US Library of Congress will join forces to build a World Digital Library, following the signing of an agreement by Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, and the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 17 October, 2007.

The World Digital Library initiative will digitize unique and rare materials from libraries and other cultural institutions around the world and make them available free of charge on the Internet. These materials include manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photographs.

From the afternoon of the 15th of October through the 19th, outside Room X at UNESCO Headquarters, a prototype of the World Digital Library will be demonstrated, and tested, before delegates of UNESCO’s 193 Member States attending the Organization’s General Conference. The prototype was developed by the Library of Congress and UNESCO with five other partner institutions: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the National Library of Egypt, the National Library of Brazil, the National Library of Russia, and the Russian State Library....

A key aspect of the project is to build digital library capabilities in developing countries, so that all countries and all regions can participate and be represented in the World Digital Library....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Benefits of OA preprints

I'm taking part in the Symposium on The Future of Scholarly Communication sponsored by Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy.  It just occurred to me that I should cross-blog my contributions here on OAN.

Since Ed Felten opened the symposium with a look at the Ithaka report on University Publishing in a Digital Age, my first post was a revised version of my OAN post on the report's weak understanding of OA.

Yesterday Ed asked the panel for their thoughts on the Old System in which access was delayed until peer review and publication and a New System in which access to preprints is immediate and peer review and publication take place after an initial wave of online discussion.  (Read his full post for details.)  Here's my response:

The New System supports two good things that facilitate research:  immediate access and open access.

Peer review is valuable but time-consuming.  Because it’s valuable, we should support it, conduct it, and take advantage of it.  But because it’s time-consuming, we should only let it delay certification, not access.

I agree with Stan [Katz] that the New System won’t work equally well in all fields.  It’s best suited to those fields, like physics and computer science, with an active preprint culture.  My field (philosophy) doesn’t have one, but I do my part by providing immediate open access to my own preprints.  He’s also right that some scholars fear exposing their work to plagiarism and disqualifying it for journal publication.  But a preprint exchange can actually deter plagiarism by making it as easy to detect as it is to commit.  And the number of journals outside medicine that refuse to consider articles that have circulated as preprints is rapidly declining.  On the other side, preprint repositories put a timestamp on their deposits and can establish the author’s priority over others who may be working on the same problem.  This is a large advantage that helps explain the rise of science journals over science books in the 17th century.

The drawback to the New System is that immediate open access is limited to unrefereed preprints.  Sometimes we’re willing to dive into the slush pile and use our own judgment to sort the better from the worse among the papers with some keyword relevance to our current research.  But sometimes we’re not willing, and sometimes we’re not competent.

However, this drawback isn’t a reason to shun preprint exchanges, either as authors or as readers.  It’s a reason to cultivate them so that researchers have a choice.  When we’re willing to use our own judgment and spend a little more time exploring the wilderness, we’ll turn to the preprint exchanges.  When we want the benefit of peer review, we’ll only have to wait for it. 

If we're smart, we'll also provide open access to the peer-reviewed postprints.

More on OA articles for teaching and learning

Bora Zivkovic, Open Access for the Classroom, A blog around the clock, October 16, 2007.  Excerpt:

When I went to the Lawrence Hall of Science with Janet, I wore a PLoS T-shirt, of course. The volunteer at the museum, a high school student..., saw my shirt and said "PLoS! Awesome!"

I asked her how she knew about it and why she seemed to like it so much and she told me that they use it in school all the time because it is full of cool information, it is free to read and free to use in presentations and such. Obviously, for her and similar students, the material in scientific papers does not go over their heads, no matter how dry the Scientese language used to write them. And a high school is certainly not going to be able to afford subscriptions to a variety of science journals and magazines. So Open Access is the ideal solution to bring the science to the next generation....

And of course, the same goes for college classes as well.

Milestone for Wikimedia Commons

The Wikimedia Commons now has more than two million files on deposit.  From its announcement:

Wikimedia Commons, the multilingual free-content media repository managed by the Wikimedia Foundation, reached the milestone of two million uploaded files on October 9, 2007, less than a year after it reached one million. This makes Wikimedia Commons the fastest growing large Wikimedia project. The rapid growth reflects the young age of the project, launched just over three years ago in September 2004. Since March 2007, Wikimedia Commons has routinely had over 100,000 files uploaded every single month. It is now not uncommon for over 5,000 files to be uploaded in a single day. The largest single-day figure so far has been the 9th of September 2007, when a huge 9719 files were uploaded in a mere 24 hours.

Two million is a minor notch on the statistical belt for Wikimedia Commons, as the community focuses on technical and social tools and measures to make the collection easier to use and navigate....

Andy McGregor on JISC support for OA archiving

Promoting open access - how JISC is supporting the development of repositories, a podcast by Andy McGregor, released October 17, 2007.  From the JISC description:

Repositories are being established and developed across the UK to help make research papers and other resources freely available to all who want to use them. In this podcast, JISC programme manager Andy McGregor speaks with Philip Pothen about the recent developments in this area and how JISC’s work is beginning to impact on further and higher education.

Different institutional visions of institutional repositories

Lorcan Dempsey, Processes and repositories, Lorcan Dempsey's weblog, October 16, 2007.  Excerpt:

...A couple of repository launches have come over my horizon in recent weeks.

The first is the Digital Conservancy at the University of Minnesota, which I mentioned the other day. This aims to provide services in relation to two classes of material: faculty research outputs and university administrative materials that traditionally would have gone to the University Archives. As I suggest in my post this makes a lot of sense: the repository aims to support the full range of institutionally produced intellectual outputs.

The second was the Open University's Open Research Online, "a repository of our research publications and other research outputs." In this case, the service aims to provide support for all the research outputs of OU academics. So, what you will find are deposited open access materials. However, you will also find citations to books, journal articles, and so on, which are not actually available in the repository: you may be referred to a publisher site. The repository aims to provide a full record to research activity, not only the open access materials.

What we have here, then, are well-worked through services which offer overlapping but different views onto their University's intellectual outputs. This is not a major issue as universities work towards a view of what should be offered and what their constituencies value.

However, in the longer term, lack of agreement about services and supporting processes may be a barrier, on the management side where different systems support is needed, or on the user side where different services from different universities may lead to confusion, reducing the gravitational pull that familiarity supports....

USC also puts lectures and events on YouTube

Two weeks after the U of California at Berkely announced its own YouTube channel for OA videos of lectures and events, the U of Southern California has launched a YouTube channel of its own.  (Thanks to Wired Campus.)

White House response to proposed OA mandate at NIH

This morning the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the Senate appropriations bill containing the provision to mandate OA at the NIH.  Excerpt:

The Administration strongly opposes S. 1710 because, in combination with the other FY 2008 appropriations bills, it includes an irresponsible and excessive level of spending and includes other objectionable provisions....

S. 1710 exceeds the President’s request for programs funded in this bill by nearly $9 billion, part of the $22 billion increase above the President’s request for FY 2008 appropriations. The Administration has asked that Congress demonstrate a path to live within the President’s topline and cover the excess spending in this bill through reductions elsewhere, while ensuring the Department of Defense has the resources necessary to accomplish its mission. Because Congress has failed to demonstrate such a path, if S. 1710 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.

The Administration strongly opposes provisions in this bill that overturn the President’s policy regarding human embryonic stem cell research....

Public Access to Research Information. Provisions in the bill would require that manuscripts based on NIH-funded research be made available to the public within 12 months of publication. The Administration notes that NIH’s current policy requesting the voluntary submission of manuscripts has only been in effect for 2 years, and the Administration believes there is opportunity to work with Congress to study the current policy and consider ways to encourage better participation. The Administration believes that any policy should balance the benefit of public access to taxpayer supported research against the possible impact that grant conditions could have on scientific research publishing, scientific peer review and on the United States’ longstanding leadership in upholding strong standards of protection for intellectual property....

The Administration strongly opposes...the elimination of the longstanding definition of abstinence education that keeps these programs focused solely on abstinence....


  • The bill is on the Senate floor for a vote as I write.  The President's SAP is a last-ditch effort to influence the vote.
  • Two things matter for OA:  First, if the Senate passes the bill, the President will veto it.  Second, the OA mandate at the NIH will not be one of the reasons for the veto.
  • I included some other parts of the SAP in order to show that the President strongly opposes many parts of the bill, including its total fiscal cost, but does not strongly oppose the OA provision.  The paragraph on the NIH policy picks nits but does not use the strong language used elsewhere in the SAP to express opposition.
  • I believe this is the first time that any OA policy has appeared in a Presidential SAP.  Until now, the issue has generated debate in Congress but largely with the indifference of the White House.  The change is entirely due to the publishing lobby, which has taken its case to the executive branch.
  • For background on the bill now before the Senate, including President Bush's threatened veto, see my article in the August issue of SOAN.
  • I'll have more to say about the SAP and post-veto strategies in the November issue of SOAN.

More on the proposed Harvard OA policy

Johannah S. Cornblatt and Samuel P. Jacobs, Faculty Meetings Stay Off the Air, Harvard Crimson, October 17, 2007.  This article covers several topics aired at a recent Harvard faculty meeting.  This excerpt is all that it has to say about the proposed OA policy:

[The Harvard Faculty of Arts of Sciences] discussed ways to combat the skyrocketing prices of scholarly journals in order to increase access to their ideas.

A committee spearheaded by Provost Steven E. Hyman proposed a set of measures to promote free and open access to scholarly articles.

“It gives the faculty the opportunity to democratize knowledge, much in the spirit of President Faust’s inaugural address,” said Harvard’s new University Library chief, Robert C. Darnton ’60.

According to Darnton, a scholar of the history of the book, prices for some journals have increased to tens of thousands of dollars, altering libraries’ purchasing habits and suppressing the demand for monographs and other writing.

Some professors worried the University’s open-access policy would put journals out of business, limiting outlets for publication.

“We might be shooting ourselves and our young colleagues in the foot,” Professor of Anthropology and of African and African American Studies J. Lorand Matory ’82 said....

PS:  For more background on this policy, see the Crimson story from September 27 (or my blog excerpt), and the Crimson editorial from October 2 (or my blog excerpt).

Does green OA support text- and data mining?

Stevan Harnad, How Green Open Access Supports Text- and Data-Mining, Open Access Archivangelism, October 16, 2007.  This is a response to Peter Murray-Rust's post from earlier the same day, Why Green Open Access does not support text- and data-mining, which you should read first.  (I blogged PMR's post yesterday but without an excerpt.)  Excerpt:

Summary:  Data-mining robots like SciBorg can harvest Green OA full-texts, self-archived in their authors' Institutional Repositories (IRs) and “repurpose” them for better functionality. The postprint is the author’s own refereed, revised final draft. Green journal publishers endorse author posting of postprints in their own IR, free for all. The author can certainly revise that draft further, making additional corrections, updates and enhancements, including marking it up in XML and adding comments. Those corrections need not be done by the author's own hands: They could be done by a graduate student, a collaborator, a secretary, or a hired hand. The author could also have SciBorg “repurpose” his postprint -- under one trivial condition, easily fulfilled, which is that the locus of the enhanced postprint, the URL from which users must download it, remains the author’s own IR, not a 3rd-party website. It is not only unnecessary but would be highly inimical to the progress of Green OA mandates to insist instead that the Green publisher’s endorsement to self-archive the postprint in the author’s IR is "not enough" for full-blooded OA — that the author must also successfully negotiate with the publisher the retention of the right to assign to 3rd-party harvesters like SciBorg the right to publish a “derivative work” derived from the author’s postprint.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Case study of a no-fee OA journal

Paul G. Haschak, The 'platinum route' to open access: a case study of E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Information Research, October 2007.  Abstract:  

Introduction. In 1999, with no money and no support from any library organization, the author partnered with the International Consortium for Alterative Academic Publication (ICAAP), later renamed the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication, to found a new electronic journal, The Journal of Southern Academic and Special Librarianship, renamed E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship in 2002.

Description. This case study is based on the author's own experiences founding and developing a professional, independent, permanently archived, peer reviewed, open-access, electronic library journal, employing a scholar-led model of publishing. The author's partnership with the ICAAP is discussed emphasizing the benefits of this collaboration.

Conclusion. The ICAAP has demonstrated to the world that is possible to form independent scholarly journal publishing projects outside of the commercial mainstream. Also, the ICAAP has shown that there is an alternative to paying commercial publishers hundreds and even thousands of dollars to buy back the scholarly research of our colleagues in academia. The alternative is starting and/or supporting scholarly journal publishing projects that take the 'platinum route' to open-access. Everyone is encouraged to work to make academic research free and freely accessible on the Web for one and all.

More on removing permission barriers

Stevan Harnad, Green OA Moots Permission Barriers By Bypassing Price Barriers, Open Access Archivangelism, October 16, 2007.

This is Stevan's lengthy response to my response to his post of October 14.  Sorry for presupposing the earlier stages of this thread.  I'm posting only the most relevant parts of his new post, along with my new response.  But to be fair to his full argument, read his full post.  My new response is at the end.

In Open Access News, Peter Suber wrote (by way of reply to my posting):

PS: ..."Stevan isn't saying that OA doesn't or shouldn't remove permission barriers. He's saying that removing price barriers (making work accessible online free of charge) already does most or all of the work of removing permission barriers and therefore that no extra steps are needed."
So far this is exactly correct -- except I would definitely say that Green OA self-archiving removes not just "most" but all the "permission barriers" pertinent to research use, which is what OA is all about.... 
PS: "The chief problem with this view is the law. If a work is online without a special license or permission statement, then either it stands or appears to stand under an all-rights-reserved copyright. The only assured rights for users are those collected under fair use or fair dealing. These rights are far fewer and less adequate than OA contemplates, and in any case the boundaries of fair use and fair dealing are vague and contestable."

If "naked" (unlicensed) content on the web is really a barrier to use, how come we are not hearing about the need to license all web content (e.g. advertisements, blogs) because people are otherwise afraid to download, print, store and otherwise "re-use" them? (Answer: Because people are doing all those things, without hesitation.)
I think the truth is the exact opposite! That the default option, if something is freely accessible on the web, is that it's fine to do all those other things that come with it, and then some. (You can't even view web content without downloading and "storing" at least for long enough to read, yet that downloading and storing are not explicitly licensed!) ...

PS: "This legal problem leads to a practical problem: conscientious users will feel obliged to err on the side of asking permission and sometimes even paying permission fees (hurdles that OA is designed to remove) or to err on the side of non-use (further damaging research and scholarship). Either that, or conscientious users will feel pressure to become less conscientious. This may be happening, but it cannot be a strategy for a movement which claims that its central practices are lawful."

Paying permission fees for Green OA content? Paying whom?
I honestly cannot imagine who or what you have in mind here, Peter!...

I am not feigning puzzlement: I am truly baffled about why, when the reality is the exact opposite, OA advocates, of all people, would worry that web users might be too coy (or "conscientious") to do with OA texts exactly the same things that we all do with all other free web content -- and too coy or "conscientious" to do so specifically in the case OA texts, of all things, because they lack a formal license to do it (exactly as virtually all other web content lacks such a license!)....

I make absolutely no bones about the fact that the right to re-publish the verbatim text, online or on-paper, is not part of OA and never was....

PS: "This doesn't mean that articles in OA repositories without special licenses or permission statements may not be read or used. It means that users have access free of charge (a significant breakthrough) but are limited to fair use."

"Fair use" was a paper-based notion. In the case of the online medium, "fair use" quite naturally, indeed unavoidably, expands to include everything else that comes with the online territory. In the case of freely accessible web documents, that "fair use" simply includes downloadability, storeability, printability, and data-minability, for individuals; and, for harvesters: robotic harvestability, data-minability, and certain derivative services (though I would not venture to specify which, though they certainly include free boolean searchability). With the Green OA territory comes also the accessibility online to everyone everywhere, mooting forever all need for collections, course-packs, re-publications, or other such "derivative works," online or on paper. For individual "derivative works," some form of "fair use" criterion still has to apply to determine how much verbatim content is permissible without the original author's permission.


  • I agree with Stevan that when people find "naked" or unlicensed content online, many use it without hesitation.  My point was not about behavior but about the law.  Copyright law does not permit all this reuse, even if it permits some of it. 
  • "[I]f something is freely accessible on the's fine to do all those other things [download, print, store and otherwise "re-use" them]...and then some."  This is incorrect.  Only fair use is permitted by default, and fair use has limits. 
  • "Paying permission fees for Green OA content?"  I wasn't talking about paying for permission to use green OA content, but to use non-OA content.  I was talking about a hurdle that OA removes, not a hurdle that OA leaves in place.
  • "I am truly baffled about why, when the reality is the exact opposite, OA advocates, of all people, would worry that web users might be too coy (or "conscientious") to do with OA texts exactly the same things that we all do with all other free web content."  When I talked about "conscientious" users, I meant those who want to respect the limits on fair use and avoid copyright infringement.  Again, Stevan is right that many or perhaps even most users are not conscientious in this sense.  But the rise of OA does not depend on the decline of conscientiousness.  It depends on copyright holder consent to uses beyond fair use --that is, the removal of permission barriers.  We could dispense with this step if we ever amended copyright law to expand the scope of fair use.  But we needn't wait that long and we cannot proceed on the incorrect assumption that fair use is already that expansive.
  • "I make absolutely no bones about the fact that the right to re-publish the verbatim text, online or on-paper, is not part of OA and never was...." The three major public definitions of OA all make copying and redistribution part of OA.  The Budapest definition says:  "By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles...."  The Bethesda and Berlin definitions both ask the copyright holder to permit users "to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works...."
  • "'Fair use' was a paper-based notion. In the case of the online medium, 'fair use' quite naturally, indeed unavoidably, expands to include everything else that comes with the online territory."  This is incorrect.  Fair use may expand for online media, but it still has limits, and these limits are decided by courts, not by users.  New technologies may make new law desirable, but they don't make new law on their own --any more than (in Jeremy Bentham's phrase) hunger is bread.

Update.  For the dialogue between Stevan and Peter Murray-Rust on the same questions, see this (including the comments) and this

Open source software for streaming OA policies

The University of Stuttgart Open Access Policies Project has released the alpha version of oaPAPI (Open Access Policies API), open-source software to create a single XML stream from the OA policies of multiple online resources.  From the site:

oaPAPI is a tool that was designed to combine information about open access polices of several publishers from multiple data-sources into one single xml-stream. But it is also interesting by the method which is able to image and rebuild any xml-stream with a very flexible database, without any limitation on a fixed number of fields. The first utilized data-source is the API of the SHERPA-RoMEO project..., the second data-source is a very simple set of mediawiki-pages. Other sources (xml,csv,...) may follow. The code has been developed at Stuttgart University Library by the oa-policies project.  It is planned to enhance the tool by involving further institutions like the Humboldt-University in Berlin and developers of existing repositories and journal information services. This is the first (alpha) release of the code with full tested functionality, but without graphical client.

OA resources on respiratory tract infections

K.N. Fragoulis and three co-authors, Open access World Wide Web resources on upper and lower respiratory tract infections, The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, November 2007.  Abstract:  

Background: Respiratory tract infections represent a common problem in everyday practice. The development of the World Wide Web can assist clinicians and other medical care professionals in finding useful information on various clinical conditions, including upper and lower respiratory tract infections.

Methods: To identify websites containing information for health care professionals on upper and lower respiratory tract infections, we searched popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo. We also reviewed the sites of major institutions as well as relevant organisations and professional societies and associations. Only those sites that included material in the English language, were open access and developed by a governmental and/or academic institution, or a national or international professional society or associations were included.

Results: We selected 106 sites that provide information on upper respiratory tract infections and 67 sites that provide information on lower respiratory tract infections.

Conclusions: We tried to identify freely available Internet resources with relevant information on upper and lower respiratory tract infections. We believe that the list of relevant World Wide Web resources we generated may be useful as an educational tool for clinicians and trainees.

More on removing permission barriers

Catriona J. MacCallum, When Is Open Access Not Open Access?  PLoS Biology, October 16, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[A]s open access grows in prominence, so too has confusion about what open access means, particularly with regard to unrestricted use of content—which true open access allows. This confusion is being promulgated by journal publishers at the expense of authors and funding agencies wanting to support open access....

It seems we are finally witnessing a sea change in scientific communication. But with this welcome trend comes a more insidious one to obscure the true meaning of open access by confusing it with free access. As the original Bethesda definition makes access allows for unrestricted derivative use; free access does not. So the beauty of open-access publishing is not just that you can download and read an article for personal use. You can also redistribute it, make derivative copies of it...use it for educational purposes..., or, most importantly, for purposes that we can't yet envisage....

New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer demonstrated the distinction succinctly. He discusses a recent case where Wiley threatened legal action after a neuroscience graduate posted some figures from one of their journal articles on her blog (despite the fact that this is already permitted under terms of “fair dealing” or “fair use”). His response was:

“Compare Shelley's experience to what I'm about to do. I'm going to —shudder— reprint a diagram from a journal. Just lift it straight out. ….And what do I now hear from PLOS? Do I hear the grinding of lawyerly knives? No. I hear the blissful silence of Open Access, a slowly-spreading trend in the journal world. PLOS makes it very clear on their web site that “everything we publish is freely available online throughout the world, for you to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) any way you wish.” No muss, no fuss....”

Other journals purporting to be “open access” or publishers with an “open-access option” are not all that they seem. Take, for example, the journal Molecular Systems Biology. This is listed as an open-access journal by the DOAJ and published by the Nature Publishing Group....The publisher charges a publication fee (like PLoS) and publishes their content under a Creative Commons license (also like PLoS). But that's where the similarities end. The Creative Commons license used is actually very different, despite the fact that at the bottom of the HTML version of any of their articles, there is a statement that the article is licensed under the “Attribution” license. However, when you click through to the full version, you are presented with the most restrictive Creative Commons license available, the “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works” license. The article can still be downloaded and redistributed (for personal use), but permission from the publisher is required for any additional derivative use....What exactly have the authors—or, more likely, their funding agencies—agreed to pay for here? It is certainly not open access as defined by the Bethesda Statement....

[PS:  Here omitting a sidebar on five journals and their licenses.]

Some journals do not claim to be fully open access but provide an “open-access option” that permits articles to be deposited in PMC and thus conforms to the minimum guidelines set by, e.g., the Wellcome Trust. But confusion abounds here as well....

Does the distinction between free and open access really matter if anyone can read the article for free? Isn't open access just about making the literature available? Well, yes and no. Free access is certainly important, but it's only the starting point. At least of equal importance is the potential for innovation. We don't know yet what innovation means with regards to the full text of an article—who could have predicted the impact GenBank would have or the uses that sequences are now being put to? As one colleague put it, free access is like giving a child a Lego car and telling her that she can look at it, perhaps touch it, but certainly not take it apart and make an airplane from it. The full potential of the work cannot be realized.

What's worrying is that there are already examples of publishers restricting use of their “free-access” articles, even in international repositories. For example, some of the publishers that currently allow their articles to be deposited in the US PMC will not allow those same articles to be mirrored and made available from the UK site (a list of these journals can be found [here]). It's hard to understand the reasoning for this limitation—after all, the articles are freely available from the US site....

It is now time for all publishers to tighten the definition and application of open access and be clearer about the uses and restrictions applied to their articles. Open access is a term that should only be used when the license permits both free access and unrestricted derivative use (and gives appropriate attribution). Authors and funders need to be much more aware of the small print before inadvertently signing away their rights and those of their readers and, even worse, paying good money for the privilege.

Perhaps the real key to establishing a broad consensus around the meaning of open access will be the development of resources that demonstrate the potential of unrestricted reuse of the literaturethe “Lego factor.” If certain work is not included in these resources because of restrictive license agreements, authors will probably pay much closer attention to the claim that a publisher is “open access.” Enlightened self-interest can be a powerful force.

Recent news on OA in the developing world

Charlotte Webber, Open access and the developing world - read the latest, BioMed Central blog, October 15, 2007.  A useful compendium of recent blog posts from around the net.

The story of the Amedeo Challege

Attilio Baghino, The Amedeo Challenge: Promoting Free Medical Textbooks, Flying Publisher, 2007.  A new 66 pp. book available in both an OA edition and a priced/print edition.  Excerpt:

Who is Amedeo? What are the driving forces behind the project?  What is Free Medical Information? How can free medical textbooks such as HIV Medicine generate money? And what the hell are the Amedeo textbook awards?

In October 2007, [Bernd Sebastian Kamps, founder of Amedeo] will issue a call for donations. If every subscriber to his Amedeo, Free Medical Journals, and FreeBooks4Doctors donates 10 Euro, they will collect enough money to create 100 free textbooks, thus generating a textbook value of more than 500,000,000 Euro.

PS:  I'm a big fan of the Amedeo Challenge, which raises money to pay physicians to write OA medical textbooks.  See my past blog posts on it.

Reminding faculty about the IR, cont.

Yesterday I posted a note about how librarians at Queensland University of Technology used their blog to remind faculty about the IR.

Here's an example from the librarians at Loughborough University:

...Michael Jensen has coined the term Authority 2.0 to describe the issues surrounding reliability, quality and reputation etc in an environment  in which anyone can participate. His article makes for some interesting reading, however it is the final sentences that send a particularly potent message:

"Perhaps most important, if scholarly output is locked away behind fire walls, or on hard drives, or in print only, it risks becoming invisible to the automated Web crawlers, indexers, and authority-interpreters that are being developed. Scholarly invisibility is rarely the path to scholarly authority".

Whilst Jensen was not making an explicit plug for the notion of open access to research via institutional repositories, the message is clear – if you do not make your research as publicly available as possible, you will be invisible.

If you would like to find out more about how Loughborough’s Institutional Repository could make your research more visible please contact one of the team.

OA portal on carbon capture

University College London has launched the Carbon Capture Legal Programme, an OA portal "which aims to provide an authoritative, independent and objective source of up to date legal information on Carbon Capture and Storage."  For more details, see yesterday's announcement.

OA and library technical services

Andrew Waller, Technical Services and Open Access : A Few Challenges, Feliciter, 53, 5, pp. 241-243. 

Abstract:   As a "new thing", Open Access bring issues for libraries, many of which relate to technical services. This paper briefly looks at some of these: licensing and Open Access; possible effects of the lack of a "purchase"; making Open Access content accessible to users; and dealing with non-OA journal material.

Fall JEP

The Fall issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles:

  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick, CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts.  No abstract.
  • Matthew Mayernik, The Prevalence of Additional Electronic Features in Pure E-Journals.  Abstract:   "Electronic journals are offered in many forms, some available in both print and electronic form, and some in electronic form alone. Purely electronic journals have had the opportunity to develop new features and formats that take advantage of the online environment. This paper uses a genre-based analysis to look at online journals in two fields, physics and psychology, focusing on whether purely electronic journals do in fact feature elements and formats that would be impossible to present in print form, and the prevalence of such features across the fields. Journals were examined for the use of non-linearity, interactivity, multimedia, multiple use, and rapid publication. The results of the study indicate that additional features are only selectively used in electronic journals, and suggest that few incentives exist for authors and publishers to utilize additional features more, as conventionally structured articles fulfill the needs of the scholarly journal article genre."
  • Paul Peters, Redefining Scholarly Publishing as a Service Industry.  Abstract:   "The landscape of the scholarly publishing market has been largely defined by subscription-based publishing models that have existed since the earliest days of scholarly journal publishing. If there is a widespread shift from these subscription-based models to an open-access model based on publication charges, the fundamental nature of the scholarly publishing industry will transform from that of a content-providing industry to a service-providing industry. The benefits that this transformation will bring to the research community are in many ways as important as the benefits that an open access model will have in terms of increasing online access to scholarly literature."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nutrition foundation converts its journal to OA

Starting in January 2008, the Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition will convert to OA, move from Taylor & Francis to Co-Action Publishing, and change its name to Food & Nutrition Research.  The journal is owned by the Swedish Nutrition Foundation.  From the October 12 announcement:

...Co-Action Publishing is pleased to announce that a contract signed with the Swedish Nutrition Foundation last week will guarantee that Food & Nutrition Research (formerly Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition) will publish all content Open Access, free of subscription fees, as of January 2008....

Commenting on the decision to drop subscription fees, Editor-in-Chief Professor Nils- Georg Asp, MD, states, “Through an Open Access publishing model, Food & Nutrition Research opens an important forum for researchers from academic and private arenas to exchange the latest results from research on human nutrition, including support for health claims on foods and food supplements. Importantly, Open Access means that a wide audience - including policy-makers and even consumers - can directly access quality-controlled results from human nutrition studies. In turn, this means wider distribution and greater impact for the authors publishing in Food & Nutrition Research.” ...

The online nature of the journal also means full access to papers within just a few weeks after acceptance, and authors can enjoy unlimited color, the inclusion of multi-media, links to data sets, and unlimited use of their own material.

The journal will be funded by a combination of modest publication fees, which are generally covered by an author’s institution or funding agency, online advertising and commercially sponsored Open Access supplements to the journal. An annual low-cost print edition of the journal will be available to those libraries and individuals who wish to purchase a copy....

Under a Creative Commons license, authors will retain the non-commercial copyright to their work, and other users will be free to download, copy, distribute and re-use materials for any educational purpose as long as the original source is duly attributed.

Update. Also see Alex McNally's article on the launch in Food Navigator for October 23, 2007.

Connecting digital libraries to eScience

The October issue of the International Journal on Digital Libraries is devoted to Connecting digital libraries to eScience.  (Thanks to Glen Newton.)  Not even abstracts are free online, at least so far.  Judging only from their titles, here are the OA-related articles:

Citing a blog

Citing Medicine, the style guide from the US National Library of Medicine, now has instructions on how to cite a blog.  (Thanks to Boing Boing.)

Docs on the early history of the SSHRC OA policy

This will be useful for historians tracking the early discussion of funder OA policies.  Maximilian Forte has found two statements from 2004 on the possibility of an OA policy at Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and posted them to his blog for archival purposes. 

  • One is a document he wrote himself for the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (CSAA).  At the time he was an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University College of Cape Breton.
  • The other is by Joanne Gallivan, Dean of Research at University College of Cape Breton.

Comment.  In January 2004, the SSHRC called for public comments on an organizational "transformation", but didn't specifically propose an OA policy.  (Details formerly here, but the link is now dead.)  It didn't call for public comments on OA until August 2005.  (Details formerly here, but the link is now dead.)  It issued its first statement on OA in October 2004, and then a second statement, retreating from the first, in April 2006, and launched a funding program for OA journals in April 2007.  Forte's documents are helpful for two reasons:  anything from 2004 is early enough in the process to be notable, and the SSHRC has broken links to its some of its own historical documents.

Reminding faculty about the IR

ePrints, Google and Open Access, LibraryFIT, October 15, 2007.  A useful reminder from librarians at Queensland University of Technology to faculty about OA and the institutional repository. 

People do not need to know about QUT ePrints to find ePrint records. The magic of ePrints records is that they are highly ‘Google-able’. Typically a new ePrint record will be searchable in Google within 1 week of being made available on QUT ePrints. Articles that you publish in a journal are generally only available to subscribers. The subscription barrier denies access to some potential readers, limiting the potential number of citations that the article will accrue. Providing an “open access” copy to supplement the journal version can ensure that citations are not lost.

Most journals allow authors to provide open access to their own version of their article (i.e. the final draft version) even when copyright has been transferred to the publisher. This information is normally contained in the ‘rights retained by authors’ section of the journal’s publication agreement. Here at QUT, we ask authors to upload their final corrected Word version of their journal articles to QUT ePrints. The Library checks the publisher’s policy on open access and sets an appropriate access level. The Library also converts the file to PDF, adds any required copyright statements and links the ePrint record to facilitate access to the copy-edited version.

Update to Australian guide to OA repositories

The Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law project (OAK Law) at Queensland University of Technology has updated its Guide to Developing Open Access Through Your Digital Repository.

I blogged Version Two of this document back on April 20, 2007.  The new edition is dated September 2007, but doesn't use version numbers.

Also see Arthur Sale's brief review of the new edition.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What does and doesn't come with the territory

Stevan Harnad, Re-Use Rights Already Come With the (Green) OA Territory: Judicet Lector, Open Access Archivangelism, October 14, 2007. 

Summary:  Not one [Peter Suber], not two [Robert Kiley], but three [Peter Murray-Rust] of my valued OA comrades-at-arms have so far publicly registered their disagreement with my position on "re-use" rights. Here is my summary of the points at issue: Judicet Lector.

Individual re-use capabilities: If a document's full-text is freely accessible online (OA), that means any individual can (1) access it, (2) read it, (3) download it, (4) store it (for personal use), (5) print it off (for personal use), (6) "data-mine" it and (7) re-use the results of the data-mining in further research publications (but they may not re-publish or re-sell the full-text itself: "derivative works" must instead link to its URL).

Robotic harvestability: In addition, (8*) robotic harvesters like Google can harvest and index the freely available Web-based text, making it boolean full-text searchable. (9*) Robotic data-miners can also harvest the full-text, machine-analyse it, and re-use the results for research purposes (but they may not re-publish or re-sell the full-text itself: "derivative works" must instead link to its URL).

OA is about access and use, not re-publication or re-sale: Online re-publishing or re-sale rights were never part of OA, any more than on-paper re-publishing or re-sale rights were; nor do they need to be, because of all the capabilities that come with the free online territory.

The Green OA territory: Capabilities (1)-(9*) all come automatically with the Green OA territory. Hence there is no need to pay for Gold OA to have these capabilities, nor any need for further re-use rights beyond those already inherent in Green OA. Sixty-two percent of journals today already endorse immediate Green OA self-archiving.

Gold OA includes Green OA: If you do elect to pay a publisher for Gold OA, you also get the right to deposit your refereed final draft ["postprint"] in your own OA Institutional Repository. Hence even here there is no need for further "re-use rights." (If you pay for "Gold OA" without also getting this Green OA, you have done something exceedingly foolish.)

"Harvesting rights"? If authors self-archive their articles on the web, accessible freely (Green OA), then robots like Google can and do harvest and data-mine them, and have been doing so without exception or challenge, for years now.

What about Gray publishers? With Gray publishers (i.e., neither Green nor Gold) the interim solution today is (i) Immediate Deposit (IDOA) Mandates, (ii) Closed Access deposit for Gray articles, and (iii) reliance on the semi-automatized "Email Eprint Request" ("Fair Use") Button to provide for individual researchers' usage and re-usage needs for these Gray articles during any Closed Access embargo interval (but note that the Fair Use Button cannot provide for robotic harvesting and data-mining of these embargoed full-texts).

Extra Gold OA rights? For those articles published in the 38% of journals that are still non-Green today, I think that to rely on (i)-(iii) above is a far better interim strategy for attaining 100% OA globally than to pay hybrid Gray/Gold publishers for Gold OA today. But regardless of whether you agree that (i)-(iii) is the better strategy in such cases, what is not at issue either way is whether Gold OA itself requires or provides "re-use" rights over and above those capabilities already inherent in Green OA -- hence whether in paying for Gold OA one is indeed paying for something further that is needed for research, yet not already vouchsafed by Green OA.

Comments.  I hope no one minds if I reprint my comments from June 12, 2007, in which I responded in detail to a very similar post by Stevan:

  • Stevan isn't saying that OA doesn't or shouldn't remove permission barriers.  He's saying that removing price barriers (making work accessible online free of charge) already does most or all of the work of removing permission barriers and therefore that no extra steps are needed.
  • The chief problem with this view is the law.  If a work is online without a special license or permission statement, then either it stands or appears to stand under an all-rights-reserved copyright.  The only assured rights for users are those collected under fair use or fair dealing.  These rights are far fewer and less adequate than OA contemplates, and in any case the boundaries of fair use and fair dealing are vague and contestable.
  • This legal problem leads to a practical problem:  conscientious users will feel obliged to err on the side of asking permission and sometimes even paying permission fees (hurdles that OA is designed to remove) or to err on the side of non-use (further damaging research and scholarship).  Either that, or conscientious users will feel pressure to become less conscientious.  This may be happening, but it cannot be a strategy for a movement which claims that its central practices are lawful.
  • This doesn't mean that articles in OA repositories without special licenses or permission statements may not be read or used.  It means that users have access free of charge (a significant breakthrough) but are limited to fair use. 

Update.  I've often pointed out that the BBB definition of OA requires the removal of permission barriers, not just the removal of price barriers, and I stand by that.  Klaus Graf has just collected some of my past statements to this effect along with some of his own.  (Thanks, Klaus.)

Princeton symposium on the future of scholarly communication

The Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton is hosting a blog-based Symposium on the Future of Scholarly Communication.  From Ed Felten's introduction:

Welcome! For the next two weeks or so, we’ll be conducting an online symposium on the future of academic publishing. We’ve convened a strong group of panelists for a discussion in blog (or serial essay) format. Our panelists include Ed Felten (Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton), Ira Fuchs (V.P. for Research in Information Technology, Mellon Foundation), Paul DiMaggio (Professor of Sociology, Princeton), Peter Suber (author of Open Access News, and Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College), Stan Katz (Public and International Affairs, Princeton, and President Emeritus, American Council of Learned Societies), and David Robinson (Associate Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Pinceton)....