Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Supply and demand in a world without scarcity

Glyn Moody interviewed Mike Masnick in The Guardian, November 1, 2007.  Masnick is the author of Techdirt.  The conversation focuses on music, movies, and news, but how far do Masnick's observations transfer to research literature?  Excerpt:

...One of the hallmarks of Techdirt is your series about the economics of goods that can be copied infinitely, like digital music. What's the background to this interest?

In business school, there was one class taught by an economics professor who did a lot of research within the open source world and the economics at play. I remember a lot of people taking that class thinking this was a crazy economist talking nonsense, and then as you start to work through the economics it began to occur to me, he was right.

Could you summarise your ideas in this area?

The basic concept is simply that the traditional economics of supply and demand don't disappear when you have a product that is infinitely available. Economics traditionally has been about resource allocation in the presence of scarcity. The realisation here is that it doesn't break down, it's just that you need to understand what it means when a product is infinitely available, and that tends to be that the price is going to get driven to zero. The trick then is recognising what other things that infinite good makes more valuable....

All this is fine in theory, but how are we going to get there in practice?

What starts to happen is you see more stories of organisations that do successfully embrace the new. And from that, you get a bigger set of case studies that prove to others in that industry like, oh wait, there is a way to embrace this, make people happy and still make money - and perhaps make even more money....

Update on the OA mandate at NIH

(1) On Thursday, the House-Senate conference committee finished the job of reconciling the House and Senate versions of the LHHS appropriations bill (containing the OA mandate at the NIH).  The committee also decided to yoke the resulting bill together with a second appropriations bill on Veterans Affairs.  President Bush had threatened to veto the former, but expressed support for the latter.  The idea, clearly, is to make it harder for him to veto the combined package.  Earlier in the process, Bush threatened to veto a three-bill combo, but has not indicated his thoughts on this two-bill combo.

(2) An authoritative source tells me that the NIH provision in the final LHHS bill survived the conference committee intact.  But I haven't been able to confirm this yet from a public source.  If true, this means the OA mandate has cleared another major hurdle.  The last hurdle remaining is the possibility of a Presidential veto. 

For reasons not to despair in case Bush does veto the bill, and for some of our post-veto strategies, see my article in yesterday's issue of SOAN.

(3) When Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) withdrew his two anti-OA amendments to the LHHS appropriations bill, he and Sen Michael Enzi (R-WY) filed a "colloquy" or speech to be added to the legislative history.  Its primary purpose was to influence the conference committee to strike or weaken the NIH provision before sending the bill to the president.  Here's the text of the colloquy (from the Congressional Record for October 23, 2007), complete but for the opening and closing courtesies:

Mr. ENZI. ...Mr. President, I am concerned about a provision in the fiscal year 2008 LHHS appropriations bill that would change the National Institutes of Health, NIH, public access policy to a mandate requiring that private sector commercial and nonprofit journal articles be made freely available for worldwide access on an online NIH Web site.

As ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, HELP, Committee, I am concerned that this matter has not been reviewed by our committee, the committee of primary jurisdiction over the NIH. This issue has been handled through the appropriations process, and I believe that the HELP Committee should study the issue and determine the best and most appropriate manner to implement and improve the current voluntary policy. In the Statement of Administration Policy, SAP, issued last week, the administration echoed this sentiment and called on Congress to review the policy and balance the need for public access against the impact it could have on scientific publishing, peer review and intellectual property. The private sector invests hundreds of millions of dollars in the peer review process which vets scientific research, and I believe that a change in the NIH public access policy could undermine that investment.

I would respectfully ask when this bill is conferenced that the section of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill mandating the NIH public access policy be modified so it may receive further study by the committees of jurisdiction to ensure that it achieves its goals without unintended negative consequences.

Mr. INHOFE. I would like to add my voice to Senator ENZI’s concern regarding the NIH public access mandate that would force private sector publishers to make their articles freely available on an NIH Web site. I am concerned that this proposal will harm the journal businesses, hurt scientific communication, and impose a severe regulatory taking on commercial and nonprofit publishers. I also believe that this change in policy could have a negative impact on the intellectual property protections for scientific journal articles. I believe this issue is different from making underlying scientific data available. I believe that federally funded scientific raw data should be available for other researchers to review. I would also ask that Senators HARKIN and SPECTER agree to work with me to revise this NIH provision when this bill is conferenced.

Mr. HARKIN. I remain committed to retaining the provision in conference as it is written in the Senate and House Labor-HHS appropriations bills. I will be happy to work with the Senators from Wyoming and Oklahoma to ensure that the policy is implemented as smoothly as possible for the NIH, researchers, and scientific publishers.

Mr. SPECTER. I thank the Senators from Wyoming and Oklahoma for their concerns about the NIH public access policy, which I share. I will work with the chairman to closely monitor the policy’s implementation....

The conference committee decided to disregard the Enzi and Inhofe reservations.

Another reverse-embargo journal from LMS

The London Mathematical Society has launched the Journal of Topology, published by Oxford University Press.  Like the three other Oxford-published LMS journals, this one is not OA, but it uses the rare and interesting access policy that could be called the reverse-embargo model:  users worldwide have free online access for the first year after publication, whereupon the articles move behind a pay wall. 

For details on the Journal of Topology, see the November 1 announcement.

More on society publishers with OA journals

Gavin Baker, Scholarly societies and open access publishing, This place is pretty ugly, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

In the latest SPARC Open Access Newsletter, Peter Suber posts the results of research with Caroline Sutton on scholarly society publishers with open access journals. At its core is a list of open access journals affiliated with scholarly societies and various characteristics associated; the post contains some analysis. The list and analysis also considers society journals with hybrid open access options.

The information is quite interesting, and practical (for decision-makers and OA advocates). The authors note that they’d like to explore the topic in greater depth. Here, then, are my comments — hopefully useful for Phase Two.

The number of societies involved, and the number of journals published, is large, accounting for 16% of the Directory of Open Access Journals (450 out of 2900). The number of open access journals is considerably larger than the number of journals with hybrid OA options (450 vs. 73).

The geographic base of OA-publishing societies is broad — 57 countries/regions — compared to just 5 countries/regions with hybrid journals (93% of which is composed of the US and UK). (Note: I’m not clear whether the “geographic location” listing in the chart is based on the society’s location or the journal’s. For example, European Physical Journal is published by Societá Italiana di Fisica; the location is listed as “Europe”. I’d appreciate if the authors could clarify this.)

Similarly, the publisher:journal ratio for open access journals is much lower than that of hybrid journals. “Most societies publishing OA journals publish just one. […] Only five societies publish just one hybrid journal.” To suggest some possible causes for this, it might be that societies publishing multiple journals do so because publishing is a profitable endeavor for them, and therefore they’re more concerned about loss of revenue. Or perhaps societies with more emphasis on publishing are simply more hesitant to make rash decisions with their journals. Maybe it’s because their executives receive bonuses based on the financial performance of the publishing division. These might be avenues for the authors to explore in Phase Two....

I hope, concurrent with the Phase Two research, the authors refine this for publication in a journal. That’ll make a more powerful citation and get it seen by more readers. It’ll also force the authors to iron out some of the niggling methodological issues, including those noted here and in the original post itself....

Some information I’d like to see in Phase Two, in addition to the topics already noted in the original post and those noted above:

  • information about society publishers with policies that permit self-archiving (from SHERPA/RoMEO)
  • information about society publishers whose journals are delayed OA (though I’m not sure where one would find this information)
  • when these journals became OA
  • whether these journals were born OA or converted from pre-existing toll-access journals
  • whether these societies also publish toll-access journals or have converted entirely to OA
  • a more complete listing of impact factors / Eigenfactors for these journals
  • a definitive listing per journal on whether the publication meets the BBB definition of OA
  • more clarity on the definition of “scholarly society” (e.g. the World Health Organization is listed as a publisher here; it seems a stretch to say the WHO is primarily a scholarly society; same with the American Federation of Teachers, primarily a labor union)

A final note: The authors mention that their list of scholarly societies that publish OA journals is significantly longer than recent lists of societies opposed to OA government policies (specifically, the US National Institutes of Health self-archiving mandate). The authors do caution against a direct comparison, but they leave out the fact that their list of scholarly societies is worldwide, while presumably only societies based (or with substantial members / activities) in the US would speak out about policies of the US government. I count 82 unique OA-publishing societies based in the US, plus 8 unique US societies with a hybrid-option journal; adding the 12 unique international OA-publishing societies, there are perhaps 102 OA-publishing or -offering societies who might reasonably be interested in US policy, significantly less than the 425 the authors were using in their comparison.

Coincidentally, of the 9* US societies with a hybrid-option journal, four signed the Association of American Publishers letter opposing an NIH mandate:

Someone with more time on their hands can do the cross-check of their 82 OA-publishing US societies.

PS:  This is just the kind of follow-up Caroline and I hoped to get:  the re-crunching of Phase One data, the methodological nits, and the suggestions for Phase Two.  Thanks, Gavin.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Digitization and OA at Harvard

Joshua Kearney, From Widener to the World Wide Web, Harvard Crimson, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

...The Open Collections Program is an example of Harvard’s foray into the digital realm. The project was started in 2002 and...has...launched two open collections. The two topics covered are “Women Working 1800-1930” and “Immigration to the United States 1789-1930.” ...

The other important player in the digitization of Harvard’s libraries has been the Google Library Project....

Robert C. Darnton ’60, the current director of the Harvard University Library, says Google has its shortcomings.

“I don’t think Google is the big rock candy mountain; Google isn’t going to solve all the problems,” Darnton says. “But I do think that open access is something that really matters.” David D. Weinberger, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, also acknowledges the virtues of Google, saying, “If the fastest way to [provide open access] is to involve a commercial company, then it makes sense to me.” ...

“It’s not just open collections or open access as it goes according to the current formulas, but openness in general so that Harvard, which has these great intellectual riches, can share the wealth with the rest of the world,” says Darnton. But Darnton—new this year as director of the University Library—also sees much room for improvement with the current information systems.

“Why can’t all dissertations be made fully accessible online? Why can’t we have lecture notes, and reserved reading, and course packs, and all kinds of what’s called ‘gray literature’...why can’t we make everything, this whole world of scholarly communication available free?” asks Darnton. “It seems to me that the new information society of the 21st century should be open, accessible to everyone, and that Harvard should take the lead in making that happen.” ...

Digital publications still cluster in areas of science, technology, and medicine, and the high prices of these materials are subject to the whims of publishers. While the faculty of Harvard is fighting to obtain the rights to their own published works so that they can be used free of charge, the library system has to continue to pay indefinitely....

Both Verba and Darnton share an opinion that digitization may not impair book readership and sales, but could actually boost them instead....

Advice to young scientists

Stephanie Pfirman and four co-authors, Maximizing Productivity and Recognition, Part 1: Publication, Citation, and Impact, Science, November 2, 2007.

...In this series, we use our own experiences, combined with insights from the literature, to provide junior scientists with strategies for increasing research productivity, recognition, and impact. Here, we focus on publications and citations. In our next article, we offer tips for collaboration and networking....

To make your future work as accessible as possible, publish in journals that are indexed by ISI and in journals that allow full-text open access. The easier it is for others to find and use your work, the better. A recent study found that open-access articles were twice as likely to be cited in the first half-year after publication and almost three times as likely to be cited within about 16 months (Eysenbach, 2006)....

PS:  For some elaboration, see my version of the same advice.

Rhetorical strategies to support OA

Marcus Banks, Talk at the Public Library of Science, Marcus' World, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

This morning I gave a talk at a Public Library of Science (PLoS) staff meeting, to express my concern about some of the rhetorical strategies used to support open access publishing....

Health sciences librarians have been among the strongest supporters of open access publishing. Traditional, subscription based journals are increasingly unaffordable. Plus, in many cases public funds have supported the research that appears  in scholarly journals --to the extent that this is true, the research is a public good that should be available for everyone.

These arguments for open access still resonate with me, but over the years I've grown weary of rhetoric that tars all traditional publishers --even scholarly societies operating on tight budgets, for whom journal subscriptions are a key source of revenue-- as being on the wrong side of scientific progress.  What seemed so simple and right when I was a PLoS booster in 2004 feels complicated in 2007.

But even so, I still support the mission of PLoS; I hope that people perceived my talk as a way to have an honest discussion among friends.

There were two central points, related to each other: 1. that the rhetoric on behalf of open access can be too simplistic; 2. and that this rhetorical battle with traditional publishers is unnecessary because we are moving into a future in which scholars will publish more than just papers. It  is possible that interactive publications which contain multimedia and 3D elements will become the norm.

As defined by the National Library of Medicine, an interactive publication is a  "self-contained multimedia document that enables reader control over media objects and reuse of media content for further analysis." Assuming that publishing an old-fashioned paper becomes passe, I argued for focusing instead  on shaping a future that contains maximum access to such publications.

PLoS staff members (both in person in San Francisco and over the phone from the UK) asked some tough questions.  Several people pointed out that if the rhetoric opposed to traditional publishing becomes too tame, we could set ourselves up for never achieving full open access.  At one point a staff member presented a fully fleshed out theory of rhetoric--that it's OK to praise tentative steps towards open access (such as a scholarly society publisher might take) in private, while pushing hard in public for full open access immediately. The logic is that a tough public line is one means of setting the terms of debate. My response was that pushing too hard could stimulate a well-organized (and funded) response from publishers, so that it's best to be cautious....

How libraries handle OA resources and educate users about OA

Anna K. Hood, SPEC Kit 300:  Open Access Resources, Association of Research Libraries, September 2007.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  The link points to the OA executive summary and conclusion.  The full report is a 140 pp. book available for $40 from Amazon.

From the executive summary:

Faced with ever-increasing journal subscription costs and declining library collections budgets, libraries are expanding their collections by making open access (OA) research literature available through their catalogs, Web sites, open URL resolvers, and other resources....

The purpose of this survey was to gather information on whether and how ARL member libraries are selecting, providing access to, cataloging, hosting, tracking usage of, and promoting the use of open access research literature for their patrons by using established library resources such as the OPAC and link resolvers....

The survey was sent to the 123 ARL member libraries in March 2007. Seventy-one responses were received by the deadline, a return rate of 58%. All but one of the survey respondents provide access to OA resources. These 70 libraries represent 57% of the ARL membership.

From the conclusion:

Almost all of the ARL member libraries that responded to this survey provide access to open access literature, linking to externally hosted content and hosting OA content on their servers. Many of their institutions have made formal statements in support of open access efforts and the majority of these libraries provide financial support for external OA resources by paying author fees, etc. Some provide financial support for locally hosted content that is in addition to hosting and staff time....

In most libraries the selectors and the selection criteria are the same as for other materials, especially other electronic resources.

Cataloging methods and staff are also largely the same for OA resources as for other electronic resources....

In addition to providing links to a variety of externally hosted OA resources, the responding libraries also host a wide range of OA resources on their own servers. These resources include digital collections and archives, pre-publication material, lectures, primary source material, finding aids, theses and dissertations, grey literature, Web sites, and databases, as well as journals. As with print collections, the libraries provide storage, access, and maintenance for these local digital collections.

The most common place to list OA resources is the library’s primary finding aid, the OPAC. They also can be found along with other electronic resources on Web pages, in open URL resolvers, and in other third-party title lists or portals. Of course, locally hosted resources are often found directly by searching institutional repositories.

While most libraries promote OA recourses in the same ways as other resources, many of the responding libraries are actively educating faculty and students about open access and other issues in scholarly communication and make a point of introducing this relatively new type of resource through Web sites, newsletters, campus forums, flyers, and blogs....

Regardless of whether they choose to distinguish between open access and traditional, subscription-supported resources when selecting, processing, and promoting materials, ARL member libraries have embraced open access resources and integrated them into their existing workflows....

LibriVox releases its 1,000th free audiobook

LibriVox just announced the milestone of its 1,000th free online audiobook.  Excerpt:

Well, we did it. We just cataloged our 1,000th book, and for that a huge thank you must go out to everyone who has ever said or written the word LibriVox. Thank you first to the readers for lending their voices to something wonderful; to the Book Coordinators who pull things together; to the Meta Coordinators who get all this audio up on the net; to the Moderators who keep things running smoothly on our forum. And of course the other people: the proof listeners, the catalog development team, the web site designers and fixers, and all the forum volunteers of every stripe.

And more: to our listeners, and supporters, to Dan for keeping the servers running; to the Internet Archive for providing hosting for all our media, which makes it all possible; to Project Gutenberg (and other public domain projects) for liberating all this wonderful text onto the web.... started in August 2005 with a simple objective: “to make all public domain books available as free audio books.” Thirteen people collaborated to make the first recording, Joseph Conrad’s “Secret Agent.”

Two years later, LibriVox has become the most prolific audiobook publisher in the world - we are now putting out 60-70 books a month, we have a catalog of 1,000 works, which represents a little over 6 months of *continuous* audio; we have some 1,500 volunteers who have contributed audio to the project....We have recordings in 21 languages....

We are always looking for new volunteers! Come join us.

PS:  The Open Library from the Open Content Alliance has been using LibriVox audiobooks since late 2005.

October Ariadne

New OA journals coming from MedKnow

MedKnow Publications will launch three peer-reviewed OA journals in 2008:

A number of other MedKnow OA journals have been included in PubMed, Science Citation Index, and CABI.  For details, see the MedKnow what's new page.

Update. Also see Andrew Leonard's comments.

November issue of SOAN

I just mailed the November issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the recent vote in the Senate to require open access for NIH-funded research, and at the surprisingly large number of learned societies that publish OA journals.  The round-up section briefly notes 118 OA developments from October.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Citizendium is one

Citizendium is one year old.  From its birthday press release:

...[M]ore than 2,100 people have joined as authors and editors and 3,300 articles are under development. The project has tripled its article count since its public launch last March. Also, the rate at which it creates new articles has tripled in the last ten months and doubled in the last one hundred days.

“We’ve grown nicely, and are now clearly accelerating,” said the project’s founder and Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Larry Sanger, who is also co-founder of Wikipedia. Sanger, in a progress report, used the occasion to “debunk myths” about the project, acknowledge significant progress, announce several new initiatives for the expert-guided online project, and make some bold predictions....

The project has been virtually free of the sort of vandalism and irresponsibility for which other Web 2.0 projects are frequently criticized, partly because real names are required for participation. By allowing self-driven public contribution, with oversight by editors who are established experts in their fields, there is a framework to ensure dynamic growth without sacrificing quality and credibility.

“Some said it couldn’t be done, but the Citizendium proves that experts and the general public can work together collaboratively to create high quality encyclopedic content,” said Sanger....

UK Prime Minister endorses public access to public info

Michael Cross, PM embraces the notion of easier access to government data, The Guardian, November 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

The case for allowing free access to data collected and held at taxpayers' expense has received endorsement from the top of the British government. In his speech on civil liberties last week, Gordon Brown, the prime minister, said: "Public information does not belong to government, it belongs to the public on whose behalf government is conducted."

Brown's speech acknowledged the power of the web to give access to information about public services. "The availability of real-time data about what is happening on the ground - whether about local policing or local health services - is vital in enabling people to make informed choices about how they use their local services and the standards they expect."

Brown is also considering opening new parts of the government's digital archives....

However, the prime minister did not mention how his enthusiasm for allowing citizens access to data squares with the policy of encouraging some publicly-owned bodies to charge for data sets, especially for re-use in web mashups and other products. But Locus, a trade association, welcomed the speech. "Next time we hope he will focus on re-use," it said.

We agree. Over the past 18 months, our Free Our Data campaign has argued that the government should stop attempting to trade in information, but instead make its unrefined data (except where it threatens privacy or national security) freely available to all comers.

Later this month, an independent review commissioned by the Treasury will report on the costs and benefits of the current "trading fund" model....

Open letter to the ACS, and a response

Janet D. Stemwedel blogged an Open Letter to the ACS on October 25, and yesterday received a reply from Rudy Baum, Editor in Chief of Chemical & Engineering News.

From Stemwedel's letter:

Like Revere and the folks at The Scientist, I received the series of emails from "ACS insider" questioning the way the American Chemical Society is running its many publications -- and in particular, how compensation of ACS executives (and close ties to the chemical industry) might influence editorial policies at ACS publications.

The ACS disputes the details of the anonymous emails, so I won't have much to say about those. But as an ACS member (who is, at present, participating in an ACS regional meeting), I'd like to ask the Society for some clarity.

Does each member matter to the ACS?

We all pay our membership dues, whether we work in academia or industry, in research of chemical education, whether a student, a full professor, a CEO, or a chemist who has been laid off to improve the bottom-line.

Does the ACS take all of our interests seriously? Or do the interests of the captains of industry count for more, in shaping ACS policy, than those of the chemists who don't have quite so much money to wave around?

Especially if ACS is using its resources (as a non-profit membership organization) to do things like lobby against open access, it might be worth examining which members are having their interests overlooked -- indeed, which members have interests that the ACS may actively be working against....

What should we know about the editorial policies of ACS publications?

Specifically, are there certain kinds of issues that we should not expect to see covered in ACS publications? If so, is this because these issues don't matter to any ACS member? Or is it because these issues are uncomfortable for the constituencies within the ACS who really matter? ...

Are there any potential conflicts of interest ACS executives and editors of ACS publications ought to disclose to the membership?

The first step to managing potential conflicts of interest is to recognize and disclose them. Transparency would help a lot, whereas non-disclosure can't help but look like something is being hidden....

From Baum's response:

The editorial independence of editors of ACS publications, including C&EN, is guaranteed by the ACS Constitution, Bylaws & Regulations. There are no topics of interest to the general community of chemists that are off limits at C&EN....

ACS has a clear and consistent policy on open access. The anonymous emails that have been circulated have made much of three editorials I have written that were critical of open access. I happen to think that the extreme open access model advocated by its most rabid proponents is very bad idea that will do substantial harm to the scientific enterprise, and I have written to that effect. I know you and some members of ACS disagree. However, I never asked anyone at ACS what they thought of my opinion on open access and I certainly did not coordinate my editorials with any activities of the society....

As to ACS policies, as on open access, please remember that these policies were not developed by ACS staff members, as implied in the anonymous e-mails, but by ACS governance bodies ultimately responsible to the Board of Directors, a body elected by the membership of ACS.

Comment.  For background, "ACS Insider" alleged that ACS executives received bonuses based on the profits of ACS publications.  I didn't edit out Baum's answer to the question about conflicts of interest; he didn't give an answer.  But Madeleine Jacobs, executive director of the ACS, confirmed to the Chronicle of Higher Education on October 24 that "senior executives and some managers in the publishing division" did receive such incentives. 

Update. Paul Revere at Effect Measure has some pointed comments on Baum's response to Stemwedel:

If I were polite, I'd say Baum's response was disingenuous. But I'm not so polite, so I'll just say I don't believe him....

Baum is not opposed to "extreme" forms of rabid open access. He is opposed to all open access, although he deliberately mischaracterizes it in ways that all open access appears extreme....

I find Baum's editorials intellectually dishonest and the machinations of the ACS in trying to defeat an important development in science publishing reprehensible....

DARE brochure on OA and IRs

The Dutch DARE project has released a four-page PDF brochure, Tailor-made access:  The added value of repositories (in English).  It's undated but seems to be new.

DSpace enhancement from Griffith U

From the DSpace Federation:

Griffith Research Online, a DSpace service at Griffith University in Australia, has developed a new DSpace feature called "Hit highlighting" to display search terms with text highlighting, as is done in Google search results. GRO has logged this feature with SourceForge to share it with other DSpace developers.

"Our users are extremely impressed," said Joanna Richardson, the project manager of Griffith Research Online....

US Citizens: Thank your Senators

Thank your Senators for continuing to support the NIH Public Access Policy, a press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, October 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Senate's approval of the FY08 LHHS Appropriations Bill and inclusion of the NIH public access policy provision is a milestone victory for public access to publicly funded research and its supporters. Please take a moment to thank your Senators for their ongoing commitment to this issue. Talking points and fax contact information are included for your use below. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact the ATA through Jennifer at


Dear Senator:

On behalf of [your organization], I want to thank you for your leadership in supporting timely online access to articles reporting the results of government-funded biomedical research.

The Senate’s inclusion of language in the FY08 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill that directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to strengthen its policy for making NIH-funded research findings freely available in the agency’s online archive (Sec. 221) is a vital step in the evolution of science. The legislation will effectively promote accelerated scientific advancement and address the public’s growing need for high-quality health information.

Your forward-looking, carefully weighed, and appropriately balanced action recognizes that the Internet offers an unprecedented and cost-effective means to expand the return on taxpayer investment in NIH. By bringing down barriers to sharing of research, we can ensure knowledge is available beyond traditional research niches and encourage new and interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex challenges. Universal access to the full scope of NIH research will unlock the health, economic, and social benefits that motivate federal spending on medical research.

With your continued leadership and support as the bill advances, NIH can effectively achieve the worthy public access goals set out in 2004 by Director Zerhouni: to advance science, speed discovery, and provide for a sustainable archive of government-funded research results. 

We congratulate you for your leadership in delivering public access to publicly funded research. Thank you.

The press release includes the fax numbers of all 100 Senators.  For other kinds of contact info (email and snail mail addresses, phone numbers), see CongressMerge.

Milestone for the Caltech IR

George Porter reports that Caltech has more than 8,000 items in its institutional repository.

CaltechAUTHORS, a constituent institutional repository of Caltech CODA (Collection of Online Digital Archives), has achieved another growth milestone, 8000 records. The wide ranging collection is composed primarily of publisher permitted or Creative Commons licensed, as-published journal articles in PDF format. The collection spans nearly a century, including material from every year from 1910-2007. More than 100 publications have been deposited from each year, 1985-2007.

CaltechAUTHORS utilizes the open source platform which has facilitated the easy inclusion of some of the less common document types. We have received contributions of two PhD dissertations which fall outside the scope of our local dissertation repository, Caltech ETD, having been written prior to the authors' arrival at Caltech. We received out first patent contribution over the weekend....

The History of Recent Science and Technology project website was hosted at from 1999 through 2005. This web site was developed pursuant to the Dibner Institute/Burndy Library and Sloan Foundation Program for the History of Recent Science and Technology on the Web. The project is now closed and the web site is archived here in CaltechAUTHORS.

What's attracting visitors to your IR?

Brian Mathews, What gets viewed?  An exploratory study of large IR collections, The Ubiquitous Librarian, October 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

In my work circle there has been a lot of talk about growing our institutional repository. There is a big push to add meaningful content. The thing that I always get hung up on though is usage. I’m very interested in what people find useful, and my feeling is that if I’m going to pitch this service to my faculty, then I need to prove to them that the stuff is actually being seen....

So I decided to do a mini study. I wanted to see what the top items viewed were across several universities. I used ROAR to identify DSpace collections in the US, and then sent emails to the libraries with the 10 largest collections....[Eight of them] provided me with a list of their top 20 most viewed items. (Thanks!)

I should note that Georgia Tech and U of Oregon were the only organizations in this sample that allowed open access to their statistics.

The results were very eclectic, as expected, however there were definite themes that emerged....

Someone should publish a scholarly article about this and perform a detailed synthesis on these collections, but in the mean time, here are the top viewed items from each of the collections: ...

There is definitely a lot of long-tail action going on too. Most of the repositories featured one or two heavily used items, but then dropped off drastically....

Some questions:

  • Why is the U of Maryland IR used so heavily? Their top 3 items blow away everyone else (34,768 hits; 32,916 hits; and 32,214 hits respectively)
  • How are people finding this stuff? Google? Native Searches? Catalog Searches? Direct Links? We need to run an analytics program.
  • How many of these hits are from web crawlers or related software?
  • Why the long-tail? What makes those top few items so popular? And just how long is the tail? Could you say something like 90% of everything in our IR was viewed at least once over the past two years?
  • If you place your IR within your metasearch tool, will it pad your results?
  • Is there a big difference between views and downloads?
  • Why does the DSpace interface still look so mid-1990’s?
  • How are items obtained? Is it piecemeal or more systematic? Are we building collections or is it random take-what-we-can-get?
  • What is the percentage of dissertations? (or, take away dissertations and what have you got left?)
  • What non-text items are collected (mp3, videos, jpg, etc)?
  • Leaving the  big vision rhetoric aside, what is the goal of each IR?
  • How do you measure the success of an IR? Is it volume or downloads or something else?

Whether or not to allow derivative works

Thomas Lemberger, Open Access: Derivs or No Derivs? It's your call!  The Seven Stones, November 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

I am pleased to announce that Molecular Systems Biology has changed its license to publish for all articles accepted after October 1st, 2007 (see updated instruction to authors). The new license allows our authors to choose between two Creative Commons licenses: one that allows the work to be adapted by users (by-nc-sa), the other that does not allow the work to be modified (by-nc-nd)....

Our content is therefore not only freely available to all but our authors can now also decide to make their research fully open for reuse and adaptations.

The current explosive development of data and text mining, semantic-web and information aggregation technologies is profoundly changing the publishing landscape (eg Tim O'Reilly visits Nature). When we were contacted a few months ago by the OpenWetWare community who envisaged the "wikification" of one of our Reviews (see post), we decided that Molecular Systems Biology should strongly support such initiatives by providing our content in an as open form as possible. Our Senior Editors fully supported this transition to a more open license but also encouraged us to allow authors to have some influence on the decision.

Providing authors the possibility to choose their license has some decisive advantages: first, by enforcing a conscious choice by authors it will inevitably raise awareness on the implications of the various publication licenses; second we would like to see the question of "what should be open access" being addressed in a more democratic way by the community itself rather than through incantations of what the ideal solution should be. My guess – and my personal hope – is that most of the authors will indeed choose the most open version of the license, but I think that it is important to respect the opinions of those who think differently and who would feel uncomfortable with the idea that their article can be remixed or adapted without them being aware of it.

Our attitude is motivated by the fact that, at Molecular Systems Biology, we see the role of a scientific journal more as a catalyst facilitating and accelerating scientific discovery rather than a policy-making instrument. What is Systems Biology? Rather than providing a rigid definition of a rapidly evolving field, we prefer to let the community define the scope of this field and we adapt to it. What is open access? Rather than relying on a dogmatic position in a still fluid situation, we prefer to let scientists define their priorities.

Molecular Systems Biology is an OA journal jointly published by Nature and EMBO.  Lemberger is the editor.  His message above is a revised version of a letter to the editor published yesterday in PLoS Biology.

Here's a reply to Lemberger by Mark Patterson (PLoS Director of Publishing) and Catriona MacCallum (author of the article to which Lemberger was responding):

We are grateful to Thomas Lemberger for his response to the recent PLoS Biology editorial concerning the confusion about open versus free access. We thank him as well for pointing out that authors at Molecular Systems Biology are now given a choice between two Creative Commons licenses when they publish their work. The announcement of a new option for their authors of an alternative “Share Alike” licence was not available as the PLoS Biology editorial went to press. We certainly agree with him that open access offers a tremendous potential for researchers and scientific publishing. However, in our view, no matter how well-intentioned this new policy might be, it will only lead to further confusion.

As noted in our editorial, all the research articles published in Molecular Systems Biology still end with the statement that the article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License – see for example this article. This remains misleading, because only one Creative Commons Attribution License allows any kind of derivative reuse subject only to appropriate attribution of the authors. If you follow the license link at the bottom of the article cited above you find that the license is quoted as an “attribution, non-commercial, no derivative works” license – one of the most restrictive of the Creative Commons licenses ([see this]...summary of the licenses). The Creative Commons web site explains the meaning of “no derivative works” as follows: “You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work”. This is not open access.

The new “share alike” choice now offered to Molecular Systems Biology authors is closer to the accepted definition of open access, but includes the “non-commercial” and “share alike” restrictions, which means that any derivatives that are created have to be distributed under the same license terms. While we agree with the sentiments underlying this licence (in that it potentially promotes open access) – it is still restrictive, which is why open access publishers such as PLoS, BioMedCentral and Hindawi have chosen to use the Creative Commons Attribution License.

In effect, Molecular Systems Biology offers authors the choice between free access to their work and open access (with some restrictions). This means that the content of the journal is not all available open access. It is therefore not correct to say the “Molecular Systems Biology is an open access journal” as it does at the bottom of the research articles.

It is unfortunate that the PDFs of the articles published in Molecular Systems Biology lead to further confusion. The PDF of the article available at this link has a copyright line at the top indicating that the copyright belongs to EMBO and the Nature Publishing Group and that all rights are reserved....

It seems to us that we share many of the same goals as the editors Molecular Systems Biology, and so we urge them to work with their publisher to rationalize and simplify the license policies of their fine journal.

Comment.  A few background thoughts:

  • It's healthy and useful to debate which licenses best promote research.  Moreover, it might even be productive.  The best way to debate subtly different shades of openness is to debate explicit, well-crafted licenses, and all the CC licenses are explicit and well-crafted. 
  • However, the public definitions of OA (from Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin) do not have the same sharp edges that explicit licenses do.  Moreover, they differ on some fine points, including the one under discussion here.  For example, the Bethesda and Berlin definitions allow derivative works, but the Budapest definition allows authors to disallow derivative works that would interfere with "the integrity of their work". 
  • Because the BBB definitions don't settle the question, I think it's more productive to debate policy than labels --what promotes research rather than what deserves the name of "open access".  If everything that satisfies at least one of the BBB definitions is OA, then both sides are talking about OA here. 
  • I'm not saying that clear labels aren't useful, or that the label "OA" isn't usefully clear.  I'm saying that when the label covers both policies under discussion, then we don't gain by debating the label and should focus instead on specific advantages and disadvantages of the two policies.
  • One response to this situation might be to revisit and revise the public definitions.  There might be some gain in that.  But even if we did, I'd want any newly revised definition would include some latitude for variation and flexibility --within limits, of course.
  • My own preference is for the straight, unadorned attribution license (same as PLoS Biology), essentially permitting every use except plagiarism.  I wish all OA journals would use it.  But several other decisions, including the decision to disallow derivative works, fall within the boundaries of OA.

Update.  I elaborate and clarify these comments in a new post on November 4, 2007.

Managing university IP to spur research, not revenue

Iain Thomson, University calls for intellectual property rethink, Information World Review, October 31, 2007.  Excerpt:

Delegates at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology IT Summit have heard that the new university will be much more open with its intellectual property than equivalent universities in the US.

The summit has been set up to design the university's policies from the ground up, and to move towards more open standards that would spur research, rather than locking it down for financial benefit.

"Our need to make an impact is greater than our need to get a revenue stream, " said Dr Ibrahim Al Mishari, former chief information officer at Saudi Aramco, the state oil company which is heavily involved with the new university.

"The university will play a role in the new model for technology transfer. Not for the advantage of the university, but for the students and the region."

The approach was warmly welcomed by delegates. Most agreed that the current system is in need of serious reform, and that opening up intellectual property could have real benefits....

Comment.  This is incredibly refreshing and forward looking.  Is this something that only brand new, well-endowed universities could consider?  Or could any university do it, perhaps by rereading its mission statement?

Mandating OA for institutional performance review

Stevan Harnad, Institutions: Don't Just Cancel Journals; Mandate Self-Archiving, Open Access Archivangelism, November 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Max Planck Society would do incomparably more for Open Access (and its own research impact) if it mandated deposit in its own Institutional Repository (IR), Edoc, rather than just canceling journal subscriptions.

For some time now, the reply from the MP Institutes and German universities has been: "We cannot mandate!"

But of course they can! The policy need not be coercive; it need not have sanctions for noncompliance. It need merely be officially adopted. And there are obvious and simple administrative ways to make it worth researchers' while to comply (if the enhanced research impact that OA vouchsafes is not enough): Simply declare the IR as the official institutional submission format for all performance review for its employees!

So there are no administrative barriers. Nor are there any legal barriers: For performance review, it is sufficient to deposit the final, revised, refereed, accepted draft -- the postprint -- immediately upon acceptance for publication, and set access the postprint full-text as">Closed Access (administrative access -- with only the bibliographic metadata, not the postprint, visible webwide) rather than immediate Open Access (if the journal in which the article is published is non-Green and demands an embargo).

(Since the only thing that has been standing between us and 100% OA for years now is keystrokes, an administrative keystroke mandate is all that is needed. The increasingly palpable benefits of OA itself will take care of the rest, as carrots, rather than sticks.)

OA to 126 years of research from the American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is now providing OA to the full back runs of all four of its journal and book series: 

(Thanks to

Comment.  AMNH launched its institutional repository in January 2006 and has been very busy filling it up ever since.  Some museums are progressive in allowing free scholarly use of their images (e.g. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum), but I don't know of another museum with its own OA repository, let alone the AMNH's commitment to filling it.  Kudos to all involved.

An OA repository for Canada's National Research Council

Alison Ball, Pilot project to provide open access to NRC publications, CIST News, Summer 2007.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Excerpt:

One research organization, one gateway for information. This is the goal of a new pilot project to demonstrate the viability of an NRC Publications Archive. This archive would establish an NRC-wide approach to managing and providing seamless access to NRC's scientific contributions, which translate to about 3,700 papers each year from 20 NRC institutes and 5 technology centres.

Called NPArC (pronounced N-Park) for short, the two-year, CISTI-funded pilot will offer public access to NRC publications from seven NRC institutes. Open-access search engines like Google Scholar will also be able to access the publications.

The institutes participating in the project include the Institute for Research in Construction (IRC), the Institute for National Measurement Standards (INMS), the Institute for Information Technology (IIT) and the Institute for Aerospace Research (IAR), which have publications databases; and the Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology (ICPET), the Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute (IMTI) and the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (CNBC) of the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences (SIMS), which do not....

[T]he project will be a first step in making NRC's publications more accessible to the scientific community, as well as the general public.

PS:  Apparently NPArC is not yet online.  I'll blog the URL as soon as it is.

Launch of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Yesterday marked the official launch of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.  From the about page:

PLoS Neglected Tropical the first open-access journal devoted to the world's most neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as elephantiasis, river blindness, leprosy, hookworm, schistosomiasis, and African sleeping sickness. The journal publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed research on all scientific, medical, and public-health aspects of these forgotten diseases affecting the world's forgotten people.

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases is particularly keen to publish research from authors in countries where the NTDs are endemic.  It aims to:

  • Provide a forum for the NTDs community of scientific investigators, health practitioners, control experts, and advocates to publish their findings in an open-access format
  • Promote and profile the efforts of scientists, health practitioners, and public-health experts from endemic countries, and build science and health capacity in those countries
  • Highlight the global public-health importance of the NTDs and advocate for the plight of the poor who suffer from these diseases in endemic countries...

For PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases the publication fee is US$2100. Authors who are affiliated with one of our Institutional Members are eligible for a discount on this fee.

We offer a complete or partial fee waiver for authors who do not have funds to cover publication fees. Editors and reviewers have no access to payment information, and hence inability to pay will not influence the decision to publish a paper.  For further information, see our Publication Fee FAQ....

From the Guest Commentary in the inaugural issue by Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization:

The launch of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases marks yet another turning point in the long and notorious history of some of humanity's oldest diseases....

Equity is a fundamental principle of health development. Access to life-saving and health-promoting interventions should not be denied for unjust reasons, including an inability to pay. The free availability of leading research articles will benefit decision-makers and diseases control managers worldwide. It will also motivate scientists, both in developing and developed countries....

Also see Daniel Sarna's announcement on the PLoS Blog.

Update.  From Bora Zivkovic's blog announcement:

...Furthermore, the new journal is run on the TOPAZ software which allows the readers to use all the nifty tools of post-publication peer-review and discussion. All the articles in PLoS NTDs will allow you to post comments and annotations. You can give ratings. If you write a blog post about an article, you can send trackbacks (just like you can do on PLoS ONE and PLoS Hub for Clinical Trials)....

Using self-archived articles in South African classrooms

Philipp Schmidt, Problems using self-archived articles in South African universities, Sharing Nicely, November 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

The open access movement has had tremendous success increasing the amount of self-archived journal articles. Self-archiving means that authors can negotiate with publishers the right to keep a copy of their peer-reviewed article on a personal (or institutional) web-site for public download. Self-archived journal articles are usually covered by copyright, but users are allowed to download and print them.

This is great, because one would think it meant that the paper can be used in a class without having to worry about copyright clearance and fees. Unfortunately, copyright law and regulation in South Africa is murky on the issue of electronic distribution since it was drafted in 1978 when electronic information was not a huge issue yet....

As a result there is uncertainty if a lecturer would be allowed to act as an “agent” on behalf of the students and make copies for all of them, or if the students would need to make individual copies themselves to avoid infringement. Andrew recommended that from the point of view of an institution, it is safer and advised to ask students to make their own copies.

Of course, this is a bit silly. First, it means that the students have to pay for the copies individually, which is likely to increase the per page cost (and the cost of education) since bulk discounts are not possible. Secondly, the end-result is exactly the same, all students have a printed copy of the paper to work with....

Comment.  I don't know South African copyright law.  But if it blocks printing and redistribution of self-archived articles, or printing of multiple copies by teachers rather than single copies by students, then there are two solutions short of statutory reform.  First, distribute links instead of copies.  This depends on good connectivity for students, however, which cannot always be assumed.  Second, get the author to put a CC-BY license or equivalent on the self-archived article.  BTW, I don't skip over statutory reform because I think it would be radical or ineffective.  On the contrary.  I only skip over it because it's a very long, uphill climb and we don't have to wait for it.

What's open at the Encyclopedia Britannica?

Open.Britannica is Encyclopedia Britannica's way of highlighting the OA content from the EB.  (Thanks to Intute.)  But the effect is to highlight just how little there is --a blog, some timelines, and a service for linking to EB articles.

WHO launches OA portal on tropical diseases

TropIKA is a new OA portal for research and information on tropical diseases.  (Thanks to  From its about page:

The [World Health Organization's] Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) has established as a global knowledge management electronic portal to share essential information and to facilitate identification of priority needs and major research gaps in the field of infectious diseases of poverty.... (Tropical Disease Research to foster Innovation and Knowledge Application) is a web-based platform for the acquisition, review and sharing of current information and knowledge on:

  • Public health research needs and scientific opportunities
  • Research-based evidence in support of control and policy
  • High profile research activities and control projects
  • International research funding and support opportunities
  • Potential innovations for interventions and control of infectious diseases of poverty.

Rationale for

...Informed participation of disease endemic countries in the global research agenda setting is often prevented by limited access to scientific information and essential knowledge. Rapid advances in the field of information technology have made it possible to share and deliver information at higher speeds and lower costs and several initiatives aiming at enabling access to high quality, scientific information, via Internet, are now in place. However researchers and policy makers face the other problem of haphazard flow of scientific information for which they lack time to screen, awareness of what is relevant and essential for their domain of activities and skills for interpretation and application in health interventions....

TropIKA is designed to enhance access and to share essential knowledge with health researchers and policy makers dedicated to improving control of infectious diseases of poverty....

Partners participating in the initiative to date

  • TDR (UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases)
  • BIREME/PAHO/WHO, in Brazil: hosts and manages the portal
  • HINARI: provides access to full text journals in specific countries
  • The Global Heath Library (GHL) and the Virtual Health Library (VHL)
  • Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases (and PLoS in general) for sharing "open access" scientific content and technology
  • SciELO journals and other open access journals....

More on the NIH policy

Rick Weiss, Open Access to Research Funded by U.S. at Issue, Washington Post, November 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

A long-simmering debate over whether the results of government-funded research should be made freely available to the public could take a big step toward resolution as members of a House and Senate conference committee meet today to finalize the 2008 Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill.

At issue is whether scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health should be required to publish the results of their research solely in journals that promise to make the articles available free within a year after publication.

The idea is that consumers should not have to buy expensive scientific journal subscriptions -- or pricey per-page charges for nonsubscribers -- to see the results of research they have already paid for with their taxes.

Until now, repeated efforts to legislate such a mandate have failed under pressure from the well-heeled journal publishing industry and some nonprofit scientific societies whose educational activities are supported by the profits from journals that they publish.

But proponents -- including patient advocates, who want easy access to the latest biomedical findings, and cash-strapped libraries looking for ways to temper escalating subscription costs -- have parlayed their consumer-friendly "public access" message into legislative language that has made it into the Senate and House versions of the new HHS bill.

That has set the stage for a last-minute lobbying showdown.

"There's been loads of debate and discussion, and at last it's going forward," said Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Washington-based library group. She has been a persistent presence on Capitol Hill, making the case for open access....

Scientists assert that open access will speed innovation by making it easier for them to share and build on each other's findings.

"Congress recognizes that, in the Internet age, unimpeded access to publicly funded research results is essential for the advancement of science and public health," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni....

Opponents say that the economics of the open-access model are still experimental and tenuous, and that some open-access journals are dependent on philanthropic foundation money to balance their books. They also contend that the approach raises copyright issues.

"I think there are some very serious questions to examine as to whether this is an unwarranted government intrusion into the private-sector publishing industry," said Allan R. Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs at the Association of American Publishers, which has organized efforts to quash the movement....

With both Senate and House appropriation committee chairmen in favor, the language requiring the change would normally be virtually assured, despite a recent negative White House pronouncement. But Hill watchers said that -- given President Bush's threat to veto the bill for budgetary reasons and the likelihood of a continuing resolution, which would not have the new language -- it is too soon for the open-access movement to publish a victory paper.


  • One correction.  The policy would require deposit in an OA repository (PubMed Central), not submission to OA journals.  It's about green OA, not gold OA.  This correction applies to Rick Weiss, for example in his second paragraph, and to Allan Adler and the AAP, whose objection to the economics of OA journals is not relevant to a policy that focuses exclusively on OA archiving. 
  • If Adler is thinking that that the NIH policy will force subscription journals to convert to OA, then he should connect the dots, explain his theory in more detail, and respond to the counterevidence from physics.  I detail this counterevidence in an article in the September 2007 issue of SOAN (see esp. section 5).
  • Weiss says that opponents also cite copyright problems with the policy, though he doesn't elaborate.  But the NIH provision of the bill concludes with these words:  "...Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law."  What part of "consistent with copyright law" do these unnamed opponents not understand?
  • Adler also objects to "government intrusion into the private-sector publishing industry."  Here's one way that I've responded to this objection in the past:  "The complaint about 'government intrusion into the market' is disingenuous. Scientific research and publication are permeated by government spending and government policies....In the US, most scientific research is funded by taxpayers, most scientists work at public institutions and are paid by taxpayers, and most subscriptions to subscription-based journals are purchased by public institutions and paid for by taxpayers. If publishers really mean that government money and policymaking should keep out of this sector, then they should say so. But they know that they would go bankrupt under such a rule. What they really want is the present arrangement of government subsidies for the work they publish, government subsidies for their own subscription fees, and double-payments by taxpayers who want access."

Update. Also see Mike Carroll's response to Allan Adler's comment on government intrusion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Microsoft will digitize 100,000 books from Yale library

Yale Library and Microsoft Partner on Ambitious Digital Project, a press release from Yale, October 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Readers around the world will soon have online access to thousands of rare books in Yale’s Library thanks to an agreement between the University and Microsoft Corp to digitize many volumes found only in the Yale collections.

The Microsoft-Yale project will initially focus on the digitization of 100,000 out-of-copyright English-language books, which will then become available to readers through Microsoft’s Live Search interface....

Yale University Library holds unique collections of enduring research value and is digitizing many of its special collections including manuscripts, archival documents, maps, photographs, audio and visual materials, rare works of art, and slides used for teaching and research at the University.  Hundreds of thousands of items have already been digitized from the holdings of the Visual Resources Collection, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Lewis Walpole Library, Manuscripts and Archives, the Medical Historical Library, and other libraries and collections. Many of these are now available to the global research community beyond Yale.  A comprehensive listing of the Library’s digital collections is available [here].

This newest initiative is expected to produce substantial benefits for the Yale community and for researchers worldwide.  These include: being able to reunite collections virtually that are physically housed in different repositories; allowing the full text to be indexed, which enables researchers to locate relevant material not accessible through traditional indexes or library catalogues; giving faculty enhanced electronic access to scholarly materials; and increasing student access to digital research and instructional materials....

The digital format also provides security by eliminating handling of original rare or fragile material, and securing against loss through normal deterioration, theft, natural disaster, or other destructive events....

Yale and Microsoft will work together to identify which of the approximately 13  million volumes held by Yale’s 22  libraries will be digitized....

Discussion at Taxacom

There's a good discussion thread on the Taxacom list.  It starts with the Max Planck Society's cancellation of 1,200 Springer journals and moves on to OA journals, impact factors, and what researchers and their institutions can do to help the cause.  (Thanks to Napoleon Miradon.)

If institutions really want to make research dissemination more effective...

Colin Steele, Alternatives to bonuses, The Australian Higher Education, October 31, 2007.  A letter to the editor in response to an October 24 article by Bernard Lane in which Michael Good suggested that medical research institutions should pay faculty a bonus for publishing in high-impact journals.  Excerpt:

The search for higher citation rankings plays into the hands of increasingly dominant multinational publishers, whose main loyalty is to shareholders rather than to academe....

[Rejection rates at high-impact journals are already high.]  More researchers chasing high-impact journals for research assessment and league table purposes will lead to increasing rejection rates. In 2006, the British Medical Journal accepted only 7 per cent of 7000 submissions; the Journal of the American Medical Association and The New England Journal of Medicine published 6 per cent; Science accepted 8 per cent of 12,000 submissions while Nature in 2005 published 2000 of 25,000 papers received. The Economic Journal had a 91.5 per cent rejection rate in 2006. And so it goes on.

Manuscripts will cascade down until they find a home in lower-ranking journals. This will have consequent effects on editorial costs for publishers and more particularly for academics, as almost all of them carry out peer review and other editorial processes without recompense.

Lokman Meho, of Indiana University, wrote in Physics World earlier this year that about 90 per cent of papers published in academic journals are never cited.  Indeed, he claims from his bibliometric analyses that as many as 50 per cent of papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, referees and journal editors.

If research institutes have spare money and wish for more effective global dissemination of Australian research, and for more complex metrics to be used for assessment, there are better things to do than bonus schemes.

They could support the commonwealth's accessibility framework, a project aimed at improving access to Australian research. They could ensure open access outputs through depositing in repositories. They could fund publication in so-called gold OA journals. They could promote the use of Creative Commons copyright licences for their researchers.

Hybrid OA journal program from WorldSciNet and Imperial College

WorldSciNet has launched WorldSciNet Open Access, a hybrid OA journal program that applies to all 133 journals published by WorldScientific and all eight journals published by Imperial College Press.  From today's announcement:

Authors now have the option to pay $2,500 for their articles to be Open Access. Open access choice will apply to ALL of World Scientific and Imperial College Press journals with electronic version.

World Scientific and Imperial College Press is aware of the scientific community's desire for more open access publications so that scientific information can be shared by all. Thus, We have decided to offer authors the choice to do so. Nearly 6,000 Research articles every year will now have the potential to be open access....

More from the WorldSciNet Open Access page:

Similar to the traditional publishing model, articles from authors opting for open access will be peer-reviewed, undergo the same quality production process and made available in both print and electronic formats. They will be similarly included in appropriate Abstract and Indexing Services and all the articles will be registered in CrossRef.

When authors choose WorldSciNet OPEN ACCESS, they will retain the copyright to (not of) the article but will be required to sign the WorldSciNet Open Access License to Publish. Each WorldSciNet Open Access article will be clearly identified with an "Open Access" icon in both the e-version and the print format.

From the OA License to Publish:

As the author(s) you will retain copyright in the article and grant World Scientific the exclusive right to publish it in printed, electronic or other form throughout the world; the online version will be available online immediately upon publication to readers free of charge and subject only to World Scientific’s Open Access Licence, which is based on the Creative Commons Attribution Licence....

By signing this form the Contributor(s) agree to grant World Scientific the exclusive right and licence to commercially make use of the Article (and the abstract) including the right to publish, transmit, store, translate, distribute, sell, reproduce, use and distribute the Article throughout the world in printed and electronic form of the journal and in derivative works, in all languages and any form of media of expression available now or in the future and to license others to do so....

At the same time, WorldSciNet announced its first full OA journal:

...[W]e will be launching our first fully open access journal, Optics and Photonics Letters, in 2008. Optics and Photonics Letters (OPL) is an open access journal which offers rapid dissemination of original and timely results in various fields of optics and photonics, with emphasis on peer-reviewed short communications.

Articles submitted for publication before January 2008 will enjoy a 50% waiver on publication charges....

Comment.  I commend WorldScientific for its full OA journal and (as usual) support the hybrid program only to the extent that it actually encourages author uptake and provides OA.  Unfortunately, WorldSciNet Open Access does not score well on my nine criteria for a hybrid journal program.  On the plus side, the OA edition is the same as the published edition, and WorldSciNet is not retreating from its green policy (say) by requiring self-archivers to pay for gold OA.  It lets authors retain copyright "except as...provided" by the OA license to publish, and says the license is based on the CC-BY license.  This looks like a plus until we read the details.  In fact the license gives the publisher exclusive rights --either to all print and electronic distribution or to all commercial print and electronic distribution.  Either way, it's more restrictive than a CC-BY license.  The ambiguity of the license on this point makes it unclear whether authors may deposit their articles in repositories independent of the publisher.  The publisher does not apparently waive publication fees in case of economic hardship and does not promise to reduce its subscription prices in proportion to author uptake.  It is silent on whether authors must pay for the OA option in order to live up to a prior, independent agreement with their funding agency.

Analyzing usage of an institutional repository

The EPrints team has released an open-source tool to analyze IR usage.  From yesterday's announcement:

We are happy to announce the beta release of the IRStats package - a tool for analysing usage of institutional repositories.

Please see the examples page for demonstrations of IRStats:

Headline features:

  • Agnostic to repository software - support for EPrints and (beta) DSpace
  • Aggressive filtering of robots and other automated agents (using AWStats and bespoke techniques)
  • Analyse groups of eprints based on a simple CSV-format specification - by-author, by-school etc.

IRStats is released as Open Source under a BSD license.
(Note: currently IRStats requires ChartDirector, which has a free trial available - see the Installation notes) ...

The state of OA

Heather Morrison, Open Access to Scholarly Research: An Emerging Success Story in Emancipatory Communication, a presentation at Union of Democratic Communications: Enclosure, Emancipatory Communications, and the Global City, (Vancouver, October 25-28, 2007).

Abstract:   Open access is defined, and explored in the context of enclosure and emancipatory communication. One attempt at enclosure, in the form of heavy lobbying by very wealthy companies in the publishing industry against research funders' open access mandates, has been exposed. A PR message is traced from the recommendations of PR pitbull Eric Dezenhall to a failed anti-OA coalition attempt called PRISM to the White House. In spite of this intense lobbying, open access is succeeding. Resources are growing dramatically; the Directory of Open Access Journals, a list of fully open access, peer-reviewed journals, lists more than 2,800 journals, more than 10% of the world's peer-reviewed journals, and is adding titles at a rate of more than one per calendar day. There are more than 16 million items in open access archives, retrievable through portals such as Scientific Commons or OAIster. Despite heavy lobbying, the US Senate recently voted heavily in favor of language to change the National Institutes of Health Public Access policy from an ineffective request to a requirement. There are now 40 research funding agencies' open access mandates either in place or under discussion.

OA articles on anaesthesia in developing countries

The December 2007 issue of Anaesthesia is devoted to anaesthesia in developing countries.  The whole issue is free online.

Canada's LAC supports OA for publicly-funded research

Heather Morrison, Canadian Digital Information Strategy and Open Access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Library and Archives Canada has released their Canadian Digital Information Strategy consultation document. Comments are due November 23rd. (Thanks to Michael Geist).

This Strategy document contains much that is relevant to open access, particularly Challege 3: Maximizing Access and Use.
In particular, let us applaud and support:

3.3 Provide timely and open online access to Canada's public information and publicly-funded research information and data.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Looking forward to the NIH mandate

Bill Containing NIH Policy Ready for Conference; Implementation Looms, Library Journal Academic Newswire, October 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

After nearly three years working the legislative process in favor of a public access policy for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), officials at SPARC know that anything can happen when it comes to the legislative process. Nevertheless, with Senate passage last week of a bill requiring NIH-funded researchers to deposit their final manuscripts in PubMed Central, to be publicly accessible within a year, House and Senate bills are now scheduled to be reconciled in conference next week, SPARC executive director Heather Joseph, told the LJ Academic Newswire. Acknowledging that there is always the potential for surprise, the first order of business, she noted, is to "stay the course until [the legislative] process is complete in the next week or so."

Nonetheless, supporters of the policy are starting to think about the next challenge: implementation. Should the policy, as expected, survive its fantastic voyage through the legislative process, encouraging compliance and monitoring the policy's impact will come next. "We'll definitely be watching compliance rates with great interest," Joseph said, with "full expectations" that under a mandate to deposit articles compliance rates will sharply rise from the dismal five percent deposit rate under the voluntary policy implemented in 2005, though not, of course, overnight.

"I expect it will take a little time," Joseph noted. "The NIH will need time to communicate the shift to a mandatory policy, but once they do, I think we'll see grantees respond." SPARC's member libraries, meanwhile, are "ready and willing to help grantees on their campuses work with the policy," she added. "After all, it's all about the good stuff that can happen once these articles are available." ...

In the meantime, as shown with the last second amendments to gut the policy introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and the rather unusual attention of the White House, publishers' strong lobbying effort against the bill may not be over. Though the policy represents just a miniscule portion of the more than $940 billion appropriation bill, when it comes to conferencing, and possibly negotiations following a looming presidential veto, experts concede the policy could become fodder for horse trading in getting the bill done. Heavy bipartisan support, however, would seem to make that unlikely. If there's been one lesson from the last three-plus years, however, it is that the public access battle goes on.

What are the terms of OCA contracts with libraries?

Peter Hirtle, How open is the Open Content Alliance? LibraryLaw Blog, October 30, 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

...[In] last Sunday's London Times...there was an article on the rather remarkable Espresso Book Machine: a self-contained print-on-demand system.  Two things struck me in the article: first, that they were in negotiations with a major English bookseller to house the machines, and second, that they would be providing Open Content Alliance (OCA) digitized books for printing and sale.

I'm all in favor of making library materials available in different formats.  The Cornell and Michigan libraries, for example, are offering many of their digitized titles through Amazon, and sales have been brisk.  The libraries receive a small royalty on each sale, though the primary purpose is to increase availability. 

The Times article made me wonder if the libraries participating in the OCA would also receive royalties from commercial use of public domain works that they have digitized from their collections.  It doesn't seem fair that everyone associated with the production of printed public domain books (On Demand Books, the maker of the printer; the bookseller where it is located; and for all I know the OCA itself) might make money on the arrangement, but the library that provides the content that drives the system only gets to pay to have it digitized in the first place. 

So that made me think that I should read one of the agreements between the OCA and its collaborators.  I couldn't find any.  Thanks to open access laws, many of the Google agreements are freely available; you just need to go to Google's partners' page and follow the links.  Because they are available, the community has been able to debate the terms.

I would expect no less from the OCA.  If the OCA won't post them, let's hope that someone soon requests them under FOIA.

Update. Here's the contract between the Internet Archive, on behalf of the OCA, and the Boston Public Library, April 13, 2007. (Thanks to Rick Prelinger via John Mark Ockerbloom via Klaus Graf.)

Update. Also see Peter Hirtle's comments on the OCA contract with the Boston Public Library.

...First, there is no question that the agreement is one of the most open, if not the most open, digitization agreements yet released.  I particularly like that there are almost no restrictions on the use that the IA can make of the scans, and no restrictions on the use that individuals and groups other than the IA can make....

Finally, let's stop suggesting that these OCA initiatives, as desirable as they might be, are somehow an alternative to the Google and Microsoft digitization agreements.  This agreement is for the scanning of up to 3500 volumes.  Some of the Google projects are reportedly doing almost that much each dayLet's not compare apples and oranges.

UPDATE: Mary pointed out to me a very comprehensive guide to large scale digitization agreements created and maintained by OCLC.

European Digital Library talking to Google

Doreen Carvajal, European libraries face problems in digitalizing, International Herald Tribune, October 28, 2007.  Excerpt:

In the early stages of its planning, the European Digital Library held the promise of a counterstrike to Google domination of digital archives through the search engine's vast book search project and powerful alliances with American universities.

But as the European project prepares for its debut early next year, the 80 museums, film institutes and national libraries involved are facing the reality of limited government funding for the enormous task of digitizing material, and they are now developing a new realism about striking a variety of alliances with private companies, including national deals with Google.

"The basic problem is that there isn't enough money to digitize everything we want to," said Stephen Bury, head of European and American collections at the British national library, which is digitizing 100,000 out-of-print books from the 19th century with its partner, Microsoft.

"We're aware that there are some downsides to it because the commercial companies are obviously in it either for shareholder profit or doing it to get a public feel-good factor. We're aware and we're not going to be caught out."

The European Commission has contributed about €60 million, or $85 million, to develop a digital library system that can be shared by a wide number of national libraries and cultural institutions. But it is not financing basic digitization, which the commission estimated would cost €250 million over four years. Some major libraries are still pressing for more public financing, but European officials are clearly encouraging private alliances....

New series of OA journals in neuroscience

Frontiers in Neuroscience is a new series of 14 peer-reviewed OA journals in neuroscience from the Frontiers Research Foundation.  (Thanks to Talking Brains.)

From the FAQ:  "Frontiers will go public at the Society for Neuroscience meeting (Nov, 3rd -7th) in San Diego."

From the About Frontiers page:

The Frontiers Journal Series are completely open access journals published by the Frontiers Research Foundation, an international non-profit foundation based in Switzerland....Frontiers operates according to the novel Frontiers Academic Model that applies a rigorous, but totally unbiased Frontiers Review System, a separated on-line, automated and global Frontiers Evaluation System as well as a novel Frontiers Recognition System to reward the most outstanding research selected by the entire community. The primary aim of the Frontiers Research Foundation is to disseminate knowledge itself as apposed to the products of knowledge. Frontiers Research Foundation aims to promote and disseminate scholarly research to all people in all countries. The first step is to launch a new scientific publishing system to freely disseminate the highest quality peer reviewed research. Frontiers journals will address the main problems in the current publishing system.

Currently, the publishing processes is:

  • Complicated and time consuming,
  • Biased and controlled by local lobbies and powerful journals,
  • And not geared towards the needs of Authors. In this publishing system the prestige comes from where one publishes and not what one publishes.

...Frontiers journals will launch with an Author-pay business model to allow open access and free dissemination of research and gradually move to a sponsored model. The Frontiers Journal Series will use the most advanced internet technologies to bring scholarly publishing into a new generation....

Frontiers Objectives ...

To provide a new business model of serving Authors that:

Serves publishing needs of researchers Obtains sponsors to support open access research publishing.

Open Access

All Frontier articles are open access and can be downloaded for free and disseminated by the Authors or any other person or any library or indexing service provided the dissemination is not linked to any commercial activity or interest. For libraries and indexing services see conditions of dissemination. Frontiers believes that all primary research produced by one should be disseminated to all without any delay.

Frontiers stands for open access because:

It is impossible for any one person or even a major institutional library to cover all the current subscription fees and hence researchers invariably only have access to knowledge generated in a very limited number of areas.

It is definitely not in your interest to work for years on a project, invest vast amounts of energy, human and financial resources only to have a minute fraction of the researchers in the world have access to the final publication of your results. It is even worse that essentially nobody in the public has easy access to your article.

The public pays for research through taxes, but is almost entirely restricted from the knowledge produced. With the large number of journals, it is impossible for anyone to subscribe to all. The public generally must just accept the research that is selected by journalists for public highlighting.

Frontiers accepts that all countries are not equally privileged and capable of the highest quality research, but the current system simply perpetuates this inequality by ensuring that the less privileged researchers and countries cannot access the research produced by the more privileged.

The magnanimous gesture by some journals to allow open access after 6 or 12 months basically states that the privileged should get a 6-12 months head-start on the latest research. Is this a good way to resolve inequalities in the world?

Frontiers accepts that there is a valid and legitimate industry and economy around education and exposing knowledge to the people of the world, but such business should not restrict knowledge to elite circles to such an extent that this handicaps any person or groups of people.

Frontiers believes that knowledge alone can solve many of the problems in the world and every effort must therefore be made to disseminate knowledge easily, freely and without favour.

From the Frontiers Manifesto:

...Science, like Art, is not a private endeavour of individual explorers. Science is supported by society and its outcome should serve society and be transparent to whoever wants to participate. Traditionally, the main vehicle for transferring high quality and reliable scientific knowledge is via scientific, scholarly and academic journals. But most of these journals suffer from several important drawbacks. The old refereeing system is slow and opaque; the choice of the best work is heavily biased to already well-established research groups, mostly in first-world countries, and the scientific results are not fully transparent to the general public. Indeed, more than 90% of all journals charge significant subscription fees, and scientists must pay large sums to publish their papers. Who can afford to subscribe to even a fraction of the 24,000 scientific journals that exist today, especially in developing countries? And, even when the journal is "open access", it remains technical and obscure. To a large extent, economical forces motivate the big publishing companies that dominate science.

The Frontiers Research Foundation is composed of scientists, philanthropists and businessmen, who share a common vision: to dramatically improve the whole process of seeking, sharing and generating knowledge....When an article is submitted to Frontiers, it will undergo high-quality editing, copy, graphics, link and informatics-editing, and will then be published online, freely accessible to all levels of society. All readers can play an active role in this process, becoming participants in Frontiers, and contributing their interest in and for the research which is automatically accumulated into a collective ranking for each article. With time, the most esteemed papers will be progressively transformed into a non-technical language that is accessible to all.

Frontiers has developed a new business plan to ensure affordable publishing fees, through subscriptions to hardcopies, sponsor support to subsidize author costs, and powerful automated internet technologies to lower costs. Frontiers is also a journal system that awards major research prizes to authors, referees, editors, research laboratories and institutes. Strategic, scientific, social and ethical committees will serve as advisors to the Foundation. Large numbers of world leaders in science, including several Nobel Laureates, have committed to supporting the Frontiers vision....

Edinburgh presentations

The presentations from the University of Edinburgh symposium, Sustaining the Digital Library (Edinburgh, September 13-14, 2007), are now online.  About half of them are OA-related.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Academic freedom includes sharing knowledge as a public good

Academic Freedom in the 21st-Century College and University, the Statement on Academic Freedom from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), September 2007.  (Thanks to John Ober.)  Excerpt:

...Academic integrity in research, however, requires discoveries to be shared and knowledge to be considered primarily as a public good instead of a private possession.

Academic freedom requires the free exchange of ideas and information, following prudent and responsible academic and institutional standards. However, the growing commercialization of research presents problems for free exchange. For example, confidentiality agreements with business sponsors of research serve the business’s interest in restricting information to stop competitors from appropriating ideas. However, such agreements may conflict with intellectual free exchange, not allowing others to learn enough to be able to test, replicate and/or refute the theories and the evidence supporting them. This retards the development of knowledge and the potential for new discoveries....

Of course, faculty, instructional staff and other professionals performing research at the institution can, and their institutions may, legitimately claim ownership of the products —such as publications and patents— of research conducted under the auspices of the institution. But the ideas and results of research should be freely shared....

New OA journal of astronomy for the general public

Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal (CAPJ) is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the International Astronomical Union (IAU).  The inaugural issue (October 2007) is now online.  (Thanks to Joe Kraus.)

Removing patent barriers in the pharma industry

Open Access Drugs, ChemSpy, October 29, 2007.  Excerpt:

Should drugs be open access? What about open source? Well, a step towards what some would sees as a utopia and others as the end of pharma R&D, could soon be taken with a proposed legislative bill in the US that seeks to make all pharmaceutical patents public domain.

There are some observers that suggest the existence of a patents culture in the pharma industry stifles research and development. Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, who has argued vehemently against pharma patents for years, has suggested a bounty system for medical cures. Now, Senator Bernie Sanders has taken up Stiglitz’ idea and has proposed a new law in Congress that would set aside US$80 billion a year as an incentive to pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs that would then be put in the public domain.

Technology writer Wayne Smallman is one of several people to suggest that removing the restrictions of patents from the pharmaceutical industry would open up a whole new drug discovery process because even previously unpatentable drugs, such as DCA, for instance, might be developed into marketable products with an injection of cash from something like the Bill Gates Foundation. This idea basically extends the Sanders’ bounty concept to the private funders. After all, $80billion is but a handful of blockbuster products over a ten-year lifespan.

One potential benefit of releasing researchers from the patent bind though is that they will be able to publish their papers that much sooner, which would then hopefully accelerate science still further.

University press issues OA editions of its OP books

The Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is publishing OA editions of its out-of-print books.  From today's announcement:

The Libraries of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles (EUB), its publishing imprint, collaborate to provide free online access to recent books published by EUB which are out of print. The e-books are available on the Digithèque web site, the collection of  digital copies of printed books created by the Libraries.

Providing online open access to EUB recent books is valuable

  • For the public, who can freely read the books online,
  • For the authors, whose books are offered a second life,
  • For the publisher, whose collections become more visible.

Around 20 books are already available online, related to political science, sociology, European law, history, history of religions, statistics, environment…

The agreement between the EUB and the Libraries is part of the ULB policy as signatory of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Other open access initiatives of ULB include: The Study on the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publication markets in Europe commissioned by DG Research-European Commission; BICTEL/e, the Directory of electronic theses and dissertation; the Digithèque, its digitization program  of ancient books from the Libraries’ collections and their online full-text availability; its Institutional Repository, under development, which aims to collect and provide online open access to publications and scientific works by ULB professors and researchers....

Comment.  This is an excellent idea. Instead of letting OP books disappear from view, the original publishers should issue OA editions.  One day presses will routinely publish monographs in dual OA/TA editions, and use the OA editions to increase the visibility and sales of the TA editions.  But for presses reluctant to adopt that model today, creating an OA edition of an OP book is a small investment with large gains for the author, for readers, and for the press.

RePEc launches a blog

The RePEc team has launched a RePEc blog.  From the inaugural post on October 25, by Christian Zimmermann:

The RePEc team is opening today this blog with several goals in mind.

  1. Give us the opportunity to explain how RePEc works and what we do.
  2. Discuss some of the policy decisions we need to take.
  3. Give you the opportunity to comment and give us feedback.
  4. Expand to a wider audience some of the discussions we have within the RePEc team.
  5. Give you the opportunity to participate in our exciting project in whatever capacity you propose.
  6. Make people aware of some of the developments in the profession or in the Open Archive movement that are relevant to RePEc and its community.
  7. More generally, discuss the dissemination models for research in Economics and related fields....

Comment.  RePEc is one of the long-running success stories of the OA movement, launched more than 10 years ago (May 1997).  I'm very glad to see it plant a flag in the blogosphere.

Call for EPrints plugins

The EPrints team has issued a Call for Plugins.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

Developers are warmly invited to create import and export plugins for the EPrints repository platform.

EPrints is a mature repository platform that has a particular emphasis on interoperability. EPrints repositories operate in complex information environments consisting of mobile devices, user desktop applications, library environments, institutional databases and Internet services. EPrints is looking to increase its range of interoperability capabilities with more community-developed plugins.

EPrints Services is offering prizes for the best plugins submitted to the EPrints open source package repository by January 31st 2008. EPrints Services is the repository hosting company that funds EPrints development.

  • First Prize: Apple iPhone plus contract
  • Second Prize: iPod Touch
  • Third Prize: iPod Nano ...

EPrints has a growing list of plugins that can handle requirements as diverse as importing publications from PubMed or creating mashups using Google Maps. EPrints supports institutional repositories, but it is also suitable for individual student projects and research environments, as its import and export features allow existing digital collections to be used and reused in innovative ways.

For further information about this Call for Plugins, please see the Further Information Wiki page or email

Progress on the OA repository for Nordic arts and humanities

If you remember, in May 2007 the Copenhagen University Library announced an e-print archive for Nordic arts and humanities.  The archive now has a name, hprints and a URL (, although for now the URL resolves to the May announcement.  However, the hprints blog reports today that the project has chosen the HAL archiving software from CNRS.  (Thanks to Bertil Dorch.)

More on the value of access for lay readers

Jon Danzig, Acromegaly: My DIY diagnosis, The Independent, October 29, 2007.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)  This is Danzig's first-person story of how he correctly diagnosed his own acromegaly after years of inaccurate diagnoses by his doctors and consulting specialists.  He doesn't describe the kind of research he did to make the diagnosis, so we don't know that he used OA literature.  All we know is that OA literature makes this kind of research much easier.

More on the ACS campaign against OA

Yesterday I received an email from "Miss Phlogiston", another insider at the American Chemical Society.  As with the original "ACS Insider" (see one, two), I know nothing about the pseudonymous author.  Excerpt from her message:

I am writing you this email in [alliance] with the original Insider at the American Chemical Society.  The Chronicle of Higher Education confirmed last week that executive bonuses at the American Chemical Society are tied to the financial success of their publishing division.  This money may be influencing opposition to Open Access publishing by ACS executives.  The executive director pulls in almost $1 million annually.

To prevent Open Access:

  • ACS Editor Rudy Baum has written numerous opposing editorials in Chemical & Engineering News.
  • The Society has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for lobbyists.
  • ACS Publishing Executive, Brian Crawford, helped hire a suspect PR firm which created a covert organization called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM).

Question: Is ACS being run in the interest of members or to fatten the wallets of its executives?  Please reference the following time line with supporting sources.

[1]  Sept 2004 - Rudy Baum writes an editorial in C&EN entitled "Socialized Science." Rudy argues, "Open access, in fact, equates with socialized science."  Rudy does not mention that bonuses for ACS publishing executives are tied to publishing profits.

[2]  June 2006 - Rudy Baum writes "Take A Stand," another C&EN editorial against "socialized science."  He argues, "As a member of the ACS Publications Division executive team, I am very familiar with the tremendous effort, expense, and human resources that are poured into producing the finest chemistry journals and databases in the world."  As support, Rudy cites the position of the scholarly division of the Assn. of American Publishers (AAP). Rudy does not disclose that the chairman of the AAP's scholarly division is Brian Crawford, a publishing executive at ACS.

[3]   July 2006 - As Nature later reports, Several publishing executives with ACS, Wiley and Elsevier meet with PR operative, Eric Dezenhall, to discuss a plan to defeat open access.  Dezenhall advises the executives to equate Open Access with a reduction in peer review quality.

[4]  August 2006 - ACS publishing executive, Brian Crawford, writes a letter against Open Access to the Los Angeles Times. In the letter, he states, "Publishers will keep working to expand access to research while maintaining the integrity of peer review and copyright protection." Crawford identifies himself the "chair of the executive council of the professional and scholarly publishing division of the Assn. of American Publishers."

[5]  January 2007 - Nature reports that several publishing companies (Elsevier, ACS, Wiley) have hired PR operative Eric Dezenhall to fight Open Access.  In the past, Dezenhall represented several celebrities, as well as felons convicted in the Enron debacle.

[6]  January 2007 - Scientific American reports that ACS has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire lobbying firms to defeat Open Access. ACS' own internal lobbyists are also working against Open Access, but the exact expense cannot be determined from published records.

[7]  Summer 2007 - Former ACS journalist, Paul D. Thacker, writes in the SEJournal that Rudy Baum and other ACS executives sought to discredit his reporting after his editor received complaints from ACS President, Bill Carroll.  Thacker claims that Carroll chairs the ACS Committee on Executive Compensation which reviews the bonuses of the publishing executives such as Rudy Baum.  Rudy Baum does not address the issue of compensation, but Carroll states that his Committee does not review editorial bonuses.

[8]  September 2007 - The Assn of American Publishers launches a new group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM) coalition, an anti-open-access group.  The group claims that Open Access will hurt peer review.

[9]  Early October 2007 - ACS sends out a press release stating that several anonymous emails about executive pay and bonuses are filled with "erroneous and misleading claims."  The press release notes that compensation for ACS executives is approved by the Committee on Executive Compensation, however, executive compensation is not "related to the Society's position on open access." The press release continues, "Our Society's position is also represented by the Association of American Publishers, a non-profit organization whose membership encompasses the major commercial and non-profit scholarly publishers, including ourselves."

[10]  October 22, 2007 - As reported in The Scientist, Rudy Baum declines to state if his compensation is tied to publishing profits.  Of an anonymous email claiming the contrary, he says, "When anonymous material comes into the office I throw it out right away."

[11]  October 24, 2007 - ACS rebuts the anonymous email in the Chronicle of Higher Education.   The Chronicle interviews ACS Executive Director, Madeleine Jacobs, who "did confirm that senior executives and some managers in the publishing division have a 'small portion' of their overall incentive compensation 'based on meeting certain financial targets.' She did not agree that such incentive pay, however small, represented a conflict of interest in the group's opposition to open-access legislation and called such argument 'spurious.'" ...

[1]  "Socialized Science", by Rudy Baum

[2]  "Take a Stand", by Rudy Baum

[3]  "PR's Pit Bull Takes on Open Access" Nature, January 2007.

[4]  "Expand access, protect research" Letter to Los Angeles Times, Brian Crawford.

[5] "PR's Pit Bull Takes on Open Access" Nature, January 2007.

[6] "Open Access to Science Under Attack: High Profile Flacks" Sci Am., January 2007.

[7]  SEJournal, Summer 2007.

[8]  PRISM website

[9]  Letter posted at Pharyngula Blog

[10]  "Unrest in the ACS" The Scientist, October 22, 2007.

[11]  "Chemical Society Rebuts Anonymous Accusations" Chron. of Higher Ed, October 23, 2007.

* For future revelations, please follow the American Chemical Society Wiki

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Presentations from iPRES 2007

The presentations from the International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (Beijing, October 11-12, 2007) are now online.  Several focus on institutional repositories.

OA semiotics

The Open Semiotics Resource Center is a one-stop shop for OA resources on semiotics.  It has an OA repository for papers on semiotics, an OA encyclopedia of semiotics, and a peer-reviewed OA journal, The Public Journal of Semiotics, launched in January 2007.  (Thanks to the Scout Report.)

arXiv opens its API

arXiv is opening up its API.  From the arXiv API front page:

The goal of the API is to allow application developers access to all of the arXiv data, search and linking facilities with an easy-to-use programmatic interface. This page provides links to developer documentation, and gives instructions for how to join the mailing list and contact other developers and maintainers.

For more information about the arXiv API, please see our arxiv-api group, join the mailing list, look at the API FAQ, or join a discussion in #arxiv on

The primary interface to the arXiv has been human-oriented html web pages. The purpose of the arXiv API is to allow programmatic access to the arXiv's e-print content and metadata. The goal of the interface is to facilitate new and creative use of the the vast body of material on the arXiv by providing a low barrier to entry for application developers....

We would love to know how you are using the arXiv API. Please send us an email to the mailing list to tell us about your project, and what language/library you are using. Please include a url of your project, and we will post a link to it from this page....

Thanks to Programmable Cells for the alert and for these comments:

Despite the API being only a few days old, there have already been some people that have stepped up to develop clients, including OpenWetWare’s Bill Flanagan. Pretty soon you will be able to use the extremely convenient biblio plugin on OpenWetWare to create bibliographies using arXiv articles....

I should mention, the arXiv is not the first scientific literature source to open up their information via an API. To my knowledge, this milestone was achieved by the National Center for Biotechnology Information with their entrez e-utils system. This system allows programmatic access to all of PubMed, PubMed central, and the data wharehouses at NCBI such as Genbank. In fact, the current biblio pluggin uses this API.

But the arXiv API puts the physics, math and computer sciences community in the mix, so that someone can really make a mashup with all of that open access content. I tried to do this a while ago before the arXiv API, and let me tell you that I sorely missed it. The arXiv API is a much needed addition to the open science infrastructure. As arXiv has done in the past, I hope this inspires a wave of API building by journal publishers and others with valuable data so that we can have the tools necessary to creatively combine all these knowledge sources to improve the way science is done....

New coordination, investment, and momentum for the European Digital Library

Building the European Digital Library: calls for greater cooperation, a press release from JISC, October 27, 2007.  Excerpt:

A major European conference on digitisation came to an end today with a call for greater cooperation between countries and increased investment in digitisation at the highest political levels. The three-day LIBER-EBLIDA conference in Copenhagen brought together representatives from national and university libraries across Europe to discuss how digitisation can support moves towards making available European scholarly and cultural digital content.

High on the agenda were moves towards a European Digital Library – the delivery of integrated access to the digitised collections of libraries, archives and museums across the EU – the involvement of major commercial players such as Google and Microsoft and the stated aims of a number of smaller European nations to digitise their entire cultural and scholarly heritage.... 

Stuart Dempster of the UK’s Strategic Content Alliance spoke about the work of the Alliance developing a UK Content Framework (for delivery in spring 2009) and to maximise the investment being made in public sector information. A partnership between key public sector bodies, including JISC, the BBC and the NHS, the Alliance is attempting to overcome the many barriers which prevent citizens from the accessing the publicly-funded content they require for education, research work and leisure activities.

Jens Redmer reported on Google’s Books Search and Library Partner programmes, calling them ‘historic’ in their attempts not only to make available ‘the world’s information’ but also to join up services so that, for example, a Google search would link not only to content about a book but the book itself, or, where Google could not itself digitise the book concerned due to its still being in print, to local bookshops where that book could be bought. The presentation drew a wide range of questions about intellectual property, licensing issues and the ownership of the over one million texts currently being digitised by Google in Europe and the USA.

Among the recommendations made by conference delegates were: changes in European copyright directives, including greater uniformity of copyright regimes across the EU; simplified access to information about all European library and archive resources through a single portal (a ‘European Discovery Space’); greater coordination in the sharing of best practice....

Conference chair Paul Ayris summarised the conference’s outcomes by saying that digitisation is fragmented and uncoordinated with no overarching strategies which underpin the work being done across Europe. Calling for greater coordination across the continent, he asked why it was that it had taken a private company, Google, to show European libraries a way forward in making available scholarly resources? ...