Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New OA journal on ice

The Cryosphere is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal from the European Geosciences Union.  From the site:

The Cryosphere (TC) is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of frozen water and ground on Earth and on other planetary bodies....

The Cryosphere has an innovative two-stage publication process which involves a scientific discussion forum and exploits the full potential of the Internet to:

  • foster scientific discussion;
  • enhance the effectiveness and transparency of scientific quality assurance;
  • enable rapid publication;
  • make scientific publications freely accessible.

In the first stage, papers that pass a rapid access-review by one of the editors are immediately published on the The Cryosphere Discussions (TCD) website. They are then subject to Interactive Public Discussion, during which the referee’s comments (anonymous or attributed), additional short comments by other members of the scientific community (attributed) and the author’s replies are also published in TCD. In the second stage, the peer-review process is completed and, if accepted, the final revised papers are published in TC. To ensure publication precedence for authors, and to provide a lasting record of scientific discussion, TCD and TC are both ISSN-registered, permanently archived and fully citable.

PS:  This two-stage form of review, with the first closed and the second open, and the first prospective and the second retroactive, was pioneered by Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and made more popular by PLoS ONE.  I believe The Cryosphere is the first journal in this family to go beyond OA for the second-stage discussion and treat it as a separate ISSN-registered journal.

AnthroSource journal prices more than double after move to Wiley-Blackwell

John Hawks, AAA journals ratchet up 108 percent for 2008, john hawks weblog, November 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

I have this from my university library today:

As you all know, the AAA [American Anthropological Association] recently decided to outsource its publishing activities to Wiley-Blackwell. We're not sure how this will affect personal subscriptions, but our institutional rate had skyrocketed from $232 p.a. for American Anthropologist to $432, and from $138 for American Ethnologist to $338. To put it another way, the two subscriptions combined will now cost us 108% more in 2008 than in 2007.

The outcome of this will be that the university will go all-electronic and cut the print version, which as they point out will still be 3 times higher than the print edition used to be.

I have to wonder how relevant these journals will be when libraries begin dropping the sectional journals to make up the cost of the flagships. And how relevant they will be as more people publish their work in open access outlets. It seems pretty clear that if you want your work to be read outside of Research I universities, the AnthroSource journals are not a viable option.

UPDATE (2007/11/07): May I add, that while Alexa shows that AnthroSource averages around twice or three times my traffic, little has beaten AnthroSource over several short periods in the last three months? ...

In fact -- you can tell I'm getting incensed -- American Anthropologist is quarterly! They run around 55 articles and reviews a year. So the institution is expected to pay over $8 per article.

The Public Library of Science publishes articles in PLoS One for a waivable author fee of $1250. The sum total of that fee for 55 articles would be around $70,000 -- a price for which Wiley-Blackwell is going to supply American Anthropologist to around 160 institutions. That's not counting the till of individual subscriptions (part of AAA membership fees) -- which they've rolled into the total, but used to be around a $40 add-on for sections that required the journal.

Is it really possible that the 11,000 members of the AAA could subsidize worldwide free access to an all-electronic American Anthropologist entirely for less than $10 a head?


  • Just a note on the math in my headline:  The old prices for the two named subscriptions were 232 + 138 = 370.  The new prices for the same two subscriptions are 432 + 338 = 770.  The new total is 2.08 times the earlier total.
  • For background, see my September 2007 post on the AnthroSource move to Wiley-Blackwell and the AAA's history of opposition to OA.

More on JAM about the NIH policy

Jan Velterop, JAM tomorrow, The Parachute, November 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

On Wednesday November 7, 2007, in an entry called ‘More JAM about the NIH policy’, Peter Suber alerts us all to the fact that Nature, The Washington Post, Slashdot, and many others, got it wrong: the NIH policy is not about mandating its grantees to publish in OA journals, it is just about mandating them to deposit their articles, that is to say an “electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts” in PubMed Central “upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication”.

Indeed, as Suber says correctly, "The policy would require deposit in an OA repository (PubMed Central), not submission to OA journals. It's about green OA, not gold OA."

Unfortunately, in the perception of many – Nature, The Washington Post, and Slashdot surely don’t have a subversive agenda, but just report what is widely perceived – this distinction is of a level usually associated with copyrightlawyerly hairsplitteralcy....

Is it really just “ignorance and misunderstanding” that leads to this quite persistent confusion? Or is there perhaps something subliminal or too subtle in the distinction between ‘green’ and ‘gold’ that wrong-foots otherwise intelligent people?

Applied to OA, ‘green’ and ‘gold’ are qualifiers of a different order. ‘Gold’ is straightforward: you pay for the service of being published in a peer-reviewed journal and your article is unambiguously Open Access. ‘Green’, however, is little more than an indulgence allowed by the publisher. This, for most publishers at least, is fine, as long as it doesn’t undermine their capability to make money with the work they do. But a 'green' policy is reversible.

This is not to say that the NIH policy isn’t going to be effective in bringing OA closer. It may very well be. But quite possibly not via ‘green’ (is it not time to realise that ‘green’ isn’t the fast and sure way to open access that it is often made out to be?).

Embargoes are the policies that will bring OA closer. Why? An embargo carries the risk for a publisher that both the reader (read: librarian) and the author can just afford to wait. Especially if embargoes should get shorter than 12 months. And if they can afford to wait, there is no need or incentive on either side to pay anything to anybody. For publishers, there are only two ways out, and neither involves ‘green’: to refuse articles from NIH grantees unless they come with some form of cash payment or exclusive rights. ‘Gold’ publishers already do that; they get paid in cash when they accept and publish an article. No cash, no publication. Subscription publishers get paid in the form of rights that are transferred to them. Copyrights, mostly, or at least exclusive publication rights (if and where there is a difference between those two). And those rights will look a lot less exclusive and therefore lose a lot in value under an embargo regime. So actually, it comes down to just one way, since the exclusive rights route is a mere cul-de-sac leading nowhere, all but closed off by embargoes. Or perhaps the other is stopping journal publishing altogether.

For hitherto ‘green’ publishers, to turn to ‘gold’ and join the already existing OA publishers in only inviting submission of manuscripts by NIH grantees that, should they be accepted for publication, come with publication fees in one way or another, will be an increasingly attractive option.


  • I agree with Jan that JAM is not due to a "subversive agenda" but simply to misunderstanding.  But the innocence of the mistake doesn't make it any less regrettable or in need of correction. 
  • It's one thing to say that people often misunderstand the distinction between green and gold, but quite another to say that the distinction itself is "copyrightlawyerly hairsplitteralcy".  It's not that hard to grasp.  Gold is OA through peer-reviewed journals, and green is OA through archives or repositories which don't themselves perform peer review.  But while these repositories don't perform peer review themselves, they can host manuscripts peer reviewed elsewhere.  The NIH policy doesn't even use the green/gold language --which admittedly is not self-explanatory--, but simply talks about depositing a certain version of the manuscript in PubMed Central, regardless of where the article was published.  That's not hypersubtle and we can certainly expect journalists at the Washington Post and Nature to get it right.  They get much subtler policies and concepts right every day. 
  • On the other hand, Jan may be right that there is " the distinction between ‘green’ and ‘gold’ that wrong-foots otherwise intelligent people".  I've tried for years to understand why otherwise intelligent people so frequently get it wrong.  Last month I put it this way (p. 46):  "The fact is that green OA has always had to fight for recognition.  Its novelty makes it invisible.  People understand OA journals, more or less, because they understand journals. But there's no obvious counterpart to OA archiving in the traditional landscape of scholarly communication. It's as if people can only understand new things that they can assimilate to old things."
  • "‘Green’, however, is little more than an indulgence allowed by the publisher."  Some is and some isn't.  When publishers permit self-archiving, as most do today, Jan is right that this is an indulgence.  Publishers may revise or revoke their permission at any time.  But funder policies to mandate green OA needn't depend on publisher permission at all.  There are at least two ways to do this.  (1) One is to take advantage of the fact that funders are upstream from publishers.  If the funding contract requires deposit in an OA repository, then grantees are bound by this contract and can only sign subsequent copyright transfer agreements with publishers subject to the terms of the prior funding contract.  This approach was pioneered by the Wellcome Trust and has since been taken up by by the Medical Research Council, JISC and HHMI.  (2) The other way is for a public funding agency to use a license specially approved by the legislature to disseminate the results of publicly-funded research.  In the US there are two such licenses, one from 2003 for all the agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (including the NIH) and one from 2005 for all federal agencies whatsoever.  FRPAA would have used the latter.  It's too early to say which approach the NIH will take, but it certainly need not rely on the indulgence of publishers.  And if it is serious about achieving a compliance rate approaching 100%, then it will not rely on the indulgence of publishers.
  • "This is not to say that the NIH policy isn’t going to be effective in bringing OA closer. It may very well be. But quite possibly not via ‘green’ (is it not time to realise that ‘green’ isn’t the fast and sure way to open access that it is often made out to be?)."  Three quick points.  First, the NIH policy will certainly bring OA closer, just as other OA mandates have done at other funding agencies.  Second, it will do so entirely through green OA, since that is the only kind of OA the policy requires.  Third, green is unquestionably a "fast and sure" way to bring about OA, especially when mandated by a funder or university.  Mistakes by journalists and others in understanding green OA count for nothing once an agency has well and properly implemented a policy requiring green OA.  If these mistakes are used as an objection to implementing such a policy, supposedly on the ground that they show that green isn't a fast and sure path to OA, then the objection begs the question. 
  • I have no opinion on Jan's view that embargoes (or OA mandates plus embargoes) will nudge green journals into converting to gold, but I do hope he's right about that.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Profile of the open education movement

A Q&A with Catherine Casserly, Program Officer, Open Educational Resources, Hewlett Foundation Newsletter, November 2007.  (Thanks to the Creative Commons blog.)  Excerpt:

...Catherine Casserly is a [Hewlett Foundation] program officer who directs the Foundation’s work to make educational materials freely available on line. The open educational resources movement, as this effort has come to be known, funds universities and other institutions to make high quality educational materials freely available on the World Wide Web....Casserly has a Ph.D. in the economics of education from Stanford University....

What were the concerns and obstacles when you started?

There was lots of skepticism about the quality of the content.  If “open” means free, free must mean of lesser quality. In fact, what we found was that when you put out your materials out there for the world to see, your reputation is on the line and you’re going to put out the best quality content that you can....

Aren’t copyright laws an obstacle to all of this?

Traditionally, they have been. We’re trying to move to “copy left.” ...It’s a concept of legal constructions that provide much more flexibility so the creator of content still owns it, and those using it must attribute it to them, but the owner can choose the ways they are willing to share it with others....

You know, only a very small number of professors ever make money on textbooks. Everyone thinks they are going to hit, but most don’t....We’re looking into making these books available for free to those who can’t afford them. And there are other models emerging. There’s a for-profit company planning to make textbooks available for free and makes its money selling the supplemental materials like flashcards for mobile phones....

So is this movement toward open educational resources now self-sustaining?

It definitely has an incredible amount of momentum, but all the problems are not yet solved. The infrastructure isn’t there for it to grow on its own. It still needs support and there’s still a lot to learn about its potential. Will it survive? Yes. Will it thrive? It still needs more nurturing. It’s clear that it broadens access to learning. But there’s still work to be done to show what it can contribute in improving the way learning takes place....

SWORD 1.0 to facilitate repository deposits

SWORD 1.0 has been released (thanks to Richard Jones and Charles Bailey).  SWORD stands for Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit.

From the original project plan:

...There is currently no standard mechanism for accepting content into repositories, yet there already exists a stable and widely implemented service for harvesting metadata from repositories (OAI-PMH...). This project will implement a similarly open protocol or specification for deposit....

This project aims to develop...a lightweight deposit protocol that will be implemented as a simple web service within EPrints, DSpace, Fedora and IntraLibrary and tested against a prototype ‘smart deposit’ tool....

For background, see my post on SWORD's launch in April 2007.

Plan for a Swedish National Data Service

Improved access to research results in Sweden, Co-Action Publishing, November 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Swedish Research council has announced (in Swedish) that Gothenburg University will host a new infrastructure for research in the social sciences, epidemiology and the humanities: Swedish National Data Service (SND). The research Council has already set up a Database Infrastructure Committee (DISC) and SND should be seen as an effort to further strengthen efforts to facilitate access to and use of research results. Below is a translation of the Swedish text.

- On November 5th an Agreement was reached between the Research Council and Gothenburg University with the aim of improving access to research data in Sweden....

Within five to ten years SND will have complete information about Swedish databases within the social sciences, epidemiology and the humanities, in addition to a comprehensive view of corresponding databases in other countries....

The Agreement between Gothenburg University and the Research Council runs for five years and may be prolonged after evaluation. The Research Council is contributing funds from 2008-2012 with a total of 30 million SEK [USD 4500 mil]. Including the contribution from Gothenburg University, SND will have a budget of at least 12 million SEK in 2012.

SND’s deliverables are for instance

  • Archiving, quality assurance and documentation of research databases
  • Making databases accessible for research
  • Guidance and information for researchers
  • Participation in international networks for data archives
  • Cooperation to develop and build databases

Preference for digital texts

Andrea Foster, Faculty Members Prefer Digitized Texts, Wired Campus, November 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Faculty members overwhelmingly prefer using online material to printed material, according to the results of a survey released this week by Ebrary, a company that provides electronic content and technology to libraries, publishers, and other businesses.

The survey shows that half of faculty members prefer electronic resources, and 18 percent prefer print. Another 32 percent said they had no preference.

Also, 77 percent of those surveyed said electronic journals “provide more effective access for most of my research” or “are easier to use for most of my research.”

The results were based on responses of 906 faculty members from 300 colleges and 38 countries. Ebrary sought respondents via its Web site....


  • It helps OA that faculty are accepting online digital texts as working texts.  But it's not necessary for OA.  For example, I myself prefer print for close study.  When I really have to read something carefully, I make a printout and mark it up.  All OA texts can be printed, even if not all printed texts can be OA.  But even when I work from a printout, I take advantage of the OA edition for initial access, subsequent searching, cutting/pasting, linking/sharing, and new work presupposing that colleagues have access to the same text I do.
  • What really helps OA is the realization that online texts and journals are more accessible and easier to use.  You may have to be a certain age to remember that promotion and tenure committees formerly looked askance at online scholarship, as if quality depended on medium.  This prejudice is disappearing today but not gone.  BTW, toll-access journal publishers are helping it disappear by launching online editions and discontinuing print editions.  What's most heartening about the ebrary survey results is the evidence that this prejudice will soon be gone and soon after replaced by a preference for digital flexibility and online access.

SCOAP3 makes a home on the web

CERN has created a home page for the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3).  It includes this succinct statement of the consortium's plan:

Today: (funding bodies through) libraries buy journal subscriptions to support the peer-review service and to allow their patrons to read articles.

Tomorrow: funding bodies and libraries contribute to the consortium, which pays centrally for the peer-review service. Articles are free to read for everyone.

The page links to background information and documents on the project, and will soon include an FAQ

It also includes this piece of news, which I haven't yet blogged:

The rectors and council chairmen of Greek Universities confirm the participation of the Greek academic community to SCOAP3.  The financial support will be covered by the Greek Library Association's budget, completed by the participating universities.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

California's plan to mandate OA for greenhouse gas data

California wants to mandate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and then provide OA to the data.  From the November 6 press release:

On Oct. 19, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a draft rule that would create an extensive mandatory greenhouse gas reporting system and held a public workshop to review the proposal on Oct. 31. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (A.B. 32) requires CARB to adopt regulations creating a greenhouse gas registry by Jan. 1, 2008, putting in place what appears to be the country's most comprehensive and sophisticated greenhouse gas registry.

The proposed regulations were developed with input from public and private stakeholders, state agencies and the general public. Modeled after the California Climate Action Registry (CCAR), a voluntary greenhouse gas reporting program started in 2001, the regulations detail which industrial sectors will report, what the reporting and verification thresholds and requirements will be, and how calculations will be made. Approximately 800 facilities will be required to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which CARB estimates will represent 94 percent of California's total carbon dioxide production from stationary sources....

Facilities will also have to get third-party verification that reports are accurate....

Though the proposed rule does not specifically direct the creation of an online searchable database, California state law requires all emissions reporting to be publicly accessible....

At least four other states (CT, ME, NJ, WI) have, albeit more limited, mandatory GHG reporting requirements. Another 38 states have committed to create similar programs with the voluntary Climate Registry. California's program appears to be the most ambitious effort to track the exact sources of GHG emissions.

After the public comment period, final review of the proposed regulations will begin on Dec. 6. Federal legislation creating a national greenhouse gas inventory is pending.

Update. Glyn Moody summarizes succinctly: Using a commons to protect a commons.

New OA journal on critical statistics

DataCrítica: International Journal of Critical Statistics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Centro de Publicaciones Academicas (CEPA) at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.  (Thanks to Antrópico.)  The inaugural issue is now online.

OA improves metrics, and metrics improve research assessment

Stevan Harnad, UUK report looks at the use of bibliometrics, Open Access Archivangelism, November 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Comments on UUK Press Release 8 November 2007:
UUK report looks at the use of bibliometrics

...Bibliometrics are probably the most useful of a number of variables that could feasibly be used to measure research performance....

There are data limitations where researchers' outputs are not comprehensively catalogued in bibliometrics databases.
The obvious solution for this is Open Access: All UK researchers should deposit all their research output in their Institutional Repositories (IRs). Where it is not possible to set access to a deposit as OA, access can be set as Closed Access, but the bibliographic metadata will be there. (The IRs will not only provide access to the texts and the metadata, but they will generate further metrics, such as download counts, chronometrics, etc.) ...

Update. Also see Stevan's follow-up, November 9, 2007.

Harnad response to Gallagher

Stevan Harnad, OA: Not OK, But Not DOA Either, Open Access Archivangelism, November 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

In "OA, OK?" Richard Gallagher (2007) is quite right to say "we're still waiting" for the "optimal and inevitable" [Open Access]. I was already in full agreement in the previous millennium (Harnad 1999):

"I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us....

"For staring us in the face in this last decade has been an obvious new way to augment that already impressive speed and scale by perhaps an order of magnitude, yet we simply haven't twigged on it...

"I don't think there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to what the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library... and its [peer-review] expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the [subscription cancellation] savings. The only question is: When?..." -- (Harnad 1999)

But Gallagher is not quite right that "most scientists became indifferent about Open Access." The syndrome is not quite indifference but a combination of ignorance and indolence (Swan 2005) concerning what is already demonstrably in their own best interests and fully within their reach. I have dubbed the syndrome "Zeno's Paralysis" (">Harnad 2006); the affliction is, fortunately, curable. The medicine is OA self-archiving mandates (Harnad 2001, Harnad et al. 2003; Harnad 2007) by researchers' institutions and funders.

And those mandates are on the way....

Educating faculty about scholarly communication and OA

Kathleen A. Newman, Deborah D. Blecic, and Kimberly L. Armstrong, Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives: SPEC Kit 299, Association of Research Libraries, August 2007.

Abstract:   Access to information, the foundation of scholarly communication, has traditionally been provided through academic journals, research collections, and other print publications. Recent advances in digital technology, however, have revolutionized scholarly communication, leading to innovations in the conduct of research as well as in the conveyance of ideas to readers. Librarians have sought to inform their communities about scholarly communication issues such as author rights management, open access, and journal costs through such activities as classes, Web sites, symposia, and workshops to help create change. The purpose of this survey was to find out what kind of initiatives ARL member libraries have used or plan to use to educate faculty, researchers, administrators, students, and library staff at their institutions about scholarly communication issues.

A survey distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in May 2007 to determine the nature of library-initiated education activities about scholarly communication issues that had taken place in their institutions in the past three years or that were expected to take place soon. Of the 73 libraries that responded to the survey, 55 (75%) indicated that the library has engaged in educational activities on scholarly communication issues; 13 (18%) have not, but indicated that planning is underway. Only three libraries indicated that they had not engaged in this activity and were not planning to do so; another two responded that this is the responsibility of another, non-library unit of the institution. This excerpt from SPEC Kit 299 contains the Executive Summary (7 pgs), the Survey Questions and Responses (64 pgs), the lists of Selected Resources (6 pgs). The excerpt does not include the Representative Documents that were submitted by the respondents (106 pgs) which included proposals for education initiatives, scholarly communication and copyright Web pages, job descriptions, and education materials.

PS:  Don't confuse this with the ARL SPEC Kit 300, directly on OA, which I blogged just last week.  Kit 299 is about attempts to educate faculty about scholarly communication developments, and includes some useful data and anecdotes on attempts to educate faculty about OA.

J of the California Dental Association converts to OA

The Journal of the California Dental Association has converted to OA, starting with the October 2007 issue.  The journal will also offer OA to past issues back to 1998.  (Thanks to Graham Steel.) 

An official announcement should be coming soon --and I'd expect that the page of subscription prices would be coming down at about the same time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More JAM about the NIH policy

On November 1, Rick Weiss wrote in the Washington Post:

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.

This is not true.  As I wrote in my blog comment:  "The policy would require deposit in an OA repository (PubMed Central), not submission to OA journals.  It's about green OA, not gold OA." 

Then on November 5, an unsigned editorial in The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, repeated the Post error:

Within the Health and Human Services appropriations bill now before Congress is a requirement that scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health publish their research results in scientific journals which will make them available to anyone, for free, after one year.

Now today, Nature News repeats the error:

US investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may soon be compelled to publish only in journals that make their research papers freely available within one year of publication.

And Slashdot picks up the error from Nature News:

Congress is expected to vote this week on a bill requiring investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to publish research papers only in journals that are made freely available within one year of publication.

I don't blame Slashdot for picking up language from Nature, but I did expect Nature to base its language on the bill itself.

Here's the NIH provision in its entirety from the LHHS appropriations bill just approved by both houses of Congress (see the House bill or the Senate bill):

The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

NB:  It's all about deposit in PMC.  There isn't a word about where authors should or should not submit their work.  There isn't a word about journal access policies.

Although this outbreak is new, the Post-Times-Nature-Slashdot error is old.  In January 2006 it was already old: 

Ignorance and misunderstanding have always been obstacles to OA, but for at least two years now a single misunderstanding has been a major player.  We need a name for the mistake of thinking that a mandate to deposit work in an OA repository is really a mandate to submit work to an OA journal....Let's call it the Journal-Archive Mixup (JAM).  In 2004 most publishers with an opinion about the NIH public-access policy made JAM in their responses to it, and were repeatedly corrected by OA activists and the NIH itself.  The UK government made JAM in response to the OA recommendations by House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and was repeatedly corrected by journalists, OA activists, and the House of Commons....

Ray English and I have sent a letter to the Post to correct the error.  But we can't keep up with this rapidly spreading virus.  If you see a newspaper, journal, blogger, or listserv contributor repeat the Journal-Archive Mixup, please send a correction.

Update. Stevan Harnad seconds the motion.

Update. Andrea Gawrylewski has picked up this story for The Scientist, Media bungles open access details, November 13, 2007. (Thanks, Andrea.)

Update. The letter to the editor that Ray English and I wrote to the Washington Post is now online, November 13, 2007 (p. A18).

Tracking copies, dunnning copiers

Richard Pérez-Peña, Publishers See A Way To Track Their Content Across The Net, New York Times, November 5, 2007.

Copyrighted work like a news article or a picture can hop between Web sites as easily as a cut-and-paste command. But more than ever, as that material finds new audiences, the original sources might not get the direct financial benefit — in fact, they might have little idea where their work has spread.

A young company called Attributor says it has an answer....

The company has developed software that identifies an electronic “fingerprint” for a particular piece of material — an article, a picture, a video. Then it hunts down any place across the Web where a significant chunk of that work has been copied, with or without permission.

When the use is unauthorized, Attributor’s software can automatically send a message to the site’s operators, demanding a link back to the original publisher’s site, a share of revenue from any ads on the page, or a halt to the copying.

The Associated Press and Reuters, each of which publishes thousands of pieces of material each day, are among the company’s clients....

“There are probably thousands of examples every year where our stuff gets copied without authorization,” a newspaper company executive said. “The ad revenue they get from it might not be much, but if each of those just gives a link back to our original, that could be a significant amount of traffic.” ...

Reuters began using Attributor last month, and Chris Ahearn, president of Reuters Media, said that first he wants to learn how his company’s thousands of customers are using the vast stream of information it sends their way.

But finding unauthorized use “clearly is a big opportunity for us,” Mr. Ahearn said, both to drive traffic to the Reuters site and to turn cheaters into customers. He added, “Our attitude is there are enough lawyers in the world, so why don’t we turn this over to our sales people?” 


  • How does Attributor know when a copy is unathorized?  Before I started using CC licenses, I authorized online copies of my work silently or by private email.  The answer is that Attributor isn't designed for people like me.  It's designed for publishers who rarely authorize copies.  It looks like Attributor will simply presume that copies are unauthorized.
  • Newspapers using Attributor seem to be more interested in links than fees, and more interested in fees than take-downs.  Are any academic publishers using Attributor?  If so, do they have roughly the same priorities?

Free knowledge

Kim Tucker, Say "Libre" for Knowledge and Learning Resources, apparently a preprint, last revised September 15, 2007.  (Thanks to Ray Corrigan.)

Abstract:   In response to discussions among members of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement about whether to describe learning resources as "free", "libre" or "open", this essay clarifies the position of the "libre" camp and outlines the rationale for referring to knowledge and learning resources as "libre" or "free" rather than "open".

We start by building on a decade of debate and experience in the world of free/libre and open source software. Substantial sections of Why "Open Source" misses the point of Free Software and other essays of opinion Richard Stallman have been copied and adapted with permission.

We generalise from free software to free knowledge, and indicate the importance of the semantics in building community and shaping the future - towards a broad vision for a libre knowledge society.

Should we look for alternatives to copyright?

The Center for Economic and Policy Research has released a podcast of a panel discussion, Copyrights -- Do They Have a Future in the Internet Age?  (Thanks to Free Government Information.)  From the description:

Copyrights have been one of the main mechanisms for financing creative and artistic work for centuries. However, the development of digital technology and the Internet has brought about growing legal and practical challenges to copyrights. This debate answered the following question: "Are copyrights still useful or should we look to alternative mechanisms to support creative and artistic work?"

With Gerard Colby, President of National Writers Union, and Dean Baker, Co-director of Center for Economic and Policy Research. Moderated by Jo Freeman, of UAW Local 1981/ AFL-CIO and Washington, DC chapter of the National Writers Union.

Student stakes and student action in the open access movement

Gavin Baker, Student activism: How students use the scholarly communication system, College & Research Libraries News, November 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

Faculty aren’t the only users of the scholarly communication system. Students also depend on it for their education, research, and to disseminate their own ideas. And students, like faculty, have taken action to broaden access to the academic literature and maximize the value of this important resource....

How students participate in the scholarly communication system

1. Students are users of journal literature. The research paper is a staple of student life...and broad access to the literature enhances the student’s education.

[S]tudents are frequently  assigned journal literature as class readings in addition to, or in place of, textbooks....[I]n classes that rely on large numbers of journal articles, students often are required to purchase a coursepack or sourcebook containing the readings...The cost of these coursepacks can rival the cost of textbooks. Unlike textbooks, however, coursepacks often have no resale value....

2. Students are authors of journal literature. Some students, particularly graduate students, will have the occasion to publish their work in a scholarly journal, often coauthored with a faculty mentor....

3. Students are editors of scholarly journals....In addition to student journals, students also edit professional scholarly journals. Law reviews, for example, are frequently wholly student-edited....

4. Students are constituents of the scholarly communication system. Students are a constituency of university governance—often formally, such as through a student government or graduate student council....

Finally, students are also citizens and taxpayers, who have an interest in maximizing the public investment in science, just like any other taxpayer.

How students have been involved

Students have been involved with changing scholarly communication since at least 2003, when the Berkeley Graduate Assembly issued a statement on the serials crisis. In March 2006, the University of Iowa’s Graduate Student Senate became the first graduate representative body to specifically endorse open access.

Students have been particularly involved with public access to taxpayer-funded research. Three student organizations —the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, and— are members of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access; AMSA was a founding member of the coalition. In June 2006, the University of Florida Student Senate became the first university-wide representative body to endorse the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which would provide public access to the research output of eleven government departments and agencies. Oberlin College and Trinity University followed in March 2007....

Students have also supported open access in more creative ways. CALPIRG, the California Student Public Interest Research Group, in 2005 released a report endorsing open access journals and institutional repositories....[I]n February 2007, (now Students for Free Culture) organized a day of action on its campuses, with chapters hosting events and activities to call attention to open access.

Students have also embraced open access for their own research. In 2007, Rasmus Bjørk, a graduate student in astrophysics at the University of Copenhagen, deposited his article, “Exploring the Galaxy Using Space Probes,” in the physics preprint server arXiv. Journalists became aware of the article prior to its journal publication, and the research was covered in venues such as The Guardian, BBC, and New Scientist.1 Students have also started new open access journals, such as the Journal of Physics Students....

Personally, after I finished my degree, I took an internship with SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Over the summer, I researched the state of student engagement with open access, designed a student outreach campaign, and drafted informational materials for students....

What libraries can do

Libraries seeking to build support for open access would be wise to invite students as allies....

Aside from the effort to change scholarly communication, open access also can and should be presented to students as part of library services and information literacy programs. Guiding students to open access resources alongside other library resources helps information-seekers find what they’re looking for, reclaims the library’s role in information retrieval, and educates students about open access in the process....

If librarians offer workshops on getting published or on copyright, they should not miss the opportunity to emphasize the benefits of open access to the author. Early research suggests that student authors are particularly motivated by the accessibility and impact of their work....

Luckily, librarians aren’t alone when it comes to campus outreach. SPARC is developing a student outreach campaign, including a brochure and Web site of informational materials that libraries can use. For more information about the campaign and for help connecting with students on your campus, contact SPARC....

Copyright and open content

Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has released a 54 minute podcast of Christine Harold's talk yesterday on copyright and open content.  From the description:

Christine Harold, an Assistant Professor in Department of Communication at the University of Washington, was the guest speaker this week at the Berkman Center’s Luncheon Series....

Harold’s presentation, entitled “Inventing Publics: Kairos and Intellectual Property Law” looks to explore the possibilities of the “open content” movement, specifically the licensing model offered by Creative Commons, as a productive alternative to other prevalent responses to the corporate hoarding of cultural resources.

As she argues in her recent book OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Culture, rather than engaging commercial culture dialectically, an open content approach serves as a provocation to commercialism by amplifying certain market logics and, in doing so, undermines concepts such as “author” and “property” on which corporate power depends.

Don't let a shiny interface make open data less useful

Rufus Pollock, Give Us the Data Raw, and Give it to Us Now, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, November 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

One thing I find remarkable about many data projects is how much effort goes into developing a shiny front-end for the material. Now I’m not knocking shiny front-ends....But shiny front ends (SFEs from now on) do have various drawbacks:

  • They often take over completely and start acting as a restriction on the way you can get data out of the system. (A classic example of this is the Millenium Development Goals website which has lots of shiny ajax which actually make it really hard to grab all of the data out of the system — please, please just give me a plain old csv file and a plain old url).
  • Even if the SFE doesn’t actually get in the way, they do take money away from the central job of getting the data out there in a simple form....
  • They reflect an interface centric, rather than data centric, point of view. This is wrong. Many interfaces can be written to that data (and not just a web one) and it is likely (if not certain) that a better interface will be written by someone else (albeit perhaps with some delay). Furthermore the data can be used for many other purposes than read-only access. To summarize: The data is primary, the interface secondary.
  • Taking this issue further, for many projects, because the interface is taken as primary, the data does not get released until the interface has been developed. This can cause significant delay in getting access to that data....

Linking to open ebooks v. controlling the user experience

Peter Brantley, Books Working with the Web, O'Reilly Radar, November 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Almost a year ago, Tim O'Reilly wrote, "Search engines should be switchboards, not repositories" in his blog post, "Book Search should work like Web Search." The premise was that search engines should not duplicate the digital book repositories of publishers or other service providers, but should instead direct traffic to them. As Tim said, "Don't fight the internet." ...

If we compare the services provided by a public domain text between Google and the Open Content Alliance, it is difficult to argue with the proposition that the user experience of OCA's OpenLibrary is superior. Let's take, for example, a copy of Bacon's Novum Organum; OCA's copy is from the University of California Berkeley library, and Google's is from Stanford University's library.

Both OCA and Google permit a download of this public domain work in pdf, and both provide a pleasant online browsing experience. Both render on-screen a raw text version based on the OCR derived from the page image. Nonetheless, even sans consideration of the question of image quality and OCR fidelity, OpenLibrary provides several services that Google does not, including access in multiple formats -- DjVu, FlipBook; B/W and color PDF, as well as text; OCA provides text to speech capability through the FlipBook presentation. OCA also incorporates notice of critical metadata, including known rights information, on each book's profile page. Finally, OCA permits access to their content in bulk, to the extent their own contracts permit, for purposes of research and education; e.g., for text mining analyses, etc.

I have discussed the online book viewing user experience with Brewster Kahle, and he agrees with Tim O'Reilly: book search should work like web search. A search engine should serve as a switchboard, and not as the sole delivery platform for the content. In other words, a search engine must be an open delivery platform, and not a closed garden. For Google to wear the mantle of open protocols for the social web, but to discard them for books, is a hypocrisy.

OCA is willing, and encourages, Google and others to harvest the metadata and full text of their books through current crawling procedures, as well as nascent protocols (such as BookMap), to facilitate discovery through all search platforms. Some of OCA's contributors have expressly reserved the right to keep Google from re-hosting materials in the Google Book Search application platform, even as they remain fully available to the public at OCA; for these works, the browsing reader must utilize the OCA site.

OCA encourages Google to redirect users back to the OpenLibrary or (whenever possible) other alternative book library interfaces once they have selected an OCA title for browsing. OCA has never mandated the use of any particular book-viewing program; does not surrender control of the user experience to Google; and offers the distinct possibility of delivering a better browsing and library platform than what Google provides through Google Book Search....

Harvesting New Zealand's OA repositories

The New Zealand government and National Library of New Zealand have launched the Kiwi Research Information Service (KRIS).  From the site:

This website is a gateway to the open-access research documents produced at universities, polytechnics, and other research institutions throughout New Zealand.

We have harvested research document metadata from around New Zealand and collected it in one place. You can use this website to search for research, look up specific subjects or authors, browse the research in various ways, and keep abreast of emerging research activity.

If you're a researcher at a New Zealand institution, we encourage you to contribute your research outputs to your institution's research repository.  [KIWI] will harvest them and distribute them to your peers - both in New Zealand and worldwide.

Thanks to the NZVCC Electronic News Bulletin, November 6, 2007, which provides a few extra details:

CONZUL (Council of New Zealand University Librarians) has taken the lead in sharing expertise on the development of institutional repositories. The National Library was funded by the Tertiary Education Commission to develop the harvesting service. A governance group for KRIS has been set up, chaired by Ainslie Dewe, University Librarian & Director of Knowledge Management at the Auckland University of Technology

KRIS will be officially launched in November but it is already publicly available for search....

More on CC licenses, derivative works, and moral rights

Thinh Nguyen, CC, Open Access, and moral rights, Science Commons blog, November 7, 2007.  Excerpt:

A question that we often see in connection with the use of Creative Commons licenses in OA publishing is how the Creative Commons licenses, (and in particular CC-BY) affect moral rights. One example is this post on the topic by Peter Suber.

From the perspective of moral rights, the Creative Commons licenses start with a simple proposition: They don’t affect moral rights....

Although we are frequently used to talking about concepts such as “moral rights” as if they are the same everywhere, most lawyers are well aware that all laws are local, meaning that they have jurisdictional limits and variations. For example, although the United States is obligated to protect moral rights under the Berne Convention, the United States does it very differently than countries in Europe, and it does not protect the same range of rights. The United States uses a combination of legislation (such as the Visual Artists Rights Act) and common law protections (libel and defamation) to protect an artist’s personality rights. The United States has deemed this sufficient to comply with its Berne Convention obligations....

[I]n many jurisdictions, moral rights are unwaivable. So in those jurisdictions, even if the author uses a license that purports to waive moral rights, the author still has them and may still enforce them in the future. That’s why we don’t try to waive these rights. We don’t want to mislead license users by trying to do something that’s impossible....

So one question comes up a lot: how is it consistent to have a license (such as CC-BY) that allows derivative works to be made while at the same time recognizing that the author reserves his moral rights? Isn’t any derivative work an infringement of moral rights, when they exist? Not necessarily. Moral rights exist to protect the reputation of the author.

So the right of integrity, which bars distortion, alteration or mutilation of the work, does not necessarily bar all derivative works, but only those that are harmful to the reputation of the author....

Through a combination of existing moral rights protections, the Attribution requirement under Creative Commons licenses, and informal scholarly norms, it may very well be possible to implement the conception of “integrity” as expressed in the BBB declaration, at least to an approximate degree.

Managing copyrights for open education

John Casey, Jackie Proven, and David Dripps, Managing IPR in Digital Learning Materials: A Development Pack for Institutional Repositories, Trust in Digital Repositories, undated but apparently recent.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  A major paper plus 2 discussions, 20 readings, 6 tools, a bibliography, and many links to related sites, all on managing copyrights for e-learning contents on deposit in OA repositories.  Excerpt:

This institutional development pack for managing IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) in e-learning is intended to support those who wish to update and clarify their institutional policies and infrastructures to help get the best out of using technology to support teaching and learning. Confusion, lack of awareness, poor practice, contradictory policy and risk aversion currently dominate thinking about this subject at all levels – particularly amongst senior management. This is presenting a major obstacle to the effective uptake of e-learning in our tertiary education system. In this pack we explicitly link the task of overhauling the IPR regimes in our institutions to the organisational and professional ‘process change' that is required to make effective use of e-learning – especially in relation to the introduction and extension of flexible learning delivery.

OA interviews with molecular biologists and neuroscientists

Molecular Interventions is not an OA journal, but it has been publishing a series of OA interviews with leading scientists in the field.  There's no easy way to find them all, but MindHacks has put together links to eight of them.

Notes from OpenLearn 2007

JWYG has blogged some notes on the OpenLearn 2007 conference at the UK's Open University (Milton Keynes, October 30-31, 2007). 

Three OA publishers talk about sustainability

SPARC and ACRL have released podcast and text interviews with three OA publishers --from PLoS, BMC, and Hindawi-- talking about business-level details of their operations, and a comparison of their businesses by Alma Swan.  From yesterday's announcement:

SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), have released interviews and analysis exploring in depth the views of three major open access publishers on the challenges of sustainability. The materials were produced in conjunction with the 15th SPARC-ACRL Forum on Emerging Issues in Scholarly Communication, which took place on June 23, 2007.

The Forum, which is held at every meeting of the American Library Association, offered participants the opportunity to engage in conversation with top executives from the three organizations. Speakers included Mark Patterson, director of publishing for the Public Library of Science; Bryan Vickery, deputy publisher for BioMed Central and Editorial Director for Chemistry Central; and Paul Peters, director of business development for Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Alma Swan of Key Perspectives Ltd., moderated the session. Podcasts and slides from the event are now available [here].

The new materials offer a deeper level of insight into the three publishers' business models and include:

  • Interviews (in podcast and written formats) with each executive exploring each organization's approach in detail.
  • A matrix comparison of the publishers' views on 11 aspects of maintaining their operations, including: the financial viability of the company; the basis for charging publication fees; new and traditional impact factors; and the role of institutional memberships in the business model.

These tools for campus outreach were produced for SPARC and ACRL by Alma Swan of Key Perspectives Ltd. and may be downloaded [here]....

Unlock the PDFs

Heather Morrison, Unlock the PDFs, for the print disabled (and open access, too), a posting to SOAF and other lists, November 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

For the print disabled, the difference between a PDF that is locked down and one that is not, is the difference between a work that is accessible, and one that is one.

A locked PDF is an image file, with inaccessible text. An unlocked PDF has text that is accessible, that can be manipulated by screen readers designed for the print disabled. Even without special equipment, is it easy to see how an unlocked PDF can very easily be transformed into large print, or read aloud.

Publishers, please unlock your PDFs! Librarians, please ask about unlocked PDFs when you purchase.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative did not aim to meet the needs of the print disabled. This is just another side-benefit of open access.

Comment.  Exactly.  If publishers insist on using PDFs at all, then at least they should unlock them.  To facilitate re-use even further, they should offer HTML or XML editions alongside the PDFs.


Change of plan:  two different airlines screwed up yesterday and I couldn't get to the University of Texas at Arlington in time for my talk, scheduled for today.  Fortunately, they screwed up so badly that I didn't have to leave Bangor, my home airport, although I did have to spend half the day there waiting to see whether delayed flights would take off in time to make any feasible distant connection to Texas.  Hence, I'm home again, and can start to catch up today rather than tomorrow.

My UTA hosts have been incredibly understanding and flexible.  I thank them again for that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Editorial in support of OA

(Flight delayed, blogging from Bangor airport....)

Richard Gallagher, OA, OK?  The Scientist, November 2007.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

A decade ago, science publishing was in turmoil. In a petition backed by threats of boycotts of publishers who didn't play ball, many thousands of researchers demanded full and free online access to the literature. Stephen Harnad, one of the agents of change then and now, made the bold forecast that "The final state toward which the learned journal literature is evolving ... is as inevitable as it is optimal: Sooner or later, the entire corpus will be fully and freely accessible and navigable from the desk of any thinker in the world."

Well, we're still waiting. Harnad's 1998 prediction can be freely read today only because it was reproduced in an online forum; the original version that Nature published requires a paid subscription to read. Today only a small fraction of the literature meets the criteria of open access, which Wikipedia defines as the "free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, for any user, Web-wide, to digital scientific and scholarly material." What went wrong?

Simply put, most scientists became indifferent about open access. A small but still growing army of devotees do publish in open-access journals, but most researchers lost interest when their requirement for unhindered access to the literature was met not by all their colleagues publishing only in open-access journals, but by their librarians paying fat site license fees to publishers. Most scientists lack either the time or inclination to consider the issue further.

This is a pity. Researchers should take more interest in how science publishing is evolving, for many reasons. The literature is their record for posterity, recognition, and advancement. Open access would create a common good, rather than restricting opportunity to those who can afford to pay....

I don't agree with everything that Esposito writes. He views open-access publishers as having only limited advantages over the traditional peer review publishing process, and only in special circumstances. My view is closer to that of the Welcome Trust, which supports "unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible." The accessibility and reuseability of research published by the Public Library of Science, BioMed Central (a sister company of The Scientist), and other OA publishers provides an advantage that is always at least a match for traditional publishers....


  • Nothing "went wrong".  Scientists have not "become indifferent" to OA.  On the contrary, the trajectory for OA has steadily been up since the birth of the idea.  Studies of author attitudes show no retreat from support to indifference.  On the contrary, the trend has steadily been in the other direction.  However, while it's misleading to ask what went wrong and why scientists became indifferent, it's not misleading to ask why progress has not been faster and why there is still as much indifference as there is.  The answer to both questions is the same, and I've taken many stabs at it over the years.  Here's one from July 2006:  "Authors control the rate of OA growth, but they're not paying attention to OA.  We can't appeal to them as a bloc because they don't act as a bloc.  It's not hard to persuade them, or even excite them, once we catch their attention, but it's very hard to catch their attention because they are so anarchical, overworked, and preoccupied....."
  • I agree with the main lines of Gallagher's argument, especially his view that the Wellcome Trust's wider conception of the benefits of OA is more just than Esposito's narrower conception.  I also share his conclusion that "it's a pity" researchers aren't paying more attention.  But I'm an optimist about this:  the trajectory is still up, and institutions with the most influence over researchers --funding agencies and universities-- are waking up to their own interests in OA and taking steps, from workshops to mandatory policies, which are getting the attention of researchers.

On the road

In just a minute I'll be on the road for two days with few opportunities for blogging or email.  Except for stolen moments here and there, I'll start to catch up on Thursday.

OA for the inner nautilus or OA for everyone?

Joseph J. Esposito, Open Access 2.0:  The nautilus: where - and how - OA will actually work, The Scientist, November 2007. 

The debate over open access to the scientific literature appears to be moving onto a new phase. Many continue to argue one side or the other of a binary choice: Either all research publishing should be open access, or only traditional publishing can maintain peer review and editorial integrity. Others, however, have moved beyond that false dichotomy, instead increasingly seeing various hybrid models emerging and new, often complex, business arrangements.

Partly this is a product of the apparent inability of open-access ventures to produce economically sustainable models. It is unclear whether BioMed Central, a privately held sister company of The Scientist, has broken even, and the Public Library of Science tax return from the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, the most recent publicly available, indicates that the organization lost $1.4 million on $5 million in revenue. Even if sustainability, rather than profit, is the goal, this is not success.

The new hybrid models are also the product of shrewd thinking on the part of traditional publishers, whether in the for-profit or not-for-profit spheres, which are identifying new ways to hold onto revenues and, in some instances, even to augment them. We are entering a pluralistic phase, where open access and traditional publishing coexist, though they increasingly are finding their own distinctive places in the research universe and are less likely to compete head-on. To respond to the binary argument with which I began this essay, open access is a good thing, but it is also a small and inevitable thing....

Perhaps the most intriguing recent development is Reed Elsevier's announcement that it has developed OncologySTAT, an advertising-supported online portal for oncologists. Reed Elsevier will make its articles on oncology available on this portal at the time of first publication. Subscriptions to the underlying journals, hardcopy and electronic, will continue to be sold to academic libraries, but for users of the portal, the content would be free of charge....Thus we now have the same content being monetized through subscriptions to libraries and through the packaging of audiences to advertisers in an open access or almost-open access form.

Each market segment thus attracts its own business model. But will any of these models accomplish the first aim of many open-access advocates, namely increasing the dissemination of research?

Unfortunately for such advocates, open access does not appear to increase dissemination significantly. Here's one simple reason for that: Most researchers are affiliated with institutions, whether academic, governmental, or corporate, that have access to most of the distinguished literature in the field....

Another important reason open access does not significantly increase dissemination is that attention, not scholarly content, is the scarce commodity....

Open-access advocates would do well to consider what put those keywords into a researcher's mind in the first place. Very often the answer is the sum of all the marketing efforts of a traditional publisher, including the association with a journal's highly regarded brand. Certainly, awareness begins with researcher interest, but it does not translate into popularity without marketing....

This does not mean that open access is useless or adds no value when it comes to dissemination; what it does mean is that open access is most meaningful within a small community whose members know each other and formally and informally exchange the terms of discourse....

It is useful to think of a primary domain of open-access publishing as existing at the tiny center of scholarly communications, the innermost spiral of the shell of a nautilus, where a particular researcher wishes to communicate with a handful of intimates and researchers working in precisely the same area....

At its most basic level, an open-access service need not be much more than "a hard drive in the cloud," a place where content can be stored and others can access it....

For the new service the customers are authors, whose every whim will be satisfied with new features, until the cost of depositing articles appears to be negligible. Yes, there is a paradox here: Although open access is free to readers, its real beneficiaries are the authors, who use the service to communicate with peers....

Comment.  Even though my excerpt is long, the article is a lot longer and I've had to omit many of its major points.  Read the whole thing.  But because the article is long and I have a lot to say about it --and because I'm just stepping out the door to catch a plane-- I can only make a series of quick comments.  Apologies for their brevity.

I like the basic metaphor of the nautilus and the spiral of proximity to an author and the author's research topic.  But Esposito underestimates the benefits of OA to readers far from the center of the nautilus, especially interdisciplinary researchers who never would have known about the author or the author's topic without easy access (access for readers as well as search engines).  Likewise he underestimates the limitations on access even at affluent institutions or, conversely, overestimates how well conventional subscription journals have served the generality of researchers.  He underestimates the number of OA advocates and OA critics who acknowledge the prospect of long-term OA/TA coexistence, and tries to position himself as one of the first to see this prospect.  He seems unaware that some OA journal publishers are already making a profit, some charging publication fees and some not.  I share his view that OncologySTAT is a promising development that might trigger a promising trend (even if not fully OA), although there are good reasons not to be nearly as sanguine about hybrid OA journals as he is.  He assumes that scarcity of attention means that OA doesn't really improve dissemination, which doesn't follow.  He's right that scarcity of attention is a serious problem and one not directly helped by improved access, but he seems to assume that the best way to cope with information overload is to filter by ability to pay rather than (say) to filter by relevance on a more accessible and comprehensive corpus of literature.  He assumes that OA either bypasses peer review or bypasses relevance filters; but both assumptions are false.  He overstates the role of publisher marketing in giving researchers the terms and concepts on which they run searches.  He assumes that OA will undermine the role of publisher brands in helping authors identify literature worth reading.  He assumes that it's a "paradox" that OA helps authors and not just readers, when helping authors was part of the purpose all along.  I actually like his own model of an OA platform or repository, enhanced with alert services and user comments, but he underestimates the extent to which these needs are and can be filled by free and open-source software costing much less than he estimates.  (Yes, I acknowledge that FOSS has costs.)  And apart from cost, his fee-based OA platform is only attractive as another option alongside other vehicles for delivering OA, such as peer-reviewed OA journals and no-fee repositories, both of which have undergone steady evolution and refinement since their first, pre-internet appearance more than two decades ago.

Update. Also see the comments by Tom Wilson.

Update (6/15/08). Esposito has published an expanded version of this article in the Spring 2008 JEP.

Opting out from OA mandates and displays of download data

Stevan Harnad, Should Institutional Repositories Allow Opt-Out From (1) Mandates? (2) Metrics? Open Access Archivangelism, November 6, 2007.  Excerpt:

This is a response to a query from a Southampton colleague who received an unsolicited invitation from an unknown individual to contribute a chapter to an "Open Access" book (author pays) on the basis of a paper he had deposited in the ECS Southampton Institutional Repository (IR) -- and possibly on the basis of its download statistics:

The colleague asked:

  1. Is the book example of Open Access?
  2. Are download counts legitimate metrics for (2a) CVs, (2b) website statistics, (2c) departmental/institutional repository (IR) statistics?
  3. Can download statistics be abused?
  4. Should institutional authors be able to "opt out" of (4a) depositing their paper in their IR and/or (4b) having their download statistics displayed?

(1) Yes, Open Access (OA) books are instances of OA just as OA articles are. The big difference is that all peer-reviewed journal/conference articles, without exception, are written exclusively for research usage and impact, not for royalty income, whereas this is not true of all or even most books. Articles are all author give-aways, but most books are not. So articles are OA's primary target; books are optional and many will no doubt follow suit after systematic OA-provision for research articles has taken firm root globally. (Also important: article deposit in the IR can be mandated by researchers' employers and funders, as Southampton ECS and RCUK have done, but book deposit certainly cannot -- and should not -- be mandated.)

(2) Yes, download metrics, alongside citation metrics and other new metric performance indicators can and should be listed in CVs, website stats and IR stats. In and of themselves they do not mean much, as absolute numbers, but in an increasingly OA world, where they can be ranked and compared in a global context, they are potentially useful aids to navigation, evaluation, prediction and other forms of assessment and analysis. (We have published a study that shows there is a good-sized positive correlation between earlier download counts and later citation counts: Brody, T., Harnad, S. and Carr, L. (2006) Earlier Web Usage Statistics as Predictors of Later Citation Impact. Journal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 57(8) pp. 1060-1072.)

(3) Yes, download statistics can be -- and will be -- abused....But it is also true that those abuses can and will breed counter-abuse mechanisms....

(4) No, researchers should definitely not be able to "opt out" of a deposit mandate: That would go against both the letter and spirit of a growing worldwide movement among researchers, their institutions and their funders to mandate OA self-archiving for the sake of its substantial benefits to research usage and impact. There is always the option of depositing a paper as Closed Access rather than Open Access, but I think a researcher would be shooting himself in the foot if he chose to do that on account of worries about the abuse of download statistics: It would indeed reduce the download counts, usage and citations of that researcher's work, but it would not accomplish much else. (On the question of opting out of the display of download -- and other metrics -- I have nothing objective to add: It is technically possible, and if there is enough of a demand for it, it should be made a feature of IRs, but it seems to me that it will only bring disadvantages and handicaps to those who choose to opt out of displaying their metrics, not only depriving them of data to guide potential users and evaluators of their work, but giving the impression that they have something to hide.)...

Defending the Google Library project

Paul Courant, On being in bed with Google, Au Courant, November 4, 2007.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Courant is the Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan, which was an early partner in the Google Library project.  Excerpt:

...I believe that the University of Michigan (and the other partner libraries) and Google are changing the world for the better. Four years from now, all seven million volumes in the University of Michigan Libraries will have been digitized – the largest such library digitization project in history. Google Book Search and our own MBooks collection already provide full-text access to well over a hundred thousand public domain works....

So I’m puzzled when people ask, “How could serious libraries...abdicate their responsibilities as custodians of the world’s knowledge by offering their collections up as a sacrifice on the altar of corporate power? Why don’t they join the virtuous ranks of the Open Content Alliance partners, who pay thousands of dollars to digitize books at a rate of tens of thousands of volumes a year?” It seems like those who ask such questions have little appreciation of what Michigan and the other Google partners are actually up to.

Google is on pace to scan over 7 million volumes from U-M libraries in six years at no cost to the University. As part of our arrangement with Google, they give us copies of all the digital files, and we can keep them forever. Our only financial outlay is for storage and the cost of providing library services to our users. Anyone who searches U-M’s library catalog, Mirlyn, can access the scanned files via our MBooks interface. That’s right, anyone. (Copyright law constrains what we can display in full text, and what we can offer only for searching, but we share as much as we can consistent with prudent interpretations of the law.) For an example of an MBook, take a look at The Acquisitive Society by R. H. Tawney.

In a recent New York Times article about mass digitization projects, Brewster Kahle was quoted as saying: “Scanning the great libraries is a wonderful idea, but if only one corporation controls access to this digital collection, we’ll have handed too much control to a private entity.”

I agree with him....So I would be distressed if a single corporation controlled access to the collections of the great academic libraries, just as I find it troubling, on a smaller scale, that a handful of publishers control access to much of the current scientific literature.

But Google has no such control. After Google scans a book, they return the book to the library (like any other user), and they give us a copy of the digital file. Google is not the only entity controlling access to the collection – the University of Michigan and other partner libraries control access as well. Except we don’t think of it as controlling access so much as providing it.

Since 2005, Siva Vaidhyanathan has been making and refining the argument that libraries should be digitizing their collections independently, without corporate financing or participation, and that those who don’t are failing to uphold their responsibility to the public. “Libraries should not be relinquishing their core duties to private corporations for the sake of expediency.”

“Expediency” is a bit of a dirty word. Vaidhyanathan’s phrase suggests that good people don’t do things simply because they are “expedient.” But I view large-scale digitization as expeditious. We have a generation of students who will not find valuable scholarly works unless they can find them electronically. At the rate that OCA is digitizing things (and I say the more the merrier and the faster the better) that generation will be dandling great-grandchildren on its knees before these great collections can be found electronically. At Michigan, the entire collection of bound print will be searchable, by anyone in the world, about when children born today start kindergarten....

We are not relinquishing our duties in the name of expediency; we are working with a capable partner to create a far more useful resource than we could create on our own. (Would I prefer that a charitable foundation would support this work on the same schedule as Google, and make everything available to everyone, subject only to copyright restrictions? You bet. I would prefer it even more if that foundation would buy out all of the rights holders for all out of print works. Can someone tell me the name of the foundation, please? In the meantime, it seems to me that being in bed with Google is way better than sleeping alone.)

It’s true that the digitized files from Google’s scans are often far from perfect....I will discuss some of the specific steps we are taking to address quality in a future post, but for now I will just say that the solution of these problems will require the serious engagement of academic libraries, and that the visibility of the problems is essential to their solution....

Update. Also see the response by Siva Vaidhyanathan. The comments to Siva's post include a reply from Paul Courant and another reply from Siva.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Editorial in support of an OA mandate at the NIH

Open knowledge, open future, The Journal Times (from Racine, Wisconsin), November 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

It sounds like a nerds-only subject, yet the current debate about who may read the results of publicly funded scientific research has a direct bearing on all of us — on our physical health and our economic health.

Within the Health and Human Services appropriations bill now before Congress is a requirement that scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health publish their research results in scientific journals which will make them available to anyone, for free, after one year.

Most scientific journals now charge hefty fees for subscriptions or for single copies of an article, meaning only a limited group of people can read the information. Naturally the journal-publishing industry has been lobbying aggressively to kill this idea and preserve their revenue stream.

In the past few years, alternatives have arisen, notably the Public Library of Science. This organization publishes research papers, too, but it’s done online, there is no restriction on who can read and copy information, and the costs are covered by a fee paid by the scientist and typically drawn from the research grant. But much research remains locked away in private journals.

This not a small issue. Although the NIH provides only 28 percent of biomedical research funding, it is the principal source of basic research funds – money that industry won’t spend because sheer curiosity doesn’t generate large short-term profits. Yet it is basic research which in a decade or two will be transformed into the technological miracles of the future, just as basic research done decades ago has put a personal computer in your den and a cell phone in your pocket....

Thomas Edison said that inventing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. While open access to information won’t eliminate the development work, by continuing to limit public access to the information for which the public has paid, we risk losing that vital moment of inspiration which leads to something that makes our lives easier, or healthier, or to a whole new industry. It’s not a risk we can afford to keep taking.

Comment.  I'm glad to see another editorial in support of an OA mandate at the NIH.  Unfortunately, this one repeats the error made by the Washington Post on Thursday.  Correction:  The NIH policy would require deposit in an OA repository (PubMed Central), not submission to OA journals.  It's about green OA, not gold OA.

Third annual SPARC Europe Award for Scholarly Communications

SPARC Europe is calling for nominations for the third annual Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications.  From today's announcement:

SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), a leading organization of European research libraries, today announced the opening of nominations for the Third SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications.  Launched in 2006, this annual Award recognises an individual or group within Europe that has made significant advances in our understanding of the issues surrounding scholarly communications and/or in developing practical means to address the problems with the current systems.  The First Award, in 2006, was presented to the Wellcome Trust, with the second in 2007 going to the SHERPA group.

Nominations are open to all who have made major contributions in the field of scholarly communications, and the judging panel, formed from members of the SPARC Europe Board of Directors, particularly wishes to receive nominations for individuals or groups working in any of the following areas:

  • Research that helps illuminate the scholarly communications landscape
  • Advocacy for new models of scholarly communications
  • Development of new tools to aid scholarly communication (e.g. repository software)
  • Interesting new projects or products
  • Implementation of policies that promote new scholarly communication models.

Nominations may come from any part of the world, but nominees should work mainly within Europe.  (Self-nominations will not be accepted.)  Preference will be given to activity within the past two years. Nominations, together with a short (approximately 500 words) outline of the nominee’s work, should be sent to David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe no later than 21st December 2007. The Award will be present at the Fourth Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communications, to be held at Lund University, Sweden, 21-23 April 2008.

Free is complicated

Tim O'Reilly, "Free is more complicated than you think", O'Reilly Radar, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

Peter Brantley sent a link to a great summary of Scott Adams' nuanced discussion of the tradeoffs in making Dilbert freely available on the web. The punchline: "Free is more complicated than you think."

Adams reports that putting Dilbert online for free

"gave a huge boost to the newspaper sales and licensing. The ad income was good too. Giving away the Dilbert comic for free continues to work well, although it cannibalizes my reprint book sales to some extent, and a fast-growing percentage of readers bypass the online ads with widgets, unauthorized RSS feeds and other workarounds."

This sense of tradeoffs in making content freely available is consistent with our experience at O'Reilly. We find that making a book freely available can help visibility and sales of a book on a little-known topic, but for a well-known topic or author, who benefits little from the additional exposure (like Scott Adams), it can have a slight cannibalization effect on print sales. So, as a beginning science fiction author, Cory Doctorow used "free" to build his career, while Stephen King found the results of his experiments with free to be disappointing. (I explored these tradeoffs in my article Piracy is Progressive Taxation.)

The point is that we need more than one model....

There's another class of tradeoffs in a move to an advertising-based model for funding content creation: readers are expected to give up their privacy. Marc Hedlund wrote about this recently: Infiltrating the Privacy Movement.

This was the subject of a dinner conversation I had with Rupert Murdoch at the Web 2.0 Summit (before his on-stage appearance). We talked about the tradeoffs in making the Wall Street Journal free online. It's quite clear to me that when Murdoch's purchase of the Journal is completed, the paywall will come down. He sees the Journal readers as among the most valuable advertising targets in the world. But more than that, he sees a future in which he'll be able to make those readers even more valuable by carefully and completely tracking what they actually read in the Journal.

These privacy tradeoffs are going to become even more widespread as advertising becomes the dominant model. How much would you let an advertiser know about you in exchange for their free content? How much would you pay to avoid having them know that about you?

As Scott Adams said, "Free is more complicated than you think."

Comment.  All the examples in O'Reilly's post are free editions of works that also have priced editions.  Free may be complicated, but no one should be surprised that dual editions are complicated. 

OA to US government videos

Carl Malamud and have struck again.  (Thanks to Boing Boing and Free Government Information.)  From Public.Resource's agreement with the US National Technical Information Service (NTIS):

...[T]he National Technical Information Service (NTIS)...and Public.Resource.Org, Inc. (PRO)...hereby agree to enter into a joint venture to promote public access to multimedia products in the NTIS collection. The joint venture is based on an unsolicited proposal by PRO.

  1. Each month NTIS will select between ten and twenty non-copyrighted videotapes from available stock in its collection and ship them to PRO at its own expense.
  2. Immediately upon receipt, PRO will, at its own expense, digitize the videotape and return the videotape and a copy in digital video disk (DVD) format to NTIS....
  3. PRO will reimburse NTIS for the retail value of any videotape not returned to NTIS as provided in section 2.
  4. Each party is free to make the content of the videotape available to the public through a web site or other means in any format and at any price, or for free, and to retain 100% of the revenue from any sales of the content.
  5. PRO will assert no intellectual property claim to the content provided by NTIS or the resulting DVD in any manner whatsoever.
  6. Nothing in this joint venture purports to be an exclusive arrangement....
  7. Unless renewed earlier, this joint venture will terminate one year from the date of execution [November 2, 2007]....


  • Another coup for Malamud.  This project is important for at least two reasons.  First, it will result in OA to a growing number of public-domain government videos.  Second, it breaks the ice at NTIS, which until now has been a provider of TA government information.
  • This is the second project between and the NTIS.  The first (in June 2007) was a PRO mirror of the NTIS store.  PRO urged citizens to buy one copy of the government info that NTIS was selling and donate it to PRO, which would then upload it to the Internet Archive and make it OA.  I would have said that the arrangement was involuntary for the NTIS, but maybe not. 

Does OA help or hurt scientific illustrators?

Tim Fedak, Open Access and Medical Art, Medical Illustrations, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

With the growing interest in open access, no-cost, medical journals, such as Open Medicine and PLoS Medicine, I’m drawn to wonder what the open access publishing movement means for medical illustrators?

Open access publications operate under the Creative Commons license, which proposes that individuals are able to copy, download, reprint, reuse, distribute, display or perform the published work, free of charge, with the only condition that they cite the origin of the published work.

Author’s with an academic affiliation are able to publish journal articles because they are financially supported by their home institutions. The author’s salary likely comes with conditions that encourage (read expect) them to publish, and publish often. While authors do not get paid (by the journal) to submit articles, they are of paid to write - they are provided a salary by their home institution, which provides them time to do and report on their research....

[W]hen the author(s) recognize the value of medical illustrations - they will want to include quality medical images in their article. There are a couple common options. Perhaps the researchers have a medical illustrator available at their home institution - because their institution has recognized the value of providing this valuable resource, which improves publication quality and overall impact of the institution. Alternatively, the author(s) have to pay an independent illustrator to prepare artwork to be incorporated into the article. The later situation takes money out of the authors pocket, or more likely - out of their research grant).

In Canada, the costs associated with the development of web pages, multimedia presentations, and artwork for publications, or information dissemination, are all eligible expenses for research grants awarded by CIHR and NSERC....

Initially I was concerned that open access publishing might reduce the opportunities for publishing medical illustrations, but after exploring the issue further - there seems to be great opportunity here. If the costs for publishing are reduced, more articles are able to be published and distributed more widely - then medical artists will have increased opportunities. Also - the electronic formats of open access journals also increases the opportunity for including multimedia and animation content, expanding the publishing possibilities. It’s a brave new world, indeed....

Islands of free in oceans of price

Shirl Kennedy, Resources of the Week: Free Stuff From Pricey Database Vendors, ResourceShelf, November 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

Since we worship at the Church of Free here on ResourceShelf, we thought we’d take a look at some of the gratis content lurking on database vendor websites. Know of anything good that we missed? E-mail us so we can add it to our list.

We have found that if you’re exploring vendor websites on your own, you’ll often find the good free stuff in the press/media area or possibly in a special area for librarians.

Free Databases

EBSCO Publishing is proud to provide the Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA) database as a free resource to anyone interested in libraries and information management. This world-class bibliographic database provides coverage on subjects such as librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management and more. Delivered via the EBSCOhost platform, LISTA indexes nearly 600 periodicals plus books, research reports, and proceedings. With coverage dating back to the mid-1960s, it is the oldest continuously produced database covering the field of information science.

+ Teacher Reference Center (TRC)

This index of over 260 titles from the most popular teacher and administrator trade journals, periodicals, and books is now also offered free via the EBSCOhost platform. This database provides coverage on key education topics such as Assessment, Continuing Education, Current Pedagogical Research, Curriculum Development, Instructional Media, Language Arts, Literacy Standards, Science & Mathematics, and more for K-12 Teachers & Librarians.

Suggested Reading

EBSCO actively researches issues that affect the professional library community. Scroll through the links below to find articles and other suggested reading materials from respected authorities.

Library Marketing Tools

The changing landscape of librarianship demands a wide selection of approaches to promote library resources. Our offerings will help librarians reach out to customers, e.g., faculty, communities, students, managers, and administrators.

Library Connect
Monthly newsletter and “Practical Assistance Pamphlets” ...

White Papers and Case Studies (PDFs; free registration required)...

LexisNexis (Reed Elsevier)
Featured Topics

The LexisNexis® Featured Topics provide you with the latest survey findings, white papers and web site resources provided by our company. The survey findings and white papers can be downloaded for your reference....

+ Library Marketing Kit
+ Also offers free access to databases for library students

Thomson Gale
+ Market Your Library
Free resources aimed at school, public and special libraries.
+ Extensive glossary of literary terms
+ Thomson Gale Reference Reviews Archive

The Reference Reviews Archive includes the reviews of James Rettig, Peter Jacso, Blanche Woolls, David Loertscher and John Lawrence.

Thomson Healthcare
White Papers ...

Thomson Pharma
+ The Ones to Watch

Now, and every quarter, Thomson Scientific takes the pulse of the industry with this lively free review of the latest phase changes in the pharmaceutical pipeline.

In The Ones To Watch you’ll get expert insight into the five most promising drugs:
* reaching the market
* entering Phase III trials
* entering Phase II trials
* entering Phase I trials ...

Thomson Scientific
SCI-BYTES: What’s New in Research

Each week, the Research Services Group of Thomson Scientific provides an update based on Essential Science Indicators and their Research Performance & Evaluation Tools. In addition, !QUICK SCIENCE! is a weekly quick look at a specific area of research science. Each link opens a pop-up window to read, and easily close when you finish reading....

Thomson West
Many topical free e-mail newsletters ...

More on Elsevier's social networking tools

Paula Hane, Elsevier Creates Social Spaces for Researchers, Information Today NewsLink, November 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Elsevier said that its newest social networking initiatives are designed to support academic library communities and their researchers with advanced “Research 2.0” tools. Two new resources —still in beta release— from the STM publisher create social spaces in which researchers can work together. These new tools offer platforms for shared knowledge to be leveraged for information discovery and evaluation.

2collab, an online platform for scientific collaboration, supports researchers by working as a community to filter information and enhance information literacy. Scirus Topic Pages is a Wiki-like online resource for the scientific community that provides authoritative summaries of specialized research areas and offers a platform to facilitate scholarly debate....

PS:  For some background, see my posts from June 2007 on the Scirus Topic Pages (one, two).

More on open innovation

The move toward open innovation is beginning to transform entire industries, The Economist, October 11, 2007.  (Thanks to Thiru Balasubramaniam.)  This article focuses on patents rather than copyrights, and manufacturers rather than publishers.  But how far do its insights transfer to copyrights and publishers?  Excerpt:

...[Henry] Chesbrough's two books “Open Innovation” and “Open Business Models” have popularised the notion of looking for bright ideas outside of an organisation. As the concept of open innovation has become ever more fashionable, the corporate R&D lab has become decreasingly relevant....

IBM is another iconic firm that has jumped on the open-innovation bandwagon. The once-secretive company has done a sharp U-turn and embraced Linux, an open-source software language. IBM now gushes about being part of the “open-innovation community”, yielding hundreds of software patents to the “creative commons” rather than registering them for itself. However, it also continues to take out patents at a record pace in other areas, such as advanced materials, and in the process racks up some $1 billion a year in licensing fees.

Since an army of programmers around the world work on developing Linux essentially at no cost, IBM now has an extremely cheap and robust operating system. It makes money by providing its clients with services that support the use of Linux—and charging them for it. Using open-source software saves IBM a whopping $400m a year, according to Paul Horn, until recently the firm's head of research. The company is so committed to openness that it now carries out occasional “online jam sessions” during which tens of thousands of its employees exchange ideas in a mass form of brainstorming....

[P]atents are becoming much less important nowadays than brands and the speed at which products can be got to market....

In rich countries about four-fifths of economic activity now involves services, but profit margins are eroding. [Richard Lyons] argues in a new paper that “commoditisation often occurs even faster in services than in physical products”, because innovations are easier to copy, patents can provide less protection, up-front costs are lower and product cycles are shorter....

What do we need to know about scholarly communication?

Establishing a Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication: A Call for Community Engagement, Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), November 5, 2007.  John Ober and Joyce Ogburn are co-chairs of the ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee, which prepared this white paper.  Excerpt:

The system of scholarly communication – which allows research results and scholarship to be registered, evaluated for quality, disseminated, and preserved – is rapidly evolving....Believing that meaningful research can inform and assist the entire academic community in influencing and managing this evolution, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) convened an invitational meeting on July 21, 2007, to collectively brainstorm the evidence needed to inform strategic planning for scholarly communication programs....

This report thematically summarizes and synthesizes the meeting’s rich discussion, framing eight essential research challenges and opportunities. We invite those engaged in creating, supporting, and distributing scholarship to comment and extend the issues and possible research initiatives. Without substantive comment from librarians and their partners, the goal of outlining a community research agenda cannot be considered complete....

[Participants in the July 21 meeting included] representatives from ACRL, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), Ithaka, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Mellon), and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)....

Eight themes emerged from the conversation. In non-prioritized order they are:

  1. The impact and implications of cyberinfrastructure
  2. Changing organizational models
  3. How scholars work
  4. Authorship and scholarly publication
  5. Value and value metrics in scholarly communications
  6. The adoption of successful innovations
  7. Preservation of critical materials
  8. Public policy and legal matters...

Post your comments directly for public view [at the project wiki], or if you prefer your comments to be kept confidential, send them to ACRL Scholarly Communication Committee cochairs
John Ober at and Joyce Ogburn at

The discussion of open access takes place mostly under rubric #4.  For example:

New business models to evaluate and publish scholarly products are being developed, but their long-term sustainability and impacts are unknown. Driven in part by longstanding resource constraints, the academy needs to have deeper understanding about the effect of commercial publishers’ profit goals on access to and impact of scholarship. Similarly, we need salient data about alternatives to traditional publication and their potential for lower production costs. This data will allow universities to make investment decisions in a range of open access business models offered by commercial and non-profit publishers. Further, we need evidence on whether and how the focus on traditional publication for promotion and tenure can undermine broader distribution of research and the development of alternatives to high-priced publications....What new services are required in this new environment and how should they be constituted?

We need to better understand the full necessary costs of access controlled models of publication as compared to a truly equivalent open access model to reveal where costs savings are possible and under what conditions. This could provide insights into which functions would be unnecessary in an open access model, and which would need to be included. For instance, what costs are saved by removing access/authorization controls? With the advent of new search and discovery tools, is equivalent marketing needed for both? This research could also suggest ideas to address the hypothesized free rider problem, in which users of openly available scholarships do not help cover the costs of its dissemination.

While we know that disciplinary repositories, open-access peer-reviewed journals, and community-supported reference sources can find content and audiences, we do not yet know, for example, how to distribute the cost of supporting projects like the Physics ArXiv across the many institutions reliant on its success. An understanding is required of the conditions under which an endowment model for publications, such as the one in place for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, can work and be cost effective over a long period. We would profit from exploring the relationship between author or “green” archiving of scholarly articles and the formal publications in which they also appear.

If research reveals that formal publications are of decreasing value or changing significance to scholars, what are the implications for research libraries? For example, what are the economics and funding models of the transition? Should librarians shift funding from journal subscriptions to systems that collect and disseminate new forms of content, and when?

Research Possibilities

  • Investigate the leadership and management support needed to explore alternatives to the prevalent subscription model including a variety of open access publication models....
    • Document instances of successful shifts and new models to create a diverse collection of compelling examples that can be applied in new arenas.
    • Create sophisticated modeling and simulation of current costs projected into the future to test the hypotheses regarding the sustainability of the present system.
    • Explore models that effectively shift funding from collecting published works to supporting new forms of content and its dissemination.
  • Study the costs of the entire publishing and distribution system for traditional, open access and hybrid models of journal publication. Explorations should include but not be limited to studying the costs of peer review.
  • Examine the feasibility, and necessary characteristics of a trusted registry of new business models and experiments concentrating on collaboratively developed, non-profit information products and resources.
  • Research and develop authoring tools, publishing templates and open source software packages for scholarly discourse, teaching and publishing. Examine the feasibility and characteristics of registries of such tools.
  • Methods to identify, track and create metadata to document and promote publication of and access to large datasets....

There's also some discussion under rubric #8:

Federal policies are also being considered or enacted that intend to increase access to the results of scholarship and research, including a “public access” mandate under consideration for the NIH (and other federal funders via the 2006 Federal Research Public Access Act) in the U.S., or in place for the research councils in the U.K. and elsewhere. Rhetorically, both proponents and opponents support advancing knowledge through efficient and well-structured scholarly communication systems. But there are significant differences of opinion and resulting tensions from policy and legal intervention. Meanwhile, libraries are challenged to participate in crafting and debating new policies, informed by an only modest amount of modeling and evidence of their impact....

Research Possibilities ...

  • Encourage local study of the cost and impact of complying with new policies, such as funders’ “public access” mandates, and aggregate that information. Explore the potential for collaborations that provide community-wide compliance services....

Update. Also see the short article on this in Library Journal Academic Newswire, November 6, 2007.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Winners announced in essay contest on equitable access

The Lancet and the Global Forum for Health Research have announced the winners of the 2007 essay contest on Equitable access: research challenges for health in developing countries.  From Friday's press release:

From a field of 289 entries, from 64 nationalities residing in 60 different countries, five entries have been chosen after a long and difficult judging process from a shortlist of 40. They are Seye Abimbola (Nigeria); Denise Nacif Pimenta (Brazil); Laura Sikstrom (Canada); Lee Yung Wong (Malaysia); and Zhang Lingling (China).

Abimbola’s essay, “Of patents and patients,” focuses on the inequitable access to life-saving drugs and the patent-system that makes such drugs so expensive, while Pimenta’s “Can the ‘North’ learn from developing countries: question or affirmation” is about how all countries can learn lessons from one another regarding information flow in the battle against chronic and infectious diseases.

Sikstrom’s “For the future, for tomorrow: evidence-based research in food-security interventions” addresses the difficult issues surrounding food security in the developing world and the links with child mortality and HIV disease progression. Wong’s “The face of equitable access: going beyond health to life for all” tells of the author’s inspiring meeting with a Burmese graduate who had devoted his life to helping HIV victims in his country. Finally, Lingling’s “Where have all the barefoot doctors gone in pursuing a more equitable new health-care system in China” discusses the famous barefoot doctors and inequality in healthcare across China.

Thirty-two of the submissions, including the five winning essays, are now online --all OA.  The paper most focused on OA is Anoop Dhamangaonkar, "Health research in developing countries:  challenges and possible solutions for its improvement" (pp. 50-53).

More on OA to student research

Macalester College opened its institutional repository to student honor projects in September 2005.  Lisa Moldan and Zac Farber bring us up to date in an article in the Macalester student paper for November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

..Since the project's founding, users have completed more than 26,000 full-text downloads....

Students are given the option of posting their work. Because the honors projects tend to be ongoing, most students choose not to make available the results of their research.

Thirty-one of the 78 Macalester projects added since 2006 are currently available to the public.

Macalester's use of Digital Commons offers a positive model for students sharing their research with a larger acdemic audience, Geography professor Bill Moseley said.

"This is an important way of sharing your insights with the broader scholarly community," Moseley said. "It is another way of giving back and moving away from a model of extractive research."

One medical library's efforts to support OA

Molly C. Barnett and Molly W. Keener, Expanding medical library support in response to the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, Journal of the Medical Library Association, October 2007.  This article was submitted to JMLA in April 2007, well before the recent House and Senate votes to mandate OA at the NIH.  Excerpt:

Responding to recent changes in the scholarly publishing process, Coy C. Carpenter Library is expanding its scholarly communications program to better support the research publication efforts of the faculty at Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS). Recent advances in open access publishing and archiving initiatives, adoption of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research” (Public Access Policy) in 2005, the rapidly increasing pool of published biomedical research, rising costs of subscription rates, and continued barriers to access have necessitated an internal redesign of the library's Faculty Publications (FP) database. Changes in the scholarly publishing environment have also spurred the creation of online resource lists specifically addressing common issues in scholarly communications, including copyright and intellectual property ownership, open access, and the importance of scholarly publishing.

These efforts, coupled with plans for educational sessions on open access and copyright retention for faculty, are intended to address common questions raised during the publishing process. In particular, the FP database will bridge faculty publication citations to individuals' personnel profiles in the university's human resources department's management software, PeopleSoft, and to the full text of faculty-authored journal articles, thus providing the institution with a more complete picture of WFUHS faculty research initiatives and outcomes. This paper illustrates key objectives in Carpenter Library's strategy for supporting scholarly communications through enhancing the knowledge management applications of the FP database and leveraging the database's functions to promote open access to research....

Why Eric von Hippel chose OA for two of his books

In an 8:33 minute podcast, MIT's Eric von Hippel talks about Openness, Innovation, and Scholarly Publishing.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  From the description:

The third episode in a new series of podcasts on various aspects of scholarly publishing & copyright is now available.

In the new episode, we hear from Professor Eric von Hippel, T Wilson Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. He specializes in research related to the nature and economics of distributed and open innovation.

Professor von Hippel speaks about his experiment with making two of his books openly available on his website at no cost to the reader, and about the broader issue of how the economics of innovation are increasingly favoring open, unrestricted internet access, including in scholarly publishing....

More information about Professor von Hippel’s experiment with making his books openly available on the web was offered in a previous story.

The other episodes in the podcast series are available on the scholarly publication website.

PS:  For background, see my earlier blog posts on von Hippel.

OA and derivative works, continued

Last Thursday I wrote some blog comments on OA and derivative works which elicited disagreement from several friends and allies:  Klaus Graf (disagreeing with my position), Peter Murray-Rust (agreeing with my support for CC-BY licenses but disagreeing with my position on derivative works), and Matt Cockerill (disagreeing with my position on derivative works --by email, not online). 

Much of the trouble, perhaps all of it, was my own fault.  I should have said more to make my position clear, and here I take the chance to do so.  We may still disagree when all is clarified, but I suspect that we will disagree less. 

I'll frame my response as a dialog with Matt Cockerill, who has allowed me to quote from his email:

  • MC:  I don't think any of  the BBB definitions of OA suggests that disallowing derivative work  can be compatible with OA.  Remember, even reusing a figure, with attribution, in another article or in a piece of educational material, is an example of a derived work that would be banned by CC-ND. 
    • PS:  Reusing a figure is exactly the kind of re-use that OA should make possible.  (Here's a beautiful example.)  The BBB definition unquestionably allows this kind of re-use.  When I said that the BOAI allows authors to disallow some kinds of derivative works, I didn't mean all derivative works and I didn't mean examples like this one.
  • MC:  What BOAI says is:  "The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."  I think the confusion may result from the dual meanings of the word integrity.  It could mean physical/structural integrity - i.e. the pages of the work may never be separated, nor the metadata separated from the fulltext, nor a figure separated from the rest. But that would actually be quite a strange and extreme sort of integrity to demand to be preserved.
    • PS:  As the principal author of the BOAI text, I can tell you that there is another salient meaning:  to prevent the mangling of an author's text.  The example I used in the Poynder interview last month (p. 45) was adding or subtracting the word "not".
  • MC:  But I understand it rather to be in the sense of 'moral integrity', within the Berne Convention idea of 'Moral Rights'.  The "right of integrity" is phrased in the convention as the:  "right to prevent distortion, mutilation, or modification that would prejudice the author's honor or reputation' [MC's italics]."
    • PS:  Yes; preventing this kind of mutilation is what we had in mind, or at least what I had in mind.
  • MC:  Control over the integrity of the work in this sense is exactly what author copyright, universally licensed under the CC Attribution license, delivers.
    • PS:  I can't agree.  If a license permits all derivative works, then it permits some mutilation.  Conversely, if authors are allowed to block mutilation, then they are allowed to block some derivative works.  The BOAI lets authors block this subset of derivative works. 
    • That's what I meant in my blog post when I said that "the Budapest definition allows authors to disallow derivative works that would interfere with 'the integrity of their work'."  It's a true statement about the BOAI, and I still believe that the BOAI took the right position on this issue.
    • I should have been clearer in my post that I was only talking about this subset of derivative works, not all derivative works. 
  • MC:  I really do think that the creation of derived works is so fundamental to the practice of research communication that licenses which do not allow this use really need another label, rather than OA.
    • PS:  I agree that more labels would be useful.  There are many foreseeable troubles, however, including the trouble of agreeing on the scope of the "OA" label itself.  (I say more about this in the Poynder interview at pp. 30-31.)
    • But on the present point, I think we have to speak more precisely.  It's true that some or most kinds of derivative works are fundamental to research communication.  But it's not true that the kind that mutilate and misrepresent an author's position are fundamental. 
    • I'm saying that we should discriminate among kinds of derivative works.  Even if you disagree, the BOAI discriminates among kinds of derivative works, at least implicitly by picking out the subset of derivative works that violate the integrity of the author's work.  I don't want to prohibit all derivative works and I don't believe the BOAI allows authors to prohibit all derivative works. 
    • Hence, I should say for completeness that a license which does prohibit all derivative works would not be OA within the BOAI definition.  I regret leaving the impression that prohibiting all derivative works would be OA. 
    • One more point:  If I had to choose between a license allowing all derivative works and a license allowing none, I'd certainly choose the former.  (And I've done so; I use the CC-BY license for my blog and newsletter.)  I'd like to see another option, however:  a license allowing all derivative works except those that violate the "integrity of the author's work" in the sense in which this phrase is used in the Berne Convention.  If we had this option, then the BOAI would recognize at least two kinds of open license:  the new option and the standard CC-BY license.  (There may be others as well.)  This fleshes out a point I often make:  that the BOAI allows some latitude on exactly which permission barriers to remove. 
    • Finally, I should also say that even with the new licensing option, I'd usually choose the straight CC-BY license and urge others to do so as well.  Mutilation is a rare problem; there are other remedies to it than restricting re-use rights; and simpler licenses are always better than complicated ones.

Update.  See Klaus Graf's response.

Open-source translation

Worldwide Lexicon combines open-source software and crowdsourcing methods to translate online documents.  It's not new, but I haven't seen it discussed in scholarly communication circles and blog it here to start that discussion.  Here's a description from WWL founder Brian McConnell:

We are building a suite of collaborative translation tools that enable people to view, create and edit translations for webpages. Similar concept to wikipedia, except geared to appending translations to web documents.

We've built a suite of tools for publishers ranging from easy to use plug ins (such as our Word Press extension) to source code libraries for PHP developers. With these, publishers can embed collaborative translation capability in virtually any website. The system is currently in beta testing, and has drawn users from 130 countries so far....

The project actually has a pretty long history, about nine years, and has evolved a lot. It started with the goal of creating a meta-dictionary (hence the name). The Word Press plug in and PHP tools have been available for about three months....

Our aim with WWL is to focus on enabling tools. We are working on a commercial service, but like Word Press, we are open sourcing most of it. My goal is for this to be embedded in a wide range of systems and publications in 2-3 years time.

Streamlining repository deposits

Dorothea Salo, Less cognitive load, faster deposit, Caveat Lector, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[T]he repository’s getting-started and ingest processes...may be getting in my way. Call it my techie bias speaking if you will, but when Stevan Harnad quite rightly says “the only thing that has been standing between us and 100% OA for years now is keystrokes,” my response does not accord with his “an administrative keystroke mandate is all that is needed.”

My response is “Fewer keystrokes!”

It isn’t just keystrokes, though. It’s the notion of cognitive load, and it’s a simple notion: the more we make people think about putting stuff in the repository, the less of it they’ll actually do, because don’t we all have too much to think about?

I already reduced some of the cognitive load involved in getting set up to use the repository by shortening and clarifying the forms involved. Now I’m thinking to myself, “… forms?” I should find a way to get rid of them....

A faculty member interested in depositing content is interested in depositing content, not in navigating stupid DSpace hierarchies. So to hell with the hierarchies, to hell with forms, to hell with communities and collections. I want a bucket collection that any person signing up with an appropriate email address automatically gets deposit rights to. I’ll deal with the oversight, moving, and mapping myself, as need be. I’m the librarian; organization is my job....

Also, this licensing thing, argh. It’s ridiculous to do this on a per-item basis. The relationship between faculty and repository is an ongoing one. It shouldn’t be formalized per-item. It should be formalized via something more like a memorandum of understanding, or—hey! Websites have those! They’re called Terms of Service agreements! So I want me one of them, and the legalese to back it up, and the tech to make new registrants click through it once when they sign up, record that they have done so, and never bother them with licensing again. Just as legal, and less cognitive load on every single deposit. Win!

(Creative Commons licensing does have to be done per-item, and I don’t have a problem with that. But the contract between the depositor and the IR doesn’t change—or shouldn’t—per item, so let’s just deal with it once, okay?) ...

Update. See Dorothea's follow-up from November 5, summarizing ideas sent by her readers and lamenting the lack of an effective repository manager community to swap ideas and best practices.

More on business models supporting open content

Collaborators please for ‘Open-IP’ business models research, Open Business, November 1, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Open Rights Group, in collaboration with 01zero-one and funded by the London Development Agency, is beginning an exciting new research project, examining how the internet enables creative entrepreneurs to develop innovative business practices by being more open with their intellectual property. Creative Business in the Digital Era will examine new business models and the wider context in which they sit, culminating in one day-long and two evening courses at which we will share our findings.

In the fine tradition of eating our own dogfood, we are developing the course out in the open, and under a Creative Commons licence, using a wiki. But we need your help. We have only a couple of months to do our research, so we need you to help us shape of the course, figure out the format of the case studies, and carry out research. Time is genuinely tight - we must complete all the course materials by the beginning of February, ready for delivery in March.

Our focus is on business models and artists producing IP, who give away - gratis - some of their product, whether under an open license or otherwise. So we’re talking about authors publishing books under Creative Commons and in print, musicians offering both free and pay-for music, or software developers using APIs....

More on the value of removing permission barriers

Heather Morrison, The Usefulness of Open Access, or Yet Another Positive OA Cycle, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, November 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

Many faculty members are currently encountering one of the sillier disadvantages of the toll-access approach in the internet-based world. That is, the decreasing usefulness of articles with the restrictions of licensing. An article that one might have put on reserve as a print copy, or handed out in class as print, without a second's thought, may well be forbidden, or much more complex to provide, in the online environment.

Librarians, this is a teachable moment! An article that is truly OA as per the Budapest definition, CAN be placed on e-reserve or distributed in coursepacks, either as a link, or as the full content of the article - with attribution, of course, but with no frustrating, time-wasting and often costly process of obtaining permissions, or dealing with the complexities of authentication or re-authentication to connect student with article....

[T]he more we promote resources like DOAJ, OAIster, Scientific Commons, etc., the more faculty will see for themselves this particular benefit of OA. This can only increase the tendency for faculty to want to seek out OA resources, and publish OA themselves - a positive cycle....

More on the British Library / Microsoft book-scanning project

Jim Ashling, Progress Report: The British Library and Microsoft Digitization Partnership, Information Today, November 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

Microsoft made it clear that it wasn’t going to let Google tackle mass book digitization exclusively when it announced a partnership with The British Library (BL) in November 2005.

The BL/Microsoft project is designed to digitize 25 million pages of 100,000 out-of-copyright titles from the BL collection related to 19th-century literature. Access will be provided via Microsoft’s Live Search Books site and the BL’s Web site. Live Search Books now includes many partners: The University of California Libraries, Cornell University Library, the University of Toronto Library, The New York Public Library, and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine have all joined, as well as more than 50 publishers....

Kristian Jensen, head of British Early Printed Collections, reviewed the selection process. Unlike previous BL digitization projects where material had been selected on an item-by-item basis, the sheer size of this project made such selectivity impossible. Instead, the focus is on English-language material, collected by the BL during the 19th century. Jensen compared the process to mass microfilming. “Nonselectivity widens access,” he said....

The works of virtually unknown writers will be brought to the attention of scholars as easily as material by Charles Dickens....

The target is to scan 50,000 pages per day with a 2-year timetable for completion....

Scanning produces high-resolution images (300 dpi) that are then transferred to a suite of 12 computers for OCR (optical character recognition) conversion. The scanners, which run 24/7, are specially tuned to deal with the spelling variations and old-fashioned typefaces used in the 1800s. The process creates multiple versions including PDFs and OCR text for display in the online services, as well as an open XML file for long-term storage and potential conversion to any new formats that may become future standards. In all, the data will amount to 30 to 40 terabytes....

[W]orse still, British/EU legislation keeps material in copyright for life, plus 70 years.

Obviously, then, an issue exists here for a collection of 19th-century literature when some authors may have lived beyond the late 1930s. An estimated 40 percent of the titles are also orphan works. Those two issues mean that item-by-item copyright checking would be an unmanageable task. Estimates for the total time required to check on the copyright issues involved vary from a couple of decades to a couple of hundred years. The BL’s approach is to use two databases of authors to identify those who were still living in 1936 and to remove their work from the collection before scanning. That, coupled with a wide publicity to encourage any rightsholders to step forward, may solve the problem....