Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New CERN Director General is a strong supporter of OA

An announcement from CERN, December 14, 2007:

CERN Council today appointed Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer as next CERN Director General. Professor Heuer will serve a five-year term, taking office on 1 January 2009. His mandate will cover the early years of operation and first scientific results from the Laboratory's new flagship research facility, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), scheduled to begin operation in summer 2008. The present CERN Director General, Dr. Robert Aymar, is an Open Access advocate and inspired the SCOAP3 initiative.
Prof. Heuer, now Research Director at DESY, the German High Energy Physics laboratory, is also an Open Access supporter. He was among the signatories of the first Expression of Interest to reach SCOAP3, pledging German financial support to the consortium, and he is a member of the Editorial Board of PhysMathCentral Physics A, which he calls "another important step in removing access barriers to knowledge about high- energy physics experiments and theories. Increased choice and diversity is a benefit to all, leading to a healthy and dynamic market in academic publishing in particle physics, in line with the spirit of SCOAP3."

Vietnamese Open Courseware

Vietnamese Open Courseware (VOCW) launched on Wednesday.  (Thanks to Information Policy.)

Links to Iranian research publications

The Repository 4 Iranian Researchers collects citations and links to publications by researchers from Iran or of Iranian descent.  It also collects abstracts of doctoral dissertations.  It provides OA to the citations but not to the texts themselves.

The OA panel at Kuala Lumpur

Naina Pandita has blogged some notes on the panel devoted to Open Access: Sharing Research, Expanding Resources at the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference (Kuala Lumpur, December 11-13, 2007).  Excerpt:

...I was one of the facilitators in a workshop on Open Access: Sharing Research, Expanding Resources

In this practical workshop, panelists from Latin America, Asia and Africa showed how Open Access is a winning proposition for all by presenting their own, real experiences that will equip participants with the information, encouragement, and contacts to return to their own institutions as leaders in Open Access. Focusing on Institutional Repositories (IR) as a means to expand the research resources and networks of researchers and research institutions, participants will gain practical suggestions for designing an IR model for their own organizations and to address such topics as building organizational readiness; intellectual property and knowledge sharing issues; technical requirements; resource finding; content recruitment; and digitization.

This workshop aimed to provide the link between the vision and practical guidelines for implementation, by applying common practices to address the following questions in participants own suggestion:

1. How do I get started with Open Access within my own institution, whether it be a research organization or a journal publisher?

2. How do I create a will to build an open access repository or to create (or transition to) an open access journal? What are some of the challenges and success stories?

3. Where can I find resources to the greater open access community?

4. What are the main issues I will need to address and what are some of the best practices (e.g. technical, copyright, digitization, skill sets) in Open Access? ...

More on OA for German scholarship published before 1995

Klaus Graf has written an update for authors of research literature published in Germany before 1995.  There is a beautiful opportunity to make those works OA, but it requires action before the end of this month.  Read Klaus' update in the original German or Google's English.

PS:  For some background in English, see my post from late November.

Friday, December 14, 2007

OA journal leaves BMC, drops publication fees

Eric Schnell, Biomedical Digital Libraries Moves to Open Journal Systems, The Medium is the Message, December 13, 2007.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

I just received a message from Marcus Banks, editor for Biomedical Digital Libraries (BDL).

In October, the journal amicably ended its relationship with BioMed Central. BMC's author payment model had become untenable for most of the authors wishing to publish in the journal. While the BMC site still exists but they can no longer accept submissions.

BDL is in the process of transferring information about the journal to the Open Journal Systems (OJS) platform, which will enable the journal to accept submissions at no cost to authors. The new site should be available in January....

Educating faculty about OA

Michael H. Boock, A Faculty Led Response to the Crisis in Scholarly Communications, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Winter 2007.

Abstract:   Oregon State University’s recent response to the crisis in scholarly communications recognizes that teaching faculty must be involved in communicating an appropriate response to their faculty colleagues. As authors, editors, and peer reviewers, direct faculty action can encourage publishers to lower costs and can enhance the availability of research. The author discusses the work of a faculty-led task force that communicates information about unsustainable journal costs to faculty peers and the actions that can be taken to counteract this trend. In particular, the author discusses the use of academic unit publication reviews to effectively communicate journal cost variations to faculty.

From the body of the paper:

In this paper I discuss faculty involvement in the work of a Scholarly Communication Task Force [at Oregon State University, OSU]. The OSU Faculty Senate appointed prominent faculty from natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, the university research office and two library faculty members to the task force....

The task force found that the optimal method of communicating information about journal costs to faculty is through review and analysis of the journals in which faculty from different academic units publish....The task force member sends the title list of publications to the library. The library compiles a spreadsheet that includes journal title, cost for print subscription for an institution of OSU’s size, journal impact factor, and publisher information.... 

The task force member analyzes the data, identifies extremely high cost journals, and compares cost with impact factor....The task force member often writes accompanying text that summarizes the data or describes some relevant issues of scholarly communication for which the academic unit’s faculty should be aware. Often this includes a presentation of open access journal alternatives within their field of study and the increased citation of open access journal articles.

As an example, a faculty member on the task force [found that] cost per page for the commercial journals in which the faculty [in her unit] published was $0.98/page versus $0.39/page for scholarly society journals. Excluding Science and Nature, the average impact factor for the commercial journals was lower than scholarly society journals in which the college faculty published....

Appendices to the [task force] report included information about the OSU institutional repository and copies of the unit-specific publication reviews. A faculty senate resolution supporting open access written by the task force (OSU Faculty Senate Scholarly Communications Task Force, 2005) passed at the meeting....

It is too early to determine if the work of the task force has an impact on faculty publishing, reviewing, retaining copyright, archiving in institutional or subject repositories, or on promotion and tenure review policies. Anecdotal evidence supplied by task force and committee members suggests the unit publication reviews are effective in making faculty aware of the cost of the journals in which they publish. The discrepancies between the cost of journals published by commercial firms versus those published by non-profit publishers surprise faculty. Faculty have expressed an interest in submitting their research to the institutional repository as a result of reading the articles in OSU This Week. Librarians also report increased faculty interest in retaining copyright to their articles following the publication of the articles in OSU This Week

Because of their prominent roles in the publishing process as authors, reviewers and editors, faculty impact publishers in a way that libraries cannot: by refusing to publish in journals whose escalating costs impact their availability, by refusing to review for those journals and by taking action as editors and members of editorial boards. Real impacts to scholarly communication can only happen if faculty members refuse to participate in the continuing scholarly communication crisis, as authors, reviewers, editors, and promotion and tenure committee members.

Journal business models and copyright

Jan Velterop, Copyright and Research: A Different Perspective, SCRIPT-ed, 4, 4, (2007).  Excerpt:

...Various ways of payment have been developed over the decades, or rather centuries, of science publishing, such as charges to authors (page charges), charges for advertisements, subsidies and grants, and, of course, combinations of the above, but the prevailing method is the subscription model, whereby the readers (vicariously, their institutional libraries) foot the bill. For subscriptions to work, the publisher needs to have some exclusivity to the content. This is where copyright comes in...

There is nothing intrinsically inappropriate in trading copyrights and using them as a means of exchange of value. But there are a few reasons why it may have become, in this day and age of the internet, sub-optimal and ineffective....For authors and their financial backers – be they funding agencies, universities or other research institutions; in short, the entire academic community – the opportunities of having universal accessibility of the research results that come out of the projects they have undertaken, are lost due to the intrinsic dissemination-limiting characteristics of exclusive economic rights if used in this way....The potential of brains to add significantly to humanity’s knowledge is not limited to those of researchers in the happy circumstance of having the means for unfettered access to these results....

But for publishers, too, the limits of a system of being paid by the transfer of copyrights are in sight. Due to the ease with which the actual content of what is published can be made available outside the formal publishing process, and the movement in the direction of making this availability compulsory as a condition of being funded, the value of the supposedly exclusive economic rights that are transferred with copyrights is eroding, because they are just no longer exclusive....

There is an irony in the fact that the purpose of copyright – a system of bestowing temporary exclusive economic rights, devised to promote the progress of science and useful arts – is, in an internet environment, likely to be better served by economic models that avoid exclusive economic use of copyright altogether. It may be time to replace the use of copyrights as a proxy for money when paying for the service of formal publication in peer-reviewed journals by the real thing: money. Doing so will obliterate the need to ‘transubstantiate’ copyright (and its inherent restrictiveness) into money, which is after all what selling subscriptions does. As a result, no longer depending on subscriptions for income, enables open access, immediate and at source, to flourish both for the benefit of science and society and as a business opportunity for publishers.

OA knols from Google

Udi Manber, Encouraging people to contribute knowledge, Google blog, December 13, 2007.  Manber is Google's VP for Engineering.  Excerpt:

The web contains an enormous amount of information, and Google has helped to make that information more easily accessible by providing pretty good search facilities. But not everything is written nor is everything well organized to make it easily discoverable. There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that. The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal.

Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors -- but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted....

Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we'll do the rest.

A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.

Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information. At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.

Once testing is completed, participation in knols will be completely open, and we cannot expect that all of them will be of high quality. Our job in Search Quality will be to rank the knols appropriately when they appear in Google search results....

We are very excited by the potential to substantially increase the dissemination of knowledge.

We do not want to build a walled garden of content; we want to disseminate it as widely as possible. Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make that content available to any other search engine....


  • The sample knol to which Manber links uses a CC-BY license.  Note to Google:  this is worth boasting about.  The content is not only free of charge, but free of needless copyright and licensing restrictions.  It's open access.  Will all knols use the CC-BY license?  Will it be up to the author?
  • This is fascinating project.  The Google name, and the visibility of knols in the Google search index, will attract readers, and that should attract authors.  The Google resources mean it could scale to arbitrary size.  At first I thought that knols would challenge Wikipedia and Citizendium more than scholarly journals, since promotion and tenure committees are not likely to reward the writing of unrefereed knols.  But then I realized that knols could supplement or supplant postprint archiving.  Nothing in Manber's description suggests that articles already published in peer-reviewed journals couldn't become knols.  To show their credentials, they could (and should) cite and link to the published original.  If there's a barrier, it would come from the journal's side (the copyright transfer agreement or self-archiving policy), not from the knols side.  The question is whether authors of journal articles will be inclined post their peer-reviewed manuscripts as Google knols.  Will they do it at all?  Will they do it in addition to depositing them in an OA repository?  Will they do it instead of depositing them in a repository?
  • Here's a first whack at thinking about how authors may weigh up the pros and cons.  (1) Advantages of knols for peer-reviewed postprints:  Full OA.  CC licenses.  Obvious visibility to search engines.  Searchable full-text, not just metadata.  Built-in community tools.  Not PDF.  Ad revenue option.  Available to authors who don't have a repository in their institution or discipline.  (2) Drawbacks:  May require porting the text and reformatting it with Google's editing tools, not just a deposit.  (How soon will someone write a flexible knols import-export tool?)  Not built on free and open source software.  Off-limits to journals permitting self-archiving only in the author's institutional repository.  Not affiliated with a research institution or research field.  Long-term preservation efforts unclear.  Stewardship by a for-profit corporation, not by academic librarians.  (3) A wash:  Not OAI-compliant, but does it need to be?
  • Two suggestions to make it more useful and appealing:  open the source code, or at least the API, and arrange to back up the content in a trustworthy academic or national library independent of Google.

Update.  What I called the sample knol, above, is actually just an image of a sample.  Working knols are not yet online.


LANL Research Library joins Open Access consortium for particle physics publishing--SCOAP3, a press release from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Research Library, December 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

The LANL Research Library has joined several libraries in the US and internationally in expressing support for the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 aims to make articles in selected high energy physics (HEP) journals free to read for everyone. It is a proposed mechanism for a field of science (in this case particle physics) to pay for its own publishing costs, rather than make the readers of its journals pay via subscriptions or authors pay via author fees.

In this model, HEP funding agencies and libraries, which today purchase journal subscriptions to implicitly support the peer-review service, federate to explicitly cover the base costs of publishing and peer-review, and the associated publishers make the electronic versions of their HEP journals free to read widely across the globe.

In the proposed SCOAP3 model, everyone involved in producing the literature of particle physics (universities, labs, and funding agencies) pays into the consortium which then pays publishers and all articles in the field become available via Open Access....

There is a growing concern within the academy that the future of high-quality journals, and the peer-review system they administer, is at risk. SCOAP3 is developed to address this situation for HEP and, as an experiment, Science at large. SCOAP3 proposes, for the first time, to link quality and price thereby stimulating competition and enabling considerable medium- and long-term savings....

For more information please see the Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party or the SCOAP3 FAQ for US Libraries.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crowdsourcing chemistry

Jean-Claude Bradley, Crowdsourcing Chemistry Proposal, Chemistry Wide Open, December 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

I recently submitted a Letter of Intent for the NSF Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation competition. Kevin Owens is a co-PI and will assist with the laboratory automation component. ChemSpider will contribute the database support. The pre-proposal is due in early January 2008 and we'll be writing it openly here. Comments are welcome.

We would ultimately like to enable the chemistry community to directly control the actions of a robot to help us understand some chemistry problems....

We already have a mechanism in UsefulChem to post experimental plans....

Other examples of chemistry crowdsourcing : Chemmunity, The Synaptic Leap, OrgList, Chemists Without Borders and ChemUnPub.

Here is the [letter of intent]:

Chemistry Crowdsourcing using Open Notebook Science

The current system of dissemination of scientific data and knowledge is far less efficient than it needs to be to facilitate improved collaborative science, especially considering current publication vehicles and infrastructure. There is a growing movement promoting more Open Science, with the belief that a more transparent scientific process can perform far more effectively. The logical extension of this concept is full transparency - exposing a researcher's complete record of progress to the public in near real time. Not only will such a process enable ongoing data sharing it also provides an opportunity to develop collaborative communities of scientists and, at the conclusion of data acquisition, can enable communal extraction of conclusions when necessary. We have named this approach Open Notebook Science and have demonstrated its implementation and feasibility with the UsefulChem project, started in the summer of 2005, with the aim of synthesizing novel anti-malarial compounds. Our system currently uses free hosted services using general blog and wiki functions to facilitate replication across any scientific domains. These services are not chemically intelligent and are limited to text and graphic based data sharing only. For Open Notebook Chemistry the ability to intelligently manipulate, manage and search chemical structures and associated data is necessary and we have demonstrated proof of concept capabilities by integrating with the ChemSpider service, a free access online database managing chemical structures and focused on developing a structure centric community for chemists. This work will require the development of a chemically intelligent software platform to extend the capabilities of both the blog and the wiki environment for managing Open Notebook Science. The exposure of raw experimental procedures and data in a semantically rich format will enable the participation of both human and autonomous agents in the process of scientific discovery. This phenomenon of spontaneous group intelligence, referred to as "Crowdsourcing", has proven valuable in several contexts. Already, productive collaborations have been forged within the UsefulChem project with groups from Indiana University, Nanyang Technological University, the National Cancer Institute and UC San Francisco.

Columbia joins the Google Library project

Columbia University has joined the Google Library project.  See today's press release:

Columbia University Libraries and Google, Inc. have signed an agreement to digitize a large number of the Libraries’ books in the public domain and make them available online. The project...will evaluate and review hundreds of thousands of volumes from the Libraries’ collections over the next six years.

The Columbia University Libraries collections contain a remarkable range of books on a wide variety of subjects and dozens of languages from 25 distinct libraries. Among the hundreds of collections that are being considered for digitization are areas in which Columbia has particularly strong holdings, for instance architecture from the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library; political science, sociology, and environmental science from the Lehman Social Sciences Library; Area Studies collections of history and literature materials from Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin and South America; or East Asian languages and history from the C. V. Starr East Asian Library. Their inclusion will extend and enrich the scope of the materials available through Google Book Search....

Because the books being digitized are in the public domain, users will be able to view the full text of the books and download them for leisure reading, research or printing for later reference....

“Our participation in the Google Book Search Library Project will add significantly to the extensive digital resources the Libraries already deliver,” said James Neal, Columbia’s vice president for information services and university librarian. “It will enable the Libraries to make available more significant portions of its extraordinary archival and special collections to scholars and researchers worldwide in ways that will ultimately change the nature of scholarship.”

Alan Brinkley, provost and Allan Nevins Professor of American History, said, “The Google partnership promises enormous benefits to Columbia University and the communities it serves. Amongst them, of course, is the free and open full-text access we can provide to our public domain holdings.”

Columbia Libraries will receive a digital copy of every book scanned and will, in the coming months, decide the various uses of those copies....

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes....

Also see the FAQ.

CERN and DESY join PhysMath Central

Top physics laboratories sign up to open access with PhysMath Central, a press release from PhysMath Central, December 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

PhysMath Central, the Open Access publisher for Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, today announced membership agreements with the CERN and DESY high-energy physics laboratories. Under these agreements the organizations will centrally cover article-processing charges for all research published by their investigators in the peer-reviewed open access journal, PMC Physics A....

Jens Vigen, CERN head librarian commented “This membership program is an important, intermediate, step towards the SCOAP3 publishing model, where high-energy physics literature will be open access and article processing costs borne centrally in a transparent way for authors”....

PhysMath Central’s Christopher Leonard commented, “We are exceptionally pleased to welcome these major institutions on board. This reinforces CERN and DESY’s commitment to supporting open access publication of the research from their laboratories. Central funding for article processing charges makes life much simpler for authors, and so accelerates the take up of open access.”

Presentations from Polish OA conference

The presentations from the EBIB Open Access Conference (Torun, Poland, December 7-9, 2007) are now online.  Most of the slides and texts are in Polish, but all have English abstracts.

Recent developments on OA in the developing world

Charlotte Webber of BMC summarizes nine recent developments on open access in the developing world.  Except for one item on low-cost laptops, I've blogged them all here already, but it's useful to see them collected together in one page.

More on dual-edition books from the National Academies Press

Marrying Marketing Science with the Front Lines: One Book Publisher's Winning Combination, Knowledge at Wharton, December 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

The rise of the Internet has been a boon to the National Academies Press, or NAP, the book-publishing arm of the National Academy of Sciences. But by the start of this decade, the promise of the web also posed some potential pitfalls.

In 2001, the leading scientists on the board of the Academy were suggesting that NAP executive director Barbara Kline Pope take advantage of new technologies to offer its books on the web in a downloadable PDF format -- free of charge. According to Pope, the scientists told her they wanted the ability to disseminate the scientific information as widely as possible, explaining "that we could give away PDFs for free and it would build knowledge around the world. They were also saying to me, 'Don't worry about your business model because people will still buy printed books.'"

But Pope wasn't convinced. So in 2002...she obtained outside funds for hard research, retained two academic marketing experts and called upon the tools of marketing science. The researchers developed a study showing that free online PDF-format books would have cannibalized existing print sales on the order of $2 million a year -- a potentially crippling blow to the publishing house.

Pope and the two marketing experts -- P.K. Kannan from the University of Maryland and Sanjay Jain from Texas A&M -- presented their research at Wharton recently as an entry in the INFORMS Society on Marketing Science (ISMS) Practice Prize Competition, a contest designed to highlight the ways that advanced marketing science can improve the bottom line.

For their development of a strategy on how to price online PDF-format books in a way that would maximize both revenues and book sales, the NAP team was awarded first prize in the competition....

Comment.  You wouldn't know from reading this article that NAP offers free PDF editions for nearly half of its books (1,800 out of 3,700 or 48.6%).  Nor would you know that it offers free online access to all of its monographs in a home-grown (non-PDF) format.  Nor would you know that it's famous for pioneering dual (OA and non-OA) editions for research monographs --a feature of the press since 1994-- and demonstrating that the free online editions increase the net sales of the print editions.  For the NAP's use of OA editions, see three articles by its own Mike Jensen (in 2001, 2005, and 2007).

OA in anthropology

Christopher Kelty, The state of Open Access Anthro, Open Access Anthropology, December 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

In response to a request from Jason Cross, anthropologist and lawyer in training at Duke University, I’ve been examining more carefully the available open access resources in and around anthropology. The aim is twofold. First I simply want to draw attention to how much action there has already been in making research open access, both old and new, primary (archival) and secondary. There isn’t a lot, actually, compared to a discipline like economics; but there is a growing array:

Perhaps most significantly, I would say about 80% of OA Journals are non-English (especially in Spanish) and non American/EU resources....Given how often the question of “indigenous” anthropology comes up amongst students and colleagues I talk to (i.e. “does it exist?”) I think they would be surprised to discover just how thoroughly it is kicking our cosmopolitan asses in the race to make its research available on the net.

The second point I want to makes (which I do repeatedly) is about the changing nature of scholarship today, and the relationship between publication and the governance of scholarly societies and universities. Namely, universities and scholarly societies are not (and should not be) about making research available—they are (or should be) about making research good....

One of the spurious claims often raised about open access is that it threatens peer review. The logic behind this argument seems to be that open access is about bypassing the entire academic infrastructure from soup to nuts, and is therefore equivalent to individuals simply posting their research directly online. This argument makes my brain hurt, because to me, and to most OA proponents, open access is about making really good research really widely available. And research doesn’t get really good by being posted on the internet. Quite the opposite usually.

Now, I know everyone likes to believe that what makes research really good is the genius behind it, that cult of the individual artist that, especially in cultural anthropology, has reached a kind of fever pitch over the last 20 years. But in reality, good research is good because it is part of a social process that stretches from good pedagogy to constant interaction with peers, to delivering work at conferences and workshops, to having work peer reviewed to having it edited and checked, and to having it promoted, talked about, cited, taught, thought about and having it inspire others....

Microsoft funds OA chemistry project

Peter Murray-Rust, Microsoft eChemistry Project and molecular repositories, A Scientist and the Web, December 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

Some of you may have picked up from - e.g. the Open Grid Forum - that Microsoft (Tony Hey, Lee Dirks, Savas Parastatidis) have been collaborating with Carl Lagoze (Cornell) and Herbert van de Sompel (LANL) on bringing together Chemistry and OAI-ORE - the next generation of interoperable repository software. We are delighted that Microsoft has now agreed to fund this project and when Carl, Lee, Simon Coles (Soton) and I had lunch yesterday Lee said I could publicly blog this....

In brief - Tony Hey was the architect of the UK eScience program and then moved to Microsoft Redmond where he has been developing approaches to Open Science (not sure if this is the correct term but it gives the idea) - for example it includes Open Access and permits/encourages Open Source in the project. Carl and Herbert developed the OAI-PMH protocol for repositories which allows exposure of metadata for harvesters. They have now developed ORE - Object Re-use and Exchange - which sees the future as composed of a large number of interoperating repositories rather than monolithic databases (I am on the advisory board of ORE).

There are 7-8 partners in the program - MS, PubChem, Cornell, LANL, Lee Giles (PSU), Soton, Indiana and Cambridge. This is a really exciting development as we shall be able to create a number of well-populated molecular repositories with heterogeneous content (everything from crystallography to Wikipedia chemicals for example). One that we are currently developing is an RDF/CML-based repository of common chemicals - perhaps 5000 - which could serve as an amanuensis for the bench chemist or undergraduate needing reference material. CrystalEye will be in there as well and we shall also be “scraping” (ugly word) any material we can legally access. In this was we can hope to see the concept of World Wide Molecular Matrix start to emerge. Chemistry eTheses can also be reposited - we are starting to hear of universities who have mandated open theses.

Chemical substructure searching across repositories will be an exciting challenge but we have a number of ideas.

We shall have openings here so if you are interested let us know....

More archived presentations from Berlin 5

Several more of the presenters at the Berlin 5 conference, Open Access: From Practice to Impact: Consequences of Knowledge Dissemination (Padua, September 19-21, 2007), have self-archived their presentations in E-LIS:

Update.  Here are some more:

Update.  Here are some more:

Open repositories for open science

Liz Lyon, Simon Coles, and Manjula Patel, eCrystals Federation: Open Repositories for Open Science, a slide presentation at the CNI Task Force Meeting (Washington DC, December 10-11, 2007).

Alpha version of the OAI-ORE spec and user guide

The Open Archives Initiative has released the alpha version of the ORE Specification and User Guide (December 10, 2007). 

Abstract:   Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE) defines standards for the description and exchange of aggregations of Web resources.  This document provides an introduction and lists the specifications and user guide documents that make up the OAI-ORE standards.

From the Introduction:

The World Wide Web is built upon the notion of atomic units of information called resources that are identified with URIs such as [this page]. In addition to these atomic units, aggregations of resources are often units of information in their own right.  Examples of these aggregations are:

  • A simple unordered set, or bag, of resources, such as a collection of favorite images from various Web sites.
  • A multi-page, HTML document where the pages are linked together by hyperlinks that provide "previous page" and "next page" access....
  • A scholarly publication stored in an ePrint repository such as arXiv or in a DSpace, ePrints, or Fedora repository.  Such a publication may appear on the Web as multiple resources, each with an individual URI.  The set of resources typically consists of a human readable "splash page", that links to the body of the publication in multiple formats such as LaTeX, PDF, and HTML.  In addition, the publication may have citation links to other publications, each existing as one or more resources.
  • An overlay journal issue that aggregates multiple scholarly publications as described above, each located in their origin repository, into an issue.  Issues may be recursively aggregated themselves into volumes, and then into the journal itself.
  • A semantically-linked group of cellular images - each available as a Resource resident in repositories from research laboratories, museums, libraries, and the like - in the manner implemented in the ImageWeb Project.
  • Published scientific results such as those envisioned by [Lynch CTWatch] that, in addition to the features of the scholarly publication described above, incorporate data plus the tools to visualize and analyze that data.

A mechanism to associate identities with these aggregations and describe them in a machine-readable manner would make them visible to Web agents, both humans and machines.  This could be useful for a number of applications and contexts.  For example:

  • Crawler-based search engines could use such descriptions to index information and provide search results sets at the granularity of the aggregations rather than their individual parts.
  • Browsers could leverage them to provide users with navigation aids for the aggregated resources, in the same manner that machine-readable site maps provide navigation clues for crawlers.
  • Other automated agents such as preservation systems could use these descriptions as guides to understand a "whole document" and determine the best preservation strategy.
  • Systems that mine and analyze networked information for citation analysis/bibliometrics could achieve better accuracy with knowledge of aggregation structure contained in these descriptions.
  • These machine-readable descriptions could provide the foundation for advanced scholarly communication systems that allow the flexible reuse and refactoring of rich scholarly artifacts and their components [Value Chains]....

Glimpse of the Zotero Commons

Andy Guess, Pooling Scholars’ Digital Resources, Inside Higher Ed, December 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

...If many researchers have had to scan rare documents or books for their own perusal, there’s a potential treasure trove of material that exists among their combined efforts. Rather than let all that scholarship rot, or waste away in data files, the [George Mason University's] Center for History and New Media sees an opportunity to create an open archive of scholarly resources in the public domain....

In partnership with the Internet Archive, and with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the center is creating a way for scholars to upload existing data files to be optically scanned (to make them text-searchable) and stored in a database available to the public. Since only works in the public domain can be made available in that way, scholars will have to complete an online form with legal assurances.

The vehicle for the new environment will be the Zotero plug-in for the Firebox browser, also developed by the center. The software stores Web pages, collects citations and lets scholars annotate and organize online documents. A new feature of the plug-in will allow people to collaborate and share materials through a dedicated server. Building on that functionality, according to [Daniel Cohen, the director of the center], the system will allow scholars to drag and drop documents onto an icon in Zotero that essentially sends it to the Internet Archive for storage and free optical character recognition.

The eventual result of the project, called Zotero Commons, could be reduced need need for research trips, Cohen suggested. “I think it’s really going to have an impact on the way that scholarship is done.” Besides original source documents, scholars could upload their own annotations and finding aids to help other researchers, Cohen suggested.

Converting digital documents to an easily searchable and accessible format is not a trivial task for many scholars, and providing the OCR services for free will be a major draw, Cohen predicted....

Comment.  This is a brilliant add-on to Zotero, which was already the most useful tool in its niche.  Now, as scholars organize their research on scanned public-domain documents, they're one click away from making them OA and searchable for all other scholars.

Update. Also see Jeffrey Young's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Update. Also see the launch announcement from George Mason U's Dan Cohen.

Profile of the SCOAP3 project

Glennda Chui, Free for All, Symmetry, October/November 2007.  Excerpt:

The next big experiment in particle physics won’t need an accelerator, detector, or other big machine....If it works, no one will have to pay to read most particle physics results. The journals that publish most of the research in the field will be available free online to anyone, anywhere and any time. Money to run the journals—including the cost of having experts review each article before it sees print—would instead come from funding agencies, laboratories and libraries through a consortium called SCOAP3, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics. This would give journals a stable source of funding while reducing the total cost to libraries and readers....

[T]he consortium won’t work without participation from all the countries where physics is done. The United States is a crucial player, since about a quarter of the published research originates here. Yet its budgetary system is highly complex, with money for journal subscriptions coming out of thousands of separate pockets....

However, the average cost of journal subscriptions has been rising far faster than inflation; between 2003 and 2007, for instance, the average cost of subscribing to 103 physics journals jumped 42 percent, according to the 2007 Library Journal Periodical Prices Survey. Many library budgets can’t keep up. Some have been dumping subscriptions....”

As more institutions pare their subscription lists, there’s a danger that journals will have to raise prices for their remaining subscribers, leading to more cancellations and more price increases that eventually force journals out of business. “The present system is not sustainable.” says Salvatore Mele, a physicist at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, and spokesman for the SCOAP3 project....

Noting that 83 percent of published particle physics articles posted on arXiv are from six leading journals, the international consortium proposes to convert five of those core journals to full open access: Physical Review D, Physics Letters B, Nuclear Physics B, Journal of High Energy Physics, and European Physical Journal C. In addition, articles in Physical Review Letters that involve high-energy physics, about 10 percent of the total, would become open access. The consortium is also open to other high-quality particle physics journals.

Each nation that carries out physics research would contribute to the consortium according to how many articles its scientists publish, with special allowances made for developing nations that cannot afford to pay.

One concern raised about open-access publishing is that it might free libraries from the burden of skyrocketing subscription costs, only to force authors to pay fees out of their research grants, reducing the amount of money available for lab equipment, graduate students and other essentials. SCOAP3 offers a way around that, Mele says, by diverting money now used for subscriptions into the consortium while leaving research funds intact....

The proposal is making rapid progress, Mele adds: The major European players have already pledged about a third of the needed funding, and there are growing signs of interest from libraries in the United States and both libraries and funding agencies in Asia....

For their part, the biggest publishers in particle physics—Elsevier, Springer, and the APS—all say they’re receptive to the idea, if it can be made to work....

“In a way, a publisher has to be agnostic on these things. This is a matter of politics, funding, and science,” says Christian Caron, publishing editor for EPJC. “What is rather clear is the majority of big collaborations in this world have signed petitions saying yes, we are only going to publish in open- access journals....”

Even among supportive publishers, there is a fear that the transition to open access could be rough, and might even put them out of business.

“We would be delighted if the SCOAP3 initiative worked,” says Serene of the APS. “But we would be hesitant to sign onto this thing unless we were really certain it had long-term financial stability,” which is hard to guarantee if the funding comes out of government budgets that change year-to-year....”

To Suber, though, physics is offering scholarly publishing a model for how to make that transition.

“Somehow physics did everything right,” he says. “Its levels of self-archiving are approaching 100 percent, and its journals have not seen cancellations. In physics we’re seeing the journals convert even when they’re prospering, and they’re doing it through coordinated negotiations with other stakeholders. It’s being done through discipline and reasoning. Nobody is over a barrel. Everybody’s doing it because it looks like a better idea.”

If other fields can move to open access through this kind of “peaceable negotiation, rather than trauma,” he says, “we should do that.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Society journal converts to OA, moves to BMC

Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Chooses Open Access over Subscription Publishing, a press release from BioMed Central, December 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

BioMed Central, the world's largest publisher of open access journals, is pleased to announce that the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (JCMR) is moving to BioMed Central's open access publishing platform from the traditional subscription publishers, Taylor & Francis. The move from a subscription publisher to BioMed Central will allow the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR) members and JCMR authors to disseminate their research in the burgeoning field of cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging and spectroscopy more efficiently. In addition, BioMed Central's open access policy ensures that their work will reach not only other SCMR members, but the widest possible global audience.

Beginning in January 2008, JCMR readers will have free, instant online access to all published articles not only on BioMed Central's website, but also on PubMed Central as well as other open access repositories, free from the constraints of print publication cycles....

View from the library trenches

Dorothea Salo, What repository software developers don’t know about libraries, Caveat Lector, December 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

This morning’s reading was the admirably honest and straightforward “Taking EPrints to the Next Level” report. In a field drowning in useless happytalk, it’s good to see an effort as important as EPrints stepping back and taking a good hard look at its missteps as well as its (considerable) successes....

[J]ust as libraries charged gaily into running repositories without understanding how the entrenched structures and reward systems of academia would hinder them, repository software developers charge gaily into development without understanding how libraries work, or how repositories work inside libraries....

So here, free gratis and worth what you paid, are a few hints about libraries and repositories that ought to inform development and support decisions.

First, the usual open-source “scratch own itch” development model doesn’t work as well in libraries. The reason for this is that with a few exceptions, librarians are not programmers and do not think like them....

Second, the community-based development models that are so fashionable just at present in the repository community are equally if not more precarious. This just isn’t how libraries are accustomed to acquiring their software and having their needs met! The EPrints report goes into the results of this disconnect in considerable sheepish detail, so I don’t need to; I will merely remark that I’m not bullish on Fedora Commons or the DSpace Foundation....

Third, this is not a good time to be asking libraries for resources for repositories. Institutional repositories are in enough trouble as it is.  MacKenzie Smith asked me rather peevishly on the DSpace tech list why I couldn’t just go get a developer assigned to the repository for a year. Trust me: if I could, I would....

I’m not alone in this. “Repositories operate on limited budgets, if they have specific budgets at all,” says the EPrints report (page 10). This squares with my experience —and if open-access advocates want to know why this is, they need only examine screeds from some of our more vocal advocates proclaiming that repositories are cheap and easy and fill themselves like magic. That (false) ideology is now coming back to bite would-be repository communities hard.

Fourth, a good many library technologists hide themselves —from their administrations, from their fellows, from the world— because the risk is too great of being shut down abruptly if one is discovered doing this sort of work. I wish I were making this up, but I’m not....

Fifth, most libraries don’t have any library technologists. Any. At all....

Update. Also see the response by Steve Hitchcock of the EPrints Community.

Rethinking repository goals and means

Dorothea Salo, Innkeeper at the Roach Motel, a preprint forthcoming in Library Trends, 2008.

Abstract:   Trapped by faculty apathy and library uncertainty, institutional repositories face a crossroads: adapt or die. The “build it and they will come” proposition has been decisively proven wrong. Citation advantages and preservation have not attracted faculty participants, though current-generation software and services offer faculty little else. Academic librarianship has not supported repositories or their managers. Most libraries consistently under-resource and understaff repositories, further worsening the participation gap. Software and services are wildly out of touch with faculty needs and the realities of repository management. These problems are not insoluble, but they demand serious reconsideration of repository missions, goals, and means.

Update (3/18/09). The postprint is now OA as well.

Michigan's Google-scanned books are OAI-compliant

From the University of Michigan Library:

The University of Michigan Library is pleased to announce that records from our MBooks collection are available for OAI harvesting. The MBooks collection consists of materials digitized by Google in partnership with the University of Michigan.

Only records for MBooks available in the public domain are exposed. We have split these into sets containing public domain items according to U.S. copyright law, and public domain items worldwide. There are currently over 100,000 records available for harvesting. We anticipate having 1 million records available when the entire U-M collection has been digitized by Google.

In conjunction, we have released our open-source OAI toolkit on SourceForge. This toolkit contains both harvester and data provider, both written in Perl....

Comment.  This is an excellent idea.  I believe Michigan is the first partner in the Google Library project to make its Google-scanned books OAI-compliant.

7,000 OA documents in E-LIS

E-LIS, the OA repository for library and information science, has reached the milestone of 7,000 documents on deposit.  (Thanks to Andrew Waller.)

Growth of OA during 2007

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access: 2007 (Interim) and Predictions for 2008, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, December 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

This is an early, interim report on the dramatic growth of open access for 2007, dated December 11, 2007....

All data are presented as partial, rather than extrapolating estimates, as the partial data is more than sufficient to demonstrate that 2007 was a very, very good year for open access....

There are more than 3,000 fully open access journals, with new titles being added to DOAJ at a rate of more than 1.4 per day (late in the year, this has soared to more than 3 titles per calendar day, but it is too soon to draw any conclusions); more than 1,000 repositories, and at least 17 million items that are already OA....

Before we turn to growth, let us review what I see as the top story of 2007: how much open access there already is. Lots!!

Open Access Publishing

There are already more journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals than in the holdings of the world's largest commercial scholarly publisher. There are more non-embargoed, scholarly journals in DOAJ than in the largest of the aggregated packages purchased by libraries....

For full details, see my blogpost, Directory of Open Access Journals: Already the Biggest of the Big Deals?

Open Access Archiving

Growth Rates

...OAIster added more than 4.4 million records this year, for a very healthy growth rate of 44%. OAIster currently numbers 14.3 million items. Scientific Commons added more than half a million items, and close to a quarter of a million authors, this quarter alone!

The numbers may not be as large, but the story of the local institutional repository may be the growth story of the year. In 2007, an archive browse of the CARL Metadata Harvester jumped from 12 to 17 repositories, a 42% jump. The number of items added in the last (incomplete) quarter of 2007, 4,270, was more than were added in the whole of 2006.

Which brings us to my predictions for 2008.

Open access now has significant capacity. There are more than 3,000 fully open access journals, at least 10% of the world's estimated 20-25,000 peer-reviewed journals....DOAJ will list about 15% of the world's peer-reviewed journals by the end of 2008. There are more than 1,000 open access repositories....There are more than 40 open access policies by funding agencies and universities, and more to come. Many librarians and faculty have, or are developing, expertise in the area of scholarly communications....Now that we have the capacity and understanding, we will begin to make good use of it.

In open access publishing, the initiative to watch will be SCOAP3, an attempt to flip the entire High Energy Physics publishing to a fully open access model.
In institutional repositories, the stories will be many. At the beginning of the institutional repository movement, every repository faced a chicken and egg situation. How to demonstrate the value of an IR, without any content? How to attract content, when one cannot demonstrate the value of an IR? As repositories begin to fill, there will be more and more good examples of repositories, which will drive desires for IRs. Growth in open access repositories has been dramatic in 2007, and I anticipate that it will be even more so in 2008.

For full data, see the 2007 Interim Dramatic Growth of Open Access.

For another view of what might happen in 2008, see Peter Suber's December Open Access Newsletter.

3,000 peer-reviewed OA journals in the DOAJ

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has reached the milestone of listing 3,000 peer-reviewed OA journals.  From today's announcement:

As of today the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) contains 3000 open access journals, i.e. quality controlled scientific and scholarly electronic journals that are freely available on the web.

We are very pleased to see that the usage of DOAJ is constantly increasing on all parameters. Every month visitors from more than 160 countries are using the service, hundreds of libraries all over the world have included the DOAJ titles in their catalogues and other services, and commercial aggregators are as well benefiting of the service.

The goal of the Directory of Open Access Journals is still to increase the visibility and accessibility of open access scholarly journals, and thereby promote their increased usage and impact. The directory aims to comprehensively cover all open access scholarly journals that use an appropriate quality control system. Journals in all languages and subject areas are welcome. To maintain the quality of the service we also have to remove titles from DOAJ if they no longer live up to the selection criteria. 96 titles have been removed so far during 2007....

In order to create a sustainable financial foundation for the continuing operation and development of DOAJ we launched the DOAJ Membership Program in February 2007. We invite individuals, universities, research centres, libraries, library organisations, library consortia, aggregators and other organisations to contribute....As of today, DOAJ has got 3 individuals, 51 libraries, 10 library consortia and 1 aggregator as members. Thanks to our members we have been able to employ more staff and thereby maintain a high quality of the service....

PS:  Congratulations to Lars Bjornshauge, Anna-Lena Johansson, and the rest of the DOAJ team.  And since the growing number of peer-reviewed OA journals reflects dedication, commitment, and hard work around the world, congratulations to us all.

Yale launches an open courseware program

Josh Fischman, Yale U. Puts Complete Courses Online, Wired Campus, December 11, 2007.  Excerpt:

Modern poetry, as well as introductory courses in physics, psychology, and political science, are four of seven classes from Yale U. that the institution put online today. Not only are the courses free for anyone who is interested, but they are as close to being there as online technology allows.

“These are gavel-to-gavel presentations,” Tom Conroy, a university spokesman, told The Chronicle. “We’ve put everything online that we could, and I think that’s what makes this different.” Lectures can be downloaded and run in streaming video or in audio only. There are searchable transcripts of each lecture, as well as course syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets, and other materials.

Diana E.E. Kleiner, a professor of the history of art and classics and director of the project, which is called Open Yale Courses, said in a written statement that the project’s leaders “wanted everyone to be able to see and hear each lecture as if they were sitting in the classroom.” ...

The project also has international connections, with Open Yale Courses lectures broadcast over Chinese television and a satellite network in India. The lectures will also be available at 300 libraries and universities throughout the world, via a U.S. State Department project called American Corners.

PS:  The courses currently online are in astronomy, English, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, and religious studies.

Update. Also see Andy Guess's story in Inside Higher Ed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Students recognized for their work on OA

SPARC has honored student work for open access with the latest SPARC Innovator award.  From today's press release:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has recognized five student leaders as the new SPARC Innovators. Hailed as "Agents of Change," students point to the promise of a more open system for information sharing.

December's SPARC Innovators include:

* "The Technologist," Benjamin Mako Hill. Graduate of the MIT Media Lab, current Researcher at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, Fellow in the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, and engineer of the 2007 "Overprice Tags" project at the MIT library.

* "The Professional," Gavin Baker. Political Studies graduate of the University of Florida, Open Access Director for Students for Free Culture, and co-mastermind of the National Day of Action for Open Access, February 2007.

* "The Politician," Nick Shockey. Current undergraduate and Student Senator at Trinity University in San Antonio and author of the second-ever student senate resolution in favor of public access to publicly funded research results.

* "The Diplomat," Elizabeth Stark. Student of Law at Harvard University, Affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, founder of Harvard Free Culture, and architect of one of the first student free thesis repositories.

* "The Evangelist," Nelson Pavlosky. Law student at George Mason University, co-founder of Students for Free Culture, and ally of the Student Global AIDS Campaign and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.

"Despite different backgrounds and interests, these students share a common interest in ensuring ease of access and use of electronic information," said SPARC Director Heather Joseph. "As members of a generation raised with the Internet, sharing is second nature to them. When it comes to open access, they just get it."

The December SPARC Innovator profile is the first of several student-centered initiatives from SPARC. The January SPARC-ACRL forum at ALA will explore "Working with the Facebook Generation: Student Engagement on Access to Scholarship" and will feature the winners of the first SPARKY awards for student videos illustrating the value of sharing. The forum will also mark the introduction of a dedicated SPARC campaign to engage students on the topic of open access....

To read the December SPARC Innovator profile, visit the SPARC Innovator Web page....

Individuals can nominate their colleagues as potential SPARC Innovators [here]....

PS:  Be sure to read the long version of the award citation for the five student leaders.  Congratulations to them all.

Update. Also see the George Mason Law School press release on the award to Nelson Pavlosky, one of its students.

More evidence that OA mandates work

Jingfeng Xia, Assessment of Self-archiving in Institutional Repositories: Across Disciplines, Journal of Academic Librarianship, December 2007.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Abstract:   This research examined self-archiving practices by four disciplines in seven institutional repositories. By checking each individual item for its metadata and deposition status, the research found that a disciplinary culture is not obviously presented. Rather, self-archiving is regulated by a liaison system and a mandate policy.

High traffic for Dutch open courseware

The open courseware from the Open University (of the Netherlands, not the UK) was downloaded 10,000 times in its first year. 

John Wilbanks' open science wishlist

John Wilbanks, An Open Science Wishlist for 2008, john wilbanks' blog, December 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

In the spirit of the holidays…a time in which we ask for everything our hearts desire…here’s a few wishes, hopes, and dreams for open science in 2008....

- NIH archiving mandate language in the omnibus appropriations bill. It’s past time that US taxpayer funded research goes into an archive where we can all read it without paying fees. The primary licensing issues appear to be worked out and it’s just a matter of creating the incentive for scientists to actually comply. This one’s a no-brainer.

- PRISM goes away. I’m not even going to link to these people. It’s an industry-sponsored lobbying group that spouts incredible statements like “public access equals government censorship” (the so-called logic behind this is more twisted than a complex protein structure). PRISM doesn’t help the dialogue in the Open Access world any more than attacks on traditional publishers help the dialogue. We’re in this one together in the end.

- the OECD Biological Resource Centers take flight. We need these repositories to get to a world where published research can seamlessly spark new discoveries, and that doesn’t happen when individual scientists have to fulfill orders and manufacture materials....

- Traditional publishers open up their backfiles for extensive entity recognition, text mining, and semantic indexing. We have to do a lot of reformatting of knowledge to make the web work better for research, and just letting google index citations and keywords isn’t enough. We need as many smart people as possible crunching the literature and connecting it into the web of data (in life sciences alone, there’s almost 1000 primary databases ). We can do this while we figure out the OA policy for the backfile, this is common ground.

- Web 2.0 advocates overcome what appears to be a reflexive distaste for the Semantic Web – when it comes to biology at least, the Semantic Web not only works but is incredibly useful....

- Open database licensing comes of age. Watch the Science Commons and Creative Commons space for announcements…it’s time to start thinking about the “Freedom To Integrate” when it comes to databases in science.

- Pharmaceutical companies start to think about building common pools of toxicity data. The big costs in pharma are clinical trials, and the reason they cost so much is that we don’t understand toxicity. A vanishingly small number of people (i.e., the ones who work inside the pharma company that did a clinical trial) get to see failed clinical data. It simply cannot be the most efficient way to figure out tox to have the data decay, unexplored and unconnected....

- and to be a home-teamer, I hope Science Commons gets a new bike…er, a big grant.

IR coming to University College Dublin

News from University College Dublin:

...UCD Library and Enovation Solutions have completed the development of an open access institutional repository to collect, preserve and disseminate the full-text research outputs of researchers at University College Dublin. The Library is currently piloting the repository with the Schools of Economics, Geography Planning and Environmental Policy and the Geary Institute in UCD. They plan to officially launch it as a university-wide service later in 2008....

"Achieving a critical mass of datasets in public repositories"

Christine L. Borgman, Data, disciplines, and scholarly publishing, Learned Publishing, January 2008. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far

Abstract:   Data are becoming an essential product of scholarship, complementing the roles of journal articles, papers, and books. Research data can be reused to ask new questions, to replicate studies, and to verify research findings. Data become even more valuable when linked to publications and other related resources to form a value chain. Types and uses of data vary widely between disciplines, as do the online availability of publications and the incentives of scholars to publish their data. Publishers, scholars, and librarians each have roles to play in constructing a new scholarly information infrastructure for e-research. Technical, policy, and institutional components are maturing; the next steps are to integrate them into a coherent whole. Achieving a critical mass of datasets in public repositories, with links to and from publisher databases, is the most promising solution to maintaining and sustaining the scholarly record in digital form.

Good start for anthropology repository

Mana’o, the OA repository for anthropology, was only launched two months ago, but already it contains 82 publications.  (Thanks to 

New faculty: expect a question about OA at your interview

Berkeley librarians are developing a list of questions to use when they interview prospective faculty.  On the list:

10. What do you think will ultimately be the impact of open access journals in your field of research?

Archived presentations from Berlin 5

Several of the presenters at the Berlin 5 conference, Open Access: From Practice to Impact: Consequences of Knowledge Dissemination (Padua, September 19-21, 2007), have self-archived their presentations in E-LIS:

  • Francis André, Open Access in France: a MoU signed.  Abstract:   The presentation will cover the recent developments towards open access to French research output. A cooperative approach between research organisations and universities has been recently decided. In July 2006, a national Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the major French research organisations and the universities and High Schools conferences with the objective of facilitating dissemination to the publicly funded research outputs through open access. The challenge is to expand the current HAL platform run by CCSD/CNRS since 2001 to a fully shared platform offering both direct depositing and indirect depositing by federating institutions local repositories, under development in most universities.

  • Chris Armbruster, Making Open Access stick: developing overlay services for authors and readers.  Abstract:   Digital technology and economics favour the severance of certification (peer review) from distribution (electronic). Electronic distribution and communication may be organised in a cost-efficient manner that is free to both authors and readers. Knowledge overlay services exist in a complementary relationship to the increasing salience of open content and open access in scientific publishing and data provision. These new digital overlay services encompass certification (as staged and possibly interactive peer review – improved quality), literature and data awareness services (for structured reading and usage – increased efficiency) and new software tools (e.g. for text mining – enhanced scope with structurally new ways of handling publications and data). The markets for scientific publishing and scholarly communication are at the threshold of change. Digitalisation, the spread of English as academic language and the further expansion of research, education and the knowledge-based economy mean that a single global market will emerge that is segmented according to users in academic research, higher education and knowledge-intensive industries and services. Presently, none of the experimental movers or incumbents on the market has found a business model that answers the challenge of the coming global knowledge society.

  • Subbiah Arunachalam, Open Access in India: Hopes and Frustrations.  From the abstract:   India has a large S&T research community and Indian researchers perform research in a wide variety of areas....India trains a very large number of scientists and engineers and a large percent of the best graduates migrate to the West. One would think that everything is fine with science and technology in India. Far from it. In terms of the number of papers published in refereed journals, in terms of the number of citations to these papers, in terms of citations per paper, and in terms of international awards and recognitions won, India's record is not all that encouraging. One key reason for the not-so-encouraging performance is to do with the way information is accessed and disseminated by Indian scientists. With an annual per capita GDP well below the thousand dollar mark, most Indian libraries cannot afford to subscribe to key journals needed by their users. Most scientists in India are forced to work in a situation of information poverty. Also, as Indian scientists publish their own research in thousands of journals, small and big, from around the world, their work is often not noticed by others elsewhere working in the same and related areas. Thus Indian work is hardly cited. Both these handicaps can be overcome to a considerable extent if open access is adopted widely both within and outside the country. That is easier said than done. As a individual I have been actively advocating open access for the past seven years. A few more have joined in recent years. But what we have to show is rather limited. Despite concerted advocacy and many individual letters addressed to policy makers, the heads of government's departments of science and research councils do not seem to have applied their minds to opening up access to research papers. Among those who understand the issues, a sizable number would rather like to publish in high impact journals, as far as possible, and then would not take the trouble to set up institutional archives. Most Indian researchers have not bothered to look up the several addenda (to the copyright agreement forms) that are now available. Many scientists I spoke to are worried that a publisher may not publish their papers if they attach an addendum! Publishing firms work in subtle ways to persuade senior librarians to keep away from OA initiatives. However, the National Knowledge Commission has acknowledged the importance of open access and has included it in its recommendations to the Government. A senior official of Google is in touch with NKC with a proposal to digitize all doctoral theses and bringing out OA versions of selected print journals and digitizing back runs of OA journals. The Indian National Science Academy invited an OA advocate to address its Council and it is likely that INSA will send before long a list of recommendations to the Government. Developments around the world, including in Latin America, South Africa and China, I hope will goad Indian establishment to action.

  • Sigrun Eckelmann and Max Voegler, Knowledge Exchange and Its View on Open Access.  Abstract:   The Knowledge Exchange is a collaboration between DEFF (Denmark’s Electronic Research Library), Denmark, DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), Germany, JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), United Kingdom, SURF (SURF Foundation), The Netherlands. The Knowledge Exchange is an initiative, aiming to develop closer working relationships between those key national agencies and bodies within Europe, responsible for the development of infrastructure and services to support the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within education and research. Open Access is one of the fields of activities covered by the Knowledge Exchange inititative. The common petition to the EU in the beginning of 2007 is the best known result. Further activities are planned and will be introduced to the audience.

  • Pedro Ferreira, New infrastructures and frameworks for knowledge creation and diffusion.  Abstract:   In the Information age, the creation, absorption and diffusion of knowledge become fundamental tasks that all economic agents need to master. As a consequence, knowledge management is at the heart of the dynamic evolution of today's institutions. In addition, institutions organize themselves into networks that share information and knowledge worldwide according to pre-established sets of rules that define property rights. Developing and using novel mechanisms that facilitate establishing such webs of knowledge emerge as key activities for attaining widespread success in the XXI Century. These mechanisms define ways for knowledge creators and receivers to interact and to share information. The implementation of these mechanisms usually requires both heavy technology and large numbers of people whose costs need to be carefully accounted for. Different ways to sustainably provision such costs have been analyzed in recent times and concepts like open access, open source and free software developed along with the idea of installing large, and distributed, digital repositories of information over broadband communication systems. Europe as a whole and European countries individually are steadily moving along a coherent path that can certainly lead to establishing world-class Pan-European knowledge management programs and structures as ways to help fulfill the objectives of a renewed Lisbon agenda. Policy making in this respect can now work as the best trigger to support and propel next steps. Additional effort to raise the issue of open access digital repositories to the top of national and regional political agendas must thus become a priority.

Invisible contributions in visible papers

Michael E. Smith, Buried in an Edited Volume, Publishing Archaeology, December 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Scholarship suffers when important papers are buried in edited volumes....

I’ve blogged about problems with edited volumes before, from the perspective of authors and editors. Now I will make some remarks from the perspective of the reader and the advancement of the discipline in general. The example I am going to use is the following paper:

Sheehy, James J. (1996) Ethnographic Analogy and the Royal Household in 8th Century Copan. In Arqueología Mesoamericana: Homenaje a William T. Sanders, edited by Alba Guadalupe Mastache, Jeffrey R. Parsons, Robert S. Santley and Mari Carmen Serra Puche, pp. 253-276. vol. 2. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City.

This is an important paper [but is almost never cited]....

One problem with Sheehy’s paper is that he buried an important methodological section within a site-specific paper, with little evidence in the title of the paper. But a bigger problem is that it was published in a semi-obscure edited volume in the first place....[I]f the comparative data had been published in a journal article, the discipline would have been much better served. And today, if important contributions like this were published in Open Access journals the impact on scholarship would be even greater. But that would require archaeologists to start OA journals and use them....

Comment.  I want to pick up on the fact that the title of Sheehy's article didn't flag his comparative analysis or contribution to methdology.  This is a common problem.  Because titles and abstracts must be brief, they cannot highlight all the important observations or arguments in a paper, especially in longer, richer papers.  It's almost inevitable that papers will be under-cited for that kind of shadowed contribution, whether they were published in journals or in edited volumes.  The only way to expose those contributions to readers who would benefit from them is to ensure that the articles containing them are subject to full-text searching.  That by itself doesn't require OA, of course.  But while digitization and search indexing bump up visibility, OA bumps it up again, opening the text to more search engines and more users.

Institutional repository trends

Jill Hurst-Wahl, Trends in eRepositories, a slide presentation at E-Info Global Symposium (Huntsville, Alabama, December 6-7, 2007).  Jill has also blogged her abstract and some other notes on her talk:

Abstract:   Over the years, our institutions have built large hardcopy repositories for the items they felt were important. Today we are engaged in building digital repositories to house a broad range of materials. In order for these repositories to be good stewards of the information they contain, we must focus on management, infrastructure and community support. We also must be aware of the trends that are occurring, since these repositories are still in their infancy....

Although many digital repositories are focusing on a broad range of materials, some are only focusing on scholarly publications and building repositories that provide open access to those publications. The open access movement hopes that scholarly publications will be made available either through open access repositories (the Green Road) or by being published in open access journals (the Gold Road)....[T]he Green and Gold Roads are not a fork in the road.  [We don't have to choose between them.]

During my presentation, I mentioned that it is important for faculty members to see a real benefit in submitting materials to the repository. After my presentation, Scott Nicholson mentioned that faculty need to produce a body of evidence, when they come up for tenure and promotion, that shows the impact of their work. He said:

If the library is involved with the repository, they could produce for each faculty member, a summary of how many times their work was accessed over a period of time, and a list of places that link to their works. That's something we can't get from a journal article nearly as easily....

Expand HINARI while working for full OA

Sarin Rajiv, Denying open access to published health-care research: WHO has the password? Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics, 3, 3, (2007).  An editorial.  (Thanks to Satish Munnolli.)  Excerpt:

Health-care professionals in the developing world are being increasingly expected to provide acceptable levels of contemporary clinical care despite resource constraints and to develop cost-effective and evidence-based solutions suited for their health-care setup. This unenviable task is greatly hampered by their limited access to relevant published biomedical research conducted within and outside the developing world....

The most significant initiatives for providing free full-text articles to the developing world have been the 'open access' movement and the WHO-sponsored Health Inter-Network Access to Research Initiative (HINARI). A meeting of leading proponents of open access, held under the auspices of Open Society Institute in 2001 in Budapest, came out with the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)....The Bethesda statement and the Berlin Declaration followed with renewed call for open access and to which the Indian and Chinese National Academies of Science are signatories. The recent Salvador Declaration also gives the perspective of the developing world on open access.

Several publishers and journals have now embraced open access, the most notable among them being the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and BioMed Central.  Jan Velterop, the Publisher and Director of BioMed Central Limited, a commercial open access publisher, in his open letter to Elias Zerhouni, Director of NIH...puts forth an eloquent argument in defence of the sustainability of the open access business model and the importance of the NIH support for the open access movement. The PLoS journals, as flag bearers of the 'open access' movement, have shown the scientific merit and viability of this model and have achieved double-digit impact factors within few years of launch. However, the response of most of the entrenched and profit-making big publishers from North America and Europe to full open access has been lukewarm and conditional. In contrast, most journals and publishers from the developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia have openly embraced open access. Vast majority of the journals in the developing world are official journals of professional bodies. These professional bodies have adopted open access not just as a ploy for sustaining themselves but from a conviction that free open access is for the overall good of science and society all around the world. We believe that medical and scientific journals are not only for academic and professional growth and glorification of the authors, editors and professional bodies; but they also play an important role in improving human health. To get a real sense of what open access truly means to clinicians and researchers in the community and academic settings in developing countries, one should read the outpouring of anguish and passionate pleas from clinicians working in India and other developing countries, when British Medical Journal denied open access to several developing countries in 2004.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has demonstrated exemplary foresight in highlighting that access to biomedical journals is a critical issue in developing countries and one of the many obstacles to improving health. In the year 2002, WHO initiated a unique program, HINARI, with the support of several major publishers. HINARI is presently providing open access to over 3,750 journal titles to institutions in 113 developing countries....However, clinicians and researchers in some very populous developing countries like India have been greatly disappointed that they are not considered eligible for HINARI. The GNI per capita as per the World Bank 2006 figures for some of the countries that have been excluded by HINARI, range from $770 for Pakistan, $820 for India, $1420 for Indonesia and $2010 for China. The HINARI website acknowledges that some developing countries with per capita GNP of less than US$3,000 have been denied open access through HINARI as 'the publishers participating in HINARI have not, for the time being, extended their offer to countries where they have significant levels of existing subscriptions and, in some cases, local sales staff.' It is unfortunate that business interests of western publishers has taken away the gloss from HINARI by denying open access to clinicians catering to the health needs of half of the world population. While the long list of 113 countries covered under HINARI looks very impressive, most of these are very small countries, with the combined population of countries in Band 1 being 1.2 billion; and in Band 2 as 0.3 billion. In contrast, the total population of China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, the 4 most populous countries with a per capita GNI of less than $3000 but excluded from HINARI is 3 billion....

[T]he World Health Organization is surely aware of the very limited access to biomedical literature in vast majority of medical schools, smaller research centres, state-funded universities and unaided institutions in developing countries excluded from HINARI. Left with little option, large government-funded academic and research institutes in developing countries are forced to commit a significant proportion of their research and health-care budget to purchase journal subscription.

While profit-making organizations are generally expected to be opportunistic, their concerted move to exclude most of the populous developing countries from HINARI is...not only unfair but it severely dilutes the ethos of this otherwise highly laudable initiative from WHO. I suspect that the ongoing tussle between the profit making major publishers and open access purists may take a while to resolve in favour of open access for all global citizens. In the interim, we hope that all responsible global citizens and agencies would rally behind WHO for them to get the password of the HINARI gateway for half of the world's population living in the 4 most populous developing countries of India, China, Indonesia and Pakistan. All those who support or oppose this call and those who have suggestions about how to go about it or expand the inclusion may send their electronic response to this editorial on the website of our open access journal.

Monday, December 10, 2007

OA database of journal info

SCImago is an OA database of journal data organized by field and country.  From the site:

The SCImago Journal & Country Rank is a portal that includes the journals and country scientific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus® database (Elsevier B.V.). These indicators could be used to assess and analyze scientific domains.

This platform takes its name from the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) indicator, developed by SCImago from the widely known algorithm Google PageRank. This indicator shows the visibility of the journals contained in the Scopus database from 1996.

SCImago is a research group from the University of Granada, Extremadura, Carlos III (Madrid) and Alcalá de Henares, dedicated to information analysis, representation and retrieval by means of visualisation techniques....

From Charles Bailey:

For example, you can [use SCImago to] rank countries by the number of citable documents in library and information sciences that they produce.

From Wouter Gerritsma:

This evening I had this exciting feeling when I saw SJR for the first time....A database with that provides a plethora of bibliometric indicators for journals and research performance at a country level. They have developed their own Pagerank (from Google) type of indicator for journal ranking called SJR indicator. But the data they provide is much more than only this indicator. Articles, citations and citations per article are provided as well.

This database is based on data provided by Scopus, which covers a much larger dataset than Journal Citation Reports or the Essential Science Indicators from Thomson Scientific. Very interesting to observe that SJR is freely available on the Web. This is a new development in the competition that is taking place between the two publishing giants Elsevier and Thomson....

Timeline updated

For most of 2007, I'm sorry to say, my Timeline of the Open Access Movement has been out of date.  I've been trapped in a vicious circle:  the more new developments there are, the more preoccupied I am in writing about them for OAN and SOAN, and the less time I have for logging the most important items to the timeline.  But I'm happy to say that just brought it up to the present (the end of November). 

  • As usual, I tried to limit my entries to the most important events.  But 2007 was chock-full of important OA events, more than any previous year.  Despite this volume, however, I estimate that the timeline mentions only about 1% of the OA developments I blogged during 2007.  It includes about one-tenth of the items from my monthly SOAN round-up, and the monthly round-up in turn includes about one-tenth of the items I blogged.
  • As usual, I welcome additions and corrections.
  • As usual, I can't read it without being overwhelmed by the impression that OA is putting down roots everywhere and making irreversible progress.  My review of OA in 2007 will come out in the January issue of SOAN.

Six OA books from MIT Press

MIT Press has announced six new books published in dual (OA and non-OA) editions.  From Ellen Faran, Director of the press:

[W]e are publishing six titles as part of the MacArthur Foundation's initiative on Digital Media and Learning.  This Wednesday, December 12, is the official publication date for both the print and online editions.  The content is already openly available [here] and the print editions are generally available in bookstores....

The six topics addressed here examine various aspects of how immersion in digital media including the Internet changes behavior and patterns of thinking:  identity, credibility, race, games, civic engagement, and "innovation and unexpected outcomes."  This emerging field of inquiry engages an unusually broad interdisciplinary and multi-sector community:  scholars, designers and developers, educators and commercial interests.  Accordingly, the MacArthur Foundation is supporting it with a combination of traditional and new ways of communicating and community-building.  These include scholarly publications, conferences, competitions, public forums, with many meetings convened online as well as in person.

The six books were created collaboratively by the six volume editors, more than 50 chapter authors, and an advisory panel of experts.  A variety of tools --from online discussions to blogs to virtual worlds to simple listservs-- were used to garner feedback and involve experts from around the world during all phases of writing as each volume was developed.

Of course, with this context and background, the final publications are being published openly online!  We are also, simultaneously, publishing attractive and low-priced paperback editions ($16)....

[W]e have experimented successfully with simultaneously open online and paid print for other books in the past.  The MacArthur Foundation Series will be our first experiment with six titles at once and with edited collections.  We expect to learn more about how the two forms of publication may happily coexist.

Separating data storage from data crunching

Chuck Humphrey, Data Visualisation Websites and Sharing Data, IASSIST Communiqué, December 9, 2007.  Excerpt:

Jim sent me a message earlier today about a new data visualisation website that he had discovered: StatCrunch. When I took a look at this site, I encountered an appeal for people to upload and share their data, which struck a familiar chord. It seems that all of these web-based visualisation tools make a similar appeal. This certainly is true of Swivel, Data360 and Many Eyes....

[I]t seems that all these new visualization tools are getting into data repository services as part of their promotion strategy. I’m not a fan of this approach. Instead of each new tool site building its own data repository, I wish the vendors would promote the establishment and use of open data repositories. Encourage people to share their data with services that are foremost data services and not software services.

Notes on the CRIG Unconference

Andy Powell has blogged some notes on the CRIG Unconference (Bloomsbury, December 6-7, 2007).  Excerpt:

I attended the first day of a two-day CRIG Unconference yesterday.  What's CRIG?  What's an unconference?  Well, CRIG is the Common Repository Interfaces Group, a JISC initiative to develop the community's thinking around repository technology and, in particular, repository APIs.  And an unconference is essentially a conference without a pre-determined agenda - delegates develop one dynamically as the conference proceeds....(Remember that I only attended the first day, so my views may be premature)....

[PS:  Here omitting a video.]

[T]he day started with a presentation about SWORD - an attempt to use the Atom Publishing Protocol to define a 'deposit' API for repositories.  Not that there was anything wrong with the presentation itself (thanks Julie) but it just seemed out of place to me to start an unconference with a scheduled presentation about one particular bit of technology....

Regular readers will know that I have a personal problem with the community's overarching emphasis on the 'R' word (as opposed to simply thinking about surfacing content on the Web) and even more so with the 'IR' words.  Look back at our previous blog entries on this subject if you want to know more.  This particular meeting sat firmly within that context.  About half-way thru the initial brainstorming Paul Walk of UKOLN remarked:

Wouldn't it be great if the outcome of this unconference was that repositories were just wrong?

Well, yes.  I think he was joking, btw?  Whatever... that sentence more or less captures my thinking on the subject.  But there's no way that particular meeting could have come to that conclusion because the 'R' word solution is now so firmly engrained in national policy and direction.

It's a bit like the difference between the NHS funding research into "the treatment and prevention of the common cold" and them funding research into "the treatment and prevention of the common cold using chicken soup".  Both will result in some interesting research, discussion, papers, etc.  But one focuses on the problem, the other on a particular solution to the problem.  What's the essential problem in our case - i.e. what should we be focusing on?  Surfacing academic content on the Web in ways that maximise the benefits of open access.


Apologies... I've calmed down now....

Despite my negativity I did bring away some positives....A more general willingness to see the Flickrs of this world as good exemplars of what repository-type services should be like.  A more widespread recognition that we tend to over complicate our solutions in technical interoperability terms.  Some recognition that tagging and full-text indexing are at least as important as metadata (as we tend to use that term in the context of repositories)....

Principles for open government data

Ethan Zuckerman has blogged some notes on the O'Reilly workshop on Open Government Principles (Sebastapol, California, December 7-8, 2007).  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

The goal of this weekend’s Open Government Principles workshop at O’Reilly and Associates was to draft a set of principles to define what constitutes open government data. The people drafting these principles were, for the most part, activists who believe that widespread sharing and creative presentation of government data can create a better-informed citizenry. In other words, they’re data junkies - the perfect folks to create a demanding list of what geeks, journalists and the citizens they serve need to access government data as easily as possible....

My colleagues offered a tight definition of what constitutes open government data:

Government data shall be considered open if it is made public in a way that complies with the principles below:

1. Complete
All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security or privilege limitations.

2. Primary
Data is as collected at the source, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms.

3. Timely
Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.

4. Accessible
Data is available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes.

5. Machine processable
Data is reasonably structured to allow automated processing.

6. Non-discriminatory
Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration.

7. Non-proprietary
Data is available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control.

8. License-free
Data is not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed.

All those qualifications were the subject of substantial discussion, some of which is ongoing on a wiki, which you’re welcome to contribute towards. It was a much faster process to draft a introduction - a mini-manifesto of sorts - which reads in part:

The Internet is the public space of the modern world, and through it governments now have the opportunity to better understand the needs of their citizens and citizens may participate more fully in their government. Information becomes more valuable as it is shared, less valuable as it is hoarded. Open data promotes increased civil discourse, improved public welfare, and a more efficient use of public resources....

One [of my questions] concerns how broad the definition should be of “government data”. If it includes all data paid for by public funds, then a call for open data has substantial overlap with the Open Access Movement, which seeks to unlock scholarly materials published in licensed journals and make those materials available under less arduous licenses, trying to share scholarly research with people in developing nations. (Much of the scholarship Open Access seeks to unlock is produced with government funding - OA advocates argue that research paid for by public funds needs to be broadly available to the public.) While it would be exciting to see solidarity between these movements, that definition is probably broader than what most of the people in the room were considering when they thought about government data.

A second concern regards non-digital data....

PS:  (1) I appreciate that Ethan links to my Guide to the OA Movement.  However, I've phased this out and haven't updated it since 2004.  For newcomers to OA, I recommend my Open Access Overview instead.  (2) The link to the workshop is dead at the moment, but I'd assume that the problem is temporary and keep trying.

Update.  The link the workshop is working again. 

Update.  Also see the blog notes of Joseph Hall, another participant at the meeting.

More on open source intelligence

Richard A. Best, Jr. and Alfred Cumming, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, December 5, 2007.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

Open source information (OSINT) is derived from newspapers, journals, radio and television, and the Internet. Intelligence analysts have long used such information to supplement classified data, but systematically collecting open source information has not been a priority of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). In recent years, given changes in the international environment, there have been calls, from Congress and the 9/11 Commission among others, for a more intense and focused investment in open source collection and analysis. However, some still emphasize that the primary business of intelligence continues to be obtaining and analyzing secrets.

A consensus now exists that OSINT must be systematically collected and should constitute an essential component of analytical products.  This has been recognized by various commissions and in statutes. Responding to legislative direction, the Intelligence Community has established the position of Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Open Source and created the National Open Source Center....

Primer on open content

Lawrence Liang, Free/Open Source Software, Open Content, United Nations Development Programme, 2007.  Under a CC-BY license.  Excerpt:

...The Open Content model of knowledge creation and dissemination has emerged as a significant way in which we can move beyond the barriers of restrictive licensing.At the same time, it enables us to rethink our relationship to the world of knowledge and cultural production. Inspired by the Free Software movement, Open Content seeks to move away from the traditional user/producer binary in favour of a more participative process of knowledge creation and usage.

This e-Primer introduces the idea of Open Content by locating it within the larger historical context of copyright’s relation to the public domain. It examines the foundational premises of copyright and argues that a number of these premises have to be tested on the basis of the public interest that they purport to serve. It then looks at the ways in which content owners are increasingly using copyright as a tool to create monopolies, and how an alternative paradigm like Open Content can facilitate a democratization of knowledge and culture....

The argument of this e-Primer will be that policy makers across the world, and particularly in developing countries, should take note of the advantages of the Open Content paradigm as a way of overcoming barriers which restrict access to information, knowledge and culture. There are also significant economic advantages for developing countries which shall be detailed, for instance in relation to the cost of learning materials....

We...use the phrase ‘Open Content’ to primarily refer to content that provides the greatest freedom (the right to modify), since other kinds of content which do not provide the right to modify may actually be covered by the Open Access movement....

Some of the key areas for policy makers to consider include:

  • Open Content policy to enable access to publicly funded research;
  • Access to primary material such as research data;
  • Financial, technological and other support for Open Access and Content repositories; and
  • Support for publications based on Open Content resources....

It is also important to note that the problem does not merely lie with government policies but also with educational institutions, which are supported – either in full or in part – by public funding....In other words, there is a serious and urgent need for all public institutions to examine the public availability of the knowledge that they produce, and the most effective strategies for further dissemination. For the reasons already outlined in this e-Primer, it would make immense sense for them to start moving towards an Open Content/Open Access paradigm....

More OA journals than any 'big deal' of TA journals

Heather Morrison, Directory of Open Access Journals: Already the Biggest Big Deal?  Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, December 9, 2007.

Could the Directory of Open Access Journals already be the world's biggest big deal, or aggregation of scholarly journals?

A recent comparison suggests that the answer, in at least one sense - the number of scholarly, peer-reviewed journal titles available with no embargo - is yes! The Directory of Open Access Journals lists close to 3,000 journals as of today; Science Direct, the largest publisher aggregated package, about 2,000, while the number of non-embargoed, full text, scholarly journals in the world's largest aggregated packages for libraries number less than 1,700, or a little more than half the titles already in DOAJ.
To see how your library's aggregated package compares, go to:

Open Access Journals, Big Deal, and Aggregated Packages Comparison....

[T]he number of fully open access journals says much about the capacity of the open access publishing system as it exists now. Every OA title, regardless of age or size, has behind it enough support for scholarly publishing - infrastructure, editors and/or an editorial board, willing authors and peer reviewers. If Science Direct, with about 2,000 journals, can manage about 1/4 of STM publishing - what are the 3,000 journals in the DOAJ capable of? With this many journals emerging with limited support from library budgets - what is the potential if library subscriptions budgets were redirected to support open access publishing?

Figures for the vendor packages reflect considerable manual manipulation of title lists, so please consider the totals suggestive rather than definitive. Informal peer-review in the form of checking of numbers would be most welcome....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

SCOAP3 FAQ for US libraries

CERN's SCOAP3 project has created an FAQ for U.S. Libraries.  Excerpt:

What is SCOAP3 and what does it have to do with me?
SCOAP3 is the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (see [this] for more info). It is a mechanism for a field of science (in this case Particle Physics) to pay for its own publishing costs, rather than make the readers of its journals pay via subscriptions. In the SCOAP3 model, everyone involved in producing the literature of particle physics (universities, labs, and funding agencies) pays into a consortium (SCOAP3) which then pays publishers so that all articles in the field are Open Access.
No particle physics journal will have a subscription cost, and everyone can read any article published.
You can redirect the money that you save on subscriptions to SCOAP3 to pay for Open Access for the entire literature of Particle Physics.
As a physics/science library you will be realizing the savings from the lack of subscription costs for the Particle Physics journals, so it is only natural that you would be a contributor to SCOAP3. Clearly the cost of Open Access will be similar to the cost of subscriptions, because there won't be any new money in the system. Without your redirected money, it won't work....

The ethical case for OA

Stevan Harnad, Ethics of open access to biomedical research: Just a special case of ethics of open access to research, Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, December 7, 2007. 

Abstract:   The ethical case for Open Access (OA) (free online access) to research findings is especially salient when it is public health that is being compromised by needless access restrictions. But the ethical imperative for OA is far more general: It applies to all scientific and scholarly research findings published in peer-reviewed journals. And peer-to-peer access is far more important than direct public access. Most research is funded so as to be conducted and published, by researchers, in order to be taken up, used, and built upon in further research and applications, again by researchers (pure and applied, including practitioners), for the benefit of the public that funded it -- not in order to generate revenue for the peer-reviewed journal publishing industry (nor even because there is a burning public desire to read much of it). Hence OA needs to be mandated, by researchers’ institutions and funders, for all research.

Interview with BMC's Matt Cockerill

Sundar Raman interviewed Matthew Cockerill, for his show Open Views on radio station KRUU, December 9, 2007.  The podcast is available for downloading.  Cockerill is the publisher of BioMed Central.  From the KRUU blurb:

On this episode of Open Views I'm joined by Dr. Matthew Cockerill from BioMedCentral, a commercial Open Access publisher. BioMedCentral has a portfolio of 182 journals, a combination of both general titles such as the Journal of Biology, and much more specialized such as Malaria Journal and Biomedcentral Bioinformatics. All the research published by BioMed Central's journals is open access, but BioMed Central also provides access to various additional products and services that require a subscription. BioMed Central also operates Open Repository, a hosted digital repository solution for institutions.

In many ways Biomedcentral is experimenting with the different business models necessary for the new world of Open Access to work in a commercial setting. But having been in operation since 1999, it has definitely proven that the model of Open Access has commercial viability.

Matthew Cockerill started off as Biomedcentral's first employee, back in 1999, and has since served in several roles: technical director, operations director, and now Publisher, which is essentially like the managing director. He agreed to a conversation to talk about his work at BiomedCentral, and also the relevance of the Open Access model in an interconnected world.

PS:  The interview was an hour, but for now the official podcast only covers the first 20 minutes.  KRUU hopes to fix this problem soon.  Meantime,  here's an unofficial podcast of the whole interview.

Update. The official podcast has been fixed and now covers the whole interview.

Forthcoming launch of BMC Research Notes

BMC has announced the 2008 launch of BMC Research Notes.  From the announcement:

Journals are increasingly concerned with citations and impact factors, and it can be difficult for researchers and clinicians to publish valuable work that may not be highly cited. At the same time, science and medicine are becoming increasingly evidence-based and transparent.

The goal of BMC Research Notes is to provide a home for short publications, case series, incremental updates to previous work, results of individual experiments and similar material that currently lack a suitable outlet. The intention is to reduce the loss suffered by the research community when such results remain unpublished.

In clinical research, the prospective registration of randomized controlled trials has become a reality, whilst in the field of genomic research, scientists deposit large volumes of data into publicly accessible databases for the entire community to use.

A key objective of BMC Research Notes is to ensure that associated data files will, wherever possible, be published in standard, reusable formats and are exposed to ensure that they are searchable and easily harvested for reuse....

BMC Research Notes will publish scientifically sound research across all fields of biology and medicine, enabling authors to publish updates to previous research, software tools and databases, data sets, small-scale clinical studies, and reports of confirmatory or ‘negative’ results. Additionally the journal will welcome descriptions of incremental improvements to methods that as well as short correspondence items and hypotheses....

We are looking for enthusiastic researchers who would like to have an editorial involvement with BMC Research Notes.  We are particularly keen to hear from researchers who have a special interest in data sharing and data format standardization....

New OA journal on the history and philosophy of science

Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal published by graduate students at the University of Toronto.  The inaugural issue is now online.

Also see this article from the inaugural issue:  Sage Ross, We Cannot Allow a Wikipedia Gap!  Excerpt:

Editing Wikipedia is probably the best way for historians of science to spend their working hours....

When I entered grad school, it was a great letdown to realize just how small a part of academic life involves reaching beyond the walls of academe....

Wikipedia is only beginning to realize its potential for embiggening the role of humanistic knowledge and bridging the ever-widening gaps between the islands of specialized knowledge....

A Wikipedia article is a sort of billboard in the marketplace of ideas. High-quality content, based on the best scholarly sources, has the power to increase dramatically the demand for our intellectual goods and services. For too long, the noncommercial culture of the academy has shackled itself to the system of inaccessible journal publications. (Spontaneous Generations, only the second open access history and philosophy of science journal so far as I know, is an overdue step in the right direction.) Our field in particular has plenty of mind share to gain; so much of what we do is highly relevant to, yet under-read by, other humanists. With a stronger Wikipedia presence, garden-variety historians and other scholars will be able to engage with our work more often....

New OA journal of the digital arts

Radio IMERSD is a new, multimedia OA journal of the digital arts from the Griffith University program on Intermedia, Music Education & Research Design.  (Thanks to Paul.)