Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Demonstrating CLOCKSS

Helping Move CLOCKSS Forward: Ensuring Continuing Access to Journal Content, an announcement from EDINA, January 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

EDINA will be hosting 'orphaned' journal content in its role as a CLOCKSS Delivery Platform. Access will be free.

CLOCKSS is an initiative, formed by partnership of libraries and publishers, to ensure long-term access to scholarly work in digital format. As more and more content moves online, there is growing concern that this digital content may not always be available. CLOCKSS addresses this problem by creating a secure, multi-sited archive of web-published content that can be tapped into as necessary to provide ongoing access to researchers worldwide for free.

The announcement by SAGE Publications, a CLOCKSS partner, that it would discontinue online access to its journal, Graft: Organ and Cell Transplantation, represents an opportunity to demonstrate how CLOCKSS works.

The plan is to test the procedures and shared (publisher and librarian) governance at the CLOCKSS Board in declaring a 'trigger event' for what could be regarded as 'orphaned content'. This will demonstrate the general case of content ceasing to be available, for whatever reason (natural disaster, human folly, technological failure). Content stored in the CLOCKSS network (an array of storage globally distributed as a dark archive) is then transfered to the designated delivery platforms in order to provide unrestricted access to research literature that might otherwise have been lost.

EDINA has been designated as one of those CLOCKSS Delivery Platforms, as has OCLC, which together with the New York Public Library, five universities (including the University of Edinburgh) and eleven publishers (collectively accounting for about 60% of journal content online) have worked together as partners in the CLOCKSS initiative....

Positive review of the DOAJ

Heather Morrison, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Charleston Advisor, January 2008.  A review.  From the conclusion:

The Directory of Open Access Journals is a significant resource. DOAJ has developed a well-deserved reputation for quality, and is the world’s most authoritative list of fully Open Access, peer-reviewed titles. The size of the title list in DOAJ is very impressive, and compares favorably with commercial options. DOAJ is growing dramatically. The service provided by DOAJ is so obviously important, and the membership fees such an incredible bargain, that it seems highly likely that ongoing economic security will be a reality for DOAJ in the not too distant future. Libraries, consortia, universities, and research centres should consider membership; vendors serving the library community are well advised to consider DOAJ membership or sponsorship.

Update. A self-archived copy of the article is on deposit at E-LIS.

New issue of Science Editor

The January-February issue of Science Editor is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles.  Not even abstracts or author names are free online, at least so far:

New FAQ for new NIH policy

The NIH has completely revamped its home page on public access, and the accompanying FAQ, to reflect the new mandatory policy.  From the new FAQ:

Does the NIH Public Access Policy apply to me? 

The Policy applies to you if your peer-reviewed article is based on work in one or more of the following categories:

  1. Directly funded by an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 (October 1, 2007- September 30, 2008) or beyond;
  2. Directly funded by a contract signed on or after April 7, 2008;
  3. Directly funded by the NIH Intramural Program.
  4. If NIH pays your salary.

To what types of articles does the NIH Public Access Policy apply?

The Policy applies to all peer-reviewed journal articles, including research reports and reviews. The Policy does not apply to non-peer-reviewed materials such as correspondence, book chapters, and editorials....

Will compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy affect the outcome of the application review?

Compliance with the Public Access Policy is not a factor in the evaluation of grant applications. Non-compliance will be addressed administratively, and may delay or prevent awarding of funds....

Whose approval do I need to submit my article to PubMed Central?

Authors own the original copyrights to materials they write. Consistent with individual arrangements with authors' employing institutions, authors often transfer some or all of these rights to the publisher when the journal agrees to publish their article. Some publishers may ask authors to transfer copyrights for a manuscript when it is first submitted to a journal for review.

Authors should work with the publisher before any rights are transferred to ensure that all conditions of the NIH Public Access Policy can be met. Authors should avoid signing any agreements with publishers that do not allow the author to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Federal employees always may submit their final peer-reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central, because government works are not subject to copyright protection in the United States.

Can NIH provide language that could be used in a copyright agreement between an author or institution and a publisher?

NIH can provide an example. Individual copyright arrangements can take many forms, and authors and their institutions should continue to manage such arrangements as they have in the past. However, in order to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, you must make sure that the agreement allows the accepted peer-reviewed manuscript to be deposited with the NIH upon acceptance of publication and made available for public posting on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after journal publication....As an example, the kind of language that an author or institution might add to a copyright agreement includes the following:

"Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to the NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after publication by Journal."  ...

I plan to publish in an open access journal.  Do I have to submit my article?

Yes, unless the journal has an agreement to deposit its articles in PubMed Central.  Not all open-access journals have agreements with PubMed Central.  Check [here] to see which journals do....

My article is available on the publisher’s web site. Do I have to submit my article?

Yes, you must submit the article to PubMed Central. Articles available through publishers’ web sites do not fulfill the authors’ obligations under the NIH Public Access Policy.

Will NIH pay for publication costs?

Yes. The NIH will reimburse publication costs, including author fees, for grants and contracts on three conditions: (1) such costs incurred are actual, allowable, and reasonable to advance the objectives of the award; (2) costs are charged consistently regardless of the source of support; (3) all other applicable rules on allowability of costs are met....

Can authors and publishers continue to assert copyright in scientific publications resulting from NIH funding?

Yes. The NIH Public Access Policy does not affect the ability of the author, the author’s institution, or the publisher to assert ownership in the work’s copyright. Authors, consistent with their employment arrangements, may assign these rights to journals (as is the current practice), subject to the limited right that must be retained by the funding recipient to post the works in accordance with the Policy, or the provision that the journal submits the works in accordance with the Policy on the author’s behalf.

What is the difference between the NIH Public Access Policy and Open Access?

The Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the peer reviewed and published results of all NIH funded research through PubMed Central (PMC).  United States and/or foreign copyright laws protect most of the articles in PMC; PMC provides access to them at no cost, much like a library does, under the principles of Fair Use.

Generally, Open Access involves the use of a copyrighted document under a Creative Commons or similar license-type agreement that allows more liberal use (including redistribution) than the traditional principles of Fair Use.  Only a subset of the articles in PMC are available under such Open Access provisions.  See the PMC Copyright page, for more information....

How many publications arise from NIH funds each year?

We estimate that there are approximately 80,000 articles published each year that arise from NIH funds.

Comments.  There's some new information here and some helpful confirmation of earlier assumptions, conjectures, and predictions.  To summarize the most important:

  • New information:  The policy applies to some researchers who receive grants before April 7, 2008.  The NIH now estimates that its research results in 80,000 articles per year.  (The previous estimate was 65,000.)  If you don't have your calculator handy, that averages 219 articles per day.
  • Confirmation:  Non-compliance may "delay or prevent" the awarding of funds.  Grantees may use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals --as well as page charges at TA journals.  Grantees "must make sure" that copyright transfer agreements with publishers accommodate the NIH policy.  Grantees may hold copyright on their articles and transfer it to publishers, but all such transfers are "subject to the limited right that must be retained by the funding recipient to post the works in accordance with the Policy."  (If grantees follow the rules, publishers will never be able to complain that the policy violates their rights; publishers will never acquire the rights that dissemination through PMC might violate.)  PMC will remove price barriers but not permission barriers, and users may not exceed fair use.

Update.  To be more precise, the new policy will remove price barriers and not permission barriers for covered articles, limiting users to fair use.  But it doesn't follow that users are limited to fair use for all the contents in PMC.  Some full and hybrid OA journals that remove permission barriers deposit their OA articles in PMC, independently of the new policy.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill for the reminder.)

How not to archive Nazi literature

Klaus Graf reports that the Internet Archive is going beyond the archiving of Nazi literature (which is justified for historical study) and recent neo-Nazi propaganda (which may or may not be covered by the same justification), to the display of neo-Nazi propaganda in metadata annotations to the Nazi deposits.

More on the new NIH OA policy

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH Announces Public-Access Policy, Science, January 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

Starting in April, most U.S. biomedical scientists will have to send copies of their accepted, peer-reviewed manuscripts to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for posting in a free archive. If they don't, they could have trouble renewing their grants or even lose research funding.

That's the gist of NIH's announcement today describing how it will carry out a new "public access" mandate....

Making sure that submissions comply with the journals' copyright policy is up to investigators and their institutions. The policy applies only to peer-reviewed research and reviews, not editorials or book chapters, NIH says.

To motivate scientists, NIH will require that investigators include the PubMed Central or NIH submission number for all applicable papers referenced in their grant applications and progress reports. Other possible ways of enforcing the policy include a call from an NIH program director and suspension of funds, says NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Norka Ruiz Bravo. "We hope we're not going to get there," she says.

The public-access policy has long been controversial. Some researchers and publishers worry about confusion resulting from having two versions of the article online: the PubMed Central author manuscript, which hasn't been copyedited, and the published paper. Many publishers also fret that making articles free will cut into subscription income needed to run journals and fund society activities. The Association of American Publishers has warned that a mandatory policy "undermines" publishers’ copyright and is "inconsistent with" U.S. laws (Science, 11 January, p. 145). The association also says that the rule limits academic freedom by preventing researchers from publishing in journals that don't comply.

But most major biomedical research journals (including Science) already allow authors to submit manuscripts to PubMed Central, so the mandatory policy won't mean a big change. However, says Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society, journals will have to step up their policing by asking NIH to remove articles that have been mistakenly posted because they are still under embargo or are too old to fall under the policy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Text of the NIH OA policy

Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research, National Institutes of Health, January 11, 2008.  (Thanks to Mark Siegal.)  The new policy takes effect on April 7, 2008.  Here's the text in its entirety:


In accordance with Division G, Title II,  Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 ), the NIH voluntary Public Access Policy (NOT-OD-05-022) is now mandatory. The law states:

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


  1. The NIH Public Access Policy applies to all peer-reviewed articles that arise, in whole or in part, from direct costs[1] funded by NIH, or from NIH staff, that are accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008. 
  2. Institutions and investigators are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning submitted articles fully comply with this Policy.
  3. PubMed Central (PMC) is the NIH digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed journal articles.  Its content is publicly accessible and integrated with other databases.
  4. The final, peer-reviewed manuscript includes all graphics and supplemental materials that are associated with the article. 
  5. Beginning May 27, 2008, anyone submitting an application, proposal or progress report to the NIH must include the PMC or NIH Manuscript Submission reference number when citing applicable articles that arise from their NIH funded research.


Compliance with this Policy is a statutory requirement and a term and condition of the grant award and cooperative agreement, in accordance with the NIH Grants Policy Statement For contracts, NIH includes this requirement in all R&D solicitations and awards under Section H, Special Contract Requirements, in accordance with the Uniform Contract Format.

[1] Costs that can be specifically identified with a particular project or activity. NIH Grants Policy Statement, Rev. 12/2003.


  • This is beautifully strong and succinct.  Let me unpack it.  In an article earlier this month, I pointed out six policy details not resolved by the Congressional language, and left for the NIH to resolve according to its own judgment.  While the policy doesn't address any of them explicitly, it resolves most of them implicitly.  Here's a recap:
  • How will the NIH deal with conflicts between its OA mandate and the policies of publishers where NIH grantees may submit work?  The policy makes no exceptions for dissenting publishers, does not depend on publisher consent, and simply requires grantee compliance.  Point #2 clearly implies that if a publisher does not accommodate the NIH policy, and grantees cannot obtain special permission to comply with it, then they must look for another publisher.
  • What sanctions, if any, will the agency use for non-compliance?  It mentions no sanctions, but requires compliance (a "submission reference number") for progress reports and new grant applications.  The implication is that compliance is required to meet current funding obligations and also to be considered for future funding.
  • Will the policy apply retroactively to previous NIH grants?  If so, not yet.  Remember that the Wellcome Trust waited a year before applying its OA mandate retroactively to previously awarded but still outstanding grants.
  • Will the policy allow grantees to use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals?  The policy says nothing to modify the existing fee policy, which allows grantees to use grant funds for this purpose.  But NIH chose not to integrate them into the same policy.
  • Will the policy require OA for raw or refined data generated by NIH-funded research?  It applies to "all graphics and supplemental materials that are associated with the article."  At some journals this will include data files, but at most it will not.  In both cases, I'm guessing that the existing NIH data sharing policy will still apply.

Update.  Also see Gavin Baker's blog post on how well he predicted the resolution of these policy details.

Update.  The NIH has completely revamped its home page on public access, and the accompanying FAQ, to reflect the new mandatory policy.

ARL forms Task Force on Digital Repositories

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has created a Task Force on Digital Repository Issues.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  All we have so far is this snippet from the January 9 issue of the ARL E-News:

...A new Task Force on Digital Repository Issues was formed and it will be chaired by Carole Moore (Toronto). Additional committee, working group, and task force appointments are underway and will be announced next month. For more information, contact Jaia Barrett

Hybrid policy at Longwoods Press

Greyson, Longwoods Press rolls out Open Access policy, Social Justice Librarian, January 10, 2008.  Excerpt:

Longwoods Press, publisher of Healthcare Quarterly/Longwoods Review , Nursing Leadership (CJNL) , Healthcare Policy / Politiques de Santé , World Health & Population now has an OA publishing option. I guess this is a super-soft launch of the policy, as there’s no note of it on their homepage, and the only people who seem to know about it are the authors who are getting the new License to Publish forms with the pay-for-OA option included.

Here’s the Open Access Policy page so you can see for yourself. Some would argue that this is technically a FREE access policy, not a true OPEN access policy. And they’d be right in that argument. Fee for the authors who chose the “OA” option is currently set at $2500 (USD/CAD your choice) per article.

My quick thoughts

Yay for:

  • Creating a policy! Canadian niche journals are clearly struggling to keep up in the online publishing world, and this is a step that could help keep some of them in business (of course, with the new CIHR policy, and CIHR being a sponsor of Longwoods, I suppose one could argue that they could hardly drag their feet any longer…)
  • Waiving the author charges for authors from a list of developing nations. I don’t know how many articles most of the Longwoods journals get from such countries, but it’s a nice gesture.

A kick in the shins for:

  • Not making an exception to the publishing fees for authors who are unaffiliated or have other ground for appeal. This really sucks, guys, and is dumb since you have major competitors (think Open Medicine) who publish OA without any fees to anyone.
  • Keeping a pretty tight grip on copyright even if the author pays for OA, rather than letting the authors retain most rights or publishing it under s creative commons license.
  • Restricting even “Green” (author’s final copy/Post-print) archiving to a 12-month embargo unless the author pays the $2500 fee. This basically means any authors reporting on CIHR-funded research have to pay the $2500 fee, since they have to make peer-reviewed articles available within 6 months. I would guess that a majority of the authors of many if not all of Longwoods’ journals are CIHR-funded researchers. Do you think this was oversight in the open “choice” policy, or an attempt at income insurance? ...

I am pleased with the press for making a move here, and hope that in a year or so they’ll revise the policy to bring it a bit more into line with OA norms.

Comment.  I'd only add two points.  First, the copyright transfer agreement, even for authors selecting the OA option, gives Longwoods the exclusive right to distribute copies or deposit them in repositories --although the same document later qualifies this by permitting post-print archiving for those who pay the fee.  Second, Longwoods does not promise to reduce subscription prices in proportion to author uptake of the new option.  Hence, it embraces a frank "double charge" business model.

OA to enable innovation

John Wilbanks and Brian Fitzgerald have posted the slides and podcast of their lecture on Copyright and Innovation at the Australian Science Show

Also see the Science Commons blog post on the lecture.  Excerpt:

Could the key to feeding the world be locked up in a company fridge somewhere? 

That’s the question Australia’s Science Show asks to introduce a newly available podcast discussion featuring Science Commons’ own John Wilbanks and Brian Fitzgerald, who heads up Creative Commons Australia. The question isn’t nearly as tongue-in-cheek as it sounds; the discussion is about how to unlock the value of scientific research when so much of it is routinely balkanized — hidden away behind walls of secrecy, cost and technical obscurity.

At Science Commons, we work to make scientific research easier to find, share and use. This includes providing tools to “mark” research with usage rights, so scientists can work and collaborate within zones of legal certainty. But as Wilbanks explains in the lecture, “we need freedom to innovate, not simply freedom to operate” — something that requires more than developing licenses and contracts:

I think it’s clear that we face an exponential set of problems but we don’t have an exponential innovation capacity…we need to think about what we can do to enable that innovation to emerge....

New impact metrics for OA social science research

Kayvan Kousha and Mike Thelwall, The Web impact of open access social science research, Library & Information Science Research, December 2007.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

For a long time, Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) journal citations have been widely used for research performance monitoring of the sciences. For the social sciences, however, the Social Sciences Citation Index® (SSCI®) can sometimes be insufficient. Broader types of publications (e.g., books and non-ISI journals) and informal scholarly indicators may also be needed. This article investigates whether the Web can help to fill this gap. The authors analyzed 1530 citations from Google™ to 492 research articles from 44 open access social science journals. The articles were published in 2001 in the fields of education, psychology, sociology, and economics. About 19% of the Web citations represented formal impact equivalent to journal citations, and 11% were more informal indicators of impact. The average was about 3 formal and 2 informal impact citations per article. Although the proportions of formal and informal online impact were similar in sociology, psychology, and education, economics showed six times more formal impact than informal impact. The results suggest that new types of citation information and informal scholarly indictors could be extracted from the Web for the social sciences. Since these form only a small proportion of the Web citations, however, Web citation counts should first be processed to remove irrelevant citations. This can be a time-consuming process unless automated.

Update (1/17/08). There is now an OA edition of this paper.

A UK perspective on 2007

Mark Chillingworth, The highs and lows of a turbulent year, Information World Review, January 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

High - Andrew Gowers’ IP review
Dry - European Library at risk of failure...

High - MIT puts all courses online
Dry - TFPL to jettison recruitment arm

Info pros were shocked to learn that major publishing companies including Elsevier and John Wiley were taking “public relations” advice on how to counter open access from Eric Dezenhall, a US PR agent famed for defending those not worthy of a defence in the public eye. Dezenhall was recruited to help fight a proposed change to the medical funding bill travelling through the US Senate that would place US federally funded research with the state-funded PubMed Central open access depository within 12 months. Dezenhall advised worried scientific publishers fearing a drop in revenue to found a campaign group to persuade the Senate that the move would destroy peer review and the validity of science.

High - E-book readers
Dry - Brussels Declaration against OA....

High - Strategic e-Content Alliance
Dry - Peer review under review

Government attitudes towards information were revealed in April when MPs from the two main parties showed their true shared colours in their disregard for public access to information about how the country is governed....

High - Manchester Council relaunches web presence
Dry - BvD sell-off rumours resurface....

High - National Archives launches wiki
Dry - FoI Act under attack....

High - Malaria Journal spreads
Dry - Leading academic casts doubt on impact factors....

High - National Archives takes over government info management
Dry - RAE demands CD-ROMs for the internet age

The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM) launched a campaign attacking open access publishing. Funded by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), itself financed by member companies such as Elsevier and Wiley, PRISM claimed that open access was creating “junk science” that could not be trusted. The open access and scientific communities swung into action, demonstrating that rigorous peer review policies are in place at open access journals, just as they are in paid-for publications....

High - BSI introduces standards for enterprise content management
Dry - AAP and PRISM

Peer review continued to dominate debate as scientists and authors turned against the PRISM campaign, while the British Academy added a new dimension to the debate, calling for training in peer review....

High - BL Newspaper Archive goes live
Dry - WSJ move forces FT to go free....

[T]he US Senate ignored the hyperbole of PRISM and voted in favour of the NIH bill, endorsing open access within 12 months for federally funded research. But the world’s most powerful man, George W Bush, vetoed the bill, claiming the Senate was acting like a kid with a new credit card.

High - Amazon launches Kindle
Dry - Bush bombs OA....

PS:  It looks like the December entry went to the printer before the big news.  After Bush vetoed of the first version of the bill to mandate OA at the NIH, on November 13, Congress passed another on December 19, and Bush signed it on December 26.

Heather Ford on open content in 2007

Heather Ford, Wrapping up 2007, iCommons blog, December 18, 2007.  Excerpt:

In my last letter for the year, I look back at 2007’s biggest news, and what to look forward to in 2008.

2007 saw some major successes in the open education movement. The Cape Town Open Education Declaration was launched with the goal of accelerating the international effort to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices in education. Yale started an open courseware initiative; MIT Open CourseWare passed the 1,800 courses mark, and SELF (Sharing Knowledge about Free Software) – a project to develop premium training and educational materials about Free Software and Open Standards – was launched at events in the Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria, Argentina, Mexico, India and Spain.

On the issue of license compatibility, Wikipedia Founder and iCommons Board Member, Jimmy Wales, announced a historic move by the Wikimedia Foundation that will give Wikipedia the right to choose to migrate to Creative Commons. The announcement was made at the fourth of 50 Parties that bring together Wikipedians, Creative Commoners, iCommoners and other free culture lovers – this time in the San Francisco Bay Area....

On the public domain front, audio book company, LibriVox released their 1,000th public domain audio book, and Access Copyright, the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency and Creative Commons Canada – in partnership with Creative Commons Corporation – announced a ground-breaking project to create an online, globally searchable catalogue of published works that are in the Canadian public domain. Another major boon for the public domain came in September when COMMUNIA – coordinated by the NEXA Research Center for Internet and Society of the Politecnico of Torino – was launched as a three year project funded by the European Commission to conduct high-level policy discussion and strategic action on all issues related to the public domain in the digital environment....

PS:  For my review of OA in 2007, see my SOAN article from earlier this month.

OA to case-based medical education

M.H. Kollef, Open access to infectious disease case-based learning on the Internet, Clinical Infectious Diseases, February 1, 2008.  A letter to the editor (accessible only to subscribers).

Update.  Thanks to a colleague for sending me the text.  Excerpt:

I read with great interest the recent article by Falagas et al. [2007; 45:495–500] about the compilation of a list of open-access educational cases in infectious diseases, which is available on the Internet....

Falagas et al. acknowledge that the list they compiled is not an exhaustive one, and I wish to bring to their attention an educational Web site that I and a number of other international clinicians have been involved with since 2003. This is the Academy for Infection Management Web site, which has free registration and unrestricted access to 130 cases. The case studies were developed by a faculty of international specialists with a keen interest in education—specifically, about the optimal prevention and management of nosocomial infections. These cases are intended to be learning tools and are not necessarily examples of best clinical practice....

From Matthew Falagas' response to Kollef's letter:

I...thank [Kollef] for adding to our list another Web site that contains useful educational material in the field of infectious diseases....

The main goal of our effort was to put together an initial list of WorldWideWeb resources about infectious diseases cases that are free to use (open access) and that have educational value for medical students, residents, fellows, and practitioners. We hope that this list will be gradually expanded as we become aware of other useful, relevant electronic resources....

[W]e have also generated a list of open-access Internet recourses about educational cases in internal medicine [Mayo Clin Proc 2007; 82:203–7].  In addition, we have identified free World Wide Web resources in various fields, currently focusing on infectious diseases [Nephrol Dial Transplant 2007; 22:3046–7 and Crit Care 2007; 11:101].  Much of this material is included in the open-access educational Web site of our Institute.

OA mandate from the European Research Council

The Scientific Council of the European Research Council has released its Guidelines for Open Access.  Although the document is dated December 17, 2007, it was put online January 10, 2008.  Here it is in its entirety:

  1. Scientific research is generating vast, ever increasing quantities of information, including primary data, data structured and integrated into databases, and scientific publications. In the age of the Internet, free and efficient access to information, including scientific publications and original data, will be the key for sustained progress.
  2. Peer-review is of fundamental importance in ensuring the certification and dissemination of high-quality scientific research. Policies towards access to peer-reviewed scientific publications must guarantee the ability of the system to continue to deliver high-quality certification services based on scientific integrity.
  3. Access to unprocessed data is needed not only for independent verification of results but, more importantly, for secure preservation and fresh analysis and utilisation of the data.
  4. A number of freely accessible repositories and curated databases for publications and data already exist serving researchers in the EU. Over 400 research repositories are run by European research institutions and several fields of scientific research have their own international discipline-specific repositories. These include for example PubMed Central for peer-reviewed publications in the life sciences and medicine, the arXiv Internet preprint archive for physics and mathematics, the DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank nucleotide sequence database and the RSCB-PDB/MSD-EBI/PDBj protein structure database.
  5. With few exceptions, the social sciences & humanities (SSH) do not yet have the benefit of public central repositories for their recent journal publications. The importance of open access to primary data, old manuscripts, collections and archives is even more acute for SSH. In the social sciences many primary or secondary data, such as social survey data and statistical data, exist in the public domain, but usually at national level. In the case of the humanities, open access to primary sources (such as archives, manuscripts and collections) is often hindered by private (or even public or nation-state) ownership which permits access either on a highly selective basis or not at all.

Based on these considerations, and following up on its earlier Statement on Open Access (Appendix 1) the ERC Scientific Council has established the following interim position on open access:

  1. The ERC requires that all peer-reviewed publications from ERC-funded research projects be deposited on publication into an appropriate research repository where available, such as PubMed Central, ArXiv or an institutional repository, and subsequently made Open Access within 6 months of publication.
  2. The ERC considers essential that primary data - which in the life sciences for example could comprise data such as nucleotide/protein sequences, macromolecular atomic coordinates and anonymized epidemiological data - are deposited to the relevant databases as soon as possible, preferably immediately after publication and in any case not later than 6 months after the date of publication.

The ERC is keenly aware of the desirability to shorten the period between publication and open access beyond the currently accepted standard of 6 months.


  • This is an exemplary policy --kudos to all involved.  First and above all, it makes OA mandatory.  The embargo is reasonably short and ERC clearly hopes to make it even shorter.  The policy supports central and distributed (disciplinary and institutional) repositories equally.  For peer-reviewed articles, it requires deposit upon publication, before the embargo runs, supporting what I call the dual deposit/release strategy or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access.  It makes no exception for resisting publishers and even seems to apply to the published editions of articles, not just the authors' peer-reviewed manuscripts.  And it unambiguously extends the OA policy from articles to data.
  • The ERC's March 2007 grant guidelines make clear (pp. 12, 35) that when grantees submit their work to fee-based OA journals, ERC is willing to pay the publication fees.  But the new document is silent on the subject.  Do the older grant guidelines stand, because not modified here?  Or is ERC silently rescinding its willingness to pay publication fees?
  • If you remember, the Scientific Council of the ERC pledged to adopt an OA mandate back in December 2006, before the ERC itself had even launched.  (That pledge is now included as Appendix 1 in the new document.)  The ERC formally launched in February 2007, and in September 2007 it issued a position paper reiterating the need for an OA mandate.  Now it has delivered on its earlier promises.
  • While there are OA mandates at public funding agencies in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, and the UK, and OA recommendations in other European countries, this is the first EU-wide OA mandate.   It makes a beautiful bookend to the new OA mandate ordered by Congress and the President last month for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • The ERC will disburse about 15% of the EU research budget for FP7 (2007-20013), or about 7.5 billion Euros.

Update. Also see Stevan Harnad's comments.

Update (1/18/08). On my second bullet point above: The ERC will continue to pay publication fees. Details in my post from January 18, 2008.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Alma Swan on the state of OA in Europe

Richard Poynder has interviewed Alma Swan, January 10, 2008.  The conversation focuses on the prospects for a OA mandate in Europe, but ranges over many other topics as well, including the link between OA and research assessment, the different fortunes of institutional repositories in the US and Europe, the demand for OA in developing countries, and the promise of data mining and the semantic web.  Excerpt:

...In Europe [unlike the US]...the [OA] news was decidedly disappointing, when it finally became clear that over-cautious European politicians and bureaucrats had chosen not to act in the interests of science, and would not be pushing for Open Access.

The disappointment was all the greater given the enthusiastic way in which the research community had responded to a petition that Open Access advocates had organised earlier in the year urging the EC to act on the recommendations of its own report, and mandate all EU-funded researchers to make their papers freely available on the Internet. With the petition attracting 18,500 signatures in a matter of weeks, it was universally assumed that a mandate was inevitable. It turned out, however, that aggressive lobbying by self-serving publishers had persuaded EC officials to drop the mandate.

As project manager for the petition, Open Access advocate Dr Alma Swan was personally involved in events....I asked Swan what had gone wrong, and where it leaves the Open Access movement in Europe.

Far from being fazed by developments, however, Swan was as confident as ever. "One thing that those who oppose Open Access must understand is that we are not going to give up," she assured me. "Moreover, we are going to be more tenacious than the people who oppose us."

Besides, she added, the battle isn't going to be won in the corridors of power, but in the meeting rooms and the labs of research institutions. Here, she assured me, the omens are good — as awareness continues to grow that Open Access isn't just a trendy buzz word, or even an end in itself, but the enabler for a much larger revolution — a revolution, moreover, that universities will find it increasingly difficult to resist.

Swan's quiet confidence is also hard to resist. What makes her arguments particularly compelling is that Swan is not an over-earnest ideologue, but a generous-spirited and witty woman with an infectious, and somewhat subversive, sense of fun....

Update.  Also see Richard's two-part interview with Alma from 2005 (Part One, Part Two).

Microsoft and Elsevier may become partners

Microsoft has offered to buy Norway's Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) for $1.2 billion.

FAST is the search technology Elsevier uses in Scirus, Scopus, and ScienceDirect.

Norwegian university group joins SCOAP3

The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (Universitets- og høgskolerådet, or UHR) is joining CERN's SCOAP3 project. Its expression of interest is now online.

New OA journal on urban ecology

Cities and the Environment (CATE) is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Urban Ecology Institute and Boston College.  (Thanks to Mark Caprio.)

The inaugural issue is now online.  Although the articles are dated 2006, the issue was made public yesterday.

Swiss academy adopts an OA policy

The Swiss Academy of the Humanities and Social Sciences (Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften or SAGW) adopted an OA policy on December 21, 2007.  (Thanks to the Open Access Informationsplattform.)

The new policy appears to recommend rather than require OA.  Because the details are in a PDF (in German), I can't link to a machine translation.  If someone could post an English summary or translation to SOAF, then I'd link to it from this post.

Update (1/11/08).  I just posted a crude translation to SOAF.  Bottom line:  the policy is a recommendation, not a mandate.  It recommends that authors self-archive or submit their work to OA journals, and it recommends that journals and publishers use CC licenses or deposit their articles in an OA repository.

New OA newsletter on renewable fuels

Green Fuels Forecast is a new OA newsletter on renewable fuels.  From today's announcement:

...This public online magazine and companion monthly e-newsletter provide breaking news, analysis and original reporting on the global renewable vehicle fuels industry, including developments in E85, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and other fuels fortified with biomass.

Green Fuels Forecast is the first open-access, web-based publication to present all sides in the debate over the commercial, technical and agricultural triumphs and challenges presented by renewable fuels....

New OA journal on conservation

Lessons in Conservation is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners, a project of the American Museum of Natural History.  (Thanks to Gary Bogue.)  The inaugural issue (December 2007) is now online. 

Alert system for OA articles on arid-region crops

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has launched an alert system for OA articles on dryland agriculture, organized by crop (chickpea, groundnut, millet, pigeonpea, and sorghum).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

OA digital library moves to a new home

The OA Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) has moved from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).  For details, see today's press release from the NSF.

Award for pioneer of OA to astronomical research

Today the Royal Astronomical Society announced its awards for 2008, including one for an OA advocate:

...The Award for Services to Astronomy is given to Dr Gunther Eichhorn, of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Director of Indexing at Springer. Dr Eichhorn was the project manager for the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), the online database that includes the vast majority of astronomical literature. ADS gives open access to astronomical research material and has revolutionised the field, allowing astronomers and others to investigate publications on an equal basis....

PS:  Congratulations to Eichhorn for this much-deserved honor.

Open article on open science

M. Mitchell Waldrop, Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk?  Scientific American, January 9, 2008.  Excerpt:

Welcome to a Scientific American experiment in "networked journalism," in which readers—you—get to collaborate with the author to give a story its final form.

The article, below, is a particularly apt candidate for such an experiment: it's my feature story on "Science 2.0," which describes how researchers are beginning to harness wikis, blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies as a potentially transformative way of doing science. The draft article appears here, several months in advance of its print publication, and we are inviting you to comment on it. Your inputs will influence the article’s content, reporting, perhaps even its point of view.

So consider yourself invited. Please share your thoughts about the promise and peril of Science 2.0.—just post your inputs in the Comment section below. To help get you started, here are some questions to mull over:

  • What do you think of the article itself? Are there errors? Oversimplifications? Gaps?
  • What do you think of the notion of "Science 2.0?" Will Web 2.0 tools really make science much more productive? Will wikis, blogs and the like be transformative, or will they be just a minor convenience?
  • Science 2.0 is one aspect of a broader Open Science movement, which also includes Open-Access scientific publishing and Open Data practices. How do you think this bigger movement will evolve? ...
  • When young scientists speak out on an open blog or wiki, do they risk hurting their careers?
  • Is "open notebook" science always a good idea? Are there certain aspects of a project that researchers should keep quite, at least until the paper is published?

...A small but growing number of researchers--and not just the younger ones--have begun to carry out their work via the wide-open blogs, wikis and social networks of Web 2.0. And although their efforts are still too scattered to be called a movement--yet--their experiences to date suggest that this kind of Web-based "Science 2.0" is not only more collegial than the traditional variety, but considerably more productive.

"Science happens not just because of people doing experiments, but because they're discussing those experiments," explains Christopher Surridge, editor of the Web-based journal, Public Library of Science On-Line Edition (PLoS ONE). Critiquing, suggesting, sharing ideas and data--communication is the heart of science, the most powerful tool ever invented for correcting mistakes, building on colleagues' work and creating new knowledge. And not just communication in peer-reviewed papers; as important as those papers are, says Surridge, who publishes a lot of them, "they're effectively just snapshots of what the authors have done and thought at this moment in time. They are not collaborative beyond that, except for rudimentary mechanisms such as citations and letters to the editor."

The technologies of Web 2.0 open up a much richer dialog, says Bill Hooker, a postdoctoral cancer researcher at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland, Ore., and the author of a three-part survey of open-science efforts in the group blog, 3 Quarks Daily. "To me, opening up my lab notebook means giving people a window into what I'm doing every day. That's an immense leap forward in clarity. In a paper, I can see what you've done. But I don't know how many things you tried that didn’t work. It's those little details that become clear with open notebook, but are obscured by every other communication mechanism we have. It makes science more efficient." ...

Of course, many scientists remain highly skeptical of such openness--especially in the hyper-competitive biomedical fields, where patents, promotion and tenure can hinge on being the first to publish a new discovery. From that perspective, Science 2.0 seems dangerous: using blogs and social networks for your serious work feels like an open invitation to have your online lab notebooks vandalized--or worse, have your best ideas stolen and published by a rival.

To Science 2.0 advocates, however, that atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust is an ally. "When you do your work online, out in the open,” Hooker says, “you quickly find that you're not competing with other scientists anymore, but cooperating with them." ...

[S]ince the time of Galileo and Newton, scientists have built up their knowledge about the world by "crowd-sourcing" the contributions of many researchers and then refining that knowledge through open debate. "Web 2.0 fits so perfectly with the way science works, it's not whether the transition will happen but how fast," he says.

The OpenWetWare project at MIT is an early success. Launched in the spring of 2005 by graduate students working for MIT biological engineers Drew Endy and Thomas Knight...OpenWetWare is a wiki....

[U]nlike the oft-defaced Wikipedia, the system will let users make changes only after they have registered and established that they belong to a legitimate research organization. "We've never yet had a case of vandalism," Kelly says. Even if they did, the wiki automatically maintains a copy of every version of every page posted: "You could always just roll back the damage with a click of your mouse." ...

Unfortunately, this kind of technical safeguard does little to address a second concern: Getting scooped and losing the credit. "That's the first argument people bring to the table," says Drexel University chemist Jean-Claude Bradley, who created his independent laboratory wiki, UsefulChem, in December 2005....

[T]he Web provides better protection that the traditional journal system, Bradley maintains. Every change on a wiki gets a time-stamp, he notes, “so if someone actually did try to scoop you, it would be very easy to prove your priority--and to embarrass them. I think that's really what is going to drive open science: the fear factor. If you wait for the journals, your work won't appear for another six to nine months. But with open science, your claim to priority is out there right away...."

Meanwhile, [Timo] Hannay has been taking the Nature group into the Web 2.0 world aggressively. "Our real mission isn't to publish journals, but to facilitate scientific communication," he says. "We've recognized that the Web can completely change the way that communication happens." Among the efforts are Nature Network, a social network designed for scientists; Connotea, a social bookmarking site patterned on the popular site, but optimized for the management of research references; and even an experiment in open peer review, with pre-publication manuscripts made available for public comment....

Update (1/17/08). Also see Curtis Brainard's article on this in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Another society journal converts to hybrid OA

The Journal of Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience has converted to hybrid OA.  The decision is apparently contained in John Maunsell's editorial, Open Choice, in today's issue (accessible only to subscribers, at least so far).  I don't have access and can't quote an excerpt, but here's a paraphrase from Noah Gray at Action Potential, the neuroscience blog from Nature:

A new policy in the Journal of Neuroscience demonstrates the current push towards open access publication. Researchers can pay to have their article freely available immediately upon publication, starting with all articles submitted as of January 1, 2008....

Comment.  Note the trajectory of JN's access policy over the past three years.  When the NIH policy was new in 2005, and requested OA within 12 months, JN urged its NIH-funded authors to demand the full 12 month embargo and then to insert a paragraph saying that the Society for Neuroscience "disclaims any responsibility or liability for errors or omissions" in the version on deposit in PubMed Central.  In January 2006, it liberalized its policy and allowed OA after six months.  Now it is permitting immediate OA for those who pay the publication fee.

Update (1/11/08).  A colleague has sent me the text, which is only three paragraphs in length.  Excerpt:

The fee is currently $1,250 for a Brief Communications article and $2,500 for a regular article. These sums are the minimum required to cover the costs of reviewing, composing, and publishing articles....

The response to Open Choice will give the Journal information about the extent to which authors and their funding agencies are willing to financially support an entirely open-access journal.

Update (1/11/08).  Another colleague points out JN's page of charges, and summarizes:

It's astonishingly expensive:

$100 submission fee (for everyone, even non-OA)
$850 publication fee (ditto)
$2500 OA fee
$1000 per color figure, unless the editors feel it is essential *and* you are a society member...

No mention of CC license or deposit on PMC....

No mention of whether subs prices will decline....

OECD improves access to its 50 databases

Kim Thomas, OECD site offers statistical co-operation, Information World Review, January 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has overhauled its statistical service, making it easier to locate relevant statistics in the OECD’s databases.

OECD.Stat, now available in beta, enables users to search all 50 of the OECD’s statistical databases at the same time. “We know that one of the biggest problems people have is they know we’ve got the number somewhere but they don’t know where, and the ability to search across databases is a step in the right direction to make our data more discoverable,” said Toby Green, head of OECD publishing.

Users will also be able to extract data from different datasets and gather it in customisable tables, “Each of the databases is still a discrete entity inside the engine; so you could go into a particular database and stay within it. But having done an extraction from one database you can then click and extract from another database and merge the results. It’s much more user-friendly,” said Green.

The data itself will now be updated in real time, rather than monthly or annually, he added. The new service also has improved metadata down to the level of each data point, so that users can understand the origins of each number and the wider context.

Green said the beta service would be available without charge for eight months, before becoming a subscription-based service. The OECD is also planning, however, to make its most frequently requested tables available as a free service....

Harold Varmus for Science Advisor

Bora Zivkovic recommends Harold Varmus to be the Science Advisor to the next President of the United States:

...[M]y personal pick for the job is Harold Varmus, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for his discovery of oncogenes and is a prolific researcher. He spent six years as the Director of NIH during which time he managed to persuade the Congress to double the NIH budget. He really got PubMed going, is a big proponent of Open Access, is now the President of Sloan-Kettering and he turned a dream into reality by founding the Public Library of Science. He has testified in Congress and is a very likable person and an effective speaker. He has no negatives I can possibly think of, knows his science, knows his policy/politics and is persuasive and passionate. I think he would be perfect.

PS:  Good choice!

More on OA video for education and research

Jeffrey Young, Thanks to YouTube, Professors Are Finding New Audiences, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Professors are the latest YouTube stars. The popularity of their appearances on YouTube and other video-sharing sites may end up opening up the classroom and making teaching—which once took place behind closed doors—a more public art.

What's more, Web video opens a new form of public intellectualism to scholars looking to participate in an increasingly visual culture.

One Web site that opened this week, Big Think, hopes to be "a YouTube for ideas." The site offers interviews with academics, authors, politicians, and other thinkers....

YouTube itself wants to be a venue for academe. In the past few months, several colleges have signed agreements with the site to set up official "channels." The University of California at Berkeley was the first, and the University of Southern California, the University of New South Wales, in Australia, and Vanderbilt University soon followed....

Even YouTube was surprised by how popular the colleges' content has been, according to Adam Hochman, a product manager at Berkeley's Learning Systems Group. Lectures are long, after all, while most popular YouTube videos run just a few minutes....Yet some lectures on Berkeley's channel scored 100,000 viewers each, and people were sitting through the whole talks. "Professors in a sense are rock stars," Mr. Hochman concludes. "We're getting as many hits as you would find with some of the big media players." ...

To set up an official channel on YouTube, colleges must sign an agreement with the company, though no money changes hands....

YouTube isn't the only game in town for educational videos, of course. Besides Big Think, which boasts as an investor Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard University and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, there is also That site, which calls itself "the thinking man's YouTube," streams lectures and debates featuring noted scholars and intellectuals.... recently started forming partnerships with colleges and universities as well, to offer recordings of campus talks via the service. So far about a dozen colleges—including American University, Berkeley, and the New School—participate....

Two professors at the University of Minnesota created a 3-D animation explaining a mathematical concept, and attracted more than 1 million views on YouTube. And Michael L. Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, made a video about Web 2.0 that drew more than 400,000 views. He says Web video offers a new way for scholars to communicate, noting that he wrote a scholarly article about the same ideas he put in his video, but that the article might be read by only a small number of scholars....

Connecting OLPC with OA

Mita Williams, OLPC and Libraries Should Support Open Systems, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) News, January 8, 2008.  Excerpt:

I had heard of the One Laptop Per Child program months ago but it wasn't until I heard fellow librarian Rochelle Mazar speak about how she used the project to engage students with the "issues of information access and activism" that I made the connection between the work of the OLPC and the professional work that many librarians are engaged in.

The connection that came to mind was not between libraries and formal development efforts (although there are organizations like and Librarians Without Borders that do this) but the work that libraries are currently contributing to on the "open" front: open source, open standards, and open access.

Libraries have many reasons why they should actively support open systems. There are concerns that "if the Kindle's DRM model becomes standard, you can kiss libraries goodbye . " Competing book digitization projects from Google and Microsoft mean that library content will be restricted by search engine choice.

Thankfully, there is the Internet Archive's Open Content Alliance that have partnered with (fellow) libraries like The University of Toronto to ensure that the world's treasures are available to all of the world.

Recently, I put up a library display on the OLPC and what it has to do with libraries. This sort of local outreach is important because even through our own university publishes a number of journals using the Open Journal System, there are still many faculty who aren't aware that they give up much of their own rights to re-distribute their own research once its published in a commercial research journal.

If the purchase of XO laptops are going to be at the expense of a developing country's textbook budget, then not only libraries have to make concerted efforts that every reader has his or her book.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Heather Joseph on the OA mandate at the NIH

The January 8 issue of Library Journal Academic Newswire has two stories on the OA mandate at the NIH:

The first is a brief recap of the AAP/PSP and STM objections to the NIH mandate, which I've already blogged and responded to here and here.

Excerpt from the second:

LJ: Publishers this week reiterated their criticism of the NIH policy. Now that the NIH mandate is law, what do you expect will be its immediate effect?

HJ: I think the policy will have two sets of effects, one immediate, and one long-term. In terms of the immediate future, librarians are going to be extremely busy educating their administrators, faculty members, researchers, and students as to how to comply with the policy, and also on what it means to each constituency. Successful implementation of this policy must be a high priority for the coming year.

And over the long term?

Over the longer term, this policy really plays a crucial role. As the policy is implemented, and as more and more researchers deposit material, PubMed Central will become an increasingly valuable—and singular—resource to the research community. As its utility grows, lingering reservations researchers may hold will dissipate and I think we'll see an even greater call for enhanced access to research results. I also think this policy will go a long way in demonstrating that public access will not cause irreparable harm to the journal publishing industry. The sky will not fall.

How do you respond to AAP's criticism that Congress failed to hold proper hearings on the issues involved?

The NIH Public Access Policy has been actively considered by Congress since 2004 and was enacted through all the normal and proper channels. What the AAP [Association of American Publishers] doesn't mention is that the NIH itself conducted an extensive process of soliciting public opinion and comments before enacting the policy. Besides holding public meetings with stakeholder groups, including the publishing community, the NIH published the proposed policy in the Federal Register in 2004, and requested public comment. It received—and made public via its website—more than 6000 comments on the policy. The formulation of this policy has been transparent, straightforward, and has provided plenty of opportunities for all stakeholders to express their concerns, both to the NIH and to Congress.

Publishers also seem to be positioning this as a copyright issue. Are you concerned a copyright challenge could involve the courts or otherwise delay implementation?

The NIH Public Access Policy does not conflict with copyright, and no amount of repeating this "concern" will make it so. It would be a shame if more time and money had to be wasted on groundless challenges instead of focusing on getting the implementation right and working towards the good of the community....

The publishing industry raised a slew of other concerns: the collapse of peer review, potential for government censorship, scientific fraud. How did you counter them?

That was tough on many levels. It's one thing to work through reasoned responses to objections being raised out of genuine concern. For example, will libraries cancel subscriptions? It's another thing altogether to see objections that are clearly rhetorical devices designed to confuse the debate. Our approach was to always focus on the benefits of public access and the opportunities for all stakeholders, and to do this in a data-driven way. We worked hard to be consistent at presenting data, evidence and facts wherever possible, and also being honest in saying where we simply didn't have data to counter a claim. That approach was helpful in separating legitimate concerns from rhetorical devices....

Those opposing the policy question the wisdom of creating a requirement to deposit articles into a central government database. Any thoughts on that?

In terms of the wisdom of establishing a central repository, the NIH was clear that one of its ultimate goals for the policy is to ensure that its research results are readily available not only to this generation of researchers, but to future generations as well. I think that establishing a permanent, central archive of this material is critical to making sure that this happens. We may see distributed solutions evolve over time, and that's fine, but this is a necessary starting point....

On another hand, some open access advocates say that the yearlong embargo is too long and could essentially set a de facto embargo period for publishers. How do you respond to those arguments?

I completely understand the concerns of those who think a year is too long an embargo period, but from a pragmatic standpoint, this was a necessary compromise. This policy represents a sea change in the parameters of the scholarly communications marketplace. We've gone, in one fell swoop, from information being locked up behind perpetual, exclusive distribution licenses to an embargo period limited to no longer than one year. That's an enormous step forward. Also, the policy allows the researcher to determine the embargo period. It is not a static 12-month requirement. This puts more power in the research community's hands to determine what they feel is best in terms of timing.

What were the keys to your eventual success?

Delving this deeply into the policy arena was very new to SPARC, and there were two things that I'd highlight as being keys to our success. The first was building a strong coalition that collaborated extremely closely on this issue. There is truth to the old adage that there is strength in numbers. Very early on, SPARC created an Open Access Working Group, which brought together seven major library organizations. That was critical in creating and maintaining a strong, united stance on this issue across the entire library community. We took this concept further to build a larger coalition, the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), which encompassed a wider variety of groups with a shared interest in unlocking the potential of publicly funded research, patient advocates, consumer groups, public interest groups, students, etc.

A second key element was working with our coalition members to develop a clear, concise message—why public access to research matters to you—and delivering that message persistently and consistently. A lot of legwork went into this campaign for all of us.

OA to agricultural research in developing countries

Stephen Katz, FAO's role in facilitating access to the scientific and technical literature in Agriculture in developing countries, written for presentation at the Berlin 5 meeting, Open Access: From Practice to Impact: Consequences of Knowledge Dissemination (Padua, September 19-21, 2007).   Because Katz was unable to attend the meeting, this presentation was delivered by Stefka Kaloyanova of the FAO.

Abstract:   Research generated in developing and emerging countries is currently “missing” from the international knowledge bases because of financial consequences affecting its publication and distribution. Much of the scientific research output from Africa for example, is in form of grey literature and hardly accessible. FAO is the specialized United Nation agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and emphasizes on knowledge management for food and agriculture. FAO more than an extensive source of agricultural knowledge, also takes proactive initiatives that promote the management, access and exchange of agriculture knowledge and information to member countries and other institutions. The presentation outlines some major initiatives, namely the AGRIS network which promotes capacity building in information management as means of availing agricultural content from developing countries while AGORA promotes access to mainstream journals in agricultural sciences that ordinarily would not be available to scientist from these regions. It illustrates how Open Access (OA) and the Open Archive Initiative (OAI) models are being used within the AGRIS network as a means of solving the problems on the development and exchange of agricultural information. The presentation highlights FAO’s ability to tackle information availability and access problems for its member countries from different perspectives to achieve a common goal.

New fee at T&F hybrid journals

Taylor & Francis has raised the publication fee for its iOpenAccess hybrid journals from $3,100 to $3,250.

Social networking plug-ins for EPrints

From Charles Bailey:

The SNEEP project has released an alpha version of SNEEP.comment, which adds user comments to the EPrints repository software.

SNEEP is also working on a tagging component for EPrints.

PS:  SNEEP stands for Social Networking Extensions for EPrints.

"Publishers are not the content creators, nor should they be the content owners"

Matthew Cockerill, NIH Public Access Policy to become mandatory, BioMed Central blog, January 7, 2008.  Cockerill is the publisher of BioMed Central.  Excerpt:

Many open access advocates will already have heard that NIH's Public Access Policy, until now voluntary, is set to become mandatory....

This is great news both for researchers and for the general public. Peter Suber's January SPARC Open Access Newsletter contains a detailed analysis of what the change means, and identifies some of the key issues that remain to be resolved.

Perhaps predictably, the publishing organizations who had lobbied strenuously but unsuccessfully against the new policy have lost no time in issuing statements condemning it and forecasting dire consequences. Statements from the Association of American Publishers  and STM appear to take the curious position that it is the publishing organizations who are the rightful owners of the intellectual results of scientific research, and that the NIH is taking an appalling liberty by asserting, on behalf of the public, any rights at all over these results.

According to the AAP:

"[C]hanging to a new mandatory policy that will ‘require’ such submission eliminates the concept of permission, and effectively allows the agency to take important publisher property interests without compensation, including the value added to the article by the publishers’ investments in the peer review process and other quality-assurance aspects of journal publication. It undermines publishers’ ability to exercise their copyrights in the published articles, which is the means by which they support their investments in such value-adding operations"

According to STM, meanwhile:

"The legislation neither provides compensation for the added-value of services that these manuscripts have received from publishers nor does it earmark funds to ensure the economic sustainability of the broad and systematic archiving this sort of project requires. It also undermines a key intellectual property right known as copyright - long a cornerstone used to foster creativity and innovation."

Mind boggling stuff...

The first point to make, in response, is to note the matter of timing. A potential author signs an agreement with NIH concerning the conditions of their grant funding long before any manuscript resulting from that funding is submitted to a publisher. If a publisher does not like the NIH policy, they are within their rights to choose not to consider submissions from NIH-funded authors. But a publisher cannot reasonably claim that NIH is appropriating its intellectual property, since the author's pre-existing contractual agreement, at the  point of manuscript submission, is entirely with NIH, not with the publisher. The publisher has no claim whatsoever over the research at that point.

Secondly, copyright, far from being threatened by open access, is the essential legal framework that makes open access possible. The Creative Commons open access license, under which all BioMed Central research articles are distributed, depends entirely on copyright for its legal validity. Traditional publishers may not like an arrangement in which they are no longer the exclusive copyright owners, but that hardly means that such a situation 'undermines' copyright.

Thirdly, and finally: in financial terms the investment made by a publisher in managing the peer-review and publication process for a typical biomedical research publication amounts to roughly 1% of what was invested by the funder in carrying out the research. (i.e. a few thousand dollars of input by the publisher, compared to a few hundred thousand dollars spent by the funder). In such circumstances, it is quite something for the publishers to claim that they are hard done by if they do not receive exclusive rights to the resulting research article in return for their efforts...

In the context of the publication of original scientific and medical research articles, publishers are not the content creators, nor should they be the content owners. Publishers are service providers, and should compete to provide the best service to the scientific community on that basis. 180+ open access journals from BioMed Central and around 3000 more listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals demonstrate the appeal and viability of this approach.

(Peter Suber has posted detailed rebuttals of the AAP and  STM statements, here and here respectively.)


From Emily at A Life Less Ordinary, a blog on Asperger's syndrome:

...[A] new paper on autism rates in California reports now that mercury exposure is falling, but autism rates are not. Kristina deals with the paper, so I'll just say this:


It is a little crusade of mine to have papers be open access as a way to propagate science knowledge even more efficiently. I'm not going to pay $35 or $50 for access to a single paper, and I don't know that many people who would. What really pisses me off is when a journal has you REGISTER just to read its abstracts. Of course, that's one of the many uses of PubMed.

Monday, January 07, 2008

More on the ACS response to the NIH policy

Rebecca Trager, US science budget fails to deliver, Chemistry World, January 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[The American Chemical Society is concerned that the new funding bill does too little to increase funding for science.]  Also of concern to the ACS is the inclusion of language in the funding bill that will require NIH-funded researchers to submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts to the agency's free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences literature, known as PubMed Central. The manuscripts will have to be made publicly available within twelve months of publication.

The provision, which makes mandatory NIH's currently voluntary public access policy, is controversial. The language met significant resistance from publishers and scholarly societies such as the ACS when it was included in an earlier appropriations bill that Bush vetoed in November 2007 (see 'Chemistry's open access dilemma', Chemistry World, December 2007, p12).

[ACS spokesperson Glenn Ruskin] says that the most responsible policy would be to put the manuscripts into a universal format, such as Adobe's PDF, and give it to NIH to post online. 'But what NIH is trying to do with these final peer reviewed articles has become cloudy,' he said. 'The agency is adding things and tweaking has moved beyond a copyright issue to become an intellectual property issue.' ...


  • There seem to be some words missing from the beginning of the final sentence.  Note the punctuation:  "...tweaking has...."  I hope Chemistry World can correct the copy.  Meantime I've already answered several variations on the copyright objection in my response to the AAP/PSP objections and my response to the STM objections.
  • It's true that NIH "is adding things" to raw submissions by grantees.   For example, it adds a citation and link to the published edition of the article.  It adds links from note calls to endnotes, and from references in endnotes to PubMed entries and full-text.  It adds links to data on deposit in any of NIH's many OA databases.  There's much more, which I reviewed in two articles from 2005 (one, two).  In short, NIH makes the editions on deposit in PubMed Central more useful than the original submissions, and for most working researchers more useful than the published editions in journals.  If that makes ACS nervous, the NIH policy allows publishers to replace the PMC edition with the published edition.

Call for OA to Greek public broadcasting archive

Greek activists are working for OA to the archive of the Greek Public Broadcasting Company (ERT).  (Thanks to Michel Bauwens.)  Here's an English draft of a manifesto to accompany a future petition:

Greek citizens, but also citizens of other countries, we jointly sign this text on the occasion of ERT’s choice to distribute its audiovisual archive non-freely to the public. Our aim and ambition is to publicize our propositions so that they become the starting point of an open dialog among the Greek society, the European and global public audience and to signal the revision of backward policies and the creation of common political wealth....

If today, you store in your computer, or send to a friend, or allow your children to make a creative montage for their homework in the history course, using material based on this archive, you will have committed a list of offences regarding the protection of ‘’intellectual property'’....

If a large number of people, including you, have paid with your own money for the production of a television or radio show, you surely have your say for how this show should become publicly available. If it is freely available to anyone who has got an interest in it, this does not make you by no means poorer, since it does not deprive you of the possibility to enjoy the same privileges with others....

The ERT archive that was produced with the contribution of Greek citizens and today is digitized with the money of European tax payers, should become freely available to all the residents of the planet via the Internet....

Anyone should have the right to store, to copy, to modify and to redistribute this material freely without royalties or being obstructed by bureaucratic processes. The derivative products of this creative process are supposed to be freely available under the condition that these products will not become the exclusive property of anyone, but they will abide by the same legal status of free use. In this way, innovation and collective creativity are strengthened.

That such a choice better protects the public character of this wealth and brings the Greek culture to the public attention....

That such a choice creates the yeast of growth in a pluralistic economy....

It is a development opportunity for the Greek economy, much more important than the uncertain income ERT will enjoy if they choose to strangle themselves on the plea of exclusive property....

[I]n a modern democracy, such that Greece claims it is, the final decisions in critical issues that concern all citizens...should be the result of an open public consultation. We ask that such process, although delayed, should begin today....

BDL relaunches as a no-fee OA journal

Marcus Banks, Biomedical Digital Libraries Now Open for Business, Marcus' World, January 6, 2008.  Excerpt:

I've blogged several times recently about the future of the open access journal Biomedical Digital Libraries.  After several years of successful publication by BioMed Central, the journal had become non-viable because of high author fees.

I'm very pleased to announce that we're now accepting new papers at a new web site,  We're publishing via Open Journal Systems, and hosted by Scholarly Exchange. There are no author fees....

The first version of BDL had an automatic linkage with PubMed, which we do not have at this time. However, all papers published going forward will be deposited in one of two archives: DLIST or E-LIS.  We'll also seek to make the journal LOCKSS-complaint. All of these steps should ensure open access to new articles in perpetuity.  The articles already published will be available forever in PubMed Central....

PS:  For background, see my post from December 14, 2007.

Time for faculty and administrators to step up to the plate

Les Carr, The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Lot of Effort, RepositoryMan, January 6, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Are repositories just wrong? Aren't they failing? These are questions that were brought up at the JISC CRIG unconference in December, a theme that has emerged from Caveat Depositor (Dorothea Salo) in recent months and one that was addressed at the inaugural UKCoRR meeting of research repository managers in the UK back in May.

They're certainly not easy services to run, requiring researchers and faculty at least to change their working practices, if not to re-evaluate their relationship to the information that they generate. And who ends up doing the hard work? Librarians! If they're not running proxy deposit services, they're having to spend endless meetings evangelizing, proselytizing and advocating the use of repositories at the grass roots, middle management and the top level of University structures. And outside the walls of the university, similar (seemingly interminable) discussions and arguments are taking place with funding bodies and governments on open access. Slowly the pieces are falling into place - the NIH mandate being the latest example. Slowly repositories are beginning to build up some useful levels of contents (see for exact stats). It's still painfully slow, and certainly not an overnight success....

The adoption of email and word processing wasn't that quick within a University context. Our school was full of geeks who used it exclusively by 1982, but Bill Hubbard (SHERPA) tells a story of how his University's Vice Chancellor nearly provoked a rebellion by unilaterally moving all his own communication to email and refusing to read any more written memos. Still, it worked within a year. Some things just require a longer time to catch on, and then some mandating!

It is easy to imagine that the Web has revolutionised the lives of academics, and that it is only repositories that are failing in their duty to be popular. But in fact, the Web has also failed to take off in academia in important ways. No, really, just look around and see how many academics in your schools have up-to-date home pages. How many academics (who live and die by reputation) have digital profiles that aren't years out of date? ...

So it looks to me like researchers in general aren't too good at web dissemination. Don't blame repositories! They *are* a part of the solution, it's just that they're a solution that researchers aren't looking for. In other words, Dorothea is right.

BUT SO WHAT? Just because academics don't care about an issue doesn't mean that it should be dropped. This is where DS and I will have naturally different perspectives. She stands in the library and I stand in the research lab. She can't tell academics what to do. She can't change their behaviour. She can't force researchers to adopt open access, preservation-friendly practices. She can only advise and educate. That is pretty frustrating. I'm sure that she's got all the low-hanging fruit. Perhaps everyone who was going to be quickly convinced has been convinced.

But this isn't just her fight. Librarians can't boss professors, only other professors or their senior management and their funders. So the others had better step up to the plate - the researchers, academics, professors who support repositories, open access, information preservation. Those who can see the advantage and implications of a well-maintained network of up-to-date, accessible information about research, researchers, research projects, activities - the scholarly lifecycle, its outputs and stakeholders. Those who get it - that the Web has changed the rules for everyone. In other words, this is MY problem (as an academic), not Dorothea's (as a librarian). And academics just don't listen to people unless they're forced to. And that is why (I believe) the smart money is on mandates at the moment - funder mandates, institutional mandates or departmental (patchwork) mandates. Whoever is listening to sense should just impose sense where they have authority....

In a world in which knowledge can be easily shared and indexed for the whole planet to benefit from, it is simply no longer acceptable that research material (data, analysis and article) should be slowly be lost to disorganised filing cabinets, file systems or unsupported, obselete IT platforms. Or to propping up out-of-date publishing business models, come to that....

Also see Les' follow-up today and his terrific poster.

"OA is an acquisitions librarian dream come true"

Eric Lease Morgan, Today's digital information landscape, Musings on Information and Librarianship, December 1, 2007.  (Thanks to Wouter Gerritsma.)  Excerpt:

...Institutional repositories seem to be yet another reaction to the dramatic and never-ending price increases in scholarly literature. Believe it or not OAI-PMH was one of the first reactions. SPARC was another. Sprinkle the idea of open source on institutional repositories and you get open access. Institutional repositories and open access publishing activities are here to stay, but so is commercial publishing. Just as open source software is not going to replace commercial software, institutional repositories and open access publishing will live side-by-side their commercial counterparts.

I attended the Charleston Conference a few weeks ago. The majority of participants come from academic library acquisitions departments and academic publishing companies. Next to the topic of ebooks, open access was on everybody's mind. A common question was, "What are we going to do for a job when and if everything becomes open access?" Again, this sort of question focuses too much on the how of the profession and less on the what. Open access is (can be) an acquisitions librarian dream come true as long as you think of acquisitions as the process of bringing materials into a collection. Identify content. Bring it in locally. Organize and index it. Make it available and useful to the local constituents. Moreover, once the content is in hand and in digital form, there are a myriad of other value-added services libraries can provide against this content, outlined in the section below.

Acquisitions departments are not necessarily about buying content. If there were, then they would be working in the Purchasing Department. An acquisitions department is responsible for bringing collections into the library. Those things can be items from commercial publishers, open access sites, the hosting college/university, or the Web in general. How are you going to preserve the content if you don't bring it in locally? ...

Wikia launches

Today Jimmy Wales launched an alpha version of Wikia, the search engine to be built openly and wiki-like by users.  From the about page:

Wikia is working to develop and popularize a freely licensed (open source) search engine. What you see here is our first alpha release.

We are aware that the quality of the search results is low..

Wikia's search engine concept is that of trusted user feedback from a community of users acting together in an open, transparent, public way. Of course, before we start, we have no user feedback data. So the results are pretty bad. But we expect them to improve rapidly in coming weeks, so please bookmark the site and return often.

Right now, the most important thing you can do is help with the "miniarticles" that appear at the top of popular search terms. These will vary in purpose according to the circumstance, but the primary uses will be:

  • Short definitions
  • Disambiguations
  • Photos
  • See also

At the bottom of every page is a linke to "Post bug reports here"... please use that link liberally to give us large amounts of feedback.

I believe that search is a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the Internet, and that it can and should therefore be done in an open, objective, accountable way. This site, which we have been working on for a long time now, represents the first draft of the future of search....

PS:  I believe the Wikia project was first announced in December 2006.

More on paying the costs of organizing peer review

Jan Velterop, Taking the trip without paying the ship? The Parachute, January 6, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Many of those who favour Open Access have reason to be happy, since the NIH mandate has passed all its hurdles in the US legislature and is becoming law....

The mandate in the bill requires researchers, authors, to deposit the articles resulting from their NIH-funded research immediately in PubMed Central and then make them open after 12 months at the latest. Read thus, the whole thing is ostensibly taking place outside the purview of publishers, as it is not they who are mandated to do anything. There’s even a positive message for many of them, if they are willing to hear it. Open access is, after all, a desirable thing, politically and scientifically. And it is not just any articles resulting from their research that grantees are mandated to deposit and make open within 12 months, it is their published, peer-reviewed articles. So what publishers have to do is make sure they offer authors open access – or at least embargoed open access – to the articles for which they, the publishers, arrange peer-review and then formal publication in a journal.

How they do that is the question. Most journals get ‘paid’ for their efforts by the authors’ transfer of copyright. This copyright they then subsequently ‘trans-substantiate’ into money via subscriptions. What an embargo does is simply to make this ‘payment’ of copyright worth less. For some journals, an embargo of 12 months will make little difference. The time-sensitive currency of the information published in those titles demands that libraries need to subscribe to get immediate access anyway. For those, the ‘value’ of copyright is not eroded. But for other journals, the ones that publish less time-sensitive material, a mandate is possibly devastating, a double whammy, removing the incentive to pay both on the part of the librarian, who judges that his or her constituency can wait 12 months for access, as well as on the part of the author, who, given the option, may judge that his or her readers can wait 12 months for access. Subscription journals and mandated open access are not compatible. Only journals run on entirely charitable support can survive this way.

Fully open access journals stand somewhat outside the pitch as observers of the spectacle, since they have already understood that being dependent on what governments may allow you as a term in which to sell subscriptions is just too risky. They don't give authors a choice and simply refuse to publish articles unless they are paid for by article processing charges, a.k.a. author-side publication fees. Subscription-based journals and hybrid journals (those that offer paid-for open access as an option) are the ones likely to suffer....

Surely, the free-readership mandate doesn’t imply free-ridership, too, does it? Surely, the mandate doesn’t imply that NIH-funded researchers are compelled to take the trip without paying for the ticket? If so, the bill is fundamentally a dishonest one. If it isn’t a dishonest one, surely the NIH will clearly indicate that it is entirely legitimate, and advisable, for authors to spend a small percentage of their grant money – estimates range from 1 to 2 percent – on the article processing fees for publication with immediate open access?

If the bill really should be the fundamentally dishonest variety feared, one of ‘taking the trip without paying the ship’, then this OA ‘victory’ will, alas, turn out to be a Pyrrhic one. A short-term pseudo-success at the cost of a long-term open access solution. A palliative that ultimately kills instead of a treatment that ultimately cures....


  • "Subscription journals and mandated open access are not compatible."  Jan's argument depends on the high level of OA archiving, whether that level is caused by a mandate or by a successful disciplinary culture of self-archiving.  It therefore predicts that the near-100% level of OA archiving in physics would kill off subscription journals in physics.  But that is not what we see when we look.  On the contrary:  the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd (IOPP) have seen no cancellations to date attributable to OA archiving.  In fact, both now host mirrors of arXiv and accept submissions from it.   They have become symbiotic with OA archiving.  We may or may not see the same symbiosis in other fields, as their levels of OA archiving rise to levels now seen in physics.  But the experience in physics is enough to falsify the flat prediction that subscription journals and high-volume OA archiving are incompatible.  For more on the question whether high-volume OA archiving will cause libraries to cancel subscription journals, see my article from September 2007 (esp. Sections 4-10).
  • Jan assumes that all OA journals charge author-side publication fees.  ("They don't give authors a choice and simply refuse to publish articles unless they are paid for by article processing charges....")  But in fact most OA journals charge no publication fees.  Last month, Bill Hooker's survey of all full-OA journals in the DOAJ found that 67% charged no publication fees.  The month before, Caroline Sutton and I found that 83% of society OA journals charged no publication fees.
  • If "paying the ticket" means paying the publication fee at a fee-based OA journal, then there are two replies.  First, the NIH already allows grantees to spend grant funds on such fees.  Second, but the NIH does not, and should not, require grantees to publish in OA journals.  There aren't yet enough peer-reviewed OA journals in biomedicine to contain the NIH output; and even if there were, such a requirement would severely limit the freedom of authors to publish in the journals of their choice.  That's why all funder mandates worldwide focus on green OA, not gold OA. 
  • If "paying the ticket" means paying for peer review even at TA journals, when grantees submit their work to TA journals, then the reply is somewhat different.   TA journals are already compensated by subscription revenue for organizing peer review.  The NIH mandate will protect their subscriptions by delaying OA for up to 12 months and by providing OA only to author manuscripts rather than to published articles.  In the September 2007 article I mentioned above (Section 6), I list four incentives for libraries to continue their subscriptions even after an OA mandate.  If the argument is that these protections don't suffice, and that the risk to publishers is too great, then my answer is that Congress and the NIH have to balance the interests of publishers with the interests of researchers and the public.  Here's how I described that balance last August:

    Publishers like to say that they add value by facilitating peer review by expert volunteers. This is accurate but one-sided. What they leave out is that the funding agency adds value as well, and that the cost of a research project is often thousands of times greater than the cost of publication. If adding value gives one a claim to control access to the result, then at least two stakeholder organizations have that claim, and one of them has a much weightier claim than the publisher. But if publishers and taxpayers both make a contribution to the value of peer-reviewed articles arising from publicly-funded research, then the right question is not which side to favor, without compromise, but which compromise to favor. So far I haven't heard a better solution than a period of exclusivity for the publisher followed by free online access for the public....Publishers who want to block OA mandates per se, rather than just negotiate the embargo period, are saying that there should be no compromise, that the public should get nothing for its investment, and that publishers should control access to research conducted by others, written up by others, and funded by taxpayers.

Update (1/8/08).  See Jan's comments on my comments.

Intro to institutional repositories

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Institutional Repositories, Tout de Suite, Digital Scholarship, 2008.  A useful cross between a bibliography and FAQ.  Excerpt:

Institutional Repositories, Tout de Suite is designed to give the reader a very quick introduction to key aspects of institutional repositories and to foster further exploration of this topic though liberal use of relevant references to online documents and links to pertinent websites....

Sunday, January 06, 2008

American Chemical Society response to NIH OA mandate

David Hanson and three co-authors, Policy Changes In Budget Bill, Chemical and Engineering News, January 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The open-access provision orders NIH to provide the public with online access to published research that was supported by NIH. This means that all NIH-funded investigators will be required to deposit electronic copies of resulting peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central —NIH's online, publicly accessible journal archive— for posting no later than 12 months after publication. NIH's current policy calls for voluntary submission of manuscripts.

Journal publishers, including the American Chemical Society (which publishes C&EN), have expressed reservations about the mandatory posting of manuscripts. "We question how a mandatory policy can be implemented consistent with respect for author and publisher copyrights and intellectual property interests and why NIH chose not to work more cooperatively with scientific publishers in achieving goals for public access," says Glenn S. Ruskin, director of the ACS Office of Legislative & Government Affairs....


  • This description of the new law might leave the impression that NIH grantees may deposit their manuscripts any time within 12 months of publication.  But deposits must be made immediately upon acceptance in a journal, and PubMed Central must release them to the public within 12 months of publication.
  • For my response to the ACS objections, see my response to the AAP/PSP objections and my response to the STM objections.

More on Germany's new copyright law and OA

Klaus Graf summarizes the debate among German scholars on the OA implications of Germany's new copyright law, which took effect on the first of this month.  Read it in German or Google's English.

The case for university-level OA mandates

Alma Swan and Les Carr, Institutions, their repositories and the Web, a preprint forthcoming from Serials Review.

Abstract:   It will soon be rare for research-based institutions not to have a digital repository. The main reason for a repository is to maximise the visibility of the institution’s research outputs (provide Open Access), yet few contain a representative proportion of the research produced by their institutions. Repositories form one part of the institution’s web platform. An explicit, mandatory policy on the use of the repository for collecting outputs is needed in every institution so that the full research record is collected. Once full, a repository is a tool that enables senior management in research institutions to collate and assess research, to market their institution, to facilitate new forms of scholarship and to enable the tools that will produce new knowledge.

Update (2/1/08). The article has now been published.

Large new telescope will provide OA data in real time

Bill Gates and Microsoft's most famous astronaut fund deep space telescope, Networked World, January 4, 2008.  (Thanks to John Hawks.)  Excerpt:

Bill Gates and the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences this week donated $30 million to an ambitious telescope project that researchers say will be able to survey the entire sky every three nights - something never done before.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project got $20 million from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences and $10 million from Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates. Expected to see its "first light" in 2014, the 8.4-meter LSST will survey the entire visible sky deeply in multiple colors every week with its 3 billion-pixel digital camera, probing the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy and opening a movie-like window on objects that change or move....

Over 10 years of operations, about 2,000 deep exposures will be acquired for every part of the sky over 20,000 square degrees. This color "movie" of the universe will open an entirely new window: the time domain. LSST will produce 30 terabytes of data per night, yielding a total database of 150 petabytes. Dedicated data facilities will process the data in real time, according to a release from Penn State....

"LSST is truly an Internet telescope, which will put terabytes of data each night into the hands of anyone that wants to explore it," Gates told the Associated Press. LSST is designed to be a public facility - the database and resulting catalogs will be made available to the community at large with no proprietary restrictions. A sophisticated data-management system will provide easy access, enabling simple queries from individual users (both professionals and amateurs), as well as computationally intensive scientific investigations that utilize the entire database, Penn State said....

More on the OA mandate for the NIH

Robin Peek, NIH OA Mandate Passes, a preprint of a column to appear in the February issue of Information Today.   According to IT's new access policy, "The preprint will be removed on January 31st and the postprint will be posted 3 months after publication."  Excerpt:

...And in one final dashing of the pen, it was done, the National Institute of Health had a mandate to make all of its funded research OA. A requirement that represents a historic first for a U.S. government agency and one of the largest single mandates world-wide....

I am enjoying this quiet blissful tranquility putting aside in my mind the knowledge that the publishing lobby is no doubt sharpening its lawyers and drafting their own counter defensive. But while it is cliché to use the phrase, there has indeed been a sea change....

At this point it is too early to know how different Federal agencies and even other funding agencies countries will respond differently to the passage of this mandate. As Steven Harnad observes, I think the NIH victory is itself part of a surge of activity in OA mandates. NIH's is a big one so it will help spur others. The big surge now, however, will be in institutional mandates all over the world. According to the Registry of Open Access Repositories, there are now “21 funder-mandates, 11 institutional-mandates, and 3 departmental-mandates, plus 5 proposed-funder-mandates, 1 proposed-institutional-mandate, and 2 proposed-multi-institutional-mandates (worldwide) a total of 35 mandates already adopted and 8 more proposed so far.”

“It will trigger more mandates, particularly among other federal agencies in the US. Some will wait to see how the mandate works out at the NIH, but some already want to adopt OA policies and are only waiting for a green light from Congress.” observes Peter Suber, author of the [SPARC] Open Access Newsletter, “For them, this bill is the green light.”

Personally I have no doubt that there will be a shift in the publishing lobby strategy to question the ability of PubMed Central to handle the task of handling a submission load that will eventually increase from roughly 4% to a 25-fold increase to 100% compliance and that publishers will raise the argument again that researchers don’t really care that much about OA....

[Suber notes:] “The NIH has been energetic and conscientious in making the voluntary policy work as well as it can. But researchers are overstretched and preoccupied.” adding, “They are willing to comply if mandated, as Alma Swan’s studies have shown, but otherwise they don't want to add another chore to their long to-do lists.”

“I think the NLM has its part of the game well covered - the National Center for BioTechnology Information (NLM) repeatedly demonstrated its ability to handle rapid scaling of such operations, as for example with Genbank,” observes Matt Cockerill, Publisher of BioMed Central, “ PubMed Central itself already contains more than 1 million articles, mostly deposited by publishers, so an NIH mandate with 100% compliance (roughly 65,000 articles annually) is unlikely to pose a technical or logistical challenge.”

However, the publishers are still prepared to fight against that mandate. How surprising. For example, in a press release issued on January 4th by the Association of American Publishers reaffirmed its displeasure. In a slightly different tactic than has been used before, Allan Adler, AAP’s Vice President for Legal and Government Affairs [argued], “Journals published in the U.S. have strong markets abroad; indeed, in some fields of research, most sales are to institutions and individuals outside the United States,” Adler said. “A government policy requiring these works to be made freely available for international distribution is inherently incompatible with the maintenance of global markets for these highly successful U.S. exports. Smaller and non-profit scientific societies and their scholarly missions will be particularly at risk as their journal subscribers around the world turn to NIH for free access to the same content for which they would otherwise pay.”

The new law requires deposit immediately upon acceptance and free online release within 12 months of publication, not immediately. Moreover, there are mandates occurring in many other countries as well as in the United States. But with the mandate now a matter of law there will be publishers who are going to dig into the last of their arsenals to complicate implementation of the mandate and later will seek to bitterly battle after the law takes effect. Personally I expect even wilder twists and turns to emerge as publishers fight back. “Beware the wounded beast, they still have sharp claws.”