Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The future of OA in high-energy physics

CERN's SCOAP3 project has posted a summary of Rolf-Dieter Heuer's talk, Innovation in Scholarly Communication: Vision and Projects from High Energy Physics, at the Academic Publishing in Europe 2008 conference (Berlin, January 21-23, 2008).  Heuer is the Research director of DESY and Director-General Elect of CERN.  Excerpt:

  • High Energy Physics has been at the frontier of user-pulled innovation in scholarly communication: first mass-mailing preprints for half a century, then the creation of the Word Wide Web and finally Open Access repositories. We are an ideal test-bed for things to come.
  • After the web and repositories, Open Access journals are the natural evolution of scholarly communication in High-Energy Physics. The SCOAP3 initiative, which aims to convert the peer-reviewed subscription journals of the field to Open Access, is gaining momentum with more and more countries signing up. Over the last months, libraries and library consortia across Europe have organised re-direction of their subscription funds, scientists throughout the community are continuously manifesting their support and publishers demonstrate a growing interest.
  • The success of Disciplinary Repositories originates from the benefits of visibility and information discovery they offer to authors. To fully exploit their potential, providers of scientific information in High Energy Physics are now shaping a vision for a next-generation platform, answering clear requirements of HEP scientists. A recent user survey, which collected over 2000 answers, corresponding to about 10% of the practitioners of the field, indicate clearly their needs for a one-stop-shop infrastructure. This should offer access from preprints to Open Access articles, from conference slides to data, eventually enabling Web2.0 applications. Work has started in that direction.
  • The next frontier in scholarly communication in High Energy Physics is the preservation, re-use and Open Access of research data. Due to the complexity of the data, the field has little tradition in this respect, and Prof. Heuer recounted the serendipitous conditions that allowed primary data of an experiment in which he took part in Germany in the ‘80s to be combined, 20 years later, with those from another experiment which he directed at CERN: by sheer luck, old tapes (and expertise) were found, enabling a landmark measurement to be performed. His vision is to make these opportunities the norm rather than the exception: the debate in the field is starting and exciting times are ahead.

Harvesting and organizing OA blog discussions of peer-reviewed research

After a few months of community comment and collaboration, ResearchBlogging officially launched on January 21, 2008.  From the about page:

Do you like to read about new developments in science and other fields? Are you tired of "science by press release"? Research Blogging is your place. Research Blogging allows readers to easily find blog posts about serious peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases.

How it works

  • Bloggers -- often experts in their field -- find exciting new peer-reviewed research they'd like to share. They write thoughtful posts about the research for their blogs.
  • Bloggers register with us and use a simple one-line form to create a snippet of code to place in their posts. This snippet not only notifies our site about their post, it also creates a properly formatted research citation for their blog.
  • Our software automatically scans registered blogs for posts containing our code snippet. When it finds them, it indexes them and displays them on our front page -- thousands of posts from hundreds of blogs, in one convenient place, organized by topic.
  • The quality of the posts listed on our site is monitored by the member bloggers. If a post doesn't follow our guidelines, it is removed from our database. Borderline cases may be discussed in our forums.

We also provide bloggers with an icon they can use to show when they're talking about a peer-reviewed work that they've read and analyzed closely....

If you're a blogger who writes about serious research, Research Blogging offers you a way to distinguish your serious posts from news, politics, family, bagpipes, and so on. We can direct your regular readers -- and new readers -- to the posts you've worked the hardest to create. All you need to get started is a blog and our guidelines... and a peer-reviewed research report that you'd like to discuss.

91% of 10,000 surveyed journals support self-archiving

Of 10,000 journal policies recorded on SHERPA/Romeo, a full 91% now support preprint and/or postprint archiving.  (Thanks to the EPrints Self-Archiving Policy Commitment page.)

Notes from the workshop on Asia and the Commons

Rebecca MacKinnon has blogged some notes on the International Workshop on Asia and Commons in the Information Age (Taipei, January 19-20, 2008).  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

For me, the two most thought-provoking sessions at the Workshop on Asia and Commons last weekend were a panel on Saturday afternoon called "Commons: Cultural Perspectives from Asia" and Sunday's final brainstorm discussion. The Creative Commons blog has a good summary of the entire conference, and somebody thankfully wikified the notes from the final brainstorm.

Here's the thing. Creative Commons has become a global movement, with the licenses localized all over the world. But as an organization founded in the U.S., with its international arm based in Europe, the language and approach of "Commons" tends to be heavily legalistic and discussed mainly from the standpoint of Western legal and philosophical frameworks.  Many people attending the meeting in Taipei wondered whether Creative Commons in Asia is likely to be more successful as a social movement than as a set of copyright licenses (as Peter Yu has pointed out in the past). There was also a feeling that in order to be truly relevant to the globe, the CC movement's central message needs to undergo a shift that would incorporate more non-Western approaches to the idea of "commons," content creation, and sharing.

Historian Jo-shui Chen was invited to comment on the idea of "commons" in the Chinse cultural context. How should we frame our discussion of "commons" in a predominantly Chinese society in order to increase the chances that Creative Commons will be accepted? ...

Given this cultural context, Chen argues that the best way to articulate Creative Commons in Chinese communities is as a kind of public order: "a kinder gentler public order that is good for all...not based upon absolute individual rights, but rather a system that seeks to promote public order and public interest."  ...

Lawrence Liang, a lawyer of Chinese descent from Bangalore, gave a brilliant talk (I'm told all his talks are brilliant - this was the first time I've heard him speak) titled "How Does An Asian Commons Mean." No, that's not a typo. He points out that "the metaphor of the commons as it is used in debates on information emerges from a specific history of the enclosures movement in Europe." The task of articulating an Asian Commons requires more than merely translating existing initiatives such as Creative Commons, but rather "to answer larger questions of what it means to provide an epistemological account of the commons in Asia." This is especially challenging because the idea that one can consider oneself "Asian" and that such a label has real cultural or social meaning "is a "diplomatic fiction... neither Asia nor commons has any substantive content." ...

"There is a problem with fetishization of licenses" in the Creative Commons movement, he believes. He points to the traditional Indian concept of generosity, which does not involve contracts and precise definitions of property ownership and challenges us to go beyond Western legalistic approaches to consider how the Creative Commons movement can best serve its ultimate goals: maximizing social creativity and learning for the sake of the greater good.

During Sunday's discussion, Isaac Mao raised his idea of "sharism" as a framework for promoting the goals of Creative Commons that is more likely to gain widespread acceptance in Asia, in contrast to Lessig-esque terrms like "free culture." The problem, as Liang pointed out, is that the words "free" and "freedom" have been irreparably polluted by American geopolitics and tainted by perceived agendas of regime change, making anything labeled with those words a hard sell in the developing world. Riffing off the expression "free as in beer," he remarked: "free as in America is unhelpful." There was a widespread sense among people in the room that an emphasis on "public good" and "sharing" will enable the movement to have a much deeper impact, ultimately....

Questions about institutional responsibilities for complying with the NIH policy

T. Scott Plutchak, Questions for the ARL Public Access meeting, T. Scott, January 25, 2008. 

Later this month,  ARL is hosting a "small planning meeting to better understand what steps our institutions can take to more fully understand how the NIH policy can be successfully and smoothly implemented on campus" with invited reps from a few universities and from NIH.  This is a very good thing (although I kinda wish they had done this months ago).  Here are some of the things that I hope get discussed at the meeting:

  1. Primary responsibility for compliance is with the investigator.  What are the institution's responsibilities for insuring that investigators comply?
  2. If there is not 100% compliance, will there be sanctions of any sort at the institutional level?
  3. Who is responsible for figuring out what the level of compliance at an individual institution is?  Does the institution need to develop a tracking mechanism?
  4. Should ARL (or some appropriate group) develop a standard addendum that can be used by authors submitting to journals that do not automatically submit to PMC, or does that need to be addressed at the institutional level?
  5. Does the institution bear any responsibility for correcting mistakes? (E.g., the author submits a draft of the article that is not the final draft, the author fails to get the appropriate permission from the journal, the author submits a .pdf of the actual published article instead of their final manuscript, etc.)
  6. If an article has multiple authors from multiple institutions, is there any consensus as to who is responsible for submission of the article, or do the authors have to work that out among themselves?
  7. If corrections are made to the published article after the author's final manuscript has been submitted to PMC, who is responsible for seeing that those corrections are also made to the author's manuscript?

And although it's probably out of the scope of the meeting, I'm very curious to see what happens next for the open access movement.   Since the policy achieves few (if any) of the initial goals of the movement, what will be the next steps for those who are committed to "freeing" all of the world's scientific literature?  Or isn't that any longer the goal?

Comment.  Good questions.  I'm only puzzled by the final paragraph.  The NIH policy is a major advance for the OA movement and should result in free online access to 80,000 peer-reviewed articles per year, a bigger bump than we will ever get from any other single institutional policy.  As I put it in this month's issue of SOAN:

Measured by the ferocity of opposition overcome and the volume of literature liberated, it's the largest victory in the history of the OA movement....It's big for at least five reasons....

Freeing up all the world's scientific (and scholarly) literature is still the goal.  What comes next:  more OA through journals and archives; more policies from funding agencies and universities to encourage or require OA archiving; and more education, assistance, and incentives for publishing scholars.

Update. See Scott's response to my comments.

Visualizing repository metadata

Greenstone has released an OAI metadata analysis tool for "producing statistics and visualisations of repository metadata".  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Effective use of an institutional repository

Peter Cliff, Making effective use of your repository, a slide presentation at Queen's University Belfast, January 17, 2008. 

College credit for writing Citizendium articles

Citizendium and several university partners have launched a project to give college credit for contributing to Citizendium articles.  From the January 24 announcement:

...Traditional teaching saw students laboring to produce essays that to them felt onerous and oftentimes pointless. Once read by the lecturer their writing was generally consigned to the dustbin....

[T]he online reference encyclopedia project Citizendium, in collaboration with expert teachers and lecturers, has launched Eduzendium. The Eduzendium project allows students to write their assignments online on the Citizendium on a given topic allocated by their teacher.

Students can take responsibility for their work for course credits, and teachers grade the finished work based on the quality of the final article produced from each student's input.

But students not only get to earn grade credits, they add to the global store of [OA] knowledge....

Perhaps best of all, students actually get to learn in a highly collaborative real-time way, enjoying direct online access to highly competent help with their work, in the form of the Citizendium authors and expert editors. The community is small, but growing and quite lively. It is also polite, in no small part because real names are required. For these reasons, the Eduzendium program differs crucially from using Wikipedia in a similar way.

And many basic topics are still wide open....

The Eduzendium initiative was proposed by Dr. Sorin A. Matei (Purdue University). In collaboration with Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia and now Editor-in-Chief of the Citizendium, and a group of Purdue graduate students, he has designed a set of template policies, rules and educational methods that allow incorporating wiki style collaboration in the educational process. The policies have been pretested at Purdue and will soon be released to the educational community through Eduzendium....

Matei believes that the early tests were a success...."Eduzendium is a wonderful way of training our students, making their knowledge matter and helping students and professors reconnect with the broader societal issues that surround them. Our initiative is somewhat similar to the SETI project. Just like the famous initiative, which harnesses the idle cycles of our computers, crunching data behind screensavers, we hope to recover some of the passion, energy, and creativity invested by our scholars and students in papers or assignments that are meant to be read only once by one person," says Matei....

According to [Lee Berger, an educator at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa], “What we found almost immediately was that students responded well to the online approach of CZ. Not only were we delighted to find that their articles as a whole were better written than traditional essays, but the students benefit--and most importantly learn from--the constructive guidance of others," says Berger, who is on the Executive Committee of CZ and was among the first to test the program with his fourth year Honours class last semester....

Berger said grading assignments was no problem as the wiki software makes it easy to verify how much students have contributed to each article.

Following the success of the EZ pilot, the experiment is now being tried with larger classes--up to eighty students at University of Colorado and Temple University--and with students at varying levels of education. So far academics at six major Universities in Africa and the United States have tried, or are about to try, the EZ experiments in classes ranging from Anthropology to Finance....

5,000 articles at Citizendium

Citizendium has reached the milestone of 5,000 articles.

More on the need for open data in medical research

Andrew Vickers, Cancer Data? Sorry, Can’t Have It, New York Times, January 22, 2008.  (Thanks to LISNews.)  Excerpt:

Not long ago, I asked a respected cancer researcher if he could send me raw data from a trial he had recently published. He refused. Sharing data would make the study team members “uncomfortable,” he said, as I might use this to “cast doubt” on their results.

I’d heard this before: as a statistician who designs and analyzes cancer studies, I regularly ask other researchers to provide additional information or raw data. Sometimes I want to use the data to test out a new idea or method of statistical analysis. And knowing exactly what happened in past studies can help me design better research for the future. Occasionally, however, there are statistical analyses I could run that might make an immediate and important impact on the lives of cancer patients.

A few years back, a study was published showing that a certain drug could prevent one type of cancer. The problem was that the drug didn’t work very well and had some side effects, so almost no one used it. At the same time, a colleague showed that a protein found in the blood could predict which patients were at high risk for cancer. We put two and two together and realized that we could use the protein test to work out which patients would benefit from the drug.

To make things even easier for us, it turned out that the researchers who had conducted the trial had actually measured this protein in all their patients. So we wrote to them and asked whether they would share their data. They refused on the grounds that they might consider a similar analysis at some point in the future. But years have passed, no such analyses have been forthcoming and few patients are benefiting from what could be a very effective drug.

Given the enormous physical, emotional and financial toll of cancer, one might expect researchers to promote the free and open exchange of information. The patients who volunteer for cancer trials often suffer through painful procedures and harsh experimental treatments in the hope of hastening a cure. The data they provide ought to belong to all of us. Yet cancer researchers typically treat it as their personal property.

I’m sometimes told that sharing data would violate patient privacy — though changing names to codes is easy enough. Other requests are killed by red tape....

Most refusals are more blunt. “I am not prepared to release the data at this point,” one researcher wrote me, even though he was a government employee and his trial, which had been published several years earlier, was federally financed.

Dr John Kirwan, a rheumatologist from the University of Bristol in England, has studied researchers’ attitudes on sharing data from clinical trials. He found that three-quarters of researchers he surveyed, as well as a major industry group, opposed making original trial data available....

Dr. Kirwan went on to ask his subjects why. Their reasons were entirely trivial: one cited the difficult of putting together a data set (wouldn’t this have to be done anyway in order to publish a paper?); another was concerned that the data might be analyzed using invalid methods (surely a judgment for the scientific community as a whole). This is something of a clue that the real issue here has more to do with status and career than with any loftier considerations. Scientists don’t want to be scooped by their own data, or have someone else challenge their conclusions with a new analysis.

Yet this is exactly what cancer patients need. They want new results to be published as quickly as possible and to encourage a robust debate on the merits of key research findings....

With the rise of the Internet, sharing data has become a simple matter. Geneticists, for example, publish their raw data on a central Web site. The data from medical trials are given freely by patients. They should insist that these belong to science as a whole.

Update.  For the record, Eli Lilly denies that it ever suppressed results of negative clinical trials.  In the course of reporting this for Outsourcing-Pharma, Kirsty Barnes unearthed a few other nuggets:

...The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) renewed their call for a mandatory public registry for clinical trials.
APA president Carolyn Robinowitz said: "Open access to all clinical trial data is necessary to better understand the risks and benefits of treatments"....

As of December 2007 an FDA Amendments Act (FDAAA) requires trial sponsors of all clinical trials, except those in Phase I trials and small feasibility studies of devices, to register specific information on, the world's largest clinical trials registry.

Previously, the FDA Modernization Act (FDAMA) of 1997, which established the, only mandated the registration of FDA-regulated efficacy drug trials for serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions.

The new law not only widens the net to require that the majority of trials are registered, but also...requires the eventual inclusion of trials results, and imposes penalties for non-compliance.
The idea behind this was to create a "public database of clinical trial data with mandatory disclosure requirements...."

Notes from the COMMUNIA workshop on the public domain

Jonathan Gray has blogged some notes on the Communia workshop on Technology and the Public Domain (Torino, January 18, 2008).

COMMUNIA coordinator Juan Carlos De Martin and Rishab Ghosh of MERIT, University of Maastricht gave opening talks. I was on a panel with Kaitlin Thaney of Science Commons, Nathan Yergler of Creative Commons and Keith Jeffery of euroCRIS. My slides are available [here].

Other talks directly related to open knowledge included:

I suggested in my talk and thoughout the day that:

  • We should work together to create a set of ‘public domain calculators’ - or algorithms that can help to determine whether or not a given work is out of copyright in a given jurisdiction (such as we’ve been working on with Public Domain Works and the Open Library);
  • We should work together to pool open metadata - whether this be bibliographic metadata, or metadata for databases or large collections of knowledge resources (such as are listed in CKAN).

This is a great opportunity to strengthen the community of individuals and organisations with an interest in open knowledge and the public domain across Europe....

Report on the first DRIVER summit

Norbert Lossau, First DRIVER Summit demonstrates the advancement of the European repository network and lays out further actions, DRIVER, January 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

On 16 and 17 January 2008, DRIVER II successfully carried out its first Summit in Goettingen, Germany....

In his wrap-up speech, Norbert Lossau summarised the presentations and discussions in a five-point conclusion:

  1. The conditions to populate repositories with content and to implement a coherent European and global digital repository based eInfrastructure are more favourable than ever before. The Council’s Conclusions on Scientific Information, the European Research Council Open Access mandate and the current preparation of an Open Access mandate for all EC funded research publications can draw from the existing infrastructure efforts which must be accelerated in the coming months.
  2. DRIVER II, with its recent focus on research publications, is now moving towards research data by addressing so-called enhanced publications (publications linked to datasets and vice versa). It is instrumental that DRIVER II works together with disciplinary communities, like disciplinary research institutes (such as CERN), disciplinary projects (such as those funded by the EC’s “Geant & eInfastructure” Unit and in the ESFRI context) and, where existing, learned societies on a European or international level.
  3. Although funded by the EC, DRIVER II must be open to international efforts and collaborate on a global scale. This point was also clearly underlined by the EC representatives as part of the Commission’s eInfrastructure strategy.
  4. Technology is the means to manage content repositories as a virtual content resource. Combining publications with research data and other digital objects requires additional research and development.
  5. The change of culture has been a frequently stressed requirement for the new eInfrastructure. Depositing open access publications, sharing datasets with a wider community and deploying existing technology instead of “re-inventing” them are some of the issues which need to be addressed in the near future....

Friday, January 25, 2008

New blog for students about OA

Gavin Baker has launched Open Students, a new blog about OA for students.  From his introductory post:

Welcome to Open Students, a new blog for students about open access to research.

I’m Gavin Baker, the community manager for Open Students. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2007, in political science. As a student, I was involved in a number of initiatives to support open access, which you can read about here. I’m pleased now to be launching Open Students as a platform to engage the student community, and as a forum to encourage dialogue.

Open Students is proudly sponsored by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, as part of its student outreach activities.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about issues that affect students, covering the latest news, and introducing a great cast of contributors and guest bloggers from all walks of life. So check back often or subscribe to our RSS feed — and tell a friend!

We’re changing the way that research is disseminated. We are Open Students.

Comment.  Welcome to Gavin and Open Students.  When SPARC honored the student campaign for OA with its Innovator Award in December 2007, it named five students in particular as agents of change, and Gavin was one, "The Professional".  I'll be a regular reader.

Sign on to support OA textbooks

George Porter, Preston McAfee signs Faculty Statement of Intent supporting Make Textbooks Affordable, Open Access Authoring @ Caltech, January 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

R. Preston McAfee, J. Stanley Johnson Professor of Business, Economics and Management, signs Faculty Statement of Intent regarding open textbooks at Make Textbooks Affordable. It reads, in part:

As faculty members, we affirm that it is our prerogative and responsibility to select course materials that are pedagogically most appropriate for our classes. We also affirm that it is consistent with this principle to seek affordable and accessible course materials for our classes whenever possible. This includes “open textbooks,” which are textbooks offered online to students at no cost.

Dr. McAfee himself has written an open textbook, Introduction to Economic Analysis. Both NYU and Harvard have adopted it as a text for economics courses. The book can be found through the textbook’s website and through CaltechBook.
A selection of courses which have used McAfee's open textbook includes....

Update.  Also see the press release from StudentPIRGs on the sign-up initiative.

Update.  Also see Heather Morrison's comments on the initiative.

Text of the OA mandate from the ISS

Institute's compliance to open access principles, a press release from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Institute of Health, or ISS), January 17, 2008.  (Thanks to Paola de Castro.)  Excerpt:

Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the Italian National Institute of Health) encourages communication and exchange of the research results from our institutional activities, to increase their visibility and impact in the whole scientific community and to enable the development of new standards for research evaluation. This intent is achieved by compliance with the principles of open access to research literature and through the most advanced techniques of registration and dissemination of digital data....

Open access to the research literature can be achieved in two complementary ways: 1) publication in OA journals, and 2) archiving of publications in digital repositories compliant with the OAI-PMH specifications....

In compliance with OA principles, the ISS has created an online digital repository [DSpace.ISS] which functions as the institutional archive for its publications, guaranteeing open access and long term preservation of research results.

DSpace.ISS contains all the scientific works produced by the research staff of ISS (authorised for publication following an internal procedure) published at a national and international level. The data contained in the repository are bibliographic data (metadata) of the publications, along with full texts.

The ISS policy applies only to peer-reviewed articles, but sometimes researchers may wish to include non-peer-reviewed material in DSpace.ISS too. The peer-reviewed status of each article deposited is clearly shown and it is possible to search DSpace.ISS only for peer-reviewed material if desired....

All scientific works produced by ISS staff must be transmitted in electronic format (author's final copy, after peer-review: "post-print") to the Publishing Activities Unit of ISS, at the moment of acceptance for publication. This Unit will immediately make them available on the ISS Intranet. The metadata will also be made available on the Internet, via DSpace.ISS and, after the publisher embargo period has expired, the full texts will be made available too. During the embargo period, individual works can be requested from their authors through an automated function of DSpace....


  • I like the way this policy mandates deposit at the time of acceptance, and supports immediate release of metadata, limiting the effect of embargoes to the release of full-text.  (I call this the dual deposit/release strategy and Stevan Harnad calls it the  immediate deposit / optional access strategy.)  I also like the way ISS supports the "request eprint" button during the embargo period, which I believe makes it the first funding agency to do so.  ISS could have stipulated its own upper limit for the embargo period, instead of deferring to publisher policies, and perhaps will do so at a future policy review. 
  • The policy only applies to ISS research staff.  I don't know whether ISS funds extramural research and therefore whether there are ISS grantees who do not count as staff.  If I find out, I'll update this post.
  • I blogged the policy on Wednesday, but at the time didn't have access to the text in Italian or English.  

Update. I have just confirmed with ISS that, while it does have some external grantees, the current policy only applies to ISS staff researchers.

More on the new NIH OA mandate

Kimberly K. Barlow, NIH mandates open access to researchers' publications, University of Pittsburgh University Times, January 24, 2008.  (Thanks to Heather Joseph.)  Excerpt:

...Pitt, which in fiscal year 2006 received 1,082 individual NIH grants totaling $447 million — 6th nationally among academic institutions and their affiliates — is paying particular attention to the new requirements.

Michelle S. Broido, associate vice chancellor for basic biomedical research and director of Pitt’s Office of Research, Health Sciences, sent a memo Jan. 15 to all Pitt health sciences faculty to alert them of their new responsibilities.

In addition, the Health Sciences Office of Academic Career Development has scheduled a program at 3 p.m. March 18 in Scaife Hall auditorium 6 entitled, “Preparing for Critical Changes in Scholarly Publishing: How Will Open Access Impact You?”that will examine various open-access initiatives....

Broido...speculated that the journals submitting articles to PubMed Central on behalf of their authors could see a temporary uptick in investigators’ interest in their publications until more come aboard....“Journals are going to understand if they want the high-quality science supported by NIH, they will probably join in the list of publications that have already agreed to the process.”

Barbara Epstein, director of Pitt’s Health Sciences Library System, noted that because submission to PubMed Central now is required by NIH, the publishers can’t obstruct it. “They can help the authors more or they can help the authors less,” she said, agreeing that the more helpful journals are likely to look more attractive to researchers....

[Epstein] said NIH’s move is the first public access mandate for a publicly funded agency and it is hoped that others will follow suit. “The library community is certainly very happy that it now has become mandatory,” she said....

While library groups have been active advocates for the measure, publishers understandably have not been as enthusiastic, Epstein said, noting that some journal publishers fear open access will cut into journal sales and impact their revenue.

“It’s not clear that’s going to happen,” Epstein said, noting for example that Pitt is unlikely to be able to cut its subscriptions to core journals. “Our user community is not willing to wait a year to get access to information,” she said.

In addition, not everything contained in journals will appear in PubMed Central. Library users still will want access to other material such as non-NIH funded research, editorials and supplemental information found in the journals, Epstein pointed out. She said the biggest impact would be on the large community of users who are not affiliated with a university or a research library. These users must purchase copies from the journals or go through public libraries (with the expense of interlibrary loans) to gain access, she said. “This really benefits the larger public of the United States who are getting access to research funded by their tax dollars.”

Portrait of Helen Troia

Dorothea Salo has sketched a painfully plausible, fictitious Dr. Troia to dramatize the problem of getting faculty to self-archive.  Excerpt:

...Dr. Troia...will be the first to tell you that she doesn’t keep very good track of her computer files....

She knows that her tenure approval will depend on the prominence of the journals her work is published in. Basketology tenure committees do look at post-publication measures such as impact factors and citation rates, but when the rubber meets the road, publication numbers and journal prestige are what count. Although they use electronic resources heavily, Basketology faculty (especially more senior faculty) look somewhat askance at electronic-only journals, a fact of which Dr. Troia is well aware....

Dr. Troia is a fan of Achaea University’s library; as far as she is concerned, she has access to all the literature she needs....

Dr. Troia’s basketology data, which are unique and could not be recreated if they were to disappear, live on the computer in her office. This computer is not to her knowledge backed up. Dr. Troia doesn’t want to put data on the department’s shared network drive, because she isn’t sanguine about its security, and her data are vital to her professional advantage, not to be pawed over by just anyone. Some of her older data are in a file format her current software can’t open; Dr. Troia shrugs about that—it’s just how software works, and she has a workaround (though a tedious and annoying one) for any file she absolutely must get into.

Dr. Troia signs whatever publication agreements are put in front of her. The important thing for her career is getting her work into the right places. She has no idea how copyright gets swapped around, and isn’t sure why she should care, since she has no choice but to accept publisher agreements....

Open access? Dr. Troia looks puzzled. Isn’t that for software? She doesn’t do computational basketology. Oh, putting her work on the Web? Well, isn’t it there already? She can go to her computer at work and download her own articles, though when she’s at home she has to sign in. Oh, openly? Doesn’t that violate copyright? Well, yes, I suppose some of my colleagues do have their papers on their departmental websites. That’s good enough, isn’t it? Why does there need to be another place?

Oh, says Dr. Troia. I didn’t know the library did that. Can I use it for syllabi? What about the draft I’m working on? Oh, just finished work. Just research. Well, it sounds like a nice idea, but I’m very busy and I don’t see much benefit in it for myself. I just don’t have time to go through hard drives and old floppy disks for my old work, and I’m sure if I did one of my publishers would get angry with me. Citation advantage? Well, okay, but my committee won’t pay much attention to putting work anyplace that’s not peer-reviewed—and besides, if it’s in the right journals everyone who really needs to will see it.

What about my students’ work, though? That might be good. Theses and dissertations, yes! But my own work? Mine?

Well, why would I want my own work in the same place as my students’?

Comment.  We've all met Dr. Troia.  We all work with Dr. Troia.  When you think about motivating real-life OA archiving, think about Dr. Troia.  By all means know the evidence for benefits to authors and readers, but don't limit yourself to it.  If you're a good teacher, you teach the students in the room, not the ideal student who doesn't really need you.  If we're good OA advocates, we must address researchers where we find them. 

Update.  Dorothea has created another character, Cassandra Athens, "webmaster for the Department of Basketology at Achaea University."

Update. Next on stage is Menelaus Fox, a collection-development librarian at Achaea University.

Update. Next up is Ulysses Acqua, the repository manager at Achaea University.

Discovering and deterring duplicate publications

A study in the January 24 issue of Nature turned up 200,000+ duplicate articles in journals indexed by Medline.

Charles Bailey draws an OA connection:

Open access advocates have pointed out that one advantage of OA is that it allows the unrestricted analysis and manipulation of the full text of freely available works. Open access makes it possible for all interested parties, including scholars and others who might not have access to closed duplicate verification databases, to conduct whatever analysis as they wish and to make the results public without having to consider potential business impacts.

Comment.  Here's another OA connection.  As the OA percentage of the literature continues to grow, journals wishing to avoid publishing a duplicate or plagiarized article will find it easier to discover potential problems in advance of publication.  Likewise, journals that don't care, or with the opposite desire, will find it harder to publish duplicates undetected.  OA advocates have long argued that OA will reduce duplication of effort, allowing researchers to focus on new questions.  For example, see how this point has been made by Jean Collins, B. Gitanjali, Leslie Pack Kaelbling, Edward Mills, Vinita Salvi, Sukhdev Singh, a pseudonymous blogger, the Applied Economics Research Bulletin, the European Commission, the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust.  For the same reason, OA will reduce duplication of publication, at least for journals which make it a goal.  This is a variation on the theme that OA deters plagiarism or, as Louis Brandeis put it, that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

YouTube lectures from Indian Institutes of Technology

The seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have created a YouTube channel for video lectures.  Currently the channel covers 13 courses, and will grow to cover 110 courses by March.  The project is part of India's National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning.  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tracking OA conversations about OA articles

Jon Udell, Alf Eaton shows how to gather scientific reaction to open access scientific articles, Jon Udell, January 24, 2008.  Excerpt:

In response to this item and its follow-on discussion, Alf Eaton shows how you can, in fact, discover the (open access) scientific commentary surrounding an (open access) scientific article. Outstanding!

Here’s the interactive version of the service. You can feed it an URL, a DOI, or a PubMed id, and it fetches conversations about that item from Postgenomic, PubMed, Connotea, and Scopus.

I took the liberty of converting this service into a bookmarklet which I’ve labeled sc (scientific conversations). It’s the analog to my standard dc bookmarklet ( conversations) and bc bookmarklet (bloglines conversations).

WordPress won’t let me post javascript: URLs so I can’t post the installable versions of these bookmarkets, but here they are in textual form:...

[PS:  Omitting the code.]

So, this is great! Now if I’m visiting a PLoS Medicine article I can just click dc, bc, and sc to assess how both the general-interest and scientific communities are reacting to it.

Thanks Alf!

Survey of Cuban health researchers on OA journals

Nancy Sánchez Tarragó and Juan Carlos Fernández Molina, Open Access Journals:  Knowledge and Attitudes among Cuban Health Researchers, MEDICC Review, 10, 1 (2007) pp. 18-21.  Self-archived January 22, 2008.

Abstract:   A descriptive, cross-sectional study is presented whose objective was to determine the level of knowledge about and the attitudes toward open access journals among Cuban health researchers. To this end, a printed questionnaire was distributed between March and June 2007 to a group of researchers from Cuban national health institutes, who were chosen through stratified random sampling (160 researchers from 11 institutes). Variables included level of information about Open Access Movement terms and initiatives; papers published in open access journals; and reasons to publish, or not to publish, papers in such journals. Descriptive statistics, bivariate correlations, and correspondence analysis were done using the SPSS statistical software, version 10.0 for Windows. Little knowledge of open access journals and other Open Access Movement terms and initiatives, and little use of open access journals as a publication means, were observed.

OA tables of contents in linguistics

Online Contents Linguistik is an OA database of journal tables of contents in general linguistics.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  From the site:

Online Contents Linguistik is a free of charge service from the Special Collection General Linguistics at Frankfurt University Library. The database contains the tables of contents of more than 270 linguistics journals. All journals are purchased by the library.

As at december 2007, bibliographic descriptions of approx. 60,000 journal articles are listed - with publication year 1998 until today.

Free access worldwide without registration....

Online Contents Linguistik replaces the printed edition of Current Contents Linguistik (CCL) which has ceased publication with volume 34.2006.

Neurocommons OA project one to watch in 2008

Greg Simon, the President of FasterCures, has put together a list of Ten to watch in 2008 --for accelerating medical research and translating research into cures.  Excerpt:

4. Science 2.0. Collaborative science is the name of the game these days, as science gets bigger and more multi-disciplinary and the data available for research grows explosively. The technological opportunity presented by the Semantic Web for networking data and researchers will be transformative. Watch the Neurocommons Project, a demonstration of the power of the Semantic Web approach based on open access information....

Update. Also see the response from Science Commons, which launched the Neurocommons project:

One of the most important reasons Science Commons exists is to help people find cures for disease faster. So we are delighted and honored to have made the FasterCures list of Ten to Watch in 2008 — recognizing “the top ten organizations, people, and ideas that are changing the face of biomedical research in 2008.” ...

In the simplest terms, [“Semantic Web” approach used at Neurocommons is] a way to mark research data so computers can help us make sense of it. The driving concept is that collaboration in science needs to make a shift from human-mediated to computer-mediated, from single-database access to data integration, from reading papers by people to reading papers with machines, and so on.

As part of the Neurocommons Project, we mark research that’s free to use — open access information — using the Semantic Web RDF language. This means that computers — not people — can sort through the data, giving researchers the ability to swiftly process much larger data sets. And that means that the research won’t simply be more accessible, it will also be easier to use — leading, we hope, to more (and faster) breakthroughs that benefit everyone.

OA mandate watch

Stevan Harnad, The OA Self-Archiving Sweepstakes: One More University and One More Funder Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, January 24, 2008.  

One more Australian university Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate (CSU, Australia's 6th mandate: thanks to Arthur Sale for the news) and one Italian funder mandate (ISS, Italy's first: thanks to Valentina Comba via Peter Suber) have been announced. (Also a "strong encouragement" policy from Hokkaido University brings us closer to a first Japanese mandate.)

Worldwide, that now makes:

   22 funder mandates,
   12 institutional mandates,
   3 departmental mandates,


   5 proposed funder mandates,
   1 proposed institutional mandate,
   2 proposed multi-institutional mandates

That's a total of

   37 mandates already adopted and
   8 more proposed so far
   = 45

(plus at least 31 registered self-archiving institutional and funder "OA policies" -- still shy of a mandate, encouraging/inviting/requesting instead of requiring/mandating, but within easy distance of an upgrade to a mandate -- and probably many more unregistered ones).

= at least 76 known to be adopted, proposed, or poised


If your institution or funder has an unregistered OA policy, please register it in ROARMAP.

(Arthur Sale whispers that we should expect more announcements soon, from Australia.)

The Self-Archiving Sweepstakes are on -- and let us hope for a planetary sweep in 2008, particularly from the sleeping giant: the university sector. (The world deserves at least a bit of good news for a change!)

PS:  The lead story in next week's issue of SOAN will be the OA mandates adopted or revealed in January 2008.

Problems and Opportunities in Spanish

Peter Suber, Problemas y oportunidades (tormentas de nieve y bellos atardeceres), SEBBM (the journal of the Sociedad Española de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular), December 2007.  This is a Spanish translation of Problems and opportunities (blizzards and beauty), from SOAN for July 2, 2007.

Forthcoming guide to best practices for OA journals

An announcement from Co-Action Publishing:

Co-Action Publishing and Lund University Library, Head Office, have been awarded substantial funding from the Swedish Royal Library through its Program to create a Best Practices Guide to Open Access Journals Publishing. The project aims to create a comprehensive, electronically available guide that addresses key issues for editors, researchers, librarians and university presses who are considering an Open Access publishing venture. Information and experiences will be systematically collected and then presented in a format that allows others to apply the lessons learned. Input to the guide will be collected through interviews with editors and presses. Additionally, the guide will be informed by existing literature on specific areas of OA journals publishing and will take into account reports from relevant projects that have earlier received funding from the Swedish national OA Program and the Nordbib Program; in particular the guide will build on the Nordbib-funded project, “Aiding Scientific Journals Towards Open Access Publishing”.

The final version of the Guide will be available by 1 January 2010. However, the project team plans to release a draft version in January 2009 to allow others to provide comments and input.

OA database of misinformation about Iraq

The Center for Public Integrity has created an OA database of 900+ false statements made by Bush administration officials to justify the invasion of Iraq.  (Thanks to Reuters.)

Compare and contrast, OA and OD

Stevan Harnad, Open Access and Open Data, Open Access Archivangelism, January 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Here are a few comments on some important differences between Open Access (OA) and Open Data (OD).

The explicit, primary target content of OA is the full-texts of all the articles published in the world's 25,000 peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journals. This is a special case, among all texts, partly because (i) research depends critically on access to those journal articles, because (ii) journals are expensive, because (iii) authors don't seek or get revenue from the sale of their articles, and hence have always given them away to any would-be user, and because (iv) lost access means lost research impact.

Research data are also critical to research progress, of course, but the universal practice of publishing research findings in refereed journal articles has not extended to the publication of the raw data on which the articles are based. There have been two main reasons for this. One was the capacity of the paper medium: There was no affordable way that data could be published alongside articles in paper journals. The other was that not all authors wanted to publish their data, or at least not right away....

The online era has now made it possible to publish all data affordably online. That removed the first barrier (although there are still technical problems, which Peter Murray-Rust and others discuss and are working to overcome). But the question of whether and when an author makes his data open is still a matter for the author to decide. Perhaps it ought not to be the author's choice -- but that is a much bigger and more complicated question than OA....

That difference in scope and universality is one of the reasons the OA and OD movements are distinct ones: OD has both technical and political problems that OA does not have, and it is important that OA should not be slowed down by inheriting these extraneous problems -- just as it is important that OD should not be weighed down by the publisher copyright problems of OA (which do not apply to OD for the simple reason that the authors do not publish their data, hence do not transfer copyright to a publisher)....

But an interesting overlap region is thereby created between OA and OD: for article texts are themselves data! ...Data-mining can be done not only on raw research data, but on article texts too, treated them as data: text-mining.

Here too, the interests of OA and OD are perfectly compatible and complementary -- except for one thing: If text-minability and 3rd-party re-publication were indeed to be made part of the definition of OA (i.e., not just removing price barriers to access by making research free for all online, but also "removing permissions barriers" by renegotiating copyright) then this would at the same time radically raise the barriers to achieving OA itself (just as insisting on making the paper edition free would), making it contingent on authors willingness and success in renegotiating copyright with their publishers....

[Green OA deposit and IDOA (Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access) mandates work for OA but do] not work for OD, because (a) depositing data cannot be mandated, it can only be encouraged and because (b) making article-texts re-usable by 3rd-party text-miners and re-publishers as data requires permission from the copyright holder....

So the strategic issue is whether to insist on something stronger than IDOA -- at the risk of not reaching consensus on any mandate at all -- or waiting patiently a little while longer, to allow IDOA mandates to become universal, generating toll-free online access (OA), with its immediate resultant benefits to research and researchers -- and to trust that the pressure exerted by those very benefits will lead to the demise of embargoes as well as to OD (for both data and texts) in due course....

Comments.  I agree with nearly all that Stevan says here, and will just make a couple of short points on where we may diverge. 

  • First, I reiterate my oft-stated position that OA does and ought to remove permission barriers, not just price barriers.  However, I believe this is a minor point in the differentiation of OA and OD, since it affects both in nearly identical ways.  At the same time, I repeat my related position that removing price barriers is urgently needed and should not be delayed while we work for the additional benefits of removing permission barriers.  For some recent thoughts on this, see the Richard Poynder interview (esp. pp. 36-39, where I discuss the importance removing permission barriers and the points where Stevan and I may differ). 
  • Funding agencies could easily mandate OD, and I've commended the ERC for doing so.  Moreover, the question whether to adopt this kind of green OD mandate shouldn't be tangled up with the question whether to remove permission barriers.  Just as funding agencies can mandate the removal of price barriers for peer-reviewed manuscripts, and neglect or defer the removal of permission barriers, they can do the same for data files.  And despite the significant, missing layer of utility that would come from removing permission barriers, both moves would greatly accelerate research.

Note to Davos: Remember openness

The World Economic Forum 2008: The Coming of Age of Open and Collaborative Innovation? IQsensato, January 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

The principal theme of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2008 in Davos is the “The Power of Collaborative Innovation”....

Looking at who is going to be at Davos, one cannot help but be tempted to declare that the age of open and collaborative innovation, hitherto a subject championed mainly by civil society and academic movements, such as the access to knowledge (A2K) movement, is finally here....However, the question remains whether the discussions in Davos herald the coming of age of the idea of collaborative and open innovation as the dominant theory in innovation policy thinking....

Knowledge is today a central determinant of everything from business success to national competitiveness through to solving the world’s most pressing problems, such as tackling the burden of disease in developing countries. The ability to leverage the power of knowledge has increased exponentially in the last decade or so thanks to the power of the internet and global trade integration. However, with more knowledge and powerful tools to distribute, share and exchange knowledge, why is the global community failing to make a dent in the world’s most pressing problems?

The answer partly lies in the fact that the global community has failed to face up to the challenge of governing knowledge democratically and fairly and harnessing the power of innovation in a new age....[A] critical factor on which the global community needs to start to develop a common vision is the systems of intellectual property protection and rights....

Some progress has been made in addressing the challenges posed by intellectual property in providing incentives for innovation while permitting broader dissemination and access to knowledge. However, much remains to be done. Recent years have seen a variety of initiatives in both the private and public sector ranging from the free and open source software (FLOSS) movement to initiatives to support open access to scientific and other research publications to the adoption of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Development Agenda; a reform platform that addresses, among other things, open and collaborative models of innovation and access to knowledge....

And Remember Openness

The full power of collaborative innovation will only be unleashed when the question of openness; as in open innovation, is also addressed. The powerful idea of open innovation needs to be part of the conversation. Incentive and appropriation systems that can work in an open innovation environment need to be thought through and supported. People in Davos need to think: open collaborative innovation not just collaborative innovation.

Petition to free up access to the Cochrane Library

Last month, the EU Alliance for the Dissemination of Evidence launched a petition to the European Commission, asking it to subsidize free online access for the Cochrane Library, at least within Europe.  From the text:

We, the undersigned, petition the European Commission to finance EU Provision to the Cochrane Library free of charge for all citizens of the Member States of the European Union.

Independent and reliable information on the effectiveness of treatment options is vital if health care professionals, policy makers and patients are to make sound healthcare decisions.

The Cochrane Library is an electronic database that is updated four times a year and contains the world’s leading collection of comprehensive, up-to-date, independently reviewed, reliable information on effects of health technologies, whether these be drugs, surgical interventions or alternative medicines. The information is made available in the form of transparent high quality systematic reviews. Currently, the Cochrane Library contains more than 3,000 systematic reviews.

The Cochrane Library is produced by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international, independent, not-for-profit organization of more than 15,000 dedicated volunteers (health professionals, researchers and patients) whose aim is to improve healthcare decision-making globally, by producing systematic reviews of the evidence about the effects of healthcare interventions. As each review has a plain language summary, lay people are also able to benefit from the empowering information contained in the Cochrane Library....

Update. The petition essentially calls on the EU to pay Wiley to provide EU-wide access for research largely produced by public funding. Ben Toth has given me permission to post his reservations about the petition.  Toth is the Director of Health Perspectives and former Director of the NHS National Knowledge Service.

At a time when the debate is moving decisively towards open access this petition is a missed opportunity, especially as the EU is supportive of Open Access.

It would have been more useful to petition the EU to support the Collaboration in exploring how it can make the transition to open access publishing. The Collaboration doesn't publish figures for the amount of direct and indirect public subsidy it receives, but it's probably at least 95% of its income. In such circumstances all the arguments about open access to research findings apply to Cochrane Reviews.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An OA mandate for Italy's premier funder of medical research

Yesterday, Italy's Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Institute of Health, or ISS) adopted an OA mandate for ISS-funded research.  (Thanks to Valentina Comba.) 

The policy is not yet online in Italian or English.  It requires deposit of the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript in the ISS repository at the time of acceptance for publication in a journal.  The full text will be available by intranet immediately (apparently for ISS personnel only) and by public internet after the publisher's embargo runs (apparently 24 months max).  I hope to post a link to the actual policy shortly.

Update. See my post on January 25, 2008, for the English-language text of the new policy.

Self-archiving for economists

Supplementary Open Access, The RePEc blog, January 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

Most economic publications do not provide open access. Yet the articles published there may be accompanied with related Internet material that is openly accessible —in particular pre-print, post-print and other versions of the published articles, and including additional material that is unavailable in the published versions. I refer to this as “supplementary open access.” ...

Supplementary open access has several advantage for authors:

Visibility and citations. In his article “Online or Invisible,” Steve Lawrence has analyzed the effect of online availability of published journal articles in physics on citation....There is no reason to assume that economics would be any different....

Career concerns. Many hiring decisions are influenced by citation scores. I have mentioned above that open access improves citations and citation scores. These are usually taken from Thompson (Web of Science). The RePEc citation scores are increasingly used for these purposes as well. They refer not only to published work, but also to pre-prints and all other material available through the RePEc services....

Now to the publishers. Most publishers make supplementary open access easy, but a few still try to restrict public access, in spite of calling themselves “publishers.” (It would be better to call them “concealers.”) ...

As supplementary open access is blocked only by...publishers [who don't permit preprint or postprint archiving], don’t submit to [their] journals if possible --and don’t help them with referee reports. They obstruct the dissemination of knowledge....

You find further details on individual journals at the RoMEO database....

In order to realize the advantages of supplementary open access it does not shun...publishers [who don't allow self-archiving]. You need also to make your paper available on the Internet. The usual way is to deposit your pre-refereed manuscript at the working paper series of your institution.

Make sure that all information is supplied to the RePEc database. This will guarantee inclusion in the CitEc citation compilations done by RePEc. At the same time, the paper will become easily available through the RePEc services such as IDEAS or EconPapers, as well as Google Scholar and OAIster. In addition, the paper will be advertised through the NEP mailing lists that target specific subjects. All this will make the paper very easy to find.

If your institution’s working paper series does not supply its data to RePEc, you may suggest that they do. (instructions). Otherwise you may consider depositing your paper with MPRA which provides this service. You can also have it both ways: If your institution’s series is not covered by RePEc, you may publish it in addition in MPRA, but this makes sense only if your institutions series is not covered by RePEc. Otherwise please don’t do it, as it creates confusion.

Once your paper is published, leave your pre-print on the repository —do not remove it. If you remove the open access (pre-print or post-print) versions, you lose all citations to these works, which reduces your citation score. Further you prohibit access to readers who have no subscription for the publisher’s data banks. In short, you lose all the advantages mentioned above....

Let me add a quite important additional benefit of supplementary open access: Authors keep the copyright for all material they have put on the Internet....

Free online access to 12 years of The Atlantic

The Atlantic has provided free online access to its backfile from 1995 to the present.   The rest of its backfile (from 1857 onwards) is still behind a price barrier.  (Thanks to Larry Cebula.)

Update.  I should have added that this applies to the current issue as well.

Bilingual guide to Germany's new copyright law and its consequences for OA

The Open Access Unit of the Max Planck Digital Library has released a detailed wiki-based guide to Germany's new copyright law and its consequences for OA.  The guide is in German and English.  (Thanks to the Informationsplattform Open Access.)

UpdateKlaus Graf argues that the Max Planck guide is not helpful, ignores important debates, and repeats common misunderstandings. 

Profile of Germany's Informationsplattform Open Access

Dagmar Giersberg, informiert zentral über barrierefreie Publikationsformen, Goethe Institut, December 2007.  Read it in German or Google's English.

An OA mandate for Charles Sturt University

Australia's Charles Sturt University has adopted an institutional OA mandate.  (Thanks to ROARMAP.)  From the policy:

ALL CSU staff are required to submit their peer-reviewed pre-publication manuscripts for the DEST Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) as an electronic file into CRO from 2007 onwards. Items submitted will constitute the CSU open access repository and all items are retrievable through open access search engines. The CRO Repository is searchable through the CSU web site and full text items are available for download. CRO will be used to determine funding under the Publications Grants Scheme and to provide data to the Promotions Committee....

The full text material can not be added to the Open Access Repository if copyright restrictions exist. In such cases citation and abstract will be added. Embargoes will be observed and material can be added to CRO when the embargo is over....

Comment.  "CRO" ("CSU Research Output") is the university's institutional repository.  The policy was clearly adopted sometime last year, perhaps early last year, but I only just learned about it.  The policy not only mandates deposit of peer-reviewed manuscripts, but makes compliance a condition for internal funding and promotions --a smart and natural incentive.  Kudos to all involved. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More from Australia's science minister on OA for publicly-funded research

Brendan O'Keefe and Bernard Lane, Scientists 'obliged' to share wisdom, The Australian Higher Education, January 23, 2008.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  Excerpt:

Senator Carr [said]..."I'd like to encourage debate about the most efficient ways to make public research more available."

One aspect could be more effective use of research repositories. The minister said universities would get money promised to them under the defunct research quality framework, "but I'll be talking (to them) about how we can enhance access (to research) through the repositories".

The sector welcomed Senator Carr's initiative.

The Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies said the minister's emphasis on the obligation of researchers might point towards a call for research results to be published free on the internet.

FASTS [Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies] president Ken Baldwin...said Senator Carr's comments came at a time of "quite interesting global shift". In the US last month, President George W. Bush made it law that all research results funded by the National Institutes of Health should be published free on the internet.

"That will have major implications throughout the world of research," Professor Baldwin said. "It's a real challenge to the scientific publishing industry."

Toss Gascoigne, the executive director of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, said it was incumbent on scientists to "have a conversation with the people who fund them".

"The public would have a new appreciation of the value of some of this work, quite a lot of which is hidden under a bushel," Mr Gascoigne said....

PS:  Senator Kim Carr is also Australia's Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.  For background, see his public comments last week on the open dissemination of science.

SPARC announces SPARKY winners

SPARC has announced the winners of the first annual SPARKY awards.  From today's press release:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) today announced the winners of the first SPARKY Awards. The 2007 contest called on entrants to imaginatively illustrate in a short video the value of sharing ideas and information of all kinds.

The three winning entries offer a glimpse of student views on the importance of access to information, and feature an animated look at the most basic benefits of sharing, a film noir-style crime investigation using the Internet, and a tongue-in-cheek documentary on Open Access. The winners are:

First Place, “Share
Written and directed by Habib Yazdi, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

First Runner Up, “Pri Vetai: Private Eye
Directed by Tommy McCauley and Max Silver, Carleton College

Second Runner Up, “An Open Access Manifesto
Written and directed by Romel Espinel and Josh Hadro, Pratt Institute

“I decided to participate in the contest because I strongly believe in the value of sharing – especially with regard to information,” said Habib Yazdi, who is a senior communication studies major. “Through sharing what we have learned we can improve the lives of those who are less privileged. Being on a college campus, I have really come to appreciate how many students are willing to share knowledge with others.”

"Tommy and I had a lot of fun working on our film,” said Max Silver, a freshman. Being able to access information for free has vastly changed society, especially in the lives of students. It is important to realize this, and to keep moving in the same direction – to give as many people as much information as possible."

Josh Hadro, a student of library science, added, “While the focus of our class was academic librarianship, Open Access was a frequently recurring theme in our discussions, and one to which nearly all of the students in our small seminar-style class were sympathetic. Romel and I especially agreed with this idea of the inevitable progress of the Open Access movement, and used the opening of the video to highlight this. We enjoyed the thought of the Ken Burns-esque look back at a time before Open Access was a given.” Their film was made as a final project for a course in scholarly communication....

Each of the winning entries is available under a Creative Commons use license, which enables creators to easily mark their work with the freedoms they want it to carry and tells users what rights they have beyond those under copyright.

PS:  Congratulations to Yazdi, McCauley, Silver, Espinel, and Hadro. 

OA journal fund at Berkeley

UC Berkeley has launched a pilot program to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  The program is funded by the discretionary accounts of Thomas Leonard, University Librarian, and Beth Burnside, Vice Chancellor for Research.  (Thanks to Chuck Eckman.)  From the site:

The Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) supports faculty members who want to make their journal articles free to all readers immediately upon publication.

An 18-month pilot program, BRII will subsidize, in various degrees, fees charged to authors who select open access or paid access publication. The pilot will also yield data that can be used to gauge faculty interest in — as well as the budgetary impacts of — these new modes of scholarly communication on the Berkeley campus.

Also see the program description, applicant instructions, FAQ, and yesterday's press release.

Helmholtz Alliance terascale physics project joins SCOAP3

The Physics at the Terascale project of the Helmholtz Alliance has joined joined CERN's SCOAP3 project.  Here's its announcement in full:

Unrestricted access to published scientific results is essential for wide dissemination and efficient usage of scientific knowledge.

The particle physics community has always been at the forefront of the open access movement. Today, the overwhelming majority of scientific results in high energy physics are freely available as eprints on institutional or subject repositories like, but often not in their final published form. Journals still play and will continue to play, via their peer-review system, a crucial role in the quality assurance of research results. However, access to the final journal versions gets more and more restricted, especially for scientists at small institutions, due to spiraling subscription costs which force libraries to cancel subscriptions even to important journals.

The SCOAP3 initiative proposes a new business model for scientific publishing, with the goal of extending open-access to the bulk of peer-reviewed particle physics literature. An international consortium of funding agencies, libraries and research institutions aims to convert prestigious peer-reviewed journals to open access in a way transparent to authors, at the same time being open for any new high-quality particle physics journal. Publication costs will be centrally borne by the consortium and will be shared according to the respective number of journal articles of its member countries.

The Management Board of the Helmholtz Alliance 'Physics at the Terascale' fully supports the goal of SCOAP3 of free and unrestricted electronic access to peer-reviewed journal literature in particle physics. We are convinced that the proposed fair-share business model will promote a healthy and dynamic market and will benefit scientists, authors, funding agencies and publishers alike. We therefore invite all partners in the Helmholtz Alliance to actively support the SCOAP3 initiative, facilitate the large-scale transition to open-access in particle physics by raising awareness on open-access publishing in their communities and encourage their authors to publish in open-access journals.

10 university collections on YouTube

More publisher objections to the NIH policy

Rebecca Trager, NIH battles publishers over open access, Chemistry World, January 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has published controversial new rules that will require NIH-funded researchers to deposit peer-reviewed papers in the agency's free online archive PubMed Central (PMC) within 12 months of publication - sparking a showdown with publishers including the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The agency announced the policy on 11 January - scarcely two weeks after President Bush signed the mandate into law as part of the 2008 budget.

But in a letter sent to NIH director Elias Zerhouni just hours before publication of the new policy, Madeleine Jacobs, ACS executive director and CEO, warned that it could 'result in conflicts with copyright law and intellectual property rights' if it is not carefully implemented. 'These potential conflicts could interfere with scientific peer review of journal articles and adversely impact the sustainability of scientific journals,' she added.

The ACS now says that NIH may have acted unlawfully because the agency failed to consult publishers adequately beforehand - as required by the bill.

'I don't think that they have abided by the law,' ACS spokesperson Glenn Ruskin told Chemistry World. 'We want to set up a policy that is fair, equitable and balanced. We are trying to work out the copyright and intellectual property questions.'

But the charge has been denied by NIH, which is pressing ahead with the policy....

Although open access publishing advocates are celebrating the NIH development, the issue is far from settled. Publishers have vowed to take their concerns to Congress and the White House, while the Association of American Publishers (AAP) is considering legal action.

Nevertheless, the open access movement is advancing beyond the US. The European Research Council's (ERC) scientific council issued even more stringent guidelines earlier this month. The plan requires that all peer-reviewed publications from ERC-funded research projects be deposited into a repository like PMC and made freely available within six months of publication.

Comment.  The ACS is blowing smoke.  The copyright objection is groundless and the peer review objection is groundless.  So is the objection that the bill requires NIH to consult with publishers.  The bill says nothing of the kind, and in any case, and the NIH has conducted extensive public consultations in which publishers participated fully.  For details on the public consultations, see my account or Heather Joseph's

More on the Cape Town Declaration

Scott Jaschik, International Call for Open Resources, Inside Higher Ed, January 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

In 2002, a small group of foundation officials and technology experts released the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which called for journals to end subscription barriers to online content and for scholars to strive to make their research findings available online and free. While many publishers that charge for content have attacked these ideas, the Budapest manifesto played a key role in a movement that is seeing notable success. The new appropriations bill for the National Institutes of Health contains a provision — fought for several years by publishers but backed by many academics — that requires all studies financed by the NIH to be made available online and free.

Today, some of the same groups that created the Budapest movement are unveiling a new manifesto — the Cape Town Open Education Declaration — in which they call on universities and others to make more of their course and other educational materials online and free, and to encourage faculty members to work with these materials. Declaring that “we are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning,” the signatories affirm that “everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint.”

Among those backing the effort are the Open Society Institute (which is linked to the Soros Foundation), the Shuttleworth Foundation (which is heavily involved in promoting education in Africa), Creative Commons, and numerous educators involved in open access projects....

The statement is being issued at a time that numerous efforts already exist to make course content available online and free. Projects like OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Connexions at Rice University are putting vast sums of materials online and making them available. Yale University is making video of selected courses available.

Richard Baraniuk, the founder of Connexions and one of the Cape Town signatories, said that with many projects and ideas taking hold, organizers of the new effort wanted to draw attention to the way a movement is taking shape. “We want more people out there familiar with the fact that there’s not just a Yale project or an MIT project or a Connexions project, but that they are part of this whole,” he said. “We have these projects that have been founded by people with a vision about what open education can be, and how it can revolutionize the world of education. What has dawned on people the last year or so, was that a movement was starting to crystallize around these projects.”

While not all educators may gravitate to these ideas right away, Baraniuk noted the success of the Budapest effort in shaping opinion, and now legislation. As with Budapest, the idea is to have key principles, but not a ton of detail on how to apply those principles. “The language was very carefully worked out over a number of months,” he said. “The idea is not to be vague, but to be open-ended enough to be used in different ways.” ...

Specifically, the Cape Town declaration has three calls:

  • Educators and learners: “We encourage educators and learners to actively participate in the emerging open education movement. Participating includes: creating, using, adapting and improving open educational resources; embracing educational practices built around collaboration, discovery and the creation of knowledge; and inviting peers and colleagues to get involved. Creating and using open resources should be considered integral to education and should be supported and rewarded accordingly.”
  • Resources: “We call on educators, authors, publishers and institutions to release their resources openly. These open educational resources should be freely shared through open licenses which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet.”
  • Policy: “Governments, school boards, colleges and universities should make open education a high priority. Ideally, taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources. Accreditation and adoption processes should give preference to open educational resources. Educational resource repositories should actively include and highlight open educational resources within their collections....

Also see the op-ed by Jimmy Wales and Rich Baraniuk in today's San Francisco Chronicle.  Excerpt:

As the founders of two of the world's largest open-source media platforms - Wikipedia and Connexions - we have both been accused of being dreamers....

Now, with the support of untold legions of people from Nobel laureates to junior high school kids sitting in the back rows of classrooms, from East Timor the long way around to East Los Angeles, Wikipedia and Connexions have spread around the globe and today are organic, growing, information bases used by hundreds of millions of people.

We want to infect you with the dream that anyone can become part of a new movement with the potential to change the world of education: A movement that can redefine forever how knowledge is created and used. Imagine a world where textbooks and other learning materials are available to everyone for free over the Web and at low-cost in print. (Today, some community college students have to drop out because their textbooks cost more than their tuition; and today, some third-graders have to share math texts because there aren't enough to go around.)

Imagine textbooks adapted to many learning styles and translated into myriad languages. (Today, language barriers prevent many immigrant parents from helping their children with their homework because the texts are only in English.) Imagine textbooks that are continually updated and corrected by a legion of contributors. (Today, Pluto remains in the list of planets in the nation's science textbooks, and who knows how long it will take for it to be removed.) ...

But the puzzle pieces of the Open Education movement have now come together so that anyone, anywhere, can author, assemble, customize and publish their own open course or textbook. Open licenses make the materials legal to use and remix. Technical innovations like XML and print-on-demand make delivering the output technically feasible and inexpensive....

The exciting thing about Open Education is that free access is just the beginning. Open Education promises to turn the textbook production pipeline into a vast dynamic knowledge ecosystem that is in a constant state of creation, use, reuse and improvement. Open Education promises to provide children with learning materials tailored to their individual needs in contrast to today's "off the rack" materials. Open Education promises quicker feedback loops that couple student learning outcomes more directly into content development and improvement. And Open Education promises new approaches to collaborative learning that leverage social interaction among students and teachers worldwide....

Official launch of the Cape Town Declaration

If you recall, the Cape Town Open Education Declaration made a "soft launch" last November in order to gather signatures before its official launch this year.  (My November blog post also includes a long excerpt from the declaration.)

The declaration officially launched today.  From the press release:

A coalition of educators, foundations, and internet pioneers today urged governments and publishers to make publicly-funded educational materials available freely over the internet.

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration, launched today, is part of a dynamic effort to make learning and teaching materials available to everyone online, regardless of income or geographic location. It encourages teachers and students around the world to join a growing movement and use the web to share, remix and translate classroom materials to make education more accessible, effective, and flexible.

“Open education allows every person on earth to access and contribute to the vast pool of knowledge on the web,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Wikia and one of the authors of the Declaration. “Everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn.” ...

Open education makes the link between teaching, learning and the collaborative culture of the Internet. It includes creating and sharing materials used in teaching as well as new approaches to learning where people create and shape knowledge together. These new practices promise to provide students with educational materials that are individually tailored to their learning style.  There are already over 100,000 such open educational resources available on the Internet.

The Declaration is the result of a meeting of thirty open education leaders in Cape Town, South Africa, organized late last year by the Open Society Institute and the Shuttleworth Foundation. Participants identified key strategies for developing open education. They encourage others to join and sign the Declaration.

“Open sourcing education doesn't just make learning more accessible, it makes it more collaborative, flexible and locally relevant,” said Linux Entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, who also recorded a video press briefing....

Open education is of particular relevance in developing and emerging economies, creating the potential for affordable textbooks and learning materials. It opens the door to small scale, local content producers likely to create more diverse offerings than large multinational publishing houses....

The Declaration has already been translated into over a dozen languages and the growing list of signatories includes:  Jimmy Wales; Mark Shuttleworth; Peter Gabriel, musician and founder of Real World Studios; Sir John Daniel, President of Commonwealth of Learning; Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive; Thomas Alexander, former Director for Education at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Paul N. Courant, University Librarian and former Provost, University of Michigan; Lawrence Lessig, founder and CEO of Creative Commons; Andrey Kortunov, President of the New Eurasia Foundation; and Yehuda Elkana, Rector of the Central European University. Organizations endorsing the Declaration include: Wikimedia Foundation; Public Library of Science; Commonwealth of Learning; Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition; Canonical Ltd.; Centre for Open and Sustainable Learning; Open Society Institute; and Shuttleworth Foundation.

To read or sign the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, please visit [here].

Comment.  This is a superb document, and should unify and accelerate open education worldwide, roughly as the Budapest Open Access Initiative has done for OA.  Please consider signing it, as an individual, on behalf of your institution, or both, and please spread the word.

Blog comments v. MIT Press peer reviewers

Jeffrey Young, Blog Comments and Peer Review Go Head to Head to See Which Makes a Book Better, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

What if scholarly books were peer reviewed by anonymous blog comments rather than by traditional, selected peer reviewers?

That's the question being posed by an unusual experiment that begins today. It involves a scholar studying video games, a popular academic blog with the playful name Grand Text Auto, a nonprofit group designing blog tools for scholars, and MIT Press.

The idea took shape when Noah Wardrip-Fruin, an assistant professor of communication at the University of California at San Diego, was talking with his editor at the press about peer reviewers for the book he was finishing, The book, with the not-so-playful title Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies, examines the importance of using both software design and traditional media-studies methods in the study of video games.

One group of reviewers jumped to his mind: "I immediately thought, you know it's the people on Grand Text Auto." The blog, which takes its moniker from the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto, is run by Mr. Wardrip-Fruin and five colleagues. It offers an academic take on interactive fiction and video games.

The blog is read by many of the same scholars he sees at academic conferences, and also attracts readers from the video-game industry and teenagers who are hard-core video-game players. At its peak, the blog has had more than 200,000 visitors per month, he says.

"This is the community whose response I want, not just the small circle of academics," Mr. Wardrip-Fruin says.

So he called up the folks at the Institute for the Future of the Book, who developed CommentPress, a tool for adding digital margin notes to blogs (The Chronicle, September 28, 2007). Would they help out? He wondered if he could post sections of his book on Grand Text Auto and allow readers, using CommentPress, to add critiques right in the margins....

The institute, an unusual academic center run by the University of Southern California but based in Brooklyn, N.Y., was game. So was Mr. Wardrip-Fruin's editor at MIT Press, Doug Sery, but with one important caveat. He insisted on running the manuscript through the traditional peer-review process as well....

Each day [Wardrip-Fruin] will post a new chunk of his draft to the blog, and readers will be invited to comment....

The institute is modifying its CommentPress software for the project, with the help of a $10,000 grant from San Diego's Academic Senate, to create a version that bloggers can more easily add to their existing academic blogs....

Update.  Also see Ben Vershbow's post at if:book.

Update (March 13, 2008). Also see Jeffrey Young's update on Wardrip-Fruin's experiment.

Update (April 2, 2008). Also see Jeffrey Young's next update on the experiment.

Discussion of OA at India's NIC

Sukhdev Singh has written a report on a discussion of OA at a training program on Biomedical Information Retrieval hosted by India's National Informatics Centre (NIC) on January 15-17, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Fourteen participants consisting of medical professionals and medical librarians attended the training course.

This training included a talk on Open Access by Mr. Sukhdev Singh of NIC. After the talk a special group discussion was organised to gauge the understanding, opinion and attitude of the participants towards Open Access....The theme of the discussion was "Open Access and its impact on Biomedical Research" with sub-themes (i) What is Open Access? (ii) Why it is needed? and (iii) How does it impact the biomedical research? ...

Why Open Access is needed?  [from Group A]

There are number of reasons why open access is needed. Journal subscriptions have gone beyond the capacity of libraries' affordability. Research information is not freely available to scientific community. It is research community, which is producing and ultimately consuming the scholarly information. Research is done by the scientists, for the scientists but not available to scientists. Thus the whole purpose of research is defeated. The benefits ­ financial and otherwise - from the research are going to publishers and not to the scientific community. Moreover open access saves time required for dissemination of research results. After all it is ultimately the public money that is put into the research for ultimate public benefit. In the conventional fee-based model not even a single player from scientific community is benefited. Authors lose exposure from institutions, which does not subscribe to the journal in which their articles are published. They are forced to transfer their copyrights in favor of publishers. Researchers do not have access to all the research results published by their peers. It is very expensive to access work done by their peers and hence raises the costs of the research projects. Funding agencies are spending money for research, however the results are not publicly available....

Why it is needed?  [from Group B]

To do away with the monopoly of commercial publishers over biomedical research results and literature. The larger objective is to benefit the human society at large. Easy access to research already done would give rise to new research projects initiated and completed with shorter time frames. The knowledge thus generated could be applied for the welfare of the human society. Duplication of research could be avoided. Research already done could be easily accessible and resources could be better utilized for unexplored areas....

Comments of the moderator:

Mr. Sukhdev Singh acting as the moderator commented that participants have fairly understood the concept of open access. Open Access is a mode of dissemination of information. The production and quality control of information is either done in the conventional publishing model (in case post print repositories) or exactly the same route of peer-review is followed (in case of Open Accession Publishing). Some institutional repositories may allow pre-prints but this does not means authors or their institutions would allow sub-standard information in the repository. Authors do understand that putting sub-standard publications online would only harm their own reputation.

Richard Poynder interviews Peter Murray-Rust

In the latest installment of his Open Access Interviews, Richard Poynder interviews Peter Murray-Rust, January 21, 2008.  This is another superb, wide-ranging Poynder interview, covering the importance of separate treatment of open data (OD) and OA for texts, the benefits of OD for research, technical and legal barriers to text- and data-mining, publishers who claim copyright on data,  licensing OD, the distinction between price barriers and permission barriers,  the difficulty of determining publisher policies on OD and OA, the need for a central organization to pursue OD, and the deep connections between OD and open source software.  From the introduction:

Peter Murray-Rust is a committed advocate of Open Access (OA). He is, however, a disappointed one. He is disappointed not because so few researchers are willing to self-archive their scholarly papers on the Web, not because it is proving so hard to persuade funders and research institutions to introduce Open Access mandates, but because of a failing he sees within the movement itself. Out of his disappointment, however, has come a new movement: the Open Data movement.

As a Reader in molecular informatics at the University of Cambridge Murray-Rust is interested in scholarly papers less for their textual content, more for the raw data contained within them — the graphs and tables, the molecular structures, the spectral and crystallography data, the photographs of proteins, and all the other factual information that litters science papers.

As such, much of Murray-Rust's time is spent not on reading the scholarly literature, but mining it — using various software tools to automatically extract the "embedded data" contained in the tables, the charts, and the images in science papers, and capturing the "supplemental information" that invariably accompanies the papers. After aggregating all these data Murray-Rust will compare them, input them into programs, use them to create predictive models, and reuse them for a variety of different purposes.

In short, Murray-Rust is working at the frontline of what has been dubbed Science 2.0, an online interactive environment where a great deal of the information used is more likely to have been discovered, aggregated and distributed by software and machines than it is by humans; an environment where data are constantly used and reused — pumped through new tools like RSS feeds, and displayed in mashups, wikis, and the various other tools developing around Open Notebook Science.

Murray-Rust's ultimate goal is to create and exploit what he calls the chemical semantic web — a web that would assume most scientific information was unencumbered by proprietary interests, and able to be freely shared and exchanged.

In practice, however, mining the scholarly literature remains a difficult and risky activity, explains Murray-Rust — not so much because the technology is still in its infancy, but because scholarly publishers routinely appropriate the content of research papers, and then lock it up behind financial firewalls and prohibit its reuse.

Assuming that the Open Access movement was committed to removing these barriers, Murray-Rust became an OA advocate. After all, as leading OA advocate Peter Suber puts it, Open Access implies scholarly literature that is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions". That, says Murray-Rust, is what is needed to build the semantic web.

But while the definition of Open Access agreed at the launch of the 2001 Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) states that any paper made Open Access must be free of copyright and licensing restrictions, Murray-Rust discovered that in most cases publishers and authors still fail to provide the necessary permissions when making papers Open Access. Where a paper is flagged as being Open Access, reuse is often prohibited. And even where there is no specific prohibition, usage conditions are frequently not specified, effectively placing the paper into licensing limbo....

Further limiting what he can do, adds Murray-Rust, traditional subscription publishers like the American Chemical Society and Wiley explicitly forbid text mining of papers they publish. At the same time these publishers insist that authors not only sign over the copyright in the paper, but also ownership of the supplemental data, despite the fact that factual data is not subject to copyright.

After failing to persuade Open Access advocates to hear his concerns, Murray-Rust began to direct his energies to what he calls the Open Data movement, for which he is now a leading advocate. While he remains an advocate for OA, he explains, he has come to believe that the issue of Open Data needs to be addressed separately. For where the Open Access movement is concerned only with ensuring that scholarly papers are human readable, the Open Data movement requires that they are also machine readable. And since Open Data implies reuse, it is vital that licences are provided that specifically permit this....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Video of SPARC panel on student views on OA

Matt Agnello made a video of the SPARC forum, Working with the Facebook Generation: Engaging Student Views on Access to Scholarship at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (Philadelphia, January 11-16, 2008).  Also see his collection of humorous quotes from the event.  (Thanks to Gavin Baker.)

Spanish funder launches an OA repository

The largest public funder of research in Spain, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council, or CSIC) launched an OA repository, Digital.CSIC, on January 18.  (Thanks to Markus Trapp via Klaus Graf.)

This suggests that CSIC has some kind of OA policy for CSIC-funded research.  But I don't know what it is and my Spanish is too weak to let me explore the site for clues.  If you know or discover the CSIC policy, please drop me a line or post an English summary to SOAF.

In February 2006, CSIC signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, and in June 2007 it converted 12 of its 32 journals to OA and announced plans to convert the rest.

Update (1/21/08).  Gavin Baker reports that the CSIC appears not to be operating under an OA mandate.  (Thanks, Gavin.)  Here's his English-language paraphrase of a section of the Digital.CSIC FAQ:

How are documents added? The author himself will deposit his documents and be responsible for complying with publisher policies; also, the CSIC technical office can deposit documents with the author's permission. The key is the last sentence: "The Digital.CSIC Technical Office is responsible for administering Digital.CSIC and requires the permission of the author to keep, to copy, to change the format if necessary, and to distribute the material."

He also turned up this interesting provision from the Digital.CSIC copyright page:

When an author deposits an unpublished work in an institutional repository, he authorizes the later use of that work under the terms of a Creative Commons [BY-NC-ND] license.

Business leaders support OA for publicly-funded research, again

Harnessing Openness to Transform American Health Care, a new report from the Digital Connections Council of the Committee for Economic Development, January 2008.  (Thanks to Rick Johnson.)  From the executive summary:

The Digital Connections Council (DCC) of the Committee for Economic Development (CED)...has found that an increased degree of openness often leads to greater innovation because it allows contributions to a work from more individuals whose differing insights and experiences can add considerable value....

The report focuses first on the area of biomedical research. This realm is being transformed by the success of the Human Genome Project (HGP). By mapping the human genome, the HGP demonstrated the possibilities of mass collaboration and the beneficial results of allowing data to be accessed immediately and manipulated by researchers around the world. The progeny of the HGP have adopted this open model and are flourishing by sharing data, applications, and even network resources. The Council recommends that the federal research agencies push further by enunciating clear policies favoring openness....

Amendments to the FDA’s enabling legislation in 2007 addressed these issues in part, but there are additional ways in which greater openness can improve clinical trials and post-approval surveillance. Most important for improved healthcare research is to make the trial results and the data underlying trials more accessible more quickly in a form that is searchable and computable using common standards. In addition, applicants for FDA approval should be required to submit all studies they have conducted on the intervention with any safety-related results being made publicly available....

The Council recommends federal support for earlier and expanded accessibility to results and data, and, more specifially, the passage of legislation that would mandate public access to results of most unclassified government-funded research no later than six months after publication. Major government funders of research should also be receptive to requests for funding for the publication of research results in open-access journals....

From the body of the report:

Recommendations Regarding Openness and
Publishing and Disclosure of Research Results

The explicit policy of the federal government should be to promote the broadest possible access to research results in the healthcare arena, particularly government- supported research.

The principles of the proposed Federal Research Public Access Act [FRPAA] should be enacted into law.

The federal government should not discriminate among models for publication/disclosure.

Those federal agencies supporting research should positively respond to requests for funding to pay for publication/disclosure of sponsored research....

Comment.  The CED is a non-profit organization of business leaders dedicated to public policy research.  This is not the first time the CED has endorsed OA.  Also see its April 2006 report, Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation:  Harnessing the Benefits of Openness, which recommended that the NIH strengthen and extend its OA policy.

Update. Also see the short article in Wired Science for February 8, 2008.

OA texts to train translation software

JRC publishes texts to help development of computer-assisted translation systems, a press release from the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC), January 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

The EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published a million sentences translated into 22 official EU languages in a bid to help the development of computer-assisted translation technologies and software.

By offering free and open access to this collection of sentences, the EU hopes to foster multilingualism and provide a valuable resource for system developers to create machine translation software.

As part of its remit, the EU translates all its legal and political documents into all 23 official languages, meaning translators must work with 253 possible language pair combinations across 1.5 million pages a year. This also means there is a collection of translated texts which is of great value as a learning base for system developers....

Because the text is offered in context, it can also help develop and test grammar and spell checkers, online dictionaries and text classification systems....

Comment.  This is a great example of one of the most important but least discussed virtues of OA.  OA not only removes access barriers for readers and increases impact for authors, but free online texts become free online data for sophisticated software that creates new forms of value for everyone.

OA editions of IARC monographs

The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has started to offer free online full-text PDFs for its monographs.  It now has free online editions of its three most recent monographs and will add others retroactively.  (Thanks to medinfo.)

New journal of biolinguistics with short embargo period

Biolinguistics is a new peer-reviewed journal providing free online access to registered users three months after publication.  Its inaugural issue is now online.

Peter Brantley on the Google Library Project

Andrea Foster interviews Peter Brantley in the Chronicle of Higher Education for January 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

Mr. Brantley is executive director of the Digital Library Federation, a group of 39 academic libraries and other groups promoting electronic resources. He wrote a blog post this month that complained about a possible settlement of a lawsuit that publishers and authors brought against Google....

Q. Why are you opposed to an out-of-court settlement to the Google lawsuit?

A. A settlement leaves unresolved how people can use out-of-print books whose owners cannot be identified --orphan works-- and the question of what is fair use regarding digitized books.

Q. How should Google treat orphan works?

A. No one should be making money from these. Yet that will happen because their [copyright] status is unknown.

Q. What would be a good outcome to the litigation?

A. Having a court determine once and for all that it is fair use to digitize a copyrighted work and make a snippet of it publicly available.

Obstacles to making an OP book OA

Julian Dibbell has written a detailed account of the obstacles he faced in making an OA edition of his book, My Tiny Life, even after it went OP and the rights reverted to him.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

...I was hoping, actually, to make a rather grander announcement, one that I've been looking forward to through years of anxious and improbably complicated preparation but now, at last, should probably just hand-deliver straight to the shitcan of my broken dreams. I was going to announce today that MY TINY LIFE had been liberated -- not merely launched anew but born again under a Creative Commons "copyleft" license and thus set loose for any passing amateur to upload, remix, mashup, and otherwise repurpose in all the many fruitful ways that copyright, precisely, fails to permit.

Except it hasn't. And while the long, sad tale of how it came to this could easily be reduced to a couple sentences (and probably should), I'm going to risk a fuller telling now because, well, there's the off chance I am not the only person on the planet for whom it's news that carving out a little open space in the midst of the existing intellectual-property regime could possibly be as difficult as this....

OA works by and about Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US.  ResourceShelf has put together a good set of links to OA works by and about King.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More on the possibility of a funder OA mandate for books

Stevan Harnad, What About Open Access to Books? Open Access Archivangelism, January 20, 2008.  Excerpt:

Les Carr (U.Southampton) wrote:
"Do ERC (or other short-term funders') research projects result in books? ...I am not asking whether books count as research outputs (they do) but whether they are the outputs of funded projects...."

(1) I would be very surprised if it were not the case that (in some disciplines at least) books count as the outputs of funded research. (Book citations certainly redound to an author's research credit as surely as article citations do.)

(2) Insofar as OA (and Green OA self-archiving mandates) are concerned, however, the relevant question is not whether books count as the outputs of funded research. (OA is for the outputs of research, whether or not the research is funded. And Green OA self-archiving mandates apply to the research output of a university's salaried academics, whether or not their research receives external funding, just as the university's publish-or-perish mandate applies to publications irrespective of whether they are the result of external funding.) ...

(4) So the relevant variable is not funding but whether the research publication is an author give-away, written purely for the sake of research uptake, usage and impact -- the way all peer-reviewed articles are written -- or whether it is also written in the hope of royalty income (as many books are -- even though their hopes are usually not realized!) ...

(9) Some have suggested that making a book OA online will not hurt but help the sales of the print edition, but this is far from empirically established as the general rule (although it has happened in a few cases).

(10) Hence, although funders and institutions can and should mandate the self-archiving of peer-reviewed articles, they cannot and should not mandate the self-archiving of books.

(11) If it were proposed to extend Green OA self-archiving mandates to books, there would be (justified) resistance from both authors and publishers, and that would needlessly reduce the chances of adoption of what would otherwise have been an articles-only mandate....


  • For my comments on the possibility of a funder OA mandate for books, see my post yesterday.
  • In the excerpt from Stevan's post above, I've omitted a dialogue between him and Klaus Graf on whether the burden of proof lies on the person arguing that OA editions of books boost the sales of priced, print editions, or on the person arguing that they don't.  I have no opinion on the burden-of-proof question, but have often blogged evidence that OA books do boost sales of print editions, at least for some kinds of books.  For research monographs in particular, see three articles by Mike Jensen (in 2001, 2005, and 2007) on the experience of the National Academies Press, which has published dual (OA/TA) editions of all its monographs since March 1994.

Notes from the Science Blogging conference

The author of In between the lines has blogged some notes on the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference (Research Triangle Park, January 19, 2008).  See the post on open science and the post on open science in developing nations.

More on the barrier of copyright clearance

John Mark Ockerbloom, Copyright and Provenance: Some Practical Problems, Bulletin of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Data Engineering, December 2007.  Self-archived, January 3, 2008.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Abstract:   Copyright clearance is an increasingly complex and expensive impediment to the digitization and reuse of information. Clearing copyright issues in a reliable and cost-effective manner for works created in the last 100 years can involve establishing complex provenance chains for the works, their copyrights, and their licenses. This paper gives an overview of some of the practical provenance-related issues and challenges in clearing copyrights at large scale, and discusses efforts to more efficiently gather and share information and its copyright provenance.

From the body of the paper:

...[I]mproved copyright clearance is not simply an interesting research application. The easier it is to safely and legally reuse the works of the past, the easier it becomes to advance the state of knowledge and culture. The technologies that now allow organizations to digitize millions of books for the Internet make it possible to revive, redistribute and build upon the large corpuses of text, data, audiovisual media, and software, that make up the historic, cultural, and scientific endowment of the world. If advances in provenance handling allow us to more easily clear their copyrights, we may all enjoy greater access to a richer heritage of knowledge....

Video on the European Digital Library

European Digital Library to contain all knowledge, a video news story from Futuris, January 19, 2008.  The Futuris blurb:

In Europe, the race is on to digitise our cultural heritage. The goal is to create a European Digital Library containing all our cultural knowledge, accessible to everyone, preserved for ever.  But is this the end of the traditional book?

Addressing the limitations on online data access

Rick Luce, Learning from E-Databases in an E-Data World, Educause Review, February 2008.  Excerpt:

...Massive amounts of data produced on a daily basis require more-sophisticated management solutions than are available in today’s database environments; the use of the Internet as an enabling infrastructure for scientific exchange has created new demands for data accessibility as well....The limitations of the current database environment will be increasingly magnified in an era of e-Research and e-Science....

Imagine trying to support collaborative e-Science projects without large-scale, automated data processing. In an era when we’d like the data to speak to other data, a large number of scientific databases aren’t equipped with programming interfaces enabling software developers to query those databases from within their own programs and systems.

Public access to these interfaces is rarely provided....

Self-described XML files that could be readily harvested would solve many of these problems....

Financial and political issues drive the most controversial dimension, that of ubiquitous access to data and databases. It seems obvious that free access for all to scientific data and databases would be beneficial, but the reality is more complex. Data curation with highly qualified staff is costly, and as a result, sustainability and financial issues arise. Most funding agencies do not provide long-term support for data curation, so alternative funding models are required. Depending on the funding model selected, different trade-offs result.

Some important databases are cost prohibitive and not widely available (e.g., Chemical Abstracts). Others are freely accessible through a web interface, although downloading is not permitted. Some providers block requests from entire domains when they suspect someone is attempting to “steal” data using automated data parsing from a web interface.

Licensing conditions of “free” licenses may impose considerable obstacles—for example, when database providers demand that the origin of the data be transparent to the user. Another licensing problem is data redistribution, which may not be permitted. The newest wrinkle is the demand that any publication making use of the database in any way must grant coauthorship to the database. Clearly, a universal legal framework for database interoperability is overdue....

Web 2.0 and open education

John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler, Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0, Educause Review, February 2008.  Excerpt:

...Arguably, the most visible impact of the Internet on education to date has been the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, which has provided free access to a wide range of courses and other educational materials to anyone who wants to use them. The movement began in 2001 when the William and Flora Hewlett and the Andrew W. Mellon foundations jointly funded MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative, which today provides open access to undergraduate- and graduate-level materials and modules from more than 1,700 courses (covering virtually all of MIT’s curriculum). MIT’s initiative has inspired hundreds of other colleges and universities in the United States and abroad to join the movement and contribute their own open educational resources.4 The Internet has also been used to provide students with direct access to high-quality (and therefore scarce and expensive) tools like telescopes, scanning electron microscopes, and supercomputer simulation models, allowing students to engage personally in research.

The latest evolution of the Internet, the so-called Web 2.0, has blurred the line between producers and consumers of content and has shifted attention from access to information toward access to other people. New kinds of online resources—such as social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and virtual communities—have allowed people with common interests to meet, share ideas, and collaborate in innovative ways. Indeed, the Web 2.0 is creating a new kind of participatory medium that is ideal for supporting multiple modes of learning....