Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hungarian Academy joins SCOAP3

The Physical Sciences Section of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has joined CERN's SCOAP3 project.

More on the pricing crisis

Liz O'Brien, Library struggles to keep up with journal demand, The Santa Clara (student newspaper at Santa Clara University), February 21, 2008.  (Thanks to LIS News.)  Excerpt:

...In the last six years, the deficit between the library's operating budget and the scope of journals, books and databases available has been steadily increasing, said Taeock Kim, associate university librarian. In other words, the library's budget can't keep up with the number of new journals available.

"The gap is getting bigger every year, so we have to be really careful in what we purchase," said Kim....

Since 2001 alone, when the university subscribed to 5,168 journals, subscriptions have decreased by 1,335, said Aimee Algier, head of technical services....

"Faculty need greater library facilities that Santa Clara can't provide," said history professor Steven Gelber. "It's always been the case, but my sense is that it's getting worse because the amount of material available in libraries is growing exponentially and the university can't keep up."

Much of that inability to keep up stems from the high inflation rates of journals and databases....

As long as prices increase at a much faster rate than the library's budget, it is unlikely there will be any new journal purchases.

"We're falling behind by standing still," Gelbert said.

When compliance with copyright law undermines the purpose of copyright law

In his February 24 ethics column for the New York Times, Randy Cohen argues that it's illegal but "not always unethical" to copy and share the full text of a book which is out of print but still under copyright.  In fact, this kind of sharing promotes the purpose of copyright law (in the US, "to promote the progress of science and useful arts"), while letting the book's ideas "slip into darkness" would "undermine its purpose".

Cohen was responding to a reader's question about a particular book on aviation by Richard Coffey.  When Cohen contacted Coffey, Coffey said, "I'm pleased [readers] still find it useful. They're welcome to post it and make copies."

Special issue of OSBR on open data

The February issue of Open Source Business Resource is devoted to Open Data.  Here are the articles:

Richard Poynder interviews John Wilbanks

Richard Poynder, The Open Access Interviews: John Wilbanks, Open and Shut?  February 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

...As the Open Access debate has developed, however, it has become increasingly clear that maximising eyeballs [which can read research literature] is just the first step. Open Data advocates like Peter Murray-Rust, for instance, argue that research papers also need to be accessible to machines — an argument he put to me recently with some passion....

John Wilbanks, VP of Science Commons, has an even broader view of the role the Internet has to play in science. Like Murray-Rust, Wilbanks believes it is essential for research papers to be machine-readable. Likewise, he believes we need to develop an appropriate legal infrastructure to facilitate this. He also believes it is essential that science databases are freely available, and that these databases are interoperable — not just with one another, but with research literature.

In addition, Wilbanks believes the Internet should be viewed as a platform for facilitating the free circulation and sharing of the physical tools of science — cell lines, antibodies, plasmids etc. In a sense, he wants to see these tools embedded into research papers — so if a reader of an Open Access paper wants more detailed information on, say, a cell line, they should be able to click on a link and pull up information from a remote database. Should the researcher then want to obtain that cell line from a biobank, they should be able to order it in the same way as they might order an item on Amazon or eBay, utilising a 1-click system available directly from the article.

To make this possible, points out Wilbanks, we need to build the necessary technical infrastructure. This, he says, will require creating new ways of automating the collection, aggregation and discovery of scientific information, as well as the construction of an effective ecommerce system for the physical materials of science. And the best hope for achieving that, he adds, is by helping to create the so-called Semantic Web.

The end game, explains Wilbanks, is to make the research process as seamless and frictionless as possible. This implies that the scholarly paper is no longer simply an article to be viewed by as many eyeballs as possible, but also the raw material for multiple machines and software agents to data mine, a front-end to hundreds of databases, and the launch pad for an ecommerce system designed to speed up the process of research.

In this light, Open Access is not an end in itself, but the necessary precondition for a complete revolution in the way that science is done....

[According to Wilbanks], we are approaching the point where we will not be able to develop new life-saving drugs, or devise solutions to complex problems like global warming, without the kind of dramatic change in the way we do science that Science Commons envisages; for science is now so complicated that we will soon be unable to crunch the data quickly enough, or effectively enough, unless we embrace the kind of machine-driven, network-centric approach envisaged by the Semantic Web. As Wilbanks bluntly puts it, "The fact is that the complexity involved in studying a living system is such that even Pfizer — with $4 billion a year in R&D — can't handle it." ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Profile of the Open Data Commons Project

Jordan Hatcher, Implementing Open Data: The Open Data Commons Project, Open Source Business Resource, February 2008.  Excerpt:

...With the funding and support of the information management company Talis, the Open Data Commons project (ODC) was founded in the autumn of 2007 to provide legal tools for sharing data. This project started through funding licence development by Jordan Hatcher and Dr. Charlotte Waelde of the University of Edinburgh. This resulted in the creation of the Public Domain Dedication & Licence (PDDL) legal tool which will be maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation promoting open knowledge. The PDDL dedicates the data and databases to the public domain, a position that offers a wide degree of flexibility for users of data and helps freely enable semantic web projects based on using large amounts of data....

In December 2007, Science Commons released their Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data. This protocol, written in the same style as a Request For Comment (RFC), outlines a legal standard for open access to data based on three principles:

  • the protocol must promote legal predictability and certainty
  • the protocol must be easy to use and understand
  • the protocol must impose the lowest possible transaction costs on users
Guided by these three principles and Science Commons' experience in maintaining their database FAQ on Creative Commons licences and data, they arrived at an approach that calls for waiver of relevant IPRs so that data could be treated as close to being in the public domain (without IPRs) as possible. Thus the protocol calls for waiver of:
  • copyright
  • the sui generis database right in the European Union mentioned above and similar protections
  • implied contract rights and rights in tort or delict such as unfair competition or trade secrets....

In implementing the Science Commons protocol, the ODC project set goals of:

  • making the protocol international
  • writing the legal document in plain language
  • clearly stating what rights were and were not covered....

The end result of the Science Commons Protocol and the implementation by ODC are solutions for those wishing to further data integration projects and to openly share their data. The PDDL together with the accompanying Community Norms statement will be particularly useful for scientists wishing to share their research data. But scientists are not the only anticipated users, as government sector data services, and private companies involved in data generation and sharing will all have an interest--as both consumers and producers of data--in having an option that allows for use and re-use of databases without restriction. The goal of the ODC project is to grow with the support of its users to meet the need for accessible legal tools for the creation of a web of open data of all types.

Should you wish to support the ODC's efforts to create data licensing solutions either financially or with your time, please contact us.

Connotea now OpenID enabled

Per Ian Mulvany's post on February 22, users can now login to Connotea with their OpenID.

Comment. Here's to more OA software using OpenID, sparing us from creating a new username on every different site.

Variations on the theme of the Harvard OA policy

Stevan Harnad, The Hybrid Copyright Retention and Deposit Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, February 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

Summary:  In a blog posting that I quote and comment upon below, my OA comrade-at-arms, Peter Suber, compares Harvard's Copyright-Retention Mandate, with opt-out (CMo), with an immediate Deposit Mandate, with no-opt-out (DMn).

The amendment of the Harvard mandate that I am urging, however, is not to substitute DMn for CMo but to upgrade CMo so as to jointly mandate BOTH CMo AND DMn (the former with an opt-out option, the latter without: CMo+DMn).

That way the Harvard policy will capture all the deposits that would have been made by authors who did not opt out of copyright retention PLUS the deposits that would not have been made, because the author had opted out of the copyright retention clause.

The amended mandate only gains; it loses nothing at all of what would have been generated by the original Harvard mandate alone....

New issue of i4d on open publishing

The February 2008 issue of i4d, with the theme of open publishing, is now online. (Thanks to Sukhdev Singh.) Topics include Project Gutenberg, the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, OA and biomedical research, and others.

New issue of Ariadne

The January 2008 issue of Ariadne is now online. At least four articles are relevant to OA or repositories: See also reviews of Digital Copyright and Digital Information and Knowledge Management: New Opportunities for Research Libraries and Print vs. Digital: The Future of Coexistence.

The library as an OA publisher

Leo Waaijers, Can the library be a publisher?  A slide presentation at Openingscongres Bibliotheek (Wageningen, February 21, 2008).  (Thanks to Wouter Gerritsma.) 

New OA student journal on sustainable development

Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal led by students at Columbia University. Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, helped launch the journal on February 18. (Thanks to Science Progress.)

The inaugural issue is now online, or in PDF here. From the inaugural issue's Note from Editors:

Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development began as an idea: an idea that a group of ten students genuinely and passionately believed had the potential to make this world a better place. ...

We urge you to contrast theory against practice, one discipline against another, and your ideas against the authors’ ideas. The Editorial Board of Consilience has high hopes that this exchange of ideas, sparked by the written and visual media contained in this online space, will contribute to the progress of sustainable development.

Comment. Also posted at Open Students.

More comments on the Harvard OA policy

Here's another batch of comments on the new Harvard OA mandate.

From the anonymous author of Easily Distracted:

I’m very pleased by the vote in favor of open-access at Harvard. Not just because of open-access, but because it shows that it’s possible for faculty to choose dramatic changes or reforms in their way of business....

From an editorial in the Los Angeles Times:

They didn't get to Harvard by being stupid, you know. So it's not surprising that professors at the Ivy League school voted to place their scholarly articles online. They have much to gain and little to lose -- and their experiment has much for the rest of us to like as well....

[PS:  The rest of the editorial incorrectly assumes that the purpose of the policy is to "bypass scholarly journals" and peer review.  UCLA Litbrarian was the first to correct the error.]

From Andrew Lawler in Science (accessible only to subscribers):

...[P]ublishers say they doubt it will significantly affect their business....

The Harvard decision...“is not mandatory,” notes Patricia Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers in Washington, D.C. “I don’t think anyone is quaking in their boots.” Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes Science), says that the new policy won’t affect publishing criteria, although it could pose “a bureaucratic problem for faculty members.” ...

Schroeder says it is too early to measure the impact of the new policy and warns that “publishers may not be quite as excited to take articles from Harvard.” ...

From John Mark Ockerbloom in Everybody's Libraries:

...I find this approach ingenious. As people maintaining institutional repositories have come to know, there are two main barriers to distributing one’s faculty’s work in one’s repository: getting hold of the work, and getting the right to publish the work. The first of these can be handled in various ways; whether the faculty, the departmental administrators, or the librarians get the content to the right place, it’s all purely a matter of local negotiation. But that’s not the case with rights. By the time we repository maintainers get content from authors, the authors have often signed their rights away to the journals that published the papers. The publishers have effectively called dibs on redistribution rights, and we can’t distribute unless they agree to it....

Some open access advocates have argued that one could design a mandate that was even more open-access-friendly. That may be, but to judge this mandate a failure (as the linked post above appears to at one point) seems to me an example of the “perfect” being the enemy of the good. This mandate is faculty-friendly as well as being open-access friendly, in that it minimizes the extra work faculty have to do and assures them the last word in access control, should they decide to exercise it. And that, I believe, is crucial to its having been adopted at all, and to its subsequent acceptance by faculty....

From Ivor Tossell in Globe and Mail:

...“It's a very interesting move, and particularly that it's Harvard that's done it,” observes Carole Moore, the University of Toronto's head librarian. Moore says she's anxious to discuss the approach with her own school's faculty, and expects it to have an impact at other institutions as well....

Sweden supports open research data

The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) is funding 22 new databases of research data.  From Co-Action's English-language summary of the Swedish announcement (February 14, 2008):  

...A total of SEK 53 mil (ca $ 8.5 mil) will help build or improve databases in areas as varied as environmental ecology, linguistics, economics and health research.

DISC, the Database Infrastructure Committee of the Swedish Research Council, has a mandate not only to facilitate the creation of new databases and better coordination between already existing ones but also to optimize access to this national resource for Swedish as well as for international researchers.

“We continuously expand our aspirations and this year we have considered more research areas than previously,” says Magnus Stenbeck, chair of DISC. The entire list of databases to have won financial support in this round can be found here....

PS:  Co-Action tells me that the Research Council's goal is to make the data OA whenever that is consistent with the law and the privacy of individuals.

Case study in digitizing 100 years of a journal backfile for OA

Rose Holley, Delivering Full Text Collections: The Journal of the Polynesian Society Digital Initiative, a PPT slide presentation at the University of Auckland, February 2007.  Self-archived February 18, 2008. 

Abstract:   Provides an overview of the digitisation of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, which is being processed using TEI XML and delivered in B-Engine at the University of Auckland.

PS:  The project is to digitize the first 100 years of the JPS backfile, from 1892 to 1991.  Current issues will apparently not be OA.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On global vs. institutional repositories

Andy Powell, Repositories follow-up - global vs. institutional, eFoundations, February 20, 2008. Some musings on the value of global vs. institutional repositories.

A publisher highlights its OA policies

Heather Morrison, and Authors Advantages, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 20, 2008. has Advantages for Authors, prominently displayed on their website! These advantages cited are high quality, high citation, liberal copyright, wide access - plus, an honorarium for authors, and for editors and reviewers who complete their tasks promptly, too.

Librarians might like the Background section, which talks about providing librarians with value for money, using modern web-based marketing and manufacturing techniques to minimize costs. ...

OA video repository in New Jersey

Grace Agnew, George G. Laskaris, and Charles W. McMickle, NJVid - A Statewide Video-on-Demand Repository, Net@EDU (Tempe, Arizona, February 10-14, 2008). Abstract:
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a 3-year grant for nearly a million dollars to a partnership between William Paterson University, Rutgers University Libraries and NJEDge.Net to develop and deploy a statewide academic video-on-demand repository. The digital video repository (Fedora Commons-based) will he housed in the core of the NJEDge network and will provide "lectures-on-demand", licensed commercial videos, and locally owned videos. A Video Commons collection will be publically available including history, lectures from notables, and video documenting research and scientific advances. NJVid is notable for providing a statewide video strategy to accommodate any type of organization-higher education, K12, public libraries, museums and archives. A substantial part of this project will provide the resources to develop a statewide Shibboleth-based Identity management infrastructure, supporting statewide network authentication and authorization that can be used for many content resources. This presentation will describe the open source architecture and middleware applications that are under development. Much effort will be expended for an extensible approach that can be implemented by other statewide or consortial video initiatives.

Triangle Research Libraries Network joins Open Content Alliance

Members of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) -- Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill -- announced on February 19 their partnership with the Open Content Alliance (OCA). From the announcement:
In the first year, UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University will each convert 2,700 public domain books into high-resolution, downloadable, reusable digital files that can be indexed locally and by any web search engine. UNC Chapel Hill and NCSU will start by each hosting one state-of-the-art Scribe machine provided by the Internet Archive to scan the materials at a cost of just 10 cents per page. Each university library will focus on historic collection strengths, such as plant and animal sciences, engineering and physical science at NCSU and social sciences and humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill. Duke University will also contribute select content for digitization during the first year of the collaborative project.

To view content contributed by the NCSU Libraries, visit this Internet Archive page.

By collaborating on their membership in the OCA, the UNC Chapel Hill and NCSU libraries are building on long-standing TRLN cooperative arrangements and principles for sharing collections, technology, and expertise to create a rich knowledge environment that furthers the member universities' teaching, research, and service missions. Because 70% of the titles held within TRLN are unique to a single institution, cooperative digitization through efforts such as the OCA offer the opportunity to expand access to and use of the extensive research collections held within TRLN. Through the OCA partnership, TRLN is also working to develop shared principles for digitization and the long-term preservation of digitized content.

CC licenses now displaying 'Free Cultural Works' badge

As of February 20, three Creative Commons licenses -- Attribution, Attribution-ShareAlike, and the Public Domain dedication -- now display a badge indicating the license is "Approved for Free Cultural Works". These are the CC licenses approved by the Definition of Free Cultural Works. See the announcement by Mike Linksvayer.

Web 2.0 technologies and science

Ian Mulvany, Science and Web 2.0, February 20,2008. A slide presentation given to PhD students from the University of Utrecht on February 11. (Thanks to Graham Steel.)

U.S. Army to restore access to digital library

Steven Aftergood, Army Says It Will Restore Public Access to Online Library, Secrecy News, February 21, 2008.

The U.S. Army said today that it would restore public access to the online Reimer Digital Library of Army publications, after having blocked the site on February 6.

Last week, the Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking for a copy of the entire Reimer collection for publication on the FAS website or, alternatively, for renewed public access to the site.

The Army chose the latter option. ...

Comment. OAN blogged the story when the Army closed access to the site.

Swedish university adopts an OA policy

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, or SLU) has adopted an OA policy.  (Thanks to Forskarbloggen.)  From the English-language edition:

On the 11th of February 2008 the [rector] of SLU signed a policy where SLU scholars are urged to publish Open Access when possible....Open Access publishing means that you are publishing in Open Access journals or depositing a copy of an already published article in for example Epsilon Open Archive [the SLU institutional repository]....

The notion of Open Access contains both journals and the depositing in Open Archives. Both these initiatives aim to make science available to those who are interested to take part of it. Depositing a copy of an already published article is a way to make access to the publication even though the journal where the article first appeared isn't an OA-journal.

In 2003 The Association of Swedish Higher Education (Sveriges universitets- och högskoleförbund) signed The Berlin Declaration. The declaration aims at supporting Open Access Initiatives. The SLU policy should be seen in the light of that declaration....


  • The SLU policy was adopted one day before the Harvard policy, just as the University of Oregon policy was adopted one day after.  Clearly they didn't influence one another, and show the ripeness of the idea.  Kudos to all involved at SLU.
  • I hope the SLU will consider strengthening its policy in light of the evidence that policies requiring OA are generally effective and policies merely encouraging it are not.

After eight months, 27% compliance with Wellcome Trust OA mandate

Zoe Corbyn, Low compliance with open-access rule criticised, Times Higher Education, February 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

Concerns that policies to ensure "open access" to academic research are stalling were raised this week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference.

A study presented at the conference in Boston found that less than a third of the papers generated with Wellcome Trust funding are making it into the public domain - in direct contravention of the trust's open-access policies.

Under the Wellcome Trust's policy, which came into effect in full in October 2006, grant holders are required to make their papers freely accessible in PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central, the free digital repositories of biomedical and life science papers. They should be deposited as soon as possible after final publication and no later than six months....

A survey undertaken last month by the trust reveals that compliance with the mandatory policy is low. Of trust-funded papers published in May 2007, only 27 per cent were freely available within six months.

"We want the figure to be much higher, but it should be remembered that this compliance has been achieved within eight months of the policy going live," Robert Kiley, head of e-strategy at the trust, told Times Higher Education in advance of his AAAS presentation.

The Wellcome Trust study also shows that publishers with open-access policies are failing to deposit papers....

Elsevier, the biggest single publisher used by Wellcome researchers, published 29 per cent of the papers but subsequently deposited only 14 per cent.

"The low submission rate is, to a large part, a lack of awareness on the part of the publisher as to who has funded the research they are publishing," said Mr Kiley, stressing that Elsevier had recently modified procedures to improve authors' disclosure of funding sources.

Open-access advocate Stevan Harnad, professor of electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton, said that authors should be required to deposit papers in repositories set up by their own institutions rather than to use central repositories.

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's detailed comment at the newspaper site (no deep link), reprinted this morning on his blog.  Excerpt:

...[The Wellcome Trust compliance rate of 30%] is considerably higher than the NIH non-mandate's 4% rate (recently upgraded to a mandate), and it is above the overall 5-15% spontaneous baseline rate for self-archiving, but it is not clear whether it is climbing as high or as fast as the compliance rate for institutional mandates (approaching 80-100% within 2 years). If it is not, then this is yet another reason for mandating institutional rather than central deposit, and deposit by the author rather than by the author-or-publisher. That way each institution can add its own weight to the funder mandates, and can monitor compliance....

(2) Arthur Sale's analyses comparing deposit rates for mandated and unmandated Institutional Repositories (IRs) show that (2a) unmandated deposits hover between 5-15%, (2b) encouraged and incentivized deposits climb toward 30% but not much higher, whereas (2c) mandated deposits approach 80-100% within about two years of adoption of the mandate....

Update. Also see the Wellcome Trust's own announcement of the compliance figures (February 21, 2008). Excerpt:

...The study, which focused on Trust-funded papers published in May 2007, showed that 27 per cent of papers published in this month complied with the Trust's open access policy, by being made available through the online databases PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central within six months of publication. This is an increase on the 15 per cent figure for research published in December 2006.

Encouragingly, over 90 per cent of papers published in May 2007 were published in journals that comply with the Trust's open access policy - a result of close cooperation between the Wellcome Trust and the major scientific, technical and medical publishers....

Stevan Harnad replies to Mike Carroll

Yesterday Mike Carroll wrote three blog posts (1, 2, 3) which included some disagreements with Stevan Harnad about the Harvard policy and copyright.  Today Stevan wrote a response, Upgrade Harvard's Opt-Out Copyright Retention Mandate: Add a No-Opt-Out Deposit Mandate.  Excerpt:

Some Journals (Alas) Still Demand Exclusive Copyright Transfer

I think I understand fully what Michael Carroll, Peter Suber and the current draft of the Harvard Policy are saying. My shorthand descriptor -- "copyright retention" -- captures precisely the feature of the Harvard policy that should, I urge, be modified (ever so slightly).

Many journals currently require authors to transfer exclusive rights to the publisher in exchange for publication.

Let me hasten to add: I think this is deplorable. I don't think authors should have to do it. And I am certain publishers will cease to make this a condition of publication once OA prevails: some have already ceased demanding it....

In order to be able to grant Harvard the license that the current Harvard OA Mandate requires, Harvard authors would have to successfully renegotiate the retention of their rights (i.e., they must negotiate a non-exclusive license) with those journals.

And if the journal is their journal of choice, and the negotiation is unsuccessful, then the Harvard author must either opt out of the Harvard mandate or not publish in his journal of choice.

And that's exactly what my recommended amendment is intended to avert: by requiring deposit independently of requiring copyright retention (or reservation, or renegotiation). Then the opt-out can be from the copyright renegotiation requirement only, and not from the deposit requirement too.

This preserves all the virtues and intended benefits of the current Harvard mandate, and adds the further benefit of 100% deposit, with no opt-out....

Upgrade Harvard's Opt-Out Copyright Retention Mandate By Adding a No-Opt-Out Deposit Mandate: No Loss, Only Gain

Michael Carroll, Peter Suber and I are in complete agreement on every point of substance save one: What is the mandate that is the most likely to generate the most OA?

Michael and Peter (and Harvard!) think it is a Copyright Retention Mandate with opt-out (CRM). I think it is a Deposit Mandate without opt-out (DM), which can be trivially added to the Copyright Retention Mandate with opt-out (CRM).

In other words, Harvard can have its (CRM) cake, and eat it (DR) too!

That contingency is completely missing in Michael's analysis of my proposal.

Michael points out that even if a Harvard author opts out of CRM, he can still deposit his article if he wishes to.

But if voluntary deposit -- just for the sake of the benefits of OA, or just because one's university or funder had invited deposit -- had been capable of generating enough OA, then (1) mandates would not have proved necessary, (2) NIH's invitation policy would not have failed and would not now have had to be upgraded to an immediate deposit mandate, and (3) the hundreds of institutional repositories with invitations instead of mandates worldwide would not be hovering for years at spontaneous deposit rates of 5-15% while the (still few) mandated repositories approach 100% within two years.

An opt-out mandate is not a mandate....

I hope that makes the logic and the contingencies of my proposal still clearer. I might add that exactly the same logic was used in designing the ID/OA (immediate-deposit, optional-access) mandate itself (the one Peter calls the Dual Deposit/Release mandate):

There the logic was that if an institution could not reach agreement on adopting the stronger immediate OA mandate (for copyright reasons, say), then it makes no sense to adopt a delayed-deposit mandate, or, worse, an opt-out "mandate," which allows the publisher's embargo policy to determine that date at which the deposit is made:

It makes far more sense to mandate immediate deposit in every instance, with the publisher's embargo policy applicable only to the date on which the deposit is made OA ("released"), thereby allowing almost-OA to tide over the embargo, thanks to the Button....


  • As I said yesterday, if the conversation continues, I'll post links but not excerpts.  The best way to follow the full dialogue is to follow their two blogs (Mike, Stevan).
  • My original comments on the Harvard policy should speak for themselves, and I'll have more to say in the March issue of SOAN.  But here I can clarify one aspect of my position.  I'm not saying that the Harvard-style mandate will generate a higher level of compliance and OA than a dual deposit-release style mandate (or what Stevan calls immediate deposit / optional access).  This remains to be seen.  At Harvard, faculty will give the institution permission to host copies of their articles in the institutional repository, when they don't opt out, and Harvard will take responsibility for making the actual deposits.  If Harvard is fleet and efficient in making these deposits, then it could provide immediate OA to all the articles not subject to opt-outs (which, for the sake of argument, let's peg at 95% of the total).  If Harvard is slow to make these deposits, then it will miss a beautiful opportunity arising from the permissions it will have in hand, and may as well defer to publisher embargoes.  Likewise, if opt-outs are rare, the level of OA could approach 100%; if they are common, it would be much lower.  By contrast, under a dual deposit-release strategy, Harvard could have 100% of the articles on deposit.  But a good percentage of them would be subject to publisher embargoes and about one-third of them would be subject to flat publisher prohibitions on OA archiving.  Hence, each type of policy risks delayed OA (one through institutional sluggishness, one through publisher embargoes), and each risks incomplete OA (one through faculty opt outs and one through deference to publisher policies).  If the two key variables --speed of deposit and level of opt-outs-- work in Harvard's favor, then its policy could be better than a dual deposit-release strategy.  But if not, not.  Because this is contingent, I can't recommend one type of policy over the other without knowing more about the probabilities.  Because Harvard's is the first university-level mandate to focus on permissions rather than deposits, it deserves a chance to show how well it can work.  Can the two types of policy be blended, so that Harvard faculty give permissions (subject to an opt-out) and make deposits (not subject an opt-out)?  Yes.  But if Harvard is fleet and efficient in making the deposits, that won't be necessary.  The ball is in Harvard's court. 

More on the Harvard policy

Lila Guterman, Celebrations and Tough Questions Follow Harvard's Move to Open Access, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 21, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

...Other universities (as well as other schools within Harvard), said [Peter Suber], will want to adopt similar policies in order "either to keep up with Harvard or get the synergistic benefit, because the more [institutions] do it, the more publishers will have to accommodate [it]." ...

"It changes the default position in the negotiation" between authors and publishers, says Michael W. Carroll, a professor at the Villanova University School of Law, who is an open-access advocate. "It does mean that the authors are choosing to stand closer together instead of having to deal with the publishers one on one."

The University of California has been working for several years on a policy that resembles Harvard's. Comments on its draft last year reflected "almost universal support for the concept," says Gary S. Lawrence, director of systemwide library planning, "but a great deal of concern about the implementation details." Harvard's success in creating an arrangement that faculty members agreed on, he says, "provides us a lot of encouragement."

Harvard's new policy makes no mention of any delay between the time of publication in a journal and the paper's being made free online, a provision that some publishers require, and which the NIH allows in its policy. Faculty members who choose to publish in journals with that requirement can apply to waive or modify Harvard's license to post their papers online, says [Stuart M. Shieber, a professor of computer science who proposed the open-access policy to the faculty]....

[C]omplaints about the policy were muted. (Some have appeared on The Chronicle's Brainstorm blog.) Patricia S. Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, has in the past criticized the push toward open access, arguing that it overlooks the potentially detrimental effects on scholarly societies' publications. This time she praised Harvard's decision to allow faculty members to opt out but wondered if hidden pressure would keep them from doing so. Have scholarly publishers sounded alarms? "No one's called here in hysterics," she says....

Sanford G. Thatcher, director of Penn State University Press and president of the Association of American University Presses, calls Harvard's policy "shortsighted" because it might result in the loss of subscription and reprint income to humanities and social-science journals. His own press receives two-thirds of its journal income through royalties from Project Muse, an online collection of journals. "If that were to collapse," he says, "so too would our journals disappear from the face of the earth."

Mr. Carroll finds that prospect unlikely. "I fear that people are unwilling to do anything innovative like Harvard's done," he says, "because of these highly speculative fears."

Besides, Harvard has an interest in maintaining the livelihood of scholarly journals, he argues. If its repository begins to hurt them, the university could take steps to reduce the impact on publishers, such as allowing a delay before posting articles online....

Mr. Thatcher and others also wonder whether Harvard faculty members will actually make the effort to comply with the policy. But open-access supporters observe that faculty members themselves were the ones who voted for it.

"My guess is that if opt-outs and forgetfulness together make compliance fall off from 100 percent to 95 percent, it's not going to bother anybody," says Mr. Suber. "It's not even going to bother me."

Update. Also see Gavin Baker's comments on Sanford Thatcher's quoted remarks.

NIH-funded authors and fee-based OA journals

Springer recently sent a memo to researchers on using Springer Open Choice journals to comply with the NIH OA policy.  Excerpt:

Do you receive research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? If so, as from April 2008 you will be required to deposit the final manuscript of your journal articles in PubMed Central and ensure free availability (open access) within 12 months of publication.

You will be pleased to hear that Springer journals are fully geared up for that requirement. All you have to do is opt for open access publication of your article through Springer's Open Choice....

Springer will take care of the immediate deposit in PubMed Central and what's more, not of the manuscript, but of the final, published article. And it will also be available with open access right away, and not just after 12 months.

The cost of Open Choice is - as stated on the NIH web site - a permissible cost in your grant so please take care to budget for it....


  • It's true that NIH is willing to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals, including the Springer Open Choice journals.  And it's true that if researchers choose to spend their grant funds in this way, they can ensure immediate OA to the published edition of their article, as opposed to delayed OA to their peer-reviewed (but not copy-edited) manuscript.  Springer Open Choice also uses a CC-BY license, while the NIH provides free online access but limits users to fair use.  This is a legitimate option that researchers should understand and consider.
  • But the Springer memo leaves the false impression that NIH-funded researchers who want to publish in Springer journals must pay a fee to do so.  The Springer Open Choice journals publish some OA articles and some TA articles, at the author's choice.  If researchers don't want to use part of their grant funds to pay for Springer's OA option, currently $3,000, then they can still submit to Springer journals for (no-fee) TA publication.  If Springer accepts the article, the peer-reviewed manuscript will still become freely available through PubMed Central.
  • Moreover, Springer is green and allows author-initiated postprint archiving without fees or delays. 
  • Bottom line:  Under the new NIH policy, grantees must reserve the right to comply with the policy whenever they publish a journal article based on their research.  Hence, they never need to pay a publisher for permission to comply with the NIH policy
  • On the other hand, some publishers may well refuse to publish work by NIH-funded authors unless the authors pay a fee.  The fee wouldn't pay for permission to comply with the NIH policy, which is already assured, but for publication in the journal.  Springer has not adopted such a policy, but I welcome information about other publishers that may start to do so.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Profile of Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg

Terry Hancock, Impossible thing #2: Comprehensive free knowledge repositories like Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg, Free Software Magazine, February 19, 2008. A profile and analysis of the Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg OA projects.

Interview with Liz Allen of PLoS

Bora Zivkovic, PLoS, it rhymes with floss: Interview with Liz Allen, A Blog Around the Clock, February 19, 2008.

... You have also given quite a lot of thought to online social networks and how they can be used in organizing scientists, spreading scientific information, etc.., both using the general sites like Facebook and sites specifically designed for science networking. What are your thoughts on this?

Good question. So, PLoS ONE is a network of scientists that comes together around the articles. The PLoS Facebook group on the other hand comes together to bond around issues affecting PLoS itself, web technology and the philosophy of open access. From what I can see, folks in both environments still have a fledgling relationship with the articles or with the organization, and less frequently with each other in an open environment. This is understandable given the competitive culture of science and the grip of academic tenure. Researchers who build successful relationships often do so within international collaborative project groups and for that they might use their lab pages, project wikis, or email but they aren't yet using these forums. I could see this changing over time if tools were introduced to facilitate that. At the end of the day though, I still see researchers bonding as a group around the science itself, and with each other because of their shared passion for the work and the associated career opportunities. ...

SCOAP3 Day at PhysMath Central

Chris Leonard, Friday, March 7th: SCOAP3 day on PhysMath Central, PhysMath Central Blog, February 20, 2008.

... SCOAP3 is an initiative to get libraries to redirect subscription to pay for open access to all articles in high-energy physics. As such they will turn an entire field to open access and fund open access for all authors, all over the world, in high-energy physics journals.

On February 29th, there is a meeting at Berkeley to get US libraries informed and hopefully interested in making this vision a reality.

At PhysMath Central, we want to give authors a flavour of that future reality, so March 7th is a SCOAP3 day on the site. All articles submitted to PMC Physics A on March 7th will be peer-reviewed and accepted articles will be published without incurring an Article Processing Charge. Simply request a waiver with the words 'It's SCOAP3 day!'.

In the future, an article processing charge will be levied, but authors won't have to concern themselves about payment as SCOAP3 will cover expenses related to open access publication. As such, we hope this day will give authors a feel for the future where open access publication is the norm and publication costs are covered without them having to get involved.

Delaware IR gets its first faculty books

On February 19, the University of Delaware's institutional repository deposited its first books by a faculty member. From the press release:

The University of Delaware Library announces the electronic full text availability of two books by John S. Boyer, E. I. DuPont Professor of Marine Biochemistry/Biophysics Emeritus of the University of Delaware. The two Boyer books,Water Relations of Plants and Soils (co-written with Paul Kramer) and Measuring the Water Status of Plants and Soils, are available in the University of Delaware Library Institutional Repository and are a landmark first for the library's Institutional Repository.

The library encourages UD's faculty to consider placing their research in digital form for which they hold the electronic rights in the Institutional Repository.

Boyer is the first faculty member from the University of Delaware to sign his electronic rights for his two books over to the UD Library for inclusion in the Institutional Repository. The books were published in print format by Elsevier. ...

Data repository for 3 Dutch universities

Three Dutch technical universities announced on February 19 their plans to create a consortial data repository. (Thanks to Wouter Gerritsma.) From the press release:

The world of technical science is to have its own data centre for digital data sets. The 3TU.Datacentre will ensure well-documented storage and long-term access to technical-science study data. This will guarantee the long-term availability of the Netherlands’ entire technical-science heritage. The 3TU.Datacentre is an initiative of the libraries of TU Delft, TU Eindhoven and the University of Twente under the auspices of the 3TU.Federation.

In the world of science, it is already possible to gain long-term access to (digital) publications. It is generally possible to consult an article long after initial publication. Facilities to do so have been set up all around the world. The data sets which form the basis for a scientific publication, however, are not yet stored for the long term. There is a high risk of these becoming inaccessible relatively soon after the study has been completed due to, for instance, the physical deterioration of the storage medium, loss of the descriptive (meta) data (which makes it impossible to place the data in the correct context) or the inability to run old software on new computers and operating systems.

The 3TU.Datacentre will provide storage of and continuing access to technical-science study data. After all, data sets often remain highly valuable even after a study has been completed. They may be reused in a new study or used to verify the original study. The long-term storage of test data also enables studies to be held over a long period. Facilities for the long-term storage of alpha and gamma data already exist under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO): DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services).

Comment. Per Wouter Gerritsma, the announcement doesn't make clear if the repository will be open access, a dark archive, or some other form of limited access.

Update (from Peter). Wouter has written to confirm that the repository will be OA.

Cell Press executives talks about OA

“We instituted a modified open access policy”, The Hindu, February 21, 2008.  An interview with Emilie Marcus and Lynne Herndon of Cell Press.  Marcus is the Editor-in-Chief and Herndon is the CEO.  Excerpt:

How does Cell Press view the rise of Open Access journals like the PLoS group?

Herndon: Well, we instituted a modified open access policy ourselves, so that our content becomes free after 12 months.

Open Access seems to be gaining in popularity rather slowly. But I think that the start-up of the PLoS group was indeed the right thing at the right time. They took money, invested it in the right way and created some fairly good journals.

Ultimately, I think open access, if it were to become the major way the people got their literature, would put more pressure on us as publishers to deliver something additional that they cannot get from the versions that are housed with government.

Marcus: From an editorial perspective I am very opposed to an author-pays based model, whether in a newspaper or a scientific journal. If an author pays to be published it undermines the editorial independence of the journal.

But doesn’t the author pay most often through institutional grants, not out of his or her pocket?

Marcus: Well, from the journal’s perspective it doesn’t matter. The money can come from anywhere. In an author-pays model the more you publish, the more the journal makes. There is no incentive really to reject anything.

And I think you can see that pretty clearly now in the events that are happening in PLoS. PLoS Biology started out by having an editorial model based on a subscription-based business model, i.e., they were very selective, and the model was not financially sustainable.

Because if you have a journal with a high rejection rate you cannot sustain a model based on author’s fees. So in order to fund the editorial efforts of PloS Biology, they have had to launch PLoS One which is an online journal of now extremely low quality, minimally peer reviewed, for which authors pay 1,500 or 2,000 dollars to have their articles published.

In three months they have published 1,000 articles! The author is responsible for copy editing, pre-press and all of that.

So you end up with a lot of publications and a lot of revenue, with no real service to the scientific community....


  • It's not true that OA journals charging author-side publication fees give up their editorial independence and no longer have incentives to reject anything.  See my detailed response to this objection in an article from March 2004, updated in October 2006.
  • Cell Press is an imprint of Elsevier, which charges author-side publication fees at its hybrid OA or "sponsored-article" journals. 

Mike Carroll on OA, copyright, and the NIH and Harvard policies

Mike Carroll has written a cluster of three related posts on OA, copyright, and the NIH and Harvard policies (February 20, 2008).  Mike is a professor at Villanova University School of Law and a member of the Board of Creative Commons.

(1) NIH and Harvard - It's About Values

...[The NIH and Harvard] policies require that faculty authors treat that moment when they are about to sign a journal publisher's copyright transfer agreement as an Aretha Franklin moment. The author has to hear the members of the underserved audience who will be denied access if that form is signed. The author has to hear, "You better think (think) think about what you're trying to do to me."

We should expect that under the NIH and FAS policies, some faculty will chafe when they can't just sign the publisher's form and have have to start using a contractual addendum or some other legal notice in response....

The key point is that this really is not a technical conversation. It's a conversation about values....

(2) Harvard policy - Response to Stevan Harnad

Stevan Harnad is a forceful advocate for open access, and I agree with most of what he advocates. I do have a different view than he does about the connection between open access and copyright and his analysis of the Harvard policy calls this to the fore.

My response is essentially the same as Peter Suber's. I'll add that Stevan characterizes the policy as reservation of rights. I think that's mistaken. Under the policy, the author continues to own all of the exclusive rights under copyright and remains free to transfer all of them to a journal publisher....

All that the FAS have done is agreed that they have granted Harvard permission to post their work in the repository and that Harvard may grant others similar permission so long as copies are not being sold for a profit.

(3) Copyright and OA - Response to Stevan Harnad

Prompted by differences of opinion about the Harvard FAS policy, I want to clarify where Stevan Harnad and I agree and disagree about the relationship between copyright and open access.

I understand Stevan's position to be:

1. Open Access policies should conceptually separate a requirement to deposit an electronic copy of a post-peer-review manuscript in a repository from a requirement that the repository make that copy publicly accessible on the Web.

2. Deposit at the time the manuscript is accepted for publication should be unconditionally required.

3. Public access should be allowed any time the publisher's agreement says it may be.

4. If the publication agreement does not permit posting of the manuscript, a repository may still distribute copies by email whenever requested to do so by a user.

5. The combination of 3 and 4 effectively provide open access.

6. Those who argue that open access should also include an explicit public copyright license giving the public more than the right to read (e.g., the rights to republish or to translate or otherwise adapt the work) are mistaken. Either (a) these rights have already been implicitly granted by the public posting of the work; (b) they are not necessary to effective scholarly communication; or (c) even if they would marginally improve scholarly communication, the costs of negotiating copyright with publishers is not worth this benefit.

My response:

Points 1 and 2 are exactly right. Under U.S. copyright law, it is a fair use for an author to send, and for a repository to make, an archival copy of the post-peer-review manuscript. I think it's also a fair use to make an archival copy of the published version of the article. Copyright law in many other parts of the world also would deem this to be legal.

Deposit mandates are highly desirable. Please note that under the Harvard policy, even if a faculty author feels it necessary to seek a waiver of the copyright license to Harvard, there is no reason that author couldn't and shouldn't deposit a copy of the manuscript in the repository.

With respect to public access, I disagree that faculty authors should simply adapt themselves to the arrangements that publishers offer/demand. Moreover, I have have a different view about what those arrangements permit.

So, on point 3, I agree insofar as authors should use all legal rights they have to make their work freely accessible on the Internet....

However, I don't think that the starting point for the analysis should be what the publisher's form says. I think authors have an obligation to consider whether signing the publisher's form is ethical behavior.

Copyright is an author's right granted to the author by the public to achieve a public purpose - the promotion of science and useful arts....Authors of scholarly journal articles do not need the promise of a royalty to have an incentive to perform research or report the results and their analysis of that research....

[J]ournal article authors have a duty to consider whether they are making proper use of the copyrights that the public has given them when they agree to the terms of a publisher's agreement that limit how, when or where the author may provide free access to their work on the Internet.

I have a different understanding about the legal consequences of number 4, and therefore I also do not agree with number 5.

As for number 6, clarifying re-use rights through public licensing is desirable. If his view is (a) or (b) I disagree. If his view is (c), however, I agree that the effort necessary to achieve this goal should be subject to cost-benefit analysis. Under current circumstances, where subscription-funded publishers have shown some willingness to permit free access to post-peer-review manuscripts but have not been willing to agree to public licensing, I think an author could responsibly decide to be satisfied with a copyright agreement that permits free access but does not provide for re-use licensing.

PS:  If Stevan responds, I'll blog an excerpt and link.  If Mike and Stevan continue the conversation after that, I'll blog links only.  The best way to follow the full dialogue is to follow their two blogs (Mike, Stevan).

More OA videos from more universities

The Wired Campus (from the Chronicle of Higher Education) reports that the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Purdue University, Texas Tech University, and Vanderbilt University have launched channels on YouTube.

In addition, Ferris State University, the Institute of Construction & Management Technology, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering have launched channels at The University Tube.

Watch the comment section the the Wired Campus post. Readers are still adding new links.

Another tool to make OA info more useful

Neil R. Smalheiser, Wei Zhou, and Vetle I. Torvik, Anne O'Tate: A tool to support user-driven summarization, drill-down and browsing of PubMed search results, Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration, February 15, 2008.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Abstract:

Background.  PubMed is designed to provide rapid, comprehensive retrieval of papers that discuss a given topic. However, because PubMed does not organize the search output further, it is difficult for users to grasp an overview of the retrieved literature according to non-topical dimensions, to drill-down to find individual articles relevant to a particular individual need, or to browse the collection.

Results.  In this paper, we present Anne O'Tate, a web-based tool that processes articles retrieved from PubMed and displays multiple aspects of the articles to the user, according to pre-defined categories such as the most important words found in titles or abstracts; topics; journals; authors; publication years; and affiliations. Clicking on a given item opens a new window that displays all papers that contain that item. One can navigate by drilling down through the categories progressively, e.g., one can first restrict the articles according to author name and then restrict that subset by affiliation. Alternatively, one can expand small sets of articles to display the most closely related articles. We also implemented a novel cluster-by-topic method that generates a concise set of topics covering most of the retrieved articles.

Conclusions.  Anne O'Tate is an integrated, generic tool for summarization, drill-down and browsing of PubMed search results that accommodates a wide range of biomedical users and needs. It can be accessed [here].

Slovak Republic joins SCOAP3

The Slovak Republic became the 11th country to join CERN's SCOAP3 project.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

State of OA in folklore studies, part 2

Jason Baird Jackson, Open Access Folkloristics (Part 2), Open Access Anthropology, February 20, 2008. Part 2 of the review of the field, the former half of which we blogged earlier.

eIFL launches portal of IRs from developing and transition countries

On February 18, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) announced the launch of
... a portal for 97 institutional repositories from 16 developing and transition countries (Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Mongolia, Namibia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe) and this number is growing. It now gives every visitor free access to 141,165 full-text research findings in a consistent and harmonised way. ...
Comment. Peter blogged some background on this in January.

On OA law reviews

Gene Koo, Harvard's open publishing policy and the outlook for law schools, Law School Innovation, February 19, 2008.

... Unlike the status quo in the arts and sciences, legal scholarship is largely published in student-run, and therefore law school-owned, law journals. Thus, law schools have largely avoided the escalating fiscal spiral in which their colleagues have been trapped, wherein publishers extract larger and larger fees from schools' libraries for printing works that the schools themselves have largely subsidized. Law schools' journals, while not always the most timely of publishers, don't engage in this degree of profit-extraction. Furthermore, many faculty deposit articles in SSRN or BePress regardless of the paper's actual (or virtual) publication.

The openness of law schools' journals is largely due to history rather than deliberate planning. It gives law schools a huge potential leg up in entering the digital knowledge network, but because it's arisen by happenstance, it's also vulnerable to being undermined. It would be ironic indeed if, as the rest of academia moves towards openness that law schools could be at risk of being hemmed in.

There are, I believe, a few things that schools can do to take advantage of their head start:

  1. Formalize their commitment to open publication to remove any doubt about the open (public accessibility) status of law journals. See Open Access to Infinite Content (Or 'In Praise of Law Reviews') and the Open Access Law Project.
  2. Commit to a world where not only is all scholarship openly available, but also easily searchable, well-cataloged, and easily repurposed for educational or other uses. (While that may not mean storing the articles in full-blown XML, it almost certainly means no PDF).
  3. Execute that vision by leaning on SSRN to become more open and/or networking all law libraries together to create a bigger, better, badder legal research hub. To that end, lay down basic standards (common metadata fields, etc) and a technology platform. To the extent that law journals continue to self-publish, ditch the ad hoc approach and adopt a standard, easy-to-use, fully-supported system made freely available to all journals. Web technology has reached a point where we should no longer be reinventing the wheel across institutions.

In the digitally networked age, legal scholarship enjoys significant advantages over other disciplines in being largely based on public-domain texts. The value of breaking open our research without a third-party mediator (e.g. publishers) is enormous. Let's not squander our advantages here.

IR for Johns Hopkins

On February 18, Johns Hopkins University Libraries announced the creation of JScholarship, a institutional repository for JHU.

Update. Also see Laura Dingle's article about it in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.

OAPEN secures EC funding

Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN), announced on Feb. 12 that its proposal to the European Commission has been selected for negotiations on funding. OAPEN is a consortium of European university and museum presses which will publish OA monographs in the humanities and social sciences. From the announcement:

The opening of negotiations starts in March 2008. Completion of negotiations, award decision and signature of grant agreements are expected in May 2008. ...

The project is the first of its kind and, if funded, is intended to start in September 2008.

Does no green archiving = no green dollars?

Heather Morrison, Whither white, fair RoMEO?, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 15, 2008.

... Incredible as it may sound, there is still at least one publisher in the field of medicine who is a "white" publisher, according to the SHERPA / RoMEO Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving. A "white" publisher does not support open access archiving.

The publisher will not be named, for now at least, for surely a letter from such a publisher to SHERPA about their new, open access archiving friendly policy, is on its way?

Otherwise, what is the business plan of such a publisher? A very large percentage of medical research funding nowadays comes with an expectation of public or open access archiving; for example, the world's largest medical research funder, the US National Institutes of Health, the world's second-largest medical research funder, the Wellcome Trust, and many more. For a list of research funders with open access policies, see SHERPA JULIET.

What will a "white" publisher do in this environment?

Fight with researchers who wish to publish in their journals? ...

Refuse to publish funded research? ...

When librarians look at the SHERPA record for a publisher that is not open access friendly and not compliant with the policies of research funding agencies (as illustrated below), will they be thinking In a year or two from now, if this publisher will not accept funded research, what will they be publishing, exactly? Why subscribe?

More on the state of OA in anthropology

Michael E. Smith, The AAA Discusses Open Access, Publishing Archaeology, February 15, 2008.

The Feb 2008 issue of Anthropology News (newsletter of the American Anthropological Association) has a special Focus section on Open Access. Several anthropologists (NOT including archaeologists) provide essays on the nature of OA and its possibilities for the AAA. Although a few good issues are brought up, I am disappointed for the exclusive emphasis on Gold OA (open access journals) and lack of consideration of Green OA (self-archiving). ... The fact that this focus section was not made openly available (e.g., through a Creative Commons license) is a signal of just where the AAA stands on OA.

The good points I noted include:

  • Lack of OA means lowered access to anthropological knowledge. ...
  • The AAA needs to rethink not just OA, but its whole mission and organization in light of changes in the internet and publishing.
  • Who are scholars working for? The AAA publications program has been subcontracted to Wiley-Blackwell, one of the largest commercial publishers. ...
  • I don't recall signing an employment contract with Wiley-Blackwell, and I don't really want to work for them. Maybe I will just not publish in AAA journals any more.

Why doesn't the AAA set up an institutional repository for the publications of anthropologists? This will accomplish the goals of OA without waiting for major upheavals in professional societies and commercial publishers. ...

Comment. Peter earlier blogged the issue of Anthropology News.

Status of OA in folklore studies

Jason Baird Jackson, Open Access Folkloristics (Part 1), Open Access Anthropology, February 16, 2008.

... There are some practical reasons for the rapid spread of OA in folklore studies despite the almost complete lack of a communal discussion of the subject (contra anthropology). One factor in my analysis is the persistence of “house journals” in folklore programs in contrast to their progressive disappearance in anthropology programs. American anthropology can point to a few such journals that remain central, for instance Ethnology (still published by the folks at Pittsburgh), the Journal of Anthropological Research (published by the department at New Mexico), and Anthropological Linguistics (published by my colleagues here at IU). Still, many of those that once existed as such have either gone on to become part of some publisher’s portfolio or have ceased publication. For purposes of a switch to OA, a house journal stands the best chances among the varieties of established (as opposed to start up) journals. House journals of various kinds are still in the hands of a small group of people, they have not become key money makers for either a press or a society. This positions them more easily for a move to OA. Their established track records and deep back files make them especially appealing to those who worry about the career/status risks of publishing in an online start-up.

An OA folklore title that I can highlight in this context is the well regarded journal Oral Tradition. OT has been published for over 20 years by the Center for Studies of Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri. It was once a standard print journal, but its editorial team has made a active and complete move to OA, making over 10,000 pages available for free online (the complete journal run). It has also worked hard to develop media supplements to enhance standard articles, while maintaining continuity in peer-review, editorial style and significance within the larger field. ...

Logic journal converting to OA

Helping authors find OA-friendly journals

Heather Morrison, Journals: if you are author rights friendly, let everyone know! Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

As awareness of open access and its benefits grows (not to mention the open access mandates of research funders and universities, both existing and in development), authors will increasingly be looking for publishing venues that make it possible for them to enjoy the benefits of both traditional peer review and open access.

Is your journal authors' rights friendly? Perhaps you are fine with self-archiving preprints and/or postprints in institutional and disciplinary open access repositories, or willing to accept an Author's Addendum? If so, let authors know! ...

Some sample language: please note - the following is available for reuse and modification by anyone for any purposes, including commercial use:

Full Author's Rights
Author's Rights are Respected Here! [Name of journal] requests from Authors right of first publication; otherwise, the copyright is yours! Authors can feel free to post [preprints] [author's own post-peer review copy] to the open access repository of their choice.

Copyright Transfer Agreement Under Review
Authors, please note that our Copyright Transfer Agreement is currently Under Review! While the form we have been using for many years requests full transfer of copyright, as a matter of routine, we approve posting of preprints and postprints for open access in the open access repository of the author's choice.

Authors' Addendum Accepted Here
Authors who need to retain some rights to share their work please note that Authors' Addenda [SPARC, Science Commons, CARL] are welcome here!


Progress on CC Zero

Mike Linksvayer, CC0 beta/discussion draft feedback and next step, Creative Commons blog, February 16, 2008.

... We are now planning to have the next iteration of the beta ready for discussion by March 31, but will describe the overall changes below for early feedback as we work toward that iteration.

  • Many found the use of “CC0? for both the Waiver and Assertion tools to be confusing. Going forward, we plan to separate the tools more clearly. As a legal tool, the CC0 Waiver can be thought of as the “no rights reserved” option within the CC licensing suite. The Assertion is something different — not a legal tool, but a method of enabling statements of fact about the public domain.
  • Thinking of the CC0 Waiver as part of the licensing suite is also in keeping with the legal reality that in some situations the tool will probably function as a license rather than a waiver. So we want to begin with a “Universal” (not “Unported”) version of the tool. We do not want to give US legal code a special status here. This means we need to address now some additional legal issues, such as moral rights and the question of rights in databases. Much discussion of the moral rights issue has already taken place within the CC community, and we will make use of that input. Open Data Commons has provided an example of how database rights might be addressed. We would like to use this opportunity to engage at the beginning of our process with CC international jurisdiction projects and other experts to make sure CC0 is the most universal waiver/maximally thin license possible.
  • Avoiding confusion between the Waiver and the Assertion will also help with efforts to educate about the existence of the “public domain” in every jurisdiction, whether called by that name or not. The Assertion tool should now include the ability to indicate reasons why a work would be in the public domain under the law of jurisdictions other than the US.
  • We also want to be clear that there is no need to buy into CC0 branding in order to use CC-built metadata to communicate the rights associated with any particular work. Our goal is interoperability — it’s the “Rights Expression Language” part of ccREL, not the “cc”, that we care about the most. ...

Latest beta of DSpace released

DSpace 1.5 Beta 1 was released on February 13. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) See also Richard Jones' notes on the release.

More notes on OA Collections workshop

Peta Hopkins, Open Access Collections, Innovate, February 16, 2008. Blog notes on the Open Access Collections workshop by the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (February 14, Brisbane). We earlier blogged the presentations and Peter Murray-Rust's notes on the conference.

Echos of OA in Facebook

Barbara Fister, Face Value, Inside Higher Ed, February 18, 2008. (Thanks to Slashdot.)

Facebook has recently opened its service to everyone, regardless of school or college affiliation. A novelist I know was just advised by her agent to set up a Facebook profile to increase her online presence and engage in “relationship marketing” with potential customers. In other words, she’s expected to act as her own sock puppet so she can sell more books. Make friends and influence people.

Here’s the interesting paradox: The only way to increase the intellectual property value of your identity is to give it away. That’s the only way it can be shared, linked to and recognized by others. Trading a little personal information for a public platform, whether for personal expression or self-promotion (or both), seems a fair exchange.

Does this sound eerily familiar? It should.

As scholars, our ideas gain value as we make them public, and we have been historically myopic about the consequences of trading the rights to our ideas for access to distribution channels. This unexamined practice put us all over a barrel when publishers required the academy to ransom those ideas back through prohibitively expensive journal subscriptions for libraries. The personal advancement attached to making our ideas public only added to the problem; more publications translated into higher prestige. There was just too much stuff for libraries to buy back, and not enough budget. The Open Access movement is on track to significantly change the “terms of service” when it comes to scholarly communication. Though the battle’s far from over, we’ve made real progress.

... [W]e didn’t approach the problems of scholarly communication by ceasing to publish. We started by educating the community about the consequences and renegotiating the terms of our relationship with publishers.

Scholarly work isn’t the only form of communication worth fighting for. The privately owned digital public sphere is a fertile if febrile commons where millions of people play out their identities and share ideas. The bargains we used to routinely accede to in order to get our research published were easy to ignore because we personally benefitted from them. In fact, we didn’t read the fine print, and we didn’t anticipate the consequences. Something very similar is going on in social networking.

Scholars and librarians champion the value of free and open exchange of ideas for the public good. It’s time to take those values beyond the academy. If we made an effort to help the public understand the tradeoffs we make to be part of the digital social sphere, maybe we’d all think more critically about how our public identities are formed and exploited – for what they are worth.

"Other schools should follow Harvard's lead"

Open access to brilliant insights, Boston Globe, February 19, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

...The [Harvard] policy is a bold move to boost the unrestricted, global use of research articles. This open access policy fulfills the great promise of the Internet....It should mean fewer treks to academic libraries and fewer roadblocks on journal websites that now deny access to nonsubscribers unless they're willing to pay.

Proposed by computer science professor Stuart M. Shieber, the open access policy presumes that the mission of academic publishing is not to make money but to create, preserve, and share knowledge....Faculty members will have the right to opt out....But the hope is that most scholars will want their work to be read and cited as widely as possible.

Other schools should follow Harvard's lead. The move will also let arts and sciences faculty reclaim the right to use their published work from journals that have traditionally restricted the use of such work....

The Internet offers the means to free knowledge. The world's knowledge-brokers have to provide the will and the ways.

Update (2/27/08). Also see the letter to the editor in response to this editorial from H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics.

New OA journal of new music and culture

Search: Journal for New Music and Culture is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.  The inaugural issue is now online.  (Thanks to The Rambler.) 

OA medical articles by phone

Entrepreneurs are already finding business opportunities in the growing volume of OA literature available from the NIH.  From a press release issued today by Presenter, Inc.:

Mobile Med Journal Abstracts, delivered to physician's handset via MMS is one of the most extreme innovations rising above the horizon. As NIH pushes forward the Open Access for medical journals, massive [numbers of] journal articles will soon become freely available to the public. Innovative information distribution technologies complementing the proliferation of journal database are on the rise. Presenter, Inc.'s Mobile Med Journal Abstracts is the first to explore the handset's potential as a science communication platform....

Once the [new OA mandate at the NIH] takes full effect in April 2008--and as the sheer volume of article archives soars, new technologies geared toward better and quicker information distribution may become gadget of choice for savvy users. Presenter, Inc.'s journal abstracts over mobile phone is one of these gadgets.

Presenter, Inc., a pioneer in Internet and mobile computing technologies for business communication, recently launched a pilot run of journal abstracts over mobile phone. Run in two cities in China, the pilot covers some 150 doctors who receive journal abstracts in text and images through MMS messaging. MMS messaging is the multimedia equivalent of the hugely popular SMS (text) messaging....

The choice of mobile phone is not so much driven by novelty as it's for necessity. Because unlike their U.S. counterparts, Chinese doctors have only limited access to the Internet at workplace. Consequently, the ubiquitous mobile phone is the best gadget to channel the journal information.

And it proves to work so far....

"Our goal and focus is to become a premiere mobile publisher for science and medical knowledge communication...." says Eric Chen, Founder and CEO of Presenter, Inc. "...We will dramatically reshape the landscape of how knowledge is shared." ...

PS:  I can't find a web site for the Beijing-based Presenter, Inc., but I'm pretty sure it's not the same as the Presenter, Inc. acquired by Webex in 2003.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presentations from Open Access Collections workshop

The presentations from the Open Access Collections workshop by the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (February 14, Brisbane) are now available. Comment. We earlier blogged Peter Murray-Rust's notes on the conference.

Guide to implementing the NIH public access policy

Association of Research Libraries today announced the availability of a Web-based guide to assist research institutions in implementing the new NIH public access policy.

The ARL guide, “The NIH Public Access Policy: Guide for Research Universities,” includes the following sections:

  • Policy Overview
  • Institutional Responses
  • Retaining Rights
  • How to Deposit
  • Resources

The guide focuses on the implications of the NIH policy for institutions as grantees, although some information for individual investigators is included and links to further details are provided. The guide is helpful to a range of campus constituencies that may be involved in implementing the new policy, including research administrators, legal counsel, and librarians.

In addition to compliance concerns, the guide also considers the benefits of the new policy and institutions’ opportunities to build on the policy requirements by seeking additional rights for using funded research to address local needs.

Open data to accelerate drug discovery

Andrea Anderson, Structural Genomics Consortium Head Urges Open Access to Boost Drug Development, GenomeWeb Daily News, February 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

Research collaborations, transparency, and data in the public domain are essential to new drug development, according to a structural biologist who spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting here on Saturday.

The University of Toronto’s Aled Edwards, who is also the director and the chief executive officer of a not-for-profit group called the Structural Genomics Consortium, warned that the predominant methods of drug research and discovery are too patent heavy, leading to duplicated effort and lost opportunities for significant productivity....

“Intellectual property is killing the process of drug discovery,” [Edwards said].

Edwards said there is hope for structural genomics in aiding drug development — but only if academia, industry, and funding bodies collaborate and keep new structural data accessible to all researchers who might be interested in using it.

The Structural Genomics Consortium, formed in 2004, is an international organization with centers in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. It was created with the goal of determining the three dimensional structure of all medically relevant proteins through collaborations and partnerships....

At the moment, Edwards noted, the SGC has $30 million in funding from groups as varied as the Canadian government and pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, and Novartis.

And, like the NIH-funded Protein Structure Initiative, the Structural Genomics Consortium puts a great deal of emphasis on keeping data in the public domain. To date, the group has reportedly contributed to adding more than 500 new protein structures to the Protein Data Bank....

Harvard inspires another student newspaper to call for a local OA mandate

It's time for Open Access, Swarthmore Daily Gazette, February 18, 2008An editorial.  Excerpt:

...Harvard has always been one of the world's foremost universities, and [its new OA mandate] will help cement that position.

Swarthmore needs to step up and join Harvard.

As a school, we pride ourselves on our commitment to social justice....We should embrace this commitment to social justice in the school's research as well. And there is nothing to lose. Swarthmore's scholars would gain a far wider audience for their research --and they could still publish in the journal of their choice....

The benefits of Open Access are clear. What are we waiting for?

PS:  Also see the Harvard-inspired editorials calling for OA at Boston College and New York University.

Stimulating work on the grand challenges of engineering

The US National Academy of Engineering has identified 14 Grand Challenges for Engineeering in the 21st century (February 15, 2008).  Thanks to John Daly for the alert and this summary:

Comment.  The idea is clearly to stimulate work on these challenges, which I applaud.  Another, entirely compatible way to stimulate work on the same challenges is to ensure OA to the relevant literature and data.  The NAE could help this cause by calling for OA in engineering, by documenting the connection between OA and research productivity, and by endorsing the principle that the more knowledge matters, the more open access to that knowledge matters.

Interview with Christina Pikas

Bora Zivkovic, Librarians have been doing it for a hundred years! Interview with Christina Pikas, A Blog Around the Clock, February 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The thing with archiving on your web page is that it isn't really that findable and there's no plan for long term preservation and migration to new formats. IRs are much better at preservation, but the findability just isn't there, which is very sad. (OAI-PMH, Google, and sciencecommons all help but you still need controlled vocabulary, etc.)

I also like that money from grants, etc., be set aside for open access through journals. I trust journals to provide good access, good findability, and good preservation. We know the content will be indexed in powerful databases....

I'm really interested in what's happening right now in high energy physics. Essentially, the idea is to redirect library money that now goes for specific journals to pay for all articles in HEP to be open access. From what I've heard from my colleagues, they are very concerned that if all of the articles will be free, then their budget will not go to this pool, but to say, more chemistry journals. The other thing is that wealthy institutions will be subsidizing mid-range institutions and public schools. Maybe they should do this, but it shouldn't be by accident. If library money is diverted to pay for open access, then we could be in trouble, because we would run up much higher bills than we currently pay for journals, and this still wouldn't pay for research databases and the like which are also immensely expensive.

Comments.  Just two quick ones:

  • OAI-based searches are limited to metadata and benefit from a controlled vocabulary (and consistent entry of metadata in the first place).  But Google and other mainstream search engines are gradually indexing OA repositories as well, and they support full-text searching without a controlled vocabulary.  Repository managers could facilitate this process by configuring their systems to help rather than hinder the crawlers.
  • When libraries find themselves with savings from the cancellation, conversion, or demise of TA journals, they should spend it first to support the peer-reviewed OA journals arising to fill the same niches and to replenish the book budgets suppressed by spending on TA journals.  However, this is quite different from canceling TA journals in order to free up money for OA journals.

More on the Princeton-Stanford OA repository for classics

David Pritchard, Working Papers, Open Access and Cyber-Infrastructure in Classical Studies, a preprint forthcoming from Literary and Linguistic Computing. 

Abstract:  Princeton–Stanford Working Papers in Classics is a web-based series of work-in-progress scripts by members of two leading departments of classics. It introduces the humanities to a new form of scholarly communication and represents a major advance in the free availability of classical-studies scholarship in cyberspace. This article both reviews the initial performance of this open-access experiment and the benefits and challenges of working papers more generally for classical studies. After two years of operation Princeton–Stanford Working Papers in Classics has proven to be a clear success. This series has built up a large international readership and a sizeable body of preprints and performs important scholarly and community-outreach functions. As this performance is largely due to its congruency with the working arrangements of ancient historians and classicists and the global demand for open-access scholarship, the series confirms the viability of this means of scholarly communication and the likelihood of its expansion in our discipline. But modifications are required to increase the benefits this series brings and the amount of scholarship it makes freely available online. Finally departments wishing to replicate its success will have to consider other important developments, such as the increasing availability of postprints, the linking of research funding to open access, and the emergence of new cyber-infrastructure.

Update (5/26/08). The LLC edition is now online. It's not OA.

New OA journal of social science research on South Asia

The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of social science research on South Asia.  (Thanks to  The inaugural issue is now online.

Searching OA journals in the humanities

Mike van Eerden has launched Search Pigeon, a collection of Google Co-op search engines covering English-language OA journals in the humanities.  From the site:

...Designed for researchers in the Arts and Humanities, with a decidedly interdisciplinary provides [Google Co-op custom search engines] that search hundreds of peer-reviewed and open access online journal, provided they are either English-language journals, or provide a translation of their site into English....

The guiding philosophy behind Search Pigeon is that the production of trust and knowledge is fundamental to the transformation of society, from the well-being of individual minds and bodies to the healthy operation of large and complicated human networks and institutions. This production is a matter of cooperation and dissemination. So Search Pigeon in the long-view is a practical experiment in the way things spread. If you want to have a part in this research experiment, please drop me a line.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gutenberg-e books now OA, but biz. model concerns

Robert B. Townsend, Gutenberg-e Books Now Available Open Access and through ACLS Humanities E-Book, American Historical Association Blog, February 13, 2008. (Thanks to The History Librarian.)

The electronic monographs published by Columbia University Press in the Gutenberg-e Project are now available in an open-access form through the University’s Libraries, and are also being made available through ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB). By taking this new step, we will continue the project’s ongoing experiment with different forms of electronic publication, and also hope to demonstrate whether open-access publications will garner greater use and more citations from students and scholars.

The two sites will offer distinct benefits and experiences. The open-access books published by the Press will represent the authors’ specific vision for their publications, within the template of the project. The books made available through the Press will incorporate a range of different approaches to their subject—some incorporating a more open, non-linear narrative style (see, for instance, Heidi Gengenbach’s Binding Memories: Women as Makers and Tellers of History in Magude, Mozambique), others add a range and depth of multimedia and archival supplementary materials (most recently Helena Pohlandt-McCormick’s “I Saw a Nightmare…” Doing Violence to Memory: The Soweto Uprising, June 16, 1976 and Sarah Lowengard’s The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe).

In comparison, the books published in the Humanities E-Book collection, while offering the same content, will be more deeply integrated into the related scholarship for their subject, incorporating online reviews and the author’s related historiography for each title on the HEB site. Searches within the E-Book project will allow readers to see the Gutenbeg-e books either as a distinct series or in a larger scholarly context. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation started both Gutenberg-e and the Humanities E-Book projects in 1999 to experiment with different models of online publication in history, so it seems natural to now bring these two projects together.

We hope that making the books available in these two new forms promotes increased interest, attention, and use in the academy. One of the great concerns for this project has been the seeming reluctance or inability of many scholarly journals to review these online publications. Fortunately, authors who have come up for tenure have received it, despite sometimes limited numbers of reviews. But since the traditional networks of scholarly legitimization seem unable or unwilling to handle these books, we hope this switch to open access will circumvent that problem by making the works more discoverable by interested students and scholars.

Unfortunately, despite the hopes of many in the open-access movement, we have not been able to create a sustainable financial model for the publication of these online scholarly monographs. Our success to date was only made possible by the very generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the library and press at Columbia University. The incorporation of the Gutenberg-e series into ACLS Humanities E-Book has been made possible by the Press’s additional investment and HEB’s own sustainability model. Quite apart from the fellowships given to the authors and the costs of administering the selection process for these books, it appears that the basic costs of preparing the Gutenberg-e titles for online publication were not sustainable without a significant revenue stream or outside support. ...

Update. Also see the story in Library Journal Academic Newswire.

Update. Also see the story in the Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers).

Update. Also see the story in HASTAC and Barbara Fister's comment at ACRLog.

Update. Also see the letter from Jim Jordan, President and Director of Columbia University Press, February 28, 2008, or my blogged excerpt.

New documents on the ARROW project

There are 5 new slide sets available on the ARROW (Australian Research Repositories Online to the World) project, each uploaded February 15, 2008:

Notes from VALA 2008 keynote

Andy Powell, Repositories thru the looking glass, eFoundations, February 13, 2008. Notes from his keynote address at the VALA (formerly the Victorian Association for Library Automation) 2008 conference (held February 5-7 in Melbourne, Australia).

... I can sum up my talk in three fairly simple bullet points:

  • Firstly, that our current preoccupation with the building and filling of 'repositories' (particularly 'institutional repositories') rather than the act of surfacing scholarly material on the Web means that we are focusing on the means rather than the end (open access).  Worse, we are doing so using language that is not intuitive to the very scholars whose practice we want to influence.
  • Secondly, that our focus on the 'institution' as the home of repository services is not aligned with the social networks used by scholars, meaning that we will find it very difficult to build tools that are compelling to those people we want to use them.  As a result, we resort to mandates and other forms of coercion in recognition that we have not, so far, built services that people actually want to use.  We have promoted the needs of institutions over the needs of individuals.  Instead, we need to focus on building and/or using global scholarly social networks based on global repository services.  Somewhat oddly, ArXiv (a social repository that predates the Web let alone Web 2.0) provides us with a good model, especially when combined with features from more recent Web 2.0 services such as Slideshare.
  • Finally, that the 'service oriented' approaches that we have tended to adopt in standards like the OAI-PMH, SRW/SRU and OpenURL sit uncomfortably with the 'resource oriented' approach of the Web architecture and the Semantic Web.  We need to recognise the importance of REST as an architectural style and adopt a 'resource oriented' approach at the technical level when building services.
Comment. We blogged the slides from this and other presentations from the conference a few days ago.

Interview with Bill Hooker on OA and open science

Bora Zivkovic, Getting Publishing up to Speed: Interview with Bill Hooker, A Blog Around the Clock, February 14, 2008.
... How is a scientific paper going to look in 20 years from now?  How is that going to affect the way scientific research (and teaching) is done?

Over the next 20 years, the two most important things that will happen to the scientific paper are: universal adoption of Open Access, and the richly deserved death of the Portable Document Format.

Although it will do a number of wonderful things, Open Access won't dramatically change the way a paper looks, at least not in the next 20 years.  Both because researchers are a conservative bunch, and because the format has served well for a very long time, I would guess that papers will look something like they do now -- Intro/Methods/Results/Discussion -- for some decades yet.  The most important things that will change in a 20 year timeframe are the level of detail available with a single click, and the number of entities which can understand the paper. 

Right now, even if you can access a paper what you get is pre-digested in the form of a PDF file -- useless for anything except being read by humans (which, of course, is very useful indeed -- but nowhere near as useful as a paper could, and should, be).  If there is any supplementary data, which there usually isn't, it's another bloody PDF!  In 20 years, something like XML will provide a way to make papers a machine-readable platform for accessing data, not just a pixelated proxy for a hunk of dead tree.  Instead of photocopying that graph three times at 200% so as to be able to draw lines on it and estimate the underlying values, you'll be able to grab the raw data into your own favorite graphing application, so that you can re-work it and look at it from your own angle.  You'll be able to zoom in on that spectrum and see the fine details.  You'll be able to get an unretouched version of that photograph and do the Photoshop work yourself, so as to emphasize whatever you're interested in.  All of this will be possible, not by writing to the authors and waiting three months for an answer, but with a single click right from the paper itself. 

The other thing that this sort of markup will do is to greatly enhance the number and scope of research tasks that can be automated.  We already rely heavily on search and filtering interfaces (Pubmed, Google, GenBank, and so on) to keep us afloat in a sea of information, and that situation is only going to intensify.  When machines can read papers, they will be able to do something no human can do: read every paper, and find connections among them all.  For a taste of what this might be like, check out iHOP, a text-mining navigation interface to the research literature.  Now imagine what iHOP could do if it could not just read text, but could place that text in context, and then again what it could do if it could access data as well as text.  (Note also that none of this makes sense without OA: good as it is, iHOP is currently crippled because it can only pull sentences from abstracts.  Imagine what it could do with the full text of all those papers!  To fully realize the power of machine readability requires that the entire knowledge base be Open Access.)

What that will mean for research is speed.  You can already see it happening in physics, where OA has been the de facto norm for more than a decade thanks to arXivBrody et al. showed that, in the high-energy physics section, the time between deposit in arXiv and citation in another paper has been dropping steadily since the arrival of arXiv in 1991, and was cut roughly in half between 1999 and 2003.  That's the research cycle -- the uptake of published ideas in further work -- accelerating in real time.  Multiply that by the power of text- and data-mining, driven by the combination of OA and machine readability, and you get a tremendous acceleration in the rate of scientific progress. 

I'm not a teacher, so I'm hesitant to make predictions about that field -- but what is clear is that teachers and students will have much greater access to detailed information.  On that basis, I guess I'll venture one (hopeful) prediction: science teaching will focus more on primary sources, on the actual data rather than predigested information in textbooks.  Rather than trying to absorb a body of knowledge being handed down from on high, learning science will become much more like doing science, with students being asked to think, explore and experiment rather than simply memorize. ...

More on OA editions and print sales

Tom Peters, Free and Fleeting, ALA Techsource, February 11, 2008.

... Today HarperCollins began a new marketing experiment to try to gain additional experiential knowledge about this question [of how free digital editions affect print sales]. They began offering free online viewing of the complete electronic versions of selected titles.

You will need to jump through a few hoops to access these free online books. You must register at the HarperCollins website, including filling out the required data fields for your name, password, and address. You also need to indicate what types of books you like to read, as well as accept the official rules of the promotional program.

This morning I registered and wended my way to the full text of The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho. You can read the book online (no downloading or printing, however), search through the full text, read and submit reader reviews, and, of course, follow a link to purchase the book.

The flip side of offering ongoing access to online snippets, which HarperCollins has been doing for some time, is to offer access to the entire text for a limited time, which is the option HarperCollins launched today. Each full-text digital book will be available only one month. I couldn't find any indicator of when the online ebook I was reading would go away. Beware the Ides of March, I reckon.

If this new service continues, we can safely assume that HarperCollins found some positive correlation between offering free online access to the complete books for a limited time and increased sales of the selected titles. I hope, however, HarperCollins shares some of their data and findings.

Comment (by Peter). I commend HarperCollins for trying this experiment. Unfortunately, the registration requirement, mandatory survey, and time limit of one month of free access per book will reduce the visibility of the texts, reduce traffic to the site, and distort the experiment.

U.S. Army blocks access to digital library

Steven Aftergood, Army Blocks Public Access to Digital Library, Secrecy News, February 13, 2008. (Thanks to Free Government Information.)

Public access to the Reimer Digital Library, which is the largest online collection of U.S. Army doctrinal publications, has been blocked by the Army, which last week moved the collection behind a password-protected firewall.

But today the Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act request (pdf) asking the Army to provide a copy of the entire unclassified Library so that it could be posted on the FAS web site.

The Army move on February 6 marks the latest step in an ongoing withdrawal of government records from the public domain. ...

The move came as a surprise since only unclassified and non-sensitive records had ever been made available at the Library site. ...

More comments on the Harvard OA mandate

Here's another batch of comments on the new Harvard OA mandate.

From Paul Courant at Au Courant:

...What almost all faculty care about almost all of the time is the dissemination and use of their work, not its commercial consequences. We have always known this, of course, although organizations that purport to speak for the interests of authors frequently place inordinate emphasis on authors’ commercial interests. What the Harvard faculty has done is give us all a visible and powerful affirmation that what really matters is academic work itself, and not the profitability of particular industries that have grown up around it....

The problem of limited, over-priced access to scholarship is a big one, and the more different ways we try to fix it, the better our chances that a few of them will work. The declaration by Harvard’s faculty focuses on one strategy — mandated (or at least default) deposit into institutional repositories. But more important than the choice of strategy, the declaration reminds us of how much is at stake and why it matters.

It is somewhat troubling that some academic publishers and academic societies have expressed concern that the Harvard mandate will put them at mortal risk, while merely trimming the profits of the big commercial publishers. Plainly, we in the academy have an interest in robust nonprofit scholarly publishing, but we should not fall for the idea that the only way for nonprofit publishing to survive is through policies that assure huge profits to the big players. (There is an analogy to agricultural policy here. In the name of preserving the “family farm,” governments around the world provide billions in subsidy to agribusiness.)

For now, let me repeat that the big news in the Harvard vote is that it helps all of us to focus on the main point — which is that scholarly publishing, through a variety of mechanisms, is first and foremost about making scholarship public, not making money....

From Jonathan Eisen at Tree of Life:

Harvard is frequently criticized for being a bit conservative in responding to new ideas and initiatives. But it seems that recently Harvard is more like a oceangoing yacht than an oil tanker....[T]here is no doubt this is a smart move. Sure, there are some potential downsides to open access. Some [TA] journals do good things and they may have to reinvent themselves to continue to bring in revenue. But welcome to the 21st century....Now - I think we should use this as an example to get other institutions to do the same thing....Maybe collectively we can follow Harvard's lead on this and make Universities more about what they are supposed to be about - spreading knowledge.

From Peter Murray-Rust at The CML Blog:

...This could snowball very easily. The moral force is overwhelming and there is no case against the moral case. Academics [do] not publish to create profits for publishers. A publisher who provides a service - for a reasonable fee - will be valued. A publisher who resells academically created content increasingly will not.

So the message is clear. We should write to our own institutions and ask what they are doing in this area....