Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 01, 2008

More non-OA publishers supporting SURF / JISC principles

Annemarie Beunen, Acceptance of the JISC/SURF Licence to Publish & accompanying Principles by traditional publishers of journals, SURFfoundation report, dated December 2007 but apparently released February 29, 2008. From the February 29 announcement and summary:

Traditional academic publishers are on the move regarding their policies on copyright and allowing the deposit of articles in a publicly accessible repository and thus becoming freely available. This is the result of an inquiry among a group of 47 traditional (non Open Access) publishers by SURFfoundation. The study asked publishers if they support the Principles formulated by SURFfoundation and JISC, regarding publishing an article in a traditional journal. The conclusion is that more and more traditional publishers support some or all of these Principles or are looking into changes in their current policies in line with these Principles.

The Principles are an attempt to clarify and balance the relationship between the rights of authors and publishers, ensuring wider access to scholarly literature and bringing journals into compliance with a growing number of funder requirements. The main characteristics of the Principles are:

  • The author retains copyright of his/her work, while granting the publisher the rights needed to publish the work
  • The author may freely deposit the article in a research repository, with an embargo before public release of maximum six months.

One third of the publishers in the study already have a repository policy which is compatible with these Principles and the same amount of publishers use a licence to publish instead of copyright transfer. ...

Update. Also see Stevan Harnad's comments.

Update. Also see the article in Information World Review, March 12, 2008.

Lieberman renews call for OA for CRS reports

Lieberman Calls for Wider, Easier, Timely Access to CRS Reports, press release, U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, February 28, 2008. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

See also Matthew Weigelt, Sen. Lieberman wants congressional research to be public, Federal Computer Week, February 28, 2008. Lieberman is asking the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over the internal affairs of the Senate,

... to make unclassified [Congressional Research Service] reports available on a public database, where the reports would be automatically posted after CRS publishes or updates them ...

CRS and the Secretary of the Senate are developing a program, similar to one the House uses, that would allow senators to choose the reports they would like to post on their official Web sites ...

N.B. As works of the federal government, CRS reports are in the public domain. However, CRS reports are currently confidential: research is done at the request of a Congressperson, who has sole discretion to release the research. Lieberman is seeking action by the Rules Committee on S. Res. 401, which would post all unclassified reports in a public database.

For background, see past OAN posts on CRS reports.

Elsevier: Electronic ILL requires intermediate print copy

A recent discussion on the Liblicense-L list (beginning with this post by Beth Jacoby on February 25) has highlighted Elsevier's policies for inter-library loan of its electronic journal articles: To fulfill an ILL request, print the electronic article, then scan it back into the computer to send it. See the February 28 post by Daviess Menefee of Elsevier Library Relations, or Elsevier's policy page last updated February 7.

In a February 29 post at DigitalKoans, Charles Bailey provides some background:
Since, in the U.S., print journals are owned, are subject to the "first sale doctrine," and are covered by long-standing CONTU Guidelines, libraries have not had to generally grapple with complex ILL issues for them; however, e-journals from major publishers are licensed, licenses are publisher-specific, and the terms of the license agreements determine if and how ILL can be performed.
A request has also been posted on the list for Elsevier to explain the rationale behind this policy, to which there has not yet been a response. (We'll add it here if/when there is.)

Comment. Any unauthorized use of copyrighted content may be defensible as fair use under U.S. law. But there is less clarity regarding such uses than the fairly well-established ILL guidelines.

Update. Via the Internet Archive, this aspect of Elsevier's policy appears to date back to at least 2005.

Update. On March 3, Elsevier's Menefee posted a response:
As to why we require printing first (and our understanding is that most publishers also do this), the reasons are fairly simple. First, this is most closely analogous to the traditional and well-understood practices of print, where one photocopies or scans the print. What is received by the requester is about the same quality copy.

Second, we are concerned about those within the ILL community who advocate an unmediated system, where requesters enter their requests electronically and these requests are automatically routed electronically to a library holding the material. The article can be retrieved and returned to the requester without the need for human intervention. While we can appreciate the efficiency of such a system, it effectively changes the definition of Authorized User in our agreement from those within the subscribing institution to anyone anywhere in the world.

First glimpse of OASIS

A new OSI-supported OA source book, Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, February 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The Open Society Institute has agreed a grant to develop an online Open Access (OA) source book that will provide practical steps towards implementing OA for research output.

To be called OASIS (Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook), the resource aims to provide ‘all you need to know’ about OA, its concept, principles, benefits, approaches and means to achieving it. It will provide comprehensive links to resources already established on particular aspects of OA. It will be continually up-dated to take account of the fast-moving changes and information appearing every day.

It will not duplicate existing resources but link them to form an OA supermarket, allowing individuals to mix and match elements as required by their own constituencies. It will be a benign viral educational tool as well, spreading information and establishing connections between the researchers, librarians, repository managers, research managers and funders. It will be a back-up for OA workshops and training courses, and provide periodic online tutoring on specific aspects of OA.

The sourcebook will be in modular format, will be accessible online, as print-on-demand, and on CD/DVD for ready distribution to low bandwidth users....

The project will be coordinated by two of the foremost OA advocates, Leslie Chan (University of Toronto) and Alma Swan (Key Perspectives), via a contract between the OSI and the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development (EPT)....

It is hoped to launch the OASIS website on the occasion of the up-coming ELPUB2008 conference, ‘Open Scholarship: Authority, Community and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0’, to be held in Toronto at the end of June....

AALL thanks Chief Justice Roberts

The American Association of Law Libraries has publicly released its February 27 letter to Chief John Roberts, thanking him for authorizing a pilot project of (limited) free public access to PACER, the government database of online docket information for most US federal courts.

Presentations from SCOAP3 meeting

The presentations from the SCOAP3 US Focal Meeting (Berkeley, February 29, 2008) are now online.

Call for OA to publicly-funded research data in the EU

Philipa Mladovsky, Elias Mossialos, and Martin McKee, Improving access to research data in Europe, BMJ, February 9, 2008.  An editorial.  (Thanks to Napoleon Miradon.)  Only a small fragment is free online for non-subscribers, like me:  

The European Commission needs to promote access to the data whose collection it has financed.

The year 2007 marks the beginning of the European Commission’s seventh framework programme for research and technological development, its main vehicle for funding research over the next seven years. It is more ambitious than...the sixth framework programme...with a large increase in funding (63%)....Yet the seventh framework programme has done little to promote access to the data whose collection it will finance.

This lack of concrete policies on access to data in Europe contrasts with the proliferation of wider international initiatives over recent years. Such initiatives have been particularly successful in genomics and proteomics, and more recently in the field of chemistry, but they have also shown promise in health....

OA and the differences between journal culture and book culture

Michael Jensen, Open Access, re Journals vs. Books, Publishing Frontier, February 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

While not as extreme as Snow’s “two cultures” of sciences and humanities, the distinctions between the two cultures of books and journals became clear [in my earlier job as the first electronic publisher at a major university press]....

What I learned, in short, and necessarily bluntly:

Journals are about throughput. Books are about craftsmanship.

This is not to demean either publishing variant — they both serve key scholarly needs. But in much of the discussions on these topics, too often “open access” is thought to mean the same thing for every kind of document. Non-publishers in particular often presume that the same rules apply to encyclopedias as apply to monographs, as apply to journal articles. But in publishing, at least, it’s not the case....

Each book was a child, nurtured in its embryonic and infant stages, eventually dressed up really nicely as a toddler, and sent out into the world once grown-up.

The acquiring editor had a vested parental interest in ensuring that this special, wonderful thing would get the life it deserved. He or she pressured the Marketing department for appropriate promotion. She or he pressured Production to make sure it was designed appropriately for the content. It was a unique, special, rich, complex, discipline-affecting work of staggering value, at least within a tiny slice of academia. The editors were proud to have acquired it. They wanted to reach the people who would be moved by it. As a consequence, each book was a polished gem.

Journals, however, were all about throughput, driven by the schedule of subscription: every quarter, or every month, the articles were bullied out of editors, who bullied their writers and their reviewers for material. And the articles came through the pipe....

These two cultures may explain why, at least to my mind, journals were among the first to “go digital.” It made eminent sense: it’s easier to “digitize” the throughput process than the nurturance process.

Journals were already template-based (essentially, CSS-ready). Journals publishers were already greatly focused on automating processes. Economies of scale could make journals production and throughput much more efficient....

Libraries, who are also about throughput (and organization) of products, are an ideal partner for journals production. I’m not so sanguine about libraries being ideal partners for production of the “special.” They didn’t evolve that way, nor are they optimally staffed for the sort of specific promotion, marketing, and outreach required for each unique book-length publication.

How publishers make things “open access” depends on technical infrastructure, and publication content types, and available skill sets and online savvy. But it also depends on the nature of the product....

Comment.  Jensen is a pioneer of OA book publishing.  Under his leadership, the National Academies Press has been publishing dual (OA and non-OA) editions of all its research monographs since 1994.  He has also written frequently about the NAP's experience that the OA editions increased the net sales of the print editions.  See, for example, his articles on this from 2001, 2005, and 2007.

Comments on Canadian call for OA to publicly-funded research

Last October, Library and Archives Canada released its Canadian Digital Information Strategy for public comment.  The draft called for "timely and open online access to Canada's public information and publicly-funded research information and data."

LAC has now released the public comments.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Unfortunately, there's no summary, at least not yet.  Without reading each response, or making a Google co-op search engine to index the collection, we won't be able to tell what they say about the call for OA to publicly-funded research.

More on copyright and OA

James G. Neal, Update on Key U.S. Copyright Developments, a presentation at EDUCAUSE Live, February 29, 2008.

Abstract:   Copyright continues to be a core interest of the higher education and academic library communities. This briefing will focus on eight critical legislative and legal arenas where the United States will be working on copyright: orphan works, digital fair use, broadcast flag, Section 1201 anti-circumvention rulemaking, electronic reserves, peer-to-peer file sharing, open access to government-funded research, and the report of the Section 108 Study Group on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. The work of the study group will be highlighted, including its primary findings and recommendations. In addition, two important recent studies will be described and their importance for libraries will be cited. The advocacy and educational roles and responsibilities of librarians on copyright also will be outlined.

Notes on the SCOAP3 US Focal Meeting

Peter Brantley has blogged some notes on the SCOAP3 US Focal Meeting (Berkeley, February 29, 2008). 

Rick Luce, Emory Univ.:

Open access has been seen as a solution to the pricing crisis. But over the course of a decade, it has not made much real progress....

Salvatore Mele, CERN....

HEP [high energy physics] and Open access: synergy. HEP is decades ahead in thinking open access - for over 40 years, mountains of paper preprint were shipped all over the world. Cost CERN: $1.5M a year. HEP launched arXiv in 1991, the archetypal open archive. Also established the first open access peer reviewed electronic journals.

HEP is a small connected, community (<20,000), publishes a small number of articles (<10,000), in a small number of journals (<10). Reader and author communities overlap. Open access is second nature: posting on arXiv before even submitting to a journal is common practice. No mandate, no debate, no advocacy — author-driven. Author-formatted post-peer-review routinely uploaded. Open access has strong support from LHC [large hadron collider] communities.

In August 2007, ICFA (Int’l Committee for Future Accelerators) “encourages all concerned parties from all world regions to actively get involved in the scoap3 initiative to assure its success.” In January 2008, HEP Advisory Panel of the U.S. DoE “strongly supports this initiative contingent to its sustainability.”

Journals are on the way to losing — or have lost — a century-old role as vehicles of scholarly communication.

Nonetheless,...[t]he HEP community needs high quality journals, as our interface with “officialdom.” Implicitly, the HEP community supports this role by purchasing subscriptions, as it continues to read only at arXiv. Subscription prices ultimately make the model unsustainable. As an “all-arXiv” discipline, HEP is at high risk to see its journals canceled by large research libraries (which is already happening)....

[F]ull text downloads per user range from 0.6 to 0.1 per year in the core HEP-focussed journals. Physicists do not read HEP journals; they read arXiv.

Eventually all of scholarship will be in this position, reading from open access and community portals....

Today: funding bodies, through libraries, buy journal subscriptions to support peer-review service and to allow their patrons to read articles. Tomorrow: Funding bodies and libraries contribute to the SCOAP3 consortium that pays centrally for peer-review services. Articles are free to read for everyone....

LHC is the largest collaboration that science has ever seen; in contrast, SCOAP3 is peanuts....

So far, over half of the total necessary has already been pledged or committed as of the end of February 2008 (and moving quickly)....

Once a sizeable fraction of the budget is pledged, SCOAP3 can issue a tender to publishers....

Friday, February 29, 2008

Grant for ALA copyright advocacy programs

MacArthur grant to bolster public interest, advocacy in digital copyright, press release, American Library Association, February 27, 2008.

The American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) announces that its major digital copyright programs and initiatives to strengthen the public access to information, especially in libraries, will be supported by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The grant of $385,000 will cover calendar years 2008 and 2009, and will fund such OITP activities as the International Copyright Advocates, the Copyright Advisory Network, and strategic assessment of technological and societal trends to enable proactive action by the library community. ...

See also the note in Library Journal's Academic Newswire.

UAuckland to embed CC metadata for theses in its IR

Michelle Thorne, University of Auckland embeds CC licensing, Creative Commons blog, February 28, 2008.

The University of Auckland has just announced that they have embedded Creative Commons licensing for all new submissions by PhD students into the university’s digital repository, ResearchSpace.

From the repository’s librarian Leonie Hayes:

“At the moment the showcase collection is PhD theses, there are nearly 800 in the PhD collection, most are open access. There are another 900 awaiting signoff from authors. When new graduates submit online they have a choice of adding a CC licence along with their consent for a digital copy.

We are also investigating application of Creative Commons licenses to our other digital collections.” ...

Podcast on the Harvard policy and POD

The February 27 episode of Digital Campus covers the Harvard FAS policy, print-on-demand, and other topics. (Thanks to EdWired.)

JoVE to publish videos in Wiley partnership

The Journal of Visualized Experiments has inked a deal with Wiley-Blackwell journal Current Protocols. From the Blackwell press release on February 20:
Current Protocols will use its large database to identify research labs with the most advanced state-of-the art experimental approaches for filming and video publication produced by JoVE. During the first year of the collaborative work, the two companies plan to produce and publish 200 experimental videos online.
On February 22, Alla Katsnelson posted on a Scientist blog that
Moshe Pritsker, CEO of JoVE, told The Scientist this week that he had also signed similar deals with Annual Reviews and Springer Protocols.
Attila Chordash blogs on February 26 that the videos will be apparently OA (the partner journals are not).

How to choose the best license for a wiki

Hope R. Botterbusch and Preston Parker, Choosing the Best License for Wiki Content, TechNewsWorld, February 26, 2008. Does what it says on the tin.

New OA journal on research notes from BMC

BMC Research Notes is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal published by BioMed Central. Research Notes will publish "scientifically sound research across all fields of biology and medicine, enabling authors to publish updates to previous research, software tools and databases, data sets, small-scale clinical studies, and reports of confirmatory or 'negative' results ... descriptions of incremental improvements to methods ... short correspondence items and hypotheses." The journal was announced on February 26. See also this second announcement. From the former:
... BMC Research Notes provides a home for short publications, case series, incremental updates to previous work, results of individual experiments and similar material that currently lacks a suitable outlet. The intention is to reduce the loss suffered by the research community when such results remain unpublished. ...
Update. See also this blog post by Matt Hodgkinson at BioMed Central.

Authors: tell your librarians about anti-green journals

Heather Morrison, No to author's rights? Let your librarian know!, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 25, 2008.
Authors, if your publisher will not permit you to keep your rights to your own work - to self-archive as you please, to sign the Author's Addendum of your choice - be sure to let your librarian know!

After all, there isn't much of a future for a journal that treats its authors this way; such a journal may be said to be Aiming for Obscurity.

Perhaps cancelling the journal would be prudent? Strictly for the financial best interest of the university, of course. There is so much pressure to keep buying more and more journals; it would be a relief to hear that there is one that the library can let go.

Contest for data mashup concepts

The Netsqured Mashup Project Challenge will award cash prizes for ideas for data mashups for social change. Deadline to submit ideas is March 14. They've got $100,000, to be divided among 20 projects. They'll also help connect projects with the help necessary to bring the idea to life. (Thanks to Science Commons.)

Perspective of the author of an OA textbook

On February 25, Ellen Finnie Duranceau posted a podcast by John H. Lienhard V, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, speaking about this OA textbook on heat transfer.

First editorial from the new editor of PLoS Biology

Jonathan A. Eisen, PLoS Biology 2.0, PLoS Biology, February 26, 2008. (See also the announcement of Eisen's appointment.)

... First, I want to work to preserve and improve upon the partnership between academic and professional editors that makes PLoS Biology different from other top-tier journals ... This partnership presents many difficulties in running the journal and plotting its future, as unlike society journals or other specialty journals, PLoS Biology Academic Editors are from all over the map, literally and figuratively. But what can unite the Academic Editors is OA itself, and I believe that OA provides a powerful bridge to get the Academic Editor community more involved in the journal beyond just shepherding papers.

Second, I want to work with the professional staff at PLoS Biology, the Academic Editors, and anyone else in the community who shares my desire to build new initiatives that will keep PLoS Biology as a top-tier journal. These would include ideas like producing issues dedicated to particular themes, actively recruiting excellent papers in fields where OA is not yet common, producing more outreach and educational material, and engaging bloggers and fully embracing the Web 2.0 world.

Finally, I want to leverage PLoS Biology's position as one of the best and best-known OA journals to energize the OA movement itself. The Creative Commons licenses that PLoS journals use provide a wealth of benefits to users—who are restricted only by their creativity in how they can use PLoS Biology's contents. I am particularly interested in promoting ways for educators to take full advantage of the benefits of unrestricted, free access to scientific publications. ... I also believe that PLoS Biology can help provide more direct benefits to those who choose to publish in OA journals by lobbying university promotion and hiring committees, funding agencies, and others to encourage OA publishing and to reward it. Given that there are various inducements for other aspects of open science (e.g., many funding agencies require open data release and encourage making software open source), why should there not be rewards for OA publishing? ...

White paper to help universities help authors comply with the NIH policy

SPARC, Science Commons, and ARL Offer Options for University Implementation of New NIH Public Access Policy, a press release from SPARC, February 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Science Commons, and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have jointly released a white paper to help university and medical school administrators ensure their institutions comply with public access requirements that are soon to be a condition of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.

Effective April 7, 2008, investigators must deposit articles stemming from NIH funding into the agency's PubMed Central online archive, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication in a journal. Complying with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy: Copyright Considerations and Options will help provosts, research administrators, and campus counsel understand their institution's copyright-related obligations and options under the new Congressionally mandated policy, which was announced in January and replaces an earlier voluntary approach.

The timely analysis was prepared by Michael W. Carroll, an attorney, copyright expert, and faculty member at Villanova University law school. Carroll reviews the policy and its background, explains the legal context, and presents six alternative copyright management strategies that will help grantee institutions assure they reserve the necessary rights for articles to be made available in PubMed Central.

Carroll has been involved for several years in copyright issues as a member of the Creative Commons board and an advisor to Science Commons. In 2004 he worked with SPARC to develop the popular SPARC Author Addendum,  which enables authors to reserve rights to deposit their works in open online archives....

[S]aid Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC: "The sooner we can get effective implementing mechanisms in place, the sooner researchers, institutions, and the public can put PubMed Central to work. With April implementation drawing near, this paper will be a great tool to help administrators jumpstart the local planning process."

"Congress and the NIH recognize that the Internet makes a difference," said John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science Commons. "Faculty authors can no longer sign away their copyrights in a business-as-usual manner when doing so means that their work will never be openly accessible over the Internet. This white paper is a step in making sure authors and universities understand how to move forward with a solid legal footing." ...

Update. Also see Georgia Harper's analysis: NIH Open Access Mandate: A Careful Look at Two Options for Retaining Authors’ Rights – “Do Nothing" and “Do it Early and Efficiently”.

More US institutions join SCOAP3

The libraries of four of the national laboratories of the US Department of Energy have joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.  The four libraries are from the Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

At the same time, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) expressed an interest in joining the project.

OA platform for the German foreign historical institutes

Gudrun Gersmann is building an OA platform for the research of the six German historical institutes outside Germany, such as the Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris where Gersmann is the Director.  The site should launch in October 2008.  (Thanks for Informationsplattform Open Access.)

Also see the slide presentation on given by Gersmann and Michaell Kaiser earlier this week at the DFG-DINI conference in Berlin.

Presentations on OA archiving in Germany

Upgrade for JULIET list of funder OA policies

SHERPA has upgraded its JULIET directory of funder OA policies.  JULIET now tracks funder policies on three fronts:  OA publishing, OA text archiving, and OA data archiving, and for each one distinguishes different levels of strength or support for OA.

PS:  For other directories of funder OA policies, see the BMC table and the ROARMAP list.

Update.  Also see the SHERPA press release on the JULIET upgrade.

Open knowledge definition now in Polish

State of OA in folklore studies, part 3

Jason Baird Jackson, Open Access Folkloristics (Part 3 of 3), Open Access Anthropology, February 28, 2008. Part 3 of the review of the field: see part 1 and part 2.

... While sharing a great deal of common ground and common history, folklore studies and anthropology pose a contrast relative to OA publishing. In anthropology there is significant activism relative to OA and clear sense of a debate about the future to be engaged in. Developments in the American Anthropological Association’s publications program (discussed on Savage Minds and in the pages of higher education periodicals) have been a catalyst for these conversations. By contrast, far fewer folklorists are aware of such debates yet, because of the social organization and political economy of their field, OA is much less of a major transformation in the means of doing business for folklore studies. Barriers to achieving OA are much lower, but the longer term values that OA connects up with are also central to many folklorists sense of purpose.

This is perhaps clearest for the domain known as “public folklore.” Many U.S. folklorists work in the public sector, outside academia. Public folklore work centers on community-based culture work, including activities such as documenting the creative lives of traditional artists, developing public programs (festivals, exhibitions, concerts, presentations, demonstrations, etc.), and implementing public grant and curriculum initiatives. Public folklore programs, which are generally not-for-profits or part of state or local governments, have long sought the most cost effective means available by which to bring their research–both as documentation and as curated products–to the attention of various stakeholders, including students, source communities, policy makers and the general public. This goal has roots in the long term values of folklore studies in general, but it is also a very practical strategy at several levels, from the contingencies of project management through to the politics of program funding. The principles of open access, and even of open data, whether recognized as such or not, seem like second nature to many folklorists. ...

OA makes interdisciplinary research more visible

Chris Leonard, Open Access is the answer for interdisciplinary research, PhysMath Central Blog, February 25, 2008.

A fascinating feature on interdisciplinary research in the lastest issue of Nature. Of particular interest is this quote:

“Younger faculty tend to be concerned that if they get involved [in interdisciplinary work], their colleagues in the departments in charge of promotion and tenure will feel they haven't lived up to the standards of the discipline.” Other problems, he says, include finding places to publish — “it's much easier for people to get published in traditional disciplinary settings” — and finding an audience. A physicist could, say, publish a paper on stock-market patterns in Physical Review E, but how many economists will read it is another matter."

How many economists would subscribe, have access to or search a physics journal? Probably not many. However, research published in open access journals requires no subscription, is available to all and - due to the full-text being available online - is indexed by regular search engines, as well as the more specialist A&I databases. Serendipity is afoot. ...

Blog on data in repositories

Luis Martinez Uribe has launched a blog on how the Oxford repository can support research data. The first post was February 13.

Interview with blogger John Dupuis

Bora Zivkovic, The Warlord in the Library: Interview with John Dupuis, A Blog Around The Clock, February 22, 2008. Dupuis is the author of Confessions of a Science Librarian.

...[L]ook at what's happening in the High Energy Physics field with the SCOAP3 project! Imagine a world where libraries could band together to pay publishers to make their journals all Open Access. It's almost a utopian dream. ...

Realistically, I think it'll be at least 5 to maybe 10 years before we see a widely dispersed OA tipping point, and a variety of publishing business models will still exist beyond that point. I hope I'm wrong, but I think my New York Giants were a better bet to win the Super Bowl. ...

Johns Hopkins joins Open Content Alliance

Sarah Grant, Hopkins digitizes special collection, Johns Hopkins News-Letter, February 21, 2008. Apparently the first materials to be digitized in the university's partnership with the Open Content Alliance are a special collection of "anti-slavery pamphlets and publications that ran from the late 19th century through the Reconstruction period" compiled by abolitionist leader James Birney.

Comment. The article makes a number of confusing statements, the most egregious of which is the claim that materials digitized through the program are "available for downloading and reuse for any member of OCA". In fact, the materials are OA, not just for universities participating in the Open Content Alliance.

On Science Commons' CC Zero project

Terry Hancock, Promoting the Public Domain with Creative Commons' CC0 Initiative, Free Software Magazine, February 25, 2008. Discusses Science Commons' Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data, the CC Zero waiver and assertion, and the CC Public Domain Dedication.

OA and taxonomy

Kevin Zelnio, Is the World of Taxonomy Ready for PLoS Systematics?, The Other 95% blog, February 20, 2008. (Thanks to C.R. McClain.)

... Taxonomists need to improve the visibility and relevance of the field to ensure a continued, or at the least renewed, interest for the study of species, either from a theoretical, philosophical or practical framework. One way to contribute to increasing the visibility of taxonomic research is to publish in Open Access (OA). Several studies have shown there to be a citation advantage in OA papers (Eysenbach 2006). Zootaxa has taken the initiative in the taxonomy world by offering to publish any peer-reviewed taxonomic work free of charge for subscriber access and $20/page for OA. Other taxonomic "niche" journals exist with various financial differences, but have yet to attain the reputation of Zootaxa to my knowledge. But it is my own feeling that Zootaxa is only known well among other taxonomists, with the majority of other beneficiaries either unable to obtain articles because the bulk of the articles are locked behind the subscriber wall. This also has the effect of making less text available for search engines, such as Google Scholar. ...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New FOSS tool for IRs

University Scholarly Knowledge Inventory System (U-SKIS) is free and open source software developed at the University of Utah. U-SKIS "tracks .pdf files, records communication, and provides publisher's archiving policies to determine what may be added to institutional repositories." Version 1.0 was released on February 22. (Thanks to digitizationblog.)

Nebraska libraries to carry OA books

Timothy Vollmer, Nebraska Library Commission adds CC-licensed books to collection, Creative Commons blog, February 22, 2008.

... The NLC staff went to work cataloging and then posting electronic versions of CC-licensed works like Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Steven Poole’s Trigger Happy to the library’s web server. Patrons can now access these and other CC-licensed books from the online library catalog. Sauers adds that some of the CC-licensed titles were also printed as spiral-bound books so they could be added to the library’s physical collection.

The Nebraska Library Commission now offers nine CC-licensed electronic titles, and hopes to add more. ...

Future paths for the NSDL

David McArthur, National Science Digital Library: Shaping Education's Cyberinfrastructure, Computer, February 2008. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

... [T]he National Science Foundation is now rethinking NSDL's status as a research program. In one sense, it remains a typical NSF program, operating through the traditional NSF project-award cycle of publishing a solicitation, receiving proposals from R&D teams, and awarding the best among them. In other ways, it is an atypical program because the goal of its projects is not simply to broaden the knowledge base of science education research and practice; it is also to build an integrated enterprise that will persist and be valuable to learners and teachers of all ages.

But whether typical or not, NSDL has reached the point at which it must either change substantially or start winding down. Many NSF programs come and go in less than a decade, often after accomplishing their primary goals and laying a foundation for a new research agenda. As a library, NSDL is becoming mature enough to be an operational center. Because NSF is primarily a research agency, investing further in NSDL would seem to run counter to NSF's policy of not supporting routine science and education operations.

Nonetheless, there are compelling arguments for NSF's continued investment in NSDL ... I believe that NSDL gives NSF an opportunity to tighten the link among R&D projects: The library is poised to provide a standardized technical infrastructure that encourages—perhaps even requires—a much higher degree of project interaction.

In that mission, I see NSDL growing both as a platform for improving the productivity of educational resource development and transforming education research and also as a tool for creating and managing scientific knowledge about education and learning. More broadly, NSDL could be a key component in building a new cyberinfrastructure for education and education research.

NSF's continued investment in NSDL would have strong implications for how it funds education R&D and how it manages projects to foster effective partnerships among highly diverse and distributed groups of education researchers, developers, and practitioners....

New OA journal on museum anthropology

Museum Anthropology Review is a new OA journal published by the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries. The journal was announced on February 21. It began in February 2007 as a pilot project. The journal is peer-reviewed and edited by Jason Baird Jackson, associate professor in folklore and ethnomusicology at IU. From the announcement, on the journal's motivation:

...Jackson founded Museum Anthropology Review on the basis of his experiences as editor of an established closed-access journal in his field -- the similarly titled and focused Museum Anthropology. Unlike Museum Anthropology Review, this more established journal is published by the American Anthropological Association in a partnership with the for-profit publisher Wiley-Blackwell.

"The costs associated with publishing in the traditional mode are astronomical," Jackson said. "Publication of a single research article in Museum Anthropology can cost thousands of dollars and, when published, the results will then be available to a small proportion of people worldwide."

Jackson said that making scholarly work more easily and affordably accessible is especially important in fields like folklore and anthropology that are rooted in the study of local cultures worldwide.

"If, for instance, a scholar spends months documenting the work of an elderly woodcarver living in a small American town and then writes about what she learned in a peer-reviewed research article, I have an obligation as her editor to make it as easy as possible for the schoolchildren of that town -- or the artist's grandchildren -- to gain access to her writing. Open access repositories and journals, in their varied forms, help make this possible." ...

Comment. See also this Inside Higher Ed story on the journal.

Clarification on the Gutenberg-e business model

Letter from Jim Jordan about Gutenberg-e, Columbia University Press blog, February 28, 2008.  Jim Jordan is the President and Director of Columbia University Press.  Excerpt:

The recent Chronicle of Higher Education article about Gutenberg-e got a number of facts wrong, which is not surprising given the fact that Columbia University Press was not contacted before the article was published.

First, it is wrong in fact and in spirit to conclude that the Press has radically restructured the Project from a subscription only to an open access model. Rather the Press recognized some months ago that with so few subscriptions purchased for its online version of these electronic works, usage would continue to be disappointing, and promotion would continue to be made all the more difficult. So the Press insisted that the project explore a working relationship with the ACLS e-history project as a service to our authors and their works. ACLS has an installed user base nearly 10 times the size of the former Gutenberg-e site which the Press managed in collaboration with the Columbia Libraries....

[T]he Press did not migrate the project to Open Access abandoning a subscription model. Rather we have moved it to a more mature and widely used subscription platform. A significant disappointment for me is that there was so little support within the library community to promote and support the project as a service to scholarship. Certainly the modest subscription costs for these projects were a barrier to no one. Personally, I remain skeptical of the long term value of open access publishing to support the kind of rich and deep scholarly publishing our industry has developed over many years. Open access shifts the costs, but does not eliminate them. To the extent that it also shifts the expertise, it is a threat to all of us who care about publishing scholarship.

The Open Access model for Gutenberg-e resides at the Columbia Libraries and was created subsequently. We wish it every success. It is important to realize that its success will be largely influenced by the tremendous resources already expended to create these projects in the first place....

All should be wary of any conclusions being made from this very unusual and highly costly experiment about the superiority of open access publishing....

Update. Jim Jordan clarifies further in a post on LibLicense, March 6, 2008.

Caltech joins SCOAP3

The Caltech Library is joining CERN's SCOAP3 project, making it the second institution in the US to do so, after the University of California.

More on the Harvard OA mandate from the Harvard librarian

Newsmaker Interview, Part II: Harvard University Librarian Robert Darnton, Library Journal Academic Newswire, February 28, 2008.  Part I of this interview appeared two days ago (and blogged here the same day).  Excerpt:

Some publishers, especially small publishers and scientific societies, argue that open access (OA) will harm their journals. Do you buy that argument?

No. I really don't. There are many, many kinds of journals, and I imagine a near future where there will be coexistence between journals and open access repositories. You take a subject like physics, there are a number of extremely wonderful, successful, expensive journals, and not one is opposed to open access repositories. They don't feel threatened that repositories are going to replace them. They aren't, because these journals package information in a convenient and useful way.

Over the last 20 years, more journals have been founded in more and more specialized fields. I think the function of the specialized, small journal is a valid and a valuable one. The vast majority of college professors benefit from these journals bringing together work from all over the world. Often they have a quasi-newsletter component to them, workshops, colloquia, conferences, etc. I think subscribers understand that and will continue to subscribe for that reason. Put another way, an article from a Harvard professor that will appear every three to five years, will not provoke subscribers to quit a journal and get the article free from the repository.

The Harvard OA motion pertains specifically to articles, but has there been any thought about books?

Yes, lots of thoughts. But we're being very careful moving forward. One thing that I think is crucial for us is to figure out a way to collaborate with the Harvard University Press....

[I]f Harvard University Press goes in the direction of electronic publishing, the library would work with it and you can imagine all kinds of things happening. But we want to be very careful. We're not trying to cut anyone out or monopolize anything. We want to provide leadership in developing high quality scholarly communication, but if that is to happen we will need university presses....

Any thoughts on the reception the motion has received outside of Harvard?

I'm delighted. Of course, there are arguments against, and some are indignant at the whole idea. But anything as innovative as this is bound to get some backs up. That doesn't worry me. On the contrary, it is good that this has captured imaginations and caused debate. Maybe someone will come up with an improved model --it's not as if Harvard has the last word on any of this. I hope this will help transform the whole landscape of learning, making it more open, more accessible, and democratizing the process. I hope it snowballs and will improve things after what has been very, very tough era.

Leveraging established recognition for new OA journals

Scott Jaschik, Abandoning Print, Not Peer Review, Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2008.

... There are hundreds of scholarly journals published online, plenty of them free. But what makes Museum Anthropology Review’s launch notable is that it is being led by the same editor as the traditional journal, Museum Anthropology, using the exact same peer review system. For years, the criticism of the free, online model has been that it would be impossible for it to replicate the quality control offered by traditional publishing. When online journal publishers have boasted of their quality control, print loyalists have said, in effect, “well maybe it’s good, but it can’t be as good as what we’re doing.”

To this subjective criticism, open access advocates can now point to someone who knows exactly what the standards are at both journals, as he’s leading them both. And while the professor has set up the journal with his own university library, this project isn’t focused on one university’s scholarship, but the best articles in the field — again, precisely the model that makes the best journals vital to scholars. ...

Christopher Kelty, a visiting assistant professor of the history of science at Harvard University, said he sees the development of this new online alternative as important far beyond one specialized area of scholarship. The traditional journal in the field, Museum Anthropology, was published through the American Anthropological Association, which made a controversial deal with Wiley-Blackwell last year to take over management of the association’s journals. The Indiana model isn’t just online and free, but is much more decentralized, Kelty noted, giving individual editors and libraries the ability to work out arrangements that make sense for each publication.

“Centralizing everything and making everyone publish the same kinds of articles with the same formats and same constraints may cut costs, but it deadens the possibility for innovation or editorial vibrancy,” Kelty said. “It does a disservice to the anthropologists who have agreed to edit section journals and who have done so primarily because of the intellectual challenge it offers in shaping a new intellectual tradition, responding to current events or transforming a journal with new blood.”

Kelty added that the birth of the online, independent model isn’t just “a sign of the times” but is “the sign of the end times” for traditional journal publishing. ...

Michael Geist on "books 2.0"

Michael Geist, Canadians Are Playing Key Role in 'Books 2.0', Toronto Star, February 25, 2008. Discusses Wikitravel Press, which offers print-on-demand copies of CC-licensed books collaboratively edited online, and LibriVox, which creates audiobook recordings of public domain texts.

Create Change Canada

CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries) and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) have launched a Canadian version of Create Change, the useful introduction to scholarly communication and OA.  From today's announcement:

...The original Create Change Web site was developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and SPARC with support from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

The Create Change Web site focuses on the fact that the ways faculty share and use academic research results are changing rapidly and irreversibly. The site outlines how faster and wider sharing of journal articles, research data, simulations, syntheses, analyses, and other findings fuels the advance of knowledge. It offers practical ways faculty can look out for their own interests as researchers. Create Change Canada introduces the Canadian voice on policy issues and highlights Canadian researcher experiences in English and in French....

“The introduction of national public access policies to publicly funded research is another reason why researchers are thinking carefully about their rights and opportunities for greater exposure,” said SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph. “Create Change Canada will provide much-needed resources and support for the research community.” ...

The Create Change Canada Web site includes sections on digital scholarship and new modes of communication; examples of change in diverse fields; and ways to stay informed of new developments. It offers tailored guidance for researchers who play many roles in their professional lives – as researcher, author, reviewer, editor, editorial board member, society member, faculty member, or teacher. The site features selected news items; an ongoing series of interviews with scholars from different disciplines; and scores of links to other Web sites and resources....

Open knowledge definition in Danish

The Open Knowledge Definition has been translated into Danish.

New OA books from Hamburg UP

Hamburg University Press has announced three new OA books.  Read the announcement in German or Google's English.

PS:  In July 2007, the press began publishing all new titles in OA editions with a POD option.

More on the OA journal fund at Berkeley

The University of California at Berkeley has released more information on its fund to support OA journals (first announced and blogged here last month):

For the next 18 months, campus researchers can obtain funding to publish their work in open-access journals, which typically charge authors a fee to make their work available online immediately upon publication at no cost to readers. Funds are also available for publication in traditional, fee-for-access journals offering an open-access option to researchers willing to pay for the privilege. The subsidies will pay for publishing costs not covered by grants or contracts.

Under the newly launched Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII), faculty, postdocs, and graduate students can apply for campus funding to subsidize the entire amount, up to $3,000, charged by such open-access publishers as the nonprofit Public Library of Science (PLoS) and the for-profit BioMed Central. The program will also cover up to half the amount charged by so-called hybrid journals, which post a portion of their content online immediately upon publication. A growing number of venerable, for-profit academic publishers — including industry giants like Elsevier (with more than 2,000 journals) and Springer (with 1,300) — now make that option available to authors....

The initiative has its genesis in a 2005 conference here on scholarly publishing and the challenges of ensuring that researchers’ work is broadly accessible by readers on- and off-campus. The Berkeley Library’s budget has been flat since 2001, while journal prices continue to rise.

“The trend is just unsustainable,” says Chuck Eckman, the campus’s associate University Librarian and director of collections....

[Eckman] notes that other U.S. institutions, including the University of Wisconsin and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have started smaller subsidy programs for faculty researchers, as have some in Europe.

For Berkeley, the concern grows that as journals price themselves out of the market, research performed by a Berkeley scholar might not be available in a campus library. And unless the researcher has opted to publish in an open-access format, the work might not be available online either for six months or more, the standard embargo for traditional journals, including so-called society journals published by associations like the National Academy of Sciences.

“Something’s not working on the library side, and we’re interested in new ways of thinking about how we might create a sustainable budget,” says Eckman. “And while it isn’t clear yet whether open access can accomplish that, we want to be exploratory, rather than just sitting back and taking the old path of continuing to cancel and cancel and cancel.” ...

Comment.  I support university funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  But I must point out that OA journals do not "typically charge" these fees.  On the contrary.  Most OA journals charge no publication fees.  In December 2007, Bill Hooker's survey of all full-OA journals in the DOAJ found that 67% charged no publication fees.  The month before, Caroline Sutton and I found that 83% of OA society journals charged no publication fees.

Reflections on the university as publisher

Diane Harley (ed.), The University as Publisher:  Summary of a Meeting Held at UC Berkeley on November 1, 2007, Center for Studies in Higher Education, February 2008.  (Thanks to Chris Kelty.)  Excerpt:

...Laura Brown, Senior Advisor, Ithaka, and Former President, Oxford University Press...

The Ithaka study found that, in theory, universities want a fair marketplace for distributing information, but they lack a vision of what it should look like, as well as the collective will to address and harness needed resources. As a result, universities, through the publishing efforts and advocacy of their libraries, tend to support open access in response to the publishing question, leaving their presses to fend for themselves in the increasingly competitive world of commercial scholarly publishing....

Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus, Stanford University, and Editor-in-Chief, Science

Science is most concerned with the growth of the open access movement and the question of how to construct a business model that can work within an open access environment. Print can be profitable today, but making electronic dissemination pay is something that no one has really figured out yet. Consequently, with print, the revenue is greater; with electronic, access is greater.

In relation to an author-pays model, the charge can only be met if a scholar holds an NIH grant which, in effect, means only bio-medicine can afford to publish under the auspices of this model. It is unclear how long open access, such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS), will thrive once the grants like those from Moore Foundation run out. There are great open access journals in existence so we can only hope that someone finds a way to make them thrive as part of the marketplace.

There are several harsh realities about publishing a journal. Firstly, it costs just as much to reject a paper as to accept one, yet a journal receives no fees for the “dead weight” of rejected papers. Second,...journals are not compensated for the papers they reject nor are compensated for papers that are not cited....

Nick Jewell, Vice Provost-Academic Personnel, University of California Office of the President....

Journal subscription as it stands is an inefficient way of accessing information as you may only want two out of 20 papers. Electronic searching allows you to customize that information....

Catherine Candee, [Director, Publishing Services, California Digital Library]

We do not want to get stuck on the discussion of why a university would want to get into publishing; it does not make sense necessarily if it is just more of the same (especially since it costs $150,000 and takes two years to start a journal.) But it is useful to talk about the mission to support education and research. Publication is just one piece of that. Content is created and shared, which supports broader society. Universities can give back what they are supposed to give back. If we take that approach, then we have to ask ourselves if current publishing methods are serving the public. And the answer is “no;” they are falling behind what is needed. Most of the world does not have access to the research and cannot exploit the technology that is available so there is a problem. The question, then, is: what does it take to support education and teaching, and what role does the university have in this? This is a broader discussion than should the university be a publisher....

Jim Pitman, Department of Statistics, UC Berkeley

One huge misconception is that the only opportunity for publishing is the author-pays model. That is false. We publish 10 to 12 scientific journals. Some are traditional subscription, but we are starting open-access publications at the rate of two to three a year. It can be done for $10,000 inside of six months. If you have connections, you have human infrastructure (i.e., faculty who will publish). You need a community of scholars to contribute content and a respected association for quality control and peer review. It does not cost $150,000 and take two years if you have the infrastructure in place. Open source software/systems for e-publishing provide a sophisticated publishing platform (e.g., DSpace). You can have a whole portfolio of open-access journals and then have an income stream from elsewhere within the university to support them, instead of spending $27 million a year on subscriptions to commercial journals. Just take a million dollars of that and create the electronic journal platform. Peer review by the university is not needed; it would be foolish for the university to set itself up as the arbiter of what is worth printing. Universities can invite societies and associations to be reviewers, and instead just provide the platform for publishing. Universities have said “no” in the past to cooperation with third parties to create journals, but they need to rethink such collaborations....

Summary of Roundtable Discussion....

Attitudes about Openness and Access....

Diane Harley noted that...there are significant traditional differences from discipline to discipline in terms of how comfortable scholars are in sharing their work at its early stages in writing. In physics, astrophysics, and economics for example, sharing of well-developed preprints freely is the norm. In biology and history, the opposite is true.

Donald Kennedy agreed that there will be a multi-spatial connectivity for the new generation and Science has recognized that younger readers access the material online while older readers may wait for the print copy. But he also noted that younger scholars will continue to be quite conservative and guided by their mentors in the work world.

Shel Waggener concurred on some of these points. Today’s generation can follow a conservative model in the work world but expect to have another digital persona for other purposes. They expect a level of openness and access that the older generation would have been shocked to assume would be available and want to move through different environments easily without worrying about privacy. There are other parts of the picture besides age demographics according to Cliff Lynch. For example, the high achievers in any field may be more interested in finishing and disseminating their research in the field rather than worrying about formal publishing and tenure....

OA to taxonomy research and species descriptions

Donat Agosti has blogged some notes on the recent meeting, IPR and the web: challenges for taxonomy (London, February 20, 2008).  Excerpt:

..."You can only protect what you know..." and with literally no access to the more than 10 Millions of descriptions, and no clear strategy yet who to do this in the current misunderstood and applied copyright framework, we fare not very well.

Practical aspects publishing side came up only at the end of my lecture, and in discussions stressing the point that we need at least self archiving (Green Road) or better find ways for open access policy, that must assure that we do not sign any contracts and give a way exclusive rights to publishers....

Egloff gave a legal perspective (I think, he was one of the very few legal professionals in the room) which essentially would say that with his interpretation of the law, descriptions [of species] can not be copyrighted....It is also possible to temporarily make copies of publications for example in a process to mark them up and extract the descriptions....

My own presentation...[made] the case that we need to make content accessible, how we could do it (see by providing the tools to convert legacy publications into semantically enhanced publications with an emphasis on access to descriptions, as well as the respective infrastructure to provide access to them. There will be no single way to get there, so we need to consider the Green and Gold Road to open access, and furthermore whether we want to keep publishing descriptions the same old way or whether we better make sure we can use web publications and strive for comprehensive databases and ontologies providing a more or less uniform access to the publications....

This latter point has been stressed with Vince Smith and Dave Roberts points about Scratchpads.
One point that needs be explored is the question of why we begun to talk about publications in the first hand. Clearly, if we talk about simple access to pdf copies, there is little chance to succeed, besides implementing the Green Road, but which does not allow machine readable access....

It is time, that the scientists go back to square one. Science is about citations and free flow of information, and NOT copyright, which is a commercial issue....

Also see Donat's announcement of, the new OA repository for biological species descriptions, which was first unveiled at the IPR workshop.  Excerpt:

Knowledge of the actual number of species on planet Earth is one of the last frontiers in science. It is not known exactly how many species have been identified and described, much less the number of as yet undescribed species.

However, the species we do know are documented in well over hundred million pages of printed scientific books and journals. – This knowledge is hidden in libraries, and no single library holds all this knowledge....

Tagging the “boundaries” of a species description and identifying the species dealt with, supports discovery and retrieval of data not possible through Google. Mark-up of species descriptions permits queries, such as which are the "red ant in London", a very common form of query.... is a new Web based service that offers access to descriptions of species and an archive to store the publications as marked up documents. GoldenGate, a dedicated editor has been developed to mark up the publications supporting the extraction of descriptions, based on a TaxonX, an XML schema modeling the logic content of these publications. The Plazi Search and Retrieval Server, building on this systematic mark-up of texts, allows powerful search functions to find species descriptions, or even simple mention of species, permitting users to answer questions like: “Which species occur together”? includes already more than 3,700 description of 3,000 taxa....All descriptions are machine readable and thus can be picked up for mash-ups or individual Websites....

OA herbal database changes hands

According to a press release on February 21, the American Botanical Council has acquired the OA database HerbMed, which provides access to "scientific data underlying the use of herbs for health," and its subscription version, HerbMedPro.

Profile of Thomas Krichel of RePEc

Christian Zimmermann, Volunteer recognition: Thomas Krichel, The RePEc blog, February 21, 2008.

... In 1991, as an research assistant at the Economic Department of Loughborough University, [Krichel] saw the potential that the Internet gave for the dissemination of research in Economics, but could not manage to get a hold on good data about new working papers. In February 1993, on a lectureship at the University of Surrey, he was more lucky and teamed with Féthy Mili, Economics librarian at the Université de Montréal, who contributed data on 250 series, and Hans Amman (University of Amsterdam), who let Thomas use his coryfee mailing list. Bob Parks soon joined with his Economics Working Paper Archive at Washington University. Thus the NetEc project was launched. It moved to a gopher server at the Manchester Computing Centre in 1993, and then to the web. That year, Thomas also got help in collecting data from José Manuel Barrueco Cruz, Economics librarian at the University of Valencia. But soon they realized that there was too much information out on the Internet for just the two of them to collect.

This is when Thomas suggested the creation of RePEc which would completely decentralize the data input: the publishers, who benefit the most from having their papers listed on web indexes, were to index the works themselves. With the collaboration of Sune Karlsson (SWoPEc, Stockholm School of Economics), Bob Parks and Corry Stuyts (DEGREE, Netherlands), José and Thomas then launched RePEc in June 1997. It still works under the same principles, with great success. ...

Comment. See also Heather Morrison's profile of Krichel from February 2006.

Wilbanks on cyberinfrastructure

John Wilbanks, Cyberinfrastructure, University Policy, Innovation, john wilbanks' blog, February 21, 2008.

... [One-to-many] is an incredibly powerful idea – I bind myself to fulfill the deal, no matter who accepts it. To reference Tony Hey's wording, the transformation of data to information to knowledge is the key. But if we exact technical, legal, social transaction costs at each step of the transformation, the alchemical transformation, from raw data to usable knowledge, fails. The one to many offer is one of the only non-miraculous tools available to us ...

Thus, the web recapitulates aspects of the network itself. Rather than a feature-rich hypermedia and IP restricted system like dynatext, the simple version with the minimum amount of control exploded, into something it was not designed for – its end goal was to make it easy to get CERN data to other places, and get data from other places to CERN. I once asked [Tim Berners-Lee] what surprised him most about the web in 2004 and he said google – not because of the size of the web or the power of the search, but simply that there was enough storage and processing power to download, store, and compute across something that big. The innovations frequently come from lateral thinking.

So perhaps our end goal is enable things we can’t imagine, to create a world in which knowledge can be used the way we use content. ...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First US institutions join SCOAP3

The 10 campuses of the University of California became the first US institutions to join CERN's SCOAP3 project.

Progress of green OA in Germany

Richard Sietmann, Open Access: Der "grüne Weg" soll attraktiver werden, Heise Online, February 27, 2008.  A report on first day of the DFG-DINI conference, Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Informationslandschaft in Deutschland: Chancen und Strategien beim Aufbau vernetzter Repositorien (Berlin, February 26-27, 2008).  Read it in German or in Google's English.

Access to clinical drug trial data in the UK

Jeremy Laurance, Drug giants warned: Tell the truth on medicines, The Independent, February 27, 2008.  Excerpt:

The pharmaceutical industry came under assault from senior figures in medical research yesterday over its practice of withholding information to protect profits, exposing patients to drugs which could be useless or harmful....

The latest attack was triggered yesterday by an analysis of published and unpublished trials of modern antidepressants....

It was the first time researchers – from the UK, Canada and the US – had successfully used freedom of information legislation to obtain all the data presented to regulators when the companies applied to license their drugs....

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The Government has consistently supported open access to information about research when the findings could affect decisions about treatment or health outcomes. We planned to support the principle of mandatory registration of clinical trials in the UK, but legal advice stated this would be illegal under EU law."

A World Health Organisation working group is examining how to improve reporting of clinical trials and is expected to announce a consultation shortly....

Sharing v. control: one of the defining battles of our time

Charles Leadbeater just released OA versions of the first three chapters (1, 2, 3) of his new book, We Think (Profile, March 2008).  Also see two videos of him discussing the book's ideas (1, 2).  From his summary:

We Think explores how the web is changing our world, creating a culture in which more people than ever can participate, share and collaborate, ideas and information.

Ideas take life when they are shared. That is why the web is such a potent platform for creativity and innovation.

It's also at the heart of why the web should be good for : democracy, by giving more people a voice and the ability to organise themselves; freedom, by giving more people the opportunity to be creative and equality, by allowing knowledge to be set free.

But sharing also brings with it dilemmas....

Everywhere we turn there will be struggles between people who want to freely share - music, films, ideas, information - and those who want to control this activity, either corporations who want to make money or governments who fear debate and democracy. This conflict between the rising surge of mass collaboration and attempts to retain top down control will be one of the defining battles of our time, from Communist China, to Microsoft's battle with open source and the music industry's desperate rearguard action against the web....

More background on the Harvard OA mandate

Robin Peek, Harvard Faculty Mandates OA, a preprint of her Focus on Publishing column for the April 2008 issue of Information Today, February 27, 2008. NB:  "The preprint will be removed on March 31st and the postprint will be posted 3 months after publication."  Excerpt:

...I admit to being surprised that a unit of the Harvard faculty would be the first body in the United States to impose an institutional mandate upon themselves, even if it is by definition a partial mandate of Harvard as a whole. I expected that the more OA friendly havens such as MIT, Cornell, Stanford, Michigan, or even the University of California system would have been first in line. To its credit, the University of California faculty are considering a similar proposal and, if voted in, could grant them the first institutional wide mandate.

According to Stuart Shieber, James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, “Harvard's historically strong collections budget, including serials collection, may have insulated faculty from the realities of the serials crisis a bit longer than some institutions.” He noted, “At Harvard, serials duplication has been all but eliminated and serious cancellation efforts have been initiated. Monograph collecting has been substantially affected as well. In total, our faculty have seen qualitative reductions in access to the literature.”

Shieber, who is credited with leading the FAS to its vote, also observes that, “There actually has been a great deal of interest among some faculty in OA for principled reasons for quite some time. The conflation of these two factors - principled interest in opening access to scholarly articles and increased appreciation for the real affect of pricing on access - led to the current actions by Harvard faculty." ...

Shieber explains [the opt-out provision in the policy]. “There was legitimate concern that there could be particular cases in which the license granted by the motion could work against the interest of a particular faculty member. The provision was certainly important in assuaging some faculty members' worries that they could be held hostage by the policy in cases where it wasn't serving their best interests. In keeping with the underlying philosophy, the opt-out was designed for these specific cases....

Rockefeller UP: No delay on implementing NIH policy

Mike Rossner, Executive Director of the Rockefeller University Press, has publicly released the letter he sent to the Department of Health and Human Services, supporting the OA mandate at the NIH and opposing attempts by publishers to delay or derail it.  Excerpt:

I am the Executive Director of The Rockefeller University Press, a non-profit organization that publishes three scientific journals. I am writing to take issue with a letter sent to you on January 11, 2008 by Martin Frank of the DC Principles Organization and Allan Adler of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). That letter is an attempt to stall the implementation of the mandatory NIH public access policy, under which authors will be required to post publications resulting from NIH-funded research on PubMed Central.

Dr. Frank and Mr. Adler note that many of their "member organizations… strongly opposed enactment of the controversial mandatory NIH public access policy as part of the FY2008 omnibus appropriations legislation". As far as I know, not a single publisher has publicly declared opposition to this policy. In fact, several publishers, including ourselves, have publicly declared that they do not support the AAP's lobbying efforts against this policy (see references below). All of these publishers are members of the AAP.

The authors of the January 11th letter request a public notice and comment rulemaking on the mandatory policy....

All scientific publishers understand several truths: 1) that their content is generated in large part through federally funded research, 2) that the peer review process is carried out in large part by federally funded individuals, and 3) that a significant portion of their subscription revenue is obtained from government funded institutions. Many publishers believe they have an obligation to give something back to the public that has provided those funds, and they make their online content free after a short delay under subscription control. However, a few large, highly profitable publishers have refused to do this, and have thus forced the NIH into the position of mandating deposition of NIH-funded research publications in PubMed Central to make them available to the public. I strongly support this mandate, and I urge you to implement it as soon as possible, without the unnecessary delay of further public comment.

More background on the Harvard OA mandate

Newsmaker Interview: Harvard University Librarian Robert Darnton, Library Journal Academic Newswire, February 26, 2008.  Darnton is a Professor of History and the University Librarian at Harvard.  Excerpt:

...To start, can you talk a little about your role in drafting and advocating for this open access (OA) motion?

Formally, the motion was sponsored by Stuart Shieber as a member Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Of course, I'm a member of the faculty as well and could have been a co-sponsor. Stuart had been working on this even before I arrived at Harvard and the Provost had appointed a committee to examine these issues. When I arrived, I threw myself into this as one of my own, personal, top priorities. It's been a team approach. Stuart is a terrific expert in computer science, and I represent the more general university view, one that that applies to all of the schools, including the business and law schools.

This motion applies to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but you mentioned Harvard's other schools-are there plans to expand this mandate to the professional schools?

My position is to spread the FAS motion spread throughout the whole university. That is going to be one of my top priorities in the weeks and months ahead. I will be discussing this with the law school, medical school and business schools.

Is the library prepared to handle what has to be the enormous job of capturing, maintaining, and distributing the output of Harvard's faculty?

Yes, we've already started. The technical or financial challenges here are not insuperable. That's more of a management issue than the more global questions of scholarly communication. We're hiring a programmer, a manager. We have a budget. We're starting an office of scholarly communication within the library and we're appointing an intra-faculty oversight committee. Stuart Shieber will be the director of this for the near future. There has been a lot of consultation with the university counsel. We're recruiting some law school students to man the phones as we expect a deluge of questions from faculty members about exactly what to do and how to do it.

There have been some who, although praising the mandate, have questioned how the opt-out provision will affect compliance. Was the opt-out necessary?

As someone who was part of the drafting of the motion, I was in favor of the opt-out. This motion is genuinely collective, and the faculty is committed to it, that is, everyone is enjoined to submit to it. I think it would be a mistake, however, to make it an absolute requirement because I don't think Harvard University should dictate to faculty members what they do with their intellectual production. I know there is an argument on the other side, and I don't dismiss that as silly. But I myself do not go for that argument. If we tried to be too bullying, it could create a counter-reaction....

Update.  Also see Part II of this interview (February 28, 2008) or my blogged excerpt.

The state of OA policy in Australia

Colin Steele, Open access as an article of faith, The Australian, February 27, 2008.  Colin uses the new Harvard OA mandate as a prompt to review the state of OA policy in Australia.  (The captious title was an editor's idea, not his.)  Excerpt:

...Richard Fisher, executive director, academic and professional publishing, at Cambridge University Press, in a speech at the University of Sydney last year, urged universities to consider that given "primary research is original and important, what is the best means to disseminate that research to the wider world".

Universities need to look at scholarly communication costs holistically. There is no point in institutions supporting the high costs of academic research, through infrastructure costs and the work of individual researchers, if that research is effectively given away to those publishers whose main responsibility is to their shareholders.

Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Kim Carr has said that he'd "like to encourage debate about the most efficient ways to make public research more available" in several statements....

Leanne Harvey, manager of the research systems branch in the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science and Research, in...a speech at a Brisbane seminar on February 14, noted that the Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories program will require universities "to develop repositories to support open access". There will also be an examination "to make future HERDC (Higher Education Research Data Collection) publications available through open access repositories within a reasonable time frame".

Harvey emphasised that "the overarching intent of the (Government's) accessibility framework is that outputs of publicly funded research, including research data and research publications, should be managed in ways that maximise public benefit through exposure and use". She noted that an updated discussion paper on the accessibility framework would be released later this year. "The framework will explore using a set of levers to drive change, including (but not limited to) the replacement to the (research quality framework)".

The examples of the Wellcome Trust in Britain and the National Institutes of Health in the US provide a powerful global backdrop to Harvey's words that "we will also explore how to encourage institutions, research organisations or individuals that receive public money to make the results of their research publicly available as soon as possible". The Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council have already taken steps, in January last year, to place future research outputs within repository and publicly accessible settings....

The open access movement, which retains, in its hybrid forms, peer review and the traditional frameworks of scholarship, is undoubtedly gaining momentum from the initiatives of Harvard and the NIH; Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust; the European Union and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and, in Australia, the ARC, NHMRC, Productivity Commission and Rudd Government.

This end process will result in scholarship that combines peer review authority with public accessibility within digital frameworks....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Open Medicine editorial on open science

Sally Murray, et. al, Open science, open access and open source software at Open Medicine, editorial, Open Medicine, apparently posted Feb. 10, 2008.

Open Medicine is an open access journal because we believe that free and timely access to research results allows scientific knowledge to be used by all those who need it, not just those who can afford expensive journal subscriptions or user fees for individual articles. But is access to the final polished version of research enough? Could we do more to en­courage the collaborative reuse and reanalysis of existing data, or the verification of analyses? Could we move from open access to open science? ...

What kinds of advantages would an initiative like data-sharing offer? For a start, data-sharing opens opportunities for the creative reanalysis of data. Most researchers have had the experience of working single-mindedly with neither the inspiration nor the time to explore alternative ways to look at their data. Sharing data with other researchers with different research expertise may give rise to new insights, validated findings, or supported and strengthened conclusions. A changing attitude to transparency in research also supports data-sharing: encouraging openness in science promotes integrity, reduces the potential for scientific fraud, and fosters public faith in scientific endeavour. ...

It could also be argued that there is an ethical obligation to patients and funding agencies (and to taxpayers) with a stake in scientific research to maximize the benefit to study subjects, who often participate at some personal risk, and to put to best use the money spent on research. These are also opportunity costs to consider: the human subjects who might have volunteered for a different trial, and the funding that could have been spent elsewhere, on other research or on health services. Thus, the limitations on resources provide another good reason for data-sharing. ...

Open Medicine is following the lead of PLoS Medicine and the re­producible research policy of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Although the latter was initiated to support research integrity, it also supports a broader data-shar­ing agenda. We now ask authors to indicate their will­ingness to share their protocols, datasets, and the statis­tical codes used for their analysis with other authors, and we encourage authors who publish secondary analy­ses to use the same Creative Commons license that we use. Open Medicine will not handle datasets and other such material directly, but by publishing our authors’ willingness to share their original data we hope to encourage fruitful collaboration.Authors who do not choose to submit these data will not be penalized: we recognize that the acceptance of data-sharing needs time to grow and develop in the scientific community, and we welcome debate and dialogue as we develop our policy on data-sharing. We also need to find ways to deal with some of the problems of data-sharing, such as how to notify other researchers (or computers that are data-mining) about problems with the data (e.g., in its collection, biases, potential confounders.) and ways to manage original datasets in large databases. Data security, managing data requests and monitoring their appropriate use are other issues that need attention. Perhaps institutions will begin to archive original datasets in the same way that they are beginning to archive their researchers’ publications? Google has recently started) to help researchers exchange very large datasets (up to 120 terabytes) at no charge provided that the data have no copyright or licensing restrictions. These sorts of options could be more ef­ficient than multiple journals developing their own data repositories.

However its ways and means evolve, an inexorable drive to make science truly open is clear. Indeed, we believe the debate isn’t about whetherwe will share data in the future but, rather, about how we will share it. ...

New directory of open courseware

The folks at iBerry are compiling an annotated Open Courseware Finder.  From the site:

  • The Open Courseware Directory - annotated listings of publicly available courseware (lecture notes and videos, slides, tutorial material, exam questions, software, demonstrations) from the universities and colleges of the world....

    The quality and scope of Open Courseware varies considerably so we are attempting to compile a directory of good quality OCW that will be of most use and relevance to self-learners and educators. Courseware items consisting of little more than a syllabus statement are not listed while those with good lecture notes are normally included, as are impressive podcasts, videoed lectures or image collections. Each listing in the OCW Directory comes with a brief description (normally taken from the link website) and users can refine their search results with respect to over 30 subject heading, media type (assignments, exams, software / demonstrations, audio, notes, video) and academic level (introductory, intermediate, advanced). Visitors including courseware authors and their institutions, are strongly encouraged to assist in keeping the listings up-to-date by taking advantage of the facilities for text input and attaching helpful comments to any item. This can be done very quickly and easily - you don't even have to register....

  • has negligible funding and no institutional support. Further development is therefore entirely in the hands of our users. Help us to become a viable part of a self-sustaining community of educators and learners that is independent of existing universities and colleges and free of commercial interests.

More on collateral damage to OA

Charles W. Bailey Jr., Why Digital Copyright and Net Neutrality Should Matter to Open Access Advocates, DigitalKoans, February 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

It is highly unlikely that open access would have emerged if the Internet did not exist. The Internet makes the low-cost worldwide distribution of e-prints and other digital documents through institutional and disciplinary repositories possible, and it significantly lowers the cost of publishing, which makes open access journals possible. Open access in a print-only or proprietary network environment would require significant subsidies. The relative cost of providing open access on the Internet is trivial.

It would be a mistake to assume that the Internet will remain as we know it. With the rise of digital media, powerful interests in the music and film/television industries have become alarmed about file sharing of their content, and they have lobbied legislatures across the globe to stop it through restrictive copyright legislation and technological measures.

Since open access doesn't deal with popular music, film, or television, why should open access advocates care? The answer is simple: restrictive measures are unlikely to make fine-grained distinctions about content. New copyright measures won't exempt scholarly material, and new Internet traffic shaping or filtering technologies won't either....

For example, the Tennessee State Senate is considering a bill (SB 3974) that would require every higher education institution to "thoroughly analyze its computer network, including its local area and internal networks, to determine whether it is being used to transmit copyrighted works" and to "take affirmative steps, including the implementation of effective technology-based deterrents, to prevent the infringement of copyrighted works over the school's computer and network resources, including over local area and internal networks."

You'll note that the bill says "transmit copyrighted works" not "transmit digital music and video works." Does this mean that every digital work, including e-prints and e-books, must be scanned and cleared for copyright compliance? That is unlikely to be the real intent of the bill, but, if passed, it will be the letter of the law. Why couldn't academic publishers insist that digital articles and books be vetted as well?

Net neutrality and digital copyright legislation are issues that should be of concern to open access advocates. To ignore them is to potentially win the battle, but lose the war, blind-sided by developments that will ensnare open access materials in legal and technological traps.

Comment.  Charles is absolutely right.  See my similar argument in Three gathering storms that could cause collateral damage for open access (March 2006).  I recommend Save the Internet for those who want to track net neutrality news and learn how to support the cause in the US.

David Baltimore on OA

R. Ramachandran, 'Moral conundrum' in medical research, Frontline, March 2008.  An interview with David Baltimore, Nobel laureate and President of the AAAS.  Excerpt:

As the president of the AAAS, would you like to change its policy of open access to its journal Science, which has been a ticklish issue?

Ah! (Laughs) Yeah, you are right. It’s a ticklish issue. [The] AAAS depends on the Science magazine. If Science magazine were to go away, there would be no AAAS. So all the good things that we do – and there are a lot of them – are dependent on the income from Science. When I became president [PS: February 2006], I really investigated whether we can go to open access. But I am convinced that it is difficult. I think we could be perhaps a little more adventurous than we are, but internal people are not very forthcoming. Now there will be a new editor of Science magazine as of March [PS: Bruce Alberts]. In fact, I chaired the committee that found him. And he comes from a much more open access background. So there may be changes. We’ll see....

Considering that the bulk of the research in the U.S. is through public funding, is there any demand from the scientific community itself that scientific communication should be open?

The real problem is with must-have peer review. So you just can’t publish anything you want. It’s got to go through peer review. The question is who is going to pay for it? All right. The answer has been you pay for it through journal subscriptions. But you only have journal subscriptions if you have to pay for the journal. So if you have complete open access, then it will be hard to provide quality control. So at the moment we are debating that issue. Are there ways of providing quality control that don’t require the journal to be on sale but on open access. It’s a continuing debate. Now PLoS [Public Library of Science] journal was started [with open access] and is quite successful. But it is subsidised by the Moore Foundation and others. Could it finally find a business model that will allow it to be self-sufficient? That’s still an open question as far as I know....


  • There are many business models for peer-reviewed OA journals, and at least two of them have already made for-profit OA publishers profitable:  the fee-based model used at Hindawi and the no-fee model used at Medknow.  (PLoS is a non-profit OA publisher.)  Moreover, quite apart from the business models of OA journals, OA repositories can provide OA to peer-reviewed articles, and about two-thirds of peer-reviewed TA journals already give blanket permission for author initiated self-archiving.
  • For a full answer to the objection that OA might defund peer review, see my article from September 2007.  For a full argument that OA improves rather than degrades quality control, see my article from October 2006.

Robert Massie on OA

InfoInnovation has blogged some notes on Robert Massie's talk at the NFAIS Annual Conference (Philadelphia, February 24-26, 2008).  Massie is the president of the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS).  Excerpt:

...It turns out that from its beginnings in the 19th century until 1966, CAS’ abstracts were written by volunteer abstractors – a robust early example of user-generated content.  True, Massie noted, today new standards for chemical information exchange are developing; open access repositories are growing; collaborative websites are emerging; and political/social pressures for more free access characterize the age.  “But do [these trends] have to be opposed? Or assimilated?” Massie noted in particular an article that appeared this month in Nature – “Chemistry for Everyone.”  In it, noted research Peter Murray-rust argues that CAS is “incompatible with the requirements of Web 2.0”; that “closed publications, binary software and toll-access databases are being swept away by emerging philosophies and approaches.”  But, Massie noted, universities are the Web 2.0 homeland, and SciFinder Scholar now serves over 1500 schools.  Not only that – many sites in  China have sprung up to provide information on how to break into the computer systems of major US universities in order to gain access to SciFinder.  So, clearly, “young people in China like SciFinder a lot.”

Massie asserted that the question of Web 2.0 vs. traditional publications is “not a binary problem.” ...

Comment.  I wish I had access to the full talk in order to see two parts in context.  First, what did Massie mean by asking whether the trends toward OA (or Web 2.0?) "have to be opposed? Or assimilated?”  It sounds like he thinks opposition is unnecessary and unwise.  But does assimilation mean adoption?  Second, I'd like to see whether he went beyond a narrow response to Peter Murray-Rust's claim that the new models were sweeping away the old, and offered a wider response to his argument that the new models were superior. 

Update.  Also see Peter Murray-Rust's comment.

More on OA to science for journalists and bloggers

Amy Gahran has some good advice (today at Poynter Online) for authors of research articles with important implications for public policy:

...[W]henever you hide anything behind a subscriber wall that prevents open examination and direct inbound links, you're actively discouraging coverage by journalists and bloggers. And if you really want to get coverage, make it easy for journalists to dig into your data to find the most relevant angles....

New OA journal on information literacy

The Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the University of Bergen Library.  The inaugural issue will appear in November 2008.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Free movement of knowledge, but without OA

Today the Council of the European Union agreed that the EU "needs to create a "fifth freedom" - the free movement of knowledge."  (Thanks to Napoleon Miradon.)  From the Council report:

...In order to succeed in the transition to a highly competitive knowledge economy, the European Union needs to create a "fifth freedom" - the free movement of knowledge. Member States and the Commission are invited to deepen their dialogue and expand their cooperation in order to further identify and remove obstacles to the cross-border mobility of knowledge....

In elaborating what this means, the ministers mention the mobility of researchers, family-friendly scientific careers, education reforms, broadband penetration, and a new voluntary charter to manage the intellectual property of public research organizations.  They do not mention open access.

Comment.  Nearly a year ago, EU Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, proposed making the "movement of knowledge" a fifth freedom guaranteed by the EU Treaty alongside the movement of goods, services, capital, and labor.  He spelled out the idea in his green paper of April 4, 2007, The European Research Area: New Perspectives.  This was the paper that asked ingenuously whether the EU needed an OA policy, after the February 2007 meeting in Brussels in which Potocnik had already solicited and received abundant evidence that the answer was yes.  See my blog comment on the green paper at the time it was released and my later comment when the public comments on the green paper (overwhelmingly supporting an OA mandate) were released in October 2007.  It's hard to avoid seeing a pattern here:  first, the Research Commissioner disregards the arguments for an EU-wide OA policy, and then the EU Ministers disregard the OA connection when acknowledging the need for the fifth freedom.

Update (2/27/08).  Also see Napoleon Miradon's follow-up:

"Why now; why are the Research Ministers issuing press releases now?" Ans: Because the Research Ministers were finalising their wish-list for the EU summit meeting next month.

The summit meeting, of heads of government and state, will be chaired by Dr Danilo Türk, President of the Republic of Slovenia, and former Professor of International Law at the University of Ljubljana.

Dr Türk has a long and distinguished list of publications, and the Faculty of Computer and Information Science at his University has a nice little EPrints archive.

So has anyone briefed Dr Türk's colleagues on OA matters in Europe? Or is this another opportunity missed for OA in the EU?

PS:  I can add that the Slovenian Minister for Growth, ?iga Turk (no relation?), is an informed defender of OA.

EOL releases first OA content

The OA Encyclopedia of Life announced its launch back in May 2007, but released its first OA content this week.  From today's announcement:

The first 30,000 pages of a massive online Encyclopedia of Life were unveiled today (Feb. 27) at the prestigious Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference in Monterey, California....

At its core is the knowledge about the world’s [1.8 million known] species that has been discovered by scientists over the last 250 years. By putting this information all together in one place, EOL hopes to accelerate our understanding of the world’s remaining biodiversity....

EOL’s infrastructure now includes placeholder pages for 1 million species, of which 30,000 have been populated with detailed information derived from comprehensive, authoritative compilations available for some taxonomic groups (e.g., FishBase, AmphibiaWeb, Solanaceae Source). In addition, about two dozen highly developed multimedia pages are presented as examples of what to expect in time throughout the EOL.

Feedback on the first 30,000 pages will shape the ultimate design and functionality of all 1.8 million pages, scheduled for completion by 2017. It will also help inform priorities for content development....

Starting later this year, the public will be able to contribute text, videos, images, and other information about a species. The best of this information will be incorporated into the authenticated pages.

The authenticated pages also include a wealth of other materials, including peer-reviewed articles and access to DNA barcodes, all freely available. While most pages are now in English, eventually, they will be available in several other languages for teaching and learning....

Free online courses, by field

Open Culture has put together a list of Free Online Courses from Great Universities, organized by field.

Giving stuff away as a business model

Chris Anderson, Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business, Wired Magazine, February 25, 2008.  Anderson doesn't talk about digital scholarly publishing, though he does talk about other kinds of digital publishing.  How far does his analysis carry over?  Excerpt:

Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away [razor blades] is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything "free" was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You'd get one thing free if you bought another, or you'd get a product free only if you paid for a service.

Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast....

You know this freaky land of free as the Web....

[T]ake one example. Last year, Yahoo announced that Yahoo Mail, its free webmail service, would provide unlimited storage. Just in case that wasn't totally clear, that's "unlimited" as in "infinite." So the market price of online storage, at least for email, has now fallen to zero (see "Webmail Windfall"). And the stunning thing is that nobody was surprised; many had assumed infinite free storage was already the case.

For good reason: It's now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There's never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing....

[The] difference between cheap and free is what venture capitalist Josh Kopelman calls the "penny gap." People think demand is elastic and that volume falls in a straight line as price rises, but the truth is that zero is one market and any other price is another. In many cases, that's the difference between a great market and none at all.

The huge psychological gap between "almost zero" and "zero" is why micropayments failed. It's why Google doesn't show up on your credit card. It's why modern Web companies don't charge their users anything. And it's why Yahoo gives away disk drive space. The question of infinite storage was not if but when. The winners made their stuff free first....

The most common of the economies built around free is the three-party system. Here a third party pays to participate in a market created by a free exchange between the first two parties....It's the basis of virtually all media.

In the traditional media model, a publisher provides a product free (or nearly free) to consumers, and advertisers pay to ride along. Radio is "free to air," and so is much of television. Likewise, newspaper and magazine publishers don't charge readers anything close to the actual cost of creating, printing, and distributing their products. They're not selling papers and magazines to readers, they're selling readers to advertisers. It's a three-way market....

There are dozens of ways [beyond advertising] that media companies make money around free content, from selling information about consumers to brand licensing, "value-added" subscriptions, and direct ecommerce (see for a complete list). Now an entire ecosystem of Web companies is growing up around the same set of models....

Profile of the free access to law movement

Graham Greenleaf, Legal Information Institutes and the Free Access to Law Movement, Globalex, February 2008.  (Thanks to Michel-Adrien Sheppard.)  Part I is a detailed overview of the movement and Part II reviews 23 specific OA Legal Information Institutes (LIIs) from around the world.  Greenleaf is a law professor at the University of New South Wales and Co-Director of AustLII.  Excerpt:

...The Free Access to Law Movement (FALM) is a loose affiliation of legal information institutes. It meets annually if possible during the ‘Law via Internet’ Conference, and by email between Conferences. The first sustained attempt to build some form of international network took place at the at the LII Workshop on Emerging Global Public Legal Information Standards hosted by the LII (Cornell) in July 2000, involving participants from the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa. The expression ‘WorldLII’ was first used there to describe a collaborative LII portal. The FALM was then formed at the 2002 ‘Law via Internet’ Conference in Montreal, and adopted the Declaration on Free Access to Law (Montreal, 2002), sometimes called the ‘Montreal Declaration’. The Declaration has had some amendments since then.  Membership of the FALM is by invitation, with members nominating new candidates, and consensus required. The membership criteria are not fixed but involve adherence to, and support of, the Declaration and activities similar to (but not necessarily identical with) a LII. All 23 LIIs listed in the gazetteer following are members of the FALM, except ZamLII (invited, but no reply). At the 2007 meeting in Montreal, initial steps were taken to turn the ‘Movement’ into a more formally constituted ‘Association’ (FALA), but these have not yet been finalised due some LIIs needing to refer the question back to management boards and the like. A website for the FALM is under construction....

Directory of free online scientific resources for developing countries

EBSCO and Hasselt University in Belgium have launched an Open Science Directory.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  From the site:

Access to scientific literature is very important for the scientific work in developing countries. As a result of different projects  a large collection of  e-journals is now available for researchers in developing countries. The number of Open Access Journals is growing steadily as we can see in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Major UNO organizations like WHO, FAO and UNEP have their specific programs for the scientific institutions in low-income countries. Finally a lot of universities, institutes and other organizations are supporting access programs. The most important are INASP, eIFL and eJDS.

All these programs and projects have their own website and/or search engine. With the Open Science Directory IOC/IODE, with the support of EBSCO and Hasselt University Library, is creating a unique access point to all the journals contained in the different programs....

PS:  Many of the resources collected here are free online for everyone.  But some of them, like the HINARI, Agora, and OARE journals, are free online only for developing countries.

Senator wants more consultation with publishers on NIH policy

Susan Morrisey, Specter Speaks Up On Public Access, Chemical & Engineering News, February 25, 2008.

Just over a month after NIH announced its mandatory public access policy for research that it funds, some in Congress are questioning whether the agency did enough to gather input from journal publishers....

In a letter to NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees NIH's funding, questions whether the agency has acted in the spirit of the congressional directive with regard to talking to journal publishers....

"I am concerned that the NIH is not taking the appropriate steps to seek out and take into account the advice of journal editors," Specter writes. The mandatory public access policy notice put out by NIH in January, he explains, "did not outline a process for seeking the advice and comment of journal publishers, scientists, or any other interested parties."

Specter adds that the notice also did not provide details on "how the policy would be implemented in a manner consistent with copyright law." This has been an issue of concern to journal publishers, which include the American Chemical Society, the publisher of C&EN....

In response to Specter's concerns, Norka Ruiz Bravo, deputy director of extramural research at NIH, tells C&EN that NIH will be responding directly to Specter, but she would not elaborate on any details. She did point out that NIH has been talking with publishers throughout the development of the public access policy and that the agency plans on "continuing to take input as it rolls through with the implementation."


  • This is about publisher lobbying that won't give up, not about the merits of the NIH policy or Congressional support for it.
  • One piece of evidence is that, even if the NIH talks to publishers full-time for a year, the bill passed by Congress and signed by the President still says that "the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to...PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication" (emphasis added).
  • Another is that Elsevier has a major presence in Pennsylvania, Specter's home state, and has often used the argument that a strong NIH policy would cost jobs in Pennsylvania.  Despite that argument, Specter (as ranking minority member of the Senate Appropriations Committee) supported the OA mandate at NIH.  His recent letter to Zerhouni looks like a way to stand by the policy and soothe an important constituent at the same time.  BTW, this has been Specter's position all along.  In a Congressional colloquy from October 2007, he said he "shared" the "concerns" of some critics who wanted to see a more thoroughgoing review.  But he still supported the mandate.  The concern for additional review is not new, not a turning a way from the NIH policy, and a studied part of his delicate balance of constituency interests.
  • Another is that publishers raised the "insufficient hearing" objection as soon as the NIH announced its policy and have been pressing it ever since.  Chemistry World reported in January, for example, that "[t]he ACS now says that NIH may have acted unlawfully because the agency failed to consult publishers adequately beforehand - as required by the bill....Publishers have vowed to take their concerns to Congress and the White House, while the Association of American Publishers (AAP) is considering legal action."  (BTW, the bill does not say that the the agency must hold further consultations with publishers.)
  • The consultations with publishers have been extensive; see my brief account or Heather Joseph's longer one.  Moreover, as Norka Ruiz Bravo has said, the NIH will continue to consult with publishers as it implements the new policy. 
  • But this is key:  even if the objection lacks merit, there is a real lobbying campaign behind it that we cannot underestimate.  The lesson is:  don't panic but don't get complacent either.  Publishers have the money to lobby this indefinitely.  But Congressional leaders have heard their arguments and still support the NIH policy.  Moreover, friends of OA will continue to match the publishing lobby at every turn.  See for example the open letters (1, 2, 3) from eight library associations earlier this month urging policy-makers not to allow special interests to delay the implementation of the NIH policy.
  • Finally, it appears that publishers will continue to raise the copyright objection in their consultations with the NIH and lobbying in Congress.  However, everyone should be clear that the NIH has implemented the policy in a way that fully answers the copyright objection.  If Sen. Specter is saying that the policy doesn't comply with copyright law or doesn't say how it will comply with copyright law, he's mistaken. But if he's only saying that he wants to see more details about that compliance, then details are easy to provide.  Here's how I fleshed them out in a SOAN article last month:

    Point #2 [of the policy] is explicit that copyright transfer agreements must conform to the policy, not the other way around.  If a publisher does not accommodate the NIH policy, and grantees cannot obtain special permission to comply with it, then they must look for another publisher. 

    The FAQ (question F1) explains that, while grantees may still hold copyright to their articles, they must now retain a key right and stop transferring full copyright to publishers.  Grantees "may assign these rights to journals (as is the current practice), subject to the limited right that must be retained by the funding recipient to post the works in accordance with the Policy..." (emphasis added).

    This strategy...makes crystal clear that the policy does not violate the publisher's copyright.  NIH-funded authors will retain the right to comply with the NIH policy, even if they transfer all other rights to a publisher.  When authors do comply with the policy and make a copy of their work publicly accessible through PubMed Central, publishers cannot complain that this infringes a right they possess, only that it would infringe a right they wished they possessed....

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

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Aiming for obscurity

Heather Morrison, Aiming for Obscurity (definitional post), Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

...There is a substantial body of evidence that open access articles are more likely to be cited (see Steve Hitchcock's The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies.

Therefore, authors who continue to publish in toll-access journals and do not self-archive can be said to be aiming for obscurity. In other words, an author in this position is pursuing a course of action which is very likely to decrease the probably of the author's work being read and cited.

It is logical to apply the same concept to journals and publishers that are not adjusting to the open access environment....

Also see Heather's follow-up post on why plagiarists might aim for obscurity:

...If an author has plagiarized another, then deliberately seeking a venue with the most restricted possible access might be the best wag to Aim for Obscurity, to minimize the odds of being caught....

Related:  See my article in SOAN for October 2006:

OA deters plagiarism....[P]lagiarism from OA sources is the easiest kind to detect.  Not all plagiarists are smart, of course, but the smart ones are steering clear of OA sources. 

For the same reason, they'll avoid OA dissemination for any of their own works containing plagiarized passages....

Update. Also see Steve Lawson's comment.

Educational impact beyond research impact

Alireza Noruzi, Educational Impact and Open Access Journals, Webology, December 2007.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

...Online course syllabi provide a convenient source of information about a journal use....The educational impact of a journal depends not only on online accessibility (open access), but also on how widely it is used by educators.

The inclusion of an open access (OA) journal in recommended/required reading lists in the course syllabi is important for its visibility and of course for its impact factor. Moreover, the creation of hyperlinks to OA journals in web-based syllabi increases their link popularity. The syllabi can be used to determine how a journal is used and how much it is used....

It is obvious that open access will improve the educational impact of journals....

Update.  The same issue of Webology includes Isabel Galina's book review of Catherine Jones, Institutional repositories: content and culture in an open access environment, Chandos, August 2007.

Trend toward OA to journal literature in rehab medicine

Walter R. Frontera and four co-authors, Publishing in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, March 2008.  An editorial (accessible only to subscribers).  From the abstract:

This article presents the panel discussion from the "Meet the Editor" symposium held at the 4th World Congress of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in Seoul in June 2006....Topics discussed include...the trend toward more open access to journals....

New OA Hindawi journal takes new approach to peer review

Scholarly Research Exchange is a new OA journal from Hindawi, for original research "in all areas of science, technology, and medicine". From the February 21 announcement:

... Scholarly Research Exchange will bring a number of important innovations to scholarly journal publishing, including a transparent peer review system in which authors and reviewers interact directly throughout the peer review process.

Authors submitting to Scholarly Research Exchange will suggest potential reviewers who will have to be approved by the journal's Editorial Office. Reviewers will be asked to provide an assessment of the quality of the manuscript, a written critique addressed to the authors, and a written commentary addressed to the journal's readers. Once an article is accepted for publication, the reviewers' commentaries and their assessment of the manuscript's quality are published alongside the final version of the article. In addition to these reviewers' evaluations, members of the scientific community will also be able to participate in a discussion around every manuscript. ...

Scholarly Research Exchange is hosted on a custom built online platform ... facilitating the journal's interactive editorial system. The journal is published with the support of an international Advisory Board, and a detailed description of the journal and its editorial model can be found on the journal web site.