Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 05, 2008

India's Open Knowledge Society

The Open Knowledge Society launched in Kerala, India, apparently last week.  From the front page:

...Open Knowledge Society aims to provide a platform for the people working for the cause of open access to come together for promoting access to scholarly knowledge....

From the activities page:

Open Knowledge Society aims to facilitate all forms of Open Access to Knowledge.

It includes:

  • Supporting creation of  Institutional Repositories
  • Supporting publication of Open Access Journals
  • Supporting conversion of print journals into online versions
  • Supporting making online journals OAI-PMH complaint
  • Supporting automation of libraries
  • Supporting Digital Libraries
  • Supporting Open Courseware and Open Data
  • Other activities that promotes open access to knowledge.

PS:  Welcome to the OKS!

Evolution of OA policies

Andrea Rinaldi, Access evolved? Versatile open access policies are evolving together with scholarly information, but copyright issues remain unsettled, EMBO Reports, April 2008.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Hal Abelson on OA and the intellectual Commons

MIT has released a 23 minute podcast by Hal Abelson on Supporting Our Intellectual Commons.  (Thanks to Science Commons.)  From the MIT blurb:

The latest in the series of podcasts on scholarly publication and copyright is an interview with Hal Abelson, Class of 1922 Professor of Computer Science and Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

Professor Abelson has played key roles in fostering educational technology initiatives such MIT’s OpenCourseWare and DSpace. He has a broad interest in information technology and policy,  and developed and teaches the course “Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier.”  He was a founding director of Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the Free Software Foundation, organizations that are devoted to strengthening our intellectual commons.

In the podcast, Professor Abelson reflects on the origins and impacts of these efforts, his reasons for remaining committed to more open access to research, and the concerns he has about the future.

More on the textbook pricing crisis

Ted Bergstrom, Maxim Massenkoff, and Martin Osborne have launched Prices and Ratings of Economic Textbooks (POET).  From the site:

The goal of this site is to encourage instructors to take price into account when shopping for texts.

Like doctors prescribing drugs for their patients, college instructors selecting textbooks for their classes have little incentive to pay attention to prices that they themselves do not pay.

Textbook publishers do not advertise their prices. Often it is even difficult to find prices on their websites. Nowhere have we been able to find current price lists for a full selection of competing texts.

Introductory Economics and Intermediate Micro and Macro texts commonly retail for more than $150....[T]here is little doubt that successful textbooks are enormously profitable and would be so even at much lower prices.

As economists, we are not surprised that publishers seek to maximize profits. Economic theory predicts that the ratio of a seller's price to marginal cost will be high if demand is inelastic. While publishers are unlikely to respond to moral suasion, they are likely to respond to increased price elasticity. Thus we hope that this website will have two beneficial effects. The direct effect is that it may help you find a better deal for your students. An indirect effect is that the more attention that consumers pay to prices, the more elastic will be demand, and hence the lower will be the profit-maximizing prices.

BMC journals for NIH grantees

Matthew Cockerill, NIH Public Access Policy becomes mandatory from April 7th, BioMed Central blog, April 4, 2008.  Excerpt:

...If you are an NIH grantee or employee, publishing in one of BioMed Central's 180+ open access journals is an easy and effective way to ensure automatic and optimal compliance with the NIH's policy.

Benefits for NIH-funded researchers of publishing in one of BioMed Central's open access journals

  • All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are automatically deposited in PubMed Central
  • The official final version of the article is made freely available with no delay or embargo period
  • Articles published in BioMed Central journals provide true open access thanks to an open access license agreement which allows (and encourages) re-distribution and re-use.

Inconveniences for NIH-funded authors when publishing in a subscription-only journal

  • The author will generally be required to manually deposit a pre-publication manuscript version of their article in PubMed Central.
  • The article must then go through a separate markup, layout and checking process, resulting in two versions of the article, an "official" Publisher version and an "unofficial" PubMed Central version
  • The article will not be freely available during the embargo period following publication (typically 12 months), yet this is the very time when the article is of most interest to other researchers
  • Exclusive rights to article generally remain with the publisher and so, even when the embargo is lifted, re-distribution and re-use remain prohibited....

Comment.  BMC isn't alone in this category, but the advantages it lists are real.  While many journals from many publishers meet the NIH criteria for making deposits on behalf of authors, not all of them are OA, and not all of the OA journals use open licenses.

A welcome second-best in Scotland

Graham Steel is active in patient advocacy, especially for those with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).  But he doesn't have an institutional affiliation, and therefore doesn't have access to TA medical journals. 

NHS Scotland grants access to the medical literature it licenses --"over 5000 online journals, over 80 major databases, over 5000 electronic books"-- to all NHS Scotland staff, students and partners, and just decided that Steel qualifies because of his patient advocacy. 

From Steel's blog account:

I appear to have qualified since I genuinely am involved in Patient Advocacy here in Scotland. I am advised that this service in UK terms, is currently only available in Scotland.

IMHO this means that anyone in Scotland who for example is providing care/help/ support to a relative/friend/patient etc. should, like any other member of the public, also qualify for an Athens login, cut through "Toll Access" red tape and gain access to publicly funded research etc. that they have already paid for.

Which brings me to a common sense solution

But of course, better and much simpler still, in this day and age, is of course to make such material OA in the first place and rid ourselves of an unnecessary and unwanted "password only" Draconian System !

PS:  Kudos to NHS Scotland for opening the door to Steel and others like him. 

More on the AAP complaints about the NIH policy

Matt Jones, Publishers Still Unhappy with Congress, NIH over Open Access Law, GenomeWeb Daily News, April 4, 2008.  Free registration required.  Excerpt:

...According to [a publishing] industry attorney, scientific publishers could seek a legal remedy later this year.

“[There] was simply no sound reason for Congress to subsequently allow an appropriations rider to take an inconsistent and more controversial route toward … enhancing public access to the results of scientific research,” Alan Adler, vice president of legal and government affairs for the American Association of Publishers, responded after the bill became law....

Under the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946, agencies are to follow an ordered process in implementing such new policies, including notifying the public, inviting written comments, considering comments, and publishing a final rule not less than 30 days before the policy takes effect, and publishing a statement explaining the purposes of the rule.

“Here the NIH has adopted a program of implement first and ask questions later,” Adler told GenomeWeb Daily News today.

The AAP has written to NIH Director Elias Zerhouni attempting to get the agency to follow that procedure, and earlier this week the NIH announced a request for information notice — a call for comments and recommendations that would give anyone who is concerned or confused about the law the chance to find out more about the details of the policy or to point out problems they have with it....

“We wanted NIH to propose how they’re were going to implement policy, then take public comments, and then to respond to those comments about what they were going to do about them,” Adler said, because that is the way the Administrative Procedures Act works.

This would have allowed the NIH, publishers, and investigators to air out all of their opinions before the policy was completely drafted for implementation....

[T]he current strategy of the publishers will be to follow through with the request for information and the process and see what happens.

After the August report, if the AAP is not happy that its concerns have been addressed, Adler said it was a possibility that this could go to court.

Peter Suber, who has been a longtime and vocal advocate for the open-access law, told GWDN yesterday that the language in the bill left a lot of details up to the agency.

“The NIH could change its policy in light of the comments,” said Suber, who is a professor at Earlham [College] in Indiana and a senior researcher with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, particularly in terms of “looking for ways to make it the least burdensome for authors and journals.”

But as for claims of copyright infringement that some publishers have made, he thinks there may be little chance [because the policy does not violate publisher copyrights].

“The publishers’ objections are to the whole idea,” Suber said. “I think they’ll try to suggest deep reforms all the way up to scrapping the whole thing....”


  • [There] was simply no sound reason for Congress to...allow an appropriations rider to take an inconsistent and more controversial route toward … enhancing public access to the results of scientific research....”  Here Adler is comparing the NIH policy to a weaker access policy Congress requested for a different agency (the NSF) in a different bill (the COMPETES Act).  But of course there was a sound reason for the change of course:  to improve upon the earlier access policy and require public access for publicly-funded research.  Congress wanted to accelerate research and share knowledge; to give taxpayers (including professional researchers) access to the research for which they have already paid; to increase the return on the world's largest public investment in research; and to remedy the well-documented failure of the previous, weaker policy.
  • The procedures the AAP recommends "would have allowed the NIH, publishers, and investigators to air out all of their opinions before the policy was completely drafted for implementation...."  Publishers have had many opportunities to comment on the NIH policy, before and after the current version was drafted, most recently in a comment period ending three weeks ago.  Either publishers will say something new in the current comment period (to end on May 1) or they won't.  If they do, then they can't complain that they didn't have the opportunity.  If they don't, then the current complaints about lack of opportunity are in bad faith.
  • I'd like to see a little more balance in the news coverage of the NIH policy. One valid angle is:  The publishing lobby is unhappy with it.  But the rest of the story usually goes unreported:  Researchers, libraries, universities, physicians, patients, nonprofit patient-advocacy groups, taxpayer groups, and many individual publishers are happy with it.

Update (4/5/08).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

When will research journal publishers realize that research is conducted by researchers and funded by the tax-paying public for the sake of what is best for research, researchers, their institutions, the vast R&D industry, and the tax-paying public? Research is not being conducted and funded as a service to the research journal publishing industry....

If and when it should ever come to pass that Green Open Access self-archiving mandates make subscriptions unsustainable, the obvious solution will be for journal publishers to convert to Gold Open Access publishing (which some publishers have done already). But AAP is pre-emptively lobbying (and now even threatening to sue!) to continue to restrict the very access for the sake of which research is being given to publishers to be published -- in order to protect their current cost-recovery model from the hypothetical risk of one day having to convert to Gold OA Publishing.

Though the analogy is a bit shrill, it is very much as if tobacco companies were lobbying against no-smoking ordinances because they might hurt their sales (even though they protect public health) -- except that in the case of the no-smoking mandates, there isn't even Gold waiting at the end of the rainbow!

Friday, April 04, 2008

OA for literature-based discovery

Glen Newton, Free the articles (full-text for researchers & scientists), Zzzoot, April 4, 2008.  Excerpt:

At a recent plenary I gave (earlier post) at the Colorado Association of Research Libraries Next Gen Library Interfaces conference, I went a little off-script and was educating (/haranguing) the mostly librarian audience about the present-and-near-future importance of the accessibility of full-text research articles to their researchers and scientists....

I was referring to the machine-accessibility of the text....

I was concerned because of the increasing number of discipline-specific tools that use full-text (& metadata & citations) to allow users (via text mining, semantic analysis, etc.) to navigate, analyze and discover new ideas and relationships, from the research literature. The general label for this kind of research is 'literature-based discovery', where new knowledge hidden in the literature is exposed using text mining and other tools.

Most publisher licenses do not allow for the sort of access to the full-text that many of these discovery tools need.

When I asked for a show of hands of how many were aware of this issue, of the ~200 in the audience, no one raised their hand....

I suggested the following non-mutually-exclusive strategies:

  • demanding licenses from publishers and aggregators that allow them to offer access to full-text for analysis by arbitrary patron tools
  • asking publishers to publish their full-text in the Open Text Mining Interface (OTMI)
  • supporting Open Access journals which support much of this this out-of-the-box...

[For example] this study shows how researchers discovered the biochemical pathway involved in drug addiction from the literature alone. They did no experiments. This discovery was derived from an analysis and extraction of information from more than 1000 articles! This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Clearly, this sort of analysis can save time and money in discovering important and relevant scientific knowledge.

PS:  See my past posts on how OA facilitates meta-analysis and text-mining.

Call for papers on free culture

The First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture, at the fourth annual iCommons iSummit (July 29-August 1, 2008, Sapporo) has issued a call for papers, due April 26.

Classifying archaeologists by their data sharing habits

Charles Watkinson, Only Panthers Share Archaeological Data, Charles Watkinson's blog, April 1, 2008.
... But let's move back to the examples of good sharers Sebs brings up; Jack Davis with PRAP and MRAP, Ian Hodder at Çatalhöyük, Martha Joukowsky at Petra, and Brian Rose at Troy. Let's face it, Sebastian, these are legendary names, the "gray panthers" who have nothing to prove. Tenured, funded, at the top of their profession, they have little need for further reward, have access to some of the best minds around to help shape their data for other users, have less need than others to retain the right to priority, and are savvy in their abilities to navigate the intellectual property minefield. If you are a powerful feline, the obstacles to data sharing drop away.

When we talk about sharing, we need to look more at scholarly behavior at the starting-out level. Think graduate students and untenured faculty, the baby armadillos and raccoons rather than the panthers of the scholarly ecosystem. With their institutional repositories standing largely empty, libraries are currently puzzling about why these first "net gen" grad students and junior faculty aren't loading up university servers with data sets, conference presentations, articles in progress, course materials, and all the other good digital stuff a lively intellect produces. A glance at [Christine] Borgman's book [Scholarship in the Digital Age] may suggest some simple truths about motivations, disincentives, and the law of the grasslands.
Tom Elliott, Bill Caraher, and Eric Kansa continue the taxonomizing.

Johns Hopkins censors publicly-funded database

Sarah Lai Stirland, U.S. Funded Health Search Engine Blocks 'Abortion', Wired, April 3, 2008.  (Thanks to Gavin Baker.)  Excerpt:

A U.S. government-funded medical information site that bills itself as the world's largest database on reproductive health has quietly begun to block searches on the word "abortion," concealing nearly 25,000 search results.

Called Popline, the search site is run by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. It's funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, the federal office in charge of providing foreign aid, including health care funding, to developing nations....

But on Thursday, a search on "abortion" was producing only the message "No records found by latest query." ...

Under a Reagan-era policy revived by President Bush in 2001, USAID denies funding to non-governmental organizations that perform abortions, or that "actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."

A librarian at the University of California at San Francisco noticed the new censorship on Monday, while carrying out a routine research request on behalf of academics and researchers at the university. The search term had functioned properly as of January.

Puzzled, she contacted the manager of the database, Johns Hopkins' Debbie Dickson, who replied in an April 1st e-mail that the university had recently begun blocking the search term because the database received federal funding.

"We recently made all abortion terms stop words," Dickson wrote in a note to Gloria Won, the UCSF medical center librarian making the inquiry. "As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now." ...


  • What's stunning is that Johns Hopkins apparently took this step on its own, without waiting for USAID to ask it to do so.  It would have been much better to wait.  We'd have a few more weeks, months, or years of freedom.  And the university could side with the protesting public against a government censor.  Now it is the censor. 
  • It's embarrassing enough to have a public agency censor knowledge about abortion in a country where the Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is a fundamental right.  And it's embarrassing enough to have two administrations try to limit public knowledge about a fundamental right.  But it's more embarrassing for a university to act as the censor.  Does the university believe that searching for knowledge about abortion is "actively promoting" abortion?  Does it believe that searching for knowledge about torture is actively promoting torture? 
  • Finally, if the university waited and forced the agency to act, then we could address the underlying policy, undistracted by the university's eagerness to carry it out.  Abortion and its active promotion are lawful in the US, and the USAID mission should reflect that.  But in any case, even for users who actively oppose abortion and its promotion, searching for knowledge should be lawful.  Don't abortion opponents ever want to learn something about the practice?  Or do they want to guarantee that their public policy positions are uninformed?

Update.  That was fast.  Michael Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has reversed the decision.  (Thanks to Catherine Rampell.)  From Klag's public statement (April 4, 2008):

...I could not disagree more strongly with this decision, and I have directed that the POPLINE administrators restore "abortion" as a search term immediately. I will also launch an inquiry to determine why this change occurred.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and not its restriction.

USAID may disregard the freedom of inquiry at Johns Hopkins, as it has in the past.  Or it may defund the POPLINE database.  But no matter what it does, Johns Hopkins has its own mission to follow.  Kudos to Dean Klag for remembering.

Update.  It appears that USAID did contact the university prior to the act of censorship.  According to Robert Pear in the April 5 New York Times,

[Timothy M. Parsons, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins] said the development agency [USAID] had expressed concern after finding “two articles about abortion advocacy” in the database. The articles, he said, did not fit database criteria and were removed.

Nevertheless, there's no evidence that USAID asked the university to censor searches.

Update. Another bit of news from the Library Journal Academic Newswire for April 8, 2008:

A spokesperson for USAID, Sandra Johnson, told reporters...that administrators at Hopkins had "misunderstood" the agency's request [to remove two articles from the database], however, and said the agency was "glad" the search function was being restored.

Free videos from Nature

Nature has launched an Online Video Streaming Archive.  Most of the videos are free, and all the free ones are labeled.

More on OA for novels

Ben Hoyle, Internet book piracy will drive authors to stop writing, London Times, March 31, 2008.  (Thanks to Catherine Rampell.)  Excerpt:

...Tracy Chevalier, the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring who also chairs the London-based [Society of Authors], said that her members were deeply concerned that the publishing industry was failing to adapt to the digital age....

Ms Chevalier told The Times that the century-old model by which authors are paid – a mixture of cash advances and royalties – was finished. “It is a dam that’s cracking,” she said. “We are trying to plug the holes with legislation and litigation but we need to think radically. We have to evolve and create a very different pay system, possibly by making the content available free to all and finding a way to get paid separately.” ...

OA for pre-pre-prints as a spring for collaborative research

Noam Harel has launched a site called SCIEnCE, for Share Collaborative Ideas, ENact Cooperative Efforts.  (Thanks to Heather Piwowar.)  The idea is to share scientific ideas before they are turned into research projects or funded.  Think of it as OA for pre-pre-prints.  As he puts it:

Have you ever had a great idea along the lines of: 

  • An innovative approach to answering a scientific question?
  • An ingenious insight that you wonder if someone else out there has already come up with?

Do you hold onto that idea so that you can explore it on your own when you get the chance, maybe years down the road? Does this great idea become your lottery ticket to personal fame and fortune? Like lotteries in general, this is a pipe dream. Much worse, it deprives society of benefiting from your good idea right now. part of the growing movement dedicated to encouraging the public sharing of testable ideas. Not just ideas, but plans of action – ideas will be developed into specific, step-by-step proposals via Wiki-inspired community editing. A new system for attributing credit will be used to distribute funding for SCIEnCE projects. The projects outlined by these collaboratively written proposals will be tackled with a cooperative experimental approach....

Here's his prototype wiki to collect and organize the ideas, and here's one of his own ideas:  a Centralized Grant Proposal Repository.

UK Cabinet Officer supports free use of public sector info

Michael Cross, Report backs freer use of data, The Guardian, April 3, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Cabinet Office minister, Tom Watson...was introducing a progress report on the Power of Information review, which last June urged the government to make better use of social media and to make its data available for reuse. The interim report contains 15 sets of promises for making official information more easily available for reuse. However, it's noncommittal on the original review's call for government trading funds to make their core data available for free unless there is good evidence to levy charges.

In his speech, Watson reaffirmed his support for Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign, suggesting that the government trading fund system had outlived its usefulness....He referred to a "lively debate" about whether the economy and society would be better served by giving the data away. That debate, of course, has been given renewed vigour by the publication alongside the Budget of the Cambridge economic study into the costs and benefits of making various trading funds' "public task" data free. That suggested the wider economy would see a net gain of £164m from making raw data from the six biggest trading funds - Land Registry, Companies House, Ordnance Survey, the Met Office and the UK Hydrographic Office - available for free reuse....

OA journals at the U of Tehran

The Electronic Journal Database of University of Tehran allows reading and downloading of articles from 43 journals, apparently all of them published by the university and all of them OA. 

PS:  Also see my June 2007 post on the 22 (now 24) OA journals from Tehran University Medical Sciences Publications.

Another large publisher of OA journals

Academic Journals is a publisher of OA journals, apparently launched in 2007.  On its journal page, it lists 49 titles, but on its home page it says it publishes over 80.  It's located in Asia but doesn't indicate the city or country. 

PS:  With 49-80 titles, AJ is among the five largest OA journal publishers in the world, and I'd like to know more about it.  If anyone has more background info, please drop me a line.

Richard Poynder interviews Bill Mortimer

Richard Poynder, The Open Access Interviews: Bill Mortimer, Open and Shut? April 4, 2008.  This interview builds on Richard's profile of OA at Open University published last month in ComputerWeekly.  From the new interview:

...But how [does the progress of OA archiving] look on the ground? To find out I sat down recently with Bill Mortimer, Research Support Librarian at the UK's Open University. An advocate for Open Access, Mortimer has played a key role in the development of the OU's repository, Open Research Online (ORO).

What became evident during our conversation is that the OU's experience maps neatly onto the history of the self-archiving movement. As in many universities, the library created an institutional repository some years ago, but struggled to persuade researchers to deposit their papers in it. Without the necessary funds to continue supporting ORO, the library was then forced to put it on the back burner for a while. After Mortimer was appointed, however, the OU's Pro-Vice Chancellor for research was persuaded to adopt ORO as a central resource for the upcoming Research Assessment Exercise.

As a result ORO experienced a rapid growth in the number of deposits and today, says Mortimer, it is the fourth largest repository in the UK. But like so many repositories the bulk of the content in ORO today is metadata, and just 15% of its records consist of full-text....

In short, Open Access is for Mortimer primarily a pragmatic issue. As he pointed out, his job is to ensure that OU faculty have access to all the research they need, not to promote causes. It just so happens that Open Access currently offers him the best hope of achieving this. Indeed, I formed the impression that, while he is happy to discuss radical future scenarios, Mortimer is in many ways a traditionalist, and were journal subscription costs to suddenly plummet, to a level where the OU could provide faculty with all the research it needs, Mortimer would be more than happy to re-embrace the traditional subscription model.

Given this pragmatism I found it striking that, with his colleagues, Mortimer has recently suggested to OU management that the University introduce an "Immediate-Deposit/Optional Access" (ID/OA) mandate. The ID/OA mandate, we should note, is a compromise strategy intended to force researchers to self-archive, but in a way that circumnavigates publisher opposition, and avoids any potential copyright disputes with publishers. And it is also able to facilitate Open Access even where the full-text is not accessible on the Web. In short, it promises a very practical solution to the many hurdles currently besetting Open Access. It is no surprise, therefore, that it should appeal to a pragmatist like Mortimer.

However, if the OU were to adopt such a mandate it would set an interesting precedent. Might it happen? Mortimer cannot say, but stressed to me that senior management is currently "actively considering" the idea....

New book on OA in South Asia

Anup Kumar Das, Open access to knowledge and information: scholarly literature and digital library initiatives – the South Asian scenario, UNESCO, 2008.  A new, 137 pp. book from the New Delhi office of UNESCO.  The full text was self-archived at OpenMED this morning.

Abstract:   The South Asia sub-region is now in the forefront of the Open Access movement within developing countries in the world, with India being the most prominent partner in terms of its successful Open Access and Digital Library initiatives. Institutional and policy frameworks in India also facilitate innovative solutions for increasing international visibility and accessibility of scholarly literature and documentary heritage in this country. This publication has its genesis in the recommendations and proceedings of UNESCO-supported international conferences and workshops including the 4th International Conference of Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL2001, Bangalore); the International Conferences on Digital Libraries (ICDL2004 & ICDL2006, New Delhi); and the International Workshop on Greenstone Digital Library Software (2006, Kozhikode), where many information professionals of this sub-region demonstrated their Digital Library and Open Access initiatives. This book describes successful digital library and open access initiatives in the South Asia sub-region that are available in the forms of open courseware, open access journals, metadata harvesting services, national-level open access repositories and institutional repositories. This book may be considered an authoritative Source-book on Open Access development in this sub-region.

From the conclusion (p. 128):

Open access to knowledge and information as we may see from this listing has far to go in South Asia. It is largely achievable in a country where policy frameworks, institutional frameworks, information infrastructure, trained manpower, and financial resources are adequately available. The effect of focused capacity building programmes in the areas of digital preservation, digital libraries and open access to literature is encouraging in a country like India, where significant proliferation of open access and digital library initiatives have been achieved in the last decade. A number of workshops and training events were organized in India during this period, where a few thousand library and computer professionals received training in open source software for building open access repositories. Library schools in India have since included open source digital archiving software in their curricula. Several national and international conferences, seminars, and symposia were also organized in India, where library professionals discussed methods and techniques of digitization, digital library development, institutional repository development and digital preservation. India has now become the leader in digital library and open access initiatives in South Asia and across Asia, due to stakeholders' active participation in capacity building processes as well as the availability of financial resources. The key to commitment and development in this field lies in the sensitization of stakeholders as which has been done in India. In Pakistan, policy and institutional frameworks are being reinforced to embrace open access initiatives. In other South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, however, there remains significant room for more awareness raising, capacity building, and sensitization programmes involving stakeholders in order to achieve that paradigm shift in universal access to information, knowledge and heritage....

Update. Also see the UNESCO press release on the book.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Taylor & Francis modifies the terms of its iOpenAccess program

Taylor & Francis has modified the terms of its hybrid journal program, iOpenAccess, which now covers 234 journals.  Formerly, iOA articles were published under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.  Now they will be published under a near-equivalent homegrown license.  Here's the key provision:

For non-commercial purposes users may access, download, copy, display and redistribute documents as well as adapt, translate, text and data mine content contained in documents subject to the following conditions:

  • The authors' moral right to the integrity of their work is not compromised....
  • If document content is copied, downloaded or otherwise reused for non-commercial research and education purposes, a link to the appropriate bibliographic citation (authors, journal, article title, volume, issue, page numbers, DOI and the link to the definitive published version on informaworld) should be maintained. Copyright notices and disclaimers should not be deleted.
  • Use of documents for commercial purposes is prohibited....

Documents posted to PubMed Central are without warranty from Taylor & Francis of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. In no event shall Taylor & Francis be liable for any loss or damage arising out of, or in connection, with the use or performance of this information.


  • In one respect the new license is even more liberal than the CC-BY-NC-ND license it replaces.  It expressly allows some derivative works.
  • The specific mention of PMC suggests that the new license is designed for articles by NIH-funded authors.  But this is strange for two reasons.  First, not all iOA articles will be written by NIH-funded authors.  Second, not all NIH-funded authors publishing in the relevant journals will choose the iOA option.  The first kind of strangeness is easy to take.  There's no harm in having clauses in a license that only apply to a subset of the licensed articles.  The second kind of strangeness, however, may be a sign that T&F is planning to require its NIH-funded authors to choose the iOA option, and pay a large fee ($3,250), for the right to comply with their prior funding contract.  Is it?  Is it planning to force authors who only want green OA to pay for gold OA?

Textbook publisher sues note-taking service for copyright infringement

Faulkner Press, a textbook publisher, on April 1 filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Class Notes (d/b/a Einstein's Notes), a student note-taking service at the University of Florida. Faulkner primarily publishes textbooks written by UF professors for use in UF classes. The suit alleges that Einstein's Notes illegally copied material from Faulkner Press publications, as well as a UF professor's web site and lectures. The professor is not a plaintiff but says he supports the suit. The professor is paid by Faulkner for sales of the textbook; Faulker also publishes a lecture guide for the class, for which the professor is not paid but payment is made to the department.

For details, see the coverage in the Gainesville Sun or the Independent Florida Alligator. For student responses to the suit, see this editorial cartoon and these letters to the editor (1 and 2), as well as this blog post by the president of UF's Free Culture chapter. Faulker has created its own web site about the suit, which links to the original complaint and other documents.

These note-taking services have been a recurring point of soreness for UF faculty; see e.g. this article from 2005 (and my op-ed response, at the time as a student). The stories also note an unsuccessful suit from 1996 against a similar service.

Comment. My favorite take on this, and the angle relevant to OA, is the student editorial cartoon, which points to the tension between the advancement of learning (supposedly a core value of academia) and academics' management of their own copyright, and the incentives toward profit and control therein.

Disclosure: As it happens, I once registered for this particular professor's class and bought the textbook in question, published by Faulkner. I dropped the class and returned the textbook when I discovered that the textbook, which is only available in electronic format, only works on Windows and Mac (I use Linux). I was also upset at the cost of the textbook ($80 or so for a CD in a box) and the software-registration system which Faulkner uses to prevent resale after the semester ends. Update. See the comments by David Wiley (1 and 2).

The story was also picked up by the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog, Wired's Threat Level blog, and Boing Boing, among others. Update. According to the Independent Florida Alligator, the note-taking company hasn't yet responded to the lawsuit, but is temporarily stopping its service for the class in question. The textbook publisher also announced it will make the class' lecture notes available free online beginning in the summer, and will start posting audio lectures immediately.

Open should go both ways

D'Arcy Norman, Open needs to be bidirectional, D’Arcy Norman dot net, April 2, 2008.

... Walking back from the presentation, chatting with two unnamed faculty members. They were saying how eye-opening the session was, and how they had no idea that Fair Dealing was as useful and potentially as flexible as it sounds like it is. How great, that they can go ahead and scan books as PDF and post them in their courses in Blackboard.

“But,” I replied, “what if we went further than that, and started sharing course materials on the open web for others to use as well, instead of just locking copyrighted materials behind Blackboard’s login?”

“No. I could never put my course on the open web. I’d get sued. I don’t worry about this now, because it’s all in Blackboard. They have no right to look in Blackboard, so it’s safe.”

My jaw is still sore from when it hit the elevator floor.

Fair Dealing, and open access, and creative commons, and all of the wonderful things that these entail. Only seen by faculty as ways to get content into their courses. A one-way trip. Roach motel.

I can see I’ve got a lot of work to do. ...

New release of Fedora repository software

Fedora, the free and open repository software, released version 2.2.2 on March 31. See the blog announcement or detailed release notes for changes. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Comments on the Lancet editorial endorsing OA

If you recall, last month The Lancet published an editorial endorsing OA, endorsing Harvard's OA mandate, and criticizing conventional medical journals:

...What should editors and publishers do? They need to cast dullness to one side, and become leaders instead of followers....They need to pay less attention to their financial bottom line, and commit themselves to a larger, more inspiring mission —to join doctors in working to achieve the highest attainable standards of health for the communities they serve. Most medical publishers have forgotten that mission. It is time they returned to it.

Comments from Lancet readers are now online.  (As with the editorial itself, free registration may be required in order to access full text.) 

From John James, Editor and publisher, AIDS Treatment News:

It is tragic that doctors and others must sacrifice access so that corporate gatekeepers can extort payment for information, while contributing little or nothing to its production....

From Luca De Fiore, Manager, Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore:

Sadly, the position of most International medical publishers is very conservative. Costs/job-cuttings too often produce poor quality publishing....Open access initiatives such as the PLoS or BioMed Central act mainly as "download machines" of sometimes good microchunks of information: doctors need more, they require a systematic approach to healthcare and medicine, to be actually updated and informed. They need modern, appealing paper+internet journals, able to give chances to discover unknown information needs. A decontextualized information hardly becomes knowledge.

From Matthew Cockerill, Publisher, BioMed Central:

It is s good to see The Lancet giving the issue of open access publishing attention, but the following claim is wide of the mark:  "Although BioMed Central has grown substantially during the past 3 years, it has yet to capture the quality end of the research sector. The Public Library of Science has been more successful. It has produced several high-impact journals".  In fact, BioMed Central publishes several journals which are ranked as highly, and in some cases more highly, than PLoS titles....

The SCImago website lists [SCImago Journal Ranks] for just over 13,000 journals. In the 2006 SCImago rankings, the two highest ranked BioMed Central journals (Journal of Biology and Genome Biology) are the top 0.5% of journals in the database, ahead of all 5 PLoS titles listed.

Of the 135 BioMed Central journals listed in the SJR rankings, more than half are ranked in the top 15%, and 50 journals are in the top 10%. These data show that a typical open access journal, whether from BioMed Central or from PLoS, is significantly more highly cited than a typical traditional journal....

The newly launched BMC Research Notes from BioMed Central...[allows] the publication of negative, confirmatory or incremental research results, as long the research has been soundly performed. Public Library of Science and Hindawi have launched similar initiatives, demonstrating that the open access model can do more than simply reproduce the traditional journal system, it can deliver additional options for the sort of research communication that was poorly served by traditional publishing.

More on libraries as OA publishers

Karla Hahn, Research Library Publishing Services:  New Options for University Publishing, ARL, March 2008.  Hahn is the Director of the ARL Office of Scholarly Communication.  Excerpt:

...[I]n late 2007 the Association of Research Libraries surveyed its membership to gather data on the publishing services they were providing....

The survey verified that research libraries are rapidly developing publishing services. By late 2007, 44% of the 80 responding ARL member libraries reported they were delivering publishing services and another 21% were in the process of planning publishing service development. Only 36% of responding institutions were not active in this arena.

These libraries are publishing many kinds of works, but the main focus is journals; 88% of publishing libraries reported publishing journals compared to 79% who publish conference papers and proceedings, and 71% who publish monographs....

Libraries are making large contributions of organizational resources to support publishing service programs, so it is not surprising that a substantial portion of library publishing uses business models that enable open access or work toward such a model to best leverage those institutional investments. Subsidizing locally managed open access publishing is an alternative to subsidizing subscription models with inherent access restrictions. Libraries are avoiding the substantial overhead involved in subscription-based business models and traditional print runs....

Open Repositories conference and its open conference repository

The Open Repositories 2008 conference is now in progress (Southampton, April 1-4, 2008). 

As befits a conference on OA repositories, at the institution responsible for the first and most-used repository software (EPrints), this conference has found an innovative way to share the presentations.  As they are given, the presentations are deposited in a special conference repository, OR08 Publications.  You can track new deposits or browse and search existing deposits. 

What will happen to the repository after the conference ends?

Its long-term status is being discussed by the conference series steering committee, but all eprint URLs are persistent and will be redirected to other repositories or services as required in the future.

Comment.  Congratulations to the organizers for this useful innovation.  I hope other conferences adopt it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More on OA in the developing world

Matthew J. Cockerill and Bart G.J. Knols, Open Access to Research for the Developing World, Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2008.  Excerpt:

...[D]eveloping countries are now more connected than ever before, and the digital infrastructure that now exists has the potential to transform access to knowledge. The primary obstacles are no longer technological but are related to issues of content licensing, distribution, and access control.

Access to knowledge is clearly a fundamental requirement for development....

The simplest and most reliable way to ensure that knowledge is available where and when it is needed is to avoid access barriers altogether through a universal open-access model....

[S]everal actions are necessary:

  • Subscription-only journals that publish research of relevance to developing countries should eliminate the barriers that still prevent many of those in developing countries from having access to that research.
  • Funders whose focus is global health should ensure that as a condition of funding, grant recipients are required to make the results of their research universally accessible. The policy of the Wellcome Trust, a significant player in research on global health issues, is exemplary in this area.
  • Research institutions should ensure that their authors are not discouraged by structural financial disincentives from making their research openly accessible. Institutions currently support subscription journal publishing through central library budgets. If open-access publishing is to compete on a level playing field, similar central support must be available to cover the cost of open-access publication. Many institutions are now setting up central open-access funds, supported by indirect costs received from funders. This is a promising model as it provides a scalable and sustainable basis for open access to the results of research.
  • Researchers working in fields of relevance to developing countries should investigate the many options for publishing their research in a way that guarantees fully universal access.
  • Last, those involved in international development efforts must consider how best to work with local communities to make effective use of the additional sources of knowledge that are now becoming available. Traditionally, the success of a research journal has been measured in terms of the number of citations that are generated. But in the case of medical research, for example, the goal is not simply to stimulate further research but to generate positive public health outcomes. We need to develop the means to measure and enhance the real impact of medical research in the developing world.

Also see the section on OA in the Forum of the same issue.  There are contributions from Mark Grabowsky, Malaria Coordinator for the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust.

The power of more data

Anand Rajaraman, More data usually beats better algorithms, Datawocky, March 24, 2008. (Thanks to John Wilbanks, via Slashdot.)

I teach a class on Data Mining at Stanford. Students in my class are expected to do a project that does some non-trivial data mining. Many students opted to try their hand at the Netflix Challenge: to design a movie recommendations algorithm that does better than the one developed by Netflix. ...

Different student teams in my class adopted different approaches to the problem, using both published algorithms and novel ideas. Of these, the results from two of the teams illustrate a broader point. Team A came up with a very sophisticated algorithm using the Netflix data. Team B used a very simple algorithm, but they added in additional data beyond the Netflix set: information about movie genres from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Guess which team did better?

Team B got much better results, close to the best results on the Netflix leaderboard!! I'm really happy for them, and they're going to tune their algorithm and take a crack at the grand prize.  But the bigger point is, adding more, independent data usually beats out designing ever-better algorithms to analyze an existing data set. I'm often suprised that many people in the business, and even in academia, don't realize this. ...

The OA connection, from commenter "Plausible Accuracy" on Wilbanks' blog:
... This is a great example of how "mashups" ... can be used to sort of bootstrap the power of a dataset. In the case of the Stanford teams, the incorporation of data from an external source enabled them to improve their algorithm. In the case of Open Access science, the ability to better combine data from a variety of studies and fields will in turn lead to more discoveries.

Free digitization through the mail

Scribd announced on April 1 its new Convert Your Paper to iPaper program. (As the announcement says, despite the date, it's not an April Fools joke.) The offer: you mail hardcopy documents to Scribd, they scan them for free and publish the document online. (Thanks to Boing Boing.)

... Is this really free?
Yes. We offset the cost of scanning by serving relevant advertisements on scanned documents.

What kinds of documents can you scan?
Scribd uses highly advanced scanning technology provided by our partners to scan and OCR documents at high volume. Our scanners can scan almost any written documents, but be sure to contact us for details about your particular materials.

How do I participate?
Email with information about your paper documents. Please include an estimate of the number of pages you have. A Scribd representative will reply with information about how and where to mail the documents.

Are there any additional restrictions?
Yes. To use the "Convert Your Paper to iPaper program", you must:

  1. Have full legal rights to any content you send us.
  2. Not be in a hurry. It will take time - weeks, at least - to get your content scanned.
  3. Agree to have your content published on

Also, please realize that Scribd may choose to not scan materials at our discretion, and that this program will be available for a limited time only.

Scribd uses a Flash viewer to the display the documents online, but offers a download option and integrated Creative Commons licensing. No word on whether they send you the paper back when they're done.

Comment. Unless I hear otherwise, I wouldn't rely on this for archival-quality scans and careful handling of fragile documents. But if you're not worried about this, it is free -- time to dig up that old dissertation?

Stevan Harnad's recommendations to the NIH

Stevan Harnad, NIH Invites Recommendations on How to Implement and Monitor Compliance with Its OA Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, April 2, 2008. 

Summary:  NIH is now calling for a round of public recommendations on the best way to implement and monitor compliance with its OA Self-Archiving mandate. My own recommendation below is designed to make the NIH mandate efficient and successful for NIH and its fundees and to ensure that it reinforces and converges with the growing number of complementary university self-archiving mandates (such as Harvard's). The gist is that (1) NIH's preferred locus of direct deposit for the postprint should be the fundee's Institutional Repository (IR) (from which it can then be downloaded to NIH) and that (2) the fulfillment conditions on the NIH grant should stipulate that the fundee institution monitors that the deposit has been made. Please make your own recommendations here....

April SOAN

I just mailed the April issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue brings together the many online guidelines and resources for implementing the new NIH policy, and takes a close look at the principles and policy options for universities considering an OA policy.  The round-up section briefly notes 97 OA developments from March.

More on access v. privacy: different ways to make the decision

D.J. Willison and eight co-authors, Access to medical records for research purposes: varying perceptions across research ethics boards, Journal of Medical Ethics, April 2008.  Only this abstract is free online:

Introduction: Variation across research ethics boards (REBs) in conditions placed on access to medical records for research purposes raises concerns around negative impacts on research quality and on human subject protection, including privacy.

Aim: To study variation in REB consent requirements for retrospective chart review and who may have access to the medical record for data abstraction.

Methods: Thirty 90-min face-to-face interviews were conducted with REB chairs and administrators affiliated with faculties of medicine in Canadian universities, using structured questions around a case study with open-ended responses. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded manually.

Results: Fourteen sites (47%) required individual patient consent for the study to proceed as proposed. Three (10%) indicated that their response would depend on how potentially identifying variables would be managed. Eleven sites (38%) did not require consent. Two (7%) suggested a notification and opt-out process. Most stated that consent would be required if identifiable information was being abstracted from the record. Among those not requiring consent, there was substantial variation in recognising that the abstracted information could potentially indirectly re-identify individuals. Concern over access to medical records by an outside individual was also associated with requirement for consent. Eighteen sites (60%) required full committee review. Sixteen (53%) allowed an external research assistant to abstract information from the health record.

Conclusions: Large variation was found across sites in the requirement for consent for research involving access to medical records. REBs need training in best practices for protecting privacy and confidentiality in health research. A forum for REB chairs to confidentially share concerns and decisions about specific studies could also reduce variation in decisions.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Googlizing a digital library

Jody L. DeRidder, Googlizing a Digital Library, The Code4Lib Journal, March 24, 2008. (Thanks to Current Cites.) Abstract:
This article describes how we dramatically increased access to our content through the use of sitemap files and sets of browsable links. Digital libraries, when characterized by search and retrieval capabilities, are normally part of the Deep Web, inaccessible to general web crawlers and hence to generalized search engines such as Google. Yet the primary goals of digital libraries include enhancing accessibility, expanding one’s audience to the general public, and promoting the library. Leveraging the capabilities of popular search engines is a potentially powerful and low-cost method of meeting these goals. An overview is provided of the problem, the solutions being developed, as well as an exploration of the current methods of remediation and their applicability to two other search engines, Yahoo! and Ask. A selection of methods is implemented for a dynamically-delivered database of 1081 finding aids (in the form of Encoded Archival Description). Access statistics (ruling out crawlers) already indicate a remarkable increase in user and hit counts as a result.

OA to UK common law

Free law pioneer will publish vital precedents free for the first time, OUT-LAW News, March 20, 2008. (Thanks to Simon Chester.) See also the accompanying podcast.

A free law publication charity will publish the UK's 3,000 most important legal decisions freely for the first time by June. The project will involve publishing vital rulings, dating back to the nineteenth century, on which UK common law is based.

English law and Scots law are based on acts passed by Parliament and by decisions made by courts which other courts must follow, which is called common law. But many of the rulings which make up the body of common law across the UK are very old and only published by commercial law publishers.

BAILII (the British And Irish Legal Information Institute) has said, though, that it will publish nearly 3,000 of the most important rulings, as chosen by academics, for free by this summer. ...

"What we have now is various publishers and transcribers claiming copyright interest in the bulk of judgments that go back into the nineteenth century," said Ury.

To provide access to these documents BAILII founded the Open Law Project with support from academic computing funding body the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). ...

Ball State's digital initiatives

The Ball State University Libraries' blog posted on March 27 about the goals of its digital initiatives, including repository and digitization projects. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Notes on Microsoft's repository platform

Richard Akerman today posted his notes on the Microsoft Summit on Repository Interoperability. Microsoft has created a forum for discussing the platform.

See Peter's earlier post on the topic.

At the intersection of scholarship and control

Cathy Davidson, Permission Denied, Cat in the Stack, March 31, 2008. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
What does it mean for the estate of an artist to withdraw permission to print any of the artist's images and text in a scholarly book? We've been having a lot of conversations about open access and we need to add another element to that conversation: the control of artists, writers, and their descendants on the publication of images. ...

Update. Also see this Tom Elliott post, and the discussion in the comments, on the problem of "post-mortem claw-back" by a copyright holder's heirs.

Data in UK repositories

Chris Rusbridge, UK Repositories claiming to hold data, Digital Curation Blog, March 31, 2008.

The OpenDOAR and ROAR services both present self-reported claims by repositories across the world about their contents, backed up by some harvested facts. I’m interested in those UK repositories that claim to hold data.

My first problem is that neither repository allows me simply to choose data. OpenDOAR allows me to search on “Datasets” (63 world-wide, 8 in the UK), while ROAR allows me to search for “Database/A&I Index” (24 world-wide, 6 in the UK). I thought the latter was a surprisingly “library science” classification, given the origins of ROAR. Not surprisingly, most repositories are in only one of the lists. Also not surprisingly given the origins of these services in the Open Access and OAI-PMH movements, there are many first class data repositories NOT listed here (UKDA and BADC, for example). ...

Looking at the OpenDOAR listing, and linking through to the repositories themselves, I find it very difficult to actually FIND the datasets in most cases. ...

1Q update on growth of OA

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access March 31, 2008 Edition, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 31, 2008.
...In this quarter alone:

Scientific Commons added 1.3 million items, and more than a quarter of a million authors!
OpenDOAR added more than 100 new repositories, and now boasts over 1,100 listings!

The most remarkable story of the quarter, though, is an apparent acceleration of growth of open access publishing, as measured by the number of titles in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). There was a net growth of 271 titles in DOAJ in the first quarter of 2008, an average of just under 3 titles per day, up considerably from last year's average of 1.4 titles per day.

The emergence of new open access publisher Bentham Open was definitely a factor in this acceleration; however, even if all 43 Bentham titles presently in DOAJ are eliminated, there is still a net increase of 228 titles this quarter, or an average of 2.5 titles per day, close to double the growth rate of 2007.

At this rate, about the end of the next quarter, OA publishing will reach another milestone: 15% of scholarly peer-reviewed journals will be fully open access (conservative, based on estimate of 20-25,000 peer-reviewed journals in the world).

In the next quarter, the numbers to watch will be PubMedCentral, with the NIH policy requiring, rather than requesting, open access to NIH-funded research as of April 7, 2008. ...

More on OA to CRS reports

New developments in the debate about OA to U.S. Congressional Research Service reports (see past OAN posts):
  • Dan Friedman, Senator pushes alternative to full CRS report access, CongressDaily, March 28, 2008.

    A bill urging the Senate to make Congressional Research Service reports publically available is stalled in the Senate Rules Committee and may be the latest of a series of such efforts to fail. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and eight co-sponsors last fall introduced a resolution that would allow the CRS reports available to lawmakers and their aides to be posted on a public Web site.

    Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who has jurisdiction over the matter, is pushing a more modest plan, based on the House's system, in which members would choose whether to make reports public. Rules Committee Staff Director Howard Gantman said the proposal, which the committee can implement without a vote, would improve on the Senate approach by offering a standard system for publishing reports that would refresh reports on members' Web sites when CRS updates them.

    After consultations among committee aides, CRS and others, a prototype will be rolled out "very soon," according to a CRS spokeswoman and Gantman. The plan aims to balance public needs and the views of "a significant number of members" who oppose Lieberman's bill due to their belief some CRS reports should remain confidential, Gantman said.

    But this approach would disappoint government transparency advocates who say all taxpayer-funded reports should be publicly available. "They should simply move on the Lieberman proposal or something like it and get on with their job," said Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. ...

  • Ellen Miller,, Sunlight Foundation blog, March 31, 2008.

    Today, Sunlight is launching a new online collaborative, legislative initiative at a new site: We have drafted what we think can become model transparency legislation for the government -- the Transparency In Government Act of 2008 -- and we now need your help to further shape, refine and edit it. Our hope is that the final product can be used as a model for transparent government. ...

    See Title III of the draft bill, Enhancing Public Access to Congressional Research Service Information.

Access to scientific books in Brazil

Gisele Craveiro, Jorge Machado, and Pablo Ortellado, O mercado de livros técnicos e científicos no Brasil: subsídio público e acesso ao conhecimento / El mercado de libros técnicos y científicos en Brasil: subsidio público y acceso al conocimiento (The market for technical and scientific books in Brazil: public subsidy and access to knowledge), a report by Grupo de Pesquisa en Políticas Públicas para el Acceso a la Información, Universidad de São Paulo (Research Group in Publicy Policies for Access to Information, University of São Paulo), 2008.

See the English summary by Pablo Ortellado on the A2k mailing list, March 31, 2008:
... Our report identifies public subsidies in 3 moments in the production of the scientific book in Brazil: in the funding of scientific research, in industrial production (by means of tax exemption to publishing houses) and directly through public university presses. The tax exemption alone costs annually US$ 560 million to the Brazilian public. We also studied the institutional status of national authors of 2,000 books adopted in several graduate courses and found that in scientific areas 86% of them work full time in public institutions. We also found out that public university presses produce about 10% of the books adopted. Despite this high public subsidy to scientific books, Brazilian copyright law includes very confuse provisions for public access (through exceptions and limitations) and Brazilian public institutions have had very incongruent policies to guarantee public access to books.

First $1 million Gotham Prize awarded

Alexander Varshavsky, a Professor of Cell Biology at the California Institute of Technology, is the first winner of the $1 million Gotham Prize for cancer research.  For details, see today's press release.

PS:  For background, see my post from May 2007, when the prize was first announced:

The Gotham Prize...doesn't specifically require OA for research results, but it does specifically try to counteract the data hoarding and secrecy that often accompany promising new ideas, especially in their early stages.

California's publishing plan includes OA journals and relief from the "commercial publishing culture"

Jennifer Howard, U. of California Assesses Its Publishing Needs, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

...[T]he University of California has independently been trying to do what the Ithaka report urged upon all academic institutions: Figure out what kind of publishing, formal and grass roots, is taking place on its campuses. In September its Office of Scholarly Communication published a report, "Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication."

Now a high-level university committee has issued a complementary examination, "Publishing Needs and Opportunities at the University of California."

The authors of the new California report are well placed to catalog both traditional publishing and its homegrown experimental alternatives: Catherine H. Candee is the university's executive director of strategic publishing and broadcast initiatives. Lynne Withey directs the University of California Press....

Administrators spot problems that individual faculty members do not like to acknowledge, the report says: "Junior faculty are beginning to struggle to get the book contracts they need for tenure and promotion; faculty working in innovative fields or on nontraditional projects are constrained by a publishing model that cannot serve their needs; and campus resources are increasingly compromised by the commercial publishing culture." ...

This in-house analysis...made it easier for Ms. Candee and Ms. Withey to figure out what steps the system can take toward sustainable, university-based publishing....[T]he press and the California Digital Library have gotten together to work out how they can jointly deliver "a full spectrum of journal support services at the university," Ms. Candee says. That would include everything from classic subscription models to full open access, depending on the journal....

Update.  Here's the California report itself:  Publishing Needs and Opportunities at the University of California.  (Thanks to Jennifer Howard.)  Excerpt:


2.  Create a system for publishing in alternative formats that would include the following components: selection criteria, editorial and technical development, criteria for determining if the project will be sold or made available on an open access basis, marketing and sales strategies, and maintenance and preservation....


1.  The majority of faculty still follows traditional publication channels, i.e., books and journals. The commercial world still dominates this model of scholarly publishing, particularly in the sciences....They often view the publication and access problems associated with the crisis in scholarly communication as external to themselves, having little bearing on their immediate scholarly activities....

4.  At the same time, there is a trend toward non-traditional publication and informal communication – especially in the arts and humanities – and in both cases, there is a strong desire to formalize and validate these publications....

5.  Faculty are increasingly frustrated by a tenure and review system that fails to recognize these new publishing models and, hence, constrains experimentation both in the technologies of dissemination and in the audiences addressed....In fact, the tenure and promotion process generally impedes those actions that might effectively address the scholarly communications crisis, such as publishing in open access journals, granting non-exclusive copyright to publishers, etc....

Update. Also see the article in Library Journal Academic Newswire, April 10, 2008.  Excerpt:

In a wide-ranging, forward-thinking report, a University of California (UC) task force has recommended UC establish a university-based publishing program to blunt the effect of commercialization and to better serve scholars, especially in emerging disciplines....

The report cogently notes a "paradox" at the individual faculty level: "Attempts to improve scholarly communication by exciting individual faculty ire or inspiration have surfaced issues, stirred passions and illustrated boundless possibilities," the authors note, "but they have not and likely will not fundamentally change the way scholarly publishing works. UC faculty would like to see the university play a more active role in blunting the effect of the commercialization of academic publishing, but they will not and cannot risk their own academic lives to make it happen. The university must step in."

More on the hprints deal with HAL

hprints, the consortial repository for Nordic humanities research, has finalized the deal to be hosted by HAL (Hyper Archive Online), the consortial repository hosted by France's CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).

Co-Action Publishing has some details:

Erland Kolding Nielsen, Director of the Royal Danish Library/Copenhagen University Library, has signed a 3-year agreement with the French research council, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) regarding the hosting of hprints, the scholarly electronic archive for Nordic research in the humanities....

PS:  hprints chose HAL back in October 2007.

Profile of the OpenMED@NIC repository

Sukhdev Singh, Naina Pandita, Shefali S. Dash, Opportunities and challenges of establishing open access repositories: a case study of OpenMED@NIC, a presentation at the ICCSR seminar, Trends and Strategic Issues for Librarians in Global Information Society (Panjab University Chandigarh, March 18,19, 2008).  Self-archived March 31, 2008. 

Abstract:   National Informatics Centre had established a subject repository in May 2005. It is meant for Medical and Allied Sciences and named as OpenMED@NIC. It has MeSH® based subject categorization and this makes it one of its own kind. Taking OpenMED@NIC as a case – this paper discusses key issues in establishing and maintaining an open access repository. Librarians and information science professionals can play active role in providing access and exposure to quality research and academic content generated in their institutions. Mature and standard open sources softwares are now available for setting up repositories. Libraries can install one of these on existing institutional or library servers to setup repositories. However to ensure better access and faster response time dedicated hardware and reliable connectivity would be required. Librarians and information science professional can play important role in exposing intellectual content produced by their organizations. They can take of various roles like – generating awareness among staff, researchers and students about benefits of self arching in institutional or subject repositories; training them in uploading their articles and other documents in such repositories; acting as meta-data editors and repositories managers. Establishing a repository, administrating and inviting authors to deposit their articles and other works in it is golden opportunity available to librarians and information science professionals. This opportunity should be grabbed with open hands.

Freeing users to take full advantage of research

Philip E. Bourne, J. Lynn Fink, and Mark Gerstein, Open Access: Taking Full Advantage of the Content, PLoS Computational Biology, March 28, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

...We would argue that, as yet, the full promise of open access has not been realized. There are few persistent applications that collectively use the full on-line corpus, which for the biosciences at least is maintained in PubMed Central. In short, there are no “killer apps.” Since this readership, beyond any other, would seem to have the ability to change this situation at least in the biosciences, we are issuing a call to action.

While, first and foremost, open access implies downloading and reading full papers for free, additional possibilities exist depending on how the open access material is licensed. PLoS and BioMedCentral (BMC), for example, publish under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CCAL).  [PS:  Also known as a CC-BY license.]  Under this license authors retain ownership of the copyright for their article, but they allow anyone (commercial or non-commercial) to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy articles, as long as the original authors and source are cited. No permission is required from the authors or the publishers. Note that, while this is what PLoS and BMC mean by open access, it is not what other publishers mean, such as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in publishing the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) or Oxford University Press (OUP) in publishing the journal Bioinformatics....This issue was recently addressed in more detail in a PLoS Biology Editorial. The key point is that these licenses allow us to go far beyond reading material to manipulating it much like data.

Beyond what the licensing laws say about how we might use open access materials, there is then the format in which these materials are available. Papers published as PDFs do not lend themselves to easy manipulation by computer. HTML is better, but the markup has more to do with presentation on a Web page than the semantic content of the paper, which is where the great opportunities lie. XML versions of the paper offer the most promise....

This is somewhat of a chicken-and-egg situation. When significant markup is available, it will be used; then again, why go to the trouble of adding significant markup if there are no applications demanding it? The best way out would seem to be to do something significant with the markup we have, which may then inspire authors, publishers, and others to see the research and commercial potential of the corpus.

The use of such markup is a hallmark of Web 2.0 and is manifest in the idea of a mashup....

Consider the following applications from our own laboratories. They may not be killer applications, but they begin to illustrate what can be done with this online corpus. The key idea is manipulation of article text as “data” and integration of articles with other bioinformatics information resources....

Certainly open access journals, such as the PLoS journals, have an opportunity to try and develop those killer apps. PLoS is using the TOPAZ application framework for a publication application built on a semantic repository....

These are a few ideas that we have come up with for making use of the wealth of knowledge contained in open access articles. We feel that it is now time for the community represented by this readership to act. What say you? It is important we hear from you on the subject of better use of open access content. At the forthcoming Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology Conference there will be a session on Scientific Publishing where these views will be discussed, and we also encourage feedback via e-mail, blog, or article comment.

Comment.  Exactly.  We will not unleash the full power and utility of OA research until we go beyond the removal of price barriers to the removal of permission barriers.  The greatest promise of OA is to free up creative people to make creative uses of research.  It was precisely to support these creative uses that the BOAI called for more than the freedom to read research articles without charge, but also permission to "download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."

Update. Also see Chris Leonard's comments at the PhysMath Central blog.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Study Group report on libraries and U.S. copyright

The Section 108 Study Group, "a select committee of copyright experts charged with updating for the digital world the Copyright Act's balance between the rights of creators and copyright owners and the needs of libraries and archives", has released its report, dated March 2008. The Study Group was "convened [in 2005] as an independent group by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation program of the Library of Congress and by the U.S. Copyright Office".

Read the executive summary or the full report. See also the coverage at Wired Campus and in this EDUCAUSE Live! podcast. Quoting from the Library Journal Academic Newswire coverage:
... The diverse 19-member panel was chartered in 2005 to inform legislative changes to update the Copyright Act's exception for libraries and archives for the digital age, but it remains unclear how quickly, or if, the group's carefully-worded, conditioned recommendations will ever make it into law. ...

Notably, the report recommended the section 108 exception be extended to museums, which are currently ineligible. That, however, represents the only clear, unambiguous recommendation in the report. The others include broad language that could be interpreted many ways by legislators. For example, the report suggests section 108's "three copy rule," which permits libraries make up to three copies of a published work for replacement purposes, be amended to allow "a limited number of copies as reasonably necessary" to create and maintain "a single replacement copy." That point is further conditioned, however ...

Preservation was perhaps the major issue addressed in the report, but once again, the broad strokes leave significant latitude for legislators. The group agreed that libraries and museums should be able to make copies of "at risk" works, but suggested conditioning that upon limiting those copies to a "reasonably necessary" number of copies, as well as "restricting access" to the "preservation copies." That recommendation also enumerated a laundry list of qualifications to be met before even determining which institutions can avail themselves of this exception ...

Another major issue concerned libraries' ability to capture "publicly disseminated online content, including web sites." The group recommended that libraries be allowed to archive and make this content available for sites that are not restricted by access controls, such as passwords, but also should offer an "opt-out" for rights holders-except for the Library of Congress, which is to be allowed to capture such content regardless of the owner's desire to opt out. ...

The report, meanwhile, listed a number of issues the group considered but could not agree on-most prominently, digital Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The group acknowledged that "the single-copy restriction on copying" for ILL be "replaced with a more flexible standard" but offered no specific guidance. ...

New database from EBSCO on environmental topics

EBSCO has launched a new database, GreenFILE, apparently some time this month. The database is free to access and contains abstracts and indexes for more than 600 titles, scholarly and non-, totaling almost 300,000 records, about 5,000 of which offer OA full text; see description here. Update. Also see the EBSCO press release, March 28, 2008.

Israel's new copyright law introduces fair use

The new copyright law passed by Israel's Knesset in November 2007, which takes effect in May, creates a new "fair use" provisions modeled after the one in U.S. law. See Jonathan Band, Israel now has the right copyright law, The Jerusalem Post, March 26, 2008.

Helping authors comply with the new NIH policy

Kevin L. Smith, Managing Copyright for NIH Public Access: Strategies to Ensure Compliance, ARL Bimonthly Report, June 2008.  A preprint.  Smith is the Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University.  Excerpt:

Compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy involves three distinct elements:

  • First, authors must retain sufficient rights in their articles, even when (or if) they sign copyright transfer agreements with publishers, to give NIH a license to make their work available in a publicly accessible database.
  • Second, either the author or some entity acting on the author’s behalf must actually submit the article to PubMed Central. The principal author usually will need to verify that the final version of the article as “marked up” by PMC for digital release is correct.
  • Finally, the author(s) will need to obtain PMC reference numbers for their articles to include in subsequent documents submitted to NIH, as described above.

Retention of sufficient rights in an article to allow PMC deposit is probably the most unfamiliar and challenging of these necessary parts of compliance. This analysis will focus, therefore, on this first element of compliance, and will outline three broad options....

The first broad option that could ensure the needed copyright management is for authors to publish their articles in journals that offer to deposit those articles in PubMed Central for the author....

The second broad option for managing copyright to permit implementation of the public access requirement is for the institution itself to take from its faculty authors a non-exclusive license in any work that arises out of funded research that would give the institution the right to authorize deposit....

Finally, the last broad option for copyright management is for the institution to provide comprehensive assistance to authors as they negotiate retention of the right to deposit their work in PMC (as well as in other digital repositories)....

The following sample letter illustrates an approach that would notify publishers that an article that is being submitted for consideration is based on NIH-funded research and therefore must be made accessible to the public under the NIH’s new policy....

The growth of UK repositories

Chris Keene has launched a web page to track the growth of UK repositories.  From the site:

This website provides data on the number of records in UK Institutional Repositories over time. The data was collected from late summer 2006, and has been collected weekly ever since.

The data is from the excellent ROAR based at the University of Southampton (ECS).

Where to start? Have a look at the table below (first link), it shows the number of records in each repository (registered in ROAR) for each week since July 2006. You can reorder the table, download the data (e.g. in to excel) and select individual repositories. Also check out the comparison page, which can be reached by first selecting an IR on the right and then selecting an IR to compare with. Finally the info page is worth a read for details of what you are actually looking at, and issues with the data and presentation.

LMU Munich provides OA to 229 rare books

The library at Ludwig-Maximilans-Universität München has digitized and provided OA to 229 rare books.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

GenBank will be 25

Next week GenBank will turn 25.  (Thanks to Francis Ouellette.)  From the the announcement:

For a quarter century, GenBank has helped advance scientific discovery worldwide.  The nucleic acid sequence database was established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1982.  Since its creation, the GenBank database has grown at an exponential rate.  Amazing as it may seem, in 1984, the entirety of GenBank’s data was published in a two volume hardcover book.  Today, if the current contents of GenBank’s database were printed, it would fill more than 300 pickup trucks with paper....

GenBank was one of the earliest bioinformatics community projects on the Internet promoting open access communications among bioscientists.  In 1992, the GenBank project transitioned to the newly created National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) within NIH where it resides today....

PS:  The NIH's two-day birthday party conference for GenBank is already full.

Update.  Good point from Glyn Moody:

The received wisdom is that open source begat open access, which begat open data, and in broad outline that's true enough. But in one respect it's quite wrong: the first, and arguably most important open data store was set up fully 25 years ago, and is still going from strength to strength....

Germany's OA info center may be renewed, expanded

Germany's Informationsplattform Open Access has made it to the second round of consideration for renewal of its DFG funding.  If it is renewed, it will expand and update the information on its site, and offer all of it in English translation.  Read the announcement in the original German or in Google's English.

Central funding for AHDS ends tomorrow

Tomorrow the UK Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) will come to the end of its regular funding.  From today's announcement on the AHDS front page:

From April 2008 the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) will no longer be funded to provide a national service. However, the JISC have very kindly provided funding for a further year to keep the website available, to maintain and update the AHDS cross-search catalogue, and for the Centres to continue to deliver AHDS collections. The catalogue will allow users to search across the collections of the AHDS partners, including new collections added after 31st March. To use the cross-search catalogue please use the link on the left hand side.

Despite the loss of central funding, the host institutions of the AHDS are committed to working separately and together to retain the expertise and skills of the staff of the AHDS, and to provide a revised set of services for the arts and humanities research community. For further details about the services on offer please click on the links below:

Will JISC/NEH projects be openly licensed?

Andy Powell, Open cultural heritage, eFoundations, March 29, 2008.

JISC have announced five new digitisation projects, funded jointly with US’s National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Looking at the announcement text, I am slightly worried about the licences under which the resulting digitised resources will be made available. ... I, for one, would feel reassured if such things were made more explicit. ...

Based on the minimal information provided about the five projects, only one explicitly mentions the use of Creative Commons, one mentions the development of open source software and one talks about results being freely available (though as mentioned above, being free and being open are two different things). ...

Profiles of Carl Malamud, rogue archivist

ITConversations has an audio interview with Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org, recorded March 18. And has a profile of Malamud's work on OA to case law, dated March 31.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina launches A2K project

Bibliotheca Alexandrina launched its Access to Knowledge project on March 30. From the announcement:
... This platform aims to raise awareness about the importance of A2K and its role in accelerating development efforts around the world, and in the Arab region in particular, by providing an interactive forum that will be continuously [updated] to include latest news and international developments in the field, in addition to the latest articles published on the topic, some of which will be also translated into Arabic to make it available to the widest audience possible. ... The BA's activity comes against the backdrop of the need to remedy the negative effects of obstacles denying developing countries access to international knowledge that would contribute to their development processes and to the advancement of human intellect. Such obstacles result from the rising trend of using international intellectual property protection rules and regulations by developed countries for the purposes of exclusivity, therefore, blocking the use of such knowledge by developing countries to create new knowledge. Being aware of such challenges, and in view of its role in disseminating knowledge and contributing to scientific progress and consequently economic and social development, the BA has undertaken the responsibility to promote for the importance of A2K, especially on the regional Arab level ...
Update. See also this profile at iCommons.

OAI-ORE add-on for Fedora

oreprovider is a free and open source add-on service for Fedora to "disseminate digital objects stored in a Fedora repository as OAI-ORE Resource Maps". The project is written in Java and was developed by the National Library of Sweden. The project was registered on Sourceforge on March 26; the latest release, 0.4 Beta 1, was March 28. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) From the announcement:
The idea behind it all is that you have a Java web application (oreprovider.war) that, on the fly, will generate Resource Maps serialized as Atom feeds (using OAI4J) for objects in Fedora. All you have to do in Fedora is to add information in RELS-EXT what datastreams belongs to which Resource Map (exactly how to do this can be seen at the projects web page).

How much of medical literature is free? Pre-NIH policy numbers

Heather Morrison, Cancer Literature: 13% Free, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 29, 2008.
... Cancer:
13% of the literature in PubMed on cancer links to Free Fulltext.
By publication date range:
7% - within last 30 days
10% - within the last year
17% - within the last two years
21% - within the last 10 years

Data on other topics indicates a range of percentages of literature that is Free Fulltext. Of the topics selected, the highest percentage was for genetics, with 30% Free Fulltext, and the lowest was dentistry, with 4% fulltext. Most topics appear to be close to the 13% range. ...

OA resources in LIS

Andrea, Free resources for library/information science research,, March 29, 2008. A list of books, journals, repositories, etc.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Call for additional comments on the NIH policy

Request for Information: NIH Public Access Policy, a new call for public comments, March 28, 2008.  Excerpt:

With this notice, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requests input from the community regarding the NIH Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting From NIH-Funded Research (NIH Public Access Policy). An identical notice is being issued via the Federal Register on March 31, 2008 (URL coming soon).  Complete and detailed information about the law at Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008), the NIH Public Access Policy, and implementation procedures issued to date are available [here].  

This request for information (RFI) seeks input on the Public Access Policy as described on the above website.  This RFI will be active from March 31, 2008 to May 31, 2008 on [this web page].  The NIH will post analysis and results from this RFI for public view [here] by September 30, 2008....

The NIH is seeking to engage formally with the broader community on the Public Access Policy in a transparent and participatory manner.  The first step of this process was an open meeting, conducted March 20, 2008 (announced in the March 10, 2008 Federal Register notice 73 FR 12745).  Comments collected to date, can be found [here].  The NIH intends to make comments publicly available as they are collected; and, to facilitate independent analysis, the NIH will make comments available for download in bulk at the end of the comment period....

NIH will consider all comments and suggestions regarding the Public Access Policy.  Among other issues, the NIH is particularly interested in information about the following:

  • Do you have recommendations for alternative implementation approaches to those already reflected in the NIH Public Access Policy?
  • In light of the change in law that makes NIH’s public access policy mandatory, do you have recommendations for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy?
  • In addition to the information already posted [here], what additional information, training or communications related to the NIH Public Access Policy would be helpful to you? ...

Individuals, groups, and organizations interested in responding may do so in their discretion at [this] NIH Web site....

Update.  Submit your comments through this web form (before 5:00 pm EST, May 31, 2008), and view the comments already submitted.

Kent Holsinger on OA

Kent Holsinger, Mandatory Open Access:  Friend or Foe?  A slide presentation at the University of Connecticut's meeting, Mandatory Open Access: Friend or Foe? (Storrs, Connecticut, March 26, 2008). 

Comment.  Holsinger tries to balance what he sees as the pros and cons.  In the end, he favors OA ("Open access is a friend who deserves our help and support"), but two incorrect assumptions give his picture of the con side undeserved weight.  (1) He assumes that all OA journals charge publication fees.  But most do not.  (2) He assumes that OA archiving always requires embargoes.  But the majority of green journals, or those allowing postprint archiving, allow it immediately upon publication. The fact that funder OA mandates permit embargoes may be causing some confusion.  At most green journals, authors may still self-archive without delay, regardless of the author's funder.  In this sense, most green journals permit more than funders require.