Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Notes from Foundations of Open

Brianna Laugher has blogged some notes on Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge, Local 2020 Summit (Canberra, April 3, 2008).  Excerpt:

Well, it’s over a week since I attended the Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge local summit. For those outside Australia, in November last year Australia elected a new government after eleven years. One of the new government’s first initiatives was to announce a plan for a Australia 2020 summit. The summit proper is being held next week, with 1,000 attendees taking part. The whole thing is very encouraging of participation, and part of that includes the “local summits” by MPs. Senator Kate Lundy held hers with a focus on open source, open access and related issues. In 12 years, where might progressive and friendly government policy lead us? This summit was about putting heads together and dreaming big, then filling in the steps in between to try and make the ideal a reality.

Appropriately enough, Senator Lundy runs her own website using Joomla, and the summit co-chair Tom Worthington put up all the notes from the day into a Moodle course....

Anyway, for some reason I find the video files time out or something and won’t play. You can download them directly instead....

I particularly recommend

  • Professor Lawrence Cram, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of ANU – Launch & keynote (video, 23min) – wide-ranging talk about his experience in the university/research sector and “foundations of openness” (academic freedom, open access, management of university reasearcher IP)
  • Jeff Waugh – “Foundations of Open” (video, 43min) – “The Foundations of Open is a model for understanding the different aspects of openness in a digital age including standards, knowledge, governance, source code and the market.” [by the by, the James Burke ‘Connections’ clip he shows can also be found on Youtube] ...
  • Alan Smart, ASIBA – “Spatial potential” (video, 30min) – “Geospatial information needs to be open so that Australian businesses can add value, innovate and commercialise in order to be globally competitive.” (If you ever needed evidence to argue about the benefit to business, government and the public of open access/freely licensed geospatial data – all kinds of map data – then this talk would be a fantastic source.) ...

Anyway, Foundations of Open is now done, and the presenters’ submissions are now available. Let’s see if this big picture thinking can translate into anything concrete!

Notes from Economies of the Commons

Bloggers at Images for the Future have posted notes on several of the speakers and panels at Economies of the Commons: Strategies for Sustainable Access and Creative Reuse of Images and Sounds Online (Amsterdam, April 10-12, 2008).  For example:

From the post on Uncommon Business Models:

...There is always a cost and revenue aspect. [Harry Verwayen] talks about 7 possible open business models.

  • subscrtiption model
  • pay per view/ download (ODE)
  • free + added quality (Prelinger Archives)
  • freemium (+ service) (Flickr, Linkedin)
  • advertisement (NY Times)
  • sponsorships (Memory of the Netherlands, Google Books)
  • community engagement (Tribler)

Most of the money was traditionally earned in a closed environment. Now, how can we do that in an open model?

Open business models in scientific publishing

Jan Velterop, CEO of Knewco is one of the leading experts on Open Access and open business models in scientific publishing. He states that he doesn’t believe in open business models, but he does believe in ‘opening up’ business models. Information is ‘funny stuff’ in this respect that unlike food, after you consumed it, it is not neccesarily gone, he explains. The problem with information is its ‘natural state’. It is open. It goes where it goes. So how do we make money with information or at least make good the costs?

According to Velterop there are 3 potential sources of funding. The reader. Here copy right is the construct of making money. But, subscriptions come with restriction and this is something that is not alway desirable. Second, the author, the provider of information. Actually this is more common than people think according to Velterop. A classic example is advertising. Third, 3rd parties.

The key is the one who has the biggest interest, is the one who pays. You see that most business models, for example in the newspaper industry, move to the author or the sponsor who pays instead of the reader. Open access in research publishing works, because in research publishing there is a big interest form the author. Closing deals as a publisher with the authors is a way to give open access to information at least for scientific publisher Springer....

Panel discussion

Together with pannelists Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Roei Amit (INA), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives) and Eerde Hovinga (NIBG-tbc) Verwayen, Woost and Velterop reflect on the impacts of these models on audiovisual archives....

Friday, April 11, 2008

Revision to OA mandate at MRC

If you recall, in October 2007 a group of funders and a group of publishers agreed that when the one of the funders pays one of the publishers a fee to make an article OA, then the publisher would remove important permission barriers, not just price barriers.  

The funders who struck this deal were the UKPMC Funders Group, a group of eight UK funding agencies, some public and some private, each of which had already adopted an OA mandate.  One member of the UKPMC Funders Group is the UK Medical Research Council (MRC).

So it should be no surprise that the MRC finally updated the web page on its OA mandate to include the following paragraph:

If an open access fee has been paid MRC requires authors and publishers to licence research papers such that they may be freely copied and re-used for purposes such as text and data mining, provided that such uses are fully attributed. This is also encouraged where no fee had been paid.

Still, it took me by surprise until I connected the revision to last October's agreement.  Only the six month lag time is really unexpected.  The MRC updated its OA policy page in February 2008, but didn't include this paragraph until the April update.

The MRC OA mandate was announced in June 2006 and took effect in October 2006. 

Comment.  I praised the agreement at the time and I stand by my assessment:  "When a funder pays a publisher to make an article OA, the publisher should remove permission barriers as well as price barriers.  But too often publishers have only removed price barriers.  This agreement to remove a key set of permission barriers is an important step forward that will help users get their work done (both human and machine users), help funders get full value for their investment, and help all players live up to the full BBB definition of OA."  Kudos to the MRC for finally reflecting the terms of the agreement on its own web site.

Presentations on the ethical public domain

The papers from the second COMMUNIA workshop on the Ethical Public Domain (Vilnius, March 31, 2008) are now online.  The sponsors have also started to put up videos of the presentations.

Another Danish institution signs the Berlin Declaration

Promoting OA repositories in India

P. Balaram, Science Journals: Issues of Access, Current Science, April 10, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

For academic institutions in India, a library well stocked with science journals can be an exceedingly expensive proposition....

[The OA] argument is compelling; science is most often paid for by public funds and therefore the results of research must be freely available to anyone who wishes to read.  This will presumably enhance the worldwide reach of science. In effect, the internet revolution can be used to provide free electronic access to all articles. This is indeed a philosophy that must appeal to all except journal publishers....

The ‘pay for publishing’ model has been adopted by high profile journals that have been started by open access advocates, of which the journals belonging to the Public Library of Science (PLoS) stable are a prominent example. The costs to authors for publishing in the high impact, open access journals can be substantial; at times a figure as high as $6000 (a formidable Rs 2.5 lakhs) per paper has been estimated....For researchers in India, with the exception of a very small minority of exclusive institutions, this figure is unaffordable....

Mandating open access for all publicly funded research publications is easy to do by legislation. It is also a requirement that can be insisted upon by philanthropic private funding bodies like the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute....

[A]n alternative strategy of promoting an ‘open archives’ movement seems practicable. Institutional repositories that maintain electronic files of all publications in a freely accessible form appear to be an attractive option for making research results widely available. Copyright issues remain, but many publishers seem comfortable with posting of publications on individual or institutional websites....

The idea of open, institutional archives is one that must be vigorously promoted in India. The introduction of legislation that vests copyright with institutions, in the case of publicly funded research, may also provide the necessary legal framework to avoid any contentious issues....

Comments.  Dr. Balaram is entirely right to argue that OA repositories "must be vigorously promoted in India".  However, he would strengthen his argument if he would correct two mistaken assumptions. 

  • First, he assumes that all OA journals charge publication fees, but in fact most do not.   For example, none of the OA journals published in India charges a publication fee, 67% of the journals listed in the DOAJ charge no publication fees, and 83% of OA journals from society publishers charge no publication fees.  Among the OA journals which do charge fees, the leading publishers waive the fee when authors cannot pay it, and waive it no questions asked. 
  • Second, he assumes that the only way to make an OA mandate lawful is to vest copyright in the mandating institution.  But no OA mandate in the world works that way.  There are several other and better solutions.  One is the dual deposit/release strategy (also called the immediate deposit / optional access strategy) in which institutions require deposit immediately upon acceptance but do not make the deposited articles OA until the publisher's embargo runs or until they can obtain permission some other way.  Another is the Harvard strategy, which asks faculty to retain key rights.  But instead of granting copyright to the institution, authors only grant the university a non-exclusive license, which is all it needs.  Moreover, universities can mandate OA for the research articles published by their faculty whether or not the underlying research was publicly funded. 

Update (4/12/08).  See the supportive reverberations in the Indian press, for example in India EduNews (reprinted in many other Indian papers).

University-wide OA mandate at Southampton

University of Southampton announces institutional Open Access mandate, a press release from University of Southampton, April 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

The University of Southampton announced a University-wide Open Access mandate at the Open Repositories (OR08) conference last week (4 April).

The University became the first* in the UK to announce that it would henceforth require all academic staff to make all their published research available online. The announcement was made by University Librarian Dr Mark Brown, speaking at the Open Repositories conference which, fittingly, was hosted by the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS). In 2001 ECS became the first in the world to adopt a self-archiving mandate.

ECS has been at the forefront of the Open Access movement worldwide, providing tools, data and policy models. The EPrints archiving software which it developed and supports was the first of its kind and is now widely used worldwide, currently supporting 251 known archives with over 440,000 records of research publications.

Professor Stevan Harnad, a founding figure of the Open Access movement, holds a Chair in ECS. He has warmly welcomed the Southampton mandate, as well as a mandate at Stirling University, announced almost simultaneously with Southampton’s, and notes in his blog that the OA momentum is notably gathering force in Europe, with the European University Association (EUA) unanimously recommending OA self-archiving mandates for its 791 universities in 46 countries.

*or second - Stirling University announced its own mandate on 9 April.

Comment.  The Southampton ECS mandate from 2001 covered just one department, while today's press release announces a university-wide mandate, a much more significant step.  Kudos to all involved at Southampton. 

For background, see my post on the first report of the new Southampton mandate (in Mark Brown's presentation at OR08), and my post on the new OA mandate at Stirling University. 

Tactical questions about removing price and permission barriers

Stevan Harnad, On the Perils of Over-Reaching and Over-Defining, Open Access Archivangelism, April 10, 2008.  Summary:

  1. On the current BBB definitions, Green OA ("price-freedom") is not OA, hence Green OA mandates are not OA mandates. This is self-contradictory, and the definition needs to be updated.
  2. I am of course in no way opposed to getting more than OA ("price&permission-freedom") ("p&p"): I am opposed to getting less than OA because of (prematurely) insisting on more than OA: to delaying or diminishing the good for the better.
  3. I believe that consensus on adopting and applying Green OA self-archiving mandates (true and effective mandates, with no opt-out option) is within immediate reach globally and has already demonstrated (locally) that it will generate full Green OA.
  4. I also believe that universal Green OA will in turn generate p&p OA as a natural matter of course.
  5. I also believe that reaching consensus on adopting and complying with p&p OA mandates from the outset is highly unlikely, and that holding out for that, instead of immediately agreeing on mandating Green OA, will only delay reaching universal OA. This would amount to getting less than OA because of (prematurely) insisting on more than OA.
  6. The same is true about (incoherently) arguing (on the basis of BBB) that Green OA is not really OA, hence Green OA mandates are not really OA mandates.
  7. Peter Suber has understood, fully, that our tactical differences are only about priorities: about means, not ends. (Not everyone else has understood this.)
  8. There is an interim pragmatic trade-off among embargoes, opt-out options and the payment of extra publisher fees that is adequately resolved for the immediate primary needs of research and researchers by the immediate deposit mandate plus the "email eprint request" Button, which provide interim "almost-OA" during any embargo. Universal ID/OA mandates will hasten the inevitable natural death of access embargoes and usage restrictions.


  • I repeat that the BBB definitions of OA were entirely correct to call for the removal of permission barriers, not merely the removal of price barriers.  But I don't want to keep repeating my arguments.  For a primer, see my February 2003 article in which I first distinguished price and permission barriers as the two kinds of access barriers which OA aimed to remove.  For more specific back-and-forth between me and Stevan on this question, see our blog posts from October 14 and October 16 of 2007, and pp. 37-39 of my Richard Poynder interview (also October 2007), in which Richard asked me several questions about our differences.
  • Nor can I agree that the BBB definitions imply that green OA is not OA.  If Stevan defines green OA as that which merely removes price barriers, and not permission barriers, then he's right by definition.  But I'm surprised after all these years that we might disagree about is meant by green OA.  For me, it means OA provided by a repository or archive, for example, through self-archiving, as opposed to OA provided by a journal.  The green/gold distinction is about venues, not rights.  Repository-based OA can be OA in the full BBB sense, even if it often is not.  Some repository articles were published originally in OA journals under open licenses and subsequently deposited.  Some were put under open licenses by the authors upon deposit.
  • This is not a green/gold (or repository/journal) issue.  As I put it yesterday in a comment on Peter Murray-Rust's blog:  "Some green OA removes both price and permission barriers, and some gold OA does as well.  But also note the converse.  Just as some (perhaps most) green OA doesn't remove permission barriers, some (perhaps most) gold OA doesn't either.  When we work for the removal of permission barriers, we are working to improve both green and gold OA."
  • I've never argued that a funder or university should delay an OA policy until it could remove both price and permission barriers, and I don't know anyone else who has either.  As I said in a blog comment on an earlier post of Stevan's just two days ago:  "If Stevan means that we shouldn't delay the removal of price barriers until we can remove permission barriers at the same time, then I fully agree.  We should do what we can, when we can.  If we can remove price barriers now, but cannot remove permission barriers now, then we should accept the need to work in stages.  But if Stevan means that we shouldn't do both at once even when we can, or that we shouldn't work for Stage Two, anywhere, before completing Stage One, everywhere, then I must disagree.  Same principle:  we should do what we can, when we can."
  • I agree with Stevan's assessment that this is a disagreement about tactics, not ends.  I even agree that removing price barriers is easier than removing permission barriers, and should be done first when we cannot do both at once.  But it doesn't follow that we should drop the attempt to remove permission barriers.  On the tactical differences that remain, here's my own take (from the Poynder interview at p. 42):  "The real difference between us may be that [Stevan] wants to give all his energy to his top priority and I want to organise a campaign that works on all fronts at once, giving primary attention to primary objectives but not failing to give secondary attention to secondary objectives."  To apply this to the point at issue:  when we can remove permission barriers without delaying the removal of price barriers, then we should.  It's important.  When we cannot do both at once, then we should work for both in succession, committing ourselves not to delay near-term victories and not to forget long-term goals.

Producing an OA journal as a class assignment

Heather Morrison thought up a very creative final assignment for her recently concluded course, Issues in Scholarly Communication and Publishing, at the University of British Columbia.  Students not only wrote final papers, but they assembled them into a sample issue of an OA journal, using Open Journal Systems software.  The sample journal and its inaugural (and final) issue are now online.  Also see Heather's detailed post on the course blog for some background on how the class produced the journal.

PS:  Lucky students, useful course, creative teacher!

More on OA monographs: when authors consent and publishers don't

Samir Chopra, My academic publishing experience: barriers to open access, Open Students, April 10, 2008.  Excerpt:

In this post, I’d like to offer some observations on the academic publishing process, based upon my experience in publishing my book Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software with Routledge [co-authored by Scott Dexter]....

We were not able to release the book under an open license, though my co-author and I did try for a more open license, for a paperback edition, for a cheaper book, and so on....Our experience with Routledge in attempting to make the book open access was roughly, that they said, “These are the terms; either you agree or you walk”. We did not have enough academic cachet or a great deal of power with which to try and make the publisher come around to our point of view. Both Scott and I were junior academics (I was untenured at the time) at a public university, and this was our first book....

Did we have an option to publish with a lower-prestige press that would have accepted the book, and would it have allowed open access to the manuscript? There might have been; we tried with Blackwell and Routledge first out of the non-university presses. However, it is not clear that lower-prestige presses are better in terms of open access as they are more concerned about their financial bottom line. Ironically, the bigger the press the better placed they are to try and experiment with open access. But the less willing they are to offer contracts to first-time authors doing interdisciplinary work.

The overarching problem is that in the academic world, regular printing presses still command all the power and prestige. Online publication counts for nothing. Yes, readership is important, but if I was to apply for tenure, promotion, grants, fellowships, or get invitations for visiting positions or talks, it’s a regular publication with a regular publisher (and there is a definite hierarchy amongst presses) that counts....

What were our alternatives? We could have published the book’s chapters piecemeal, in Open Access journals, and we did consider this. Perhaps this way, we could have published the book’s contents as open access journal articles and then put them all together to edit and publish as not-necessarily open access book. While that might have been possible, we were both keen to go for a book for several reasons....

We hoped then, and still hope now, that this will enable us to make enough academic capital so that we can drive a harder bargain in the future (I’m still finding it hard though; I just signed a contract with the University of Michigan Press and while they have agreed to make the book available for reading online, it won’t be so for printing or downloading)....

The only change will come when those who have sufficient power, those who can easily get their fifth book published again by Cambridge University Press, will finally say, “I choose to make my book open access and make it available online.” ...

Comment.  I've had the pleasure to meet Samir, hear him present on his book, and read the sections most relevant to OA.  I recommend it as a careful argument that free and open source software are vital to assure the integrity and reliability of scientific results in the field of computer science.  I've also talked with him about the difficulties of arranging OA for monographs.  For my comments on the OA issues, and links to the comments of others, see my post from August 2007, the month the book came out.

The Canadian OA movement, Part I

Dean Giustini is writing a two-part history of the OA movement in Canada.  Part I came out today:  Early Canadian Involvement to 1999.  Excerpt:

Canada’s involvement in the open access (OA) movement can be traced back to the early 1990s. In 1991, Jean-Claude Guédon of the Université de Montréal founded Surfaces, the first Canadian electronic scholarly publication.

Guédon [was] on the Board of Directors of the Open Society Institute's Information Program - one of the world's leaders of the OA movement. Guédon's In Oldenburg’s Long Shadow: Librarians, Research Scientists, Publishers, and the Control of Scientific Publishing is a detailed, thoughtful analysis of the history of scholarly communications. It has also been translated into 5 languages.

Another prominent Canadian in OA is University of Toronto's Leslie Chan. He serves as the Associate Director of Bioline International, a not-for-profit electronic publishing service committed to providing open access to quality research journals published in developing countries, thus reducing the south to north knowledge gap....

Way back in 1989, Stevan Harnad founded one of the first "gold" open access journals, Psycoloquy. In 1993, he created BBSprints, an open access archive of preprints from Behavioral and Brain Sciences....

In 1997 Harnad founded CogPrints, one of the early OA repositories, which was made OAI-compliant in 1999....Harnad's students and collaborators have amassed evidence of the usage and citation advantage of open access as a basis for promoting it....

Harnad has moderated the American Scientist Open Access Forum since 1998. Links to his publications can be found here; his postings are archived on Open Access Archivangelism and the American Scientist Open Access Forum.

Attitudes toward overlay journals in astrophysics

Panayiota Polydoratou, Repository Interface for Overlaid Journal Archives: results from an online questionnaire survey, a Research Report from University College London, February 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Abstract:   The Repository Interface for Overlaid Journal Archives (RIOJA) project is an international partnership of members of academic staff, librarians and technologists from UCL (University College London), the University of Cambridge, the University of Glasgow, Imperial College London and Cornell University. It aims to address some of the issues around the development and implementation of a new publishing model, that of the overlay journal - defined, for the purposes of the project, as a quality-assured journal whose content is deposited to and resides in one or more open access repositories. The project is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and runs from April 2007 to June 2008. The RIOJA project will create an interoperability toolkit to enable the overlay of certification onto papers housed in subject repositories. The intention is that the tool will be generic, helping any repository to realise its potential to act as a more complete scholarly resource. The project will also create a demonstrator overlay journal, using the arXiv repository and OJS software, with interaction between the two facilitated by the RIOJA toolkit. To inform and shape the project, a survey of Astrophysics and Cosmology researchers has been conducted. The findings from that survey form the basis of this report.

Harvard newspaper endorses Free Thesis Project

Theses For All, Harvard Crimson, April 10, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Students should jump on the Free Thesis Project....

The creation of a website to save all senior theses—created by Harvard College Free Culture, a student group—should be welcomed as a great addition to the campus and Harvard’s ever-widening and expanding academic community....

The Free Thesis Project provides researchers much easier access to all of Harvard’s senior theses, if students choose to put them on the site. Theses are accessible at any time on the Internet, and all senior theses can be submitted, regardless of grade [in contrast to the previous system]....

This project is a perfect student-led extension of the open access motion recently passed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which, through the Harvard University Library’s new Office of Scholarly Communication, will offer free access to all professors’ newest scholarly work. We hope that all students will submit their theses to the online depository, though we understand that if a student plans on running for the White House (or plans on being a President’s spouse), senior theses can be a delicate issue.

In all other situations, however, senior theses, like Harvard professors’ work, should be openly available to the public so that knowledge can be spread and research facilitated more easily.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

STM defends non-OA publishing

An Overview of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishing and the Value it Adds to Research Outputs, a new report from the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM), April 2008. 

The PDF is locked to prevent cutting and pasting (why?) and I don't have time to rekey excerpts.  See esp. pp. 10-12, STM Publishers and the Goal of Open Access.

New OA journal of music theory

Gamut is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic.  The inaugural issue is now online.  (Thanks to John Reidelbach.)

Powerhouse Museum joins Flickr Commons

Seb Chan, Powerhouse Museum joins the Commons on Flickr - the what, why and how, fresh + new(er), April 8, 2008. (Thanks to Andy Powell.)

... The Powerhouse Museum is the first museum to join the Commons on Flickr! And we’re excited because it went live today!

In the tradition of ’slow food’ we have decided to do a slow release of content with an initial 200 historic images of Sydney and surrounds available through the Commons on Flickr and a promise of another 50 new fresh images each week! These initial images are drawn from the Tyrrell Collection. Representing some of the most significant examples of early Australian photography, the Tyrrell Collection is a series of glass plate negatives by Charles Kerry (1857-1928) and Henry King (1855-1923), two of Sydney’s principal photographic studios at the time.

We have also done something a little different to the Library of Congress [the first collection to join Flickr Commons] - we have also started geo-tagging as many of the images we are uploading as possible. You can jump over to Flickr and see the images plotted on a map, then zoom in to browse and navigate. We are really excited by the possibilities that this opens up - suddenly ‘then and now’ photography becomes possible on a mass public scale. Because these images are being added to the Commons they are provided as having “no known Copyright” allowing maximum reuse.

We joined up with Flickr because we knew that the Tyrrell Collection were still largely unkown by the general public. This was despite fully catalogued sections (275 images) of the collection having been available on our own website for many years, as well as some of the semi-catalogued images (680 images) more recently in our collection database. We had also syndicated a feed of the fully catalogued Tyrrell images to the National Library of Australia’s Picture Australia. There are nearly 8000 Tyrrell images in total.

What Flickr offers the Powerhouse is an immediate large and broader audience for this content. And with this exposure we hope that we will have a strong driver to increase the cataloguing and digitisation of the remaining Tyrrell glass plate negatives as well as many more the previously hidden photographic collections of the Powerhouse. ...

See also the posts at Flickr and Creative Commons, and the follow-up by Chan.

Comment. See my take at

Repositories for OERs vs. OA research

Nick Sheppard, Which repository: Learning Objects vs Open Access research, Repository News, April 9, 2008.

... [I]t has become apparent that the requirements of a Learning Object repository are potentially very different from those of a repository dedicated to Open Access to research (primarily due to the way in which the respective types of repository are searched) and that the software that has been reviewed (both Open Source and proprietary) tends to be specialised to one specific type of content (although the respective software developers themselves may disagree).

... [T]he majority of the software we have looked at does not make adequate use of metadata (often painstakingly entered) using it only as a filter to refine a search after a brute-force Google type trawl through repository content and perhaps the metadata side of repositories dedicated to OA has been neglected as (as noted in a previous post) traffic tends to come in via the mighty Google (or similar) anyway; this is obviously not conducive to an LO repository that will be searched in a very different way - often from within an individual institution or small subset of institutions. ...

I am a very long way from being a metadata expert but I believe there are those who think that metadata as we traditionally understand it has had its day and that Web 2.0 technologies (social bookmarking, tagging et al) coupled with Google’s bulldozer approach will usher in a brave new world of resource discovery - there may indeed be some truth in that though the librarian in me, and a little historical perspective, suggest that they will rather complement the existing models. ...

More on the Open Library

David Tebbutt, Two-way web pushes door to information wide open, Information World Review, April 7, 2008.

... It’s interesting, isn’t it, how appealing “free” is? Start any discussion with “XYZ should be free” and everyone has to agree: “Food should be free.” “Hear, hear!” But then the niggling doubts creep in, such as how will farmers be paid?

And that’s the status of the Open Library. Its dream is to make information on books available to all and sundry. It’s even putting full texts online when it can. It’s close to defining APIs (application programming interfaces) so that developers can grab information from the database.

The model is similar to Wikipedia with a page per book, but the Open Library wiki will allow for structured entries. The world at large will provide information to the database, the development of which is funded through donations and grants.

Once the system goes live, it should not be expensive to run, and can be financed through a combination of donations and commercial activities, such as printing on demand and commissions from Amazon referrals.

The servers are being run by the Internet Archive, the people who came up with the Open Library idea in the first place. You may already have encountered them as the Wayback Machine, which is a great way to check on earlier versions of websites. It also has a book scanning project which has been scooping up out-of-copyright books to make them available to the project.

Records can be gleaned from anywhere: the Library of Congress Catalogue, people’s own notes, library systems generally, Amazon, anywhere in fact where book information lives. And that’s going to create tensions, not to put too fine a point on things.

The end-result should become a widely referenced and accessed hub for book communities, both professionals and the general public.

With so much data available free of charge, some organisations are bound to be concerned about the threat to their own business models. No doubt we’re going to see a rerun of the Encyclopedia Britannica versus Wikipedia shenanigans. ...

See also past OAN posts on the Open Library.

Update from Canadian libraries' OA task force

Andrew Waller and Heather Morrison, From the CLA Task Force on Open Access, Feliciter, April 2008.
This is a brief update on the work of the CLA Task Force on Open Access (OA) and the activity of the Canadian Library Association regarding Open Access.

The Task Force was formed in November 2006 and was given the mandate to develop a policy statement on OA in the CLA, including recommendations on policies and practices to implement the policy if adopted. Additionally, the Task Force was asked to draft a position statement on OA in Canadian libraries.

The first action was completed in early 2007 and presented to CLA Executive Council. In May, Council accepted the recommendations, which included these recommendations:
  • Full and immediate open access for all CLA publications, with the exception of Feliciter, which will be embargoed for one issue. Monographs will be considered for Open Access on an individual basis.
  • CLA will actively encourage its members to self-archive in institutional and/or subject repositories and will investigate a partnership with E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Science.
  • CLA will provide for authors’ retention of copyright through the adoption of publisher-author agreements that promote Open Access, such as Creative Commons licensing.
  • CLA will adopt an open communications policy for all or almost all CLA communications.
The draft position statement is currently in the consultation process. ...

Harold Varmus on NPR's Science Friday

Harold Varmus, chairman of the Public Library of Science board and former U.S. National Institutes of Health director, will be the guest on National Public Radio's Science Friday program tomorrow, speaking about the NIH public access policy. Varmus will be on-air at approximately 12:15 pm PT (3:15 pm ET). (Thanks to Liz Allen.)

Public Knowledge Project and Synergies

Brian Owen, The Public Knowledge Project & Synergies, presentation delivered at University of British Columbia School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, March 26, 2008. Abstract:
The Public Knowledge Project (PKP), initiated by Dr. John Willinsky at the University of British Columbia, has developed the open source Open Journal Systems, used by about one thousand journals around the world to publish fully or partially open access journals. The number of journals using OJS is expected to increase to about 1,500 sometime in 2008. PKP is currently a partnership of UBC, Simon Fraser University Library and SFU Centre for Studies in Publishing, and Stanford University. PKP is a vibrant open source community, with a number of centres contributing code. Synergies is a partnership of universities across Canada to coordinate assisting Canadian journals to move to electronic publishing. Most Synergies partners are using OJS software.

UN commission adopts standard for data sharing

UN Statistical Commission recognizes SDMX as preferred standard, Open Data Foundation blog, March 14, 2008.

At the occasion of its 39th session, the United Nations Statistical Council recognized SDMX [Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange] as the preferred standard for the exchange and sharing of data and metadata.

The recommendation was put forward by the Committee for for Coordination of Social Statistics (CCSA) in the conclusions of its ninth and tenth sessions and based on its technical report on common open standards for the exchange and sharing of data and metadata.

See also the undated post at SDMX.

Publisher policies on the NIH OA mandate

The University of Rochester Medical Center has a page of Publishers' Policies on the NIH Public Access Policy, which includes useful excerpts but no links back to the originals.  Charles Bailey has just tracked down the links to each of the publisher policies.

Maine libraries join SCOAP3

Maine InfoNet has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project. 

Maine InfoNet is a "partnership of Maine libraries...[s]upported by the Maine State Library and the University of Maine System."

Yahoo vs. Google on capabilities for searching CC-licensed content

Ben Bildstein, Table comparing Yahoo and Google's commons-based advanced search options, The House of Commons, April 8, 2008. Compares the search engine's capabilities to correctly identify CC-licensed content and features for filtering with it.

Launch of national portal to Spanish OA

Recolecta is a new national portal to OA publications from Spain. From the DRIVER announcement, dated March 2008:

Recolecta is the national portal to Spanish open access scientific publications. The project is a joint collaboration between REBIUN (Network of academic and research libraries of Spain) and FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology) to create a national search service of open access scientific publications, to stimulate open access initiatives in Spain, to stimulate and coordinate the creation of a national infrastructure of institutional repositories and to serve as a central point of information about all questions related with Open Access and new Scholarly communication issues.

As a scientific national search service RECOLECTA will only harvest scientific documents wherever they are (open access journals, institutional repositories, disciplinary repositories) as long as they are OAI compliant. "Cultural heritage" type of documents will not be included and neither will learning objects. For the moment, most of the documents are textual and all are open access.

RECOLECTA is currently in beta phase (pending further work on the graphical design). As soon as possible an English translation will be made available similar to the Sherpa/Romeo translation which has already been completed. Other services such as statistics and a national Thesis portal are also planned.

In April the first national meeting of Spanish OAI data providers will be held. It is planned to use this meeting to create a national repository managers group to coordinate the development of the Spanish national infrastructure in a standarized way following the DRIVER guidelines. For further information please contact

Repository66 map updated

Repository66 announced Monday that, in recognition, it had added new repositories to the map. There are now 920 repositories shown on the map, containing 8 million items.

How publishing is changing

Michelle Perry, The old ways fade, Information World Review, April 7, 2008.  This opinion piece doesn't mention OA.   But how far do its insights carry over?  Excerpt:

Online is a land of opportunity for publishers, but only if they are prepared to embrace change....

Not since the invention of the printing press has the publishing industry been in such upheaval. Traditional revenue sources and audiences are slipping away, conventional business models are being turned on their head, and the way information is consumed is radically different from even a decade ago.

If established publishers want to stay in the game then they have to shake off preconceived ideas about information provision. If they don’t, they risk being usurped by the young contenders, who, incidentally, are entering the field rapidly and adeptly....

Unlike the new entrants to the marketplace, the biggest publishers have the advantage of well-known and well-trusted brands. But unless they refresh their titles and provide the content that users want, those brands will quickly lose their appeal.

David Cushman, a digital development director at Emap, says: “There are two key disruptions that the internet has brought to publishing. The control of the process in creating content is no longer our monopoly. And the notion of having a centralised website that you can expect people to use is outmoded, as people can now share information.” ...

[O]pportunities abound for those who are prepared to acknowledge that the world has changed....

The internet has closed the gap between people and media providers. Web users don’t show allegiance to a site unless it consistently provides the information they want....

Another law review accepts the OA Law Journal Principles

ULV Law Review is First Primary Law Journal in California to Adopt Open Access Principles, a press release from the University of La Verne College of Law, April 10, 2008.  Excerpt:

The University of La Verne College of Law is leading the way in providing open access to legal scholarship. school's flagship journal, the University of La Verne Law Review, is the first primary law review in California to join Science Commons' Open Access Law Program....

As a member of the Open Access Law Program, the University of La Verne Law Review will:

  • Observe a shorter than usual time frame for licensing, and support the use of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License rather than standard copyright terms
  • Expect of its authors that an electronic version of their edited articles will be made available in an Open Access Repository
  • Post its current publication agreement on its Web site

"In the digital era, educational institutions have an unprecedented opportunity to help make knowledge, including legal knowledge, as freely available as possible," said Associate Professor Diane Klein, one of the faculty advisors to ULV's law review. "In adopting Science Commons' Open Access Law Journal Principles, the University of La Verne Law Review joins elite publications such as the Duke Law Journal, the Texas Law Review and the Michigan Law Review in expressing its commitment to sharing legal knowledge. I truly believe that this is the trend of the future, and we can all be proud that someday we will look back and remember that our law review was one of those that got there first." ...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Reactions to the NIH policy

Dorothea Salo, Reactions to the NIH policy, Caveat Lector, April 7, 2008.

... Without undue tooting of my own horn, let me say that my concerns about recalcitrant publishers have proven to occupy a lot of faculty brainspace. I don’t live in the medical-research realm, so I don’t know how much of this worry is futile handwringing and how much identifies a genuine problem. I only know that deans are worried particularly about protecting their junior faculty, who already find publishing an uphill climb. The sooner we all address this, the easier we will all find the compliance process.

I have heard a lot of worry over the versioning problem, from faculty spanning quite a few disciplines (with the understanding that “NIH grantee” implies a fairly narrow range to begin with). “What happens when copyediting catches real errors, or changes the thrust of an argument?” runs the basic version of this question. “The version in PMC will simply be wrong.”

This is not a silly or uninformed objection. ...

At present, the only workaround for this (as I understand matters) is working with a publisher cooperative enough to replace PMC’s manuscript version with the published version. These publishers exist, but they are not exactly numerous. For PR purposes if for no other reason (and “accuracy” is a plenty good enough reason all by itself), I think it would be wise for PMC to work out a way for PIs and other authors to fix errors in their manuscripts. I have heard the versioning problem called “a flaw in the policy” and “suicidal” by people in very high places.

Another difficulty has to do with the principal investigator’s responsibility under the policy, given that the PI is likely not an author (much less the first or corresponding author) on every single article coming from a given NIH grant. This is a tough one to resolve, given that the buck has to stop somewhere, but I would suggest at the least that first/corresponding authors as well as PIs be able to approve manuscripts and offer corrections.

Reading the NIH’s comment stream, I see that the too-much-work backlash has begun. In my cynical way, I tend to ignore this particular objection (trusting in Swan’s research on mandates to back me), but if we open-access advocates want to be smart about this, we will sort out how to help libraries offer third-party PMC submission services. ... PMC could help us all by providing a deposit API (preferably based on SWORD) that those of us with institutional repositories could program against. Not only will that allow people like me to get in on the repositing action, it will help institutions monitor compliance and provide useful services (such as local PMCID/NIHMSID databases) to faculty. As mandates become more numerous, local services become even more important, as they allow faculty to become accustomed to one deposit interface, not a dozen. Please, PMC, set the example here! ...

OA textbooks from India

Stian Haklev, Many great free textbooks from India, Random Stuff that Matters, April 6, 2008.

... [T]he Indian National Council on Educational Research and Training (NCERT) offers free downloadable versions of many Indian K-12 text books. From this page, you can choose which year, and which subject, and receive the title desired. The first thing you get is a PDF with the contents, and at first I was very disappointed thinking that was the only thing I’d get, about to give up. Then I realized that the TOC is hyperlinked to the individual PDFs for the different chapters. ...

The books themselves seem great. They have text books for the subjects English, Hindi and Urdu, and for many subjects they also offer a Hindi or an English version, which often seem to be identical. ...

The thing that would make these books incredibly more useful though, is if they were affixed with a Creative Commons license, which enabled other people to use the material and creative derivatives. This would enable me to use parts of it in my own text books, translate the text, use illustrations in Wikipedia articles, etc. There might even be a lot of Indian NGOs that wish to use part of the material, but change it in different ways to make it more locally appropriate. Licensing it under CC would be great, but it’s not enough however. The final step is to make available the source files that were used in generating the PDFs, whether those are Photoshop Layers, or InDesign files. Otherwise it will be very difficult to for example translate the text, but keep the nice background illustrations. ...

Stirling U adopts an OA mandate

Stirling research goes global, a press release from Stirling University, April 9, 2008.  The press release includes an announcement and the full text of the new policy.  Excerpt:

The University of Stirling has become the first academic institution in the UK to oblige staff to make all their published research available online.

Stirling is leading the way in open access to its research work, after the University's Academic Council issued an institutional mandate which requires self-archiving of all theses and journal articles.

Professor Ian Simpson, Deputy Principal (Research and Knowledge Transfer) said: "We believe that the outcomes of all publicly funded research should be made available as widely as possible. By ensuring free online access to all our research output, we will maximise the visibility and impact of the University's work to researchers worldwide."

The four year project to create STORRE (Stirling Online Research Repository) has been brought to fruition by information technology specialists Clare Allan and Michael White.

Clare Allan said: "The University now requires all published journal articles to be deposited by authors, as soon as possible after they are accepted for publication, and in compliance with the publishers' copyright agreements.

"It is an important landmark in our archival development and marks the conclusion of a process that started in 2004 when Stirling was one of 20 academic institutions which signed up to the OATS (Open Access Team for Scotland) declaration. The repository project initially focused on electronic theses and in session 2006/07 we became one of the first universities to require these to be submitted electronically.

"The next stage was a pilot scheme for self-archiving of journal articles by some researchers, and this has now become mandatory. We are also building up a retrospective archive." ...

Michael White added: "We are hopeful of a very positive response from researchers to the requirement to self-archive, as they will benefit from greater visibility of their work - such as increased citations from their published work, which in turn can lead to improved funding. To quantify this, they can track how often each article is viewed." ...

Comment.  The Stirling policy is not only the first university-level OA mandate in the UK, but the second worldwide (after Harvard's) to be adopted by faculty rather than administrators.  Moreover, it's detailed and strong.  I'm especially glad to see that it requires deposit "immediately upon acceptance for publication" even if it permits delayed OA "until the item has been published, and until any publishers' or funders' embargo period has expired."  Kudos to all involved.

Update.  Historical note:  The Stirling policy is the second university-level OA mandate in the UK.  The first was from Southampton University, announced less than a week earlier (April 4) at Open Repositories 2008.  The Southampton press release hasn't even been posted yet, but Stevan Harnad blogged the news on April 5 and I blogged his report on April 6.  There were two earlier departmental OA mandates, one from Southampton's Department of Electronics and Computer Science in January 2003, and one from Brunel University's School of Information Systems Computing and Mathematics in December 2006.  But Stirling's is clearly the first in Scotland.  I should have remembered the earlier policies, since I blogged them all.

Update (4/10/08).  Another historical note:  The Stirling policy was adopted by the Stirling Academic Council on March 5, 2008.  (Thanks to Michael White.)  I'm sure I'll soon learn when the Southampton policy was adopted.  But no matter how the priorities turn out, both policies deserve kudos and recognition as trailblazers.  The fact they were the first two in the UK, and nearly simultaneous, shows the ripeness of the idea.  There should be many more to come.

Update. Also see Olga Wojtas' article in THE for April 17, 2008.

Price and permission barriers, again

Stevan Harnad, Don't Risk Getting Less By Needlessly Demanding More, Open Access Archivangelism, April 9, 2008. 

Summary:  The BBB "definitions" of OA still need some tweaking to get them right. OA means free online access to the full-text of refereed journal articles. With that comes the capability of linking, reading, downloading, storing, printing off, and data-mining, and that is what is urgently needed by researchers today. Let the Green OA mandates provide that, and the rest will all come naturally of its own accord. We'll never get self-archiving mandates adopted if we insist in advance that they include 3rd-party re-use rights. Nor does demanding machine-readable XML make sense when most authors still aren't even doing the few keystrokes it takes to deposit the drafts they already have. Let's not risk getting less by needlessly insisting on more.


  • I disagree with my friend and ally, Stevan Harnad, on the adequacy of BBB definitions of OA.  Removing price barriers does not suffice to remove permission barriers, and removing permission barriers is a critical part of open access and goal worth reaching.  The BBB definitions got that exactly right.
  • As I put it last year:  "Stevan isn't saying that OA doesn't or shouldn't remove permission barriers.  He's saying that removing price barriers (making work accessible online free of charge) already does most or all of the work of removing permission barriers and therefore that no extra steps are needed. The chief problem with this view is the law...."
  • To put this another way:  The BBB definition recognizes that removing price barriers alone limits us to fair use, that researchers often need more than fair use, and that there are steps we can and should take to meet these needs lawfully.
  • "We'll never get self-archiving mandates adopted if we insist in advance that they include 3rd-party re-use rights."  If Stevan means that we shouldn't delay the removal of price barriers until we can remove permission barriers at the same time, then I fully agree.  We should do what we can, when we can.  If we can remove price barriers now, but cannot remove permission barriers now, then we should accept the need to work in stages.  But if Stevan means that we shouldn't do both at once even when we can, or that we shouldn't work for Stage Two, anywhere, before completing Stage One, everywhere, then I must disagree.  Same principle:  we should do what we can, when we can. 
  • Stevan and I have discussed this issue in detail before.  For example, see his views and my comments from October 14 and October 16 of last year.  Richard Poynder asked me several questions about this disagreement in his interview with me at about the same time, and I answered them at length (pp. 37-39).

Update (4/9/08).  Also see Klaus Graf's comments, supporting the BBB definition and the conclusion that fair use is not enough.

Update (4/10/08). Also see Robert Kiley's message on the AmSci OA Forum, arguing that fair use is not enough. Kiley is the Head of e-Strategy at the Wellcome Trust's Wellcome Library. Also see Stevan Harnad's response to Kiley's message.

Stevan Harnad on Harold Varmus on OA

Stevan Harnad, Harold Varmus on the NIH Green Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, April 9, 2008. 

Summary:  Harold Varmus thinks the NIH Green OA self-archiving mandate isn't enough because (1) it doesn't provide enough usage rights, (2) it is subject to embargoes, (3) it only covers research from mandating funders, and (4) it doesn't reform copyright transfer. This is a miscalculation of practical priorities and an underestimation of the technical power of Green OA, which resides in self-mandates by institutions (such as Harvard's), rather than just funder mandates like NIH's. Institutions are the producers of all research output, and their Green OA self-mandates ensure the self-archiving of all their own published article output, in all disciplines, funded or unfunded, in their own Institutional Repositories (IRs). Self-archiving provides for all the immediate access and usage needs of all individual researchers, webwide. Access to most deposited articles can already be set as Open Access immediately. For the rest, IRs' semi-automatic "email eprint request" Button provides almost-immediate access. Access embargoes will die under the growing pressure of universal Green OA's power and benefits. Institutions' own IRs are also the natural locus for mandating direct deposit by both institutional and funder mandates. Copyright retention is not necessary as a precondition for mandating Green OA and puts the adoption of Green OA mandates at risk by demanding too much. Once Green OA mandates generate universal Green OA, copyright retention will follow naturally of its own accord.

Comment.  I agree with Harold Varmus on all the ways in which the NIH policy could be improved.  Pointing them out is not a "miscalculation of practical priorities" unless one wishes to delay the policy until it can be improved.  But Varmus never suggested that.  On the contrary, he celebrated it as a "landmark event".  (See my excerpt from Varmus' editorial.)  I also agree with Stevan Harnad's main point, at least if I can paraphrase it this way:  we urgently need green OA and should not slow it down with demands that are politically more difficult to realize than green OA.  However, these allied positions are compatible

UICU joins BMC


Vision for the Arizona Health Sciences Library

Gary Freiburger, Vision for AHSL, AHSL Administrative Updates, April 8, 2008.  Freiburger is the Director of the Arizona Health Sciences Library.  Excerpt:

...When possible within our resources we will support open-access publishing and other changes to the system of scholarly communication in support of our users....

Springer updates its self-archiving policy

Springer has adopted a new Policy on Self-Archiving in order to accommodate the new OA policy at the NIH.  (Thanks to Jane Smith.)  Here it is in full:

As of 7 April 2008, Springer has adapted its standard Copyright Transfer Statement (CTS) for new articles to ensure compliance with new guidelines from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

An author may self-archive an author-created version of his/her article on his/her own website. He/she may also deposit this version on his/her institution's and funder's (funder-designated) repository at the funder’s request or as a result of a legal obligation, including his/her final version, provided it is not made publicly available until after 12 months of official publication. He/she may not use the publisher's PDF version which is posted on for the purpose of self-archiving or deposit. Furthermore, the author may only post his/her version provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication and a link is inserted to the published article on Springer's website. The link must be accompanied by the following text: "The original publication is available at".


  • It appears that authors may self-archive to their own web sites without delay.  That's good, especially if the author's "own web site" --nearly always hosted by the institution-- includes his/her segment of the institutional repository.  If Springer insists on a distinction between the author's web site and the author's niche in the IR, then it's retreating from full green and from its previous self-archiving policy.
  • Demanding the full 12 month embargo at PMC is permitted by NIH and mitigated by the option for immediate OA through the author's web site. 
  • I'm a little surprised that Springer wants a link to the generic Springer home page rather than a deep link --preferably, a DOI-based deep link-- to the published version of the article itself.  Doesn't it want to help readers of the self-archived edition find the published edition?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Model publishing agreement from BioOne

BioOne Releases New Model Publication Agreement, a press release from BioOne, April 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

BioOne is pleased to announce the release of a model publication agreement that addresses current trends in copyright assignment and requirements by NIH and other funding agencies for digital repository deposits.  While the Agreement was developed at the request of several BioOne publishers, it may be of interest to any scholarly publishing organization that is seeking a clear, concise, and legally vetted publication agreement....

The...agreement allows author(s) to retain copyright, while granting the publisher both a temporally limited and exclusive right to first publish, and a perpetual, non-exclusive right to publish, distribute, and sublicense.   In response to NIH’s Public Access Policy...and other [OA] mandates, the Agreement allows authors to deposit their work in digital repositories directly, or permits the publisher to deposit to the National Library of Medicine on their behalf....

The final Agreement is freely available on the BioOne website.  An accompanying “roadmap” is also available to provide publishers adopting the Agreement with guidance on specific author and publisher rights and amendable sections.

Also see the agreement guide (March 2008).  Excerpt:

At the outset of this project, BioOne established a number of goals that governed the development of its Model Publication Agreement:

[Goal 1] To create an agreement in broad conformity with principles contained in notable authors addenda (SPARC, MIT, University of Michigan) and the SURF New International Model Agreement for Authors (October 2006):

  • Copyright remains with the author;
  • Author grants the publisher a limited license to publish;
  • Author retains the right to use the article in the course of academic activities;
  • Author is allowed to make the article publicly accessible in a digital repository;
  • Author is allowed to prepare derivative works from the article;
  • Publisher provides an unsecured copy of the published version of the article in PDF (or similar) format....


  • This is an excellent agreement for a handful of reasons.  It shows one easy, natural way for publishers to accommodate authors who are subject to OA mandates or choosing to use an author addendum.  It shows that journal publishers do not need, and never needed, the conventional bundle of exclusive rights.  It's a model for publishers, including non-OA publishers, sincerely looking for a way to balance author and publisher rights.  It suggests that an actual win-win balance between authors and publishers, even non-OA publishers, is attainable --which you would never guess from the May 2007 position paper on balancing author and publisher rights from ALPSP, AAP/PSP, and STM.
  • Some of the author addenda that BioOne took as models allow the author to release the work under one or another CC license.  But nothing in the BioOne agreement or guide discusses its compatibility with any of the CC licenses.  This is the one point on which I'd want additional clarity and, if necessary, additional flexibility.
  • Kudos to BioOne for its enlightened criteria, and to Pamela Pasti, the lawyer from Morrison & Foerster LLC who drafted the agreement to meet them.

Update (4/14/08). Also see the comments of Kevin Smith.

More on SCOAP3

Ivy Anderson, The Audacity of SCOAP3, ARL Bimonthly Report No. 257, April 2008.  A preprint.  Excerpt:

...Based at CERN, SCOAP3 is an open access (OA) publishing initiative of a new and different sort—one that is largely non-disruptive to both scholars and publishers, and in whose discussions at least two society publishers (APS and IEEE) are actively participating....

There are several important elements that distinguish SCOAP3 from other OA initiatives:

  • SCOAP3 is a funding consortium that seeks to mediate between author and publisher, while still conceiving of payment as a supply-side activity. By pooling funds from multiple sources and asking publishers to submit to an open tender process, it is hoped that publishing fees can be reduced. The notion of a consortium of funders has significant new appeal for three reasons: first, it avoids shifting the burden of funding to individual authors; second, it provides a context in which funds from multiple sources—libraries as well as other funding agencies—can be aggregated and deployed to support the peer review and publishing process; and third, by aggregating funds on behalf of authors, the consortium can exert the leverage of the marketplace to negotiate fees and control costs at an earlier point in the publishing cycle. This is fundamentally different from models that ask authors to cough up funds for their own articles or invite libraries to finance the publishing activity of their institutions’ authors in a decentralized, disintermediated, and ultimately unsustainable manner.
  • SCOAP3 is non-disruptive to authors—and to a substantial degree, to publishers and societies. As noted above, SCOAP3 insulates authors from publication charges, which can act as a powerful disincentive in the “author-pays” OA model. In addition, it maintains the vetting and credentialing functions of the existing journals while transforming them to open access. This is why the societies that publish HEP journals have actively engaged in the discussions about SCOAP3—it proposes to support, not replace them. The most critical functions of the current scholarly system, functions which work well for scholars, are preserved under SCOAP3, while still undergoing significant transformation.
  • SCOAP3 has the potential to fundamentally alter the role of libraries in the publishing process. SCOAP3 funding agencies, including libraries, will be responsible for the governance structure that is formed to contract with publishers for peer review and publishing services, placing libraries in a role that is well aligned with the “university as publisher” paradigm gaining currency in other areas of university-based scholarship. This alignment will place new demands on libraries and assign to them new roles in administering the outputs of scholarship and research....

Everyone interested in the grand experiment of open access publishing, whether pro or con, should sit up and take notice of this audacious new OA accelerator that is SCOAP3....

From the same issue, also see Julia Blixrud, Taking Action on SCOAP3.  Excerpt:

To move the SCOAP3 project forward, libraries and consortia can take the following steps:

  1. review the Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party...;
  2. calculate the amount of their pledge to SCOAP3 by estimating their current expenditures on seven HEP core journals, as outlined [here];
  3. sign the expression of interest to join SCOAP3...; and
  4. promote the project within the physics community on campus....

Also see the today's press release from the ARL on this issue.

The NIH policy won't hurt NEJM

Aditi Balakrishna, Health Institute Begins Open-Access Grant Policy, Harvard Crimson, April 7, 2008.  A general intro to the new OA policy at NIH, but with this news:

...[Kevin Casey, Harvard’s director of federal and state relations] noted that several journals already have such time-lag policies [permitting OA even sooner than the 12 months permitted by the NIH policy].

The New England Journal of Medicine, based in Waltham, Mass., has been allowing articles that are more than six months old to be freely accessible to the public in full since 2001, according to Jennifer Zeis, a journal spokeswoman.

“The new policies do not impact our current model, and they haven’t changed anything for us,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Interview on OA

Reid Cornwell, Perspective on Open-Access Publishing:  An Interview with Peter Suber, Innovate, April/May 2000.  From the blurb:

In this edition of Perspectives, Reid Cornwell discusses open-access publishing with Peter Suber....Open access means that scholarly work is freely and openly available online with no unnecessary licensing, copyright, or subscription restrictions. Cornwell and Suber discuss the development of the open-access movement over the past decade and the implications of the growing acceptance of open access for scholars and for publishers.

U of Oregon joins SCOAP3

The University of Oregon has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.

Information architecture in OA journals

Helena Francke, (Re)creations of scholarly journals : document and information architecture in open access journals, a doctoral dissertation for the Swedish School of Library and Information Science (Institutionen Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap) at Göteborgs universitet, to be defended on April 28, 2008.  (Good luck, Helena!)

PS:  The text of the dissertation is apparently not yet online.  I'm hoping that will come after the successful defense.

Update (4/16/08). Francke's dissertation is now online . (Thanks to Co-Action.)

Abstract: This dissertation contributes to the research-based understanding of the scholarly journal as an artefact by studying the document structures of open access e-journals published by editors or small, independent publishers. The study focuses on the properties of the documents, taking its point of departure in a sociotechnical document perspective. This perspective is operationalised through a number of aspects from document architecture and information architecture: logical structures, layout structures, content structures, file structures, organization systems, navigation, and labelling. The data collection took the form of a survey of 265 journal web sites, randomly selected, and qualitative readings of four journal web sites. The results of the study are presented based on choice of format and modes of representation; visual design; markup; metadata and paratexts; and document organization and navigation. Two approaches were used to analyse the study findings. To begin with, the remediation strategies of the scholarly journals were discussed; how does this document type, which has a long tradition in the print medium, take possession of the web medium? The ties to the print journal are still strong, and a majority of the journals treat the web medium mainly as a way to distribute journal articles to be printed and read as hard-copies. Many journals do, however, take advantage of such features as hypertext and full-text searching, and some use the flexibility of the web medium to provide their users with alternative views. A small number of e-journals also refashion the print journal by including modes of representation not possible in print, such as audio or video, to illustrate and support the arguments made in their articles. Furthermore, interactive features are used to increase communication between different groups, but this type of communicative situation has not yet become an integral part of the scholarly journal. An electronic document is often viewed as more flexible, but also less constant, than documents on paper. This sometimes means that the e-only journal is seen as a less dependable source for scholarly publishing than print. A second analytical approach showed how the architectures are used to indicate aspects that can enhance a journal’s chances of being regarded as a credible source: a cognitive authority. Four strategies have been identified as used by the journals: they employ architectural features to draw on the cognitive authority of people or organizations associated with the journal, on the cognitive authority of other documents, and on the professional use of the conventions of print journals and web sites respectively. By considering how document properties are used to indicate cognitive authority potential, a better understanding of how texts function as cognitive authorities is achieved.

New OA journal on virtual worlds

The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.  (Thanks to Virtual Worlds News.)  JVWR just released a call for papers for the first four issues.

Update (7/17/08). The inaugural issue is now online. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Text-mining licensed non-OA literature

Heather Piwowar, Non-OA Full-text for text mining, Research Remix, April 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

Interesting discussion on Peter Murray-Rust’s blog about whether PubMed Central articles can be crawled and used for text mining. [PS: Blogged here on Sunday.]  The answer is no, not now, not unless they are open access (as opposed to traditional closed access but deposited in PMC).  Really unfortunate.  Incremental progress, we’ll get there....

I’ve been wondering about similar text mining questions. I think my needs are a bit different than those of PMR: ...I’m willing to limit myself to the articles that I have access to through my University’s subscriptions....I think once I have the papers I’m allowed to text mine them as fair use, since I have them under permission. So the question is what can I automatically download?

I learned I can’t spider PMC, but what about normal PubMed? Try as I might, I couldn’t find verbage on the PubMed website allowing/disallowing spidering through to full-text links on publisher websites (the links that are populated and visible when I’m logged in through the University’s connection). Is this allowed? Still seems like it might not be. And then you end up at the publisher sites anyway, with all of their differing rules. Unfort, the publisher’s rules are often hard to find, confusing, and vague (as often noted by PMR and others). Aaaaah.

So last month I asked our librarians….

...I’d also like to access non-OA text for which Pitt has subscriptions, but it sounds like I can’t do this by “crawling” PMC based on their rules....I’m wondering if I can do it by “crawling” the normal, full PubMed. Basically write a script to find the “HSLS” links on the article citation pages, follow them (usually into the publisher’s websites), and automatically save the html or pdf articles that are returned from a PubMed query....

I wouldn’t have thought this sort of automated downloading would be a problem… but the Restrictions on Systematic Downloading of articles in the PMC copyright notice referenced above makes me want to double-check....

Are you aware of any restrictions for crawling PubMed to automatically access and save content for which I do indeed have access through Pitt? ...

The librarian responded that automatically following PubMed links should be fine, and that there shouldn’t be problems from publisher sites because we have subscriptions and my text mining falls under fair use....

British Library wants to protect user rights in the digital age

“Digital is not different” say 93% of UK researchers, a press release from the British Library, April 8, 2008.  Excerpt:

Access to online research material should be the same as for books - say 93% of respondents to a British Library survey on researchers' attitudes and needs in the digital age. An overwhelming majority of the survey participants agreed that, in the age of the internet, anyone involved in non-commercial research should be allowed to copy parts of electronically published works such as online articles, news broadcasts, film or sound recordings. The British Library conducted the research because the balance in copyright is being undermined in the digital era.

87% of respondents stated they should be able to use exceptions and fair dealing in the digital age. Fair dealing is the ‘right' to make a copy from an in-copyright work without permission from, or remuneration to, the rights holder for non-commercial research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting. For example, most individual copying by researchers at university for academic purposes is done under the fair dealing provision in UK law. 68% of the survey respondents are opposed to having different fair dealing laws for material in paper or electronic format. The British Library will be putting these points, on behalf of researchers, to the UK Intellectual Property Office in the current consultation on copyright exceptions....

OA publishing, with a focus on British Columbia

Heather Morrison, Open Access Publishing, a presentation at A Celebration of Research and Scholarship, Kwantlen University College, Surrey Campus, British Columbia, April 2008.

Abstract:   An overview of open access publishing, for college faculty. Presents a definition of open access, the two roads to open access (OA publishing and self-archiving), overview of business models for open access, and examples of open access journals, with a focus on journals developed in British Columbia, including one (Topics in Scholarly Communication) developed by graduate students as a class assignment, and another developed by high school students (The Pink Voice). Includes a handout of resources on open access.

Implementing open data in operations research

Kris Ven and three co-authors, Stimulating information sharing, collaboration and learning in operations research with libOR, International Journal on Digital Libraries, April 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Abstract:   The exchange of data sets within the operations research community suffers from three main issues: (1) data sets are exchanged as plain text files; (2) data sets are offered on centrally managed websites; and (3) the results of applying algorithms to these data sets are unavailable. These issues result in an inefficient sharing of research artifacts. In this paper, we present libOR, a Web-based library of data sets for the operations research community. The organization of libOR is based on the open source and open content approach. The project has three main objectives: (1) stimulate information sharing of research data; (2) increase collaboration to increase scientific advancement; and (3) stimulate learning from approaches undertaken by other researchers in the domain. Early feedback from operations researchers seems to indicate that the advantages offered by libOR are greatly welcomed.

Monday, April 07, 2008

If you missed the party

Webcats of GenBank's 25th birthday party are now online:  Day 1 (April 7) and Day 2 (April 8).  (Thanks to Francis Ouellette.)

Harold Varmus on the new NIH policy

Harold Varmus, Progress toward Public Access to Science, PLoS Biology, April 8, 2008.  An editorial.  Varmus is the President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, co-founder of the Public Library of Science, former director of the NIH (1993-1999), and the 1989 Nobel laureate for physiology or medicine.  Excerpt:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is about to cross an important threshold....

[The new OA policy at the NIH] is a landmark event from several perspectives. Most obviously, it further accelerates the world-wide movement toward greater access to the scientific literature....By taking this step, the NIH will join other funding agencies —including the Wellcome Trust, the UK Research Councils, the European Research Council, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute— all of which have recently required their investigators to deposit publications in PMC or equivalent public libraries....Since NIH-supported investigators publish about 80,000 papers each year...the library will soon grow at about twice its already impressive rate. With an enlarged PMC, the virtues of full-text searches and ready access will be more obvious, encouraging still greater participation by authors of work not funded by the agencies that mandate deposition. As we all know, scientists want their work to be found, read, and cited.

The new NIH policy is especially gratifying to those of us who founded the Public Library of Science eight years ago with the goal of promoting greater access to and better use of the scientific literature through libraries like PMC. Still, not all articles in PMC are accessible on the same terms or timelines, and the public libraries and the laudable new policies from funding agencies still fall short of the full potential envisioned for a digital world of science. For articles in traditional, subscription-based journals, there is normally a six- to 12-month interval between publication and posting for public access. For that reason, the libraries are inherently archival —they are useful for searching relatively recent papers, but not for browsing most of the world's newly published work. Furthermore, not every important new article will have been supported by enlightened funding agencies and fall within the reach of their mandates; those may not appear in PMC at all. The libraries are also limited as archives —the new policy is not retroactive....

Finally, unless authors modify their copyright agreements with journals before publication —something they are urged to do— journals will continue to retain inappropriate control over the use of their articles, which is currently confined largely to reading online for most articles in PMC.

In contrast, open-access journals, like those published by PLoS or BioMed Central, make their articles immediately and freely available in PMC, eliminating any extra work by the authors and any delay before the articles are fully accessible. Furthermore, these journals permit far greater use of their articles, by allowing readers to explore and reuse the texts under the terms of a Creative Commons license. These degrees of freedom are possible because access and use do not diminish revenues....Thus the distribution and reuse of open-access content can be without limit, just as scientists and the public would wish....

Open-access publishing offers a way out of this dilemma in academia, just as it offers solutions to the shortcomings of public libraries like PMC. When costs of publication are recovered from publishing fees instead of from subscriptions, and when authors retain copyrights and grant licenses to publishers, both of which happen with open-access publishing, then articles can be placed immediately in open university repositories (or in public libraries) without threats to revenues or infringements of ownership. We at PLoS celebrate these principles, while also applauding the new policies at Harvard, the NIH, and elsewhere, as welcome signs of continued progress toward public access to research literature.

Profile of Harvard's Free Thesis Project

Bita M. Assad, Web Site Provides Theses Online, The Harvard Crimson, April 7, 2008.
As the final round of seniors turn in their theses, a fledgling open-access initiative is encouraging students to make their work accessible to the world.

The Free Thesis Project, a Web site run by Harvard College Free Culture, currently allows seniors to upload their theses to an online repository. But while the Web site was launched in April 2007, only 20 students so far have submitted their theses for free and open access. ...

The primary arguments in favor of open access for scholarly literature written by faculty and students are both pragmatic and ideological, according to Grant W. Dasher ’09, one of the leaders of the Free Thesis Project. He added that there is a need to drive down the cost of scholarly journals, which would eliminate the high subscription rates for universities.

Even as the University shifts to open access, the Free Thesis Project has yet to pick up momentum among Harvard’s senior thesis writers.

Jason E. Neal ’08, the only senior to have submitted his thesis so far this year, said seniors are often too preoccupied to think about how they would like their thesis to be distributed for future readers.

“Seniors are busy finishing their theses, and are so relieved to be done, that they don’t ever want to think about it again,” said Neal, who is a government concentrator.

Dasher acknowledged that although the shortage in submissions is partially due to limited awareness, departments have been receptive to the idea of encouraging the initiative. ...

According to Dasher, the Free Thesis Project plans to expand its depository to include PhD theses and eventually to integrate the archive with faculty publications.

More baseline data on NIH policy

Jim Till, More baseline data from PubMed, Be openly accessible or be obscure, April 7, 2008.
The new NIH policy about open access will begin to be implemented on April 7, 2008. So, April 6 is a good time to collect baseline data about the portion of the literature that’s a result of NIH-funded research. ...

[P]ercentages of publications identified in PubMed as freely accessible were:

Published within the last 2 years: 45361/145354=31%
Published within the last 90 days: 1039/11905=9% ...
See the full post for additional data.

No access to college-commissioned book

Luis Zaragoza, Brevard Community College's book deal with Sen. Mike Haridopolos draws criticism, Orlando Sentinel, April 7, 2008.
If you want to read the new book by state Sen. Mike Haridopolos -- the one that Brevard Community College paid him more than $150,000 in public money to write -- don't count on finding it at the nearest Barnes & Noble.

That's because nearly a year after the manuscript was finished, it still hasn't been published.

In fact, Haridopolos won't allow copies of the manuscript to leave the BCC campus for fear of illegal copying.

Because the public paid for it, however, you can come to the school's Cocoa campus and curl up in an office with the senator's six-chapter, 175-page collection of political musings and advice to future political candidates. Just be sure to make an appointment. ...
Comment. It doesn't strike me as terribly unusual that an author -- even of a book commissioned by a public educational institution -- might be concerned with "illegal copying" of an unpublished manuscript. But it seems unfortunate that neither the institution nor the author -- a public official and a former instructor at the college -- evince any concern with taxpayers' access to the book they paid for.

Declaration on access to gov. info.

Declaration to Advance the Right of Access to Public Information Worldwide Released Today, press release, March 26, 2008. (Thanks to Free Government Information.)

Participants in a global conference on the right of access to public information released today the Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action to advance access to information as a fundamental human right.

The conference, held Feb. 27-29, 2008, brought together more than 125 representatives of government, civil society, media, private sector, international financial institutions, donors, and academics from 40 countries at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The group's final declaration is available now at

The declaration states that "access to information is a fundamental human right; it is essential for human dignity, equity and peace with justice; and a lack of access to information disproportionately affects the poor, women, and other vulnerable and marginalized people."

It also establishes a series of principles, stating that transparency provides more safety and security than secrecy and that the right of access to information should apply to all branches of government at all levels, to all divisions of international bodies, and even to private corporations in certain circumstances. The declaration includes a set of tenets that should be included in any law or legal instrument.

"Giving people the access to information they need to participate fosters greater trust between citizens and government. It increases their common interest in shaping a fruitful and progressive future for their nation," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during the conference.

The declaration calls on all states and intergovernmental organizations to enact legislation and instruments for the exercise of this right, as well as calling on states to ensure the full implementation and effective enforcement of the legislation.

Serving as a blueprint for advancing the right, the Atlanta Declaration encourages international and regional bodies, donors, states and corporate, professional, and civil society organizations to take concrete steps to establish, develop, and nurture the right of access to public information across the world. ...

Update. See also this comment by the Sunlight Foundation.

Commons without communism

Milton Mueller, Info-communism?  Ownership and freedom in the digital economy, First Monday, April 7, 2008. 

Abstract:   This paper takes a new look at the debate over commons and property in information and communications. It warns against recreating the old communist–capitalist ideological divide by framing the movement for informational commons as “info–communist.” The spectre of communism haunts the movement because of an unresolved ideological tension in its ethical and philosophical foundations. The case for free software and open information contains both deontological appeals to the virtues of sharing, and consequentialist arguments against the growing intrusiveness of the institutional and technological mechanisms used to enforce exclusivity in the digital economy. The paper argues that the deontological case is a dead end that leads to info–communism. The strongest case for open access and freedom in information and communications is grounded in a liberalism that takes maximizing individual freedom as its objective and relies on creative complementarities between property and commons regimes as means to that end.

OA as a preservation model

Golnessa Galyani Moghaddam, Preserve Scientific Electronic Journals: A Study of Archiving Initiatives, The Electronic Library, 26, 1 (2008) pp. 83-96.

Abstract:   This paper seeks to review the archiving initiatives of scientific journals created and supported by various organizations or institutions. A review of nine archiving initiatives including JSTOR, Portico, E-Print Repositories, Open Access Model, LOCKSS, OCLC Digital Archive, JISC PubMed Central and KB e-Depot was carried out. The paper focuses mainly on the initiatives by an analytical approach. The paper provides a useful starting-point to anyone who wants to know about the preserving scientific electronic journal, enabling him/her quickly to achieve an overview of the existing archiving initiatives to date.

Comment.  The author is aware that OA is a kind of access, not a kind of preservation, and has this to say (from the body of the paper):

Some people reason that the Open Access is about ‘access’ not preservation. The author believes that though the Open Access is originally about ‘access’ and its purpose is different from preservation, it is practically functioning as an archive. This may be considered as a potential aspect of information technology used in Open Access models. This is definitely a new area of discussion and research need to be explored.

I'm not sure I understand.  If the claim is that many OA repositories, and to a lesser extent OA journals, deliberately include preservation in their mission, that's true.  If the claim is that OA permits widespread duplication, resulting in incidental or inadvertent preservation (on the LOCKSS principle), that's true too.  If the claim is that OA facilitates preservation by removing permission barriers that obstruct it (such as barriers blocking the migration of content to new formats and media to keep it readable as technology changes), that's true as well.  But none of these is a new area of discussion.  I'll add just for completeness that OA is compatible with every kind of digital preservation strategy, and that preservation is vitally important for most of the actual and perceived benefits of OA.

A European model for OA publishing

Chris Armbruster, A European Model for the Digital Publishing of Scientific Information?  A preprint, self-archived March 18, 2008.  Abstract:

The entire system of scholarly communication is in transition, with the emergence of new markets, services and players. Given what we know about this digital transition, the technical, financial and legal parameters of a future model of publishing scientific information are predictable. The contribution of the Commission of the European Communities has been to emphasize how digital access to scientific information is related to the digital preservation of the record of scientific publications and data; because if digital preservation is undertaken access cannot be guaranteed for future innovations. The proposition for the delineation of a European model is developed as follows:

1. A digital model may be developed that results in open access, while preserving and enhancing the viability of a variety of commercial publishing models.

2. The institutional players in the publishing system, namely publishers, repositories and libraries, must be ready to accept a redistribution of the key functions of registration, certification, dissemination, archiving and navigation in a manner that plays to the strength of each.

3. The condition for any successful elaboration of a digital model is that it is complementary to the technology and economics of the internet, while the litmus test is that it enhances the impact and re-use of scientific information.

Open access publishing leads to complementary relationships between publishers, libraries and repositories; unrestricted access and the widest possible dissemination; and usually facilitates the creation of value-added services as an overlay from platforms, repositories and libraries. In recent years, a number of viable full open access publishing (OAP) models have emerged: OAP where the author pays, by subscription, through a sponsoring consortium, and by way of support and sponsorship.

Covered initiatives include BMC, Sage-Hindawi, Springer, SCOAP3, Science Commons OA law program, DRIVER, PARSE, PEER, NEEO and policies of the ERC, NIH and Harvard FAS.

A day worth celebrating

For most grantees, the OA mandate at the NIH starts today.  For NIH employees and researchers in its intramural program, it started before today.

This has been a long time coming.  I'd say we've been waiting for this day since July 14, 2004, when the House Appropriations Committee adopted report language calling for an OA mandate at the NIH.  If NIH had adopted the mandate that summer or fall, it would have been the world's first OA mandate from a public funding agency.  By the time it finally issued its mandatory policy in January 2008, it was the 21st.  However, it did have the distinction of being the first to be demanded by the national legislature rather than adopted by the agency on its own.

For some of the history, see my timeline of the major developments in SOAN for August 2007, my update in November 2007, my coverage in January 2008 of the bill adopted by Congress and signed by the President, and my coverage in February 2008 of the policy released by the NIH in January. 

For investigators and institutions now focused on compliance, see the implementation guidelines and resources I collected last week for the April issue of SOAN.

It has been a long, tiring campaign, but a successful one, opposed every step of the way by an aggressive and well-funded publishing lobby.  The policy could be stronger, friends of OA are still trying to improve it, publishers are still lobbying to weaken it and threatening legal action to delay or derail it, and the NIH is still collecting public comments on it.

But we have reached this plateau:  implementation day for the world's first mandatory OA policy demanded by the national legislature, at the world's largest funder of scientific research.  It's a day worth celebrating.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

ChemSpider wants to build deposit API for OA publishers

Antony Williams, An Invitation to Open Access Publishers to Develop a Deposition API with ChemSpider, ChemSpider Blog, April 3, 2008.

Over the past year ChemSpider has been working hard to build a functional and stable platform for the hosting, deposition and curation of structure-based data. This is to form the foundation of our mission to build a Structure-Based Community for Chemists. Our deposition system is in place and well-tested. Our indexing of articles is proven, and continues. We have indexed multiple Open Access articles. We support the deposition of analytical data (spectra and CIF files) into ChemSpider.

It is now time to take this to the next level and I would like to extend an invitation to Open Access publishers to work with us to design an interface (preferably a web service) to facilitate direct deposition of data into ChemSpider. We’d like to design an interface where you can feed your articles in with Title, Authors, Journal reference, DOI and Abstract. ... The outcome of this work would be a freely accessible structure and substructure searchable index of Open Access articles with links back to the Open Access article. ...

More on caBIG

Kenneth Buetow, Heading for the BIG Time, The Scientist, April 2008.
... caBIG [Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid] is a response to a desperate need. From my position as a senior cancer researcher at the [National Cancer Institute], groundbreaking observations and insights in biomedicine are accumulating at a dizzying rate. However, from the perspective of the approximately 1.4 million US patients who will hear their physicians say, "You have cancer," progress is unacceptably slow. Something needed to be done to expedite the transformation of scientific findings into clinical solutions. ... Biomedical researchers struggle to meaningfully integrate their findings. Cancer is an immensely complex disease and in order to get a sense of the big picture, scientists need to combine observations from genomics, proteomics, pathology, imaging, and clinical trials. There was, however, no systematic way to do this. Encouraged by the support of our community and spurred to the challenge by our advisory boards, we set out to put a new set of tools into the hands of scientists - tools that would allow them to manage and understand the tsunami of biomedical data becoming available. The caBIG was conceived in 2003 and born in the spring of 2004. It is indeed a big idea: to develop a state-of-the-art informatics platform that provides researchers all the capabilities they'd need to fight the "war on cancer." A large-scale, global concept for connectivity such as caBIG was unheard of in biomedicine in 2004 and is still foreign in most research domains today. ...
See also the accompanying sidebars, A sampling of how you can use caBIG and caBIG in Action (free registration required).

Index to Theses adds links to full-text

On April 2, Index to Theses announced a new feature that links to the full text of theses available online. See also the guide to the feature. The index includes theses from universities in the UK and Ireland and is available by subscription only.

Jean-Claude Bradley on open notebook science

Jean-Claude Bradley, Open Notebook Science: Implications for the Future of Libraries, a slide presentation at the University of British Columbia School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS), April 2, 2008.

Abstract:    Open Notebook Science involves a variety of internet-based techniques for sharing of scientific information, from the use of wikis for experiments, to the Chemspider database, where chemists share molecules in a fashion that is socially (but not technically) similar to Wikipedia. Aspects of Open Notebook Science that are of relevance to librarians are discussed, such as automating of metadata for describing the steps of experiments, and the importance of using a 3rd-party wiki to record Open Notebook Science, so that contributions can be tracked and time-stamped. Bradley predicts movement towards more machine-to-machine communication, which will considerably speed up the research process.

More on the gift economy of scholarly communication

Claudia Koltzenburg, Digital objects as "transducers" in scientific web publishing. International Journal of Feminist Technoscience, May 9, 2007.  A copy was self-archived April 4, 2008.

Abstract:   Scientific web publishing offers an attractive bundle of phenomena for feminist technoscientific investigation. This article focuses on research articles in scientific journals and aims at identifying a range of exclusionary practices in the current publishing system, which need to be critically addressed. For this purpose, the functionalities of digital objects are studied using the analogy of a piezoelectric crystal as a transducer in obstetric ultrasonography [Karen Barad 2001]. This is embedded in the idea that scholarly communication, and publishing in particular, is characterized by an economy based on gift-giving-for-recognition.

Feedback from OKCon

Robin Rice, Report back from Open Knowledge conference, LSE, 15 March 2008, DataShare Blog, April 2, 2008. Blog notes from Open Knowledge Conference (March 15, 2008, London).

Also see: Jonathan Gray, OKCon 2008 Documentation and Open Knowledge Local Groups!, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, April 2, 2008.

RePEc growth in March 2008

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in March 2008, The RePEc blog, April 1, 2008. Highlights:
  • 694,988 file downloads (less than 3,000 short of the record)
  • 2,675,511 abstract views (record)
  • New RePEc application on Facebook
  • Four new RePEc archives opened:
    • Princeton University Press
    • Department of Economics at University of Auckland
    • Department of University of Malaga
    • Institute of Local Public Finance, Germany
  • Thresholds passed during March:
    • 6,000,000 cumulated downloads through EconPapers
    • 3,000,000 references extracted
    • 1,250,000 citations found
    • 175,000 online working papers
    • 140,000 items with references
    • 100,000 cited articles
    • 2,000 listed book chapters
Comment. I can't find the Facebook application. If you have a link, please send it to me.

Increasing access to OA material through metadata aggregation

Mark Jordan, Increasing access to OA material through metadata aggregation, class presentation, April 2, 2008. Abstract:
Presents an overview of metadata aggregation, using the AlouetteCanada Portal and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Metadata Harvester as examples. Challenges of metadata aggregation are explored.

Green pressure on UK gov't for OA to PSI

Tom Chance, Government responds to Green question on Ordnance Survey charges, Tom Chance's website, April 3, 2008.

The Government has responded to the first of several questions I drafted for Tim Beaumont, the Green member of the House of Lords. We want to pile on the pressure so that the Labour Government takes the report they commissioned seriously, and to find out if they intend to act on any specific parts. One very general question - asking "whether they intend to make the Ordnance Survey's MasterMap available free of financial or legal restrictions" - got this response:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): As announced in the Budget, the Government will look closely at public sector information held by trading funds including Ordnance Survey, to distinguish more clearly what is required by government for public tasks and ensure that this information is made available as widely as possible for use in downstream markets. In the lead up to the next spending review, the Government will ensure that information collected for public purposes is priced so that the need for access is balanced with ensuring that customers pay a fair contribution to the cost of collecting this information in the long term. In the mean time Ordnance Survey will continue to generate the revenue it requires to cover its costs, to fund investments and to provide a return to government, from sales of paper mapping and from licensing use of the Crown copyright and Crown database rights in its data, including OS MasterMap.

So no surprises there, but the spending review is definitely a good campaign target. If the Government took their own research seriously, and approached Ordnance Survey's funding a little more creatively (e.g. with land registry surcharges), then communities like OpenStreetMap would be able to open up hugely beneficial opportunities. ...

See also the further questions by Beaumont on April 3, and the Government's response.

More university OA policies: video presentations from OR-08

Stevan Harnad, Open Repositories 2008 Video and EurOpenScholar Links, Open Access Archivangelism, April 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

Here is the LINK to a video sampler of OR-08.

And here is the LINK to the EurOpenScholar session, at which there were two brilliant, timely (and, I predict, historic-landmark) presentations. One was by (1) Professor Bernard Rentier, Founder and Director of EurOpenScholar, a university consortium for informing about and advancing OA, and Rector of University of Liege, the first University to adopt the ID/OA self-archiving mandate, the implementation details of which Prof. Rentier described.

The second presentation was by (2) Dr. John Smith, Deputy Secretary-General of the European University Association (EUA), representing nearly 800 universities in 46 countries; EUA has unanimously recommended mandating OA self-archiving and is providing very strong and welcome support for implementing OA in Europe.

At the EurOpenScholar session the University of Southampton's university-wide OA self-archiving mandate was also officially announced on behalf of the Vice Chancellor by the Library Director, Mark Brown. (Dr. Alma Swan also gave a presentation -- handicapped by the fact that Prof. Rentier and Dr. Smith had already made brilliant use of her material! I too gave a talk, and likewise had nothing more I could add!) The OA momentum gathering in Europe is exceedingly gratifying (and about time!).

ASBMB launches hybrid option for three journals

Nancy Rodnan, Two Important Changes and a Reminder for Authors of ASBMB Publications:  JBC, MCP and JLR, Journal of Biological Chemistry, April 11, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Authors are reminded that all manuscripts accepted by ASBMB publications appear as Papers in Press (PIPs) immediately upon acceptance and these remain freely accessible on the journal website at all times following the initial posting. Neither transfer to PubMed Central or opting for immediate release (Author’s Choice) affects PIPs.

1. The NIH Mandate for Article Deposits in PubMed Central

As of April 7, 2008, the final redacted versions of all research articles resulting from partial or complete support from NIH must be deposited immediately in the NIH repository, PubMed Central.  PubMed Central will not release articles to readers for 12 months.  While compliance to this NIH mandate is the responsibility of the authors, ASBMB [American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology] will automatically deposit articles on behalf of authors as a service....

This service will be free for ASBMB members and will cost $50 for non-members.  The $50 fee covers the cost to the publisher to tag and upload high resolution figures and supply supplemental data from our vendors to PubMed Central.  (ASBMB membership currently costs $140/yr and includes many additional benefits so you may wish to consider joining and receive this service free of charge.)

2. Author’s Choice Publication Option

ASBMB is initiating a new submission option for authors that have requested to pay an additional fee to have the final redacted version of an article released immediately to readers without any subscription barriers. For a few authors this is a condition of funding.

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License applies to Author’s Choice articles only....

The Author Choice option will cost ASBMB members $1500 above the usual publication charges.  Non-members will be charged $2000....

No data- or text-mining at PMC

Peter Murray-Rust, Can I Data- and Text-mine Pubmed Central?, A Scientist and the Web, April 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

Until last week I had assumed that the NIH policy on access to publicly funded research grants full Open Access rights to anyone in the world....

Last week I learned at Dagstuhl that data- text-mining of Pubmed Central was blocked by the site itself - delgates had found that there is a maximum of two papers that can be downloaded before the IP address is blocked.

I’d very much like clarification (as I have found the NIH sites and elsewhere extremely difficult to navigate on a consistent basis). There is no explicit mention of the right to download material for data-mining and a lot of verbiage about “consistency with publishers’s policies” which is no help to scientists like me.

So - simply - when the flood of public depositions comes on stream after April 7 (obviously with some delay) can I text-mine them?

This is important....

So - simply - can I run my robots over the material deposited by mandate?

  1. Yes - without question or fear of reprisal.
  2. No - not at all.
  3. Well - um - err - it depends on each individual paper and each individual publisher and nobody can give a clear answer

The current answer appears to be 2 (I will be cut off mechanically). I suspect the real answer is 3....

If the NIH aren’t prepared to do this then the “victory” is only the first step in a long struggle for liberating data.

Also see his follow-up post, No-One May Data- Or Text-Mine Pubmed Central, April 6, 2008.  Excerpt:

I realised with considerable disappointment ( Can I data- and Text-mine Pubmed Central?) that I might not be able to text- and data-mine the material that the NIH has required to be deposited in Pubmed Central in its mandate. Now I have got confirmation by email from an authoritative source (who asks not to be named in case the information is not quite precise). But in general terms the answer is simple:


In short Pubmed Central is “free access” (no price barriers), not “open access” (no permission barriers). You may not download material from it (except to expose it to your own eyeballs), and certainly not redistribute it. You may not data-mine it.

I am aware of the struggle that was required to get George Bush to sign the mandate and it certainly wasn’t the time to break ranks. But now that the mandate is passed (and starts tomorrow) we must press ahead immediately to campaign for full access to the text....

So we have to argue to the NIH that bioscience is desperately impoverished by the unreasonable permission barriers that are now in place.... 


  • Peter MR is right.  PMC removes price barriers and leaves permission barriers in place.  Users may not exceed fair use, which is not enough for redistribution or most kinds of text- and data-mining.  For detail --and official confirmation-- see Question F2 in the NIH FAQ:

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

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

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

  • Removing price barriers from NIH-funded research was a major victory, and one we couldn't have achieved if we demanded the removal of permission barriers at the same time.  But Peter is right that researchers need more and that we have to keep working for further goals.  In time, I hope we can shorten the permissible 12 month embargo and remove permission barriers from the copies covered by the NIH policy. 

The EUA updates its OA recommendations

The European University Association (EUA) has released the latest set of Recommendations from the EUA Working Group on Open Access.  The recommendations were adopted by the EUA Council at a meeting on March 26, 2008, at the University of Barcelona.

From the EUA's announcement and condensed version of the recommendations (April 4, 2008):

Universities need to do more to develop institutional policies and strategies that increase access to their peer-reviewed research results to the widest range of users, to maximise the impact and visibility of university research.

This is one of the key recommendations published by EUA’s Working Group on Open Access, which aim to raise awareness of the importance of the open access issue within the university community, both in terms of its impact upon the research process but also its financial implications for university libraries.

EUA is recommending that universities across Europe set up an ‘institutional repository’ (or take part in a shared repository)...[and] ensure that researchers deposit their publications in the repository on acceptance of publication. Embargoes should only apply to the date of open access provision and not the date of deposit....

The working group’s recommendations are based on the core premises: the university’s role and responsibility as guardian of research knowledge as a “public good” and that the results of publicly funded research should be publicly available as soon as possible; and that quality assurance peer review processes are pre-conditions for scholarly publishing.

From the recommendations themselves:

...The Working Group recommendations seek to build upon the findings of the “Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of Scientific Publications Markets in Europe” (European Commission, DG Research, project report, January 2006), and public statements issued by the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) on Open Access as well as the current practices of some funding agencies such as UK Research Councils and the newly adopted policy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States concerning open access mandates for peer-reviewed publications arising from grants....

A. Recommendations for University Leadership

  1. Universities should develop institutional policies and strategies that foster the availability of their quality-controlled research results (in the form of research papers and other outputs) for the broadest possible range of users, maximising their visibility, accessibility and scientific impact.
  2. The basic approach for achieving this should be the creation of an institutional repository or participation in a shared repository. These repositories should be established and managed according to current best practices (following recommendations and guidelines from DRIVER and similar projects) complying with the OAI-PMH protocol and allowing interoperability and future networking for wider usage.
  3. University institutional policies should require that their researchers deposit (self-archive) their scientific publications in their institutional repository upon acceptance for publication. Permissible embargoes should apply only to the date of open access provision and not the date of deposit. Such policies would be in compliance with evolving policies of research funding agencies at the national and European level such as the ERC.
  4. ...It should be the responsibility of the university to inform their faculty researchers about IPR and copyright management in order to ensure the wider sharing and reuse of the digital research content they have produced....
  5. University institutional policies should explore also how resources could be found and made available to researchers for author fees to support the emerging "author pays model" of open access.

B. Recommendations for National Rectors’ Conferences

  1. All National Rectors’ Conferences should work with national research funding agencies and governments in their countries to implement the requirement for self-archiving of research publications in institutional repositories and other appropriate open access repositories according to best practice models of the ERC and existing national research funding agencies operating open access mandates. National Rectors’ Conferences should encourage governments to work within the framework of the "Council of the European Union Conclusions on Scientific Information in the Digital Age: Access, Dissemination and Preservation" adopted at the EU Competitiveness Council meeting on 22nd-23rd November 2007.
  2. National Rectors’ Conferences should attach high priority to raising the awareness of university leadership to the importance of open access policies in terms of enhanced visibility, access and impact of their research results.

C. Recommendations for the European University Association

  1. EUA should continue to contribute actively to the policy dialogue on Open Access at the European level with a view to a self-archiving mandate for all research results arising from EU research programme/project funding, hence in support of and building upon the ERC position and other international initiatives such as that of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  2. EUA should continue to be visible and to rally expertise from Europe’s universities on Open Access issues to provide input to European and International events advancing open access to scientific publications, research data and their preservation.


  • Kudos especially to Lesley Wilson, Secretary General of the EUA, and Sijbolt Noorda, chair of the Working Group on Open Access. 
  • These new recommendations update the similar OA recommendations which the EUA unanimously adopted in January 2008.  They not only build on the momentum of the January recommendations, but on the momentum from the Harvard OA mandate in February and the background movement of rector and provost activism for OA in South America, Europe, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, and the US.  The EUA represents 791 universities in 46 countries throughout Europe, and these unanimous recommendations should carry great weight with this wide range of institutions.
  • Here's my condensation of the major recommendations.  European universities should...
  1. launch OAI-compliant institutional repositories (A2)
  2. adopt OA mandates for their research output (A3)
  3. require deposits in the IR upon acceptance for publication even if OA release is delayed by an embargo (A3)
  4. educate faculty about copyright and encourage the removal of permission barriers at least for users in the author's institution (A4)
  5. consider paying publication fees for faculty who publish in fee-based OA journals (A5)
  6. work with public funding agencies with OA mandates to encourage deposit in institutional repositories (B1)
  7. educate university rectors about the importance of OA (B2)
  8. support OA mandates for publicly-funded research in the EU (C1)

OA week

In honor of new OA mandate at the NIH, which will take effect for most grantees on April 7, some of the Nature Network bloggers are discussing the idea of making next week OA week.  (Thanks to Graham Steel.)  The idea is simply for participating bloggers to blog about OA or the NIH policy at least once during the week. 

I'll be blogging about OA and NIH policy all week (and all year...), so I'm already in.  If you have a blog, join in.  We can't do enough to educate our colleagues and the public about OA.

BTW, if you take part, please mention at some point that the NIH is collecting public comments on the policy until May 1.  It would be a shame to generate a new wave of support for the policy and not have it show up when the NIH is evaluating responses.  Publishers who oppose the policy are sure to submit their comments.