Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Experiences with an IR from an Indian business school

Gayatri Doctor and Smitha Ramachandran, DSpace@IBSA: knowledge sharing in a management institute, VINE, January 2008. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose – Management Institutions in India are being ranked by various surveys, which give importance to parameters like placements, brand value and intellectual capital. Intellectual capital of a Management Institute is the published scholarly material of its faculty consisting of of articles, journal papers published, case studies, books compiled, etc. Use of technologies like Institutional Repositories for capturing the intellectual capital and enabling knowledge sharing in academic institutions especially in developing countries like India are emerging. The purpose of this paper is to describe a survey conducted to ascertain different considerations for implementing an institutional repository and the creation of the pilot Institutional Repository at the ICFAI Business School, Ahmedabad using the Open Source DSpace Institutional Repository Software.

Design/methodology/approach – The survey conducted at ICFAI Business School, Ahmedabad to ascertain the need of an institutional repository and the different aspects associated with the setting up of institutional repository is described. The phases involved in the development of the pilot Institutional Repository at ICFAI Business School, Ahmedabad using open source DSpace Institutional repository software to capture the intellectual capital and enable knowledge sharing are also described.

Findings – Installation of the Institutional Repository is complex, requiring technical know-how of different software. Creation of communities and collections, archiving of documents into the Repository, enriching them with metadata are essential for efficient retrieval of information. Some knowledge of computers and DSpace software is essential.

Research limitations/implications – Once the Institutional Repository is created it needs to be maintained. Faculty and staff need to be trained for proper uploading of documents and submitting metadata into the repository.

Practical implications – Knowledge sharing of the conference papers presented, journal papers written, books edited, etc., among the faculty of the Institute is possible with the creation of the digital repository. The intellectual capital of the Institute is available at one centralized location facilitating easy information retrieval.

Originality/value – The Institutional repository provides ICFAI Business School, Ahmedabad with a central facility for systematic archiving of its “intellectual capital” – the scholarly material of its faculty and research staff. Awareness and availability of the scholarly material of peer faculty enables knowledge sharing. The Institutional Repository is useful to the faculties, research staff and the institution. Management Institutions, especially in India, should be encouraged to develop Institutional Repositories of their intellectual capital and share knowledge.

OA and FOSS in digital libraries

M. Krishnamurthy, Open access, open source and digital libraries: A current trend in university libraries around the world, Program: electronic library and information systems, January 2008. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the open access and open source movement in the digital library world.

Design/methodology/approach – A review of key developments in the open access and open source movement is provided.

Findings – Open source software and open access to research findings are of great use to scholars in developing nations.

Originality/value – This paper provides useful information about software for institutions introducing digital library concepts.

Toward metadata for ETDs

Sevim McCutcheon, et al., Morphing metadata: maximizing access to electronic theses and dissertations, Library Hi Tech, January 2008. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose – This paper aims to describe work at Kent State University Libraries and Media Services to promote and devise electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) storage at OhioLINK's ETD Center, to find efficient methods to represent these unique scholarly materials within the library's catalog, and to foster the establishment of state-wide library catalog standards for ETDs.

Design/methodology/approach – A semi-automated process has been devised that extracts student-supplied metadata already available in the OhioLINK ETD Center to provide almost instantaneous access to unique resources through the library catalog. A Perl program uses the OAI-PMH protocol to extract metadata, modifies and enhances the data, and inserts it into the Innovative Interfaces, Inc. catalog. Significant effort was made to map the data from ETD-MS to MARC. Catalogers retrieve records for completion and contribute full bibliographic records to OCLC WorldCat in addition to the local and consortium catalogs.

Findings – The process successfully produces a provisional bibliographic record that is useful immediately for resource discovery and that can serve as the basis for full cataloging.

Practical implications – This research provides libraries with a method they can adapt locally to provide provisional level access, full level access, or both, to unique scholarly research.

Originality/value – This research broke new ground regarding the use of a software agent to repurpose metadata in library catalogs. It also impacted national cataloging standards for ETDs.

Capturing output with an IR at a business school in India

Gayatri Doctor, Capturing intellectual capital with an institutional repository at a business school in India, Library Hi Tech, January 2008. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose – Digital repositories are emerging technologies for knowledge sharing and management in academic institutions. Digital repositories collect, store, preserve, index and share the intellectual capital of faculty and research staff, namely their scholarly publications and teaching material. In a developing country like India, capturing this intellectual capital is becoming important and unavoidable for business schools. Creation of a digital archive for scholarly and teaching material is a growing requirement and is feasible assuming faculties use digital resources for their creation and are ready to share them. The paper aims to discuss a survey conducted and a pilot implementation of an institutional repository at the Icfai Business School (Business School Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India), Ahmedabad, India.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted at the Icfai Business School, with the questionnaire being used as a tool to collect data, to determine the usage of digital resources by faculty and research staff in scholarly activities and teaching; understand the need and use of an institutional repository by the faculty. The pilot implementation of the institutional repository at Icfai Business School, Ahmedabad is also described.

Findings – The study indicates that faculty in business schools from different academic areas and teaching experience do use digital resources for scholarly publications and teaching material, they do indicate a knowledge sharing culture and tend to show a positive attitude towards the need and use of a Digital institutional repository. Implementing the pilot institutional repository using Open Source DSpace software was an experience and provided visibility to the institutional intellectual capital.

Research limitations/implications – Infrastructure, funding and manpower were the initial limitations. Once the institutional repository was installed, management of the repository was necessary. Planning of communities and collections, system maintenance like backups, populating the repository with the seed collection, creating awareness for initiating faculty self-archiving for the growth of the repository were some of the challenges faced. Staff were to be trained to ensure that documents were properly uploaded and metadata submitted into the repository.

Practical implications – The pilot institutional repository aims to collect, preserve, share the intellectual capital and enhance institutional visibility. The intellectual output of faculty and research staff is available at one centralized location for search. Information retrieval from this repository on the basis of communities, collections, keywords, author, and titles is possible. As the repository is OAI enabled, visibility to the work of the faculty and the institution is enhanced.

Originality/value – Implementing the pilot institutional repository at Icfai Business School, Ahmedabad has created a central facility for systematic archiving of the intellectual output of faculty and research staff. The institutional repository is of utility and value to both the faculty and the institute as it gives visibility to the work done. It is one of the few business schools in India who have implemented an open access institutional digital repository to capture the intellectual capital and share knowledge.

Citation impact of OA journals

Nana Turk, Citation impact of Open Access journals, New Library World, January/February 2008. Only the abstract is free online, at least so far:
Purpose – This literature review aims to provide a synthesis of available key information about the citation impact of Open Access journals in LIS and science in general. Citation impact is defined as a surrogate measure of citation counts.

Design/methodology/approach – Based on a literature review, this paper discusses the methodology of the data collections for citation counts. The literature review is structured to address the literature about citation impact of Open Access journals. br />
Findings – The literature review indicates that there is quite a uniform way about methodology of citation counts and substantial research about motivation for URL citations to LIS articles. br />
Originality/value – This literature review is a comprehensive study of the main research about citation impact of Open Access journals, focused on LIS journals.

Disintermediation and the Web

Scott Karp, Forget Disintermediation, Focus On Open Data Exchange, Publishing 2.0, April 12, 2008. A meditation on disintermediation on the web (say that five times fast), with implications for OA.

...The objective on the web isn’t to keep the data on your site — it’s to have an open exchange of data. It’s a wonderfully counterintuitive way of thinking. ...

Think about it from the user perspective — too often these debates overlook what would best serve the USER.

The user is ill-served if there are conversations about a piece of content going on across multiple services, and the user has to go to each service to participate. Those participating in a conversation on one service are ill-served because they can’t hear what’s been said on other services.

What would be best for users is if all the services were connected, so that all the data appeared on EVERY service, and it didn’t matter which service I used to read or contribute — the data would propagate throughout network.

Remember, it’s the WEB — the network, right? Stop obsessing over YOUR blog or YOUR service or YOUR node — focus on enabling EVERYONE’S network. There’s only ONE web. ...

Why study data sharing?

Heather Piwowar, Why study Data Sharing? (+ why share your data), DBMI Colloquium (University of Pittsburgh, March 28, 2008). Slides with notes for the presentation.

Blog posts from OA Week

Graham Steel has collected a list of blog posts participating in OA Week last week. Peter previously blogged the idea.

JISC funds 2 OAI-ORE experiments

JISC has announced funding for two projects to test the Open Archives Initiative Object Re-Use and Exchange specification. The end date for funding is July 31, 2008. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

These two projects will constitute small-scale experiments that have the implementation of the OAI-ORE alpha specifications at their core, and which result in constructive feedback that can be used to refine and stabilize the ORE Specifications. ...

Two projects have been funded:

TheOREM (Theses with ORE Metadata), at the University of Cambridge ...

FORESITE (Functional Object Reuse and Exchange: Supporting Information Topology Experiments) will create Resource Map descriptions of JSTOR's holdings, and then ingest them into the DSpace institutional repository system via the SWORD protocol ...

Open notebook science and libraries

Jean-Claude Bradley has posted his audio, slides, and screencast of his presentation on open notebook science and libraries for Heather Morrison's class at the University of British Columbia on April 2, 2008. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)


Greater Western Library Alliance has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.

Update (7/11/08). Correction: In April 2008, the GWLA merely endorsed and expressed support for SCOAP3. However, on July 11, 2008, it joined SCOAP3.

Results of UKPMC user survey

UKPMC has also released the results of a user survey it launched in January 2008.  Excerpt:

[E]very UKPMC grant holder was e-mailed and asked to complete the online survey. We also e-mailed other interested parties and a link was added to the UKPMC and UKMSS home pages to enable non-grant holders to contribute. The survey was live for approx. 5 weeks and 905 responses were received...

The majority of responses came from research scientists actively engaged in biomedical research, most of which were UKPMC Funders Group grant holders....

Of those users who had yet to deposit papers, 13% did not know that they had to....

[PS:  All the funders in the UKPMC Funders Group have adopted OA mandates.]

Q31: What, if any, barriers have you found with regard to complying with funders' open access mandates?

  • No barriers to complying with funders' OA mandate [number saying yes =] 220; [percentage saying yes =] 24.30%
  • Was not aware of funders' open access mandate 163; 18.00%
  • Don't know how to comply with funders' open access mandate 151; 16.70%
  • Funding not available to meet open access costs 257; 28.40%
  • My preferred publisher/journal does not allow open access 210; 23.20%
  • I am concerned about copyright issues 88; 9.70%
  • Other (please specify) 63; 7.00% ...

Report on UKPMC workshop

UKPMC has released a report by Alma Swan on UKPMC Workshop (London, February 4, 2008).  Excerpt:

The welcoming address was by Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, one of the UKPMC Funders Group. He explained that part of Wellcome’s Open Access strategy is to make science publishing a transparent market so that researchers know what their publishing activities cost, just as they know what their reagents cost. He said that 91% of Wellcome-funded articles are published in journals that are compliant with its policy on Open Access but that only a fraction of them had appeared in UKPMC. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Publishers are not depositing articles as they had agreed with the Trust
  2. Authors themselves are not self-archiving their articles as requested...

He concluded by talking about the ways in which value can be added to the journal content of UKPMC. First, there is additional content, and one example is the database that contains details of over 15,000 grants from the UKPMC funders which is accessed via the UKPMC web site. Other content types envisaged are research data, patents, conference proceedings, technical notes, books, NICE guidelines, protocols and care pathways and clinical trials registers. Second, there will be the opportunity to enrich the content of UKPMC and maximise its effective use, by permitting derivatives, linking to other databases, providing improved definitions and relationships, data mashing, and using semantic technologies and text mining....

The report also summarizes the talks by Matt Cockerill, Timo Hannay, Dietrich Rebholz-Schuhmann, and Sophia Ananiadou, and the discussions within the three workshop sessions.

Friday, April 18, 2008

OA discussions at UKSG

The UKSG has posted some notes on Bill Hubbard's breakout session, Managing research outputs - embedding repositories into institutional research processes, at the UKSG 2008 Annual Conference and Exhibition (Torquay, April 7-9, 2008).  Excerpt:

This breakout group looked at the current state of repositories and the way that they are evolving in both content and functionality as they become embedded into research processes. In responding to user needs and expectations, repositories are developing from the initial goal of simply holding digital duplicates of published research papers into something more comprehensive, with the potential to be a genuinely new tool in research support. The wider range of content they are now amassing, in particular research data in response to funding agency requirements, means that their holdings represent a far fuller picture of research outputs. Developing additional functionality includes supporting cross-linking between research output types, data and text-mining, as well as information management tools for both institutions and individuals. This means that repositories are likely to become more akin to virtual research environments rather than simply dissemination tools.

Discussions touched on two other features: the way that repositories might be able to assist in-house publication of research outputs and the integration of repository content into standard commercial search and abstracting services....

The slides from Hubbard's presentation are now online.

Also see the UKSG notes on Toby Green's session, How to make your IR effective as a publishing platform for grey literature, an account of the IR at the OECD.

Notes and slides from other sessions are still being posted.  Some will be OA-related.

Official launch of hprints

Hprints, the Nordic arts and humanities e-print archive, has now officially launched.  (Thanks to H-Net and Klaus Graf.)  From the site:

Hprints is an Open Access repository aiming at making scholarly documents from the Arts and Humanities publicly available to the widest possible audience. It is the first of its kind in the Nordic Countries for the Humanities.

Hprints is a direct tool for scientific communication between academics. In the database scholars can upload full-text research material such as articles, papers, conference papers, book chapters etc....

For scholars this is an opportunity to gain longstanding visibility. First of all, it is possible to search and find the paper by defined topics through an Internet search. Secondly, all submitted papers will be stored permanently and receive a stable web address.

Hprints is a part of the French HAL....

And from the announcement:

...The archive is now open for submission and browsing (as of spring 2008)....

The submission policy is that content of the posted material should be comparable to that of a paper that could in principle be accepted for publication in a scientific journal.... is initially a Nordic project (funded by the Nordbib funding agency), but it is open to all humanities scholars world-wide....Readers get free access to the latest scholarly research within their field, through RSS and email alerts.

Comment.  Note that the hprints submission policy mentions discipline (any field within the humanities) and readiness ("could in principle be accepted for publication in a scientific journal"), but not institutional affiliation or nationality.  That makes it a universal repository for the humanities ("open to all humanities scholars world-wide"), which is new and significant.  For background, see my past posts on hprints.

Update (4/20/08).  Klaus Graf has learned that hprints will accept articles in any language, confirming its universality.  (Thanks, Klaus.)

The end of the toll-access journal

Steven Schwartz, The end of the scholarly journal, Campus Review, April 8, 2008.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Schwartz is the Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University.  Only the first two sentences are free online, at least so far:

Academics in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences have voted unanimously to make their scholarly papers available on-line for free to anyone with an internet account. Although academics can opt out if they have a reason, on-line publication is the default option.

From the body of the article:

Australian funding agencies have not yet mandated open access but they are certainly moving in that direction....

Open access has the capacity to change all this [the journal pricing crisis].  The free exchange of information is a bedrock academic value, one that is supported by open access....

Open access is a step towards a digital world in which ideas and information could flow freely to anyone on earth.  But it is not the only step....

Because of the influence exerted by Harvard, the example that its academics have set is sure to spread.  Other universities will make similar commitments and some day, not long off, the last printed journal will roll off the printing press.  This will not be a sad occasion but a happy one because it will mean that scholarly work will be freely available to everyone.

Update. An abridged version of the text is OA on Schwartz's blog.

EU research ministers retreat from OA

Ministers seek new vision for European Research Area, Euractiv, April 16, 2008.  (Thanks to Alma Swan.)

...The EU-27 research ministers and the Commission agreed, on 15 April 2008, on a new partnership called 'Ljubljana Process', which they hope will lead to better exploitation of Europe's research potential and the creation of a genuine European Research Area (ERA)....

[T]he Council agreed on the need for the member states and the Commission to share a long-term vision on ERA, consisting of:

  • A free flow of knowledge, with excellent research and attractive jobs; ...
  • better use of research results, and; 
  • better access to research infrastructure. 

The first version of the vision is expected to be finalised by the end of 2008....

Note that the "free flow of knowledge" is not elaborated to include (or exclude) OA.

Also see the draft summary of the meeting:

...The vision should include the following features: movement of knowledge, the ‘fifth freedom’, with excellent training and attractive career prospects for researchers moving and interacting freely across Europe; ...

Here the "free movement of knowledge" means the free movement of people and nothing more. 

Comment.  In February 2008 it was already clear that the Council was limiting the "free movement of knowledge" (a.k.a. "the fifth freedom") to the movement of people and giving no thought to OA even for publicly-funded research.  See my comments at the time.  However, in March 2008, the prime ministers of the member states took a stronger stand and explicitly included OA in the "free movement of knowledge".  See my comments at the time.  Now it appears that half-measures (and the publishing lobby) have prevailed.

Update (4/21/08). In posts today on the AmSci OA Forum, Napoleon Miradon and Frederick Friend argue that my take on the EU position is too pessimistic. I hope they're right and gladly point OAN readers to their arguments.

SCOAP3 fund-raising page

CERN has created a web page to track the fund-raising progress of the SCOAP3 project.

Open source and open access philosophy

From the philosophy blog at Macquarie University:

This is a call for papers for the next Philosopher’s Carnival to be hosted here from April 28 to May 12.

The theme for our carnival will be ‘Open Source Philosophy’.  This may relate to the Philosophy of Open Source or to Open sourcing Philosophy (or anything in between)....

The submissions page puts it slightly differently:  "Any entries relating to Open Source Philosophy and/or Open Access Philosophy are especially welcome."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More OA connections in the Georgia State case

E-Reserves Suit Raises Risks, Questions, Library Journal Academic Newswire, April 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The suit...carries risks for publishers as well --they are, after all, suing their customers, always a risky strategy, especially in light of new technologies and the open access mandates like those at Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health. If publishers were to win a broad victory in a Georgia court, it could push colleges and universities to move more aggressively on open access initiatives....

Kevin Smith, Trying to sue State U, Scholarly Communications @ Duke, April 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

...In effect, this is an attempt to enforce judicially a “pay-per-use” model of content distribution. The real irony is that it is justified as an attempt to remedy a “free-rider” problem — the claim that universities are appropriating the work of publishers and authors without just compensation. This claim is patently absurd, given the amount of money university libraries invest in published resources, but it is downright offensive when the real issue is clarified. Publishers here are themselves the free-riders, obtaining a huge amount of academic content from the universities and their faculty without compensation. The GSU complaint cites as an irony the fact that one of the professors who is cited as infringing the copyright of Sage Publishing has himself published three articles in Sage journals. The gall of the man! Nowhere is it mentioned that he was required to give up those articles without payment for the privilege of publishing with a company that is now suing his employer to recover even more money for those freely donated articles.

A little bit of attention to the economics of scholarly publishing quickly undermines the claim in this complaint that, without permission fees for electronic reserves, the incentive system of copyright will be undermined. No monetary incentive currently exists for the vast majority of academic publishing, from the point of view of faculty, yet academics keep writing. There is no evidence at all that this well of free content will suddenly go dry if publishers are not able to collect an additional income stream from that well. If this suit goes forward in spite of sovereign immunity, that should be the issue on which the court focuses its attention.

Mass digitization at the U of California

The California Digital Library has created a web page on its Mass Digitization Projects.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey and Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

The UC Libraries are participating in three mass digitization projects: Google Book Search, Microsoft Live Search Books and the Open Content Alliance. These are non-exclusive agreements and the UC Libraries may enter into other agreements with other digitization projects as they arise....

See this question from the page's FAQ:

9. What rights to the digitized content does UC have in the projects; will access be limited in any way?

All contracts specify that UC digital images will be available to the UC Libraries to download and manage. The UC Libraries’ digital copy is subject to certain rights and restrictions regarding use and distribution. The University of California’s use or ability to display the downloaded copies of the full text of all books is subject to the restrictions of copyright law. Full-text searching will be possible for all of the digitized books, but some scanned books will not be completely viewable due to copyright restrictions. Specifics include:


  • UC Libraries have the right to use the UC Libraries digital copy at the University’s sole discretion, subject to copyright law, as part of the services offered to University Library patrons (including all individuals and organizations served from the UC Libraries websites).
  • UC Libraries must implement technological measures to restrict automated access by crawlers, robots, spiders etc. to the UC Libraries digital copy.
  • UC Libraries may not permit downloading for commercial purposes.
  • UC Libraries may not knowingly permit the automated downloading and redistribution of the UC Library digital copy by third parties....
  • UC Libraries are permitted to distribute no more than 10% of the UC Libraries digital copy to other libraries and educational institutions for non-commercial, research, scholarly, or academic purposes (but not any portion of image coordinates).
  • UC Libraries are permitted to distribute all or any portion of public domain works contained in the UC Libraries digital copy (but not any portion of image coordinates) to other research libraries for use by those libraries’ authorized students, faculty, and staff for research, scholarly, or academic purposes.
  • Image coordinates, which link words in the OCR’d full text to specific locations on the viewable page, may not be shared with any entity.


  • UC Libraries may use, copy, transmit, distribute, perform, display and create derivative works of the UC Libraries digital copy of non-copyrighted works to enable users of the UC Libraries and the end users of the UC Libraries websites to access and use these digital copies for personal, research or educational purposes, including, but not limited to, searching, viewing, printing and downloading by the UC Libraries end users.
  • UC Libraries must use reasonable efforts not to knowingly enable any third party to download or host the UC Libraries digital copy or access or copy the UC Libraries digital copy via automated crawlers, robots, spiders, or similar data mining or extraction methods.
  • UC Libraries may not permit third-party use of UC Libraries digital copies for revenue generating purposes.
  • UC Libraries may license for non-commercial purposes the UC Libraries digital copy of non-copyrighted works and/or derivative works to non-commercial institutions such as other universities, libraries and archives.

Open Content Alliance

  • There are no restrictions on access or redistribution placed on the UC Libraries digital copy....

Comment.  Observe the openness of the Open Content Alliance.

What is the OA percentage of new articles?

Bo-Christer Björk, Annikki Roos, and Mari Lauri, Global annual volume of peer reviewed scholarly articles and the share available via different Open Access options, preprint of a paper to be presented at ElPub 2008, Open Scholarship: Authority, Community and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0 (Toronto, June 25-27, 2008).  Abstract:

A key parameter in any discussions about the academic peer reviewed journal system is the number of articles annually published. Several diverging estimates of this parameter have been proposed in the past, and have also influenced calculations of the average production price per article, the total costs of the journal system and the prevalence of Open Access publishing. With journals and articles increasingly being present on the web and indexed in a number of databases it has now become possible to quite accurately estimate the number of articles. We used the databases of ISI and Ulrich’s as our primary sources and estimate that the total number of articles published in 2006 by 23 750 journals was approximately 1 350 000.

Using this number as denominator it was also possible to estimate the number of articles which are openly available on the web in primary OA journals (gold OA). This share turned out to be 4.6 % for the year 2006. In addition at least a further 3.5 % was available after an embargo period of usually one year, bringing the total share of gold OA to 8.1%

Using a random sample of articles, we also tried to estimate the proportion of the articles published which are available as copies deposited in e-print repositories or homepages (green OA). Based on the article title a web search engine was used to search for a freely downloadable full-text version. For 11.3 % a usable copy was found. Combining these two figures we estimate that 19.4 % of the total yearly output can be accessed freely.

Comment.  This is the most careful estimate of this important number I've seen to date.  If it could be recomputed every year, we'd have a valuable new perspective on the annual growth of OA.

New OA journal of plastic surgery

ePlasty is a new peer-reviewed, no-fee OA journal of plastic surgery.  It's a redesigned, renamed successor to the Journal of Burns and Wounds, whose seven-year backfile is being converted to OA for hosting at the ePlasty web site.  ePlasty avoids publication fees because all its expenses are covered by grants and industry sponsors.

More on the Georgia State lawsuit

Here are some good comments connecting the Georgia State case to OA.

From Les Carr:

I really shouldn't raise my head in public about this lawsuit, because I try to keep quiet about non-OA issues in case I confuse the issues. However, what stands out to me in the [publishers' press release] is something commonly seen in the Open Access debate: publishers glorifying their role. Here's a quote:

“University presses are integral to the academic environment, providing scholarly publications that fit the needs of students and professors and serving as a launch pad from which academic ideas influence debate in the public sphere,” said Niko Pfund, Vice-President of Oxford University Press. “Without copyright protections, it would be impossible for us to meet these needs and provide this service.”

The inference to be drawn from the above paragraph is the obviously false "without copyright protections there would be no scholarship"....

From Mike Carroll:

The first copyright statute was adopted by the English Parliament for the "encouragement of learning." How well is copyright doing that job today? Two stories from today's news [4/16/08] provide different answers.

If learning is best encouraged by relying on for-profit academic publishing entities that compile educational materials, then it is proper for educators who create educational materials to transfer copyright to these publishers. These publishers can then use the author's copyright as a defense against incursions by professors who are sharing published materials with their students without requiring their students to pay. See [recent coverage of the Georgia State case].

If, on the other hand, in the age of the Internet learning is better encouraged by authors using their copyrights to create open educational resources designed for global, royalty-free sharing, then it is better for educators to hold on to their copyrights and license their materials accordingly. See [recent coverage of open textbooks].

Wanted: new Executive Director for the OCA

The Open Content Alliance is looking for a new Executive Director

PS:  This is one of the best OA-related jobs I've seen come open in a long time.

9/11 overreaction has stifled access to science

Jonathan Pfeiffer, The Halfway House Between Science and Secrets: An Interview With Bruce Schneier on Science and Security, Science Progress, March 19, 2008.  (Thanks to FGI.)  Excerpt:

A recent National Research Council report [Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World, National Academies Press, 2007] recognizes that the 9/11 attacks provoked counter-productive security measures that stifle access to fruitful scientific research....

Science Progress:  The National Research Council is concerned that the federal government has categorized too many scientific research results after 9/11 as “sensitive but unclassified.” Can you explain what this term means and why this is a problem?

Bruce Schneier: It’s kind of a weasel term in the U.S. government and military....“Sensitive but unclassified” is a halfway house between public information and classified information. It’s not really a secret, but someone somewhere doesn’t want someone else to know, so it becomes a gray area. The rules are a lot sloppier, there’s a lot more leeway, and more and more–not only in science, but everywhere–information that used to be given to the public as a matter of course becomes “sensitive but unclassified.” It could be phone directories; it could be hours of operation for buildings; it could be locations of polling places. And a lot of scientific data, information, and knowledge --stuff that is used by the scientific community, used by businesses, used by everybody-- gets stuck in this halfway house between secret and open. It’s a form of secrecy, and it’s a form of stifling information sharing. And where it affects scientists is that science thrives on information sharing. Science works because one person’s research becomes another person’s footnotes....

SP: The NRC is now recommending the full implementation of NSDD-189, Ronald Reagan’s 1985 order to keep unclassified research results open and available to the maximum possible extent. Do you have any concerns about referring, in the world of post 9/11 policymaking, to Cold War-era policies?

Schneier: Well, the devil is in the details. That is a good document if it really does say that we should make research open and available. I don’t care when it was written....

SP: You have argued before that the value of secrecy should be judged on a case-by-case basis. However, the federal government also needs broad principles and guidelines for regulating scientific publishing. What can the government do?

Schneier: The first principle is that openness should be assumed, and that we should strive for openness wherever possible....

PS:  I discuss similar issues, and even an earlier report on the same topic by the National Research Council, in a September 2005 article, Reflections on 9/11, four years later.

More on SCImago Journal Rank, an OA impact measurement

Matthew E. Falagas and three co-authors, Comparison of SCImago journal rank indicator with journal impact factor, FASEB Journal, April 11, 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

The application of currently available sophisticated algorithms of citation analysis allows for the incorporation of the "quality" of citations in the evaluation of scientific journals. We sought to compare the newly introduced SCImago journal rank (SJR) indicator with the journal impact factor (IF). We retrieved relevant information from the official Web sites hosting the above indices and their source databases. The SJR indicator is an open-access resource, while the journal IF requires paid subscription. The SJR indicator (based on Scopus data) lists considerably more journal titles published in a wider variety of countries and languages, than the journal IF (based on Web of Science data). Both indices divide citations to a journal by articles of the journal, during a specific time period. However, contrary to the journal IF, the SJR indicator attributes different weight to citations depending on the "prestige" of the citing journal without the influence of journal self-citations; prestige is estimated with the application of the PageRank algorithm in the network of journals. In addition, the SJR indicator includes the total number of documents of a journal in the denominator of the relevant calculation, whereas the journal IF includes only "citable" articles (mainly original articles and reviews). A 3-yr period is analyzed in both indices but with the use of different approaches. Regarding the top 100 journals in the 2006 journal IF ranking order, the median absolute change in their ranking position with the use of the SJR indicator is 32 (1st quartile: 12; 3rd quartile: 75). Although further validation is warranted, the novel SJR indicator poses as a serious alternative to the well-established journal IF, mainly due to its open-access nature, larger source database, and assessment of the quality of citations.

OA for Muslim scientific history

Editorial: Muslim Heritage, Arab News, April 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

In an age when heritage in so many parts of the world is either ignored, Disneyized into theme parks or, worse still, subjected to the destructive onslaught of the bulldozer and the developer, it is encouraging to learn that the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the US Library of Congress plan to digitize all Arab and Muslim scientific records. The information, showing clearly the great achievements of Arab Muslim civilization, will be available free of charge on the Internet through the World Digital Library.

This is very significant and important news. One of the aims of the library, to be launched by UNESCO early next year, is the promotion of international and intercultural understanding. Access, at the touch of a mouse, to proof of past Arab scientific prowess will promote just that. For Arabs and Muslims, it will be cause for pride and should help strip away the destructive sense of intellectual inferiority to Western culture that has been such a debilitating element in much of Arab thinking over the past century. For non-Muslims, especially those who through blindness or malevolence continue to regard Muslims as backward and ignorant, it should be an eye-opener and thus do much to improve relations between the two groups

Quite simply, the story of Arab and Muslim scientific excellence centuries ago is not the private property of only Arabs and Muslims. It is one for the entire world, Muslim and non-Muslim, to celebrate....

More on OA to the primary sources of law

Graham Greenleaf, Philip Chung and Andrew Mowbray, Emerging Global Networks for Free Access to Law: WorldLII’s Strategies 2002-2005, SCRIPT-ed, 5, 1 (2008).  Excerpt:

The main goal of the free access to law movement is to spread free access to such legal information to those countries that do not have it. A by-product of the development of local free access systems should be to prevent provision of a country’s legal information becoming the monopoly of any organisation, whether it be governments, local legal publishers, or international legal publishers.

The secondary goal should be for the local providers of free access to legal information to establish networks which facilitate searches over all of their content, so as to create a facility comparable to the global reach of the multinational legal publishers. This may seem a utopian goal, but some commentators already treat it as plausible, and the network of free access legal information providers has grown to include almost 500 databases of legal materials in less than five years, drawn from 55 countries. This paper focuses on this secondary goal, and is largely about the World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) project, and the context out of which it comes....

Comment.  The same authors published an article with the same title (minus the "2002-2005") in the Journal of Electronic Resources in Law Libraries, vol. 1, no. 1 (2006).  The journal has since been discontinued and the original URL for the article has died.  But see my blogged version of the abstract.

Open textbooks at UCLA

Chris Eldredge, Professors sign on to open-access textbooks, The Daily Bruin, April 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

The free online textbook Professor Jake Lusis uses for his mouse genetics class is the best book he could find.

Students can buy a printed copy of the book, but the microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics professor said many of his students prefer the online version....

Largely because the online textbook in his genetics class has been well-received, Lusis decided to sign a statement pledging to consider open textbooks when deciding on the most appropriate texts for his classes....

The California Public Interest Research Group, which organized the statement, announced 1,000 signatures Tuesday....

“Textbook affordability is a critical issue for today’s students, with textbook costs rising faster than inflation and tuition, textbooks can price students out of higher education,” said [Nicole Allen, textbook advocate for CALPIRG]....

Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education at the Association of American Publishers, said writing a textbook takes an enormous amount of time and the association supports authors willing to donate that time by releasing free online books....

Christine Borgman, professor and presidential chair of the information studies department, signed the statement partly because she was already active in the movement for open access to academic material.

Borgman, who has written about open access in her recent book, “Scholarship in the Digital Age,” said freely available academic information is not necessarily of lower quality.

“There are some very expensive journals that don’t have very good articles in them, and then there are some free open-access journals that are among the top in their field,” she said....

“Publishers aren’t going away, and the open-access movement isn’t either,” she said.

More on libraries and open data

Stuart MacDonald, Libraries in the Converging Worlds of Open Data, E-Research, and Web 2.0, Online, March/April, 2008. (Thanks to Glen Newton.)  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

The new forms of research enabled by the latest technologies bring about collaboration among researchers in different locations, institutions, and even disciplines. These new collaborations have two key features -- the prodigious use and production of data. This data-centric research manifests itself in such concepts as e-science, cyberinfrastructure, or e-research. Over the last decade there has been much discussion about the merits of open standards, open source software, open access to scholarly publications, and most recently open data. There are a range of authoritative weblogs that address the open movement, some of which include: 1. DCC's Digital Curation Blog, 2. Peter Suber's Open Access News, and 3. Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog. The data used and produced in e-research activities can be extremely complex, taking different forms depending on the discipline. In the hard sciences, such as biochemistry data can take the form of images and numbers representing the structure of a protein.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on the OA mandate at the NIH

Peter Suber, An open access mandate for the National Institutes of Health, Open Medicine, April 16, 2008.  Also PDF.  Excerpt:

Table 1: Common misconceptions about the new NIH open access policy



The mandate is to publish in open access journals. The mandate is to deposit in an open access repository (PubMed Central).
The mandate is to bypass journals and peer review. The mandate is to provide open access to articles already published in peer-reviewed journals.
The mandate applies to the published version of articles. The mandate applies to the final versions of the authors’ peer-reviewed manuscripts.
The mandate directs deposits to PubMed. The mandate directs deposits to PubMed Central.
The mandate requires a 12-month embargo on the copy in PubMed Central. The mandate permits an embargo of up to 12 months on the copy in PubMed Central.
The new NIH budget is US$29 million. The new NIH budget is US$29 billion.
The new mandate will last for only 1 year. The new mandate will last indefinitely.
The mandate requires violation of copyright law. The mandate requires compliance with copyright law.

PS:  This table is based on the most common misconceptions I'd heard in the first month after the policy's adoption.  Now I'd add at least one more.  Fiction:  The policy requires deposit at the end of the embargo period.  Fact:  The policy requires deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication.

Update (4/27/08). Ruth Lewis and Cathy Sarli, both from Washington University, independently sent me the same addition. (Thanks Ruth and Cathy.) In my own words:

  • Fiction: The policy is retroactive and grantees must deposit all their previous articles.
  • Fact: The policy is not retroactive and grantees must deposit only those covered by the new policy.
The exact starting date for the policy's application depends on the type of grant and grantee. For most grantees, it starts with articles accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008. Check with the NIH about your own case if you're in doubt.

The Georgia State case and the rise of OERs

John Mark Ockerbloom, Coursepack sharing: An idea whose time has come?  Everybody's Libraries, April 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[The Georgia State case and the OA movement], combined, could lead to some interesting outcomes. If schools, for whatever reason, want to eliminate or minimize payment and permission requirements for course materials, and a growing body of literature potentially useful for course materials is openly available, then we can expect to see schools move towards building coursepacks made entirely, or mostly, of open access materials. They are therefore motivated to find, and build, systems for easily compiling such coursepacks.

Right now, it can be difficult to find suitable open access readings for a class you’re planning on teaching. Tools like OCWFinder help, but they’re more geared towards finding specific existing courses with open access materials (which might be no more than a syllabus and a few assignments in some cases) than finding specific open access readings that might be suitable for a planned course.

But in a world that’s brought us global content sharing systems like Flickr, CiteULike, and PubMedCentral, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine systems that would let instructors provide and share open access course readings more readily. A well-designed, browsable and searchable repository of such readings could provide a convenient way for professors to upload, organize, and disseminate open coursepacks for their students (”Just [go] to the OpenCoursePacks website, and type in the name of my course”, they could say). The same site could also let profs could tag, annotate, and recommend their readings, thereby making it that much easier for other professors to find and include suitable open access content in their own coursepacks. With a good design, and suitable scale and interest, a coursepack sharing site could make a lot more good instructional material widely and freely used and shared....


  • John is right that OA course materials will proliferate.  Many sites already exist:  for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (to cut the list arbitrarily short).  But I don't believe the Georgia State case will directly support this proliferation.  The reason is that the case focuses on fair use, not OA.  Even if the university wins, it will have won the right to make nonprofit digital course packs available to its own students for educational purposes.  It will not have won the right to distribute digital copies to non-students for any purpose, to distribute copies to anyone for non-educational purposes, or to make any copies OA.  At best, victory would allow the Georgia State digital course packs to circulate within Georgia State, but not beyond.  (I'm not considering online leakage unauthorized by the court because --it wouldn't be authorized.)
  • On the other hand, the case may indirectly support the growth of OA.  The case may draw enough attention to the access restrictions on conventional, copyrighted teaching and learning materials that more and more authors, teachers, students, and administrators join the open education movement, and actively encourage full OA rather than mere fair use of TA literature. 

Are digital course packs fair use?

Katie Hafner, Publishers Sue Georgia State on Digital Reading Matter, New York Times, April 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

Three prominent academic publishers are suing Georgia State University, contending that the school is violating copyright laws by providing course reading material to students in digital format without seeking permission from the publishers or paying licensing fees.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Atlanta, the publishers — Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications — sued four university officials, asserting “systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works” by Georgia State, which the university distributes through its Web site.

The lawsuit...may be the first of its kind....

The case centers on so-called course packs, compilations of reading materials from various books and journals. The lawsuit contends that in many cases, professors are providing students with multiple chapters of a given work, in violation of the "fair use" provision of copyright law. The publishers are seeking an order that the defendants secure permissions and pay licensing fees to the copyright owners....

R. Bruce Rich, a partner in the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, which is representing the plaintiffs, said that...Georgia State officials “indicated their view that all of their practices are covered under the fair use doctrine.” ...

Legal precedents exist for cases involving course packs from photocopied material, but experts say the lawsuit against Georgia State is the first to be filed over electronic course packs....

“Publishers have created a market for course materials that is very similar to the market for luxury goods,” said [Susan Crawford, visiting professor at Yale Law School]. “There is only one version available, and at a very high price.” ...

“In academic publishing, we need to find the digital services people really want,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library based in San Francisco. “I wonder if this will turn out to be an ‘attack the innovator’ suit like the peer-to-peer suits for the music industry. Sometimes a bit of slack can help us all discover a winning formula."

Comment.  This is not about OA, so I won't be covering the case in detail.  It's about TA and the fair use of TA literature.  But there are several reasons why I wanted to cover the first appearance of what will clearly be an important case.  (1) I want to set myself up to blog future twists and turns, or commentary, with strong OA connections.  (2) The case may show how far photocopying precedents will be applied to digitization cases.  (3) The case could change or clarify fair use for non-commercial educational purposes.  Any such change or clarification would affect fair use for TA literature, but also fair use for free online literature that had removed price barriers but not permission barriers.  (4) It may show the weight of the first fair-use factor ("the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes") relative to the fourth ("the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work"), or in short, the relative weight of university interests and publisher interests. 

How consistently do repositories share material?

A new funding announcement from JISC:

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) invites tenders for a project to investigate the feasibility of approaches to improve the consistency with which repositories share material.

Total funding of £50,000 is available for this project....

The work will be for five months beginning in May 2008 and ending by 31st October 2008. Tenders should be submitted no later than 12:00 noon on 9th May 2008.

A full version of the ITT can be found [here].

Podcast on the Open Humanities Press

Sigi Jottkandt and Gary Hall spoke about the Open Humanities Press Monday at the University of California, Irvine.  A podcast of their talk is now online.

Update.  Sigi adds by email (quoted with permission):

OHP's Editorial Oversight Group has now approved its first 7 journals for inclusion in OHP. Once the re-design and migration to Open Journal Systems of one of the approved journals is complete, OHP is scheduled to launch later this month or early May.

(Incidentally, one of the interesting things we discovered from giving our series of talks was how little awareness of OA resources there is in humanities fields - Open Journal Systems in particular seemed to be a real revelation to a lot of people. It was good to be able to get the word out.)

How libraries can support open data

Fiona Bradley, A database of data, Semantic Library, April 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[L]ibraries may have missed an opportunity. We have been recommending and linking to various datasets on our websites for years, but there is a huge potential to go beyond this and build something collaboratively and use it as an input for different libraries. Many libraries now take in Open Access Journal records to their catalogues and search engines via DOAJ but there is no reason to not do something similar for Open Data.

Certainly, it is an issue that few of these datasets can talk to each other - but perhaps the move towards a more standards-based Semantic Web will encourage standardisation and interoperability, at least within, for example, individual government departments so that Census records can be analysed against education records....

eIFL tries to balance copyright and access to knowledge

eIFL has written a report on the first global eIFL-IP conference, Advocacy for Access to Knowledge: copyright and libraries (Istanbul, April 4-5, 2008).  Excerpt:

"This was the first time that [representatives from all 40 eIFL member countries] met as a group", said Teresa Hackett, eIFL-IP Programme Manager. "Of course, there are regional and national differences, but as librarians we have one common goal, to provide access to knowledge....[W]e must ensure that there is a balance between copyright protections and access to copyrighted works".

The first day focused on practical issues faced by librarians in their daily work, such as copyright and library services and the role of copyright in digitisation projects. The second day looked at international policy issues and advocacy, especially recent developments at the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

"The influence of U.S. copyright law goes far beyond its shores", commented Jonathan Band, legal counsel for the U.S. based Library Copyright Alliance. "Librarians in developing and transition countries who find themselves confronted with the possibility of higher standards of copyright protections through bi-lateral trade agreements, for example, should know about the U.S. doctrine of fair use and insist that it also be included in their law".

One of the modules in the library copyright curriculum being developed by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, in partnership with eIFL, deals with exceptions and limitations. The draft curriculum was presented by Berkman Fellow, Melanie Dulong de Rosnay to gather comments and feedback from the community....

"There is a real need for librarians working in often extremely difficult contexts, to know more about the practical application of copyright as an enabler, rather than a barrier, to access...", said Laurence Bebbington, Law Librarian and Information Services Copyright Officer at the University of Nottingham in the UK....

More on OA to publicly-funded research in Canada

The British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) has released its April 13 comments to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, to aid the committee's inquiry into federally funded research performed by universities.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Excerpt:

BCLA believes that federally funded research should be openly accessible to everyone, everywhere. Taxpayers, whether they are individual or businesses, should have access to the results of research that they have funded....

Rural doctors and other health professionals have a right to the results of the very latest research funded by Canadian tax dollars. Their patients have a right to benefit from this access for their health professionals, and they also have a right to read the research literature for themselves, if they choose.

All Canadians benefit from public access to the results of federally funded research. If a civil servant, politician, teacher, parent, or school trustee is able to make a better, more informed decision because they have access to the best and latest knowledge; this is for the good of all.

BCLA strongly supports the principle and practice of Open Access. The association adopted a Resolution on Open Access in 2004, and is recognized on the Open Access Timeline as one of the first library associations in the world to do so....

In Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council adopted open access in principle in 2004, and currently has a pilot Aid to Open Access Journals program. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs, requiring open access to funded research within 6 months of publication. Genome Canada and the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance have policies requiring open access to the research that they fund....

Data exchange among disparate repositories

ECS developers win $5000 repository challenge, a press release from the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), April 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

Developers from ECS, Southampton, and Oxford University won a $5000 challenge competition which took place at the OR08 Open Repositories international conference.

Dave Tarrant, Tim Brody (Southampton) and Ben O'Steen (Oxford), beat a large field of contenders, including finalists from the USA and Australia, by demonstrating that digital data can be moved easily between storage sites running different software while remaining accessible to users (watch video). This approach has important implications for data management and preservation on the Web....

[W]ith the growth of institutional repositories alongside subject-based repositories, and in cases where multiple-authors of a paper belong to different institutions, it is important to be able to share and copy content between repositories.

Meanwhile the repository space has become characterised by many types of repository software - DSpace, EPrints and Fedora are the most widely used open source repository software - containing many different types of content, including texts, multimedia and interactive teaching materials. So although sharing content and making it widely available (interoperability) has always been a driver for repository development, actually moving content on a large scale between repositories and providing access from all sources is not easy.

The OR08 challenge, set by the Common Repository Interfaces Group (CRIG), had just one rule for the competition: the prototype created had to utilise two different 'repository' platforms....

This data transfer was achieved using an emerging framework known as Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE), a topic that attracted one of the highest attendances at OR08....

Comment.  Congratulations to Tarrant, Brody, and O'Steen.  I look forward to the day when institutional repositories can harvest full-texts and metadata from disciplinary repositories and vice versa.  That will greatly reduce the temperature on the question where researchers initially deposit their work (and where universities and funders require them to deposit their work), and greatly increase the security of deposits (on the LOCKSS principle).  Thanks to ORE and the tools developed by the Southampton-Oxford team, this day is not far off. 

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

...The demonstration of the bulk transferability of the contents of one OAI-compliant repository to another is indeed welcome. It shows that it does not really matter from the point of view of either accessibility or harvestability where a research output is deposited (as long as it's in an OAI-compliant repository). But where it is deposited still matters a great deal for the probability of research output being deposited at all, and especially for the probability of deposit mandates being adopted at all -- particularly deposit mandates on the part of institutions, who are the providers of all the research output, funded and unfunded, across all disciplines....

Open textbooks for community colleges

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources is a new blog, launched in February 2008.  (Thanks to The Cite.)  From the about page:

The primary goal of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources is to identify, create and/or repurpose existing OER as Open Textbooks and make them available for use by community college students and faculty.  We are seeking the support of faculty to identify, review, evaluate, and make available high quality, accessible and culturally relevant model Open Textbooks.

The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement...encourages the creation of free, high-quality content for community college courses to replace commonly used textbooks.  By promoting OER, community colleges can create sustainable academic resources for students and provide professional development opportunities for faculty....

Survey on open data in evolutionary biology

Here's a survey on open data due today.  Sorry I didn't notice it earlier.  (Thanks to Mario.)  From the survey introduction:

Together with a consortium of evolutionary biology journals and scientific societies, the U.S. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the UNC Chapel Hill Metadata Research Center are establishing a digital repository that will allow users to store and retrieve the data that underly published works in the field.

As part of that initiative, we are studying attitudes and practices in data sharing among evolutionary biologists. We are inviting all evoldir readers (including students, postdocs, educators and researchers) to help in this effort by completing a short survey....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

OA textbook statement

The MakeTextbooksAffordable campaign has released the Open Textbooks Statement to Make Textbooks Affordable.  From today's announcement:

One thousand professors from over 300 colleges in all 50 states released a statement today declaring their preference for high-quality, no-cost open textbooks over expensive, commercial textbooks. 

Open textbooks are complete, peer reviewed textbooks written by academics that can be used online at no cost and printed for a small cost.  What sets them apart from conventional textbooks is their open license , which allows users flexibility to use, customize and print the textbook.  Open textbooks are already used at some of the nation's most prestigious institutions --including Harvard, Caltech and Yale -- and the nation's largest institutions --including the California community colleges, Arizona State University system, and Ohio State University.

"Open textbooks are comparable, affordable and flexible competition for traditional expensive textbooks," said Talya Bauer, Professor of Management at Portland State University.  "Not only do they save students money, but they provide instructors with a high-quality textbook that they can customize to meet their needs."

Textbooks cost students an average of $900 per year , which is a quarter of tuition at an average four-year public university and nearly three-quarters of tuition at a community college, according to a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"Textbooks can price students out of higher education.  With costs rising faster than inflation and tuition, some students are faced with the difficult choice to drop out, take on additional debt, or undercut their own learning by not purchasing textbooks," said Nicole Allen, Textbooks Advocate for The Student PIRGs.

Research conducted by The Student PIRGs identifies publisher tactics as the primary cause of escalating prices.  Bundling textbooks with unnecessary supplements forces students to purchase items they do not need; unnecessary new editions undermine the used book market; and withholding critical price information keeps faculty in the dark....

For more information, visit [the Open Textbooks Statement to Make Textbooks Affordable]....

PS:  It's not too late to sign on to the statement.

The OA tsunami

Lee C. Van Orsdel and Kathleen Born, Periodicals Price Survey 2008: Embracing Openness, Library Journal, April 15, 2008.  The latest installment in the superb series of annual reports on journal prices and the state of OA (2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003...).  Van Orsdel is the Dean of University Libraries at Grand Valley State University, and Kathleen Born is Director of the Academic Division at EBSCO Information Services.  Excerpt:

They have argued about it for years. It's been touted as the liberator of information that wants to be free, the arbiter of shared intellectual property rights, and an engine that can drive discovery, invention, cures, and economies. It has also been vilified as an assault on capitalism, a catalyst for the collapse of responsible publishing and the rise of junk science, and a naïve invention of some pointy-headed idealists who have no idea how the real world works. “It,” of course, is open access (OA)....

[The OA] campaign has produced a series of startling successes in recent months, with potentially profound implications for the journal publishing industry.

First came a long-awaited mandate, signed into law on December 26, requiring the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide open access to grantees' peer-reviewed research articles within 12 months of publication. As blogs hummed with speculation about how libraries would be affected and whether publishers would take it to court, another shoe dropped. The European Research Council announced the first European Union (EU)–wide mandate on January 10, calling for grant recipients to put research articles and supporting data on the web within six months of publication. As that news was being absorbed, 791 universities in 46 European countries voted unanimously to endorse OA mandates for faculty at their institutions and to support other mandates for access to publicly funded research.

The OA tsunami crested on February 12. In a move few anticipated, Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted unanimously to give the university permission to post their scholarly articles in an institutional repository....

On other fronts, the pace of publisher experimentation with open access and other alternative publication models picked up a bit in 2007, with CERN's SCOAP3 project attracting the most attention....

There was little relief to be had from the high cost of journals, with Oxford University Press offering the rare exception when it used income from author fees to reduce subscription costs in its hybrid journals for the second year in a row, just as it promised....

Before NIH even posted its operational guidelines, statements from the American Chemical Society (ACS), Professional/Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP/PSP), and International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers condemned the measure, claiming among other things that it takes away the intellectual property rights of publishers without compensation and threatens the practice of peer review.

Guidelines published by the NIH describe a different reality. Adherence to copyright law is required....

The terms of the Harvard decree are similar to those of the NIH's, but publisher response is more muted—perhaps because it was created by the very scholars whose manuscripts fuel the current publishing system....If other universities follow suit, the Harvard mandate may well end up as a for-profit publisher's biggest nightmare —the hole in the dike through which a deluge may pour....

The numbers seem to support [Roger Clarke's] findings [that publishing OA journals cost less than publishing TA journals]. This is the first year any of the large STM publishers have offered a full OA journal—among others, Elsevier launched OncologySTAT and Springer, Neuroethics. By contrast, a large number of nonprofit society publishers already have established OA journals. A study by Peter Suber and Caroline Sutton reported in SPARC's Open Access Newsletter (11/2/07) found that 427 societies publish 496 fully OA peer-reviewed journals....

The most notable experiment in flipping both commercial and society publications to an OA business model is CERN's SCOAP3 project, in which all of the partners that support publishing in particle physics, including libraries, are being asked to redirect subscription monies into a common fund that will pay publishers for open access to particle physics research. The end goal is to make the literature of the discipline fully open to any researcher. As of mid-March, 50 percent of the needed funds had been pledged by libraries in 13 countries....

New feature at the DOAJ

The new titles page at the Directory of Open Access Journals now allows users to sort the list by date added or journal name, and to view only the titles added between a given pair of dates.

This will make it much easier to track the growth of the index, track the growth of OA journals overall, and spread the word about new titles.  (Many thanks to all at the DOAJ.)

OA policy at Sweden's University College of Boras

Sweden's University College of Borås has adopted an OA policy encouraging faculty to deposit their journal articles in the institutional repository, Borås Academic Digital Archive (BADA).  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  From the version of the policy on deposit in ROARMAP:

3. All employees at the University College of Borås must register their publications in BADA.

4. Everyone who has received financial support by the University College of Borås for their dissertation work is expected to publish their dissertation in a series that belongs to the University College of Borås. This does not prevent the dissertation to be published in another university series as well. The dissertation should also be published in BADA.

5. Scientific journals often have a policy stating that manuscript of articles (with certain restrictions) also can be published in an open digital archive. All employees at the University College of Borås are recommended to deposit manuscripts to BADA according to the rules and regulations of the journal, and if such rules and regulations are lacking the author should request permission to publish the article in BADA.

6. All employees at the University College of Borås are encouraged to, according to SUHF (The Association of Swedish Higher Education) recommendation; publish their scientific articles in an Open Access journal when there is an appropriate one.

7. All student theses from the University College of Borås should be published in BADA. Library & Learning Resources does no longer accept print student theses from 2008 and forward....

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments on the Borås policy:

UCB's policy is...excruciatingly close to being a picture-perfect Green OA mandate -- and could...easily be transformed into one (which would make it the planet's 42nd OA mandate, and Sweden's 1st)....

The all-important distinction UCB has failed to make is the one between (a) depositing a document and (3) making it Open Access.

The full text of a document can always be deposited in an Institutional Repository and made Closed Access....

Then there is the option to make the deposit Open Access. This can be done in accordance with the journal's copyright policy. 62% of journals already endorse immediately making the deposit Open Access....

For the remaining 38%, I strongly recommend that UCB implement the "email eprint request" Button, which makes it possible for authors of Closed Access Deposits to provide individual copies to eprint requesters semi-automatically during any embargo period.

All that needs to be done is to change the word "register" in clause 3 above to "deposit".

In clause 5, the word should not be "published" but again "deposit" in the first sentence; and then replace "deposit manuscripts to BADA" "make the deposited manuscript Open Access" according to... etc....

Public comments on the EC green paper

In September 2007, the European Commission released the preliminary results of the public comments on its green paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives (April 2007).  It has now released the final results (April 2, 2008).  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)  Excerpt:

...Over 70% of respondents call for open access to scientific raw data from publicly funded research and 84% call for immediate and improved access and dissemination of publicly funded peer-reviewed scientific publications, though industrial respondents stress the need for limitations due to legal conformity, commercial sensitivity, etc. Scientific publishers underline the added value that they bring to the scientific process and the fact that they are open to new models of knowledge dissemination....

Finland and Poland see open access publication as pivotal to knowledge transfer and Finland considers that it should be promoted not only at EU level but also internationally. Switzerland’s National Science Foundation has recently introduced the principle of open access which is already in place at CERN....

Both EP [European Parliament] and EESC [European
Economic and Social Committee] support open access to research publications and, with some nuances, to publicly funded research results....

One of the most significant remarks about the roles of EU, national and regional policies in establishing the ERA is that “European-wide structures and schemes should constitute a balanced mix of approaches respecting and facilitating bottom-up research activities, combined with strategic guidance and coordination where this serves European policy objectives.” In this regard, two universities suggest that “the EU should be more active in...[promoting] the establishment of open access repositories, and supporting academics in using them.” ...

Most respondents consider that the current situation does not facilitate the creation and operation of new infrastructures, and that a new model legal EU framework or guidelines should be developed covering issues such as access, conditions of use and intellectual property rights....

In terms of access to peer-reviewed scientific publications, a large library emphasises that “there are still significant barriers to access in researchers’ information channels”, a situation which leads to “unbalanced and ineffective knowledge sharing, so limiting the potential of the ERA.” An industry association highlights that “To achieve excellence in European research, the broadest possible access to the state-of-the-art knowledge must be guaranteed for all researchers, in private as well as in public... However […] in many instances giving immediate and totally open access to the results of publicly funded research may not be in the long-term and best interests of EU citizens… Publicly funded research especially in cutting-edge areas of technology, can potentially give rise to valuable intellectual property rights which if properly managed by the relevant public research institution can give rise to tangible benefits (e.g. through the creation of revenue streams) which can be used to support general educational aims or increase further the scale and quality of the European science base.” ...

Scientific publishers underline the added value that they bring to the scientific process and the fact that they are open to new business models provided that their costs are covered. One major publisher states that they are “concerned at the possible development of a policy … that requires researchers to post their accepted author manuscripts in a repository in a single specified time frame”, and consider that “such a one-size-fits-all policy would be detrimental to journals because each journal’s economic and usage profile is unique, and that such a policy would harm science and its beneficiaries.” Many publishers also call for the Commission to collaborate closely with them, in order to find possible solutions to the question of researcher access to publications.

While publishers recall the economic importance of
current copyright arrangements, a governmental research body questions their underlying principles: “… current copyright law should be evaluated with a view to finding ways in which the law guarantees scientific authors the right to publish their research results under an open access regime….”

Comment.  As I said when the preliminary results came out last fall,

There's nothing new in these comments, pro or con....It's time for the EC to adopt the recommendations from the study it sponsored in 2006, [implement the recommendations from EURAB in January 2007, implement the recommendations in the EU-wide petition from February 2007], firm up its commitment to its own policy guidelines in the communication of February 2007, and give effect to the policy arguments of the overwhelming majority of the respondents to the green paper.  There are enough studies and surveys.  It's time to act.

More on the Canadian OA movement

Last week Dean Giustini blogged Part I of a projected two-part history of the Canadian OA movement.  This week, instead of blogging Part II, he made the two parts into a single wiki entry (in the UBC Health Library Wiki) where anyone can help enlarge and improve it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Recent additions to DOAJ

The following journals were added to the Directory of Open Access Journals in the past week (or so).

Comment. New DOAJ listings don't necessarily represent new journals, or journals newly converted to OA. There may be considerable delay between a journal's announcement or first OA issue and its listing in DOAJ. But being listed in DOAJ is significant in itself, so we thought we'd blog the additions each week. If you have a comment about this, feel free to contact myself or Peter.

How the internet is changing anthropology

Owen Wiltshire, Sharing knowledge: how the internet is fueling change in anthropology, another anthro blog, April 11, 2008.

... This presentation serves as the basis for my main thesis proposal. ...

A brief outline yanked from the powerpoint…

  • Decolonizing anthropology - juicy quotes from Vassos Argyrou, and Max Forte
  • Public Anthropology - juicy quotes from Kerim Friedman, and Kimberly Christen
  • Online Prestige - (Bourdieu, Khazaleh) -> the political economy of publishing in anthropology
  • Three main research areas
  1. The Filtering Knowledge debate - Peer review, social ranking,
  2. The Open Access debate - creative commons, open access journals, licensing and law
  3. Public engagement - the language/content debate.

OA projects in South Africa

Eve Gray, The state of the nation 2008 - belatedly, Gray Area, April 8, 2008. An overview of some activities on OA and open education in South Africa.

PLoS ONE rankings in Faculty of 1000

Niyaz Ahmed, PLoS ONE’s strides at the Faculty-of-1000-Biology, Niyaz Ahmed's Blog, April 11, 2008. (Thanks to Bora Zivkovic.)
... Faculty of 1000 Biology is a web based, authoritative, next generation literature awareness tool. Run by the Medicine reports Limited (UK), it is a revolutionary online research service that comprehensively and systematically highlights and reviews path-breaking papers based on the recommendations of a faculty of well over 2300 selected leading researchers ("Faculty Members"). This service is run by scientists for scientists and provides ‘a rapidly updated consensus map of the important papers and trends across biology’. ...

... I did some analyses involving tools at F1000Biology to know how inclined are the opinion leaders in biological sciences about PLoSONE articles given that the Faculty Members of F1000 have been traditionally ‘jumping’ to articles from a few top tier journals such as Nature or Cell. Good to say, the trend is reversing, although slow. Here is how - I was very much pleased to note PLoS ONE’s visible impact; 55 of the 1241 articles (4.4%) published in PLoS ONE in 2007 have been evaluated and recommended by the experts at F1000Biology. What this means in terms of impact? As a comparison I modeled PLoS ONE statistics alongside one highly established journal, Nature (the only journal with which PLoS ONE can be compared due to its multidisciplinary nature). A total of 349 articles out of 2892 (12%) published by Nature in 2007 were evaluated at F1000Biology. ... Other 66 Open Access titles (all BMC series + Genome Biology put together) from Biomed Central (4740 articles in 2007) could yield only 47 evaluations at F1000Biology (0.9%) during 2007. Given that BMC titles are also freely available, it is intriguing to know what makes PLoSONE so successful at F1000? In my perception - it is the high quality of the articles plus the ease with which they can be judged on face - PLoSONE sandbox makes it extremely simple for the evaluators to quickly pick the articles based on notes, referee’s comments, ratings, reader responses and community feedback etc. ...

Finally, I do not know how useful will be these initial statistics on F1000 ratings; but, I am sure this could mean a good indicator for the prospective authors at PLoSONE (especially in the absence of any bibliometric index such as Impact Factor) to foresee its reputation and peer-acceptance that the journal has earned in a short time.
Niyaz Ahmed, Latest PLoS ONE evaluation at Faculty of 1000, Niyaz Ahmed's Blog, April 14, 2008.
... On an average about 5% of PLoSONE articles are evaluated on the Faculty of 1000 at a given time, which roughly means a fourth position in terms of number of evaluations, after Science (~17% of the published articles evaluated), Nature (~15% of the published articles evaluated) and PNAS(~15% of the published articles evaluated). ...

How to text-mine PubMedCentral

The ChemSpider blog contains a post, dated April 6, reacting to the question by Peter Murray-Rust about the ability to conduct automated information extraction from PubMedCentral.

Having blogged on this before I think it important to emphasise that you CAN spider PubMed Central. They even have their own utilities designed specifically for the mass downloading of articles in the form of an OAI feed. What you cannot do is spider the article URLs directly (you must use the XML) because this is forbidden in robots.TXT and you will be blocked on this basis.

PubMed Central is one of the most innovative and open chemistry resources on the web with fantastic metadata and article retrieval tool sets designed to facilitate (not prevent) the spread of chemical information at no cost.

OA databases of pharmaceutical info

Vikas Anand Saharan, Important Free Access Databases, Pharmaceutical Sciences Open Access Resources, April 11, 2008. A list of links with descriptions.

Duke UP to collaborate on Project Euclid

Cornell University Library and Duke University Press Announce Partnership, press release, April 11, 2008.
... Cornell University Library and Duke University Press today announced that they have established a joint venture to expand and enhance the services of Project Euclid, the premier online information community for mathematics and statistics resources from independent publishers.

Effective July 2008, Duke will provide publishing expertise in marketing, sales, and order fulfillment to Project Euclid's participating publishers and institutional subscribers. Duke will work to broaden and deepen Project Euclid's subscriber base, resulting in greater global exposure for 54 journals and a growing number of monographs and conference proceedings. Cornell will continue to provide and support the vital IT infrastructure for Project Euclid and assume responsibility for archiving and preservation activities, ensuring robust and reliable access to the content deposited with Project Euclid for future scholars, researchers, and students.

Now home to 93,000 journal articles (75% of which are open access), along with 60 monographs and conference proceedings, Project Euclid and its partner publishers will benefit from Duke's commitment to Project Euclid's mission and from the Press's publishing proficiency, reputation for quality consciousness, and university-based value system. ...

"A collaboration that pairs the complementary strengths of a leading research library and a university press from different universities is an extraordinary move. The result is nothing less than securing the future of alternative publishing options for independent presses in the fields of mathematics and statistics," said Anne Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, Cornell University Library. ...

Open data going mainstream?

Rufus Pollock, Open Data Going Mainstream?, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, April 10, 2008.

Bret Taylor’s recent post entitled “We Need a Wikipedia for Data” has been garnering a lot of attention around the blogosphere. While his suggestions are not particularly novel, the post and the attention it has garnered, is, I think, indicative of the growing interests in the issues of (open) data and its importance for the development of related services and products. ...

... [T]his kind of interest from a wider audience indicates that issues of data openness and production are going mainstream — something we as a community should strongly welcome.

Harold Varmus NPR interview online

The interview with Harold Varmus, former National Institutes of Health director and chairman of the Public Library of Science's board of directors, on National Public Radio's Science Friday, is now online. See also commentary from evolgen, Donna Wentworth at Science Commons, and Grumpator.

A comment to bloggers. I do my best to credit blog posts by the author's real name. However, if you blog under a psuedonym and don't make it easy to find your actual name, I may not. Unless you want me to attribute your writings to your silly Internet handle, you should include your name somewhere prominent (if not on every page, on the "About" or "Contact" page).

Liberating old documents

Erik Ringmar, Liberate and disseminate, Times Higher Education, April 10, 2008. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)
... I've taken it upon myself to start an organisation called MLOP, the "Movement for the Liberation of Old Papers". What I do is hack into restricted websites, download the documents I'm interested in, and then use my favourite open-source paint program to remove the copyright statements from each page. Next I assemble the pages into one single pdf file and upload it to the Internet Archive, where it will become universally available to both researchers and citizens. Yes, it does take a bit of time, but it's a very worthy cause (and I have a hardworking research assistant to help me). ...

Why not join me in my revolution? It's easy and fun. If you have a university affiliation, you have access to all kinds of restricted material that easily can be redirected to an open-access website. Do it! If you have a scanner, you can even raid your university library and share the loot with the rest of us. Serve the common good and liberate an old document today!

OA breast cancer journal celebrates 10th anniversary

Breast Cancer Research, an OA journal published by BioMed Central, celebrated its 10th anniversary at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting on April 12, 2008. See the press release.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

EC lays down EURAB, launches ERAB

European Commission nominates high-level advisory group on research and science, a press release from the EC, April 11, 2008. 

The European Commission announced today the names of 22 personalities who will make up the European Research Area Board (ERAB). These persons come from the fields of science, academia and business and will provide independent and authoritative advice to the European Commission on European research and science policy, whose objective is to realise a European Research Area.

Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Science and Research said: "The debate on the Green Paper on the future of science in Europe has shown that there is strong need and support for making research in Europe more European. This can only be done in partnership with Member States, the research community, business and many other stakeholders. I count on the new ERAB to advise me and the Commission services on how we can facilitate the development of a true European Research Area."

ERAB is expected to play a key role in helping to develop, promote and evaluate policy initiatives and actions to meet the goals of the European Research Area. It underlines the importance the Commission attaches to drawing on independent expertise and advice in a policy area that is set to further climb on the EU's political agenda. One of ERAB's key tasks will be to provide the Commission with an annual report on "the state of the European Research Area".

ERAB succeeds and builds on the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB), whose mandate ran from 2001 to 2007. In its Green Paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives, the Commission announced a reform of EURAB in order to enhance its role. Over the course of six years EURAB issued over 30 reports and recommendations including on: ...Scientific publication: policy on open access....

The members of ERAB have been appointed in a personal capacity. The list of members was proposed to the Commission by an independent high-level committee, established for this purpose in 2007.... 


  • I've posted frequently in the past about Potocnik's April 2007 green paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives.  The good news is that the green paper asks (in Question 21) whether the EU needs an OA mandate.  The bad news is that Potocnik and the European Commission already had abundant evidence that the answer was yes, making it hard to shake the suspicion that the question itself was a delaying tactic designed to disregard the existing evidence and start over.  When the green paper appeared in April 2007, Potocnik and the European Commission had already aired the question at the EC-hosted Brussels conference of February 2007.  In the build-up to the conference, they received strong OA recommendations from an EC-sponsored study in 2006, a December 2006 statement from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), a January 2007 report from the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB), and a petition signed at the time by more than 20,000 European researchers and research institution (and signed today by more than 27,000).  The EC's own Research Directorate-General --which also released the green paper-- supported OA in its February 2007 Communication (p. 7):  "Initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced on the basis of public funding."  BTW, over 80% of the public comments on the green paper endorsed an OA mandate for the EU.
  • Another reason for discouragement is that the birth of ERAB means the death of EURAB, whose OA recommendations were among the strongest and most careful ever crafted.  Why did the EC have to lay down EURAB and launch a successor?  The two groups seem to have the same mission --to advise the EC on science policy.  And EURAB had years of experience and institutional memory.  Again, it's hard to shake the suspicion that part of the reason is to delay serious policy-making by putting aside existing advice and asking for new advice.
  • There is good news, however, in that at least three of the 22 nominees to serve on ERAB are supporters of OA:  Robert Aymar, Director General of CERN, Georg Winckler, President the EAU, and John Wood, former Chairman of ESFRI and CCLRC and current Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London.  (There may be many others; I'm not familiar with most of the names.)
  • Two pleas for ERAB:  Start where EURAB, the EU petition, and the public comments on the green paper left off, and work for the widely-supported OA mandate for the EU.  Don't delay this long-awaited and deeply-vetted policy by starting over.

Milestone for Protein Data Bank

The OA Protein Data Bank has reached the milestone of archiving 50,000 molecular structures.  More detail in Wednesday's press release from Rutgers University:

The Protein Data Bank (PDB) based at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) this month reached a significant milestone in its 37-year history. The 50,000th molecule structure was released into its archive, joining other structures vital to pharmacology, bioinformatics and education....

[T]he PDB is the single worldwide repository for the three-dimensional structures of large molecules and nucleic acids. This freely available online library allows biological researchers and students to study, store and share molecular information on a global scale.

Officially founded in 1971 with seven structures at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the archive is managed by a consortium called the worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB).

Today, the PDB archive receives approximately 25 new experimentally determined structures from scientists each day - and more than 5 million files are downloaded from the PDB archive every month....

'Advances in science and technology have helped the archive grow by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years,' said Helen M. Berman, director of the RCSB PDB and Rutgers Board of Governors professor of chemistry and chemical biology, noting that the size of the PDB has doubled in just the last three and a half years....

Official launch of Queensland IR

The University of Queensland has officially launched its institutional repository, UQ eSPACE.  From Friday's announcement:

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield AO has formally launched UQ eSpace, The University of Queensland's open access institutional repository....

University Librarian and Director of Learning Services, Mr Keith Webster said that UQ eSpace already had some 7000 documents and tens of thousands of images, which would be enhanced by the addition of a further 50,000 references of UQ staff research publications in the near future.

UQ eSpace allows scholars around the world to discover UQ research and research output in the repository is picked up by popular search engines like Google. Already the most popular paper in UQ eSpace has been downloaded more than 20,000 times.  Professor Greenfield congratulated the Library on the development of UQ eSpace, which played an important role in raising the visibility of UQ research to the world....