Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two on OA at San Jose

The San José University School of Library & Information Science has released videos of Janelle Weaver (of PLoS) speaking on Open Access to Biomedical literature and Heather Joseph (of SPARC) speaking on Open Access.  San José doesn't indicate at what event they spoke, or when (except that it was in 2008).

Economic impact of OA on STM publishers

The Groupement Français de l'Industrie de l'Information (French Association of Electronic Information Industry, or GFII) has announced a new research project, Réalisation et expérimentation de scénarios économiques dans le domaine de l’édition scientifique technique et médicale (Implementation and testing of economic scenarios in STM publishing), April 22, 2008.  The project is supported by the government Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche (Ministry of Higher Education and Research). 

Read the project description in the French original or in Google's English.

Update.  The GFII study will be undertaken in parallel with a similar study from TGE ADONIS announced on March 20, 2008.  Read about the ADONIS study in the French or Google's English.

Presentations from Repositories Services Day

The presentations from Repositories Services Day (Nottingham, April 23, 2008) are now online.  All nine are OA-related.

More notes on Economies of the Commons

David Bollier has blogged some notes on Economies of the Commons: Strategies for Sustainable Access and Creative Reuse of Images and Sounds Online (Amsterdam, April 10-12, 2008).  Excerpt:

What happens when video, music and information can be distributed for free, or nearly so? Well, we’re about to find out —and many of our largest, most capitalized institutions are going to feel the repercussions. Many barriers that once kept information artificially scarce —things like copyright law, digital rights management, and limited bandwidth and computing power— are under siege, if not collapsing. Some people are predicting that copyrighted works will experience a “Bear Stearns moment” in the future, when prices of copyrighted works plummet. An IP bubble, as it were....

[Jamie King] said we need to learn to “love abundance. Stop trying to keep people away from your work. Didn’t you make it to be seen?” King believes that the new distribution models are immensely appealing because you don’t have the compromise your artistic vision—unlike commercial television or film distribution, which forces producers to squeeze their creativity into specific demographic pigeonholes. He also believes that most existing pay models are ultimately doomed because they won’t be able to compete with free distribution. The point is to develop a business model that exploits free distribution, rather than trying to defend an indefensible bulwark of artificial scarcity....

Web-mining a repository of learning objects

Yang Ouyang and Miaoliang Zhu, eLORM: learning object relationship mining-based repository, Online Information Review, 32, 2 (2008) pp. 24-265.  The DOI-based URL currently returns an error message.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.

Purpose – This paper aims to explore the feasibility of using web-mining technology on learning object (LO) usage information to discover the LO relation pattern and provide valuable recommendations on related learning resources.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper proposes three kinds of learning object relation patterns and gives a specific definition of each pattern based on analysing the learners' usage data stored in the learning object repository. These relation patterns can be used to make effective recommendations to learners.

Findings – LO usage data indicate the potential relation patterns between LOs. By using web-mining technology on the usage data, it is possible to discover valuable relation patterns.

Originality/value – The authors propose a set of LO relation patterns and indicate how they are closely related to users' learning behaviour.

April Charleston Advisor

The April issue of the Charleston Advisor is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles. 

New OA journal on commentary, glossing, and marginalia

Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the City University of New York.  It hasn't published any issues yet but has released a call for submissions.

Good news, bad news, for OA in Biblical studies

Alan Lenzi, The Open Access Monograph Series That Almost Was, Bible and Ancient Near East, April 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

It's official. The open access electronic monograph series in Bible and Ancient Near East that I have been working on for the last several months is now defunct. I thought when I wrote about this project here that the post would be very different --a debut announcement. But recent events have convinced me that there is something even bigger and better coming our way. . . . and I'm invited to help make it happen.

What am I talking about?

I have been working on starting an electronic open access monograph series, a series of books published on the web in PDF format (think Journal of Hebrew Scriptures but with books instead of articles). I had four respected and well-known scholars committed to serve on its editorial board; I was the managing editor. We had submission guidelines written. We developed a web site, had a PURL redirect in place, and were getting ready to announce the series to the scholarly public in order to start seeking manuscripts....

Good idea, huh? Free books. Peer-reviewed, searchable text, universal access. So why is the series defunct?

I got an email last Sunday night that let me know about something similar but much bigger, and they want me to work on the project. I can't go into details, but all biblical scholars reading this should start talking up "open access" to your friends, colleagues, librarians, and tenure review committees. The publishing wave of the future for scholars will be open access: electronic books freely available on the web. Scholars rarely make money on their monographs. And few individuals or libraries can afford to buy from print publishers all of the monographs they'd like to access....Open Access is the solution. Now we just have to get scholars and tenure review committees to accept it. (I've already heard from the tenure committee at my university: open access or not, all that really matters is PEER REVIEW status.)

I hate to string people along, but I hope to be able to tell you more about the bigger and even more exciting project soon.

Orphan Works Act of 2008

Andrea Foster, Legislation to Ease Problem of Orphan Works Is Introduced in Congress, Wired Campus, April 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

Congress is revisiting the longstanding problem of orphan works. These are books, films, photographs, music, and other creative works that cannot be reused by scholars and archivists because they are unable to find the works’ owners. Those who make use of the material risk incurring penalties for copyright infringement. Experts estimate that as much as 22 percent of an academic library’s books are orphaned....

Lawmakers who lead committees on intellectual-property issues on Thursday introduced legislation that would exempt scholars and others from facing excessive copyright-infringement penalties for using orphan works. They would need to first diligently try to locate the works’ owners. Should the owners surface after a work has been reused they would receive some compensation, but could not stop the derivative creation from being distributed.

The bills, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008, S. 2913, in the Senate; and the Orphan Works Act of 2008, H.R. 5889, in the U.S. House of Representatives, are supported by the Association of Research Libraries, the Internet Archive, and the Recording Industry Association of America, among other groups....

More on the Science Commons open data protocol

Thinh Nguyen, Freedom to Research: Keeping Scientific Data Open, Accessible, and Interoperable, Science Commons, April 23, 2008.  (Thanks to the Science Commons blog.)  Nguyen is the Counsel for Science Commons.  Excerpt:

...As an outgrowth of our work with the scientific community, we at Science Commons have had our own paradigm shift. The result is the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data, a set of principles designed to ensure that scientific data remains open, accessible, and interoperable. Creative Commons' announcement of the beta CC0 waiver is another milestone in this shift; the waiver is a new legal tool, along with the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL), that implements the Protocol....

Before developing the Protocol, Science Commons offered guidance to scientific database providers through the Science Commons Database FAQ. This document explained how and when it was best to use Creative Commons licenses for databases. In general, it encouraged providers to apply Creative Commons licenses only to copyrightable content, while also encouraging them to clarify that no restrictions or obligations were asserted on facts, ideas, and other uncopyrightable content.

There were two problems with that approach. First, it proved very difficult, not only for scientists but also for lawyers and legal scholars, to provide useful guidance on when copyright stops and the public domain facts begin. This problem is compounded when multiple jurisdictions are involved, as is the case with collaborative online global databases. Second, facts and ideas may also be protected as such in some jurisdictions under a database copyright theory, or under sui generis database rights, or both....

The core insight behind the Science Commons Data Protocol is that the solution to these problems is to return data to the public domain by relinquishing all rights, of whatever origin or scope, that would otherwise restrict the ability to do research (i.e., the ability to extract, reuse,
and distribute data). The goals of the Protocol are to keep data open, accessible, and interoperable, and its virtues lie in its simplicity, predictability, and consistent treatment of users and data....

Changes in academic publishing

K.A. Wallace, Marketing Ideas, Science Progress, April 10, 2008.

... If the “markets” for scholarly works are changing, and developments in digital technology—the cyberinfrastructure—suggest that they are, then academic authors and institutions need to take a very different stance towards the conditions under which authors’ works are published and distributed, and to become much more actively involved in reshaping the digital publishing world.

Whether the interest is profit or dissemination, academic authors need to stop signing restrictive publishing agreements. First, if there is profit to be had, academic authors should have a fair share of it. ... Second, for purposes of dissemination, authors may be poorly served by a standard restrictive publishing agreement which grants publication and distribution rights exclusively to the publisher. ...

Universities, too, have an interest in how this new world is structured. As things stand now, universities already pay the salaries of academic authors, and hefty subscriptions to journals and research databases. Thus, when a university has to pay copyright fees it could, ironically, and unlike corporate clients, end up paying twice or even thrice for the use of material. ...

At the same time, individual attempts to negotiate with publishers may not be a sufficiently coordinated action to make a dent in current publishing practices and to overcome each individual’s interest in publication for other reasons—for example, getting their ideas published, prestige, tenure, and promotion. All the more reason, then, for scholarly organizations and universities to get into the act if humanities and social science scholars are really going to reorient themselves to the technology and new economics of digital publishing. Even in the sciences, which are ahead of the humanities and social sciences in terms of grappling with the implications of digital publishing, a huge amount of scientific scholarship still lives behind a subscription wall, earning publishers huge amounts of money. ...

Universities, too, need to engage in coordinated, systematic action to facilitate more reasonable conditions for the dissemination of ideas that is the lifeblood of research. ...

Blog notes from Drexel Scholarly Communication Symposium

Marc Meola, Web 2.0 and Open Science, ACRLog, April 18, 2008. Blog notes from Scholar2Scholar (Philadelphia, April 16, 2008).

Podcast interview on OA

Bora Zivkovic, Open Access in Italian, A Blog Around The Clock, April 20, 2008.
The podcast of the radio interview with Derek Law and me about Open Access is now available online. Most of the show is in Italian, but if you cannot understand it, our interview is in English and it starts at the 22:07 minute point.

UN U. joins Open Training Platform

United Nations University joins UNESCO's Open Training Platform, press release, April 15, 2008.
The United Nations University (UNU) is the ninth UN agency to join the Open Training Platform (OTP). This UNESCO-powered hub offers free training resources on 21 development topics, fostering cooperation to provide free and open content for development. ...

This one year old web portal keeps on growing in terms of content (2100 resources in April, +100 in March only), traffic (60,000 visits since its creation) and members sharing resources (1500).

In order to further assess the use and usefulness of the Platform, as well as to identify improvement needs, a wide-scale evaluation starts today online. ...

You are therefore invited to participate in this survey available from:

In addition to the “Training-on-demand” function already available, new services will be available shortly, such as the Francophone version and the customisation option for any interested communities or networks. These parallel efforts aim to even better serve the local people learning needs and to reinforce the active participation of development stakeholders. ...
See also past OAN coverage of UNU's OpenCourseWare portal.

Checklist: IRs for institutional management

From Les Car (via Peter Suber on April 18):
Comments are requested on a draft document from the presenters of the "Research Assessment Experience" session at the EPrints User Group meeting at OR08. The "Institutional Repository Checklist for Serving Institutional Management" lists 13 success criteria for repository managers to be aware of when making plans for their repositories to provide any kind of official 'research reporting' role for their institutional management. Although institutional research reporting lays increased burdens on the staff, the processes and the infrastructure of the repository, the unanimous conclusion of the presenters at the OR08 session was that the effort is worthwhile, with the end result being recognition of the repository and inclusion of its staff in the highest level decision making committees of the University. The document is available from the OR08 repository ... The recommendations of the document are platform neutral, and comments are warmly invited from managers of ... any ... institutional repository software.

SPARC, et al. thank Rep. Doyle re: NIH policy

SPARC and others sent a letter (dated April 8; posted April 17) thanking Congressman Mike Doyle for his leadership supporting the NIH public access policy. The signatories are: the American Association of Law Libraries, the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Greater Western Library Alliance, SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), and the Special Libraries Association.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Recommendations to JISC on access

Alma Swan, Key Concerns Within the Scholarly Communication Process, Key Perspectives, March 2008.  A report to the JISC Scholarly Communications Working Group.  While the report is dated last month, JISC only announced it today.  Excerpt:

The main findings regarding concerns about accessibility were:

  • Availability does not equal accessibility: researchers’ top concern about scholarly communication is that they cannot access all the content they wish to access...
  • The main problem with discovery is coming up against an access barrier
  • Researchers do not always know how to seek out a freely-available copy of an article that they want and which they have discovered behind a toll barrier...
  • Discovering research datasets can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Accessing them once discovered can also be difficult, requiring specialised software tools
  • e-journals are extremely popular and researchers would like all their journals delivered digitally. Access problems occur when digital backfiles are not available, when the subscription to a journal is cancelled and access to the backfile ceases or when site licence terms debar some users
  • Site licences may debar certain constituencies of user, such as remote workers, off-campus workers or visiting faculty not normally based on campus
  • Access to research monographs is a concern. Researchers in the arts and humanities, where monographs are the most important literature type, perceive that access is reducing and that this is because the purchase of monographs is suffering because the science journal budget is taking an increasing proportion of the library’s funds....
  • Accessing intrinsic data – facts that reside in the text of an article – is made difficult by the preponderance of PDF as an output format. XML is the optimal format for authoring and specialised mark-up languages can be built upon that
  • Researchers remain poorly informed about Open Access. Awareness is growing but still only slowly and there remain many misconceptions. Researchers are eager to maximise their own impact and reputation but do not understand what means and opportunities are available to them...

We have made a set of recommendations that we hope will help to resolve the main issues by pragmatic, practical intervention or by further study. Each recommendation is assigned a letter that indicates its category: A (advocacy), O (operational or technical), P (policy), R (research) and S (service).

Recommendations on accessibility

A1 It is recommended that JISC commissions a study to assess the access problems of researchers working in ways that are outside traditional norms. – those in research pools, working in multi-institutional interdiscipinary teams and those working remotely from the employing organisation. The study should attempt to assess the cost to scholarship of these problems and evaluate the role of Open Access in resolving them (R)...

A3 JISC should engage senior research managers and policymakers in the UK with the new developments in scholarly communication and inform them of the importance at both institutional and national levels of new mechanisms and routes for communicating research and teaching information. The engagement could be by relating to the implications of the new developments and models at institutional level in competitive terms, both economic and performance-related (P)

A4 JISC should reinforce existing efforts to inform and educate researchers in matters relating to Open Access for their work, explaining and emphasising the value of Open Access for themselves, their institutions and wider stakeholders. That dissemination of their own work contributes to resolving the access problems they experience should be part of the message. Guidance on how researchers can now actively manage their own profile and impact should be included (A)

A5 A study is needed to look at adding value to institutional repositories with a view to identifying ways of increasing the impact and use of Open Access collections. The study should produce an overview of what types of added value exist, which have proved most successful in attracting usage, what user requirements can be identified that might be translated into effective new ways of adding value and what the cost/benefit position might look like (R)

A6 Guidance should be produced informing researchers of the importance of producing generic (general purpose) tools for accessing and manipulating datasets. The guidance should encourage them to put this good practice into effect and investigate whether there are real barriers to them doing so (A)...

A11 JISC should commission a study on the economic characteristics of, and business models for, Open Access publishing of monographs. Identification of the existing barriers to Open Access for this form of output and what might overcome them, and what the cost might be, should be part of the work (R)

A12 JISC should commission a study into successful models for Open Access journal publishing in the arts and humanities. The study should focus on instances where no publication fee is required and should identify the key factors for success, barriers and problems and sustainable business models. A cost/benefit appraisal would also be needed (R)

A12 JISC should consider offering start-up funding for business and operational planning and training therein for new Open Access journal initiatives and Open Access community resource developments in the arts and humanities (O)...

Researchers complain about restricted access to information yet their own dissemination behaviour does not match up to their access expectations. Researchers are not making their work Open Access for a number of reasons, listed here in order of importance:

  • they are unaware of the concept
  • they are aware of the concept but uninformed as to how to provide it for their own work
  • they are aware in principle of what is needed but unsure of how to go about this in practice
  • they are ill-informed and do not make their work Open Access because of spurious fears and unfounded worries, mostly centred on copyright but sometimes on the ‘prior publication’ issue...
  • they think that placing work on their websites is an adequate substitute for depositing in a repository and have a poor appreciation of what institutional repositories are trying to achieve in general
  • they do not know about, or understand, data on impact for their own work and do not know how to find out how their performance measures up against their peers using new metrics. Consequently, they do not understand how to maximise their own impact and manage their research profile...

Comment.  The findings are very helpful for showing how much faculty education is still necessary, and on which points.  The superb recommendations arise naturally from these findings.

MIT guide for authors on NIH policy

Ellen Duranceau, NIH Public Access Policy of 2008: New Guide for MIT Authors Available, MIT Libraries News, April 10, 2008.

... The MIT Libraries have developed a step-by-step guide for MIT authors who need to comply with this policy. In addition, the MIT Libraries’ Scholarly Publishing & Licensing Consultant is available to assist MIT authors in complying with it. ...

Comment. Neither Peter nor I can get the link to work. Is it restricted to the MIT campus?

The difficulty of studying IR users

Dawn Schmitz, The Seamless Cyberinfrastructure:  The Challenges of Studying Users of Mass Digitization and Institutional Repositories, Council on Library and Information Resources, April 2008.  Excerpt:

...While research has provided insight into the practices and behaviors of potential and actual depositors of content into IRs, little is known about the users of IRs and mass digitization....

As the cyberinfrastructure becomes more complex, new ways of learning about its use must be developed. This may not be easy. As Covey (2002) notes, “The methods for assessing new resource delivery evolve at a slower rate than do the resources themselves.” Yet it is worth the effort to take up the challenge of devising these new methods. Greater attention to understanding the user experience will benefit academic libraries attempting to manage IRs and massdigitization projects and will make them sustainable. If they are to produce more value for all their stakeholders, libraries must understand precisely how largescale, resource-intensive cyberinfrastructure initiatives further institutional missions and user-service goals.

From the summary of the report in the March/April CLIR Issues, Who Uses Institutional Repositories and Mass-Digitized Collections?

...While acknowledging that mass digitization and IRs are two distinct types of initiatives, the author argues that their differences are less important to the user than they are to the librarian....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What would you do with OA to PSI?

If you get free data, what will you do with it?, Free Our Data: the blog, April 19, 2008.

Our challenge to you: if you get free data, what will you do with it?

The question has some urgency because if you can think of what you’d like to do with data from the Land Registry, Companies House or the Met Office, then you could be in line to be the first to benefit from it - and show the benefits of making more data free. ...

OA to Darwin's private papers

On April 17, several thousands of Charles Darwin's private papers were made freely available in digital form online. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, where the papers were posted, also hosts digitized OA versions of numerous Darwin publications and manuscripts. See coverage from Wired, the BBC, or Reuters.

EPA conducting "National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information, apparently started April 16. Through June 2008, the agency is soliciting public comments on use of and access to environmental information. Individuals can respond to topics on the site or email a comment. A video from the agency's chief information officer is also available. A chat on the topic was held today; the transcript is now available. (Thanks to Free Government Information.)

New screencast on using Open Conference Systems

Public Knowledge Project has produced an instruction screencast (posted April 22) for users of its Open Conference Systems on submitting a proposal to a conference using OCS.

Popular comic's publisher not concerned about OA archive's impact on sales

Brad Stone, Scott Adams Hands "Dilbert" Pen to Fans, Bits, April 18, 2008.
... United Media, “Dilbert’s” syndicate, is revamping ...

... The new site also features a free “Dilbert” archive that will soon date back to the strip’s inception ... United Media thinks this will boost the strip’s overall popularity rather than cutting into sales of paperback collections and calendars. ...

OA to federally funded research

Oregon claims copyright on its laws

Via Boing Boing and the Sunlight Foundation comes the news that the U.S. state of Oregon is sending cease & desist letters to sites reproducing Oregon's statutes (which are freely available from the state legislature's Web site), asserting copyright in the laws. One of the C&D recipients claims they were told that similar letters would not be sent to Thomson West, who also reproduces the statutes without a license.

Social aspects of open science

richard, Open science 0.9 beta, spreadingscience, April 18, 2008.

Open Science is really in the very early stages. It may very well evolve into an important adjunct for research. Collaborations are the prime driver of much of today’s science. ...

Currently, collaborations are usually set up using well known social networking skills honed through years of experience. Who you know is important. What Open Science holds the potential for, when it comes to collaborations, deals with who you don’t know.

OS can leverage an online community so that connections can be made that would have been difficult or impossible if face time was required. However, it will take a little work, like porcupines mating, to make this really effective. ...

[T]rust and reputation will have to be a part of OS, particularly since the participants may not meet face to face. But reputation and trust are a common problem with many Web 2.0 approaches.

One way Web 2.0 surmounts this is the very openness and transparency that gives it power. Ebay, for example, would not work if people did not trust the seller to have the item and the buyer to have the cash. Being able to see how each rates the other help establish trust. ...

Now OS will not be like Ebay, which is a site of commerce. But the power of many eyeballs watching the interactions will help apply social norms to the most egregious behavior. A reputation lost in the open like this will be very difficult to untarnish. ...

Paying for a print edition of Wikipedia

Noam Cohen, A Slice of German Wikipedia to Be Captured on Paper, New York Times, April 23, 2008.  (Thanks to Catherine Rampell.)  Excerpt:

...In Germany, a printed collection of Wikipedia articles is being produced for the first time by a major publisher, Bertelsmann.

The book, “The One-Volume Wikipedia Encyclopedia,” which will go on sale in September for 19.95 euros (almost $32), is an odd experiment in reverse publishing....

A printed volume would seem to negate the benefits of an online encyclopedia [in scope and interactivity].....

While [Beate Varnhorn, the editor in charge of Bertelsmann’s reference works] said the idea was an experiment, with a 20,000-copy initial press run....

Bertelsmann had a staff of 10 condense and verify the material found online....

Bertelsmann agreed to pay one euro per copy sold for use of the Wikipedia name, which will help support the site’s operation, according to [Arne Klempert, the executive director of Wikimedia Germany].

But he added: “It is not about the money. It is a very good example of the power of free knowledge, so anyone is free to use the content and do interesting things with it. It’s a nice experiment to see if the Wikipedia content is good enough to sell books.”


  • To me, this is interesting primarily because it shows a major book publisher willing to test the possibility that an OA edition is compatible with a priced/print edition, and might even boost its sales.
  • The project also shows some confidence in Wikipedia itself.  Bertelsmann is betting that people willing to pay for a print encyclopedia will be willing to pay for a print edition of Wikipedia.
  • For buyers, clearly some of the added value is the layer of verification added by Bertelsmann staff.  But I wonder whether another layer is the abridgement itself.  If so, here's a new business model for TA publishers:  add value to OA originals by selecting, verifying, and abridging them. 

Update.  Klaus Graf has collected some critical comments on the Wikipedia book from German scholars.

Skills for knowledge workers

Cristóbal Cobo has listed 19 skills for knowledge workers.  Excerpt:

13. [Be] aware of the importance to provide open access to information....

Improving text mining, short of OA

Structured Digital Abstracts - Easier Literature Searching But Not Democratic, Bitesize Bio, April 24, 2008.  Excerpt:

FEBS Letters is this month carrying out an interesting experiment that could make literature searching easier for both human and computers....

Structured Digital Abstracts (SDA)...are extensions of the normal journal article abstracts that describe the relationship between two biological entities, mentioning the method used to study the relationship. Each sentence is preceded by one or more identifiers pointing to the corresponding database entries that contain the full details of the interaction e.g. protein A interacts with protein B, by method X.

The aim of SDA is to assist data entry, text mining and literature searching by extracting the salient data from the article into simple sentences using a defined structure and controlled vocabularies....

This month’s edition FEBS letters contains a number of articles annotated with SDA, along with some articles on SDA itself.

This is a simple but very good idea and I would certainly appreciate anything that makes literature searching easier.

But I can’t help noting the delicious irony in the title of the first article in the issue that trumpets the arrival of SDA: “Finally: The digital, democratic age of scientific abstracts”.

The first irony is that reading this article on digital democracy requires a subscription to FEBS Letters....

Wouldn’t the flow of information be better served if everyone just published in open access journals?

Belgian institute joins SCOAP3

More submissions on Canadian Science and Tech policy

Last week I blogged the comments of the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, on the committee's inquiry into federally funded research performed by universities.  This week more submissions have been made public.  (Thanks, inter alia, to ZeroPaid.)

From the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic:

...Scientific data is the lifeblood of innovation. The Canadian government generates a huge volume of scientific data, both directly through the research activities of scientists employed by the government, and through its role funding the three federal research granting institutions. This data serves Canada best, generates innovation most, and advances knowledge most significantly, when it is openly accessible without restrictive licensing terms. Openly accessible data supports further research in both the public sector and private sector and allows for an efficient process for science to make its way from the lab into innovations that benefit Canadian researchers and businesses. This is not a controversial position: around the world, governments are making scientific data, generated through public funds, accessible to the public. The United States and the European Union, in particular, have moved rapidly over the past couple of years to improve access to publicly funded research. The Canadian government should follow suit, or risk undermining innovation and hampering the global competitiveness of Canadian businesses....

There are three areas in which the Canadian government could embrace open access. 

First, the government itself holds huge volumes of publicly-funded scientific data. Unfortunately, under cost-recovery programs that paradoxically attempt to restrict the flow of this data to researchers, businesses, and individuals, government agencies often distribute this data in restrictive formats that impose complicated and onerous licensing conditions. Occasionally, agencies will restrict further dissemination of the data for fear of “competition” with the agency. This approach actually undermines Canada’s policies supporting commercial research and innovation, and should be scrapped in favour of an open access policy.

Second, Canada’s federal research granting institutions – the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – should mandate open access publication of data assembled through its funds. This could generate enormous repositories of scientific data and generate opportunities for public and private innovation. The funding agencies [such as the CIHR] are already starting to move in this direction. ...

Third, many of Canada’s academic institutions are also strongly in support of open access. Universities are beginning to publish open access journals and are encouraging their academic to publish their material in open access repositories. However, universities could use guidance in developing the institutional policies necessary to implement and maximize the benefits of open access. The federal government has a role to play in facilitating universities’ transition to the open access model....

Our submissions with respect to Crown copyright are closely related those with respect to open access: works authored at taxpayer expense best serve the public interest where the public is free to access, use, modify, and redistribute them without interference from the government....

From Michael Geist:

While typically optional, a growing number of funding agencies are moving toward a mandatory requirement.  These include the National Institutes of Health in the United States, the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom, and the Australian Research Council....

Canadian funding agencies have only recently begun to catch-up to their counterparts.  In 2008, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research implemented a new policy that requires all grant recipients to make every effort to ensure that all publications are freely accessible through the publisher's website or an online repository within six months of publication....

While the CIHR policy change is a positive development, Canada's other two federal granting institutions have been less receptive to open access mandates. To date, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has only launched a small open access pilot project after opposition from publishers such as the University of Toronto Press short-circuited bolder plans. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has proven even more apathetic, as internal documents reveal that Council personnel admit that open access is not a priority.

The failure to lead on this issue could have long-term negative consequences for Canadian research. Given the connection between research and economic prosperity, this Committee should work to maximize the public's investment in research by prioritizing open access.  Using the United States and the European Union as a model, the Committee should recommend that all three federal research granting institutions unlock innovation by building open access requirements into their research mandates....

In addition to the open access mandate, the Committee should recommend that the government identify the raw, scientific data currently under its control and set it free....

From Tracey P. Lauriault:

Formulation of national policy on free and open access to public natural, physical and social scientific data and research data.

Rationale:  Currently the government of Canada has a monopoly on publicly funded social, science and technological data.  The public funds scientific research which collects data, the government also collects and maintains public data for governance purposes....SSHRC has a policy on making research data accessible but has neither incentive structures in place nor an infrastructure to make their publicly funded research results and their associated data accessible to the public.  It is the same for ENSERC. There is no National mandate, policy or mechanism – as in infrastructure – in Canada to make public data freely - as in no cost - and easily accessible - as in useable - to the public.  There is a Byzantine cost recovery policy rigidly adhered to by Statistics Canada and other government agencies, and restrictive use licenses which impede citizen’s access and use of these data.  This is odd since citizens by law must provide these data yet are subsequently asked to pay for them a second time over and above taxation! A cost recovery policy also means that municipalities, provinces and federal departments each have to pay for these data, and at times many times over as there is no coordination of data acquisitions within these organizations.  The public purse is therefore dipped into multiple times for a non-rivalrous good.  Further, restrictive use licenses impede multiple uses of public data that could be put to public good and to stimulate innovation.  Numerous economic studies conducted in the EU, UN and US demonstrate that free public data with liberal use licensing regimes lead to private and social sector entrepreneurship....

From Russell McOrmond:

...As with public funding of research, a condition of public funding for educational institutions should include that the results of work paid for in these institutions be publicly available.  This should include government mandates for academic papers to be published in Open Access journals [PS: or deposited in open access repositories?]....

From Heather Morrison:

...The results of federally funded research performed in government and higher education should be made openly accessible to all. The taxpayers (individuals or businesses) who have funded this research have a right to read the results, without having to pay again....

Open Access is the best way to achieve maximum benefit from Canadian research dollars....

Governments and universities around the world have developed, or are developing, policies requiring open access to the results of research that they fund....

Here in Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs requiring open access to results of CIHR-funded research, within 6 months of publication. Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council adopted a policy in favor of open access in 2004, and currently has a pilot Aid to Open Access Journals program. The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance and Genome Canada have open access policies, and other research funders in Canada are considering such policies....

SPARC/DOAJ seal for OA journals

SPARC Europe and the Directory of Open Access Journals have launched their Seal for Open Access journals program.  From yesterday's announcement:

...[T]he maximum benefit from [the growing number of OA journals] is not being realised as confusion surrounds the use and reuse of material published in such journals.  Increasingly, researchers wish to mine large segments of the literature to discover new, unimagined connections and relationships.  Librarians wish to host material locally for preservation purposes.  Greater clarity will bring benefits to authors, users, and journals.

In order for open access journals to be even more useful and thus receive more exposure and provide more value to the research community it is very important that open access journals offer standardized, easily retrievable information about what kinds of reuse are allowed.  Therefore, we are advising that all journals provide clear and unambiguous statements regarding the copyright statement of the papers they publish.  To qualify for the SPARC Europe Seal a journal must use the Creative Commons By (CC-BY) license which is the most user-friendly license and corresponds to the ethos of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

The second strand of the Seal is that journals should provide metadata for all their articles to the DOAJ, who will then make the metadata OAI-compliant.  This will increase the visibility of the papers and allow OAI-harvesters to include details of the journal articles in their services.

‘We want to build on the great work already done by the publishers of many open access journals and improve the standards of open access titles,’ said David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe.  ‘Working with the DOAJ means that we can provide help and guidance to journals who wish to move beyond the first step of free access to full open access and our long-term aim is to ensure that all journals listed in the DOAJ can attain the standards expressed within the Seal.’

‘Improving the standards of the rapidly increasing numbers of open access and contributing to the widest possible visibility, dissemination  and readership of the journals is very much in line with our mission,’ said Lars Björnshauge, Director of Libraries at Lund University....

‘Legal certainty is essential to the emergence of an internet that supports research. The proliferation of license terms forces researchers to act like lawyers, and slows innovative educational and scientific uses of the scholarly canon,’ said Johan Wilbanks, Executive Director of Science Commons. ‘Using a seal to reward the journals who choose to adopt policies that ensure users' rights to innovate is a great idea. It builds on a culture of trust rather than a culture of control, and it will make it easy to find the open access journals with the best policies.’

‘This is an excellent program with two important recommendations.  CC-BY licenses make OA journals more useful, and interoperable metadata make them more discoverable.  The recommendations are easy to adopt and will accelerate research, facilitate preservation, and make OA journal policies more open and more predictable for users....,’ said Peter Suber....

Comment.  I love this idea.  As I said in the announcement, I support both conditions for the seal:  the CC-BY license and the interoperable metadata.  But I also support the way SPARC Europe and the DOAJ are trying to bring about this change:  setting a good standard, helping journals reach it, and recognizing those who do.  Here's how I put it last November when SPARC Europe and the DOAJ offered a pre-launch glimpse of the program:

...I like the way it's bottom-up rather than top-down, and decentralized rather than centralized.  I like the way it focuses on the endorsement and support of respected organizations rather than on the control of word usage.  I like the way it will provide new clarity and precision without requiring the agreement of everyone using a certain word or phrase [like "open access journal"].  I expect that it will succeed in making OA journal policies, on average, more consistent and more open.  And I like the way it will have that kind of unifying effect while at the same time respecting pluralism through its compatibility with similar programs from other organizations supporting a different standard....

Some background on Bentham Open, but just some

Richard Poynder, The Open Access Interviews: Matthew Honan, Open and Shut?  April 23, 2008.  This is another thorough Poynder interview.  It covers Bentham's progress toward the goal of 200 OA journals (178 launched to date), its policy on fee waivers and discounts (for authors from developing countries and for editors), its 90 subscription-based hybrid journals, its "limited OA option" (half of the standard publication fee for just 12 months of OA), the use of CC-BY license in the OA journals, the forthcoming self-archiving policy for Bentham's subscription journals (permitted only after a 12 month embargo), Honan's view of OA mandates from funders and universities, and Honan's responses to criticism of Bentham's practices.  I encourage you to read it all.  If it doesn't give a more complete picture of Bentham, it's not because Richard didn't ask the right questions.  Excerpt:

...Last April [Bentham Science Publishers] announced its intention of launching 300 new Open Access journals by the end of the year. The audacity of this announcement should not be underestimated. After all, it has taken BMC eight years to build up a portfolio of 185 OA journals. And at the time of its announcement, Bentham itself was publishing less than 100 subscription journals. Unsurprisingly, therefore Bentham later reduced the number of new journals it planned to launch to 200....

[I]f Bentham was to achieve its goal it would need to recruit hundreds of researchers to act as chief editors, thousands to sit on the editorial boards of the new journals, and thousands more to submit papers to these journals. Consequently before long a constant stream of email invitations was flowing into the inboxes of researchers around the world.

At first the strategy appeared to be working. After all, being on the editorial board of a scholarly journal is a much-cherished ambition for researchers, and the kudos attached to being a chief editor an even more attractive goal; likewise, their constant hunger to be published means that researchers are always on the lookout for publishing opportunities....

After the first flush of enthusiasm, however, researchers began to question Bentham's activities, not least because many of the invitations they were receiving seemed decidedly badly targeted. For instance, psychologists were being invited to contribute papers on ornithology, health policy researchers were being invited to submit papers on analytical chemistry and economists were being invited to submit papers on sleep research...

To add insult to injury, some of the invitations researchers were receiving were addressed to a completely different person, or the name field was empty, and addressed simply to "Dear Dr.,"...

By March of this year, senior health care research scientist at the University of Toronto Gunther Eysenbach had had enough. Publicly criticising Bentham's activities on his blog, Eysenbach complained..., "All pleas and begging from my side to stop the spamming, as well as clicking on any 'unsubcribe' links did not stop the spam plague from Bentham."

For others, the experience of being targeted by Bentham proved even more frustrating. When Professor John Furedy, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, received an invitation to be editor-in-chief of the Open Behavioral Science Journal he initially accepted. But after doing so he found himself being bombarded with further invitations. And when Bentham failed to reply to the questions he raised about the new role he had taken on he decided the best course of action was to withdraw his acceptance, reluctant to be associated with a company that behaved in this way. Even though he had resigned, however, Furedy was surprised to see that his name had been added to the list of editors on the journal's web site. And despite repeated requests to Bentham to remove it his name remains there to this day.

I too had by now begun receiving copies of Bentham's invitations — not because I was on its mailing list, but because frustrated researchers were forwarding them to me, and asking me to find out what the dickens was going on.

So I emailed various Bentham directors (including Richard Scott and Matthew Honan), all of whom — with the exception of publications director Mahmood Alam — completely ignored my messages. Moreover, while Alam replied, he proved decidedly unwilling to answer my questions, despite repeated promises that he would. He was equally unwilling to put me in contact with anyone else at the company.
I also tried calling the various telephone numbers on the Bentham web site, only to be greeted by voicemail messages. Personally I knew nothing whatsoever about Bentham, so for all I knew it might have been the front for some form of Internet scam.

In the hope of enlightening myself, therefore, I posted a message to a couple of mailing lists....I also began to receive private emails with information about Bentham, including the home phone number of Honan, which was sent to me by a publisher concerned that Bentham would bring the scholarly publishing industry into disrepute.

To his credit, when I called Honan he agreed to speak to me then and there and, with one notable exception, answered all my questions. He was, however, adamant that Bentham is not engaged in any kind of spamming. "The criticisms that you have levelled against the company for spamming are unjustified," he said, adding that by posting my message I had only served to "amplify" a few small errors that the company had made.

Honan also insisted that the company always honours requests to be removed from its mailing list, and added that it is doing no more than any other scholarly publisher....Those researchers who had continued to receive messages after opting had had multiple email addresses, he explained, saying, "We have had very few complaints, and we respond to the complaints that we receive — which are very few in comparison to the number of emails we send out." He did however apologise for any errors that had been made....

"Bentham once enjoyed a reputation as a high-priced reputable scholarly publisher," comments Charles Oppenheim, professor of information science at UK-based Loughborough University, another researcher to be targeted by Bentham.
"In my view, it has damaged that reputation...."

Eysenbach, meanwhile, is less forgiving. Indeed, he is so angry that he is considering suing Bentham under anti-spam laws....

As is now evident, Bentham is not a communicative company. And while it has a presence in four countries — the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and Illinois, USA — in all four jurisdictions the contact point is either a PO Box, or c/o address....

[T]he one thing that Honan refused to tell me is who owns Bentham Science Publishers....

For [Stevan] Harnad there is a clear lesson to be learned. "Let it be an example to Bentham and other publishers that this is not the way to go about starting up journals. It merely gives the publisher, as well as online- and OA-journal publishing, a bad name." ...


  • For more than a year, like Richard, I've received emails from researchers wondering what was going on.  I shared the suspicions of the suspicious, but couldn't answer their questions and wanted to leave room to distinguish a scam from a clumsy start-up.  I commend Richard for the hard work of pulling together the most complete picture for public discussion.
  • Honan says that the company carefully targeted its emails and made only a few mistakes.  I wish this were true.  But if Bentham knows that researchers are good enough to invite to join an editorial board, then it must know at least the fields in which they work.  He says that Bentham will remove anyone from its email lists, or journal mastheads, if they contact the company.  If this wasn't true before, I hope it will be true now.  He will not name the owners of the company and will not say why.  This is very inauspicious, and the owners, whoever they are, should know that.
  • I applaud Bentham's use of CC-BY licenses for its OA journals.  That is good without qualification.  However, the policies for its subscription/hybrid journals are not nearly as enlightened.  I'm dismayed that Bentham still does not have a self-archiving policy for its TA journals.  (I asked Honan about this in January, and he replied that the company was thinking about it.)  I'm also dismayed that the policy previewed here would impose a 12 month embargo on self-archiving.  That's the longest embargo on green OA I know, and hard to square with Bentham's support for OA.  Because the Bentham TA journals offer a hybrid OA option, the restriction on self-archiving appears to be a way to steer authors toward the OA option and and its publication fees.
  • Finally, I'm not as happy with Bentham's "limited OA option" as Honan is.  His rationale is that "the number of citations a paper receives tends to decline after 12 months. So we don't want to charge somebody a lot of money to have their article up for an indefinite period, when the number of citations they receive will all occur in the first six to twelve months...."  That's true, but only half the story.  It omits the fact that publishers can rarely generate significant revenue from access fees on older articles. Hence, it's in their interest, not just the author's interest, to make articles OA forever once they are OA for 12 months.  Publishers have much more to gain from long-term OA (through increased visibility, citations, submissions, and good will) than from the trickle of revenue they'd get by moving an article behind a pay wall.  If Bentham can cover its expenses with the half fee plus subsequent trickle, then its full fee is too high --or Bentham hopes that the the option to pay a discounted fee for temporary OA will function as pressure to pay a full fee for permanent OA. 


I'm just back from a three day trip, in which I seem to have stumbled into the twilight zone of cyberspace.  While I was away, all my outgoing emails went to limbo and disappeared.  Even the copies I sent to myself never arrived, something I was too busy to notice until Day 3.  Among the unrecoverable messages are personal emails to correspondents, listserv posts, and items for Gavin to blog.  I'm now trying to remember, reconstruct, and resend these messages, but I'm sure I'll forget something.  If you were expecting an email from me and don't hear from me soon, please don't hesitate to write again.

BTW, apart from my frustration, I'm simply baffled by this problem, since I sent the messages from at least three different ISPs.  If anyone has a diagnosis, I'd love to hear it.

Please bear with us as we catch up in our blogging of recent news.

Rockefeller UP supports NIH policy, again

Mike Rossner, Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press, has released his April 21, 2008, letter to the NIH.  Excerpt:

Dear Dr. Zerhouni,

Once again, I am compelled to respond to a letter [April 16, 2008] from Allan Adler [of the Association of American Publishers] and Martin Frank [of the DC Principles Coalition] regarding the mandate on public access to NIH-funded research. The private meetings between yourself and this particular group of publishers (who continue to imply in their letters that they speak for all publishers) are now legendary. How many times will they insist on meeting with you before they acknowledge that they have been given a chance to have their say?

Compliance with the NIH mandate by publishers is the right thing to do, is simple to do, and is the law. There is no need for a further rulemaking proceeding.

Many of the implementation issues raised in the April 16th letter could be resolved if these publishers simply cooperated with PubMed Central and deposited their published content there, for release to the public after 12 months. I trust that they consider their content sufficiently interesting to the scientific community to sustain subscription revenues by selling access during the first 12 months post-publication.

It seems that this group of publishers is primarily concerned with sustaining the substantial profits they make on the backs of public funding and through their reactionary stance on intellectual property. It is time to move forward with implementation of the mandate using 21st century principles, by which the people who did the research retain rights over its distribution.

PS:  For background, see some of the earlier open letters in which Rossner supports OA and the NIH policy against the AAP and DC Principles Coalition.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Report from Latin American OA conference

Dora Ann Lange Canhos and six co-authors have released a report on last year's conference, Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development (Atibaia, Brazil, May 8-10, 2007).  Excerpt:

...There is confusion about ownership and assignment of copyrights by authors and research institutions. Some publishers use copyright as a tool against the broader interests of the publicly funded research community. The exclusive assignment of authors’ copyrights to publishers blocks access and reuse of journal articles, especially through text mining and other automated knowledge extraction applications. These technological benefits from open access online need to be better exploited, while the technological barriers to such automated applications from digital rights management software need to be mitigated.

The potential economic benefits and network effects of online scientific data and information also are poorly understood and this lack of understanding undermines support for open access publishing and deposits, which would enhance the value of this material through much greater availability and use. The potential social benefits of open access are known and appreciated even less than the economic effects. Additionally, the financial sustainability of open access models needs to be better understood and addressed for the long term.

It was noted that accessing high impact-journals for research workers in the small island countries is practically impossible because neither the research institutions nor the researchers themselves can afford the journals from publishers such as the American Chemical Society, the Royal Chemical Society, Wiley, or Elsevier. The pressure on the publishers to be more responsive to these countries' needs should come from international organizations like the Inter-Academy Panel, TWAS, and ICSU.

It also is difficult in the Caribbean to develop open access repository systems because of the lack of knowledge by many educated people regarding the benefits of open access to the research community. There is also a big problem to deal with the legal practitioners who are spreading unnecessary fears among people (e.g., scientists and musicians) about losing their intellectual property rights. This can be partly remedied by organizing workshops on open access in the Caribbean Islands with the help of various international organizations....

More on the OA implications of the Georgia State lawsuit

GSU E-Reserves Suit Moves E-Reserves Discussion into the Light, Library Journal Academic Newswire, April 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Others shot down the notion of libraries not supporting the system. "[Coursepacks] are incredibly expensive, have no resale value, are terribly uncomfortable to carry around, and half of its contents the student already owns (has paid for before)," responded "Mary M." on Inside Higher Ed. "If publishers want to be fair, then be fair. But if they just want to extend their lousy business model (apply the same cost structure from print to digital), then let them become the eventual victims of their own stupidity." She also bristled at those that sought to turn the issue to one of morals. "The idea of calling classroom use of an article 'theft' is so grotesque a misapprehension of what's going on here and so antithetical to how scholars see things that my…question is: do these publishers any longer know their constituency?"

Librarian Dorothea Salo at Caveat Lector posted an interesting reaction to the suit. "If I were the Georgia State library," she wrote, "I'd play hardball. No e-reserves for anybody, and let faculty go whine at the AAP." In an earlier post from 2005, Salo explained that libraries would do well to expose the costs of their services to scholars. "Call out the AAP from behind the curtain," she wrote. "Look faculty in the eye and say, calmly, 'no, we can't put this on e-reserve, because fair-use is endangered everywhere and the AAP is making lawsuit noises-but why don't you and I contact the article authors and ask if they'll post a preprint we can link to? And by the way, are you posting your own preprints for others?" Salo said libraries must "draw a thick black line connecting what faculty do and what they have access to, because right now they don't see it."

Northwestern University Libraries' Claire Stewart wrote a detailed post on the library's copyright blog, hitting at a central frustration of the case. "Publishers are not at all specific about their thresholds for acceptable use," she writes, "leaving us to wonder whether they would consider any reserve use fair."

Perhaps the most remarkable reaction came from University of Texas' Georgia Harper. On her blog, Harper said reading Stewart's blog "pushed the last little piece into place." That piece --open access (OA). "The same struggles the industry is going through to figure out how to make the economics of OA work for journals are going to come to monographs next and then why not educational publishing?" she wrote. "Books can be freely accessible without authorship, editing, peer review and distribution falling into the gutter. Do we know how right this minute? Maybe not. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. Do we need to figure it out? Absolutely. Will we? Absolutely."

100K items digitized by U of Iowa

As announced on on April 16, there are now 100,000 items in the Iowa Digital Library. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

OA to 1,000 digitized versions of Jewish Passover text

Dovid Zaklikowski, Library Makes 1,000 Rare Haggadahs Available Online, Chabad-Lubavitch News, April 15, 2008. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

The central Chabad-Lubavitch library in New York made 1,000 Passover Haggadahs, many of them rare, available on the Internet for browsing by the public. The Agudas Chasidei Chabad Library has one of the largest collections of the Passover orders of service in the world. ...

The posting at represents close to half of the library's total Haggadah collection and is part of chief librarian Rabbi Sholom Ber Levine's goal of making the library more accessible to the public. All told, the library possesses more than 2,200 editions of the Haggadah. Although the rarest of the books, all handwritten, are not yet available, Levine is looking for ways to post them next year. Hebrew Books, directed by Chaim Rosenberg, collaborated on the project.

Those available online offer a snapshot of Jewish publishing history from the Middle Ages to the modern era. The oldest was printed in Berlin in 1527, while the most recent Haggadah was published in 1960 in Tel Aviv. ...

Rabbi Hirsh Chitrik donated the funds for the online library in memory of his father, Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik, a scholar who spent most of his life studying Jewish texts. ...

The online collection gives a virtual tour of the Jewish Diaspora throughout the generations. Haggadahs printed in the 1800's in Zhitomer, Ukraine; Königsberg, Germany; Prague; Vienna; London; Paris; Jerusalem; Bi?goraj, Poland; and New York track the movement and growth of Jewish communities across the world. Translations of the Haggadah in Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Ladino, Persian, Russian and Yiddish attest to the lingual integration of Jews into societies spanning the globe.

Workers at the library scanned the Haggadahs with special scanners that turned the pages with suctioned tips, thus minimizing any damage. ...

Open encyclopedia of Egytpology

The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, an apparently-new project, will offer an "open" and a "full" version of the encyclopedia. The oldest paper on the site was deposited April 3. There will also be a feature for sharing data, including the option to embargo data prior to publication.

... In the coming decade we will continue to build the content of the UEE, while a separate web site, the UEE Full Version, will be available starting in 2010. The full version will have enhanced searches, such as a map-search functionality, alphabetical and subject browsing, in-text links, explanations of terminology for non-professionals, an image archive, and Virtual Reality reconstructions. In addition, a Data-Access Level is under development, which links articles with the results of original research. Information on the development of the UEE Full Version can be found at this page.

Latest additions to DOAJ: 17 new entries

The following journals were added to the Directory of Open Access Journals since April 14, most recent first:

Indian medical journal converts to OA

From the April 2008 news from Medknow:

Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology, the official quarterly publication of the Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists, is now open access. The full text of the latest issues is online. Back issues would also be made available from the site in future.

IJPM is indexed with PubMed/MEDLINE and would participate in LinkOut. Articles for the journal can be submitted online.

More and more notes from Open Repositories conference

Kara Jones, Open Repositories conference - OR08, my:self-archive, April 17, 2008.
A few weeks back I attended the Open Repositories conference in Southampton, UK. ...
Open Repositories 2008, JISC Information Environment Team, April 18, 2008.
Before arrival at the recent Open Repositories 2008 conference, I was telling myself that this would be a dynamic, busy and vibrant conference, attended by a technically ambitious and knowledgeable community, and that it would obviously be a great opportunity for me to engage in constant blog activity (reading and writing). As it turned out, the preconceptions I had about the conference were exactly right. ...

Veterinary monograph series now OA

Online monograph series is now open access, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, May 1, 2008.

Because of the positive response to the new online feature AVMA Collections, the monograph series has been made available to all viewers, not just [American Veterinary Medical Association] journal subscribers.

AVMA Collections is designed to help veterinarians and others locate and put to use the best information from the AVMA scientific journals. In addition to the summary and bulleted highlights of each article, all viewers can access full-text PDFs without needing to log in.

Initially when Dr. Althea A. Jones, AVMA online professional services editor, announced the new monograph series (see JAVMA, April 1, page 981), JAVMA readers were the first to have free access to all the content, with others being able to view articles on a pay-per-view basis. Shortly after the series' April 1 debut, demand was so strong that the editors decided to open access to everyone who might benefit from this service. Within days, international visits more than doubled.

Report from last WIPO Development Cmte. meeting available

The Draft Report from the World Intellectual Property Organization's most recent Committee on Development and Intellectual Property meeting is now available, dated April 11 (in HTML, DOC, or PDF).

Petra Buhr also reports, on the A2k mailing list, that the next committee meeting will be held on July 7-11, 2008 in Hokkaido, parallel to the G8 summit.

See also past OAN posts on the WIPO Development Agenda.

Wikimedia Foundation wants research about its projects to be OA

The Wikimedia Foundation has posted a draft document (started April 7), "Wikimedia Foundation Research Goals" (see the current revision as of this post or the latest revision). The purpose of the document is to "articulate the key areas and broad questions related to Wikipedia and other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, which the Wikimedia Foundation would like to see investigated by reputable research organizations." Under "Research conditions", the document states:

Research efforts supported by the Wikimedia Foundation generally should meet the following conditions, which we consider best practice:

  • Promoting Open Access: The resulting research paper should be freely available online in perpetuity. Our preference is for all research and data to be published under a free content license. ...

SPARC Europe award goes to Leo Waaijers

Leo Waaijers Receives SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications, 2008, press release, April 22, 2008.

As part of the Fourth Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communications, held at the University of Lund in Sweden, Dr Leo Waaijers has been presented with the 2008 SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications.

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Europe initiated the Award in 2006 to recognise the work of an individual or group within Europe that has made significant advances in our understanding of the issues surrounding scholarly communications and/or in developing practical means to address the problems with the current systems. In making the Award to Dr Waaijers the judging panel noted his tireless support for new models of scholarly communication and his innovative approach to repositories and their promotion, especially as initiator of the DARE programme and manager of DAREnet.

As manager of the SURF Platform ICT and Research, Dr Waaijers has initiated a number of important projects within the Netherlands, including the original DARE programme, the Keur der Wetenschap (Cream of Science) initiative and the honDAREduizend - or HunDAREdthousand – project. In addition, his influence as been felt throughout Europe and beyond as a widely-travelled advocate, initiator of the 2007 petition to the European Commission, and an important player in the DRIVER and DRIVER II programmes. ...

This is the third time the SPARC Europe Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications has been made. The first Award, in 2006, went to the Wellcome Trust and the second in 2007 to the SHERPA Group. ...

Ed content repository goes OA

Jorum to move to open access, press release, April 21, 2008. (Thanks to Phil Vaughan.)

... Jorum, the UK national repository for learning and teaching materials funded by JISC, is to offer open educational resources. This will make it easier for lecturers and teaching staff to share and re-use each other's teaching resources. JorumOpen - as it will be called - will also provide a showcase for UK universities and colleges on the international stage.

This move comes at a time when there is a global shift towards open access across all education and research, a development actively supported by JISC and one that is bringing about major changes in the ways that learners, teachers, lecturers and researchers make available and access learning materials and other digital resources such as research papers and data.

... During the first phase of Jorum's development, the focus has been on building a system that safeguards investment in digital learning resources and offers controlled access to licensed materials. The result is a service that supports access to over 2,500 learning resources for download for direct use in the classroom and within virtual learning environments (VLEs).

Through the development of JorumOpen, lecturers and teachers will be able to share materials under the Creative Commons licence framework: this makes sharing easier, granting users greater rights for use and re-use of online content and easier to understand. Importantly, it does not require prior registration. As a result availability is global as well as across UK universities and colleges. JorumOpen will run alongside a 'members only' facility, JorumEducationUK, that will support sharing of material just within the UK educational sector; this will be available only to registered users and contributors, as is currently the case. ...

More on OA and the Georgia State suit

Georgia Harper, Suing Georgia, ©ollectanea, April 22, 2008.

I have taken nearly a week to mull over this case that has been buzzing around the blogosphere, around email and even in real life, and I'm glad I did. I think I see it more clearly now than I did a week ago when the news first hit. ...

I guess it was reading Claire Stewart's post at the Northwestern University Library Blog (NUL Copyright: What does the lawsuit against Georgia State mean?) that pushed the last little piece into place. OA.

Yes. OA. ...

Many are optimistic about the string of fair use cases coming out of the "transformative" field lately, and I am too, but I don't think they offer the life saver to digital course materials distribution that others hope for. I don't think courts will go that far.

So ... what's left if you really, really, really believe that educators ought to be able to use whatever they need to and want to use in their classrooms without worrying about what it costs or whether it's fair use?

Consumer resistance, or OA.

I don't have to advocate consumer resistance. We can get there without infringing people's copyrights. The very same arguments that Claire makes on behalf of educators and students being able to just read others works even if they can't afford to pay are turning the corner on OA for scholarly publishing. The battle for OA in journals is far from over, but the outcome is pretty clear. Now read anything about OA for the scholarly literature and substitute educational materials and see if you don't agree. It makes perfect sense. The same struggles the industry is going through to figure out how to make the economics of OA work for journals are going to come to monographs next and then why not educational publishing. If journals can figure out how to charge for other things besides digital copies, so can monographs, and monographs are, well, books with longer names. Books can be freely accessible without authorship, editing, peer review and distribution falling into the gutter. Do we know how right this minute? Maybe not. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. Do we need to figure it out? Absolutely. Will we. Absolutely.

See also Past OAN coverage of the case: 1, 2, 3, 4.

CC Ecuador launches, along with open courseware

Ecuador encourages learning, research, and creativity with localized CC licenses, press release, April 21, 2008.

Ecuador, the forty-fifth jurisdiction worldwide to port the Creative Commons licensing suite, will celebrate its launch today at the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL).

The Creative Commons Ecuador team has coordinated the porting process and public discussion with local and international legal experts ...

The launch event will be held at University Convention Center at 6:00pm, together with the opening ceremony of university’s open courseware initiative, “Open UTPL.” Open UTPL will offer entire courses, books, study guides, and multimedia content under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Ecuador license, as part of UPTL’s initiatives dedicated to educational resources. Creative Commons Board Member Michael Carroll will join the CC Ecuador’s launch event as a keynote speaker. ...

Workshop on OA in Latin America now online

Donna Wentworth, Workshop report: strategies for open, permanent access to scientific information, Science Commons blog, April 21, 2008.

Last spring, Science Commons participated in a workshop in Brazil aimed at identifying strategies for ensuring open, permanent access to scientific information in Latin America, with a particular focus on access to health and environmental information for sustainable development. Organized by the international Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and Brazil’s Centro de Referência em Informação Ambiental, the workshop featured sessions on topics ranging from ways to overcome barriers to open access in countries around the world to the challenges of successfully integrating environmental, geospatial and biodiversity data.

The workshop report is now online and available at the conference website. ...

Open Journal Systems available in Norwegian

Public Knowledge Project posted the news yesterday that their Open Journal Systems software has been translated into Norwegian, courtesy of the journal Acta Didactica Norge.

Yes, U.S. sold out its legislative history

Cory Doctorow, General Accounting Office has sold exclusive access to legislative history down the river to Thomson West, Boing Boing, April 14, 2008.
Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,

Readers may remember a previous Boing Boing post Did the US gov't sell exclusive access to its legislative history to Thomson West? Well, the answer is now a definitive yes, that data has been sold down the river and is out to sea.

Public.Resource.Org sent in a FOIA request to GAO on this topic seeking access to the scanned data. Today's letter answering our FOIA request spells out the bad news. Turns out the GAO doesn't even get the data, they simply are given an account on Thomson's service. The rest of the government doesn't get access to this data, and the public is invited to stop by the GAO headquarters and pay 20 cents per page to copy paper.

This is one of those deals where the public domain got sold off ... GAO gets a bit of convenience by having their stuff scanned for them, but they gave up way more than they got in the deal, and the public (including government workers and public interest groups who need to consult this data) lost big-time. ...

Comment. We previously covered this story at OAN, but before the answer was definitive.

More notes from Open Repositories 2008

Pete Johnston, Open Repositories 2008, eFoundations, April 14, 2008.
I spent a large part of last week the week before last (Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday) at the Open Repositories 2008 conference at the University of Southampton. ...

Update on WiChempedia

Antony Williams, WiChempedia Very Early Beta is Released Using New ChemSpider Dedicated Website Approach, ChemSpider Blog, April 15, 2008.

I blogged previously about our intention to build a structure/substructure searchable version of Wikipedia. We declared we would call it WiChempedia. Since rolling out the new website we have had the ability to provide access to subsets of data (See Molecule of the Day and Molbank as two examples). With this newfound ability it became easier to rollout WiChempedia and the first version is now available at

The difference between ChemSpider and WiChempedia, for now, is the presence of the first paragraph of the Wikipedia text on the WiChempedia site and a link out to the original article on Wikipedia. An example is shown below. Notice the link to the GNU free documentation license .

Hopefully we will receive feedback on the site quite quickly and get it out of beta at speed so please do let your colleagues know about it. We will design a new logo header shortly and we are aware that some minor types of the data resulting from the scraping process have slipped in so we will resolve those too. An example of how much information is starting to be populated can be seen by looking at the record for Cocaine here. Here you will see the Wiki first paragraph content, a link out to a GC run on the Phenomenex website, a series of validated identifiers and an IR spectrum. The content continues to expand as we source more information

I also point you to another implementation of a Wikipedia chemistry system,, that you might be interested in reviewing.

University of Cape Town signs open ed. statement

Eve Gray, UCT signs the Cape Town Declaration, Gray Area, April 14, 2008.
The University of Cape Town – which is one of South Africa's leading research universities - last week became one of the few major universities worldwide to sign the Cape Town Declaration on Open Education (previously blogged here and here). The Declaration was signed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Martin Hall, at a function in the Senate Room, hosted by the D-VC's office, the Centre for Higer Education Development and the Centre for Educational Technology and supported by the Shuttleworth Foundation. The motivation for the event came from the OpeningScholarship project ...

EC recommends OA for publicly-funded research

The European Commission has released its Recommendation on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations, April 10, 2008.  (Thanks to Jordi Adell.)  While the focus is on "tech transfer" (as we call it in the US), the document contains an important recommendation on OA:

The Commission of the European Communities...

Hereby recommends that member states should:

4. Promote the broad dissemination of knowledge created with public funds, by taking steps to encourage open access to research results, while enabling, where appropriate, the related intellectual property to be protected; ...


  • This is as explicit a recommendation for OA as the EC has made since February 2007, when its Communication concluded (p. 7) that "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."
  • The new document is not the long-awaited sequel to that tentative communication.  But the fact that the EC included the OA recommendation in a document with a slightly different focus is most encouraging. 
  • Note that the IP proviso in the new OA recommendation is secondary.  The recommendation calls for OA and "where appropriate" protection of IP.  It does not call for protection of IP and "where appropriate" OA.
  • The document is signed by Günter Verheugen and Janez Potocnik, both members of the EC.  Potocnik is the Commissioner of the Research Directorate-General, author of the February 2007 Communication, and author of the April 2007 green paper I've blogged so much about.

U. Florida digitizing 100,000 pages a month

Laurie N. Taylor, 100,000 pages a month, Digital Library Center Blog, April 20, 2008.
The University of Florida Digital Collections are still relatively young, established separately only recently. Since March 23 of this year, we’ve added another 100,000 pages, up from 1.62 million on March 23 and now we’re at 1.718 million (and counting) and it’s only April 20. The full stats–as of today–are: 53,682 titles; 70,323 items; and 1,718,050 pages. ...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Update on CC Zero

Mike Linksvayer, CC0 beta/discussion draft 2, Creative Commons blog, April 16, 2008.

Back in December we announced the CC0 project, which encompassed two tools. First, a waiver of all copyright and neighboring rights in a work, to the extent permitted by law. Second, an assertion that a work is not under copyright or neighboring rights. We were (and are) basically taking our existing public domain dedication and certification and everything we’ve learned over the past five years (in particular from working with a large network of international legal experts and experience with deploying rights metadata) and rolling them into a much improved toolset for enabling the “no rights reserved” portion of the commons.

We launched the first beta of these tools in January. One thing feedback from this beta helped us realize is that bundling the waiver and assertion in one tool could be confusing. While both tell an end user that there are no strings attached to using a work, they’re actually very different. A waiver must be used by the copyright holder of a work; an assertion is made by someone with knowledge that there is no copyright holder of a work.

In February we announced that the next beta would take pains to make these two use cases distinct. We also said that we hoped to have the next beta ready for public review and discussion by March 31. We’ve missed that date by a couple weeks, but for the good — some exciting organizational growth (more below) and incorporation of further lessons.

We’ve also come to believe that we’re really close on the CC0 waiver, while the assertion tool is going to require significant work before it provides a big step up from our existing public domain certification. For example, we want to facilitate publishing of facts about a work that would help one determine the work’s copyright status, and separately, rules about copyright status in various jurisdictions ... There are various groups working on different pieces of this who we look forward to collaborating with. Expect news concerning public domain assertion tools in the coming months.

So the new beta we’re announcing today is focused exclusively on the CC0 waiver. The big change in this beta (as planned in February) is that rather than starting with a jurisdiction-centric U.S. version of CC0, the tool will be “Universal” from the beginning. You can access the beta at ccLabs. Your feedback and criticism is most welcome. The primary venue for discussion is the cc-licenses mailing list (low volume and moderated; do not fear jumping in).

Speaking of organizational growth, one addition directly impacts this work on CC0. Diane Peters, our incoming General Counsel, will be leading this project going forward. Diane comes to CC from Mozilla, was previously GC of Open Source Development Labs, and also serves on the board of the Software Freedom Law Center. ...

Journal policies in immunology

Jim Till, Assessing immunology journals, Be openly accessible or be obscure, April 16, 2008. A review of the OA-related publication policies of the top journals in immunology, and the percent of NIH-related immunology articles in top science journals available OA via PubMed.

Science Commons looking for info on open science

Science Commons is still looking for information on ongoing projects in open science, as of April 16.

Overview of IRs in Spain

Remedios Melero, et al., Landscape of Open Access Institutional Repositories in Spain, Open Repositories 2008 (April 1-4, 2008, Southampton, UK). From the abstract:
The open access movement is an emerging issue in Spain, but it is becoming a familiar term within the scientific community. It has advanced in the past three or four years with more frequent initiatives related to repositories and open/free journals. The 246 registered signatories of the Berlin Declaration include 21 Spanish institutions, most of which signed it in 2006. The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) and the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) have in their records 32 and 22 open access repositories from Spain, respectively, but these figures do not represent the real ones, since there are more that have not registered yet ... and others that are listed in those directories which are not repositories but journals or aggregators. The oldest repository in Spain, Tesis Doctorals en Xarxa (‘Networked Doctoral Theses’) was created in year 2001, but most of the Spanish institutional repositories emerged at the end of 2004 or the beginning of 2005 (Melero, 2006). Nevertheless, there is evidence that more have been created and announced in recent months (Melero, 2007). These data do not correlate with the DRIVER I inventory study in which the response of the 12 invited (those registered at that time in OpenDOAR) was very low (3 answers). However, the international presence of our repositories, measured as participations in OA initiatives, is increasing as described below. ...

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I'll be on the road Monday-Wednesday with few opportunities for blogging or email.  But Gavin will be on the job and I'll start to catch up myself on Thursday.

New OA medical journal

International Archives of Medicine is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from BioMed Central. In addition to original articles, the journal will also publish translations from the Spanish-language OA journal Archivos de Medicina, and vice versa. As with other BMC journals, it will charge article-processing fees to authors whose manuscript is accepted for publication, subject to discounts and waivers; and like other BMC journals, articles will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution license. See the April 16 announcement,. The first articles were released April 15, including the inaugural editorial.

Update on the ticTOCs project

Roddy MacLeod, ticTOCs update, News from ticTOCs, April 17, 2008.

By mid-May, [ticTOCs] will release a new and improved prototype, with various features, including a facility to log-in and save [tables of contents], subject browse and a directory of nearly 7,000 TOCs from numerous publishers. TOCs have been added for journals from [several publishers] ...

Geoff Bilder, from CrossRef, one of the partners in the ticTOCs project, has been chairing a working party which has been drafting recommendations for best practice, covering what information publishers should include in journal TOC RSS feeds, and the best way to structure that information. ...

An article has appeared in Multimedia Information & Technology, 34(1), February 2008, pp. 14-16, entitled: "ticTOCs - Taking the pain out of RSS for journal tables of contents".

Two breakout sessions on The ticTOCs Project were held at the [UK Serials Group] 2008 conference in Torquay, UK. The sessions were well attended and there was interest from the publishers present as well as librarians. The presentation was in five parts - RSS TOCs in context; the ticTOCs project outline; a demo of the two pilots; standards; development ideas.

Slides are at Slideshare ...

A paper on ticTOCs, and the associated Gold Dust project will be given at the Inforum conference at the end of May, entitled "RSS and current awareness: how two projects (ticTOCs and Gold Dust) are hoping to improve the academic information landscape".

Connotea adds support for several publishers

Connotea, the free and open source social bookmarking tool developed by Nature Publishing Group for researchers, has added support for automatically recognizing bibliographic metadata for sites using software by Atypon, which includes a large list of publishers. See the April 16 post by Ian Mulvany for the full list.

New open textbooks company

David Wiley, Coming Out of Silent Mode, iterating toward openness, April 15, 2008.

Flat World Knowledge, the start-up company I am involved with, is officially out in the open now. We were featured on NPR’s Marketplace this evening. Program audio is also available.

Flat World Knowledge is a company dedicated to open textbooks. The videos on the website tell the story really well. ...

Update. See also this Chronicle story on the company.

New nanotech journal, OA for now

Nano Research is a new journal published by Tsinghua University Press and Springer. It appears it will be OA for the first year as a marketing gimmick. From the April 13 announcement:
... It will offer Open-Access in the first year to efficiently promote your outstanding publications to the readers. Different from most other Open-Access journals, the Publishers are committed to widely advertise the journal through a variety of means. ...

What individual researchers can do

Kevin McCurley, Open Access Publishing, Special Interest Group on CRAP, April 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

I recently declined to referee a paper for a closed-access journal. This particular case was an ACM journal, which is one of the least objectionable of the closed-access publishers, but it still bugs me that we continue to turn over science to people who then sell it back to scientists. This does not benefit science.

I’ve been trying to think about what would be the best way to advance the open access publishing movement. I could try to contribute software and services (since these are real costs), or I could try to organize a journal myself, or I could run for office in ACM, or various other things. At some level, I think those of us who believe in open access publishing need to push on every front in order to change the status quo. The place to start is probably to direct your activities (reviewing, reading, editing, submitting, and citing) toward open access publishers. By refusing to referee something for a commercial publisher, you send a notice to the editor that you prefer they would spend their time on open access publishing as well, and you may serve to increase the backlog in these closed-access publications. The next thing we can do is work to restructure our academic societies around community and support of science rather than managing intellectual property. Usenix recently set the best example I can think of in this way, and other societies should look to their leadership as a shining example.

Comment.  Kevin right that individual researchers should start with OA for their own work.  Either publish it in a suitable OA journal or deposit a copy of the peer-reviewed postprint in an OA repository.  Remember that the second option is usually compatible with publishing in a non-OA journal.  For more, see six things that researchers need to know about open access and what faculty can to do promote open access.

How librarians can promote OA

Dean Giustini, Top Five (5) Ways for Librarians to Contribute to Open Access (OA) Movement, UBC Academic Search - Google Scholar Blog, April 18, 2008. 

  1. Increase your own knowledge of OA issues; visit Open Access News daily;
  2. Support OA by developing 'information kits' in your library organization to raise general awareness of open access principles and practices;
  3. Develop 'self-archiving' process to increase records in local repositories;
  4. Show your solidarity by featuring open access journals on your library website (thanks to John Willinsky for that idea); do displays; handouts; presentations etc.
  5. Deposit papers and presentations into E-LIS - the open archive for librarians and information specialists, or other digital archive - PubMedCentral, for example.

PKP developing Open Monograph Press

The Public Knowledge Project, developer of Open Journal Systems and Open Conference Systems, is now developing Open Monograph Press. A project outline is available from November 2007. From the Web site:
Open Monograph Press ... will establish an online workspace for publishing monographs, edited volumes, and scholarly editions (e.g. The Mark Twain Project) while keeping archival record of process (compatible with the Fedora repository).
Comment. Due to its age, this isn't news, but it seems we hadn't posted it on OAN previously, so better late than never.