Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Toward a more vetted, citable Wikipedia

Jeffrey R. Young, A 'Frozen' Wikipedia Could be Better for College, Founder Says, Wired Campus, May 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, has been outspoken about his view that his creation, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, should not be used in academic settings, especially by students writing papers....

But the popular encyclopedia may soon add a new feature that would allow Wikipedia entries to be “cited more comfortably” by students and professors, he said. The feature would allow a version of a Wikipedia article to be frozen and approved by experts.

The German-language edition of Wikipedia has recently been experimenting with a similar feature, though so far it has only used to flag entries as being free from vandalism rather than certified by content specialists. “Later, it could have a flag that says ‘This version is one that a committee has actually vetted,’” he said. “We’d still allow further editing, but if you really wanted a version that as of three months ago we had three Ph.D.‘s look at it, and they checked it off as being good, we may move in that direction.”

Mr. Wales stressed that no final decision has been made on whether or not to create such expert-approved versions of Wikipedia pages. “The software is evolving in a direction that would allow the community to come up with ways of doing that,” he said.

Even so, he said, in most cases even an improved Wikipedia won’t be as appropriate for students as other sources....

Update. Also see Jan Velterop's comments.

Google indexes 90% of recent engineering research

John J. Meier and Thomas W. Conkling, Google Scholar’s Coverage of the Engineering Literature: An Empirical Study, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.

Google Scholar’s coverage of the engineering literature is analyzed by comparing its contents with those of Compendex, the premier engineering database. Records retrieved from Compendex were searched in Google Scholar, and a decade by decade comparison was done from the 1950s through 2007. The results show that the percentage of records appearing in Google Scholar increased over time, approaching a 90 percent matching rate for materials published after 1990.

Deposit rates by discipline and other IR questions

Ronald C. Jantz and Myoung C. Wilson, Institutional Repositories: Faculty Deposits, Marketing, and the Reform of Scholarly Communication, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, May 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far.

This study explores faculty deposits in institutional repositories (IR) within selected disciplines and identifies the diverse navigational paths to IR sites from library Web site homepages. The statistical relationship between the development of an IR and the presence of a Web site dedicated to the reform of traditional scholarly communication is also explored. The implications for the development of institutional repositories are highlighted.

Gold and green OA at Berkeley

Stevan Harnad, Berkeley's Bold Initiative, Open Access Archivangelism, May 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

"It's one thing to say you support open-access publishing. It's another to provide authors with a pot of money to actually pay for it. That's what's happening at the University of California Berkeley..." (SPARC [e]News May 2008)

It's one thing to support open-access publishing. It's another to provide open access.

What research worldwide needs urgently today is not the money to pay OA journals but OA itself. (Most of the potential money to pay OA journals is currently tied up in paying for non-OA journal subscriptions.)

I hope that apart from just providing authors with money to pay OA publishing fees, Berkeley will also join the ranks of Southampton and Harvard (and 42 other research universities, departments and funders) in mandating that their authors provide OA itself.

Comment.  Of course OA journals do provide OA itself, and I applaud the Berkeley OA journal fund.  But I also join Stevan in hoping that Berkeley will adopt a green OA mandate like Harvard and a growing number of other universities.  Note that the whole U of California system, including Berkeley, has been considering an OA mandate since 2005.  (For details, see the postscript to my March 2008 article on the Harvard mandate.)  When the Harvard mandate was adopted in February 2008, Gary Lawrence, the UC director of systemwide library planning, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that "Harvard's success in creating an arrangement that faculty members agreed on provides us a lot of encouragement."

Open data to reduce retractions, enhance reproducibility

Cameron Neylon, Avoid the pain and embarassment - make all the raw data available, Science in the open, May 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

A story of two major retractions from a well known research group has been getting a lot of play over the last few days with a News Feature (1) and Editorial (2) in the 15 May edition of Nature....

Much of the heat the story is generating is about the characters involved and possible misconduct of various players, but that’s not what I want to cover here. My concern is about how much time, effort, and tears could have been saved if all the relevant raw data was made available in the first place....

So what might have happened if the original raw data were available? Would it have prevented the publication of the papers in the first place? It’s very hard to tell....[I]f...the referees had seen the raw data with greater variability then maybe they would have wanted to see more or better controls; perhaps not. Certainly if the raw data were available the second group would have realised much sooner that something was wrong.

And this is a story we see over and over again. The selective publication of results without reference to the full set of data; a slight shortcut taken or potential issues with the data somewhere that is not revealed to referees or to the readers of the paper; other groups spending months or years attempting to replicate results or simply use a method described by another group. And in the meantime graduate students and postdocs get burnt on the pyre of scientific ‘progress’ discovering that something isn’t reproducible....

There is no longer any excuse for not providing all the raw and processed data as part of the supplementary information for published papers....

Some of us go much further than this, and believe that making the raw data immediately available is a better way to do science. Certainly in this case it might have reduced the pressure to rush to publish, might have forced a more open and more thorough scrutiny of the underlying data. This kind of radical openness is not for everyone perhaps but it should be less prone to gaffes of the sort described here....

Science has moved on from the days where the paper could only contain what would fit on the printed pages....

A specialized search engine for PubChem

David J. Wild and Junguk Hur, PubChemSR: A search and retrieval tool for PubChem, Chemistry Central Journal, May 15, 2008.  Abstract:

Background.  Recent years have seen an explosion in the amount of publicly available chemical and related biological information. A significant step has been the emergence of PubChem, which contains property information for millions of chemical structures, and acts as a repository of compounds and bioassay screening data for the NIH Roadmap. There is a strong need for tools designed for scientists that permit easy download and use of these data. We present one such tool, PubChemSR.

Implementation.  PubChemSR (Search and Retrieve) is a freely available desktop application written for Windows using Microsoft .NET that is designed to assist scientists in search, retrieval and organization of chemical and biological data from the PubChem database. It employs SOAP web services made available by NCBI for extraction of information from PubChem.

Results and discussion.  The program supports a wide range of searching techniques, including queries based on assay or compound keywords and chemical substructures. Results can be examined individually or downloaded and exported in batch for use in other programs such as Microsoft Excel. We believe that PubChemSR makes it straightforward for researchers to utilize the chemical, biological and screening data available in PubChem. We present several examples of how it can be used.

Review of Gallacher on OA in law

Elena Maria Coyle, Law Schools and the Open Access Movement: An Article Review of Aux Armes Citoyens, Stanford Law School Research Paper No. 22, May 2008.  (Thanks to Legal Research Plus.)  Excerpt:

The advent of the Internet in 1994 inaugurated a “revolution” in legal research. For the first time, the legal profession became poised to disseminate limitless levels information— both within its own community and to the public at large. Ironically, free access to legal information has become increasingly fettered. In recent years, the contraction of the publishing market has left only three corporations as the custodians of a deep repository of legal knowledge....

In Aux Armes, Citoyens, Ian Gallacher explores the implications of these changes with respect to their potential societal costs.  Gallacher identifies the “seeds of a future problem,” which, if unaddressed, could further compromise equal access to justice. His analysis situates the legal research revolution within “a longstanding tradition of making the law inaccessible to the citizenry.” This tradition, which has favored insularity rather than access, and elitism rather than understanding, presents a twofold challenge: first, increasing the availability of the law; and second, making that law intelligible.

Beyond mere analysis, Gallacher’s manuscript is a manifesto— a call to America’s law schools to take their place on the vanguard of the open access movement....

First, I will address his proposition that law schools are uniquely situated to respond to the problem of limited access to the law. Second, I will assess which of the resources employed in ALR have comparable, open access substitutes to LexisNexis and Westlaw. Finally, I will briefly reflect on how Gallacher’s ten principles for the liberation of the law fit within and the objectives of a contemporary legal resource course and the comprehensive mission of a law school....

In conclusion, while the status quo of open access legal research may seem bleak, it is already possible —with effort, patience, and know-how— to conduct much of one’s legal research without reliance on the online services of LexisNexis or Westlaw. As technology continues to improve, and more individuals join the open access movement, the ease with which low and no cost research may be conducted with also improve....

PS:  For background, see our November 2007 blog excerpt from Gallacher's Aux Armes, Citoyens.

Friday, May 16, 2008

In one week, six journals agreed to support the NIH policy

In the week from May 7 to May 15, these journals joined the NIH list of journals "committed to make the final published version of every NIH-funded article publicly available in PubMed Central within 12 months of publication, without author involvement."

  • Biotechnology for Biofuels
  • HPB Surgery
  • International Archives of Medicine
  • The Journal of Chiropractic Education
  • Marine Drugs
  • Molecular Cytogenetics

First unleash abundance, then deal with it

Jan Velterop, Dealing with abundance – getting more out of the science literature than you thought possible, The Parachute, May 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

Open access is adding to the abundance of scientific information available to us. It is to be expected that this abundance will be growing fast, with the growth of open access. This is good, because only comprehensive and unfettered access to the science literature will make it possible for us to be truly abreast of the scientific progress that's being made.

On the other hand, however, it will present us with even more challenges than we already face in terms of being able to deal with all that information....

Few scientists can properly cope with mushrooming information and were they to read all the articles relevant to them, they would find that they almost always contain a very large amount of information already known to them. That redundant information is usually provided for the sole purpose of context and readability. The amount of actual new information is often surprisingly small and could have been conveyed in one or two sentences if the context were clear. Yet the essence of the scientific discourse is captured in those few sentences....

At Knewco, the company that I now work for, we aim to provide an environment for concentrating this scientific discourse – 'distilling' it from the abundance of sources, if you wish – and make it more productive by making it computer-processable....Knewco 'distills' information to the essence of knowledge content from millions of documents, enriching it in the process with linked concepts and context....

Reasons to remove permission barriers

Klaus Graf, Warum brauchen wir Open Access mit Bearbeitungsrecht und kommerzieller Nutzung?  Archivalia, May 16, 2008.  A detailed recap of the reasons to remove permission barriers in addition to price barriers (in German).  Here's his summary in English (by email):

  1. Data mining, see [this post from April 9, 2008] (in English)
  2. Educational use, see GSU case and "Open Education" movement
  3. Open Content projects (e.g. Wikimedia projects)
  4. Re-Use of heritage items and scholarly
  5. photographs/illustrations: not possible if CC-NC and publication in commercial journal
  6. More chance for impact if commercial use
  7. Translations
  8. Wiki-re-use of materials
  9. Orphans
  10. Mirroring in repositories - LOCKSS principle
  11. We need more remix experiments

    Summary: CC-BY as default license.

Comment.  Klaus is right and I've often made my own similar lists.  Here's one from my interview with Richard Poynder (October 2007, p. 37-39):

...[T]here are good reasons to exceed fair use [and therefore to remove permission barriers], for example, to quote long excerpts, print full-text copies, email copies to students or colleagues, burn copies on CDs for bandwidth-poor parts of the world, distribute semantically-tagged or otherwise enhanced versions of a text, migrate copies to new formats or media to keep a text readable as technologies change, archive copies for preservation, include the work in a database or mashup, copy the text for indexing, text-mining, or other kinds of processing, make an audio recording of the text, or translate it into another language....

We're already well into the era in which all serious research is mediated by sophisticated software....Over time, we'll rely more and more on tools for crunching or reusing digital texts — for searching, mining, summarising, translating, querying, linking, recommending, alerting, and other kinds of processing. An important purpose of open access is to facilitate this future and give these tools the widest possible scope of operation....

New OA journal of humanoid robotics

The Journal of Humanoids is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of humanoid robotics published by I-Tech.    The inaugural issue (March 2008) is now online.

Funding the free exchange of digital works

Mutualised schemes for the funding of and reward to creative activities, La Quadrature du Net, May 16, 2008.  (Thanks to Manon Ress.)  Excerpt:

Nota for English speaking-readers: the notion of a mutualised scheme is less familiar in English than in Latin languages....We use this expression for schemes where every potential user contributes equally to the funding of a global ecosystem of activities.

Two imperatives

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), art. 27

The text that follows addresses two issues that have been up to now excluded form the official debates on culture and the Internet:

  1. How can it be made possible for all to freely exchange on a non-profit basis the digital representations of published works?
  2. What can we put in place to fund creative activities and reward their success? ...

Putting in place a new type of mutualised funding scheme associated with the free non-market exchange of digital works can not be an object of improvisation. It calls for an in-depth debate between stakeholders, experts and the public....

Call for open courseware in UK universities

Leo Max Pollak, Open Source and the Benefits of Education, report, undated but apparently recent. Apparently a preprint of "Free Higher Education course materials for all" as published in the current issue of Public Policy Research. See the description by Anthea Lipsett, Teach online to compete, British universities told, The Guardian, May 13, 2008:

Universities should make their course materials freely available online, according to a paper for the latest edition of ppr, the publication of influential thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The researcher and activist Leo Pollak argues that UK universities lag behind in providing course materials online but could innovate more than their US competitors.

The government should establish a central online "hub" where taxpayers could easily access British university course materials, he says. ...

Online learners should also be able to pay a fee to take the same exams as enrolled students in order to get an "open degree course" qualification, which would require passing an Open Access Act through parliament to establish. ...

The vast majority of materials can be reproduced at "negligible cost", Pollak says, and universities in the US, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), already publish online much of its undergraduate and postgraduate course materials, from 90% of its professors.

The Open University's OpenLearn programme is the UK's sole offering, according to Pollak. UK universities must "keep up", he says, and offering course materials freely online would affirm and strengthen "Britain's standing as a beacon of intellectual development and cultural collaboration". ...

See also the author's blog on the subject.

OA to reserve readings

Heather Morrison, The Open Access Reserves List, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, May 15, 2008.
Researchers who are faculty, too, are soon likely to see a clear benefit to them of open access: the ease of creating a list of reserve readings for students.

When materials are open access, all that one needs to do is to note the citation and add a link. No authentication needed, no copyright permissions. If you're planning to use an article or book chapter year after year - or it is clear that others would and should read the items - it is worthwhile contacting the author to inquire about making a copy open access, and it is worth the author's time to make this happen.

This hit home today when I did a search of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Metadata Harvester and came up with a list of search results that looked a lot like the reserves list for a course at the library where I used to work.

It was not unusual for professors to put copies of their own work on reserve, to make sure they were accessible to students, whether the library could afford to subscribe to or purchase the content or not - clearly, a desire to open up access even in the print world.

If I am seeing this, I think we are close to the point in time when others will begin to see it, too. Once we begin to see what those institutional repositories can do, it will become much easier to recruit content.

UK repository deposits double in 18 months

Leslie Carr, Repository Deposits Double in the UK, RepositoryMan, May 15, 2008.
The graph shows how monthly UK institutional repository deposits have doubled in the last 18 months. Each repository was receiving an average of 40 deposits per month in October 2006 and is now receiving about 80 deposits per month in April 2008.

The data is taken from ROAR and is corrected for some obviously anomolous activity and for some missing deposit data. Further investigation is required to check whether the trend applies to all repositories or whether it is driven by a small number of better preforming repositories. Work is also required to determine seasonal variations and also to understand longer-term trends.

New OA journal of zoology

International Journal of Zoology is an (apparently) new OA, peer-reviewed journal by Hindawi. The journal will publish "original research articles as well as review articles in all areas of zoology". There are no page charges, color charges, or article processing charges. Print subscriptions are $195. Articles are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

OA to Indian manuscripts

Sudhir Krishnaswamy, et al., Legal and Policy Framework for Promoting Equitable Access to Documentary Heritage, report submitted to UNESCO, March 31, 2008; deposited May 15, 2008. Abstract:
The National Mission for Manuscripts of India, in association with UNESCO, completed a research study to assist in the development of legal and policy framework and protocols for promoting equitable access to documentary heritage, relevant to India and other South Asian countries. ... [T]he study seeks to accurately identify and critically examine the legal and policy framework for promoting equitable access to documentary heritage. The National Mission for Manuscripts is the most important institution in India dealing with bibliographic databases and the conservation and preservation of valuable manuscripts. The study covers the legal and policy framework which envelops the lifecycle of the Mission's work: access to manuscripts, their digitisation and creation of databases. By critically examining the legal rules in the practical context of the Mission’s work, the research team has put together the first review of an initiative aimed at the protection of Indian traditional knowledge. The study illustrates working patterns of the Mission within the legal and policy framework of the country. It is a helpful sourcebook for understanding South Asian legal and policy framework for accessing documentary heritage collections. While the study does not set out to be the final word on these policy initiatives, it definitely makes significant progress in the policy debate and legal literature in this field. The conclusions presented in the form of draft legal agreements and policy recommendations will, with no doubt, be valuable tools for South Asian countries that share similar legal and policy framework within the sub-region.

Report from OR08

Carol Minton Morris, Strands of a Global Web of Knowledge Come Together at the Third International Open Repositories Conference 2008, D-Lib Magazine, May/June 2008. A report on Open Repositories 2008 (Southampton, April 1-4, 2008).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

OA database to coordinate science projects for development

Scientists Without Borders launched an OA database to "coordinate science-based activities that improve quality of life in the developing world."  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)  From the announcement:

...In May 2008, Scientists Without Borders launched its first project, a Web portal, whose cornerstone is a database that will:

  • Connect scores of public and private organizations that are currently addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals through science-based activities—and foster innovative activities among them;
  • Offer a unique and empowering information source to thousands of academic and industry scientists who wish to work on global health, environmental challenges and other vital issues;
  • Register needs and available resources, thus allowing scientists and organizations to connect and direct their energies for maximum impact; and
  • Provide a mechanism by which organizations can build on one another's progress.

This user-friendly and easily accessible tool assembles information about the location, goals, needs, and other attributes of research-based and capacity-building projects, as well as a roster of scientists who are willing to help.

The resulting resource will foster connections among organizations working in the same region or on related problems, and it will allow scientists prepared to offer time and expertise to browse opportunities and advertise their capacities. They can be matched according to their area of knowledge and/or in a need-based manner....

Update. Also see the summary of the project by Evelyn Strauss, Executive Director of Scientists Without Borders.

Harvard's Publius Project

As part of its 10th anniversary celebration, Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has launched the Publius Project

The idea is foster a public dialogue on the evolving norms for governing the internet, just as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, under the pseudonym Publius, fostered a public dialogue through the Federalist Papers (1787-1788) on the norms which ought to govern the newly independent United States.

From the FAQ:

By gathering experts across multiple dimensions of cyberspace and asking them to identify and reflect on the rolling and diverse constitutional moments of net governance, we hope to reflect a wide range of perspectives on how the Net should—or should not—be governed....

As we highlight in our introductory pieces, norms, rules and decisions about control, power, and governance are constantly evolving and being formulated in this space. In order to effectively understand, influence, and shape those structures, we must ask the questions: what is the regime we’re traveling towards? What is our ideal? How are decisions made in this space, and who makes them? ...

All the contributions to the Publius Project are OA, under CC-BY licenses, and all are attributed.  The first 10 are now online and other contributions will be released in waves.  (Disclosure:  My own contribution, on the evolving norms for deciding who controls access to research, will be released in a subsequent wave.)

More on university OA journal funds

Berkeley steps forward with bold initiative to pay authors’ open-access charges, SPARC enews, May 2008.  Excerpt:

This article is the first in a series SPARC will offer to highlight change on our member campuses....

It’s one thing to say you support open-access publishing. It’s another to provide authors with a pot of money to actually pay for it.

That’s what’s happening at the University of California Berkeley. In January, the university launched the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative, a pilot program co-sponsored by the University Librarian and the Vice Chancellor for Research to cover publication charges for open-access journals.

Faculty, post-doc and graduate students can apply for up to $3,000 to cover the cost of publishing an article in an open-access publication. The fund also gives up to $1,500 for the cost of so-called hybrid publications’ paid access fees, where information is freely available but the journal limits the right to redistribute. The pilot program will last 18 months or until the initial $125,000 fund runs out. The hope – and challenge – is to find a permanent funding source.

“As a library community, if we really wanted to change behavior of faculty about where they published, we needed to put our money where our mouth was – not only talking about open access, but help them do it,” says Beth Weil, a champion of the initiative and head of the bioscience and natural resources library at Berkeley. In talking with faculty, she became aware of a wide disparity in funding and saw a need to provide financial assistance to pay for open-access fees....

Weil adds that the goal of the initiative is two-fold: To make Berkeley research free and have a greater impact. Secondly, to change the behavior of faculty to embrace Open Access and start to write it the fees into their grant processes.

[Tom Leonard, university librarian at Berkeley and professor in the graduate school of journalism] underscores that the traditional way of sharing research is no longer sufficient. And, if you are a scholar, it is a natural feature of human nature to want to let everyone know about your discoveries. “Nobody is trying to hide their light under a bushel,” he says. The push for Open Access is to encourage new avenues of disseminating information quickly and broadly to advance knowledge....

Two other U.S. universities have also established funds to pay for open-access research

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has an annual commitment of $10,000 and funds maximum awards of $1,000 per article. (To read more about its Open Access Authors’ Fund established in 2005, click here)  At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, $50,000 in seed money from the library’s gift fund is available to help authors pay for open-access journal fees. (For information about its program through the Office of Scholarly Communication and Publishing, click here). Overseas, the University of Nottingham and the University of Amsterdam provide funds for open-access publication....

OA strategies at the U of Pennsylvania

Newsmaker Interview: Shawn Martin, Penn’s New Scholarly Communication Librarian, Library Journal Academic Newswire, May 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Libraries recently announced the appointment of Shawn Martin to the newly created position of scholarly communication librarian —and what a job it promises to be. With Harvard’s faculty and law school mandating open access, institutional repositories (IRs) poised for growth, and publishers suing Georgia State University (GSU) over its electronic course content, these are, like the fortune cookie says, interesting times. At Penn, Martin, who holds a MA in history from the College of William and Mary, will be responsible for the libraries’ institutional repository ScholarlyCommons@Penn, and offering “guidance on and promoting awareness of issues” surrounding intellectual property rights and academic publishing....

LJAN: Can you tell us a little about your background, and what kinds of things you'll be addressing in your new post?

SM: ...Most recently, I worked at the Text Creation Partnership (TCP) project at the University of Michigan. There I worked with three publishers, ProQuest, Readex, and Gale, and over 100 academic libraries around the world to create searchable text for commercially available image databases of early English and American printed books. The catch was that all of the text we created eventually would enter the public domain. In essence, TCP was a model of working with publishers, librarians, and scholars to determine how all three could come together and deliver content in new and unique ways. That is the primary way that I'll be approaching open access and scholarly communication.

The IR at Penn will be a major focus of your work, I’m sure. First, your thoughts on Harvard's recent faculty OA mandate?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t appreciate the Harvard mandate. Obviously I would love it if Penn moved in a similar direction. Penn is a decentralized institution and will probably move more slowly. It is a goal, however, to at least educate faculty about what is going on at Harvard and elsewhere and try to get them to take a more active role in the dissemination of their scholarship. I intend this to be a major focus, and will be doing outreach with our faculty over the summer and fall.

One thing I would add is that we in the academic community really need to grapple with how this will change the scholarly communication system. How will all of this be paid for and who will be paying? Do universities or publishers have an obligation to add value to content, through enhanced disciplinary databases, for example? How does this affect the revenue streams of scholarly societies who are an important component of peer review? Open access is a major overhaul of the scholarly communication system. Regardless of how noble our goals may be, we must think about the disruptions it could cause and how we modify those disruptions.

Deposit rates for many IRs have been low, and much of that seems to be because many faculty don't seem to understand the role of IRs serve. How do you see the IR’s role?

We need to figure out what the IRs role is in terms of the larger system of research, teaching, peer review, publication, and dissemination of scholarship. IRs certainly can help make the intellectual output of any given university more accessible, but to be really successful, they need to have a more central role. As they are construed now, you’re right, some faculty see little point in them, it is just one more thing they have to do. And when faculty members are shielded by libraries from the costs of journal subscriptions, they often don’t understand how IRs differ from published journals. I'm not sure I have an answer as to what role IRs will play, but I hope to work it out with my colleagues here and elsewhere.

How will you persuade faculty to participate in Penn’s IR? Do you have a strategy you have in mind?

Any strategy has to work on two levels, I think. First, one has to work with higher administration (provosts, deans) to try to encourage mandates for deposit. Second, and perhaps more important, one has to educate faculty about the issues of scholarly communication so that they can then serve as advocates for open access within their own departments or schools. It has to be a top-down plus a bottom-up strategy in order to be successful. So far we have marketed to both individual faculty and departments at Penn. In many cases, schools have a policy encouraging deposit in the repository. I plan on working with individual faculty as well to use them to encourage their colleagues to deposit....

OA to textbooks from Open U. of Israel

Ehud Zion Waldoks, Open University to put full textbooks on-line, Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2008.

The Open University [of Israel] has uploaded the full text of dozens of textbooks onto its Web site, which will be available to the public free of charge beginning next Thursday.

In the first initiative of its kind to place so many full texts on-line, the university has reformatted textbooks from 10 of its courses to a readable electronic format and posted them online.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the first to start putting materials on-line six years ago, but the Open University's project is the first to place entire books on-line. ...

Next year, the university hopes to put textbooks and other course materials from 40 more courses on-line. ...

"Regarding copyrights, the books that were written specifically for us are ours to do with as we wish. However, there are pictures or quotes from other authors [for] which we have obtained permission from them," [said Prof. Ora Limor, vice president for academic affairs].

There was an open question about what it would do to the price of books, she added.

"We print a million volumes a year, and we don't know how this will affect that. We hope that it won't hurt sales, but rather the opposite - people will become interested by reading on-line and then go out and buy the book so that they can read it more comfortably or not have to print out hundreds of pages," she said.

Limor said the project had already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and would probably cost more.

She added that audio versions of the books would also be available as MP3 downloads ...

Comment. I can't find other coverage of this news, and I can't get the site to load, so I don't know whether the textbooks are libre (available under an open license) or merely gratis (free of charge).

Update. Also see Ofri Ilani's story in Haaretz for May 27, 2008.

Update. See also the announcement by the university, posted at OCW Blog.

U of Oregon senate encourages use of an author addendum

Yesterday the University of Oregon Faculty Senate adopted a resolution encouraging faculty to use an author addendum:

Moved, that the University Senate

  1. Endorse the report of the task force on academic freedom and scholarly communication; and ask appropriate university units to implement the specific recommendations contained in the report, and
  2. Strongly recommend that all UO faculty members attach an author's addendum to any copyright transfer they sign for their scholarly work.

Thanks to JQ Johnson (Director of Scholarly Communications and Instructional Support for the University of Oregon Libraries) for the alert and for this summary of the task force report endorsed by the Senate:

The implementation  report contains a number of specific recommendations, including an  expectation that the detailed rights faculty members need will vary by  discipline but will typically include adequate rights to self-archive in the UO's institutional repository.  The report also suggests that  authors begin the process of negotiating with their publishers by  using the Science Commons "delayed access" addendum.

OA to UK UFO files -- for a limited time

Laura Blue, Britain Releases its X-Files, Time, May 14, 2008. (Thanks to Susan Morris.)
... This week Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) begins releasing all its files about UFOs — in ministry parlance, "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon" — on a government website, free for download. ...

[W]hy release the files now? A spokeswoman says the ministry gets as many as 150 or 200 requests for the files each year, and under Britain's Freedom of Information Act is obliged to answer almost all of them. "We have other priorities," she says. "The most resourceful thing to do is just get [these files] into the public domain."

It's an immensely time-consuming process. Ministry staff are now going through each file to redact personal information like names and addresses in correspondence, and then scanning each page for online publishing. The whole procedure should take about three years, with files rolled out in batches, posted online on the U.K. National Archives website. Files are available for free download for the first month; afterward, users will have to pay. ...
See also: France posted its UFO files last year.

OA to MSF field research

MSF makes its research accessible to health workers in developing countries, press release, May 15, 2008.
Today, the international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has launched a website which makes available, for free, published research based on its medical work. ...

"We were concerned that health professionals in developing countries would not be able to pay for access to our medical research and would miss information that could be highly relevant to their work," says Tony Reid, Medical Editor at the MSF office in Brussels. "The vast majority of our medical activities, and by extension our research initiatives, take place in poorer countries. We therefore applaud the willingness of medical publishers to allow us to archive the articles free of charge for the global medical community.

MSF is archiving all its peer-reviewed research and commentary articles on the site. At its launch, there are over 350 articles on HIV care, malaria, tuberculosis, leishmaniasis and other diseases, as well as more general topics such as medical care in emergencies, refugee health and health politics. As new articles are published, they will be archived on the site. ...
See also the comments by Public Library of Science and BioMed Central (whose Open Repository service, based on DSpace, runs the MSF site).

Comments on WiChempedia and Chempedia

Peter Murray-Rust, Chemical compounds in Wikipedia, petermr’s blog, May 15, 2008.

... Recently two derivative works of [Wikipedia] compounds were announced: [WiChempedia and Building Chempedia].

This post is primarily to welcome these developments and add some general comments.

  • The style of the two sites is different and they appear to be completely independent. They are somewhat complementary ...
  • I think both sites use the WP title and URL as the primary identifier in WP. WP also has a set of numeric identifiers which I think represents the internal WP uniquification system. This may matter at some time as WP entries can be deleted or moved while the identifiers are sacrosanct.
  • Both sites have a search capability (I have not compared them). I may have missed it but there was no clear way to download results.
  • It is not clear what the ingestion strategy is for either site. ...
  • I am not clear what data transformation (if any) is carried out automatically by the ingest process. ... An ingestion program either has to deal with all lexical variants (quite a problem) or simply ingest the string. ... Scientific units are not always easy to extract.
  • Does either site have an RSS feed for new entries? ...

Our own work on collections of common compounds using RDF is progressing well though it has been technically harder than we thought mainly due to variability in data input. ... We shall, of course make our results freely and Openly available, modulo the difficult issues which have been raised about data sharing are re-use.

OA journals in library science

Stephen Francoeur, Open access journals in Library Literature, Digital Reference, May 14, 2008. (Thanks to Robin Peek.)
I did a quick review of how many open access journals are covered in the Wilson database, Library Literature and Information Science Index (Library Lit). ... Here are the numbers:

Number of all journals in Library Lit.: 417
Number of open access journals in Library Lit.: 30
Number of open access journals in LIS in the DOAJ: 87

It is worth noting that the list of open access journals indexed in Library Lit. includes 13 titles that are not on the DOAJ list of LIS journals. Some of those 13 titles are now defunct. The open access journal, First Monday, is indexed by Library Lit, but the DOAJ lists it in the computer science category not the LIS one. ...

I've also marked up this copy of the DOAJ page of LIS journals to indicate which ones specifically are covered by Library Lit. ...

You may be wondering, "So, what's your point, Stephen?" I got started with this project because I was wondering how well OA journals were being indexed by the subscription databases we refer our students to. From the look of my little survey, Library Literature could be doing better. Are some subscription databases better than others for covering OA journals? ...

OA to Gould's papers

Don Kazak, Stanford gets Stephen Jay Gould's books, Palo Alto Online News, May 14, 2008. (Thanks to LISNews.)

Stanford University Libraries has acquired the collection of books, papers and artifacts of the late Harvard paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, author of more than 20 books.

Gould ... decided before his death in 2002 that his work should go to a library that that made a commitment to digitize and cross-link all of his work, according to Rhonda Shearer, Gould's widow. Stanford was the only institution that made that commitment, she said.

"This is something that Steve wanted," Shearer said. "Even though he called himself a Luddite and really had anxiety about technology, he saw that for ideas to compete, they really had to be on the Internet." ...

In addition to writing more than 20 books, many of them best-sellers, Gould also wrote 300 consecutive essays for Natural History, the monthly magazine of the American Museum of Natural History. ...

The library's plan is to digitize Gould's articles as well as the sources he drew on, and cross-link the sources with his own writing. The goal will be make all of Gould's papers freely available over the Internet to anyone who wants to see them. ...

OA to landmark science articles

National Science Digital Library has launched a new OA project, Classic Articles in Context. The project provides OA to landmark papers in a particular field and adds supporting materials. See the description by Carol Minton Morris, Plug a Wiki into a Fedora Repository and Get . . . A Scholarly Publication, HatCheck Newsletter, May 14, 2008.

A new National Science Digital Library (NSDL) scholarly publication, Classic Articles in Context (CAC), was launched in April 2008 with an atmospheric science theme: “Climate Change and Anthropogenic Greenhouse Warming: A Selection of Key Articles, 1824-1995, with Interpretive Essays.” Classic Articles in Context will present additional significant scientific questions of the Twentieth Century using landmark and important legacy papers in future issues.

Semantic models for scholarly communications should allow for the creation of new context about published works while mapping relationships to original sources and allowing for materials to be widely discovered and utilized. Classic Articles in Context (CAC) does just that by leveraging NSDL’s NCore wiki plug-in to its Fedora-based data repository to capitalize on NSDL’s ongoing relationships with publishers. Classic Articles in Context (CAC) provides publishers with a way to contribute to the creation of new knowledge around published articles in support of teaching and learning.

To illustrate science as a process that builds, and often turns, on discovery and replication expressed in the archival literature of empirical findings, NSDL works with publishers to make the original, full-texts of select “classic” articles available to students whether or not their institution holds a subscription to the journals in which they appeared. Every article featured in a CAC topical concentration includes a narrative essay that provides an overview of the investigation suitable for introductory undergraduate science courses. The essays identify and/or explain particularly significant aspects of the studies (novel methods, for example) and place them within the context of the overall literature of their field (noting, for example, how a given set of findings influenced subsequent work). ...

OA impact advantage even greater for developing countries

Michael Norris, Charles Oppenheim, and Fytton Rowland, Open Access Citation Rates and Developing Countries, a forthcoming presentation at ElPub 2008 (Toronto, June 25-27, 2008).  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

As part of a larger study of the citation advantage of Open Access (OA) , a study was mounted to see whether a higher proportion of citations to OA articles came from authors based in countries where funds for the purchase of journals were short. Mathematics was chosen as the field to be studied, because no special programme for access in developing countries, such as HINARI, covers it. The results showed that the majority of citations were given by Americans to Americans, but the admittedly small number of citations from authors in developing countries do indeed seem to show a higher proportion of citations being given to OA articles than is the case for citations from developed countries....

One of the basic arguments for OA is that those who cannot afford access to peer-reviewed journal articles could do so if the authors of these articles self-archived their work somewhere on the World Wide Web. It should follow then that a higher percentage of those who cite these OA articles ought to come from countries where access to expensive journals is limited....

For TA articles, the highest ratio of citing to cited articles occurs for citing authors in those countries in the lower middle income bracket, regardless of the nationality of origin of the cited articles. If all but the high income level countries are taken together, then the citation ratio is 4.45 for the TA articles and 9.79 for the OA articles. However, the overwhelming majority of articles are both authored and cited from the high-income countries....

The USA cites itself more than anyone else, which is not surprising given its level of authorship. The other developed countries except for Japan are all at about the same level in terms of within-nation citation. Table 1 suggests that while there is modest difference between the citation ratios of OA and TA articles for citations given by authors in the developed world (3.84 versus 2.92), the difference becomes much greater when citations given by authors from the developing world are studied. The sample from the lowest income countries is very small, but the results from the larger sample in the lower middle income group of countries are striking: a citation ratio of 12.85 for OA articles versus 5.05 for TA articles.

Library budgets and OA

David W. Lewis, Library budgets, open access, and the future of scholarly communication: Transformations in academic publishing, College and Research Libraries News, May 2008.

An important political battle is playing out ... that pits the interests of traditional publishing against the emerging model of open access. ...

The results of this battle will have important consequences for research and for the academy, but in some ways it masks a fundamental transformation in scholarly communication that is inevitable.

The truth is that established publishing conventions and the revenues generated from them cannot be preserved. Nor should they be. Universities and their libraries have danced around this issue for at least the last decade and it is now time to be frank about what the future holds for scholarly communication and how academic libraries will spend the money they devote to collections.

We need to begin with a fundamental fact—the cost of scholarly journals has increased at 10 percent per year for the last three decades. ... Between 1975 and 2005 the average cost of journals in chemistry and physics rose from $76.84 to $1,879.56. In the same period, the cost of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline rose from 55 cents to $1.82. If the gallon of gas had increased in price at the same rate as chemistry and physics journals over this period it would have reached $12.43 in 2005, and would be over $14.50 today.

Despite these price increases most academic libraries have continued to purchase as many scholarly journals as they possibly could and have decreased their book purchasing to do so. It is now time to ask simply: Why are we doing this? ...

My view is that the time has come to simply stop. But even if libraries wished to continue purchasing journals as they have in the past, they will not be able to do so. The money is simply not there. ...

Some journal publishers will lose income and some may suffer economic hardship as a result of library’s inability to keep up with price increases, but if publishers cannot provide a superior product at a cheaper price, then that is what should happen in the competitive market. If the cost of any other product had risen at this rate, we would have long ago found a cheaper substitute. Unfortunately, in the past there has been no good substitute for subscription-based scholarly journals. Now, fortunately, there is: open access.

... I am convinced that one piece of the puzzle will be that academic libraries will commit to curate open access digital content that is important to their campuses. What does curating content entail? There are at least three things academic libraries should do:

1. Digitize special collections, archives, and other unique material. ...

2. Establish repositories to provide access to and archive the digital documents and data that result from the research done on or of importance to the campus. ...

3. Provide the infrastructure for open access publishing, particularly of journals. ...

While there is sometime external funding available for digital projects, it is important that the curation of digital content be base funded. Libraries are in the business of keeping materials for the long term and this cannot be done on soft money. ...

I would propose a simple budget strategy something like the following:

1. Assume the library collections budget will rise at no more than the rate of inflation ...

2. Subtract 1 to 2 percent of the collections budget every year to add to the curation fund. This would slowly build this part of the budget.

3. Reserve the current percentage of the library’s collection budget that is allocated for books and use it to purchase both print and electronic books. ...

4. For the near term, databases will need to be maintained at about their current level ...

5. Spend the remaining portion of the collections budget on journals—recognizing that this will be a constant or slightly declining amount each year and that given the 8 to 12 percent rate of increase in the cost of scholarly journals, journals will have to be cut from the collection on a regular and continuing basis. While this will be painful, we can expect that over time open access alternatives to the titles we are forced to cut will emerge. ...

Report on study of data repositories

Liz Lyon, et al., Scaling Up: Towards a Federation of Crystallography Data Repositories, report funded by JISC Digital Repositories Programme, May 12, 2008. (Thanks to UKOLN.) From the executive summary:
The Scaling Up Report presents the results of a JISC-funded scoping study to assess the feasibility of a federated model for data repositories in the domain of crystallography. It builds on earlier work in the eBank UK Project and has been based on a mix of desk-based research, a consultation workshop and a series of interviews with stakeholders.

The authors conclude that a federation-based approach is an appropriate strategy for this domain and a Checklist of Community Criteria for Interoperability, summarises the elements which contribute a solid foundation for the model. ...

In addition, a number of Recommendations are made for further investigation. ...

OA to books from Venezuelan publisher

Laura Vidal, Venezuela: Publishing House Provides Works Online, Global Voices Online, May 13th, 2008. (Thanks to Jerzy Celichowski.)

There is good news for those that are learning Spanish and for fans of literature in Spanish. Thanks to an initiative from the Venezuelan Ministry of Culture, literary works from the publishing house Ayacucho Library is now available online for free. For some months now, bloggers and other literary enthusiasts have been able to access and download a wide array of Hispanic literary works available in .pdf format. Bloggers are pleased with the selection and the fact that it is available for readers.

Departamento de Lengua says: ...

Venezuelan publishing house Ayacucho has one of the most interesting lists –both for its literary quality of published works and for the number of works available– in Hispano-American literature around the world. From ancient indigenous traditions to the greatest novels of the 20th century; from the writings of Christopher Columbus to the Comentarios of El Inca Garcilazo. ...

First Australasian university signs the Cape Town Declaration

Sarah Stewart reports that

Last week Otago Polytechnic was the first educational institution in Australasia to sign The Cape Town Open Education Declaration....

Call for testers for new OJS

As announced on May 14, the forthcoming release of Open Journal Systems (2.2.1) is looking for pre-release testers.

Advice from BURP

Will my publisher allow self-archiving? BURP [Bradford University Repository Project], May 2008.  Excerpt:

If you wish to check what Elsevier, SAGE, Blackwell, Maney, Wiley etc permit, simply visit the SHERPA project's RoMEO view publisher policies....The BURP! Team will also help you check whether your articles can be posted on the University's forthcoming repository. Occasionally this means contacting the publishers directly for permission.

Tips on copyright:

  • Aim to negotiate a right to self-archive your work if the publisher's copyright agreement does not automatically provide this right.
  • Use the JISC copyright tool at to get help in retaining self-archiving rights....

More on the ACS position on OA

Bob Michaelson, The American Chemical Society and Open Access, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Winter 2008.  Excerpt:

...Unfortunately, serious conversation [about OA] is ill-served by some publishers’ strategies, including, regrettably, those pursued by the American Chemical Society.

Editorials in Chemical & Engineering News as far back as 2004 denounced OA as "socialized science" -- whatever that is supposed to mean. In 2005 Nobel Laureate Robert J. Richards published an open letter announcing his resignation from ACS out of disgust at the Society's opposition to OA.

In January 2007 Nature (445, 25 January 2007, 347) reported that ACS was among a group of members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) that hired "pit bull" Eric Dezenhall to attack the Open Access movement. Dezenhall advised the publishers to focus on simple messages (more honestly: simple-minded dissembling slogans), such as "public access equals government censorship." Indeed, ACS senior Vice President Brian Crawford told Nature,"[w]hen any government or funding agency houses and disseminates for public consumption only the work it itself funds, that constitutes a form of selection and self-promotion of that entity's interests."  By mid-2007 Dezenhall had founded PRISM ("Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine" – "integrity" is presumably used in the Rovian sense), launched by the Executive Council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the AAP. This organization proceeded to make, without evidence or plausibility, claims about OA presaged in the Nature account:  that it could "undermine the peer review process" and even "open the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record." Such ludicrous claims led a number of publishers, including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, and University of Chicago Press, to disavow PRISM (see e.g. [the Eureka Journal Watch entry on PRISM).

If the ACS regrets its association with PRISM's misstatements, they don’t show it....

If the ACS is to be a party to discussions of OA, they must stop getting their policy advice from PR flacks and start making rational contributions to the discourse. Otherwise they will continue to poison the waters, and deservedly will be accorded no credence.

Brian Crawford on OA

Sian Harris interviews Brian Crawford in the April/May issue of Research Information.  Crawford is the President of Publications division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Professional/Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP).  He was chair of the PSP/AAP Executive Council at the time it hired Dezenhall Resources and launched PRISM.  Excerpt:

What are your views on open access?

We [at the ACS] are in favour of various access models and think authors should have the right to choose. We don’t think that governments or others should mandate what authors do and require them to pay.

Immediately on publication each of our authors is given a link that they can put on their websites or funding body’s site free of charge. There is a limit of 50 downloads of their paper in the first year.

If the author wants to place the whole article on their website or funding body’s site then we have our ‘AuthorChoice’ model where authors pay to make their articles open access. Most of our revenue comes from subscriptions, with a bit from advertising. We don’t see many authors choosing the AuthorChoice option. We’ve had this model out for about a year and less than one per cent of papers are published this way. Not all authors have access to funds that they could use to pay to publish and most of our authors are pleased with the access that others have to their papers anyway.

We enable authors to submit their raw data too. We put this outside our firewall so it is open to non-subscribers too but we do not tag this information.

We left the matter of putting preprints in repositories to editorial discretion on the individual journals and the editors have chosen not to allow this. After publication there is the option to have the free authordirected link or to pay for open access. The society feels it is better to have the published version available.

Comments.  I'll limit myself to three comments here.  But for more comments on his OA position, see my blog archive.

  • "We don’t think that governments or others should mandate what authors do and require them to pay."  Not a single OA mandate anywhere requires authors to pay anything.
  • "[L]less than one per cent of papers are published [in the AuthorChoice hybrid OA program]."  As I've argued elsewhere, the reason is that the ACS hybrid journal program charges high fees and offers few benefits.  It doesn't let fee-paying authors retain copyright or use CC licenses, and it doesn't promise to reduce its subscription prices in proportion to author uptake (hence embracing a frank double-charge business model).  The uptake rate remains low despite the fact that the ACS requires participation, and payment of the fee, even for authors who only want green OA, not gold OA.
  • "We enable authors to submit their raw data too. We put this outside our firewall so it is open to non-subscribers too..."  Peter Murray-Rust reported in April 2007 that the ACS claimed copyright on author data files.

Update.  Also see the comments on Plausible Accuracy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

JISC: Synthesizing what we know about repositories

Tom Franklin, Repositories and Preservation Programme Synthesis, JISC Information Environment Team blog, May 13, 2008.

We are proposing to undertake a synthesis of the repositories and preservation programme which will support action. This means that the outputs need to be targeted at decision makers with additional information for those that will have to implement the decisions.

We have taken as a starting point the idea that decision makers are most likely to take note of what we are saying if repositories or preservation address problems that they are already worried about, and that many of these will stem from government, funding council or similar policies which they have to implement.

We have identified policies, decision makers who are concerned with them and ways in which we think that repositories or preservation can help.

We are aware that there will be other policies out there that we should be considering, that there may be other ways in which repositories or preservation could help and there may be other people we need to address.

We would very much welcome comments and thoughts on our thinking so that we can take it forward and start the synthesis. ...

New OA journal of ear-nose-throat medicine

The Medscape Journal of Medicine has launched an Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery section. From the inaugural editorial by David Goldenberg, posted April 29, 2008:

... This is the first exclusively online, open access, MEDLINE-indexed journal dedicated to otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. ...

The OTO-HNS section will feature original articles, including clinical, basic and translational research and trials, critical reviews, editorials and commentaries, policy papers and public health issues, consensus reports, expert opinions, and controversies in the fields of general otolaryngology, otology-neurotology, head and neck oncology and surgery, rhinology, pediatric otolaryngology, facial plastics and reconstructive surgery, and head and neck endocrine (thyroid and parathyroid) surgery.

One may ask: Why is this different from the other OTO-HNS journals? This is an online-only publication, giving it inherent advantages. Recently, the International Journal of Medical Informatics found that even with a rejection rate over 60%, they had a backlog of high-quality accepted papers waiting for print publication. Peer-reviewed online publishing provides the quality assurance without the potential boundaries of space limitation and page budgets. The omission of physical printing also shortens the publication process allowing for rapid turnaround time from acceptance to publication. Online publishing expands the reading audience of a journal. The subscription base of a few thousand is dwarfed by the total number of potential end users (more than 13 million) who have access to a journal through Web-based databases. Such a large potential audience could never have been reached with a print-only publication. Online publishing holds the possibility of enhancing manuscripts with additional material that is not suited for printing. The opportunity to add high-quality images in color, 3-dimensional illustrations, video clips, data sets, computational models, questionnaires, data analyses, podcasts, Webcasts, and PowerPoint presentations immeasurable enhances medical publication.

... [I]n a recent study Bhattacharyya and Shapiro found that the scholarly output (peer-reviewed publications) of young academic otolaryngologists is declining when compared with academic otolaryngologists graduating from prior generations. Leong encourages young otolaryngologists to not only read more but to respond to articles. This sharpens the scientific mind, facilitates discussion, and acts as a catalyst to further research and audit. ...

Overview of LOC digitization projects

Paula J. Hane, LC Works to Make Collections Accessible and Compelling, Information Today, May 12, 2008.

[The Library of Congress] is the largest library in the world, with more than 138 million items, including books and other print materials, recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music, and manuscripts. LC has made digitized versions of collection materials available online since 1994. ...

Digital Preservation
In December 2000, Congress asked LC to lead a collaborative project called the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). The library has been working with partners from universities, libraries, archives, federal agencies, and commercial content and technology organizations to develop a national strategy to collect, archive, and preserve the growing amounts of digital content, especially materials in digital-only formats, for current and future generations. ...

Historical Content Gets a Viewing
The Library of Congress and History (part of A&E Television Networks) have joined forces to create a multimedia partnership to showcase the library’s collections to the audience of the History brands including, The History Channel, and other television properties. The partnership will also bring historical content to more than 200,000 teachers across the country that use the channel’s branded educational materials in their classrooms. ...

Progress Toward a World Digital Library
In cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and major libraries and cultural institutions around the world, LC has been leading an effort to establish a World Digital Library that will make available on the internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world. Information about the WDL can be found online. ...

LC recently announced a partnership with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), an international, graduate-level research university that will be opening in Saudi Arabia in September 2009. The partnership will enable LC to work with KAUST and its WDL partners to develop the history of science in the Arab and Islamic worlds as a major theme in the WDL, which will be launched at UNESCO in early 2009.

Embracing Change
LC has been reaching to embrace many new technologies to fulfill its missions—including podcasting, webcasting, multimedia presentations, and more. Earlier this year it posted several important historical photograph collections through Flickr, inviting the public to tag and comment on the photos and help in providing identifying information. You can access a webcast about this Web 2.0 pilot project online. ...

Indian J. of Ophthalmology provides OA to backfile

Back files of IJO from vol 1 available for free access, Medknow, May 2008.
Back files of last 55 years of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology are now available online (except for a couple of issues). The entire collection of over 3,500 articles is available for free access. IJO is PubMed and SCI indexed journal with a print circulation of over 10,000. ...

More on Chempedia

Gino D'Oca, Chempedia: "a free and continuously-updated" chemical compound encyclopaedia, Chemistry Central Blog, May 12, 2008.

Earlier this year, California-based company Metamolecular, launched Chempedia, "a free and continuously-updated online" encyclopaedia of chemical compounds. The database is seen as potentially offering a new approach to overcoming some of the shortfalls of numerous well established - but restricted access - reference works: notably the limited visibility of information, slow update rate, and sometimes-limited coverage of chemical information relevant to more niche areas of specialisation.

Chempedia is built upon two of the biggest free and open chemical information repositories - Wikipedia and PubChem - whose contents the creators have sought to mash up. Wikipedia contains a growing collection of 'chemical compound monographs', which can be indexed relatively simply. However, at present further work remains to include all Wikipedia's 6,000-plus monographs in Chempedia. ...

The compound entries can be updated as soon as possible to reflect newly available information. ...

More on Oregon's copyrighted laws

Nate Anderson, Fight shaping up over Oregon's state law copyright claims, Ars Technica, May 13, 2008.

... As we reported last month, the State of Oregon isn't keen on having its Revised Statutes republished in full, for free, by Internet archives like and Justia. The sites got into a kerfuffle with the state over the information and have since refused to take out a "public" license. While Oregon backed down from its initial cease-and-desist notice, the two sides still cannot come to an agreement. Justia and have since retained counsel to deal with the issue, and their lawyer has already made clear to Oregon that his clients will be posting the entirety of the disputed material by June 2.

While you might think a state would want the laws it passes widely disseminated, the reality is that Oregon makes money licensing its statutes to publishers. State laws are not themselves copyrighted, of course, but Oregon claims that all the ancillary material in the Revised Statutes—including section numbers and headings—is copyrighted. ...

When the debate first flared up, response was quick. Google's William Patry opined that Oregon had gone "wacka wacka huna kuna," which we're pretty sure isn't a compliment. Malamud and his cohorts at Justia got on the phone with Oregon officials, who ended up proposing a "public license." In a letter dated April 30, though, Malamud pointed out that C-SPAN's copyright policy was only 318 words. By contrast, the "public license" offered by Oregon was 2,739 words long and was "incompatible with how public domain data is distributed."

On May 2, the lawyer for both Malamud and Justia informed Oregon that his clients could not accept the license and would be posting the material in question with or without an agreement by June 2. ...

Limiting PMC searches to OA articles

PubMed Central allows users to filter or "limit" searches to OA articles.  To find the option, click the Limits tab on the search page.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

One aspect of this feature seems to be new (more below in the comment), but other aspects are not. 

Here's the part of the Help file on this filter:

Full Text, Free Full Text, and Abstracts

To limit your search results to only citations that include a link to full text, a link to free full text, or an abstract, click the appropriate checkboxes [on the Limits tab].

Alternatively, you may search for citations with links to full text, free full text or include an abstract using the values: full text[sb], free full text[sb], or 'hasabstract'. No search field tag is required for hasabstract.


  • Sometimes when I click on the Limits tab, I see an option labeled "Open Access Articles".  That's what Heather announced and it seems to be new.  At least I haven't seen it before.  But sometimes when I click through, that option is not available, but I see another one to limit searches to "free full text".  That option is not new and I wrote about an earlier version of it in SOAN for August 2005.
  • Unfortunately, once my clicks start to bring up the second option, they no longer bring up the first.  Apart from navigation and interface confusion, this inconsistency raises doubts about the scope of the limited searches.  "Free full text" should include the "public access" articles deposited under the NIH public access policy.  But "Open Access Articles" should not.  The reason is that PMC uses the Bethesda definition of "open access", which calls for the removal of most permission barriers, but the NIH policy does not remove any permission barriers and leaves users with no more than fair use.  It's possible, then, that one of the options covers "public access" papers under the NIH policy and the other one does not.  More later, if I get new clarity on this.

Update.  I just got some clarity from Ed Sequeira at the NLM.  (Thanks, Ed.)  Here's the gist:

  • The PMC (PubMed Central) search page differs from the PM (PubMed) search page.  Each has a Limits tab.  The PMC version shows the "open access" filter and the PM version shows the "free full text" filter.  The clip from the Help file I quoted above is for the PM free full text filter, not for the PMC open access filter.
  • I still don't know how I started on the PMC search page and wound up on the PM search page.  But this may have something to do with it:  the Limits tabs on the two pages have the same URL.  They should display different pages, depending on where you started, and they probably do most of the time.   But in my playing around on Wednesday, it looks like some wires got crossed.
  • The PMC "open access" filter is about a year old.
  • The PMC "open access" filter does not follow the Bethesda definition of "open access", even though that's the definition PMC otherwise endorses.  The filter limits searches to the content in this subset of the larger PMC collection.  (PS:  Some of these articles do, and some don't, live up to the Bethesda definition; all of them are OA due to voluntary publisher policies, not the NIH policy, although some of them are by NIH-funded authors.)

Czech Academy signs the Berlin Declaration

Larousse offers free online access and some user freedom to contribute

Emily Murphy, French publishing group sets up rival to Wikipedia, The Independent, May 14, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Larousse, the French encyclopaedia created more than 150 years ago, is launching its own – it would say improved – version of Wikipedia.

Its first, free-access, online encyclopaedia will have the same contributor function but, to try to surmount the inherent problem of unreliability of articles, which can be modified by anyone at any time, Larousse has introduced some constraints.

Users who want to contribute have to sign up and their names will then appear on the article they submit. Unlike on Wikipedia, anonymous contributions are not allowed, and once written, contributions become protected.

Alongside the user-written pieces, Larousse will be making available 150,000 articles from its universal encyclopaedia, plus 10,000 images. Larousse is promising more in the future, along with the inclusion later this year of hundreds of video clips from channels such as National Geographic.

The Wikipedia "community" is made up of nearly 390,000 volunteer contributors and it is those that Larousse sees as one of the vital ingredients in Wikipedia's success story. It is hoping to rival this with its own online community and is drawing on its long-established print reputation to encourage people to join in.

"By becoming a contributor to Larousse, you become associated with a publisher of prestige, recognised for the seriousness and reliability of its content," says Isabelle Jeuge-Maynart, the Larousse's managing director. "Respect for an author is central to our concept. That should reassure... experts who are at the moment hesitant to publish their work on the internet." ...


  • The Larousse site is down at the moment, apparently overwhelmed by traffic.  So I can't tell whether the free online edition will use any kind of open license.  If anyone gets through and figures this out, please drop me a line.
  • The free Larousse will be more like Citizendium than Wikipedia, in that it will require attribution and use expert peer review.  But it's more like Google's Knols project than Citizendium, in that its articles will be written by single authors and not open to multiple user contributions.
  • Remember that just last month Germany's 30-volume Brockhaus Encyclopedia started offering free online access (see our blog post) and the Encyclopedia Britannica started offering free online access for bloggers (see our blog post).
  • It's fascinating to watch publishers discover that free online access allows them to retain their brands, their preferred forms of quality control, and a sufficient stream of revenue.  It's fascinating in a different way to watch them systematically explore wikispace and decide how much read-write freedom to offer alongside read freedom.  Finally, it's fascinating that re-use freedom is such a minor issue to the publisher and the press that news reports don't even bring it up.

Doing OA

Ken Udas, Doing OER and OA: More Questions than Answers, Open Students, May 12, 2008.

... Are enough people using OA resources?

Apparently, there is a lot of OA material available, and I assume that there are a lot of OA articles being read and referenced. But is OA being used to directly and positively impact educational access and outcomes? Why or why not?

Is asking “What does it mean to Do OA?” a meaningful or important question?

I ask this because of a fantastic posting that Amee Godwin of OER Commons recently made, titled On “Doing OER”. In this post Amee talks about Open Educational Resources less as things and more as processes. This is a powerful and engaging direction, because it connects creation, use, and re-creation in a cycle, poking at some of the underlying principles of an ecosystem that supports the economics of “openness.”

So, is this an important question relative to OA? Has it already been asked and answered and I missed the conversation?

Are there parallels between OA and other forms of OER?

Of course, the answer is Yes, but are the parallels relevant to the questions posed above? What can practitioners of OA learn from practitioners of OER, and vice versa? ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Utah gets an open charter high school

David Wiley, The Open High School of Utah, iterating toward openness, May 12, 2008.

With extreme joy and happiness I can now announce that this past Friday (the 9th) the Utah Board of Education formally approved our request to create a new charter school to be called the Open High School of Utah. For those unfamiliar with how US charter schools work, a charter school is a publicly funded school with a specific emphasis - like a performing arts high school. OHSU will be a completely online school (or “virtual school” as they are sometimes called) that will use open educational resources exclusively.

Through partnerships we are building we hope to make the OHSU an “early college high school,” meaning that students will have the opportunity to earn an Associate’s degree at no extra cost at the same time they earn their high school diploma. Our pedagogical approach will be heavily influenced by service learning.

As you can imagine, a high school based on OERs has need of a variety of partnerships - especially partners who are also interested in locating / assembling / building an entire high school curriculum’s worth of OER content. There will be lots of opportunities for volunteers to contribute and become part of the OHSU community - finding appropriately licensed resources, assembling these in ways that conform with their various incompatible licenses (no small challenge!), creating new OERs to fill the gaps in what exists, aligning content structures to state and national standards, etc. ...

Comment. See my comments at
... There are a few reasons this is particularly exciting. This school will have a strong concentrated interest in supporting OERs — you can expect the administration to be vocal advocates for favorable policies, funding, etc. The staff will develop deep experience with OERs, which can be shared with colleagues at traditional schools — and carried with them to future jobs. The school’s existence will establish a precedent, encouraging other educators to consider how to use OERs.

In other words, this could be the acorn that starts a forest.
Update. Wiley has posted the charter application documents.

OA as balance to copyright control

Kenny Crews, Copyright in Bayreuth, ©ollectanea, May 10, 2008.

... My presentation [at the University of Bayreuth] had this busy title: "Exceptions, Limitations, Open Access: The Creation of a Copyright Public Domain." My main point: At a time of expanding copyright protection--as a result of automatic protection of nearly all works for a extensive period of years--the law is responding with gestures that attempt to create a "public domain" or at least a multi-facted zone of public protection. I focused on three developments from just the last few months:

(1) The Section 108 Study Group Report. ...

(2) Orphan Works bills just introduced into Congress. ...

(3) The NIH Public Access Policy. While the open access movement is a phenomenon that is less law and mostly copyright management, this particular policy is law. Peer-reviewed publications funded by NIH are now required to be submitted to PubMed Central for public access. This is a very good development. But again my point: Congress is creating a "public domain" be carving out space for public uses.

The contours of the "public domain" are complex. Congress continues to experiment. ... [T]hese three developments in just the last few months demonstrate that the regime of copyright has become too aggressive in its scope and reach. In reaction, Congress is struggling with innovative was to give some benefit back to the public. ...

See also our posts on the Section 108 Study Group Report and the orphan works legislation.

Faculty views on the future of scholarly communication

Diane Harley and four co-authors, Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An In-depth Study of Faculty Needs and Ways of Meeting Them, a "Draft Interim Report" from the University of California Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education, Spring 2008. 

Abstract:   The Center for Studies in Higher Education, with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is conducting research to understand the needs and desires of faculty for in-progress scholarly communication (i.e., forms of communication employed as research is being executed) as well as archival publication. In the interest of developing a deeper understanding of how and why scholars do what they do to advance their fields as well as their careers, our approach focuses on fine-grained analyses of faculty values and behaviors throughout the scholarly communication lifecycle, including sharing, collaborating, publishing, and engaging with the public. Well into our second year, we have posted a draft interim report describing some of our early results and impressions based on the responses of more than 150 interviewees in the fields of astrophysics, archaeology, biology, economics, history, music, and political science.

Our work to date has confirmed the important impact of disciplinary culture and tradition on many scholarly communication habits. These traditions may override the perceived “opportunities” afforded by new technologies, including those falling into the Web 2.0 category. As we have listened to our diverse informants, as well as followed closely the prognostications about the likely future of scholarly communication, we note that it is absolutely imperative to be precise about terms. That includes being clear about what is meant by “open access” publishing (i.e., using preprint or postprint servers for work published in prestigious outlets, versus publishing in new, untested open access journals, or the more casual individual posting of working papers, blogs, and other non-peer-reviewed work). Our work suggests that enthusiasm for technology development and adoption should not be conflated with the hard reality of tenure and promotion requirements (including the needs and goals of final archival publication) in highly competitive professional environments.

Despite its mention in the abstract, there's little about OA in the body of the report:

Electronic publishing should not be used as a proxy for open access publishing, as many commercial journals are accessed predominantly online....

[W]hen choosing where to publish, the stature and selectivity of the publication organ, as well as its appropriateness for targeted audiences, are of importance to all disciplines. We suspect that the desire for “wide readership” is an outgrowth of these criteria and not the primary motivation for selecting a publication venue (i.e., an open-access online publication without a prestigious imprimatur will not usually be chosen over a prestigious commercial publisher)....

We have heard little about a crisis in scholarly communication from our interviewees, with a few exceptions. For example, some biologists exhibit a pro-open access journal bias, are well aware of the serials “crisis,” and may refuse to publish in commercial journals (especially Elsevier)....

PS:  For background, also see the July 2006 report by most of the same authors, from the same Berkeley Center, Scholarly Communication: Academic Values and Sustainable Models.  In my blog excerpts, I highlighted the findings which documented widespread faculty ignorance and misunderstanding of OA.

How to free your facts

Donna Wentworth, How to free your facts, Science Commons blog, May 12th, 2008.

... [W]e’re getting more emails with questions about how best to share collections of factual data. One of the most common questions: How do I mark my data explicitly as “open access” and free for anyone to use?

In general, we encourage you to choose waivers, like the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (ODC-PDDL) or the Creative Commons CC0 waiver, rather than licenses, such as CC-BY, FDL or other licenses.

The issues surrounding how to treat factual data are complex. To help bring more clarity for those of you exploring your options, here’s a short overview of the reasons why we generally advise using waivers, prepared by Science Commons Counsel Thinh Nguyen.

Facts are (and should be) free
There is long tradition in science and law of recognizing basic facts and ideas as existing in the public domain of open discourse. At Science Commons we summarize that by saying “facts are free.”

... When Congress wrote the Copyright Act, it made sure to spell out that facts cannot be subject to copyright. ...

And there are good reasons for this. Imagine if you couldn’t reference physical constants — like the height of Mount Everest — without permission. ... We all need access to a basic pool of ideas and concepts in order to have any kind of meaningful discourse. So copyright is supposed to protect creative expression–the unique and individual ways we express ourselves–but not the invariant concepts and ideas that we need to think and carry on a conversation.

Licensing facts can cause legal uncertainty and confusion
So why is it that increasingly, especially online, there is talk about licensing factual data–assertions of rights and obligations over assertions of facts? Part of the answer is that as facts get represented in formats that look more like computer code, the impulse is to treat it like any other computer code. And that means putting a license on it. Part of the answer is that the law is still struggling with how to treat databases, and in some countries, database rights have expanded (particularly in Europe under the database directive). Other countries have loosened copyright standards to allow purely factual databases to be protected. (For a more detailed discussion of these issues, see the Science Commons paper, Freedom to Research: Keeping Scientific Data Open, Accessible, and Interoperable [PDF].)

But even if you could find a legal angle from which to impose licensing or contractual controls over factual data, why would you want to? ...

Attribution for facts can add complexity and hamper reuse
Many people cite the desire to receive attribution. In scientific papers, we have a tradition of citing sources for facts and ideas. But those traditions evolved over hundreds of years. There’s a lot of discretion and judgment that goes into deciding whom to cite and when. ... But what happens to common sense when you convert that requirement into a legal requirement? ...

Imposing licensing on data creates all kinds of unanticipated problems. If you have a database with thousands or hundreds of thousands of pieces of facts, does each fact have to come with their own attribution and licensing data? How do we aggregate and recombine such data? ... In the future, will every database need its own database of attribution? ...

This problem, which we call “attribution stacking,” can saddle science with an unbearable administrative burden. It could shut down present and future sites that aggregate and federate data from many different sources. ...

The solution: use a waiver for factual data, not a license or contract
... We think the best answer is to go back to what scientists themselves have been doing for centuries: giving attribution without legal requirements. We think Congress got it right when it excluded facts and ideas from copyright protection. And we think it should stay that way, even when those facts happen to get incorporated into databases. ...

Wanted: IR RSS feeds

Roddy MacLeod, Wanted: Institutional repository RSS feeds, SPARC-OAForum mailing list, May 13, 2008.
... The Gold Dust project needs to know about IR RSS feeds.

Gold Dust is a JISC funded project exploring time-saving solutions which may provide academics with intelligently selected current awareness information. This information is drawn from numerous RSS feeds of various sources and then selected against using intelligently generated Personal Information Profiles. Gold Dust is actively collecting RSS feeds for a number of categories of resources, and IRs/subject repositories are one of these categories.

We have RSS feeds for new items in arXiv, The Depot, a handful of US repositories, and only 1 UK repository: Glasgow ePrints Service.

If you produce an RSS feed for your IR, please let me know the details. ...

Survey of RePEc services

Christian Zimmermann, A survey of RePEc services, The RePEc blog, May 11, 2008.

RePEc is just a way to organize bibliographic data. A RePEc service uses that data and makes it usable to the public. As the data is in the public domain, anybody can start such a service and make RePEc even more useful. Here is a list of known RePEc services, listed in alphabetical order.

CitEc performs citations analysis on works listed in RePEc and returns citation data to RePEc services. ...

EconLit is a bibliographic database sold by the American Economics Association. It also displays select working papers series from RePEc. In exchange, Econlit provides some bibliographic metadata to RePEc and support in encouraging more working paper series to be listed in RePEc.

EconPapers displays all the data collected in RePEc, including author information and links to references. The site can be browsed by series, journals, authors and fields. EconPapers also provides various checks to other services and to archive maintainers (metadata syntax, URL checks, linking different versions of the same work). ...

IDEAS displays all the data collected in RePEc, including authors information, references, citations, and rankings. The site can be browsed by series, journals, authors, fields, and institutions, or searched. ...

Inomics is a website that was created by the late Thorsten Wichmann. One feature of Inomics is displaying RePEc data. While the rest on the site is continually maintained by Berlecon staff, the RePEc part still runs unmodified after many years. ...

LogEc performs statistical analysis for downloads and abstract views on select RePEc services (i.e., those that make the effort to provide relevant data) ...

NEP (New Economics Papers) disseminates new working papers through field specific email lists. At this writing, 83 mailing lists are available, and they typically send a message once a week. To be listed, a working paper needs to be recent, available online, and selected by an editor aided by an expert system. Subscriptions are free. ...

RePEc Author Service
The RePEc Author Service allow authors to compile all their works listed in RePEc into one folder. Along with contact information and affiliations, the collected data can then be used by other RePEc services, to enrich the displayed data, generate cross-links or compute rankings. ...

Socionet is a website in Russian that serves a lot of information about research in social sciences, including RePEc data. It also includes RePEc data in Cyrillic that other services typically do not display. ...

RePEc data is also disseminated through an OAI-PMH portal ...

New ARL scholarly communication discussion guides

On May 12, the Association of Research Libraries updated its Brown-Bag Discussion Guide Series on Issues in Scholarly Communication. Two new guides were added: Author Rights II: Institutional Strategies for Enhancing Rights Management and New Model Publications.

Tempers flare on the AAP lawsuit against Google

Craig Morgan Teicher, Panels Highlight the Copyright Divide, Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2008.  Excerpt:

Divergent opinions were the order of the day at the 2008 On Copyright conference, held May 1 in Manhattan. Those who believe that in the Internet age copyright law stands in the way of free promotion went head to head with those who say copyright is the only thing protecting their business. Attitudes of the day’s panelists toward the changing nature of copyright ranged from panic to eager embrace.

Of the four panels —on art, society, technology and law— the final two were the most dynamic. During a q&a following the law panel, a heated exchange about the Google Book Search Library Project took place between AAP lawyer Allan Adler and University of Virginia law professor Chris Sprigman, who had moderated the earlier technology panel and was now in the audience. In AAP’s view, according to Adler, Google’s book database, which includes copyrighted books scanned from libraries, is a valuable, illegally created asset against which Google can sell ads for its own gain. Sprigman disagreed, saying Google was not competing with publishers, but offering a means of indexing books for research and other purposes. He suggested the AAP, which has sued Google on behalf of publishers, is merely holding out for a payment from Google....

Comment.  I'm with Sprigman.  See for example, Does Google Library violate copyright? from October 2005.

Communicating research results to research participants

David I. Shalowitz and Franklin G. Miller, Communicating the Results of Clinical Research to Participants: Attitudes, Practices, and Future Directions, PLoS Medicine, May 13, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Available data consistently indicate that research participants want aggregate and clinically significant individual study results made available to them. Participants' desires do not necessarily determine policy, but respect for participants requires taking their preferences seriously....

Comment.  This leads to a simple and powerful argument for OA.  Most research subjects are not faculty members with prepaid access to a large body of journal literature.  The easiest and most direct way to give them access to the results is to make the results OA, either through an OA journal or an OA repository.  Researchers could mail digital or print offprints to each participant, but that could easily cost more than OA, especially if the journal charges a fee for the reproduction and distribution of offprints.

Helping faculty with OA in order to help them increase their impact

Laura Bowering Mullen, Increasing Impact of Scholarly Journal Articles: Practical Strategies Librarians Can Share, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Spring 2008. 

Abstract:   Researchers are extremely interested in increasing the impact of their individual scholarly work, and may turn to academic librarians for advice and assistance. Academic librarians may find new roles as consultants to authors in methods of self-archiving and citation analysis.  Librarians can be proactive in this new role by disseminating current information on all citation analysis tools and metrics, as well as by offering strategies to increase Web visibility of scholarship to interested faculty. Potential authors of journal articles, especially those faculty seeking greater research impact, such as those seeking promotion and tenure, will find practical suggestions from librarians invaluable. Citation analysis tools continue to improve in their coverage of social and behavioral science fields, and emerging metrics allow more flexibility in demonstrating impact of published journal articles.

From the body of the paper:

New research guides and finding aids should be made available from the library Website to assist faculty and others in keeping up with the most current strategies about open access, and then assisting them in quantitatively demonstrating the increased impact that may result....

By now, it has become fairly well accepted that open access associated with greater Web visibility increases research impact. A plethora of quantitative studies are available as part of a helpful Webliography that librarians may share with researchers. This Webliography, published by the “Open Citation Project” is updated regularly, and is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to bolster the argument that “open access increases research impact.”  ...Subject specialist librarians can prepare discipline-specific information on self-archiving and matters of impact. This information can be disseminated from the library via the Website, or through personal consultation between librarian and researcher....

For more than a decade, many librarians and scientists have persistently made the case that self-archiving is the open access strategy that would prove most effective for the rapid and widespread dissemination of peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. Stevan Harnad, first in his “subversive proposal” and still today, continues to advocate for self-archiving of preprints and postprints in repositories as a mechanism to increase Web visibility. This has often been called the “green” road to open access.  This mechanism of increasing visibility is outside of the traditional publishing system, and only requires authors to retain rights, and to deposit their own work in a digital repository of their choice. Librarians must understand the potential of self-archiving to transform the scholarly communication system for many disciplines....

Depending on the university, librarians might not only be expected to lead the discussion on self-archiving, but also to assist researchers with the actual process of depositing scholarly work in appropriate digital repositories. Those working at libraries developing institutional repositories will also take on the task of encouraging faculty to participate in the population of the institutional repository....

Comment.  Some librarians use preservation as the hook to get faculty to deposit new articles in the institutional repository.  It's an honest argument and I hope it works.  But librarians should also use impact as a hook.  (I know that many already do.)  It's an honest argument as well and one supported by plentiful data.  Publishing faculty need preservation and impact, but far more of them know they need impact than know they need preservation.  In that sense the impact argument is closer to the surface of faculty interests.  But because the two arguments are compatible, there's no need to choose.  Have the impact argument ready when you need it --and put it on the library web site, as Mullen recommends.

Guides for OA journal publishers

The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened another list for community editing and enlargement:

Remember that OAD is a wiki. You can help the cause by adding or revising entries to the OAD lists.

Another OA mandate for a public funding agency in Ireland

The Science Foundation Ireland has released a draft policy on The Open Access Repository of Published Research, undated but part of a call for comments apparently released today.  From the draft policy:

Science Foundation Ireland has established and will promote the following policy relating to the placement of research publications in Open Access repositories.

Where a research publication arises in whole or in part from SFI funded research..., the following policy will be adhered to with effect from … 2008....

The SFI policy is adopted on the following key principles: ...

1. This publication policy confirms the freedom of researchers to publish first wherever they feel is the most appropriate.

2. The effect of the policy is intended to increase the visibility of, and improve access to, the research funded by SFI and the State, where such research is intended to be published by the researcher(s) concerned.

3. The policy is based on recognised best practice. It is in keeping with the recommendations of the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) Policy in relation to scientific publication. It is also in keeping with the combined OECD Ministers’ Declaration entrusting the OECD to work towards commonly agreed Principles and Guidelines on Access to Research Data from Public Funding.

Conditions to which SFI funded award recipients should adhere:

1. All researchers should lodge their publications resulting in whole or in part from SFI-funded research in an open access repository as soon as possible after publication, and to be made openly accessible within 6 calendar months at the latest.

2. The repository should ideally be a local institutional or international disciplinary repository to which the appropriate rights must be granted to replicate to other repositories.

3. Authors should deposit post-prints (or publisher’s version if permitted) plus metadata of articles accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and international conference proceedings;

4. Deposit should be made upon acceptance by the journal/conference. Repositories should release the metadata immediately, with access restrictions to full text article to be applied as required. Open access should be available as soon as practicable after the author-requested embargo, or six month, whichever comes first;

5. Suitable repositories should make provision for long-term preservation of, and free public access to, published research findings;

6. Books are not covered by such repositories but the following condition applies in such cases. When a book goes out of print or four years following publication, whichever is sooner, and the publisher does not foresee a further print run or availability online for the work within a six-month period, then authors should make the work available online in an open and accessible way.

7. Metadata has already been noted under point 3. Data in general should as far as is feasible be made openly accessible, in keeping with best practice for reproducibility of scientific results.

8. Software, together with methods and algorithms, are not directly covered by Open Access repositories. However in keeping with best practice of scientific reproducibility key scientific results should be made available openly....

From the call for comments:

SFI now invites responses to this draft policy before 19th June. Responses can be sent by e-mail to

Comment.  This policy is virtually identical to the exemplary OA mandate adopted by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) earlier this month.  The only significant differences are the provisions on books, data, and software added by SFI (##6-8 above).  Kudos to all involved at SFI.  As I did with the IRCSET policy,

I particularly applaud the mandatory language, the firm six month deadline with no loopholes for resisting publishers, the equal standing of central and distributed repositories, and the full implementation of the dual deposit/release strategy (or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Passions about the future of society publishing

Jennifer Howard, Learned Societies' Gathering Delves Into Political and Publishing Challenges, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 12, 2008.  Excerpt:

Legal and political obstacles facing international scholars and the effects of the Internet revolution on scholarly communication topped the agenda at the 2008 conference of the American Council of Learned Societies here [Pittsburgh, May 8-10, 2008]....

Passions ran highest at a session on "Learned Societies and the Future of Publishing: When Will the Internet Revolution Arrive?"

The panel's moderator, James J. O'Donnell, who is provost of Georgetown University and secretary of the association, promised that the discussion would go deeper than the "tastes-great-less-filling" arguments that often hamper debate about open access and digital publishing. The three-hour session touched on just about every aspect of scholarly communication in the digital environment, including how to balance scholarly societies' need for journal revenue with scholars' desire to obtain material freely—in every sense.

Nobody had quick or easy answers, though exhortations abounded....

Lynne Withey, director of the University of California Press, stood up and pointed out that people rarely talk about what new means of disseminating information really cost. "I don't have any problem in principle with the Robin Hood model of publishing," she said, but she emphasized that "there is a whole set of costs to the university"—meaning technical support, professors' and editors' salaries, and so on—that people don't factor in.

Peter K. Bol, a professor of East Asian languages and civilizations at Harvard University, shared the news that Harvard has recently canceled a thousand journal subscriptions, many of them humanities journals from Europe. Harvard's faculty voted to adopt an open-access policy, he said, in part "to break the monopoly of journals."

But as one audience member afterward said, to applause, "These associations could be very seriously injured by making these journals freely available."

Michael A. Keller, a panelist and the university librarian at Stanford University, sparred with a philosopher who blamed libraries for playing along with commercial publishers' overpricing of journals in the science, technical, and medical fields, a practice that has cut into library budgets.

"Libraries blew it," Mr. Keller agreed, "when they started shelling out for all the crap journals" distributed by the commercial-publishing giants. But he put the blame on scholars' shoulders, too. "If you guys don't stand up and start screaming about that," he told the philosopher, "there's nothing I can do about it from my little perch at Stanford."

"I don't subscribe to bottom-feeder journals," he added.

Open education in medicine and healthcare

R. Ellaway and R.D. Martin, What's mine is yours - open source as a new paradigm for sustainable healthcare education, Medical Teacher, March 2008.  The March issue isn't online yet so I've linked to the abstract at PubMed:

Abstract:   Free and open access to information, and increasingly digital content and tools, is one of the defining characteristics of the Internet and as such it presents a challenge to traditional models of development and provision of educational materials and activities. Open source is a particular way of giving access to materials and processes in that the source material is available alongside the finished artifact, thereby allowing subsequent adaptation and redevelopment by anyone wishing to undertake the work. Open source is now being developed as a concept that can be applied in settings outside software development (Kelty 2005), and it is increasingly being linked to moral and ethical agendas about the nature of society itself (Lessig 2005). The open source movement also raises issues regarding authority challenging the role of the expert voice. The imperative of open source and associated economic and social factors all point to an opportunity-rich area for both reflection and development. This paper explores the open source phenomena and it will consider ways in which open source principles and ideas can benefit and extend the provision of a wide range of healthcare education services and activities.

Sharing subscription buffet revenue with OA content

Mark Surman, The world is flat (rate), commonspace, April 30, 2008.

... [A] new company called Noank['s] web site says:

Noank's mission is to license and distribute digital content globally while fairly compensating content owners, using the most efficient, sustainable, and effective business and technology systems. Noank's motto is "limitless legal content flow."

The idea is simple: blanket content subscriptions charged by ISPs for all the content you can eat. Users just grab content P2P-style the way they do now. Content creators get a slice of the subscription revenue based on the popularity of their materials. ...

More interesting is that fact that Noank will split revenue with anyone who owns content and signs a contract with them, even if they've already open sourced it. A case in point is MIT Open Courseware, which is in huge demand in some Chinese universities. MIT could put its lecture videos on the Noank P2P network and then claim a piece of the action, even though the material is available under CC free on the web. If it works, this both helps with both international bandwidth issues and allows those who produce open content to bring in money.

Is there are catch? Yes, of course. Noank uses super invasive client software to track the popularity of materials. Each use of each textbook, movie or video is recorded at the file system level on your computer. There is a piece in the client that anonymizes all this info before it is transmitted back to Noank. That may reassure you. It may not. ...

See the response by Andrew Rens, Subscription based open content aggregation, ex Africa semper aliquid novi, May 12, 2008:

... [Noank] obviously offers a possible revenue stream to those who open license their work. But the approach is based on the idea that one pays subscription for content, including open content. While the the aggregator may perform a service by bundling open and closed content, it nevertheless supports the notion that one pays for content, in all contexts including education, and not just in respect of consumer based entertainment.

That is a problematic idea ...

In other words this is a new business model which may help to change the environment within which the open educational resources and access to knowledge movements operate. It provides new challenges because it attempts to extract value from open resources, but does so in a non exclusive way. It does so however by charging a subscription. While the open material will be available elsewhere without paying the premium, the existence of the subscription aggregator may undercut the incentives for open access players to create open access aggregators and services. Those unable to pay the premium, i.e. those who already have the greatest barriers to access to knowledge may face a greater difficulty in locating open content if there are fewer open aggregators. ...

New issue of ScieCom info

From the May 12 announcement by Ingegerd Rabow:
Supported by Nordbib, the old ScieCominfo has been revived to focus specifically on the Nordic and Baltic countries. ...

We wish to demonstrate the importance of Open Access in the Nordic and Baltic countries and describe theoretical and best-practice models for financing, rights management, long-term preservation, as well as other fundamental issues.
Articles in the new issue:

New release of ETDs bibliography

Version 2 of Charles Bailey's Electronic Theses and Dissertations Bibliography was released on May 12. From the announcement:
... This bibliography presents selected English-language articles, conference papers, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet ...

New OA journal on medical case reports

Cases Journal is a peer-reviewed OA journal for medical case reports published by BioMed Central. The journal was announced on May 12. Article processing charges are £99 (€125, US$195) per accepted article, subject to discounts and waivers. Articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Update. See also the comments at the BioMed Central Blog and by the journal's editor, Richard Smith, at OnMedica.

Latest additions to DOAJ: 14 new entries

The following journals were added to the Directory of Open Access Journals since May 5, most recent first: P.S. I didn't post an update last week because no new journals were added that week.

More controversy over OA for creative writing ETDs

Andrea Foster, Readers Not Wanted: Student Writers Fight to Keep Their Work Off the Web, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

...For now, creative-writing students [at West Virginia University] can submit their theses on paper. But starting next fall, the coordinator of the campuswide electronic-thesis program wants to require those students, like others at West Virginia, to submit their writing projects electronically and make them publicly available after five years.

That policy could hurt students, says [Mark Brazaitis], an associate professor of English, because publishers will not accept poems, short stories, or novels that are already freely available for everyone to read online.

"Goodness knows," he says, "it's hard enough to get published without this sort of handicap."

Tension about how theses should be disseminated is brewing on other campuses, too. Open-access advocates, often scientists and librarians, are pressing for the scholarly works to be made publicly available online. Professors of writing and their students, however, argue that literary projects are fundamentally different from laboratory experiments....

John H. Hagen, the electronic-thesis coordinator, who is also a library administrator, insists that online distribution enhances students' publishing prospects rather than thwarts them. Publishers are spreading spurious claims about electronic dissemination of theses, he says, to preserve their "dying market." And he argues that once professors are educated about the issue, they will come around to his side.

"All theses and dissertations should become open access," says Mr. Hagen. "It's important in terms of being able to trace the cultural and historical aspects of academia."

Mr. Hagen, who is on the board of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, a nonprofit group that advocates electronic dissemination of theses, has data to back up his argument. He surveyed 34 West Virginia alumni who earned master-of-fine-arts degrees in creative writing, and he found that students who had allowed open access to their theses went on to have more-successful careers, in terms of material published and further education, than those who didn't.

Professors of writing are skeptical. Publishers still operate by the rule of turning down manuscripts that are already freely available, says Mr. Brazaitis....Limiting access to theses for five years, as Mr. Hagen proposes, isn't good enough, Mr. Brazaitis says....

He has support from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, an advocacy group, which adopted guidelines in October 2006 advising colleges not to force students to broadly disseminate their theses....

The writing group's statement helped persuade some institutions, Bowling Green State and Louisiana State University among them, to exclude creative-writing theses from open-access policies....

But some institutions are not ceding ground to students and their professors.  [Jeanne M. Leiby, an associate professor of English at Louisiana State University] previously taught at the University of Central Florida, where she and other writing professors lost the battle to restrict access to theses. She says that many faculty members supported limiting access, but some administrators did not.

Patricia J. Bishop, vice provost and dean of the University of Central Florida, says it has an obligation, as a taxpayer-supported institution, to make theses publicly available. "If we don't disseminate the work eventually," she says, "I think we would not be serving the public." ...Ms. Bishop says students haven't objected to the policy....

PS:  For background, see our March 2008 post on the similar controversy at the University of Iowa.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Video on OA

Sean Kass, a third year Harvard law student, has released a 14 minute video, Open Access to Scholarly Publications.  The video is a project in the course, The Web Difference, taught by John Palfrey and David Weinberger.

The boundary between removing no permission barriers and removing some

Stevan Harnad, Lower Bound Needed for Permission-Barrier-Free Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, May 4, 2008.

Summary:  "Permission-Barrier-Free OA," because it is on a continuum, needs at least a minimal lower bound to be specified.
    "Price-Barrier-Free OA" is not on a continuum. It just means free access online. However, it too needs to make a few obvious details explicit:
        (1) The free access is to the full digital document (not just to parts or metadata).
        (2) There is no "degree of free" access: Lower-priced access is not "almost free" access.
        (3) The free access is immediate, not delayed or embargoed.
        (4) The free access is permanent and continuous.
        (5) The access is free for any user webwide, not just certain sites, domains or regions.
        (6) The free access is one-click and not gerrymandered (as Google Books or copy-blocked PDF are).
    Hence "Almost-OA" [via Closed Access plus the "Email Eprint Request" Button] is definitely not OA -- though it will help hasten OA's growth.
    Nor does Price-Barrier-Free OA alone count as Permission-Barrier-Free OA. The only way to give that distinction substance, however, is to specify a minimal lower bound for Permission-Barrier-Free OA.


  • The background here is the distinction that Stevan and I once described with the terms strong and weak OA.  We now agree that we picked infelicitous terms to describe the distinction and are looking for better ones.  But the distinction itself remains important, widely accepted, and non-controversial.  Here Stevan elaborates on one side of the distinction:  what we called "weak OA" or the removal of price barriers without the removal of permission barriers.  I want to elaborate on the distinction itself or on the borderline between the two halves. 
  • Here's how I described the borderline in a comment on Peter Murray-Rust's blog last week:

    The borderline between strong and weak OA is easy to define. Weak OA removes no permission barriers and strong OA removes at least some permission barriers. (Both of them remove price barriers.)

    The fact that strong OA covers a range of different not relevant to the distinction between strong and weak OA itself....

  • I stand by that (with the exception that I'm no longer using the terms strong and weak OA).  But this way of putting it presupposes the idea of a permission barrier.  Since I introduced that term in a 2003 article, and since the term may not be self-explanatory, let me explain what I meant, starting with a couple of examples.  If copying a short excerpt is permitted by "fair use" (or "fair dealing" or the local equivalent), then users may do it without asking anyone's permission.  There are no permission barriers in the way.  If copying full text and redistributing it to others exceeds fair use (or the local equivalent), then users must ask permission first, take the legal risk of proceeding without it, or err on the side of non-use.  In general, when a use requires permission, users face a permission barrier.  When rightsholders grant permission in advance for uses that exceed fair use (or the local equivalent), then they remove permission barriers.
  • As a practical matter, there are two ways to remove permission barriers:  (1) with copyright holder consent, through a license or statement permitting uses that would otherwise be impermissible or doubtful, and (2) with the expiration of copyright and the transition of the work into the public domain.
  • As I said in my original post on strong and weak OA, there is more than one permission barrier to remove and therefore more than one kind or degree of strong OA.  (This is the continuum Stevan refers to in his post.)  Not all ways of removing permission barriers are equivalent to one another.  For example, allowing full-text copying for commercial use is clearly not equivalent to prohibiting that sort of copying but permitting full-text coping for non-commercial use.  But removing some permission barriers is clearly different from removing none at all, and that's the distinction I'm trying to articulate here.

OA resources for accountancy

OpenTuition is a new site offering free online study guides for accountancy.  From the March 9 announcement:

OpenTuition has now launched its new website dedicated to provided free study materials to assist students preparing for accountancy examinations....

Over the coming months OpenTuition will increase the resources available with the addition of podcasts, audio lectures, video lectures and more printed material including Study Texts and Revision Notes....

The authors of the material are all qualified accountants who have previously been full-time lecturers for accountancy training organizations in the UK, and their material is of the highest quality - equal to anything commercially available....

Three more lists for OAD

The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened three more lists for community editing and enlargement:

Remember that OAD is a wiki. You can help the cause by adding your own entries to these lists. 

How long to produce a journal issue with OJS?

Heather Morrison, Open Access Using OJS - how fast?, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, May 10, 2008.
How fast can a journal issue be published using Open Journal Systems (OJS)?

Based on a special issue of Topics in Scholarly Communications I created this afternoon for an upcoming presentation, it appears - pretty darn fast!

Altogether, this special one-article issue took me a total of four and a half hours - mind you, that includes writing and revising that one article and creating the 52-slide presentation complete with pictures and detailed notes - not to mention doing the laundry, feeding the cat, and keeping up with Open Access News.

Subtracting all these extras, the actual software time for this issue, for all roles from author to section editor, layout, and publishing the issue, could not have taken more than an hour, at the very most. ...

Remembering the public domain for open data

John Wilbanks, On the Erosion of the Public Domain, John Wilbanks' blog, May 10, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The public domain is not an “unlicensed commons”. The public domain does not equal the BSD. It is not a licensing option.

It is the natural legal state of data.

It is a damn shame that we no longer think of the public domain as an option that is attractive. It’s a sign of the victory of the content holders that the free licensing movements work against that something without a license – something that is truly free, not just just free “as in” – is somehow thought to be worse. We’ve bought into their games if we allow the public domain to be defined as the BSD. The idea of the public domain has been subjected to continuous erosion thanks to both the big content companies and our own movements, to the point where we think freedom only comes in a contract.

The public domain is not contractually constructed. It just is. It cannot be made more free, only less free. And if we start a culture of licensing and enclosing the public domain (stuff that is actually already free, like the human genome) in the name of “freedom” we’re playing a dangerous game....

Speaking as someone who got into this two years ago convinced SA [ShareAlike] was the way for data, this stuff is complicated....

I don’t know the answers. But I do know that if we start to frame “public domain data v. viral data” as “BSD v. GPL” that we’ve already lost the debate, because we’ll have bought into the erosion of the public domain that led to the need for commons licensing in the first place.

PS:  For a longer version of John's defense of the public domain for open data, as opposed to open licenses for open data, see the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data or my blog post on it from December 2007.