Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Common retrieval system for high-energy physics

Richard Sietmann, Neue Informationsplattform für die Hochenergiephysiker, Heise Online, May 21, 2008.  (Thanks to Informationsplattform Open Access.)  Read it in the original German or Google's English.

CERN, DESY, Fermilab and SLAC are building a common retrieval platform for research in high-energy physics.   If I understand it, the idea is not to replace arXiv, SPIRES, CDS, or JACoW, but to provide a common interface for them.

Update (5/28/08).  Also see the DESY press release on the new system (in English).  Excerpt:

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL) and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) have announced that they will join to build INSPIRE, the next-generation High Energy Physics (HEP) information system, which will empower scientists with innovative tools for successful research at the dawn of an era of new discoveries.

The announcement was made at the second annual Summit of Information Specialists in Particle Physics and Astrophysics held at DESY on May 20th and 21st. The summit was attended by representatives from the four laboratories, other information providers, including Cornell's and the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), and leading publishers.

Addressing the meeting, DESY Research Director and CERN Director-General Elect Rolf-Dieter Heuer endorsed this endeavour by saying, “INSPIRE bears the promise of answering emerging information needs and delivering higher efficiency in science through advanced information discovery. It constitutes an exciting opportunity for experimentation and innovation in partnership with other disciplines and publishers.”

Attendees said they are excited by the opportunities for collaboration that the INSPIRE service will bring to the field. “ is the central distribution site for new HEP articles,” said Simeon Warner, arXiv Manager, Cornell University Library. “The utility of arXiv is enhanced by long-standing close collaboration and interlinking with SPIRES, ADS and publisher websites. We support and look forward to collaboration with INSPIRE to improve the global HEP information network.” ...

The status of HEP information systems was recently analyzed by the libraries of CERN, DESY, Fermilab and SLAC. A subsequent poll revealed that community-based services are overwhelmingly dominant in the research workflow of HEP scholars, whose needs are not met by existing commercial services. The poll found that HEP scientists attach paramount importance to three axes of excellence: access to full-text, depth of coverage and quality of content, possibly extended to connecting fields outside HEP.

Based on these results, the managements of the labs seized the opportunity to build INSPIRE, a community-based and user-driven next-generation information system, fully exploiting a new technological environment. INSPIRE is being built by combining the successful SPIRES database, curated at DESY, Fermilab and SLAC, with the Invenio digital library technology developed at CERN. INSPIRE will offer the functionalities and quality of service which the HEP user community has grown to expect from SPIRES, an indispensable tool in their daily research workflow. It will develop long-sought features, providing access to the entire corpus of the HEP literature with full-text Google-like search capabilities and enabling innovative text- and data-mining applications.

INSPIRE represents a natural evolution of scholarly communication, built on successful community-based information systems, and provides a vision for information management in other fields of science.

Update (5/28/08).  Jens Vigen at CERN points me to these two documents for background:

Update (5/29/08).  Also see Travis Brooks, SPIRES to become INSPIRE, SymmetryBreaking, May 29, 2008.

Collateral damage from the death of Live Search Books

Klaus Graf points out some potential damage from the death of Microsoft Live Search Books:

...If MSN has digitized Public Domain content in cooperation with the Open Content Alliance download links to the Internet Archive (IA) were given in MSN Live Search Books. After the end of Live Search the books are still downloadable at the IA but there will be no full text search.

There were no download links for the proprietary MSN Public Domain content especially the Cornell library cooperation. If Cornell doesn't make [these] books available this content will disappear next week. It is possible to circumvent the MSN digital rights management with simple means. I would like to recommend to do so and to save as many books as possible for the Public Domain.

Update: 75,000 public domain books from Cornell has been scanned by MSN. Cornell is aware of the problem (personal mail from Peter Hirtle).
I did a quick search for "archival" in Live Search Books and checked the first 100 matches. 10 books are without download link and from Cornell. This include two volumes from the "Calendar of State Papers" from the UK Public Record Office. A lot of this series was digitized by MSN, most volumes in cooperation with Cornell.

I also found [on Microsoft Live Search Books] a valuable guide to US history materials in Spanish archives from 2007 from Cornell....

Harvesting chemical data from published articles

Peter Murray-Rust has blogged some notes on his talk at the Royal Society of Chemistry meeting, Open Access Publishing in the Chemical Sciences (London, May 22, 2008).  First he endorses Christoph Steinbeck's summary of his talk and then adds some additional notes:

The main thing we took away was the importance of factual data. No-one disputed that facts could not be copyrighted (though not all realised that copyright was only one of the methods used by publishers to control access and re-use - server-side beheading is completely effective). I asked the audience - > 30 composed of publishers, librarians, software companies, etc. - no actual chemists of course - whether anyone would object to our robots reading the literature and extracting the data from the papers whether as text, images of tables. Half the audience thought I should, the rest didn’t vote against.

So, publishers, I’m going to start mining data from your sites. I hope you welcome this as a way forward to a new exciting era of data-rich science publishing. I hope that if you don’t agree you’ll let me know. I wouldn’t like to start and then get the lawyers sent. So please comment - it’s very important. I shan’t attack anyone who sends a reply. And you can send it by confidential email if you like.

There are a million new compounds each year in the scholarly literature. Our robots can produce huge amounts of good information from it. In some cases we get over 90% recall and precision - it depends on the type. This must be good for science. So please, publishers, let us know we can do it and we’ll publicly thank you. And if you don’t like the idea, please let us know why....

UNESCO IFAP strategic plan includes support for OA

On Thursday, UNESCO's Information for All Programme released its (Revised) Draft Strategic Plan (2008 – 2013) and a call for comments.  Comments are due before the end of May 2008.  From the draft:

Expected Outcomes...

Outcome Seven...

Open access is of special concern of UNESCO. In the education and science sectors, open access can greatly benefit developing countries in making accessible and freely available knowledge developed in countries that can afford the investment in scientific research and educational learning materials.

Free and open source software (FOSS) can contribute to the "affordability" and "open access" aspects of information, giving communities more control over the software they use, one of the most critical digital components. UNESCO is already taking a global lead in promoting the opportunities that come with open access to information....

In a table on p. 39, the draft aligns the UNESCO goal to "Collect...good practices in using information for development made available to decision makers", with the WSIS Action Line C3i to "Encourage initiatives to facilitate access, including free and affordable access to open access journals and books, and open archives for scientific journals (C3i)".

Microsoft phases out Academic Search, Book Search, and book digitization

Book search winding down, Microsoft Live Search blog, May 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes.

This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs....

With Live Search Books and Live Search Academic, we digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles. Based on our experience, we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries. With our investments, the technology to create these repositories is now available at lower costs for those with the commercial interest or public mandate to digitize book content. We will continue to track the evolution of the industry and evaluate future opportunities. 

As we wind down Live Search Books, we are reaching out to participating publishers and libraries. We are encouraging libraries to build on the platform we developed with Kirtas, the Internet Archive, CCS, and others to create digital archives available to library users and search engines.... 

We have learned a tremendous amount from our experience and believe this decision, while a hard one, can serve as a catalyst for more sustainable strategies. To that end, we intend to provide publishers with digital copies of their scanned books. We are also removing our contractual restrictions placed on the digitized library content and making the scanning equipment available to our digitization partners and libraries to continue digitization programs. We hope that our investments will help increase the discoverability of all the valuable content that resides in the world of books and scholarly publications.

Update.  From Miguel Helft in the New York Times, May 24, 2008:

...“It makes you wonder what else is likely to go,” said Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the blog Search Engine Land. “One of the reasons people turn to Google is that it tries to be a search player in all aspects of search.”

Mr. Sullivan said that the number of people using book search services from Microsoft and Google was relatively small, but it included librarians, researchers and other so-called early adopters who often influence others. These users are now likely to turn to Google with increasing frequency, he said....

Microsoft’s decision also leaves the Internet Archive [and its Open Content Alliance], the nonprofit digital archive that was paid by Microsoft to scan books, looking for new sources of support. Several major libraries said that they had chosen to work with the Internet Archive rather than with Google, because of restrictions Google placed on the use of the new digital files.

“We’re disappointed,” said Brewster Kahle, chairman of the Internet Archive. Mr. Kahle said, however, that his organization recognized that the project, which has been scanning about 1,000 books each day, would not receive corporate support indefinitely. Mr. Kahle said that Microsoft was reducing its support slowly and that the Internet Archive had enough money to keep the project “going for a while.”

“Eventually funding will come from the public sphere,” Mr. Kahle said....

“We are extremely committed to Google Book Search, Google Scholar and other initiatives to bring more content online,” said Adam Smith, product management director at Google.

Update.  Coincidentally, Péter Jacsó reviewed Microsoft Live Academic Search in his latest column for Gale (April 2008).  The review is strongly negative:

...I don’t know what kept the developers busy for 2 years to come up with this sorry upgrade of LAS [Live Academic Search], which makes it worse especially by academic measures. No tenure would be granted, let alone promotion in academia for such performance. I don’t believe that it merely mirrors the incompetence of its developers. It is more likely the result of the lethal mix of gross incompetence and gross indifference. I do know that it sheds bad light on the excellent system developers at Microsoft whom I met several years ago in the Redmond headquarters to discuss the software and content issues of the Encarta service. They may have left, and could not be substituted. No wonder that Microsoft is so desperate to acquire Yahoo.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Notes from the RSC meeting on OA in chemistry

Christoph Steinbeck has blogged some notes about the Royal Society of Chemistry meeting, Open Access Publishing in the Chemical Sciences (London, May 22, 2008).  Excerpt:

...Peter Murray-Rust set the scene by emphasising the importance for Open Data. He showed some fantastic work on data extraction by OSCAR from theses, where his group had parsed a synthetic chemistry thesis into an interactive graph of a reaction network. He also showed an SVG animation of this graph as a reaction sequence, all automatically generated from an OSCAR run. Peter pointed out in the subsequent discussion that data cannot be copyrighted, which was acknowledged by all publishers in the audience. The reality is different, however, because publisher’s licenses often prevent downloading of more than few articles in a row. Detection of a robotic download for text mining comes with the danger of the whole university being disconnected. It is unclear to me how robotically parsing papers and extracting data would damage the bushiness model of publishers. It could, of course, lower the number of subscriptions from

Ian Russell of ALPSP presented on Open Access models and how those of uses by ALPSP members. He pointed out that a lot of long-tail publishers publish only two or three journals, quite in contrast to ACS and RSC, for example. He stated that making profit is good, because it can be reinvested into innovation. I’m not sure if I’ve seen much innovation in the publishing business before the emergence of the Open Access model. He further commented on self-archiving stating that only pre-peer-review manuscripts can be self-archived without permission from the publisher. A librarian in the audience pointed out that duplication of costs by mixed read-pays and author-pays models have significantly increased the libraries expenses and Ian Russell comment was that there are no cost-savings in Open Access. Not sure if this helps. My impression is that it is not in the interest of publishers to resolve this conflict.

Robert Kiley, Wellcome Trust, summarized the Trust’s OA policy, where Trust-funded research needs to be put into pubmedcentral six month after publication. If I remember right, the Trust funds more than 90% of Biomedical research in Britain. The NIH now has a similar policy, and so has European Research Council; Robert mentioned that most text mining so far is based on PubMed abstracts, but that the full text would be required for serious efforts. He further pointed out that the number-one option for researchers to comply with the Trust’s OA policy would be to publish in a true Open Access Journal (BMC, PLOS, etc.). The second-best choice would be to publish anywhere and self-archive. The least preferable choice would be to publish with the ACS (one of the very few publishers without a Wellcome-Trust compliant OA policy) and try to change the copyright notice....The Trust is in contact with publishers to make sure that authors have a wide variety of journal with open access policies to choose from. Robert highlighted the importance of OA for the long-term preservation of articles and data therein, with special emphasis on future-proofing the record of medicine....

My own talk went about Chemistry at EBI and in European Bioinformatics in general.

Simon Coles, University of Southampton, talked about building repositories to preserve chemical data and publications....

So, what it the bottom line from this meeting? The important message is perhaps that OA publishing has not yet quite reached chemistry but that there are grass-root movements which are going to revolutionize the way in which we publish science and scientific data, starting at the very first moment when research is performed in the lab.

OA for Landsat images back to 1972

Curtis E. Woodcock and 17 co-authors, Free Access to Landsat Imagery, Science Magazine, May 23, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  A letter to the editor.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Excerpt:

...With little fanfare, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun providing [Landsat] imagery for free over the Internet. Throughout the history of the Landsat Program, the cost and access to imagery has always limited our ability to study our planet and the way it is changing. Beginning with a pilot program to provide “Web-enabled” access to Landsat 7 images of the United States that were collected between 2003 and this year, the USGS now plans to provide top-quality image products for free upon request for the entire U.S. archive, including over 2 million images back to Landsat 1 (1972)....Free imagery will enable reconstruction of the history of Earth’s surface back to 1972, chronicling both anthropogenic and natural changes during a time when our population doubled and the impacts of climate change became noticeable.

OA speakers bureau

The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened an OA speakers bureau for community editing and enlargement.

Remember that OAD is a wiki. If you've ever spoken about OA at a conference or workshop, or would like to, please add yourself to this list

It's not very full today, but today is only Day One.  I hope we can make it much more comprehensive in the coming weeks.

Personal note:  Five or six years ago, an item near the top of my wish list was for the OA movement to have 100-200 people, rather than just 10-20, who could speak competently about OA.  We've definitely surpassed that goal, and now have knowledgeable advocates in every field, country, and language.  The purpose of this list is simply to help conference organizers find them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Architect of Harvard OA policy heads new Office of Scholarly Communication

Stuart M. Shieber to lead new OSC, Harvard Gazette, May 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

Announcement marks new era in open access to current research, scholarship

Stuart M. Shieber ’81, Harvard’s James O. Welch Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science, will serve as director of the University’s new Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC). Harvard University Provost Steven E. Hyman made the appointment, which he announced today (May 22) with Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the Harvard University Library (HUL).

“As chair of the Provost’s Committee on Scholarly Communication, as director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, and as author of the open-access motion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Stuart has already established a vision and leadership in the vital area of open access,” said Hyman. “With Stuart at the helm, Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication has the potential to exert worldwide leadership in promoting open access and in moving the academic world toward a more sustainable publishing system.”

The impetus for Shieber’s appointment and the launch of OSC was the adoption by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University of a policy that granted the University the right to make FAS faculty members’ scholarly articles freely available everywhere in the world. Shieber authored the policy motion, which passed unanimously.

Shieber emphasized that “dissemination of the knowledge that our scholarly activities generate is central to the mission of the University. The OSC has the potential for unparalleled expansion of the scope of that dissemination, to the benefit of our faculty, the Harvard community, academia, and the public. I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead Harvard’s efforts in this endeavor, and hope that Harvard’s activities in promoting scholarly communication can be exemplary for the academic community as a whole.” ...

HUL created the OSC to enable individual faculty members to distribute their scholarly writings in keeping with the University’s long-standing policy that “when entering into agreements for the publication and distribution of copyrighted materials individuals will make arrangements that best serve the public interest.” The OSC, which will be under the oversight of a faculty advisory committee, will be responsible for executing the University’s open-access policy. It will undertake many related activities, which could include the online distribution of Ph.D. dissertations and of gray literature (datasets, technical reports, occasional lectures), support for open-access journal publishing, and sponsoring of conferences. The OSC also will coordinate other University-wide open-access initiatives, and all the faculties of the University will be invited to join in a common effort to transmit scholarly articles to a central repository....

Shieber’s primary research field is computational linguistics — the study of human languages from the perspective of computer science. Shieber received an A.B. in applied mathematics summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1981 and a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in 1989. Having joined the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1989, Shieber was named John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Natural Sciences in 1993, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in 1996, Harvard College Professor in 2001, and James O. Welch Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science in 2002.

Shieber was given a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1991, and was named a Presidential Faculty Fellow in 1993, one of only 30 in the country in all areas of science and engineering. He was named a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in 2004. He is the founding director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society and the faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

“It is because of Stuart Shieber’s tenacity and hard work that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard became the first academic organization in the country to adopt an open-access policy,” said Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “Through countless meetings, conversations, and presentations, Stuart spoke with our faculty, and they overwhelmingly supported the proposal....”

JISC tackles the problem of version control

JISC has published the recommendations at the core of its Version Identification Framework (VIF).  From yesterday's announcement:

Poor version identification hinders users’ trust in the research outputs they find in digital repositories. The JISC funded VIF (Version Identification Framework) project has completed a Framework of recommendations and solutions for all those with a role in repository use and implementation to address this problem.

A serious growing pain for digital repositories has been the issue of how to identify versions of open access (OA) works deposited in them. Draft versions, working papers, different formats, supporting material and so on are all accepted by repositories, but their version status is often poorly described and items are often not linked together appropriately.

The Framework promotes better practice for repository staff, offering solutions that enable clearer understanding of version relationships as well as better version identification of digital objects, no matter how an end user accesses the object held in a repository....

The primary recommendation of the VIF project is that the 5 essential pieces of version information identified by the Framework are made transparent to the end users of repositories: defined dates, identifiers, version numbering, version labels or taxonomies and a text description. VIF suggests embedding such information into objects themselves, for example using coversheets or watermarks, as well as storing detailed version information in the repository metadata itself....

Harvard's OA Journal of Legal Analysis now open for submissions

The OA Journal of Legal Analysis from Harvard University Press is now accepting submissions.  (Thanks to Gene Koo.)  The inaugural issue should appear in the Fall of 2008.  For background, see the planning announcement from July 2007.

OA for Canadian geodata boosts downloads 54-fold

From a Conservation Commons listserv post today by Tom Hammond (thanks to Mick Wilson):

...Downloads of [Canada's] NTDB [National Topographic Data Base] data during the government fiscal year ending in 2007, when a fee for use policy was still in place, numbered under 100,000. A change of policy was enacted during the current fiscal year making the NTDB an open access resource [at GeoGratis] – during which downloads jumped by a magnitude of 54 to well over 5 million....

The jump in downloads occurred between April 1, 2007, when the OA policy took effect, and March 31, 2008.

Updated links for OA Webliography

Charles Bailey and Adrian Ho have updated the links on their Open Access Webliography.

Preview of the CLA statement on OA

Heather Morrison, CLA Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, May 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

Today, the Canadian Library Executive approved a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, as follows. The wording may not be exact. The final wording will be posted on the CLA [Canadian Library Association] website.

CLA Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries

Whereas connecting users with the information they need is one of the library's most essential functions, and access to information is one of librarianship's most cherished values (from the 2005 CLA Resolution on Open Access), therefore CLA recommends that Canadian libraries of all types strongly support and encourage open access.

CLA encourages libraries of all types to:

  • support and encourage policies requiring open access to research supported by Canadian public funding, as defined above. If delay or embargo periods are permitted to accommodate publisher concerns, these should be considered temporary, to provide publishers with an opportunity to adjust, and a review period should be built in, with a view to decreasing or eliminating any delay or embargo period.
  • raise awareness of library patrons and other key stakeholders about open access, both the concept and the many open access resources, through means appropriate to each library, such as education campaigns and promoting open access resources.
  • support the development of open access in all of its varieties, including gold (OA publishing) and green (OA self-archiving). Libraries should consider providing economic and technical support for open access publishing, by supporting open access journals or by participating in the payment of article processing fees for open access. The latter could occur through redirection of funds that would otherwise support journal subscriptions, or through taking a leadership position in coordinating payments by other bodies, such as academic or government departments or funding agencies.
  • support and encourage authors to retain their copyright, for example through the use of the CARL / SPARC Author's Addendum, or through the use of Creative Commons licensing.

Many thanks to CLA President Alvin Schrader, the CLA Executive, and all of the members of the CLA Open Access Task Force.

Comments.  Kudos to the CLA for this enlightened statement, and to Heather for breaking the story.  Many organizations have called on their governments to mandate OA for publicly-funded research, but the CLA is first I've seen to regard embargo periods as a temporary compromise, justified only to help publishers adapt during a transition period.

More on open data in chemistry

Peter Murray-Rust, RSC Open Access - what I think I’m going to say, A Scientist and the Web, May 22, 2008.  Peter is referring to his talk today at Open Access Publishing in the Chemical Sciences (London, May 22, 2008).  Excerpt:

I normally try to blog some of my presentations before the event so that at least there is some sort of record. It also allows for feedback from readers. So I’m talking on Open Data in Chemistry. I’ve been working very hard to create a new demo of the future that chemistry could have if it wished and I think it’s working. I believe - not surprisingly - that every publisher of chemistry should look at it carefully. Because it helps to change the shape of the technical chemical publishing.

The theme is “Open Data”. I’ve recently written a review of this in Elsevier’s Serials Review and it’s coming out RSN in a special issue on Open Access. It’s already on Nature Precedings. So if you want detailed aspects - a few months out of date, they are there.

Some bullet points:

  • Data are different from text. Open Access generally does not support data well (I make exceptions for ultra-strong-OA such as CC-BY and BBB-compliant. Of the sort that PLoS and BMC provide. Green Open Access is irrelevant to Open Data (I think it makes it harder, others disagree).
  • Data matter. Chemistry is a data-rich science. We throw away over 90% of our data. We are all part of the problem, but publishers are one of the worst places for data loss.
  • Data must be made available by the authors. It’s now simple to do this. There is no technical excuse for not publishing chemistry data.
  • Data must be Open. It’s that simple. It can be done independently of Open Access [to texts]
  • Data should be semantic. That’s harder but it’s happening....

What of the future? ...

  • Closed access is harmful to chemical data. That’s a fact, not a political stance. We are 10+ years behind other data-rich sciences because we protect data in archaic silos.
  • Publishers have to choose, one way of the other. “Mumble” is no good. Either you are an enthusiastic publisher of Open Data or you are a closed publisher. Your choice.
  • The formal aggregators (Chemical Abstracts, Inorganic Crystal Structure Database, Cambridge Crystallographic Data Base) will see their market and importance steadily decline. I predict that in 5 years’ time there will be no role for ICSD in its current form. The CSD may follow. Chem Abs will survive, but in form marginalised from the main web.Unfortunately at the moment several publishers (Wiley, Elsevier, Springer) do not expose crystallographic data and sent it to the data centres where we have to pay to get it out. This type of restrictive practice harms chemistry - I shall show how - and will be increasingly difficult to defend. Unfortunately when I write to these publishers they simply don’t reply....

Comment.  I follow and agree with all of this, with one exception:  "Green Open Access is irrelevant to Open Data (I think it makes it harder, others disagree)."  I don't understand the claim or the argument, but I  imagine we'll hear more in time.  Good luck today, Peter!

Update (5/25/08).  Peter Murray-Rust has replied to my comment in a blog post (thanks Peter), and I've blogged some new comments in response.

Update (5/26/08).  See PMR's response to my latest comments.

A call on Oberlin to follow the Harvard example

A New Approach to Scholarship Access, The Oberlin Review, February 29, 2008.  An editorial.  (Thanks to Ray English.)  Excerpt:

In a move that will ensure the fair dissemination of mental wealth, Harvard’s arts and sciences faculty recently voted to make all of its faculty research articles available online free of charge....It would be a bold, but necessary, move for Oberlin to follow suit.

Open access is right in line with Oberlin’s aspirations for equality....As goes the tree that falls in the middle of the woods, so goes research and information. What good is it doing locked up for only the elite few to ever even have the opportunity to read? ...

Understandably, the transition to open access could be difficult. It is likely that some faculty will have to choose between posting their work for free and publishing in journals that sometimes demand sole publishing rights. But these demands will wane as more and more forward-thinking schools get on board. This topic is on the agenda at the upcoming General Faculty Library Committee, and it could lead to a discussion among the entire faculty. Oberlin faculty, information should be free. Let us make it that way.

More misunderstanding of OA journal business models

Raghavendra Gadagkar, Open-access more harm than good in developing world, Nature, May 22, 2008.  A letter to the editor (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

The traditional ‘publish for free and pay to read’ business model adopted by publishers of academic journals can lead to disparity in access to scholarly literature, exacerbated by rising journal costs and shrinking library budgets. However, although the ‘pay to publish and read for free’ business model of open-access publishing has helped to create a level playing field for readers, it does more harm than good in the developing world....

Page charges may be waived for authors who cannot afford to pay, but a model that depends on payment by authors can afford only a few such waivers. And why should anyone want to survive on charity? The argument that it is the granting agency and not the author that pays does not wash either. If anything, the playing field for grants is even more uneven. Besides, this will undermine, rather than encourage, the whole area of grant-free research....

A ‘publish for free, read for free’ model may one day prove to be viable. Meanwhile, if I have to choose between the two evils, I prefer the ‘publish for free and pay to read’ model over the ‘pay to publish and read for free’ one. Because if I must choose between publishing or reading, I would choose to publish. Who would not?


  • I blame Nature, not the author, for the misleading title on this letter.  Gadagkar's argument is not against OA as such, or even OA journals as such, but against fee-based OA journals or "the ‘pay to publish and read for free’ business model".
  • Gadagkar is aware that many fee-based OA journals waive their fees in cases of economic hardship (although we should not confuse publication fees at OA journals with "page charges").  He's also aware that many funding agencies allow grantees use grant funds to pay the fees.  He finds these two mitigations insufficient and I won't comment on his criticisms. 
  • But he is apparently unaware that most OA journals charge no publication fees at all.  To repeat the data from my previous post (coincidentally relevant here):  as of late 2007, 67% of the journals listed in the DOAJ charged no publication fees, and 83% of OA journals from society publishers charged no publication fees.  He says that "A ‘publish for free, read for free’ model may one day prove to be viable..." as if it were untried, when in fact it is the majority model around the world.  Moreover, it's the exclusive model in his own country.  To the best of my knowledge, all OA journals published in India are of the no-fee variety.
  • Finally, it's important to remember that OA archiving already follows the model of no fees for readers and no fees for authors, and it works equally well for unrefereed preprints and refereed postprints.  Just this week, the OA repository at Gadagkar's employer, the Indian Institute of Science, passed the milestone of 10,000 deposits

Update.  Also see comments by Stevan Harnad, Barbara Kirsop, Thomas Mailund, and RPM.

Update (5/26/08). Stevan Harnad has updated his reply to Gadagkar in a blog post. Excerpt:

The usual reply [to concerns about OA journal publication fees] is that (1) many Gold OA journals do not charge a publishing fee and (2) exceptions are made for authors who cannot pay. More important, there is also Green OA self-archiving, and the self-archiving mandates increasingly being adopted by universities (e.g. Harvard) and research funders (e.g. NIH).

Self-archiving costs nothing, and if it ever makes subscriptions unsustainable it will at the same time generate the windfall institutional savings out of which to pay for OA publishing instead.

Nor are the costs of publishing likely to remain the same under self-archiving....

More on the costs of scholarly communications

Activities, costs and funding flows in the scholarly communications system in the UK, a new report from the Research Information Network (RIN), May 2008.  From the summary:

...[T]he RIN joined together with the Publishing Research Consortium (PRC), the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), and Research Libraries UK (RLUK) to commission a study to investigate the costs incurred by key agents in the various stages of the scholarly communications process, from the production of research outputs to the reading of those outputs; and the sources, nature and scale of the funding and other resources provided to meet those costs....

We estimate that the global cost each year of undertaking and communicating the results of research reported in journal articles is £175bn, made up of £116bn for the costs of the research itself; £25bn for publication, distribution and access to the articles; and £34bn for reading them....

1. Electronic-only publishing.

Currently, most journals are published in both print and electronic formats. If 90% of all journals were to be published in electronic format only, the global costs of publishing, distribution and access would fall by £1.08bn (12%), offset by a rise of £93m in user costs for printing.

  • By far the largest part of that reduction in costs would be accounted for by a fall of £758m (36%) in libraries’ costs in providing access to journal articles.
  • Global publication and distribution costs would fall by c£318m (7% of total costs excluding peer review).
  • Falls in advertising revenues, membership fees and personal subscriptions would mean that less than two-fifths of the publication and distribution savings would be passed on to libraries through a reduction in subscriptions.
  • UK academic libraries’ costs in providing access to articles would fall by £23m. Within this total, the fall of £4m in subscription prices for academic libraries would be more than offset by an increase of £5m in VAT payments.

2. Author-Side Publication Fees

There have been moves in recent years to change the traditional journal business model, in order to make journal articles open access; that is, available to anyone who wants to read them, free of charge immediately upon publication. The models vary, but some journals now (especially in biological and medical sciences), instead of charging a subscription for access by readers, charge a publication fee to authors so that their articles can be open access. Currently, about 2% of articles are published in open access or “hybrid” journals (where most articles are available for reading only if a subscription has been paid, but authors have a choice to make their articles open access by paying a fee).

If 90% of all articles were made open access upon payment of a publication fee in this way, we estimate that the total saving in the global costs of publishing, distribution and access would be £561m, split almost equally between savings to publishers and to libraries. These savings would be on top of the savings from a move to e-only publishing. Our modelling assumes that there will be some costs to publishers in adminstering author-side payments; but any time and adminstrative costs to authors, their institutions and funders have not been modelled here. Some of these savings could therefore be offset if the costs to publishers, authors, institutions and funders are higher than we have modelled.

The key results of our modelling are that:

  • The subscriptions paid by academic libraries globally would fall by £2.91bn. But these savings would be offset by an increase of £2.92bn in the charges that the academic and research institutions of which they are a part (or their funders) would have to meet in author-side publication fees.
  • The costs and benefits would be unevenly distributed across institutions: research-intensive institutions would tend to pay more in publication fees than they currently do for library subscriptions, while institutions where research constitutes a lower proportion of activity and expenditure would tend to see reductions in overall expenditure.
  • In the UK, libraries in the HE sector as a whole would benefit by c £128m. But the UK’s contribution to publication fees would amount to c £213m. The UK’s share of funding to meet the costs of publication, distribution and access would rise from 5.2% to 7.0%.
  • The main beneficiaries would be other institutions that currently purchase journal subscriptions, but are not major producers of research outputs....

[T]he study is not a cost-benefit analysis of a move to ‘open access’ delivery of peer-reviewed journals. Rather, in accordance with the terms of reference, the study confines itself to analysing the cost and funding flows of the current and the possible future scholarly communications process....

Comment.  I focus on the conclusion in the third-to-last bullet point above:  "research-intensive institutions would tend to pay more in publication fees than they currently do for library subscriptions...."

  • Three previous studies have concluded that if all peer-reviewed journals converted to OA, then high-output universities would pay more in author-side publication fees than they now pay in subscriptions.  But all three of them relied on false or implausible assumptions, in particular, (1) that all OA journals would charge publication fees and (2) that all fees would be paid by universities.  For citations to the previous studies, analysis of their defects, and recommended methodological refinements, see my article from June 2006. 
  • The RIN study is slightly more careful than the earlier studies because it makes clear that the hypothesis is that 90% of new articles convert to fee-based OA, rather than to OA as such.  But it leaves the false impression that converting to fee-based OA is the only way to convert to OA, and it doesn't mention the two critical facts:  (1) that the majority of OA journals today charge no publication fees, and (2) that a significant percentage of publication fees are paid by funders rather than universities. 
  • To elaborate on the first of these for just a moment:  Most OA journals charge no publication fees at all.  As of late 2007, 67% of the journals listed in the DOAJ charged no publication fees, and 83% of OA journals from society publishers charged no publication fees.  We're still waiting for a careful model of the costs of scholarly communication which takes these realities into account instead of assuming that all or most OA journals use the fee-based business model.

Update. Michael Jubb of RIN has pointed me to a section of the full report (2.7.2) in which the authors acknowledge different business models for OA journals. (Thanks, Michael.) But not even that section acknowledges that the majority of OA journals charge no publication fees.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Locked in a journal"

Kevin Holden Platt, Study Warned of China Quake Risk Nearly a Year Ago, National Geographic, May 16, 2008.  (Thanks to Kathleen Shearer.)  Excerpt:

Just ten months before a deadly earthquake struck Sichuan Province's Beichuan county on May 12, a scientific study warned that the Chinese region was ripe for a major quake.

After examining satellite images and conducting on-the-ground inspections of deep, active faults in Sichuan Province for more than a decade, scientists issued a warning. "The faults are sufficiently long to sustain a strong ground-shaking earthquake, making them potentially serious sources of regional seismic hazard," the Chinese, European, and U.S. geoscientists wrote in the mid-July 2007 edition of the journal Tectonics....

With precision and what now seems like eerie foresight, the researchers charted the active faults on multicolored maps of Beichuan, which turned out to be the epicenter of the recent earthquake....

The magnitude 7.9 quake that struck on May 12 almost entirely leveled parts of Sichuan Province. Chinese officials today estimated that the death toll would reach 50,000 and that nearly five million people are homeless....

"Locked in a Journal"

There is little reason to believe Chinese officials were aware of the July 2007 report, or that it would have made much difference if they had been.

"We had certainly identified the potential of these active faults," said [study co-author Michael Ellis of the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis in Tennessee]. "But that information was effectively locked in an academic journal." ...

More misunderstanding of the NIH policy

Colin G. Scanes, Open Access —A Case for Intellectual Honesty, Poultry Science Online, 87 (2008) pp. 1003-1004.  An editorial.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far. Excerpt:

...The movement for open access is viewed by some as a moral crusade, with research that was funded by public funds needing to be freely available to researchers and others....The moral imperative argument is further strengthened for health and agricultural researchers, where the information could save lives by improving medical care or increasing agricultural production. This editorial will not attempt to refute the moral imperative arguments for open access. Rather, the practical implications of open access will be considered....

[The NIH OA policy] has been interpreted as requiring papers published based on research funded by NIH to be placed on open access through PubMed within a year of publication. Journal publishers will be expected to relinquish copyright under these circumstances. It is not clear whether journal publishers will be willing to do this gratis or require payment of an open access fee. This fee would be the responsibility of the authors....

What are the long-term implications of open access? ...Once the majority of papers in a journal (or perhaps a majority of the best or most highly cited papers) are available via open access, there will be considerable temptation and financial incentive for libraries to cancel journal subscriptions....Cancellation of library subscriptions is anticipated to have a number of effects: There will be an increase in the charges to authors such as page charges and open access fees....The loss of library subscriptions will put pressure on journal publishers to become more efficient by eliminating stages in the process and to use cost-cutting options such as outsourcing technical editing and printing, eliminating printing, or reducing the rigor of peer review....There will be a reduction in the number of journals from publishers ceasing to publish a journal due to reduced income or mergers, particularly for those journals where the margins are already tight....There may even be a shift to electronic journals without complete peer review....


  • "[The NIH OA policy] has been interpreted as requiring papers published based on research funded by NIH to be placed on open access through PubMed within a year of publication."  The policy requires deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication and OA within a year of publication.
  • "Journal publishers will be expected to relinquish copyright...."  Untrue.  The policy governs NIH grantees, not publishers.  When grantees publish articles based on NIH-funded research, they must retain the right to comply with the NIH policy, but may transfer all other rights to their publisher.  The publisher may exercise those rights in any way that it sees fit and hold them until they expire.
  • As for the rest, see my article from September 2007, Will open access undermine peer review?

The future of book publishing

Sara Lloyd, A book publisher’s manifesto - Part VI (The End), The Digitalist, May 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The publishing world awaits the outcome of Google’s legal battle with the Author’s Guild, but in a way, the bluster about Google’s generous interpretation of the fair use clause often only serves to cover up a sense of shame that it was not publishers who first chose to invest in the digitisation of our print archives and to develop the means to access them....

Whilst Google has led the drive to make book content ‘discoverable’ online, publishers have been slow to harness web techniques to promote and sell books, both in print and in digital formats....

Whether publishers will find a way to cohabit with Google and the other search engines, to ensure that their content is discoverable through search but on their terms,...remains to be seen. Publishers certainly could have a role to play in trying to work with Google and the other search engines to ensure the highest standards of quality are upheld....Whichever way it goes, in order for publishers to break their traditional boundaries and to develop into the publishing companies of tomorrow will require a step change in their form, culture and approach. Digital publishing strategies will need to move from defensive or protective to creative and liberal, with an emphasis on enabling readers to share and to change what they read....

Publishers...will need to embrace new business models and they may even need to become media companies rather than publishing companies....

Update (10/21/08). Lloyd's full article has now been published in Library Trends, Summer 2008 (not OA).

Free software for free access to information

Georgina Araceli Torres Vargas and Juan Manuel Zurita Sánchez, Software libre y libre accesso a la información : ¿Hacia un ciberespacio público? in Documentación de las Ciencias de la Información 30 (2007) pp. 135-148.  Self-archived today.  In Spanish but with this English-language abstract:

In the context of the free access to the information and the democratization of the knowledge, the present paper is focused in describing the current state of some proposals related with the cooperation and the world exchange of information, arisen starting from the XX century, but mainly in the movement of the free software that is profiled as a model of informational development in agreement to the cultural movements of our days, and whose principles, it is omened, they can end up being the base for the creation of a public cyberspace, supported in services of information to low cost and digital libraries of world reach.

Librarians and OA in Italy

Sandra Di Majo, Per l’accesso alla letteratura scientifica: i Consorzi, la CRUI, CARE, in Proceedings La biblioteca scientifica e tecnologica: servizi per l'informazione scientifica, Roma (Italy), 2008.  Self-archived today.  In Italian but with this English-language abstract:

There have been many reasons in recent years for librarians and the scientific community to look for forms of cooperation which could guarantee large, easy and long-lasting access to information, the possibility of exercising some form of control on the market and have a positive influence on the scientific communication system, through the implementation of the use of new technologies. Beside the existing Consortia, others have emerged, originally born as user groups and later organized in formal structures. The Library Committee of CRUI has caught the importance of cooperation as a strategy to face change; it has reinforced it, signing with the new Consortia an “Agreement for access to electronic resources in favour of Italian universities” (November 2005) and, through the creation of CARE (coordinating group for access to electronic resources) has started an experiment of negotiation on a national basis, which can be considered a testing of the effective cohesion among universities as well as the effectiveness of the complex mechanism required by this question. More recently CRUI Committee has approved the “Guidelines for the constitution of an Italian academic library system” that can be read as an attempt to supply a common view, at least in universities, on scientific information. Many questions arise from this context: the evolution of Consortia, the future of CARE, whose activity should be more oriented to proposal rather than management, the role of the library Committee of CRUI and its articulations, the possible relationships and interplay among the different entities.

Milestone for Indian Institute of Science IR

The institutional repository of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) just passed the milestone of 10,000 deposits.  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.) 

OA to 33 year backfile of JEEM

The Company of Biologists is providing OA to the full backfile (1953-1986) of the Journal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology.  In 1986, the journal became Development, which COB continues to publish.  For details, see yesterday's announcement.

Division on the Orphan Works Act of 2008

Friends of OA are dividing on the Orphan Works Act of 2008 (H.R. 5889 and S. 2913), now under consideration in both houses of Congress.

Facilitating the exchange of chemical data

PubChem has released the beta of its PUG SOAP (Power User Gateway Simple Object Access Protocol).  From the site:

PUG SOAP is a web services access layer to PubChem functionality. It is based on a WSDL [Web Service Definition Language]....

PubChem’s PUG (Power User Gateway), documented elsewhere, is an XML-based interface suitable for low-level programmatic access to PubChem services, wherein data is exchanged through a relatively complex XML schema that is powerful but requires some expertise to use. PUG SOAP contains much of the same functionality, but broken down into simpler functions defined in a WSDL, using the SOAP protocol for information exchange....

Two OA activists win Berkman Awards

Educators, Activists, Entrepreneurs, and Lawyers Win Berkman Awards for Internet Innovation, a press release from Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, May 19, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[R]ecipients of the Berkman Awards were chosen for their outstanding contributions to the Internet’s impact on society over the past decade.

The international group of winners was selected from an open nomination process and comes from a range of fields including human rights and global advocacy; academia; communications and media; and law. The five cash award winners received $10,000 with no conditions on how the funds must be spent....

[PS:  Focusing on the winners with an OA connection....]

Engineering professor Richard Baraniuk received a Berkman Award for founding Connexions at Rice University. Connexions lets teachers share digital texts and learning materials, modify them, and disseminate them online using a Creative Commons license. This free, open-source platform is a building block towards a system of open educational resources....

Carl Malamud received a Berkman Award for creating Public.Resource.Org. Malamud is making US case law and government documents freely available online. He has also made images from the Smithsonian freely available on the Flickr photo sharing site and pushed to get broadcast-quality video of all congressional committee hearings posted online by the end of the 110th Congress. He is working with the National Technical Information Service to digitize and put NTIS’ multimedia online. Malamud is making the work of governments more transparent and providing citizens around the world with greater access to legal information....

PS:  Congratulations to all seven winners:  Esra'a Al Shafei, Richard Baraniuk, John Breen, Jeffrey Cunard, Bruce Keller, Carl Malamud, and Noah Samara.  For background on the two with an OA connection, see the past OAN posts on Richard Baraniuk (and Connexions) and Carl Malamud (and Public.Resource.Org).

How libraries can support OA in developing countries

Ifeyinwa B. Okoye, The Role of Academic Libraries in Universal Access to Print and Electronic Resources in the Developing Countries, Library Philosophy and Practice, 2008.  Excerpt:

Before the advent of information and communication technology (ICT), academic libraries were the sole custodians of information, which was predominantly in print. ICT brought changes necessitated by new information packaging. Academic libraries are faced with managing hybrid resources (print and electronic) and are challenged to acquire the necessary skills. Furthermore, electronic information is eroding the monopoly of academic libraries as the sole access point to information. Nevertheless, academic libraries can maintain their place by serving as an access point to both print and electronic resources. This paper discusses the nature of academic libraries in the digital age including resources, the concept of universal access, and the role of the in universal access to print and electronic resources. It also presents and describes a conceptual model of resource access for academic libraries in developing countries....

Many academic libraries are playing a leadership role in their institutional repository project....

In Nigerian academic institutions, a leadership role in digitizing and providing universal access is demonstrated by the University of Jos library staff....

Measuring the impact of an IR

Gwenda Thomas, Evaluating the Impact of the Institutional Repository, or Positioning Innovation Between a Rock and a Hard Place, New Review of Information Networking, November 2007.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Repositories remain an innovative but marginalised technology largely because there is no consensus about an agreed set of Performance Indicators (PIs) that demonstrate their overall impact on the research enterprise of our universities. A successful institutional repository (IR) should be evaluated in terms of the extent to which the open access repository builds a critical mass of scholarly content which is sustained and available through active university community engagement and ongoing scholarly contributions (faculty, researchers and students) that, when managed efficiently and effectively, ultimately strengthen, promote and give visibility to the research enterprise of the institution, and bring benefit to broader society. However, librarians are grappling with what and how best to demonstrate 'institutional good' but without clear evidence, assessment is fed by perception based on limited information which leads to diminished impact and value of the facility, a tyranny described as being caught between a rock and a hard place. Using Illuminative Evaluation to design a series of quantitative and qualitative metrics, it is proposed that a distinction be made between significant and secondary PIs where the former gather evidence to demonstrate the overall effect or impact of the IR on the individual and collective research community.

The case that Nigerian statutes are in the public domain

Emeka Maduewesi, Copyright: Who Owns the Rights to the Laws of Nigeria?  This Day, May 19, 2008.  Apparently Nigerian law has no provision requiring that government works be uncopyrightable.  Hence, citizens must argue on other grounds that Nigerian statutes are in the public domain.  Here's one such argument from a lawyer licensed to practice in Nigeria and California. 

Australian Senator renews call for OA to publicly-funded research

Liz Tay, CeBIT 08: Senator Lundy lobbies for Open Source change, iTnews, May 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

The recent change of government could be an opportunity for the Australian Open Source community to bring their “free and open” philosophy to the public domain. Speaking at the Open CeBIT conference in Sydney today, Senator Kate Lundy said that the newly-appointed Rudd Government represents a creative peak in public policy, as evidenced by the Australia 2020 Summit that was held in April....

Lundy also described debates about allowing open access to Crown copyright material, open access to government-funded research, and Open Source licensing of software that is developed with taxpayers’ money.

“Governments tend to want to hold onto that [software] as an asset, and a lot of opportunities for innovation are lost that way,” Lundy said.

An open philosophy could benefit Australia by providing the foundations for innovation, digital knowledge and open technology, Lundy said....

PS:  Senator Lundy chaired a panel at the Australia 2020 Summit on open source and open access.  See our post about it from April 12, 2008.

More from Chris Anderson on the future of free

Mark Andrews, Post-modern business model: It's free, Vancouver Sun, May 14, 2008.  (Thanks to Allan Cho.)  Excerpt:

...Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson wrote about [ways to make money by giving away digital content] when the magazine published Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business in its March issue [PS: Blogged here 2/25/08].

Anderson is the keynote speaker at next week’s Vancouver International Digital Festival (VIDFEST), where he will talk about the main point of that article, that “every industry that becomes digital eventually becomes free.” ...

Reached on the telephone in California, Anderson stressed that his Wired article, which he’s expanding into a book, applies to companies with digital products such as his old employer, The Economist, which recently lifted the restriction that its online articles were available only to paid subscribers, making it free to anyone. Most media companies, however, rely on a third-party revenue model, hoping that advertisers will pay the bills and make them turn a profit.

“No one says you can’t make money from free,” says Anderson who...[added] that microtransactions don’t work.

“They don’t work because of the penny gap,” says Anderson. “They basically have all the psychological baggage of a price, with very little monetary advantage. If [an item] is one cent, then you have to go through all the questions — ‘Should I buy? Is it worth it? How should I pay for it? Is it safe?’ Zero cents takes all that off the table.” ...

“Any product or service that becomes digital will become free,” says Anderson. “That’s not to say that your product will become free, but you will compete with free. That means you need to find a way to justify charging for something that people can get for free.”

The European public domain

Economic and Social Impact of the Public Domain, a project announcement from Rightscom and the European Commission.  The announcement is dated April 2008 but was apparently released just this week.  Excerpt:

This project (commissioned by the Digital Libraries Initiative of the European Commission DG Information Society and Media) aims to analyse the economic and social impact of the public domain and to gauge its potential benefits to citizens and the economy. This is the first study to assemble quantitative and qualitative data about the scope and nature of the public domain in Europe. It will also produce a methodology for measuring the public domain which can be used and refined for future studies both within Europe and further afield....

A rich public domain has the potential to stimulate the further development of the information society. The development of the World Wide Web and the ability to digitise almost all text, image, sound and audio-visual material knowledge has resulted in an explosion of the citizen’s ability to store, and more importantly, share access to that information and knowledge. Public domain material has a considerable potential for re-use – both by citizens for information, education and entertainment, and for new creative expressions that build on Europe’s rich culture.

As well as the public domain itself, the study will also cover material that, although copyright protected, is generally available for all. The study will investigate the various voluntary sharing schemes which copyright holders use to grant broad rights to enable use and re-use of their creations. These include the various flavours of Creative Commons or the GNU Free Documentation Licence.

This study will also assess the role of the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information. It will seek to establish, by collaborative engagement with organisations such as national libraries, museums, research facilities, archives and public broadcasters their readiness and ability to meet the terms of the Directive and thus significantly widen access to cultural holdings in digital form. This may help to make available a whole range of public domain material on which creators may build....

Google Books and WorldCat records link to one another

OCLC and Google to exchange data, link digitized books to WorldCat, a press release from OCLC, May 19, 2008.  (Thanks to Mel DeSart.)  Excerpt:

OCLC and Google Inc. have signed an agreement to exchange data that will facilitate the discovery of library collections through Google search services.

Under terms of the agreement, OCLC member libraries participating in the Google Book Search™ program, which makes the full text of more than one million books searchable, may share their WorldCat-derived MARC records with Google to better facilitate discovery of library collections through Google.

Google will link from Google Book Search to, which will drive traffic to library OPACs and other library services. Google will share data and links to digitized books with OCLC, which will make it possible for OCLC to represent the digitized collections of OCLC member libraries in WorldCat....

Google recently released an API that provides links to books in Google Book Search using ISBNs, LCCNs and OCLC numbers. This API allows users to link to some books that Google has scanned through a “Get It” link. The link works both ways. If a user finds a book in Google Book Search, a link can often be tracked back to local libraries through

The new agreement enables OCLC to create MARC records describing the Google digitized books from OCLC member libraries and to link to them. These linking arrangements should help drive more traffic to libraries, both online and in person....

Update. Also see Barbara Quint's article about it in Information Today, May 22, 2008.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

OA to GreyNet conference proceedings

GreyNet is making its conference proceedings OA through the OpenSIGLE (Open System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe) repository.  For details, see yesterday's announcement.

OA drug compound libraries

Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD) and Asinex have released an OA edition of the Asinex drug compound libraries through the CDD online drug discovery database.  For details, see today's announcement.

New OA journal on race, gender, and social activism

Spaces for Difference is a new peer-reviewed OA journal on race, racism, gender, sexuality, and social activism published by the U of California as part of the eScholarship Repository Journal series.  The inaugural issue is now online.

Six Australian universities join SCOAP3

Six Australian universities have joined the CERN SCOAP3 project:  Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian National University.

Update (7/7/08). Also see the article on

Detective work leading to OA for public domain books

John Wilkin, Discovering the Undiscovered Public Domain, John Wilkin's blog, May 19, 2008.  Excerpt:

At Michigan we’re engaged in an activity that I hope will one day seem ordinary and a routine part of library work. Resources from several departments are devoted to determining the copyright status of works typically presumed to be in copyright. For now, we’re focusing on US monographic imprints (books, that is) published between 1923 and 1963, but plan to turn our attention to non-US publications in the future....

Because [our staffers'] work is driven by content that has been digitized and is online, if the work has been determined to be in the public domain, we update records that control access to the materials and permit access....

[T]he 1.5 FTE of professional staffing we devote to this work has a profound effect....Consider...the fact that these staff process more than 2,000 titles each month, and that the majority of these works are found to be in the public domain. At our current rate of work, we’ll open access to over 15,000 titles in about one year of work....For a relatively small sum, we’re benefiting our own constituency as well as readership throughout the Internet. No matter how you cut it, this feels like a good investment in library funds....

When we talk about US renewals, lots of numbers are bandied about, some numbers are based on very early analyses, and some numbers are based on reasonable sample-based analyses. The most common estimate is that only 15% of US books published between 1923 and 1963 had their copyright renewed....

This winter, Anne Karle-Zenith on our staff wrote a proposal to IMLS for the creation of a multi-institutional queuing and vetting mechanism, and our friends at Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin wrote letters offering their enthusiastic support. I hope we will one day be doing this work in a well-documented and open group space, with contributions by many institutions. After all, while this really is library work, when it comes to US publications, there’s a bounded body of candidates, and by sharing this work our community can add several thousand titles to the known public domain.

Comment.  Just as false convictions can put innocent people in prison, false assumptions of copyright can keep public-domain books behind price barriers or offline.  In both cases, I have the greatest respect for the detectives who liberate them.

Determining whether a book is under copyright or in the public domain shouldn't be this hard.  As Lawrence Lessig said in the New York Times this morning, on the slightly different topic of orphan works,

A hired expert shouldn’t be required for an orchestra to know if it can perform a work composed during World War II or for a small museum to know whether it can put a photograph from the New Deal on its Web site. In a digital age, knowing the law [or the status of an individual work] should be simple and cheap. Congress should be pushing for rules that encourage clarity, not more work for copyright experts.

But the work is hard.  Let's make sure it isn't thankless.

OA to law in Africa

Amavi Tagodoe and El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, Les expériences africaines de la diffusion libre du droit sur le Web : bilan et perspectives, Lex Electronica, Spring 2008.  (Thanks to ServiceDoc Info.)  In French but with this English-language summary:

Given the resources lacking in African countries, including access to legal resources, various Web-based legal publication experiments open perspectives that are especially promising for efficient publication of law. For example, South Africa, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Benin offer case law and legislation online free of charge. These encouraging experiments are laying the groundwork for African expertise in using information technologies to publish African law.

Yet it is clear that the expertise has to be strengthened and consolidated by the various players involved in putting African law online. African law professionals, university professors and information technology experts should be invited to develop and increase the expertise, in particular through exchanges, colloquiums, and regional and international partnerships.

Mastering publication of African legal resources, notably through the judicious use of information technologies, would favour the growth of African legal culture and awareness of it in society as a whole. This would also help to strengthen the ties between traditional African legal culture and contemporary legal cultures.

Working for OA to public info in Greece

Public information belongs to the public, Re-Public, undated but apparently today.  An interview with Dimitrios Zachariadis, creator of Tilaphos and Tilaphos-reforest, two blogs on deforestation in Greece (in Greek).  Excerpt:

...Thanasis/Pavlos: When is an information considered open (licensing, internet web service)? What’s your experience from the domestic and the international public administration regarding data collection?

Dimitrios Zachariadis: Information written on paper is practically closed information nowadays. Can anyone imagine a graduate forestry student, wanting to write a paper about the decline of forest land in Greece and having to enter one by one all the data published in the Government Gazette issues? He will simply never write that paper because he will choose another subject....In a few words, it is not sufficient that the information be published somewhere; it should also not cost an arm and a leg to use it....

Most of the western countries have [decided to let public information circulate freely]....As a result, numerous web services have been created as well as web standards, so that public data would be usable by machines, or by intermediate services and end users. People and organizations, who are interested in using such data, produce better results both quantitatively and qualitatively, while other people are better informed for what is going on. The provision for free access to public information can be found in the Greek Constitution, Article 5A – (Right to information), where the right of every citizen to participate in the Information Society is explicitly stated. Therefore, theoretically, the Greek state has answered the question with an unconditional “yes”....

As far as I know, the state administration and many public organizations (e.g. universities) produce a significant number of quality raw data. Until now, the unresolved problem is that there is no data release policy....There is rarely, if at all, any mention about providing reliable data to professionals and citizens, unlike the case of the National Statistical Service that was mentioned above. The Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works is, unfortunately, a negative example, even though it’s the ministry of works and engineers. The Intellectual Property Organization is another sad example: it addresses the Greek citizens only in … English....

Thanasis/Pavlos: Finally, what does public information mean? How difficult is, let’s say, for the Hellenic Mapping and Cadastral Organization to implement the Cadastral Register through a convenient flexible schema? Would such a suggestion be utopian?

Dimitrios Zachariadis: The slogan “The public information belongs to the people”, that is Tilaphos’ heading, is a tautology. Public is something that by definition belongs to the citizens. Nevertheless, in Greece, the slogan is still an unfulfilled requirement because public information produced on taxpayer’s money remains in the drawers of civil servants, as if it were their property....

[Y]ou cannot find an official Greek free topographical data source, not even a university. It’s quite noticeable that even the National Statistical Service of Greece, which generally releases statistical data into the public domain, does not provide any of the topographical data it collects for free.

If one envies the progress of other western countries or of companies which operate there, one should pay attention to the conditions which nourished and sustain them. Many maps used by Google, Yahoo or Microsoft, for example, are based on satellite images provided freely by NASA. One can read the following remarkable for its frugality and comprehensiveness statement, under the photographs published in the web and coming from American public organizations (here from NOAA): “This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties.” I do not think that further explanations are necessary.

A policy of open access to public information in Greece is not utopian, because the current state of affairs here lags far behind what happens abroad....

India's Institute of Mathematical Sciences launches an IR

India's Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) has launched the IMSc Eprint Archive.  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Disciplinary repositories

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.

Enhancing access enhances output

Information Philanthropy Initiatives: A Guide to Helping Libraries & Researchers Worldwide, Library Connect Pamphlet #11, April 28, 2008.  (Thanks to Research Information.)  From the sidebar on p. 10:

...Countries benefiting from HINARI — launched in 2001 and providing journal access since 2002 — have seen a massive increase in the number of authors publishing in international peer-reviewed journals, well in excess of the increase seen in the remaining nations of the world.

When looking at the number of authors publishing in peer-reviewed journals over the five-year period 2002–2006, we see 38% growth for non-HINARI countries but 63% growth for those signed up to HINARI.

When looking at the number of authors publishing in peer-reviewed journals over the five-year period 1997–2001, we see a growth rate of 20% for both sets of countries....

Update.  Also see the Elsevier press release, May 19, 2008.  Excerpt:

HINARI Access to Research Initiative announced today that its collaborative efforts to provide free and low cost access to health research in the developing countries have made a significant impact on advancing scientific discoveries in these regions....

An impact analysis, conducted by Elsevier, has shown that researchers in the countries benefiting from HINARI have begun to publish their findings in international peer-reviewed journals at a rate that is well in excess of the increase seen in the rest of the world....

Update. Also see Katherine Nightingale's article in SciDev.Net for May 27, 2008:

Kimberley Parker, HINARI's programme manager, says that with such a simple analysis it is impossible to prove HINARI alone has caused this increase....

"We believe we're a contributing factor in the growth. This particular piece of research was something that came to hand; we are pleased to be able to say that we look to be a contributing factor but we can't prove it." ...

HINARI's claims have drawn scepticism from some members of the open access publishing community — and highlight the difficulty of measuring the impact of open and free access publishing.

"Of course access to research findings are bound to stimulate research activity, but it is hard to be sure that access programmes such as HINARI are the sole contributors to increases in scientific activity — as measured by the number of publications — in the developing world," says Barbara Kirsop of the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development....

Exactly. Enhancing access is bound to enhance research output. Any boost due to HINARI is bound to be mixed together with a greater boost due to OA.

Latest additions to DOAJ: 19 new entries

The following journals were added to the Directory of Open Access Journals since May 12, most recent first:

New OA cancer journal

The Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research is an OA, peer-reviewed journal by BioMed Central and the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute (of Italy). The journal has been in publication since 1982; the move to BMC was announced on May 16. Previous backfiles, dating to 1999, are available here. Article-processing charges for accepted articles are £850 (€1070, US$1665), subject to discounts and waivers. Authors retain copyright and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

New OA journal of biological physics

PMC Biophysics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of biophysics, published by PhysMath Central. Read the May 16 announcement at the PMC blog. The article-processing charge for accepted articles is £750 (€1,100, US$1,320), subject to discounts and waivers. There is no article-processing charge for articles submitted before July 30. Authors retain the copyright of their articles and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Preserving OA content

ReStore workshop, JISC Information Environment Team blog, May 15, 2008.

I attended a very interesting workshop for the ReStore project last week. The project is run by Southampton’s ESRC National Centre for Research Methods and is investigating the use of a repository to host and maintain orphan web resources.

The problem that the project is addressing is that very useful web resources are produced by research projects. However when the project funding stops the maintenance of the resources often stops. This means that the resources start to decay, broken links flourish and the usefulness of the resource deteriorates quickly.

ReStore aims to address this problem by accepting suitable resources after a review process and then hosting and curating the sites with a mixture of automated and manual processes.

The project ... aims to produce a prototype repository that curates a few web resources that have been produced by other ESRC projects.

The workshop was chiefly concerned with introducing the project and discussing some of the major issues such as technical challenges, IPR and sustainability. The presentations from the day can be downloaded from the project website. These include some mockups of the proposed system and an overview of the proposed review and curation process. ...

Preview of Siyavula: an open education project for South Africa

Simon Dingle, Siyavula to bring free and open resources to education, iCommons, May 19, 2008.  Excerpt:

Siyavula is an ambitious project that aims to transform education in South Africa by providing free, open and curriculum-aligned educational resources. Siyavula means ‘we are opening’ in Nguni and is an apt description of the initiative that will provide content via an online portal where educators can collaborate and create resources, leveraging Creative Commons licenses

The conventional publishing model for textbooks presents significant problems for education in the developing world. It has resulted in an environment in which textbooks are prohibitively expensive and where great effort is required in order to localise, refresh or translate content. The market is controlled by a handful of corporate players who utilise restrictive copyrights and are primarily focused on driving profits and less concerned with enhancing education....

Siyavula will combine technology with Creative Commons licenses to make open content resources available to educators and learners in South Africa.

The project is being incubated by the Shuttleworth Foundation and is led by Mark Horner, who is also one of the co-founders of the foundation’s Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project....

Horner says...“The aim is to provide free textbooks both online and in print that cover the entire South African curriculum,” he adds.

The South African government’s Department of Education has expressed its support for Siyavula and is in regular contact with the Shuttleworth Foundation, ensuring that the project is aligned with departmental initiatives....

Planning an IR at Mexico's Nuevo Leon Autonomous University

Zapopan Martín Muela-Meza, and José Antonio Torres-Reyes, Propuesta de Proyecto: Creación del Primer Repositorio Institucional de Acceso Abierto a toda la Investigación Científica y Profesional en la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, México, a preprint, self-archived May 15, 2008.  In Spanish with an English abstract:

This project is taken from an electronic communication that the authors held with Mr. José Antonio González Treviño, Chancellor of the Nuevo Leon Autonomous Univeristy (UANL, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León), Mexico, to whom this project was presented on 8th May 2008. The project has the aim to become the First Institutional Repository in Open Access to all Scientific and Professional Research at Nuevo Leon Autonomous University, Mexico (RIAAI-UANL) in all the university disciplines included Librarianship, Library Science, Information Science and other Documental Information Sciences.

Irish green

The IREL-Open project has now officially launched.  (Thanks to OA@OCD.)  From the site:

Irish universities have received government funding to build open access institutional repositories in each Irish university and to develop a federated harvesting and discovery service via a national portal. It is intended that this collaboration will be expanded to embrace all Irish research institutions in the future.

This is a three-year project starting in April 2007, directed by the Irish Universities Association and managed by the Irish Universities Association Librarians' Group. An official statement on the project from the Irish Universities Association Librarian's Group [June 2007] is available here.

Comment.  Note the green OA momentum in Ireland from this month alone.  On May 1, the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) adopted its exemplary OA mandate.  On May 13, the Science Foundation Ireland released its draft OA mandate (based on the IRSET OA mandate) for public comment.  And there are new institutional repositories at the Dublin Institute of Technology (the IR, our blog post) and the University of Limerick (the IR, our blog post).

Update.  Also see the IREL-Open brochure from the Irish Universities Association.

Update.  Here's a photo of the IREL-Open celebration.  (Thanks to Dublin City University.)

U of Limerick launches an IR

The University of Limerick has launched an institutional repository.  (Thanks to OA@OCD.)

Nigerian OA workshop

The presentations from Open Access Repositories: New Models for Scholarly Communication (Zaria, Nigeria, April 28-29, 2008) are now online.

Also see this report on the workshop from

Eighty-nine participants – policy makers and ICT experts from university and research institutes, scholars and researchers, editors-in-chief of peer reviewed scientific and scholarly journals, university and systems librarians - from forty-five institutions met at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria to discuss a strategic approach to open access (OA)....A Communiqué issued after the workshop endorsed the open access model and made a set of recommendations for government and stakeholders....

The knowledge-sharing event was co-organised by the Department of Library and Information Science at Ahmadu Bello University, and the Nigerian University Libraries Consortium (NULIB). “NULIB’s mandate is only half fulfilled if we cannot also provide access to Nigerian scholarly output. That is why we are so excited about this workshop, which, through its advocacy and training, will encourage and enable Nigerian universities and research institutes to organise their scholarly output into institutional repositories that, through open access, will be available to many both within and outside the country”, said Professor Doris O. Bozimo, Chairperson of NULIB in her opening remarks.

“Communicating scholarly information through open access repositories provide the added advantages of faster publishing opportunities, greater visibility for authors and institutions and cheaper access”, said Victoria Okojie, President of the Nigerian Library Association....“The Nigerian Library Association supports open access and commits to promoting it within the Nigerian community. We endorse open access for all journals, dissertations and conference proceedings in the LIS sector in Nigeria. We shall continue to provide open access to our conference papers and shall employ all legitimate means to encourage our members to archive their pre-prints and post-prints in open access, OAI-compliant archives....”

“The next step is for policy developments within individual universities, as well as in the research sector as a whole. It has been proven that policies mandating open access to publicly funded research enhance access to, and greater use of research findings, increase R&D efficiency, accelerate innovation and stimulate the economy”, said Iryna Kuchma, eIFL Open Access Program Manager.

Several open access initiatives are already underway in Nigeria. Kaduna State University and the University of Benin (Pharmacotherapy Group, Faculty of Pharmacy) both publish open access journals. Academic Journals, a Lagos-based publisher, currently has twenty OA journals and Bioline International hosts eleven OA titles from Nigeria. Ezra Shiloba Gbaje from Ahmadu Bello University runs the first pilot open access institutional repository in Nigeria, a second pilot will soon be launched by Emmanuel Babatunde Ajala of Kenneth Dike Library, University of Ibadan....

Also see the Communiqué issued by workshop participiants:


Stakeholders at the workshop observed with serious concern that:

  1. Open Access Institutional Repositories are now globally accepted as one of the best model for scholarly communication.
  2. Only few countries in Africa have embraced the project.
  3. Nigeria with 92 Universities and several other Research Institutes, there is only one pilot Institutional repository (IR) in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Nigeria.
  4. The Open Access Repositories (OAR) has enormous benefits to the country, research scientists, scholars and information users in general.
  5. Despite the benefits of open access/Institutional repositories, there is a very low level of awareness even among Authors, publishers and other stakeholders in Nigeria.


In view of the above mentioned observations, the following recommendations are made:

  1. The Federal Government should develop a strategic plan of action on open access repositories and open access journals with an activity timeline.
  2. The Federal Government to setup a National Coordinating Committee for Open Access Repositories and open access journals in Nigeria.
  3. Stakeholders should be sensitized on the need to support open access and Institutional repositories (IR) and open access journals.
  4. Favourable policies should be formulated at different levels on open access repositories and open access journals in Nigeria.
  5. Stakeholders should be trained and retrained on open access repositories and modality for the implementation of open access journals.
  6. Stakeholders should be encouraged to source and make available funds for the open access repository projects and open access journals.
  7. The stakeholders appreciate both the technical and financial contributions of to the development of open access initiatives in Nigeria.

Calling on journals to join PubMed Central

Michael Rogawski is calling on more biomedical journals join the list of journals participating in PubMed Central.  Excerpt:

...Journal participation in PubMed Central is dismal. And there isn't any logical reason for it, at least for journals that provide free access to content after a delay (which is the case for many society journals). There is no cost to participate, and journals can impose a delay on free access that matches their own delay period.

Participation offers the following benefits:

(1) NIH-funded authors are relieved of the responsibility for self-depositing to PubMed Central;

(2) PDF versions of the articles on PubMed Central are the publisher's version and not an ad-hoc version created from the author's pre-copy-edited manuscript;

(3) PubMed Central provides a back-up archive. (I have experienced HighWire Press outages where I was not able to access journal content through the HighWire platform. During these outages, I was grateful to be able to access papers in participating journals like PNAS through PubMed Central.)

At present only 452 journals are full participants in PubMed Central, of which perhaps 200 or so are from traditional non-OA publishers. This compares with the 5,194 (mostly) life sciences and biomedical journals that are indexed in MEDLINE/PubMed.

Commercial and society publishers should be encouraged to become full participants in PubMed Central. Many publishers may be contemplating selective deposit agreements to meet the requirements of the NIH Public Access Policy. While this will provide the 3 above-noted benefits for articles that fall under the NIH mandate, full participation expands the benefit of back-up archiving to the full journal content, which is highly desirable.

Comment.  There are several ways in which journals can participate in PMC.  They can deposit just the articles by their NIH-funded authors.  If they are hybrid OA journals, they can deposit all their OA articles, whether or not by NIH-funded authors, and hold back their TA articles.  They can deposit all their research articles, and hold back their review articles.  Or they can deposit all their articles.  In the wake of the new NIH OA mandate, more and more journals are deciding to deposit articles by their NIH-funded authors.  That's good, but Rogawski is asking them to go further and consider depositing all their articles.  This is important.  Many journals may not realize that there are options beyond the first level.  While the articles by NIH-funded authors must be deposited at the time of acceptance for publication, and released within 12 months of publication, journals depositing other kinds of articles may use the embargo or moving wall of their choice.  For details on the criteria for participation, see How to Join PMC.

Another OA implication of the Georgia State lawsuit

Kevin Smith, Getting off the copyright merry-go-round, Scholarly Communications at Duke, May 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Amidst all this give and take about copyright, the question ought to be asked whether any of these incremental changes will really make much difference. From the perspective of higher education, at least, there is a sense of tinkering around the edges of a severely broken system. PRO IP simply creates more bureaucracy and further trumpets the “sky is falling” approach to copyright of the entertainment industry. Orphan works is an area in which real reform is sorely needed, but one can legitimately ask if the bills being considered would actually work; the bills may be so laden with expensive and unnecessary hoops to be cleared that they will not make truly beneficial uses of orphan works any more possible or likely. Another example of this futility may be found in the recently concluded work of the Section 108 Study Group: although the Study Group’s report raises some interesting and key issues, it was only able to reach agreement to actually recommend minor changes that will not make much real difference. Instead of waiting for reforms that never come in any helpful way, it may be more fruitful in higher education to ask ourselves how we might simply get off the copyright merry-go-round.

The answer, of course, is in open access to scholarship, and there may be some recent developments that point a direction for encouraging open access as an alternative to the current system of copyright protection for commercial monopolies. An article in this month’s College & Research Libraries News by David Lewis, Dean of the Library at IUPUI, forcefully asserts that it is time for libraries to stop putting more and more money into the bloated and dysfunctional journal publishing system and to move funds to support open access infrastructure and venues. His article proposes specific steps that libraries can take to move off the endless cycle of higher journal prices that leads to less money for monographs and overall reduced access. He is suggesting an important step to get us off the copyright merry-go-round.

A major obstacle to open access, however, has always been resistance from faculty, for whom the system usually seems to work just fine. Tenure and promotion have been built around the core of commercial publishing, and it is very hard to communicate the reasons for moving away from that core. Until now. With the lawsuit filed against Georgia State by three major publishers, a real opportunity has arisen to show faculty members that giving copyright away to publishers primarily interested in share holder profit, not dissemination of knowledge, is no longer in their own best interests. At its root, this lawsuit challenges what faculty members, who provide the content for scholarly publications, want to be able to do with their own work and the work of their colleagues – communicate it to students. If the copyright system determines that they cannot do that without paying yet more money on top of the exorbitant prices charged to buy the works back initially, perhaps there will be a general recognition that they should not freely give that content away in the first place. A return to first principles would remind faculty that these works belong to them unless and until they choose to give them away, and that they are free to negotiate the terms of any transfer of copyright. Ironically, this lawsuit’s frontal attack on a core value in higher education may prove to be the best weapon yet to move scholarship off the increasingly dangerous and unstable copyright merry-go-round.

Liberating chemical facts

On his blog today, Peter Murray-Rust offers a preview of his talk at this week's meeting, Open Access Publishing in the Chemical Sciences (London, May 22, 2008). He welcomes feedback that he can incorporate before Thursday.  Excerpt:

...Most chemistry publishing is closed access, not even allowing Green self-archiving (unless paid for). There is no sign that any of the major closed publishers (ACS, RSC, Wiley, Springer, Elsevier, Nature) are likely to change in the immediate future. There are Open Access publishers, the most prominent in the PLoS or BMC camps. They have little market share at present and they will have to work very hard to change this. (This is not true in bioscience where the Open Access publishers are making major advances).

They have been challenged by the various Open Access (or Free Access) archiving mandates, most notably from the NIH. Some of them, particularly the ACS, see this as unacceptable government action leading to the destruction of scholarly publishing....

I hope the meeting does not discuss these played out issues or it will be mainly a non-productive talking shop. Where we differ we are unlikely to agree as a result of a few hours presentations.

What I hope we can do is to look to what is technically possible and desirable in the future of chemical publishing. Chemistry has enormous potential - it could be one of the most exciting data-driven sciences.

But it isn’t....

The melting point of X is Y (temperature) at Z (pressure) is a fact. I hope at least we can agree on that, and that it isn’t a “creative work”....

The aggregators of facts can’t keep up. Even if they could we can’t reuse the facts in their current form. Each supplier of aggregated facts has their own idiosyncratic data format, each will only let them out under licence, and these licences form an anticommons which effectively prevents their re-use.

I shall present a scenario where these facts are gathered automatically and made instantly available. It’s not fantasy - we’re actually doing it. And it’s not even expensive - it can be done on marginal costs.

But - it seriously threatens a conservative publishing industry....

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's comment:

Peter Murray-Rust is quite right that ACS is likely to be the very last of all publishers to go Green on OA self-archiving, but he is mistaken about most of the others on his list:

ACS: gray
Wiley: GREEN
Springer: GREEN
Elsevier: GREEN
Nature: pale-green ...

Daniel Charnay on HAL

Le Mensuel de l’Université interviews Daniel Charnay on OA and HAL, March 21, 2008.  (Thanks to the INIST Libre Accès blog.)

Charnay is a senior engineer at CNRS' Institut de physique nucléaire et de physique des particules (IN2P3) and Director of the Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe (CCSD).  HAL is a project of the CCSD.  Read the interview in the original French or in Google's English.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Universities with green OA mandates haven't stopped paying for peer review

Stevan Harnad, On Parasitism and Double-Dipping: I (of 2), Open Access Archivangelism, May 17, 2008.

Summary:  Ian Russell (CEO of ALPSP) is an alumnus of U. Southampton, the institution that designed and adopted the world's first Green OA self-archiving mandate (first as a departmental mandate, then university-wide).
    Ian suggests that his alma mater's mandate is "parasitic" because it is "unfunded." By unfunded, Ian does not mean that Southampton isn't funding its own Institutional Repositories (IRs) (it is); he means that Southampton does not provide funds to pay the costs of publication.
    But of course Southampton (like all other research universities) is already funding the costs of publication: through its journal subscriptions. Subscriptions buy in the research output of other universities; this has nothing to do with mandating the self-archiving of Southampton's own research output.
    If and when all universities mandate self-archiving, and if and when the resultant universal Green OA causes subscriptions to become unsustainable as the means of covering publishing costs, then journals will convert to Gold OA publishing and universities will pay the publication costs for their own research output out of a portion of their windfall subscription cancellation savings. This is already guaranteed by universities' longstanding mandate to "Publish or Perish." (No risk of "parasitism," because otherwise the "parasite" would perish.)
    But for publishers to ask universities to pay publication costs now -- at current asking prices, and while the potential funds are still tied up paying for it via subscriptions -- is either to seek double-dipping or to seek an indefensible hedge against any downsizing and cost-cutting that might be induced by mandated OA.
    OA is optimal and inevitable for research, and feasible right now, through Green OA self-archiving mandates. Both universities and publishers will adapt quite naturally to its sequelae.

Also see, On Parasitism and Double-Dipping: II (2nd of 2), May 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

Summary:  Sandy Thatcher (President, AAUP) thinks universities prefer building football fields to paying for publishing. I reply that universities are already paying for publishing today, via their journal subscriptions, and that if that cash is ever saved (because subscriptions are cancelled, mandated Green OA having made all journal articles accessible online for free) and journals convert to Gold OA publishing, universities will still need to "publish or perish," which still trumps building football fields. So universities will redirect a portion of their windfall cancellation savings to cover that basic necessity. Only a portion of those savings will be needed, though, because journals will have downsized to just providing peer review, which costs much less than publishing does now. Universities' own institutional repositories will take over the burden of providing the documents, the archiving and the access.


  • Stevan is right.  See my similar arguments in an article from September 2007 (esp. Sections 6 and 11-13) and an article from April 2008 (esp. Principle 3).
  • One further point:  Even if universities canceled all their subscriptions, they would continue to subsidize peer-reviewed journals simply by paying the salaries of the faculty members who provide articles and refereeing services to journals at no charge.  Hence, if we have to use the language of parasitism, journals are parasites on universities at least as much universities (with OA mandates) are parasites on journals.

OA on another shortlist of scientific breakthroughs

Technut News has compiled a list of Biotech Breakthroughs: 15 Developments That Will Eventually Affect YOUR Life.  OA is the one development on the list not specifically from biomedicine.  Excerpt:

11. Science 2.0 — Is Open Access Science the Future? - Will science go open source? Why not… some software is open source, and look at what it has produced: Linux, one of the most stable OS’es ever to grace the planet. Imagine the results that a worldwide science project could possibly yield....