Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Public Resource opens JURIS database

On June 13, Public.Resource.Org announced that it had opened the JURIS database for public use. JURIS is a compilation of 2 million pages of U.S. federal case law, originally compiled by the Air Force (at taxpayer expense) and later took over by the Department of Justice, until it was deleted (in lieu of commercial services West and Lexis-Nexis). The sole surviving copy is held by the University of Pennsylvania and licensed under terms prohibiting redistribution. From PRO's announcement:
We have made the JURIS database available so that you may judge for yourself the importance of these files. ... There is a compelling public policy issue in the fact that the Department of Justice deleted 2 million pages of case law after establishing their for-pay contract with a commercial concern. Why did the government delete such a valuable asset that was created at taxpayer expense? Why would a copy not be kept just in case? Why does the government not have a digital copy of their own work product? These are questions of national concern and the public has a right to examine the evidence.
See also the various past OAN stories about PRO's projects with federal case law.

Notes on OA workshop in Georgia

Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Awareness Raising workshop in Georgia, EIFL, June 10, 2008.

On May 14-15, 2008, Georgian Integrated Library & Information System Consortium (GILISC) and organised a workshop Open Access: New Models for Scholarly Communication. Hosted by Ilia Chavchavadze State University the workshop addressed Open Access policies and recommendations and highlighted the benefits of Open Access journals and Open repositories. ...

Publishers of Georgian Open Access journals – Computer Science and Telecommunications, Education Sciences and Psychology, Physics, Jurisprudence, Musicology and Cultural Science, Germanistische Studien, all published by Georgian Internet Academy, and Bulletin of the Tbilisi International Centre of Mathematics and Informatics, published by the I.Vekua Institute of Applied Mathematics, I.Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and Georgian Academy of Natural Sciences - shared their experience in publishing Open Access journals in Georgia. ...

The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia presented the first open repository in the country with more than 200 full texts dissertations. ...

The workshop participants agreed to create an Open Access working group and to develop a pilot project for the national open repository with centrally managed infrastructure and virtually different repositories managed by institutions. Articles already published in the peer-reviewed journals are planned to be the initial content for this repository and annual reports of the Universities and research institutions will be used to identify the lists of these articles. ...

See also our previous post on the conference.

STM comments on the SFI draft OA policy

STM has released its comment on the draft OA policy from the Science Foundation Ireland.  Excerpt:

...This policy makes reference to other statements as examples of "best practice". These other statements omit any evidential basis for their embargo periods and in most cases are copying from earlier statements, also without an evidential basis. Nowhere has there been any impact assessment of the likely effects of six, nine or even twelve month embargo periods on the viability of journals. We refer SFI to the eContentPlusfunded PEER project, due to commence in Europe in September 2008, which will be the first attempt to find out what the effects may be. We believe undue commitment to any embargo period (but especially less than twelve months) is premature until the results of this study become known....

We feel the present language risks entangling SFI in violations of Ireland?s international treaty obligations under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property ("TRIPS").

For our member publishers, making access to research articles free at any point after ? or even upon ? publication presupposes a means of recovering revenues that allow the journal to exist. To make articles free to read immediately upon publication means that funds equal to 100% of the "pay to read" revenues have to be found from another source: be it government subsidy, charitable donations or publication charges. Of these three options, only one is potentially sustainable and scalable for the estimated 25,000 active learned journals published worldwide and involves publication charges (equal to potential lost revenues) paid either directly by the author or indirectly by the funder of the piece of research. This model has been adopted by a number of funding agencies, especially the Wellcome Trust in the UK, who are prepared to pay a fee for immediate free access. SFI policy does not propose to do this....

An alternative route to open access involves making the article freely available online following publication after some embargo period, typically six, twelve or more months in duration. This approach assumes that an article has little value after its embargo period. For the vast majority of journals this is a dangerous and fallacious assumption. Data from the DC Principles Group of Publishers shows that only about 1% of active learned journals have business models that allow this approach: even in this small group of titles very few indeed, 0.1% (30 journals) make content available by the embargo period in SFI?s draft policy.

Data on the proportion of downloads (or uses) that occur on a wide variety of journals show that 100% is not reached even ten years after publication for any subject....It is clear that one size does not fit all disciplines and that even within the area of health there is considerable variation from 37% at six months to 48% at twelve. With up to 63% of downloads still to occur, a six month embargo would seriously undermine the economic viability of these journals. These arguments have been accepted by the US National Institutes of Health who decided to retain a twelve month embargo period despite strong pressure to reduce it.

Many commentators have argued that all these arguments are invalidated if the deposited item is the peer-reviewed author manuscript version. They base this assessment upon the assumption that to date no journals have been cancelled because such author manuscript versions were made freely available on the internet. Leaving aside the potential human harm that might result (through injudicious use of non-final, non-copy-edited drafts of medical papers with potentially fatal errors in drug dosages and the like), there is now evidence that for many libraries availability of the peer-reviewed author manuscript is good enough, will lead to cancellations, and that a 6-month embargo will have very little impact on such cancellations. Evidence from many publishers is showing that public availability of peer-reviewed author manuscripts on the physics server ArXiv is causing a major migration of downloads away from the journal to the free version. At some point the cost per download of the journals involved will become so high that librarians will be forced to cancel....


  • There are "best practices" to make research useful and "best practices" to preserve publisher revenues.  SFI might have meant the former, since it's a public funding agency dedicated to the public interest.   But STM clearly means the latter. 
  • STM wants SFI to wait for the results of the PEER study of the effects of green OA on publishers.  But STM doesn't mention that this publicly-funded study will be carried out by STM itself.  Nor does it mention that PEER will be smaller, slower, and less neutral than several large ongoing natural experiments on the same question.  Policy-makers don't have to wait for PEER to learn the effects of green OA on journal subscriptions.  For more, see my longer comments on the PEER study from March 2008.
  • The reference to the Berne Convention and TRIPS are pure FUD.  If there's an argument here beyond the hand-waving, it rests on the false assumption that the SFI policy would amend Irish copyright law.  The SFI policy, like other funder OA policies around the world, would only modify the contract between grantor and grantee and leave copyright law unmodified. 
  • I actually agree that funding agencies, at least when they can afford to do so, should allow grantees use grant funds, or to apply for supplementary funds, to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  However, I don't accept the STM argument that funding agencies must not adopt policies that would reduce current revenues for publishers, even when the policies would increase benefits for the public or increase the funder's own return on investment.  To make the STM recommendation a principle would mean that private industry would always trump public policy.
  • The six-month embargo does not assume that articles older than six months have no value and no downloads.  It merely assumes that the interests of publishers in long embargoes must be weighed against the public interest in no embargoes.  That is, it merely assumes that publishers are not the only stakeholders here and must accept a compromise.  Publishers who reject this view are saying that they deserve to be given permanent control of access to research which they didn't conduct, write up, sponsor, or purchase, and which was funded by taxpayers.
  • STM seems to be saying that funders should use the same embargo periods that journals voluntarily adopt for themselves.  But that presupposes that journals are trying to minimize their embargo periods, which is untrue.  Or it presupposes that funders have the same interests as publishers, or should put aside their own interests in order to indulge the interests of publishers, which is lunatic. 
  • STM cites the 12-month embargo at the NIH policy as a model.  But STM fails to mention that every other funder of medical research in the world with an OA policy uses a six-month embargo: the Arthritis Research Campaign (UK), British Heart Foundation, Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, European Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department, Department of Health (UK), Fund to Promote Scientific Research (Austria), Genome Canada, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Joint Information Systems Committee (UK), and the Wellcome Trust (UK). These agencies recognize that delaying public access to publicly-funded research is a compromise with the public interest, and that delays are more harmful in medicine than in any other field. 
  • STM can't cite any journal cancellations attributable to the rise of green OA, and shifts the question to reduced downloads.  The download decline is real and understandable.  But it doesn't support the slippery-slope argument for increased cancellations.  More importantly, conjectural cancellations don't outweigh the public interest, and demonstrable cancellations would merely force everyone to acknowledge that existing publishers and existing business models are not the only ways to support peer review.  For more on this cluster of issues (cancellations, downloads, and the prospects for peer review even under mass cancellations of TA journals), see my article from September 2007.
  • For background, see my own comments on the draft SFI policy, which I consider exemplary.  And don't forget that comments on the draft policy are due by June 19 (next Thursday), and can be submitted by email.

Update.  Also see Heather Morrison's comments on the STM statement.  Excerpt:

...[T]here is a serious factual misstatement in the STM response (a claim that only 30 journals make articles freely available after an embargo period; the evidence suggests that the actual number is hundreds or thousands of journals)....

There are more than 3,400 fully open access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. DOAJ is a vetted list which includes only fully open access, peer reviewed journals. The Electronic Journals Library is a more inclusive list, including journals with free back issues; Electronic Journals Library lists over 18,000 free journals. Highwire Press lists 42 completely free sites, and 249 sites with free back issues. Over 400 journals make their articles freely available in PubMedCentral; as of March 2008, 321 made these articles freely available immediately on publication. For the analysis, see this post on IJPE.

In sum, while I don't have the exact figures for how many journals make back issues freely available, clearly the numbers are in the hundreds (Highwire, PubMedCentral), or thousands (Electronic Journals Library) - not just 30!

Dutch library consortium joins SCOAP3

The Dutch Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (UKB) has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.  From yesterday's announcement:

UKB, the Dutch consortium of the thirteen university libraries and the National Library of the Netherlands, and NIKHEF, the National Institute for Subatomic Physics in the Netherlands, have joined SCOAP3.

M.A.M. Heijne, the president of UKB, commented: "I sincerely hope that this project will be an opportunity to show the world that the challenges in Open Access can be met." ...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Protecting digitization for OA

Cornell Librarian Feels Vindicated After Verdict Over Digitized Article, Library Journal Academic Newswire, June 13, 2008.  Excerpt:

A federal judge last week dismissed Cornell alum Kevin Vanginderen's $1 million lawsuit over a 1983 Cornell Chronicle article digitized by the library and crawled by Google....

That suit notwithstanding, Cornell librarians this week said the decision in the first case was a victory for the library...."I do share concerns that individuals might have about potentially embarrassing material being made public," Cornell university librarian Anne Kenney said, "but I don?t think you can go back and distort the public record." Kenney said that the library has no plans to alter its digitization procedures as a result of the case. "I feel this is a real victory for the library in terms of being able to make documentary material accessible," she said.

Cornell University Library archivist Peter Hirtle reflected on the potential negative impact that could have resulted had Moskowitz found that digitization was the equivalent of republication. "It would be disastrous if every time we scan something, we had to take the same editorial responsibility as the initial publisher," Hirtle said, adding that verdict reaffirmed "the important role libraries can play in promoting free speech and providing ready public access to information on the activities of government."

Sampling the latest comments to the NIH

As Comments Close on NIH Implementation, a Common Plea Emerges: Help Us, Library Journal Academic Newswire, June 13, 2008.  Excerpt:

On May 31, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) closed the comment period on implementing the agency's recently adopted public access mandate, which went into effect on April 7. Although it is still too early too tell how the implementation process is going in practice, from the 178 responses, which addressed four key questions, a common message seemed to emerge: help us. Respondents included investigators, university and library personnel, and publishers. While expressing varying levels of support or opposition for the NIH mandate itself, all seemed to encourage the NIH to offer more concrete guidance on how to ensure compliance with the access mandate, with efficiency in mind.

In comments, respondents cited challenges ranging from confusion over correct citations, to a wide range of policies?from journals, institutions, and funders?that could create confusion for those who must comply. Wyatt Hume, provost of the University of California (UC), wrote that UC remained "deeply concerned" that the policy does not address "complexities associated with the loosely-coupled roles of authors, principal investigators, institutions, and publishers."

Hume also observed that "publishers are under no obligation to assist, or even permit, authors to retain the rights needed to deposit their manuscripts in PubMed Central in compliance with the policy, and the authors' institutions generally have neither the legal standing nor the means to intervene." This "ambiguity about rights" is amplified, Hume noted, by the range of compliance methods that have emerged among publishers. "Some automatically deposit either the final published article or the author's final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC, others have publication agreements that permit the authors to deposit, others authorize compliance only through the mechanism of an optional 'author pays' publication agreement, yet others provide unrestricted open access to all their publications." ...

"UC therefore strongly recommends," Hume wrote, "that NIH address this problem by establishing a systematic program, working with publishers and institutions, to define a single, simple model that facilitates and supports deposit of NIH-sponsored works in PMC."

That suggestion was echoed by Patrick White, writing on behalf of the Association of American Universities. White urged the NIH to help negotiate a blanket permissions agreement. "What is needed is a modified standard copyright agreement acknowledging that the author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to NIH for posting by NIH on PubMed Central within 12 months of publication by a given journal. We request that NIH work to encourage publishers to adopt such agreements." ...

Establishing a blanket license, however, would seem to be a tough sell for publishers. In an extended post, Association of American Publishers' Allan Adler, a strong critic of the policy and of the legislative process that enacted the policy, said that "blanket requirements in grant contracts would effectively deny authors and publishers the benefits of their copyrights." ...

While publishers have pushed for a federal rulemaking procedure, that is unlikely to happen. NIH will consider the range of comments [and] " analysis and results" for public view on the NIH site by September 30, 2008.

Preview of Berlin 6 conference

The Berlin 6 OA conference (D?sseldorf, November 11-13, 2008) has just posted its preliminary program and opened for pre-registration.

EPSRC launches Digital Repositories e-Science Network

The UK's Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has launched the Digital Repositories e-Science Network (DReSNet).  From the DReSNet about page:

The proposed Network is motivated by the potential for synergy between two fields of technology and technique, e-Science and Digital Repositories....This was recognised by the keynote speech of Tony Hey at the Open Repositories 2007 conference. Tony Hey...called for an integration of repositories into the new scholarly life cycle envisioned in e-Research.

The digital material generated from and used by academic and other research is to an increasing extent being held in formally managed digital repositories. In many cases, these systems are used currently to hold relatively simple objects, for example an institution?s pre-prints and publications, or e-theses. However, some institutions are beginning to use them to manage research data....

Repositories are changing not only in the type of content that they hold, but also in the ways they are used. A major motivation in setting up and populating digital repositories has been (and is) to make the results of research available to a wider audience, by encouraging or in some cases mandating deposit and open access principles. Repository software is, however, becoming more sophisticated, allowing complex digital content to be stored in such a way that its internal structure and external context can be explicitly represented, managed and exposed.

Such systems allow us to move away from the model of a stand-alone repository, where objects are simply deposited for subsequent access and download. Instead, researchers are developing more sophisticated models in which a repository is an integrated component of a larger research infrastructure, incorporating advanced tools and workflows, and being used to model complex webs of information and capture scholarly or scientific processes in their entirety, from raw data through to final publications. Repositories thus add value to the data-driven research lifecycle....

Another issue to be addressed is the ?silo? mentality . Even if data is held in formally managed digital repositories, these are often managed on an institutional basis, resulting in information that is widely dispersed and not easy for researchers to locate and access. Although the repository content is in principle accessible via the internet, it is often held at a ?deep? level that is not amenable to traditional discovery techniques. If, as we expect, digital repositories take on a central and pivotal role in the research lifecycle, then there is a clear strategic need to develop methods and tools to enable collaborative research through the coordination and federation of such complex and dispersed resources....

A particular feature of the proposed Network is that it will operate across disciplines, including the arts, humanities and social sciences as well as the sciences in the narrower sense, as the technologies addressed are trans-disciplinary. We will strive to encourage inter-disciplinary contacts and collaborations, and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and expertise gained within one discipline to other fields. Moreover, given the range of potential applications of the technologies, we do not expect interest in the Network to be restricted to the academic world, but also to include non-academic institutions. Consequently, we will encourage industrial participants, including commercial companies, cultural heritage organisations (e.g. museums, art galleries, and historic libraries), the media, and public/government bodies.

PS:  The EPSRC is the one council within the Research Councils UK which has not yet adopted an OA mandate.  It's still deliberating and plans to announce its OA policy during 2008.

Czech Digital Math Library launches

A beta version of the Czech Digital Mathematics Library was released on June 11. See also this story in the Prague Daily Monitor from June 11. From the project's home page:

The aim of this project is to investigate, develop and apply techniques, methods and tools that would allow the creation of a suitable infrastructure and conditions for establishing what will become the Czech Digital Mathematics Library (DML-CZ). It will consist of the relevant mathematical literature which has been published throughout history in the Czech lands. Upon completion it will be incorporated into the World Digital Mathematics Library (WDML).

The project will involve launching the digitization process and providing end users with access to the digitized material. It will also involve research into advanced technologies for searching mathematical documents, and including born-digital materials.

The DML-CZ should primarily contain professional journals of international standing published by Czech institutions, such as the Czechoslovak Mathematical Journal and Applications of Mathematics published by the Mathematical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Kybernetika published by the Institute of Automation and Information Theory AS CR and others. The DML-CZ will also include conference proceedings published by the Czech universities and research institutes, selected monographs, textbooks, dissertation theses and research reports. Measures will be taken to complement the digital library with materials which have already been digitized (e.g. Commentationes Mathematicae Universitatis Carolinae, Mathematica Bohemica, Archivum Mathematicum digitized by the Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum within the DIEPER project). According to preliminary estimates the core of the DML-CZ should contain 200–300 thousand pages.

Update of EThOS ETD toolkit released

The EThOSnet Project released an update to its EThOS toolkit on June 6. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

In addition to full details of how your institution can participate, the interactive Toolkit provides practical information on how theses can be produced by students at your Institution so they can be accessed via EThOS and from your Institutional Repository. Accessed from its new location the toolkit provides guidance on:

  • Putting forward the case for the importance of electronic theses (Culture Change)
  • Outlining the business case including information on which participation options suit (Business Needs)
  • Clear standards provided on technical requirements (Technical Requirements)
  • Practical materials and templates to be used for authors and supervisors in contributing to EThOS (Training and Guidance)
See also previous OAN coverage of the earlier version of the toolkit.

Update (7/1/08). Also see JISC's press release encouraging universities to familiarize themselves with the toolkit.

Notes on repository case studies at Gregynog Colloquium

Repository case studies at the Gregynog Colloquium 2008, Repositories Support Project, apparently dated June 9, 2008.

On Wednesday 4th June 2008 repository administrators from across Wales gathered for a repository themed event at the annual Gregynog Colloquium.

Every year the Higher Education Wales Information Technology (HEWIT) group and The Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) organise a residential colloquium at Gregynog Hall (University of Wales' conference centre) for IT and library staff to discuss recent developments and to exchange experiences. This is the second year that the RSP has run a repositories strand as part of this this event and once more it proved useful forum for the exchange of ideas and inspiration.

The day kicked off with a series of four case studies of repository developments from across Wales ...

Jackie Knowles from the RSP gave a short presentation on policy frameworks for institutional repositories highlighting the benefits of creating such policies and demonstrating the OpenDOAR policies tool which helps administrators put together policy documentation. ... All the case study presentations are available online via CADAIR.

Finally, the formal presentations were rounded off by a talk given by JORUM ... a free online repository service for teaching and support staff in UK Further and Higher Education Institutions, helping to build a community for the sharing, reuse and repurposing of learning and teaching materials.

New OA journal of dermatosurgery

The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Association of Cutaneous Surgeons of India and Medknow. There are no article processing charges. The journal replaces the association's previous official journal, the Indian Journal of Dermatosurgery. The journal's contents are available under a license similar to the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. The inaugural issue is now online.

Latest additions to DOAJ: 12 new entries

The following journals were added to the Directory of Open Access Journals June 2-9, most recent first:

Athabasca UP partners with Open Monograph Press

Public Knowledge Project announced on June 11 that Athabasca University Press is partnering with PKP's effort to develop Open Monograph Press, an electronic publishing platform for monographs. Athabasca UP will contribute its experience with scholarly publishing as well as developer time.

PKP is also seeking additional partners to contribute developer time, feedback, funding, or testing. Interested collaborators should join the new OMP section of the PKP Support Forum.

Comment. See our earlier post on OMP.

German science alliance will support OA

An alliance of German research organizations agreed on June 11 to launch a digital information initiative, which includes support for green OA, gold OA, and open data.  Read its June 12 announcement, Wissenschaftsorganisationen starten Schwerpunktinitiative zur "Digitalen Information" in German or in Google's English.  (Thanks to the Informationsplattform Open Access.)

The OA projects within the larger initiative will include new institutional and disciplinary repositories, the development of business models and financing for OA journals, pilot projects to redirect subscription funds toward the costs of OA publication, support for preservation and access to research data, and reform of German copyright law to support OA.  The announcement doesn't mention funder or university policies to encourage or require OA archiving. 

The alliance calls itself the Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen, and doesn't seem to have a web site yet.  It includes includes Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the Fraunhofer Society, the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers), the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK, German Rectors Conference), the Leibniz Society, the Max Planck Society, and the Wissenschaftsrat (WR, German Council of Science and Humanities).

Update (6/23/08). Listen to Peter Welchering's radio interview on the Alliance and its campaign for OA. (Thanks to Infobib.)

Last day to comment on EPA blog on access to info

Today is the last day to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Partner Blog for the National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information, which opened this week. The comments will be summarized for a report on the National Dialogue site. (Thanks to OMB Watch.)

You can also leave comments on the discussion board or via email, supposedly through the end of June. Comment. See our earlier post about the effort.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

RePEc May update

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in May 2008, The RePEc blog, June 4, 2008.

Traffic on RePEc services continues to be high, establishing a record for the third month in a row for abstracts. But this streak is expected to come to an end, as summer traffic is typically lower. All in all, we counted 693,457 file downloads and 2,836,840 abstract views.

During the month of May, the following institutions joined RePEc with new archives: University of Hamburg, Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, CIDE, University College Dublin, Nanyang Technological University, Romanian Journal of Regional Science, University of Central Missouri, University of Luxembourg, Queensland University of Technology.

In terms of thresholds passed, you should notice a few very significant ones:

  • 90,000,000 cumulative abstract views for working papers
  • 20,000,000 cumulative downloads through IDEAS
  • 1,000,000 cumulative downloads through NEP
  • 300,000 abstracts available
  • 180,000 working papers available online
  • 120,000 [Journal of Economic Literature] coded items

Calls for feedback on OA publishing, PKP software

The Public Knowledge Project has posted two calls for feedback: one on suggestions for new OA journal editors/publishers, the other on use cases of PKP software.

New harvester from Ukrainian Catholic University

Ukrainian Catholic University has launched a version of Public Knowledge Project's Open Archives Harvester. (Thanks to PKP.)

Study of author attitudes on OA and self-archiving at UCM

Manuela Palafox and Antonio Moreno, Encuesta sobre publicación científica y auto-archivo: Resumen de los resultados de la encuesta de opinión, realizada en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, working paper, November 14, 2007. (Thanks to Carolina De Volder.) In Spanish. Translated excerpt:
During the months of April and May 2007, the library of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid posted on its Web site a survey directed at the university's instructors and researchers. The purpose of this survey was to learn the experiences and attitudes of instruction and research staff in relation to the OA movement, to learn their habits regarding preservation and diffusion in digital format of their articles and other works, and their preferences for self-archiving in institutional vs. disciplinary repositories. ...
Comment. This is a bit old, but better late than never. Any mistakes in translation are mine.

New bookmarks from Create Change

Create Change has released a set of 4 bookmarks promoting OA. Each highlights comments from a researcher in a different field, drawn from full-length interviews published on the Create Change site. The bookmarks can be downloaded for printing in DOC or PDF format. Libraries are invited to modify the bookmarks for their campus before printing.

Helping authors comply with the NIH policy

On June 10, Kevin Smith blogged a sample letter, from a librarian to a publishing faculty member, on how to comply with the NIH policy.
Congratulations on the paper! The first step in complying with the NIH public access policy is to be sure you retained the right to deposit the article when you signed a publication agreement. ...

[Y]our next step is to actually deposit the article in PubMed Central. You do this using the NIHMS system; there are instructions and links here. We are being told by those who have used it that the submission process is fairly easy and straightforward. Nevertheless, if you have any difficulties, just let me know and I or one of the librarians will be glad to come to your office and help you with it.

Once you have submitted the article, along with any supplemental material, all you have to do is wait. NIH will send you, or the principle [sic] investigator named on the appropriate grant if that is someone other than you, a final copy of the article as it will appear in PubMed Central for verification. It is important to review the article at that time to be sure everything is correct, just as you would do with the page proofs for the journal, and respond to that e-mail.

At some point in the process you will be asked to verify that you have the right to authorize PMC availability and to tell PMC about any embargo. ...

For future reference in any paperwork submitted to the NIH, you will need to obtain the PMC ID number for your article. This helps NIH track compliance with the policy and is now required on renewal applications, progress reports and the like. Again, library staff can help you find this number if you have any difficulty.

Britannica opens, slightly, to user contributions

Encyclopaedia Britannica has announced it will offer limited features to permit some contributions from users.

See also reports from the Citizendium blog, Wired Campus, and Library Journal.

Comment. For background on Britannica's Web strategy, see our posts on its WebShare program to offer free access to bloggers: 1 and 2.

See also the recent Larousse decision to open, slightly, for user contributions.

Depositing committee docs

A repository of university committee papers, JISC Information Environment Team, June 11, 2008.

The KCL Committee Zone project is one of the Start Up and Enhancement projects in the JISC repositories and preservation programme. The project is drawing to a close and has developed a repository to store the agendas, minutes and papers that are produced for the various committees of King's College London.

The project held a dissemination event on the 10th where the repository was demonstrated....

OA and journal prices in India

Nick Gill, Knowledge for all, InfoChange, June 2008.

Last month the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai (IMSc) launched its new open-access repository. The repository provides open access to research articles written by members of the Institute. Anyone who has an Internet connection can access the server and can read articles about physics, mathematics and theoretical computer science written by members of IMSc.

Of course these articles are also available to anyone who subscribes to the journals in which they are published. But herein is the key point: journal prices have, in recent years, gone through the roof and many journals are now so expensive that access is restricted to universities with extremely deep pockets. For obvious reasons, universities and scientific institutes in India, with the exception of a few, cannot afford access.

The IMSc repository is part of a growing backlash from academics around the world who are angry at this state of affairs. They are seeking new and different ways to wrest back knowledge from the corporations and to open up access for all. ...

[Dramatic increases of journal pricing] is a trend with a hugely negative impact on academic research. Consider the situation at IMSc, Chennai. The total annual budget for IMSc is around Rs 13.3 crore, of which Rs 2.55 crore is spent subscribing to academic journals. Around 55% of this Rs 2.55 crore is paid to the two largest publishing companies - Reed-Elsevier and Springer - for the privilege of receiving a selection of the journals that they publish. In other words, more than 10% of the total budget for IMSc (more than the entire budget for faculty salaries) is paid directly to these two multi-national companies.

M Paul Pandian, the IMSc librarian, estimates that journal costs for IMSc are increasing at an average of 8% per annum, far in excess of inflation these past years. In the last year, this increase has been mitigated by a weaker dollar, but in general the effect of this increase is substantial. What is more, according to Pandian, price increases appear to have no correlation with increased costs for the publisher, or with better service.

Now IMSc is in the fortunate position of being one of the premier scientific institutes in the country and, as such, it has been given a budget to accommodate the commercial publishers. But, as Professor VS Sunder of IMSc says, "barring a minuscule number of institutions (such as IMSc and TIFR), the majority of universities in India (and even some good research institutes, which do not happen to be quite so fortunate in the funding they receive) simply cannot afford to access many journals as they are priced today. This situation represents a serious handicap for many Indian students and academics who wish to do significant research." ...

A research academic has two fundamental duties: to perform research and to share that research with others. Sharing research has traditionally been achieved through publishing, but many academics now do not consider work to have been adequately shared if it has been merely published in an over-priced journal. With this in mind, and angry at the policies of Reed-Elsevier, Springer and their fellows (such as John Wiley and Taylor & Francis), many academics are using new, non-commercial methods to undermine the corporate publishing houses. ...

Corporate publishing houses, though, are not going to sit by watching their profits vanish in a mist of open-access. ...

On a visit to IMSc, an executive from Reed-Elsevier was challenged by academics on the issue of pricing. He freely admitted that it is not in Reed-Elsevier's interest to reduce prices (and therefore profits); rather he said that Reed-Elevier were investigating methods of "adding value" to their service. For instance, they were considering paying referees for their work, thereby establishing a commercial transaction in the heart of the peer-review process. ...

Updated with Comments:
  • The revelation that more of the university's budget goes to Elsevier and Springer than to faculty salaries should cause many faculty, administrators, and public officials to take notice. That the journal pricing situation is now an outrage perpetrated on higher education overall, rather than a niche issue of librarianship, can no longer be denied.
  • The comment that "many academics now do not consider work to have been adequately shared if it has been merely published in an over-priced journal" paints a delightful contrast with our recently-blogged item on the struggle of review committees to validate research published in new electronic fora. (Compare also this recent item, entitled "Nanotechnology research is outpacing an outdated peer-review publishing process", and the recent question to Slashdot, "Are Academic Journals Obsolete?".)
  • Not all OA fora are "non-commercial", as the article implies. Two of the most notable OA publishers, BioMed Central and Hindawi, are for-profit organizations.
  • The Elsevier executive's hint that its journals may begin paying reviewers seems less like a method of "adding value" and more like a bold-faced attempt to bribe faculty into maintaining fealty to their Elsevier journals. Paying referees might result in faster turnaround of reviews, but would certainly give referees more financial incentive to continue reviewing (and writing) for Elsevier journals rather than OA competitors.

E-scholarship, tenure and review

Gary A. Olson, Certifying Online Research, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 6, 2008.

A department chairman from a nearby university recently solicited my advice on how to handle a tenure case in which the candidate's entire body of scholarship consisted of online publications.

The candidate was a valued colleague, but the department's faculty members were "extremely conservative" in their definition of acceptable scholarly work, the chairman told me. He worried that he would lose his young colleague to what he termed "generational prejudices."

"Our university has no formal policy governing electronic scholarship," he told me. "And, quite frankly, I'm in no position to judge it myself." ...

Comment. The author goes on to discuss the difficulty in assessing new electronic journals and unrefereed scholarly sites, and suggests methods for certifying unrefereed sites. N.B. This discussion is about online scholarship, not necessarily OA scholarship; but since most OA materials are primarily or entirely electronic, and many OA publications are young, they face many of the same challenges.

Andy Powell at Talis Research Day

Owen Stephens has blogged more notes on the Talis Project Research Day (Birmingham, June 10, 2008).  Excerpt:

Andy [Powell] describing repositories....

[T]he issues....

#1 We talk about 'repositories'

There is a real issue with terminology. The term 'repository' is pretty woolly. Whereas a focus on 'making content available on the Web' would be more intuitive to researchers....

#3 Our focus is on sharing metadata

Even though we have full-text to share - and what we do share is PDF rather than a 'native web' format. Also the metadata we do share tends to be simple Dublin Core - inconsistently applied. Andy arguing that simple DC is too simple to build compelling discovery services, but too complicated for the user - they are put off adding metadata....

#5 We are antisocial

'we' (presumably the [higher education] environment?) tend to treat content in isolation for the social networks that need to grow around that content

Successful repositories in a more generic sense (Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare, etc.) tend to promote the social activity that takes place around content as well as the content management and disclosure activity....

We are ending up with 'empty' repositories, having to 'mandate' deposit to get content, rather than making a compelling offering that researchers want to use.

So, Andy is suggesting we need to look at moving back to subject based, global repositories that concentrate content so that we can take advantage of the 'network' effect etc. This is where we started with arXiv....

Andy suggests that we need to look at examples like Slideshare (a service that shares presentations). This might be what a 'Web 2.0' repository looks like:

  • a high quality browser-based document viewer (not a 'helper' application like Acrobat)
  • tagging, commentary, more-like-this, favourites
  • persistent (cool) URIs to content
  • ability to form simpler social groups
  • ability to embed documents in other web sites
  • high visibility to Google
  • use of 'the cloud' (Amazon S3?) to provide scalability...

In conclusion:

Flickr was a response to digital photography - it wasn't an attempt to create an 'online photo album'

We need an approach to digital research that is not an attempt to recreate paper based scholarly communication - we need to re-think ('re-envision' in Andy's words) scholarly communication in the digital age....

Update.  Also see Cameron Neylon's notes on Andy's talk.

Update.  Also see Andy's slides, Web 2.0 and repositories.

New software for working with OAI-ORE Resource Maps

Richard Jones, ORE software libraries from Foresite, post to OAI-ORE mailing list, June 9, 2008. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

The Foresite project is pleased to announce the initial code of two software libraries for constructing, parsing, manipulating and serialising OAI-ORE Resource Maps. These libraries are being written in Java and Python, and can be used generically to provide advanced functionality to OAI-ORE aware applications, and are compliant with the latest release (0.9) of the specification. The software is open source, released under a BSD licence, and is available from a Google Code repository ...

Foresite is a JISC funded project which aims to produce a demonstrator and test of the OAI-ORE standard by creating Resource Maps of journals and their contents held in JSTOR, and delivering them as ATOM documents via the SWORD interface to DSpace. DSpace will ingest these resource maps, and convert them into repository items which reference content which continues to reside in JSTOR. The Python library is being used to generate the resource maps from JSTOR and the Java library is being used to provide all the ingest, transformation and dissemination support required in DSpace. ...

Peter Murray-Rust at Talis Research Day

Owen Stephens has blogged some notes on the Talis Project Research Day (Birmingham, June 10, 2008).  Excerpt:

...First up - Peter [Murray-Rust]: ...

Peter has a go at publishers - claiming that publishers are in the business of preventing access to data, rather than facilitating it (at this points asks if there are any publishers in the audience - two sheepish hands are raised). Peter, also mentioning that Chemistry is particularly bad as a discipline in terms of making data accessible - with the American Chemical Society being real offender....

Peter...showing a graph on the levels of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. If this was in paper form and we wanted to do some further analysis - it would take a lot of effort to take measurements off the graph - but if we have the data from behind the graph, we can immediately leap to doing further work.

Peter...[s]howing a pdf of an article from Nature - and making the point that all looks great (illustrations of molecules, proteins and reactions etc.) but completely inaccessible to machines.

Peter noting that most important bio-data that is published is publicly accessible and reusable - but this is not true in chemistry. This means in the article, the data about the proteins is publicly accessible, but the information on chemical molecules is not - although covered in the same article....

Peter now showing how a data rich graph is reduced to a couple of data points to 'save space' in journals - a real paper-based paradigm - we need to get away from this....

Peter noting that most researchers have experience data-loss - and this can be a real selling point for data and publication repositories.

Peter showing a thesis with many diagrams of molecules, graphs etc. Noting there is no way to effectively extract the information about molecules from the paper, as it is a PDF. He is demonstrating a piece of software which extracts data from a chemical thesis - demonstrating this from a thesis authored in Word, and using OSCAR (a text-mining tool tuned to work in Chemistry) - and shows how it can extract relevant chemical data, can display it in a table, reconstruct spectra....

Peter now demonstrating 'CrystalEye' - a system which spiders the web for crystals - reads the raw data, draws a 'jmol' view (3d visualisation) of the structure, links to the journal article etc. This brings together many independent publications in a single place showing crystal structures. Peter saying this could be done across chemistry - but data is not open, and there are big interests that lobby to keep things this way (specifically mentioning Chemical Abstracts lobbying the US Government)....

Peter saying that, for example, there should be a trivial way of watermarking images so that researchers can say 'this is open' - and then if it is published, it will be clear that the publisher does not 'own' or have copyright over the image....

Potsdam econ publications in RePEc

Potsdam University Press has announced that all its books on economics will be published simultaneously in RePEc (June 12, 2008).  Read the announcement in German or in Google's English.

Comment.  The clear implication is that the RePEC copies will be free or OA, but the announcement is not explicit on that point.  This is the first time to my knowledge that a book publisher will routinely deposit its new publications in an OA repository or decentralized repository network.  The announcement says nothing about publications outside economics and nothing about depositing new publications in the Potsdam IR

3 more companies join 1000 Genomes Project

Three Sequencing Companies Join 1000 Genomes Project, press release by the National Human Genome Research Institute, June 11, 2008.
Leaders of the 1000 Genomes Project announced today that three firms that have pioneered development of new sequencing technologies have joined the international effort to build the most detailed map to date of human genetic variation as a tool for medical research. The new participants are: 454 Life Sciences, a Roche company, Branford, Conn.; Applied Biosystems, an Applera Corp. business, Foster City, Calif.; and Illumina Inc., San Diego.

The 1000 Genomes Project, which was announced in January 2008, is an international research consortium that is creating a new map of the human genome that will provide a view of biomedically relevant DNA variations at a resolution unmatched by current resources. ...

Along with their contributions of sequencing capacity, the companies, like all other project participants, have agreed to comply with the open access policies established by the 1000 Genomes Project Steering Committee. Those policies include rapid public release of the data, including project participants having no early access to the data; an intellectual property policy that precludes any participants from controlling the information produced by the project; regular progress reporting; and coordination of scientific publications with the rest of the consortium. ...
Comment. The project's home page says that "data from the 1000 Genomes Project will be made swiftly available to the worldwide scientific community through freely accessible public databases". Is there a formal document outlining the project's "open access policies" referenced in the press release?

More on OA to ALA publications

Charles Bailey, On ALA, CLA, and Open Access, Digital Koans, June 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

The Canadian Library Association recently issued a new, strongly worded open access statement ("Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries")....

The American Library Association is a member of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access and the Open Access Working Group, and. as such, has signed a variety of targeted statements about free access to government-funded research. The most active ALA Division in terms of open access support is the Association of College and Research Libraries, which has a number of activities geared towards promoting it.

Such statements and activities are praiseworthy, but the question remains: What kind of open access to these associations provide to their own journals?

CLA appears to embargo the current issue of Feliciter. If so, CLA cannot be said to be providing full free access to the journal; however, as embargoes go, it is a generous one.

Since it publishes more journals, the situation for ALA is more complex, and it is summarized below in a discussion of its major journals....

[PS:  Here omitting Charles' review of individual ALA journals.  In sum:  four with no free access and six with free access after an embargo.]

One thing is clear: it would be very helpful if ALA journals would clearly and prominently state their open access policies. Although it will not be discussed here in any detail, several journals have conflicting or unclear copyright agreement policies....

While it is not uniform, ALA is making progress towards providing more free journal content; however, it cannot be said that ALA fully supports free access to all of its major journals. Moreover, to my knowledge, ALA itself has never made an open access position statement that is similar to CLA's and those of other library organizations, such as IFLA's (this excludes any statements by ALA divisions or joint statements). As the open access movement nears the decade point, it would seem desirable for it to unambiguously do so....

PS:  For background, see Charles' previous report on OA for ALA publications (July 2006).  In my comment at the time, I pointed out some of the ALA's public statements in support of OA:  "(1) the ALA Washington office has a page on OA, (2) the ALA Council adopted a resolution in support of FRPAA at its June 2006 annual meeting, and (3) the ALA has signed on to several public statements in support of OA, most recently a July 12 letter in support of FRPAA and a May 31 letter in support of the EC report on OA."

Update.  Inspired by Charles' detective work, Klaus Graf investigated the five leading library journals in Germany.  He found that two are TA and three have moderate embargoes.  Read his post in German or Google's English.

Update.  Charles has replied to my comment and makes the good point (which I intended myself but failed to make explicit) that the ALA's public statements on OA don't rise to the level of the CLA statement.  He goes further:

Here's more information on ALA's "green" and "gold" policies.

Let's assume that both ALA copyright agreements are in effect for all journals. The Copyright Assignment Agreement explicitly supports limited self-archiving ("The right to use and distribute the Work on the Author?s Web site"). The Copyright Assignment Agreement further says that the author has: "The right to use and distribute the Work internally at the Author?s place of employment, and for promotional and any other non-commercial purposes." While "any other non-commercial purposes" seems to permit broad self-archiving, the specification of the "distribute the Work internally at the Author's place of employment" right seems to imply that the right to distribute the work outside of the author's place of employment is in question, which would mean that self-archiving in digital repositories could be done only in the author's institutional repository and only if access to the work was limited to institutional users. Moreover, if broad self-archiving is permitted, why single out the right to self-archive on the author's Web site? I find the wording ambiguous, and I would not recommend that anyone who wants to self-archive use this license. If its intent is to allow broad self-archiving, this should be spelled out. The Copyright License Agreement supports all types of self archiving ("Copyright of the Work remains in Author?s name, and the Author reserves all other rights"). Consequently, we can say that ALA supports "green" self-archiving, but this may be very weak under the Copyright Assignment Agreement.

Without further information, it is not possible to say that any of ALA's major journals are "gold," although Public Libraries and School Library Media Research might be. If this were true, ALA's Public Library Association and its American Association of School Librarians divisions would be ALA's gold journal publishers, with the Association of College & Research Libraries division nearly being one.

Update.  Also inspired by Charles' investigations, Gavin Baker looked into the state chapters of the ALA.  Excerpt:

I remembered having been shocked that the Florida Library Association, a state ALA chapter, didn?t provide OA to its journal. So I decided to investigate a little and see how the other state and regional chapters fare.

I went through the states, starting with A and stopping at Louisiana (after which I lost interest). I also checked the regional chapters, as well as the chapters in D.C., Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The verdict:

  • Of the 18 state chapters reviewed, 7 appear to provide OA to the journal they publish. (That number increases to 8 out of 19 if you include D.C., which ALA counts as a state chapter.) Methodology: I browsed the chapter?s Web site and searched Google for the journal named on ALA?s chapter list. (In a few cases, I couldn?t find the chapter?s ?journal? but did find the chapter?s ?newsletter? ? e.g. Kentucky, Colorado, Alabama.) Louisiana is borderline, since the most recent issue online is from 2000: I?m not sure whether that?s the most recent issue published, or whether more recent issues haven?t made it online yet; I counted Louisiana as OA in my count. So that?s 42% of this (non-random) sample, or 58% if you include the newsletter-but-not-journal states.... 
  • All four regional chapters representing the states provide OA to their journal....

I?m sure it would help if ALA would provide tech support for the chapters? publications, e.g. allow chapters to use ALA?s publishing platform, or facilitate the chapters in pooling resources to fund a system they can all use. (In almost every case for the states I reviewed, providing OA meant simply posting a PDF of the journal issue, with no HTML or Web-formatted version. This suggests the technical/administrative burden of providing OA may be an important factor, beyond any fear of lost revenue ? or at least that there?s a learning curve to be overcome.)

OA presentations in Mannheim

The presentations from Deutscher Bibliothekartag (Mannheim, June 3, 2008) are now online.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  See especially the 10 presentations from the OA panel, Open Access - Bewegung durch Vernetzung.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

OAScience channel at YouTube

Sweden's Open Access Information project has created an OAScience channel at YouTube.  The channel currently contains 12 short interviews, in Swedish and English, made at the the Fourth Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication (Lund, April 21-23, 2008).  The project is sponsored by and six Swedish universities.

Linda Sohlberg of Växjö University is behind the camera, and Helena Stjernberg of Lund University is in front, conducting the interviews.

The videos are part of the project's campaign to build interest in a series of six OA seminars to be held in different parts of the country during 2008-2009.

Services to support repository managers

The Open Access Directory (OAD) list of Services to support repository managers is now open for community editing

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

More on the costs of publishing peer-reviewed articles

Richard Poynder, Open Access: Doing the numbers, Open and Shut? June 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[W]hat are the essential costs of publishing a scholarly paper? To date, however, no one appears to have come up with an adequate answer....

When OA publisher Biomed Central (BMC) started operating in 2001, for instance, it set its article-processing charge (APC) at $525; today BMC charges from $1,700 to $1,900 to publish a paper. Similarly, when Public Library of Science (PLoS) launched its first journal it charged an APC of $1,500; today it charges from $2,100 to $2,750....

But does this mean that OA publishing will turn out to be just as expensive as traditional subscription publishing? We don't know, not least because it is still not possible to say with any authority what it costs to publish a scholarly paper, let alone how much it costs to undertake each of the individual components of that process....

People have, of course, tried to crunch the numbers. In 1997, for instance, mathematics professor Andrew Odlyzko estimated that it was costing the research community around $4,000 to publish a paper. In reality, he concluded, the task could be done for as little as $300 to $1,000.

More recently (last month) the UK-based Research Information Network (RIN) estimated the "average total publishing and distribution costs per article" to be around ?4,000 ($7,800) today. The report added that moving from a subscription-based publishing model to an OA publishing model would see a fall of ?2.91 billion in the subscription prices paid by libraries, but that these savings "would be offset by an increase of ?2.92 billion in the charges that the academic and research institutions of which they are part (or their funders) would have to meet in author-side publication fees". The end result, RIN concluded, would be that "academic institutions at a global level would need to fund an additional ?10 million from the move to author-side payment."

But the problem with much of this number crunching is that it is...invariably done by people who are able only to look through the window of the scholarly publishing business, not by those actually working in the industry. And it is only the latter that have access to the necessary data....

Fortunately, at least one publisher is prepared to be more transparent: When I asked the American Physical Society (APS) how much it costs APS to publish a paper, the organisation's treasurer/publisher Joe Serene not only produced a figure, but agreed to break it down for me as well.

In total, Serene said, in 2007 it cost APS approximately $1,500 to publish the electronic version of a paper (with all print-related costs excluded), roughly 20% ($300) of which can be apportioned to each of the following functions:

  • Editorial costs (including peer review)
  • Electronic composition and production
  • Journal information systems, "which support everything from manuscript receipt through electronic posting, mirroring, and archiving of the published papers"
  • Central publication management
  • Essential overhead expenses....

[H]aving the figures from just one publisher is not enough in itself. What would help would be for other publishers to be as transparent as the APS....

One thing to note in the above figures, by the way, is that authors wishing to opt for the APS' "Free to Read" OA option are charged a $975 APC for articles in Physical Review A-E, and a $1,300 APC for Letters in Physical Review Letters. Serene points out, however, that these charges were purposely set below cost in order to encourage initial use of Free to Read, with the understanding that they would have to be raised if a significant number of authors were to chose this option; so far the use of Free to Read has been very low.

Perhaps the take-home point here is that either everyone has consistently underestimated the true costs of publishing a scholarly paper, or publishers (both traditional subscription publishers and OA publishers) still have some way to go in reducing their costs if OA is to prove more affordable than the subscription system.

Consider that at a workshop held at CERN in 2001 participants concluded that the cost of editing and processing an article could fall as low as ?500 ($775 at today's rate) in an OA environment....

I will close by pointing out that some OA advocates respond to any discussion about the costs of OA publishing by arguing that most OA journals don't actually charge an APC today. Others, meanwhile, insist that it is far too early to worry about Gold OA, since researchers can quite easily continue publishing in subscription journals and then self-archive their papers on the Web themselves ? thereby achieving OA at no cost to them or their institutions (leaving aside the subscriptions they currently pay to buy access to research produced by other institutions). But there are reasons for arguing that these responses are not entirely satisfactory ? as I hope explain in a future post....


  • The portion of the RIN study that Richard describes is based on very unrealistic assumptions.  It studies the scenario in which all journal convert to OA, all charge author-side publication fees, and all the fees are paid by universities.  As I put it at the time:
    [The report] 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.
  • One reason it will be very difficult to get a single estimate of the cost of publishing a peer-reviewed article is that journals differ widely in their practices (number of reviewers, number of editors, use of copy-editors, mix of research and review articles) and publishers differ widely in their costs and efficiencies (local costs of rent and labor, economies of scale, and levels of legacy equipment, employees, and overhead from print operations).  We're already seeing OA journals differ in what, beyond peer review, they regard as essential (for example, copy-editing, marketing, and print editions). 
  • However, even if we accept a range in place of a single estimate, I think we'll find that the range for OA journals is lower than the range for TA journals.  OA journals generally dispense with print (or price the optional print edition at cost), eliminate subscription management, eliminate DRM and user authentication, eliminate lawyer fees for licenses and enforcement, and reduce or eliminate marketing. In their place they add back little more than the cost of collecting publication fees or institutional subsidies. 
  • Moreover, as I've pointed out elsewhere, the costs of facilitating peer review are coming down.  "[S]teadily improving software (including open-source software) is steadily taking over the clerical chores of facilitating peer review, and thereby reducing its costs."  That changes the question.  We shouldn't ask merely what publication costs existing publishers today.  We should also ask what it could cost without reducing quality.
  • On that front, note the comment to Richard's post by Julian Fischer:  "The true costs of e-publishing are frighteningly fact two orders of magnitude less than many publishers are charging. Take a look at my evaluation, Scholarly Publishing Re-invented: Real Costs and Real Freedoms in the Journal of Electronic Publishing [Journal of Electronic Publishing, Spring 2008]."  Along the same lines see Alexander Scheeline's open letter to Senator Susan Collins from June 2006:  "As an editor of an NSF-supported open access publication (Online Articles, Analytical Sciences Digital Library), I administer a similar process, except we do little metacoding (letting Google find the appropriate codes after we publish), don't typeset the manuscripts (authors must do their own copy editing), and don't have anyone other than the editor to nag reviewers. Once articles are accepted, anyone, anywhere, can read them for free. No one would claim that our production values equal those of commercial publishers....But our costs are negligible ? we figure we could manage review and publishing of articles at about $100 apiece...."

Update.  Good point by Glyn Moody:

...[E]ven if the transition to open access produced absolutely zero savings, it would still achieve something invaluable: making scholarly communications available to all, not just the lucky few at institutions with subscriptions. That alone would make the exercise worthwhile.

I heartily agree.  Because I believe OA publishing costs less than TA publishing, I haven't made the point recently.  But here's how I put it in a 2002 article:  "If [the] benefits [of OA] were expensive to produce, they would nevertheless be worth paying for...."

OA book on best-seller list

Cory Doctorow's new novel, Little Brother, is in its fourth week on the NYTimes best-seller list.  Like his earlier novels, it's available in both an OA and a TA edition.  (Thanks to Creative Commons.)

Comment.  It takes a second to see what's happening here.  The book isn't just popular or in demand.  It's a best-seller.  The TA edition is selling and it's selling well.  The OA edition didn't block those sales.  By making the book more widely known, it very likely gave the sales a positive boost.

Update.  The book is now in its fifth week on the Times best-seller list.  Also see this note on Doctorow's donate page for the book:

Every time I put a book online for free, I get emails from readers who want to send me donations for the book. I appreciate their generous spirit, but I?m not interested in cash donations, because my publishers are really important to me. They contribute immeasurably to the book, improving it, introducing it to audience I could never reach, helping me do more with my work. I have no desire to cut them out of the loop.

But there has to be some good way to turn that generosity to good use, and I think I?ve found it.

Here?s the deal: there are lots of teachers and librarians who?d love to get hard-copies of this book into their kids? hands, but don?t have the budget for it....

Thanks to Gavin Baker for the alert and for this comment:

So [Doctorow] has a list of libraries and teachers requesting a copy of the book. Readers who want to donate can choose from the list, then buy a copy online and have it shipped to one of the schools or libraries; Cory then removes that school from the list.

It's interesting because here, the OA edition creates demand which translates directly into more revenue for the publisher -- not just for the author. The same solution also helps alleviate the pressure of tight budgets/high acquisition costs on libraries and expands availability of the work. It's a win-win-win, thanks to OA.

Update.  Also see this Tasha Robinson's interview with Doctorow for A.V. Club, June 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

AVC: Was the Creative Commons release strategy a hard sell with Tor that first time out?

CD: No, it was totally trivial, in fact. I lucked out in two respects....Tom Doherty [publisher] and Patrick Nielsen [editor] both looked at this and said, "You know, electronic books represent the worst ratio of hours spent in meetings to dollars generated in income of anything we've ever tried at this press. Here's something that's relatively free?all we need to do is give it away, and we can see what people want to do with it. And if it works, great. And if it doesn't work, well, we've learned. And if it's inconclusive, we can try more, because we're a big press, we've got lots and lots of books, and we can try lots of different things." And if it's going to work for anyone, it's going to work for me, because I've got such a good online presence. And you can see that they're now trying this with writers who have a less prominent online presence, and they're finding that by and large, it's working pretty well for them.

I think the most compelling, intuitively true study that I've seen on online distribution? Rufus Pollack from Cambridge University, who's a Ph.D. candidate in economics there, conducted it. What he concluded was, for the bottom 75 percent of music, piracy represents a small-to-midsize increase in sales, so it generates more sales than it displaces. For the next 20 percent or so, in the 75 to 98 percent range, it's a wash. You lose some copies, you get some free publicity, you more or less break even. And then for the tiny minority that would be at the top, that 2 percent, it represents a small loss. And those are the people who can kind of afford it. If Stephen King loses a couple hundred bucks to piracy on his latest book, it's not going to break his bank. Tim O'Reilly says piracy is progressive taxation?the people who can afford it most are the people who suffer it most. And the people who need it the most are the ones who benefit the most. That was a pretty intuitively true study, and it seems like it's holding true. I'm still in the bottom 75 percentile of art, of published works, and I think I'm getting a lift from Creative Commons, and I think I'm going to hit a point where it'll make just as much as it loses, just because I'll be well-known enough. And then I might level up to the point where I'm making tons and tons of money just from royalties, and I might lose a couple hundred bucks here and there just because of infringement from piracy. But at that point, piracy will have gotten me to the place where I can afford to lose some, so I'm not going to cry down my shirt.

AVC: Just as a thought experiment, if someone came along and proved that the Creative Commons model was costing you 50 percent of the money you'd be making without it, but it was putting your books in twice as many hands, which way would you go?

CD: That's a really interesting question. I don't know. I think if that was the case, I would become self-published. Because I suspect that I would want the book in more people's hands, and my publisher would say that between taking a financial loss every time one of my books comes out, and increasing my notoriety, they would prefer not to take the loss....

AVC: Do you hear from other authors who want to use the Creative Commons distribution model, but can't get their publishers on board?

CD: Yeah, all the time. They all want to know "Where's the quantitative proof that Creative Commons sells books?", because they all want to take that to their publishers. And I just don't have answers for them on the quantitative-proof question. I have a lot of qualitative metrics, like everyone I know who's tried it has then continued to use Creative Commons. And if this were any other market activity, you would say these people who may not have quantitative metrics, but have a good qualitative sense of how the whole thing works, those people seem pretty conclusive on it. We should probably listen to them. That would be the normal conclusion, after seeing everyone in a marketplace doing something and then repeating it....

Integrating writing and depositing

Chris Rusbridge, Negative click repositories, Digital Curation Blog, June 10, 2008.  (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)  Excerpt:

I wanted to write a bit more about this idea of a negative click repository....First some ancient history....

When I joined the University of Glasgow in 2000, the Archives and Business Records Centre with other collaborators within the University were near the end of a short project on Effective Records Management (ERM). During the course of that project, they surveyed committee clerks (who create many authoritative institutional records) on how much effort they were willing to put in, how many clicks they were willing to invest, to create records that would be easily maintainable in the digital era. The answer was: zero, none, nada! Rather than give up at this point, the team went on to create CDocS, an instrumented addition to MS Word that allowed the committee clerks to create their documents in university standard forms, with agreed metadata, with the documents and metadata automatically converted into XML for preservation and to HTML for display and sharing. ICE (see below) might be a contemporary system of a related kind, in a slightly different area.

In April 2007, Peter Murray Rust had an epiphany thinking about repositories on the road to Colorado, realising that SourceForge was a shared repository that he had been using for years, and speculating that it might be used for writing an article....

Finally, I posted earlier on Nico Adam's comments on repositories for scientists....

[W]e need to develop repositories that make the data work to take human work away: negative click repositories.  Maybe as Nico was suggesting, what we need is an array of tools, connected together by technologies like Atom/RSS and/or OAI-ORE that can be configured so as to link the components into an information management system that works to reduce the publishing effort on campus, and captures the intellectual product on the way....

Update.  See follow-up posts by Peter Murray-Rust, Peter Sefton, and Les Carr.

Update. Also see Chris R's own follow-up post (June 18, 2008), and a response by Laura Smart (June 20, 2008).

Glamorgan encourages IR deposits

The University of Glamorgan has posted a draft policy for deposits in its new IR.  Excerpt:

...The deposit of all the University's research outputs published after 1 January 2008 in the repository is strongly encouraged by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, the Director of Research, and the Research and Scholarship Committee to facilitate the management of research and raise the University's profile as a research institution. Work published before this date is equally eligible for deposit in the system....

Anyone may access full items free of charge. Single copies of full items can be downloaded from the repository without prior permission or charge for personal research or study, educational, or not-for-profit purposes. Single copies may be stored in a database giving access to them provided:

  • the author(s), title and full bibliographic details are given
  • a hyperlink and/or URL are given for the original metadata page in the University of Glamorgan's online repository
  • the content is not changed in any way

Full items must not be sold commercially in any format or medium without formal permission of the copyright holders....


  • For background, see our post from two weeks ago on the launch of the Glamorgan IR.
  • One curious feature of this policy is the section barring commercial reuse without the copyright holder's permission.  Most of the items in the repository will not have NC licenses, or indeed any licenses.  So this is not an attempt to enforce the author's wishes but to enforce a policy of the IR itself or the university.  This is curious for a number of reasons.  First, the IR isn't selling anything and shouldn't care whether users make commercial use of its contents.  Second, the policy doesn't add or subtract anything to the rights users would have in the absence of the policy.  When copyrighted works don't have a special license, users always have to ask the copyright holder for permission to make commercial uses.  Finally, the policy may be an attempt to signal publishers that the repository is not designed to undermine them.  But because the policy doesn't change user rights, the signal is superfluous. 

CLA position statement on OA

Last month Heather Morrison gave us a preview of a new OA position statement from the Canadian Library Association (CLA).  Now the statement itself is online:  Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries.  (Thanks, again, to Heather Morrison.)  Here?s the statement in full:

Approved by Executive Council ~ May 21, 2008

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, therefore CLA recommends that Canadian libraries of all types strongly support and encourage open access.

CLA encourages Canadian 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.

Comment.  I'm glad to repeat my comment on the preview from last month.  Kudos to the CLA for this enlightened statement.  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.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sharing repository traffic data

Harvesting usage data? JISC Information Environment Team, June 9, 2008.  Excerpt:

I was talking with a researcher the other day who said that, despite his institution mandating deposit of research papers in his institutional repository, he didn't comply - preferring to deposit in an international subject repository. Naturally, I asked him 'why?'. He said that it was because he wanted each of his papers to be in one, and only one, place on the web, so that he could get accurate download statistics for it. Obviously, we?re aware in the JISC IE team of the various arguments on this topic, and we?ve funded a piece of work to look at the practical ways in which subject and institutional repositories might work together, which could address this issue among others. We've also funded various projects on repository statistics, such as ?Interoperable Repository Statistics? (which has developed a tool that repository managers can use to analyse and share statistics) and an ongoing small piece of work on harmonising article-level usage data formats. There is also MESUR and other projects in this space.

However, in the real world, it is likely that copies of some research papers are likely to be at various places on the web, and we wondered whether a tool could be built that used fuzzy matching to identify copies that were probably the same paper, some means of querying the servers on which they sat to get download data, and a reliable way of then aggregating that data into some acceptable statistics. Is that an important use case? Is feasible to build something that addresses it? ...

Update. Also see Gavin Baker's thoughts on solutions to this problem, in a post on the CC-Community list.

Presentations from Stuttgart workshop

The presentations from the workshop, Open Content - Open Access (Stuttgart, June 9, 2008), are now online.

Also see Florian Schmid's blog notes on the workshop, in the original German or Google's English.

Update.  Also see the workshop report in OpenPR (or Google's English).

OA advocate Collins resigns from genome institute

Francis Collins, National Human Genome Research Institute director and leader of the Human Genome Project, announced on May 28 he would resign as director of the institute.

Collins is notable to OA advocates because the Human Genome Project was an early, prominent provider of OA to its data. Collins also defended the National Institutes of Health's OA PubChem database against criticisms from competing TA databases.

He didn't provide a specific reason for his resignation. Collins, 58, has said he'd like to write a book on personalized medicine, and left the door open to future jobs. Bob Grant, blogging at The Scientist, speculates that Collins could be in the consideration for NIH director should the position become available (i.e., if current director Elias Zerhouni resigns or if the U.S.'s new president decides to make a different appointment). Jonathan Eisen blogs,
... [M]y guess is he is being recruited by one of the presidential candidates to be some sort of advisor. ...
For more background, see Collins' bio at Wikipedia or the NHGRI. See stories on the resignation from Bloomberg, Scientific American, the Associated Press, or the Washington Post. See also these past OAN stories mentioning Collins:

New OA journal of polymer science and engineering

e-Polymers is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the European Polymer Federation.  (Thanks to Jay Bhatt.)  From the about page:

...e-Polymers is the answer to the strange situation that many institutions cannot afford to subscribe to journals which - at the same time - they strongly support by submission of high-quality papers, refereeing etc.

However, the access page suggests a future qualification:

In the moment, access to e-Polymers is free for everybody and it will stay free for each library as well as for all members of the Participating organisations.

More detailed information can be found here in the near future.

CC Newsletter on Science Commons

The June issue of the Creative Commons Newsletter contains several articles on Science Commons:

  • John Wilbanks, Science commons (p. 3)
  • Donna Wentworth, ESOF 2008: Collaborating for the Future of Open Science (p. 4)
  • Introducing the Health Commons (p. 5)
  • Donna Wentworth, Towards Research in a Box (p. 6)
  • Donna Wentworth, How to Free Your Facts (p. 7)
  • Donna Wentworth, Science Commons & SPARC Release Guide for Creating Open Access Policies at Institutions (p. 8)
  • Donna Wentworth, Nguyen on Keeping Data Open & Free (p. 9)

From John Wilbanks' introductory article, Science Commons (p. 3):

...One of the reasons I believe so deeply in the commons approach (by which I mean: contractually constructed regimes that tilt the field towards sharing and reuse, technological enablements that make public knowledge easy to find and use, and default policy rules that create incentives to share and reuse) is that I think it is one of the only non-miraculous ways to defeat complexity. If we can get more people working on individual issues — which are each alone not so complex — and the outputs of research snap together, and smart people can work on the compiled output as well — then it stands to reason that the odds of meaningful discoveries increase in spite of overall systemic complexity....

Complexity is the enemy. Distributed innovation, built on a commons, is a strong tonic against that enemy.


JISC has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.  From the SCOAP3 announcement:

JISC has joined SCOAP3 on behalf of UK Higher Education Institutions who have pledged to re-direct their current expenditures on High-Energy Physics journals to this Open Access initiative.

Dr. Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary, commented: "JISC strongly supports moves towards making scholarly resources openly available, in a sustainable manner that brings value for money to education and research. We're delighted therefore to be supporting an initiative that promotes an innovative business model while making vital resources available to all."

With JISC, SCOAP3 now counts partners from 14 countries in Europe and Oceania, as well as an international organisation and a number of institutes in the United States. In total, these partners have pledged 37.4% of the SCOAP3 budget envelope, corresponding to 3.7 million Euros (5.8 million $).

From the JISC announcement:

A new model for open access publishing is emerging in which funding agencies and libraries cover authors’ publication payments to support journals’ peer-review and editorial services while publishers make the electronic versions of those journals openly available and free to read without charging a subscription.

High Energy Physics (HEP) is an area in which it is thought this model might be particularly successful, a discipline in which a culture of pre-prints (pre-publication online outputs) is predominant. SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) is offering just such a model, one in which each partner finances its contribution by cancelling journal subscriptions and each country contributes according to its share of HEP publishing.

It was announced today that JISC has joined SCOAP3 on behalf of UK Higher Education Institutions who have pledged to re-direct their current expenditures on High-Energy Physics journals to this Open Access initiative....

OA mandate in Madrid

The Community of Madrid, one of the 17 first-level political divisions of Spain, on May 20 adopted an OA policy. The policy appears to require OA to research at Madrid's universities and research agencies; especially, that research groups will "facilitate" the OA publication of their results in Digital.CSIC. (I haven't seen any English-language information on this policy, so this is based on my own rough translation; see my comment below.) See the posts (in Spanish) at Open Access and by José Carlos Cortizo Pérez for more information and the policy's text. See also this comment (in Spanish) by Pablo de Castro of Digital.CSIC on the response by Madrid's Universidad Rey Juan Carlos.

Comment. I apologize for the vagueness of this post. My Spanish, and my knowledge of the Spanish educational system, is weak. If I've made a mistake, I apologize; please contact me or Peter with any corrections or supplemental information. We'll post follow-ups as more information becomes available.

Update. See the brief (English) update on the policy from DRIVER.

How much open content do you recycle?

David Wiley, Calculating Your EduCarbon Footprint, iterating toward openness, June 6, 2008.
... I’ll throw out the idea of an “EduCarbon Footprint.” Marie Duncan, a doctoral student of mine, is currently finishing a study of the structure of reuse with the Connexions repository. While reading her discussion of why more people don’t reuse existing, openly-licensed material, it made me think ‘we need a measure, like your carbon footprint, of how much you reuse existing educational materials.’ What would such a measure look like? A ratio of how much you reuse to how much you create? A ratio of the amount of open resources you use to closed resources? Would it be useful to have a measure like this? Surely you can think of a better name? And lastly, someone else has probably already proposed this - who was it?
P.S. If you're looking for information on the actual carbon footprint of digital literature, see Adam Hodgkin's rough calculations.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Consortial support for OA journals

Jochen Johannsen, Open-Access-Konsortien. Konzepte und Erfahrungen, a slide presentation given at Deutscher Bibliothekartag (Mannheim, June 3, 2008).  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  In German but with this English abstract:

Consortia are described as a possibility of purchasing open access publication licenses. Some experiences are discussed, with reference to BioMed Central, Springer e-journals and the SCOAP3 initiative.

Data sharing in the UK: practices and recommendations

The Research Information Network (RIN) has released a new study, To Share or Not to Share:  Publication and Quality Assurance of Research Data Outputs, June 2008.  The study was commissioned by RIN and executed by Key Perspectives.  From the executive summary:

...There are two essential reasons for making research data publicly-available: first, to make them part of the scholarly record that can be validated and tested; second, so that they can be re-used by others in new research.

This report presents the findings from a study of whether or not researchers do in fact make their research data available to others, and the issues they encounter when doing so. The study is set in a context where the amount of digital data being created and gathered by researchers is increasing rapidly; and there is a growing recognition by researchers, their employers and their funders of the potential value in making new data available for sharing, and in curating them for re-use in the long term....

We gathered information on researchers’ attitudes and data-related practices in six discrete research areas – astronomy, chemical crystallography, classics, climate science, genomics, and social and public health sciences – and two interdisciplinary areas – systems biology and the UK’s rural economy and land use programme. The primary methodology used was interviews with over 100 researchers, data managers and data experts....

Key findings....

3.  ...The convention in many fields is that derived or reduced data – as distinct from raw data - are what is made available to other researchers. Providing access to raw data is relatively rare, though it may be the most effective means of ensuring that the research is reproducible. But there is discussion in some fields about the lack of access to raw data.

4.  Many datasets of potential value to other researchers and users – particularly those arising from small-scale projects – are not managed effectively or made readily-accessible and re-usable....

5.  Many research funders are putting policies in place to ensure that datasets judged to be potentially useful to others are curated in ways that allow discovery, access and re-use. But there is not a perfect match between those policies and the norms and practices of researchers in a number of research disciplines....

10.  Some researchers are motivated to publish their data by factors such as altruism, encouragement from peers, or hope of opening up opportunities for collaboration. But the lack of explicit career rewards, and in particular the perceived failure of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) explicitly to recognise and reward the creating and sharing of datasets – as distinct from the publication of papers - are major disincentives.

11.  Many researchers wish to retain exclusive use of the data they have created until they have extracted all the publication value they can. When combined with the perceived lack of career rewards for data creation and sharing, this constitutes a major constraint on the publishing of data. Other disincentives include lack of time and resources; lack of experience and expertise in data management and in matters such as the provision of good metadata; legal and ethical constraints; lack of an appropriate archive service; and fear of exploitation or inappropriate use of the data.

12.  Some publishers are taking steps to underpin the scholarly record by creating persistent links from articles to relevant datasets; and this signposting is viewed positively by researchers.

13.  Relatively few researchers have the expertise, resources and inclination to perform themselves all the tasks necessary to make their data not only available, but readily accessible and usable by others.

14.  ...Datasets on journal websites are commonly in PDF format which is unsuitable for meaningful re-use.

15. Other obstacles to locating and gaining access to datasets produced by researchers and other organisations include inadequate metadata, refusal to release the data; the need for licences (which may restrict how the data may be used or disseminated) and/or for the payment of fees; or the need to respect personal and other sensitivities.

16. Effective use of raw scientific data in particular may require access to sophisticated specialist tools and technologies, and high level programming skills....

Conclusions and recommendations....

3.  Research funders and institutions should seek more actively to facilitate and encourage data publishing and re-use by [using the following 10 strategies]....

5.  Publishers should wherever possible require their authors to provide links to the datasets upon which their articles are based, or the datasets themselves, for archiving on the journal’s website. Datasets made available on the journal’s website should wherever possible be in formats other than pdf, in order to facilitate re-use.

6. Researchers and publishers should seek to ensure that wherever possible, datasets cited in published papers are available free of charge, even if access to the paper itself depends on the payment of a subscription or other fee.

7. Funders, researchers and publishers should seek to clarify the current confusion with regard to publishers’ policies with regard to allowing access for text-mining tools to their journal contents....

PS:  For background, see our post from June 2007 on the launch of this study.

Case study of the IR at Robert Gordon U

Ian M. Johnson and Susan M. Copeland, OpenAIR: The Development of the Institutional Repository at the Robert Gordon University, Library Hi Tech News, 25, 4 (2008) pp. 1-4.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of OpenAIR, the institutional repository at the Robert Gordon University.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper outlines the principles that underpinned the development of the repository (visibility, sustainability, quality, and findability) and some of the technical and financial implications that were considered.

Findings – OpenAIR@RGU evolved from a desire to make available an electronic collection of PhD theses, but was developed to become a means of storing and providing access to a range of research output produced by staff and research students: book chapters, journal articles, reports, conference publications, theses, artworks, and datasets.

Originality/value – The paper describes the repository's contribution to collection development.

Russian policy for publishing thesis research

Earlier today I posted a message from Kevin Hawkins on a new OA policy in Russia.  Here's a clarification Kevin posted to SOAF:

In a recent posting on the Open Access News blog, Peter Suber quoted a message from me saying that a government agency in Russia recently announced a policy change of its policy on which publications are acceptable venues for publishing the results of thesis research. I said that OA was being mandated for any publication included in this list.

I learned of this while reviewing a conference paper (which said full text must be available online), but it's only now that I translated the new policy that I realized that my initial understanding of it was a too good to be true. Beginning in October, publications in the list of acceptable publications must provide article metadata in OA, and the full text must be available online, either through OA or to subscribers only. My apologies for leading Peter and any other readers astray.

Article 1259 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation says that works produced by government agencies are not copyrighted, so I have translated the text of the recent decision below....


Commission for Academic Degrees and Titles of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation

Decision of the Presidium

from March 7, 2008....

2. To introduce a [new] system of criteria for including publications in the List of Leading Peer-reviewed Scholarly Journals and Publications published in the Russian Federation in which the fundamental scientific research results of dissertations for academic degrees of doctor and candidate of sciences must be published starting October 1, 2008....

System of criteria for inclusion of publications in the List....

Necessary condition: fulfillment by the publication (whether traditional or born-digital) of all of the following criteria: ...

The presence of a full-text version on the Internet. Abstracts, keywords, information on authors, and bibliographies must be available in open access in Russian and English, and full-text versions of the articles must be available in open-access or available only to subscribers....

PS:  As I understand it, with Kevin's help, the full-text must be online, but needn't be OA.  The abstract and metadata must be OA.  (Thanks, Kevin.)

More on OA and the quality of peer review

Stevan Harnad, Would Gold OA Publishing Fees Compromise Peer-Reviewed Journal Quality? Open Access Archivangelism, June 8, 2008.

Summary:  Some authors today no doubt try to buy their way into fee-based Gold OA journals, and some Gold OA journals that are short on authors no doubt lower their quality standards to win authors. But something very similar is already true of the lower-end subscription-based journals that prevail today, and this will continue to be true of lower-end journals if and when Gold OA becomes universal. The demand for quality, however, (by [some] authors, referees and users) will ensure that the existing journal quality hierarchy continues to exist, regardless of the cost-recovery model (whether user-institution subscription fees or author-institution peer-review fees). The high-quality authors will still want to publish in high-quality rather than low-quality journals, and journals will still need to strive to generate track-records as high-quality journals -- not just (1) to attract the high-quality authors and work, but (2) to retain the high-quality peer-reviewers and (3) to retain users. Usage will in turn be (4) openly tracked by rich OA impact metrics, which will complement peer perceptions of the journal's (and author's) track record for quality.

Comment.  All true.  For more, see my 2004 article, Whether the upfront payment model corrupts peer review at open-access journals, and my 2006 article, Open access and quality.

Version 72 of Bailey bibliography

Charles W. Bailey Jr. has released version 72 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 3,250 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

More on Medknow's no-fee OA journals

D.K. Sahu, Gaining impact, readers and authors through fee-less-free dissemination: an experiment with open access, in Brainstorming Meet on Open Access, FLOSS and Copyright Law for Scholarly Communication and Literary Work, 26 April 2008, New Delhi, India.  Self-archived June 9, 2008.

Abstract:   Most journals in India and other developing countries face the challenges of shortage of quality articles, poor international recognition, maintaining publication schedule and managing the finances. Many of these problems are inter-linked and are related to the journal’s visibility. Most of these journals have limited circulation beyond their own country. The limited visibility and accessibility of the journals leads to poor citation and impact factor, which in turn repel the authors and subscribers. Free online access to the journal’s content has to potential to solve this long standing problem of journals from the developing world. Medknow Publications publishes 60 open access journals from six countries. The journals published by Medknow provide immediate free access to the full text articles. None of these journals charge the authors or authors’ institutions for the submission, processing or publication of manuscripts. Yet, over last 6 years the journals have not lost print subscriptions and in fact, have improved the finances due to increase in the paid subscriptions to the print editions and additional revenue from the advertisement on the electronic versions. The journals have also benefited from the increased visibility through the web presence. The journals get more number of articles and the contributions from overseas countries have increased. With increase in submission of articles, the journals are now being published regularly with more number of articles than before. As many as six journals could even increase the publication frequency in the last 3 years. The citations received by the articles have also increased. The citations and Impact Factor for most of the journals published by Medknow have increased by many folds. A good example of this is Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, which has been online since 2001, and has shown an increase of nearly 3000% during the period of 2000 to 2006. The journal is ranked at number 1 amongst the medical journals in India by SJR. Compared to other non-open access journals the OA journals published by Medknow have shown higher increase in citation as can be seen from the SJR’s journal compare tool. It could be said that these by providing free online access, journals from the developing world can gain readers, attract authors and improve the citations. The non-fee model can attract authors from other developing world. The improved quality of the journals from developing world could also help improve the research output of the nations.

Connecting authors and readers helps everyone but the inefficiency-makers

Unbound, The Economist, June 5, 2008  Excerpt:

Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers. As with music, any technology that brings these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient —but hurts those who benefit from the distance between them.

Comment.  Exactly.  How long will we put off that efficiency in order to prop up industry players who are slow to adapt?

Does Sweden lag in OA?

Helena Stjernberg and Erik Svensson, Sverige på efterkälken i "Open Access", Tentakel, June 2008.  Read the Swedish original or Google's English.

Also see this 5.5 minute video interview with Svensson on OA (in English).

I been Dorothea Salo'd

This is a high honor.

User experience, OA vs. TA

Richard Gayle, Some science journals are messed up, A Man With A Ph.D., June 5, 2008.

So I see this interesting name for an article - Why snakes don’t have legs - in my newsfeed. I click on thru ... and get this page. Great. ScienceDirect which usually charges for journal access. But this is an article from 1999. Surely it will be open by now?

Nope. They want $31.50 for a nine year old article. With no abstract or any other way to determine whether this article is worth the price. $31.50! First off, few articles in science today that are nine years old are worth $5, much less $31.50. Secondly, with no abstract how am I to even figure out if it is worth the price? ...

I went to PubMed, the database of journal articles, and did a search for “snakes AND legs”. Got 48 articles. The critical one appears to be by Cohn and Tickle “Developmental basis of limblessness and axial patterning in snakes” in Nature from June 1999. Great. Now I have a subscription to Nature so this article is available to me but if you wanted to read it without a subscription it would cost $35! Wow! But at least now it has an abstract. ...

Sounds really interesting to me but still not sure it is worth $35. But right above that link from PubMed is another one - from Current Biology with pictures. “How the snake lost its legs”. It is a ScienceDirect link also but this one is available for free. And it has nice pictures while discussing the Cohn and Tickle article.

So partial success. Now I have a better idea of the article’s content. All the other links from PubMed ... have costs to access, up to $39.

Except for this nifty one from the Journal of Experimental Biology - “Becoming airborne without legs: the kinematics of take-off in a flying snake, Chrysopelea paradisi” ... Open access and more recently published. Not exactly on topic but it comes with movies! These were just not possible to see without online access. And the movies are really cool and help explain what the author of the paper was describing. ...

Back to the topic. I went to Google and searched “Cohn Tickle snake”. The top response is from a USA Today article about why snakes do not have legs. In the article there are links to Martin J. Cohn and Cheryll Tickle. Clicking the Cohn link takes me to his page at the University of Florida. Not a lot here but there is a link to his personal site.

Now we get the Cohn lab page. I could just email him and ask for a copy of the paper (a slightly updated approach to the old method of sending reprint requests by snail mail). But there is a link to Publications.

And here we find the PDF to the paper I was looking for. A quick runthrough reveals that it is a paper I will find interesting ... But I would not have paid over $30 for it. ...

2 repository briefing papers from JISC

JISC released two new briefing papers on repositories on April 7, 2008: (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

More on Tennessee's Newfound Press

Marie Garrett, Newfound Press: Participating in the future of scholarly publishing, C&RL News, June 2008.  Excerpt:

...Newfound Press [is] the digital imprint of the University of Tennessee (UT) Libraries....

Newfound Press makes scholarly, theoretical, and practical information widely accessible and freely available....

The inspiration for establishing a digital press came from projects such as Virginia Tech’s hosting of electronic journals and the University of Wisconsin’s establishment of Parallel Press. The work of higher education visionaries, including David E. Shulenburger, Clifford Lynch, and Jean Claude Guédon, provided encouragement and direction. High costs of scholarly journals and the pricing practices of some commercial publishers added urgency....

Newfound Press decided to experiment with both traditional and emerging formats for scholarly communication. The current demonstration includes four categories: books, journals, multimedia, and conference proceedings....

Newfound Press values open access and increased visibility for scholarly information. David Lewis cites “a growing body of evidence that authors increase the impact of their articles” by making them “available through an open-access mechanism.” Increased visibility benefits both authors and researchers....

By prioritizing quality over marketability, the press hopes to provide a viable outlet for tenure-track faculty to publish works acceptable to promotion and tenure committees....

PS:  For background, see our March 2006 post on the launch of the press.

Uses of OA peer-reviewed manuscripts

Stevan Harnad, No Such Thing As "Provostial Publishing": II, Open Access Archivangelism, June 8, 2008.

Summary:  OA IRs provide free supplemental copies of published, refereed journal articles. The way to access them is via a harvester/indexer. Direct searching of the IR is more relevant for (1) institution-internal record-keeping, (2) performance assessment, (3) CV-generation, (4) grant application and fulfillment, and perhaps also some window-shopping by prospective (5) faculty, (6) researchers or (7) students. The main purpose of depositing refereed journal articles is (8) so they are accessible to all would-be users, not just to those whose institutions happen to have a subscription to the journal in which they were published. That way (9) the usage and impact of the institutional research output is maximized (and so is (10) overall research progress).

What content an IR accepts is an entirely different matter from what content an IR mandates. Harvard is mandating OA target content, which is the refereed, accepted final drafts of peer-reviewed journal articles. Harvard is not publishing its journals articles. The journals are publishing them, and providing the peer review and copy-editing. Harvard is merely providing supplementary access to the peer-reviewed final drafts for those would-be users who cannot afford access to the publishers published (and copy-edited) version.

OA is needed for researcher (peer to peer) access. The lay public benefits indirectly from the enhanced research productivity, progress, impact and applications generated by OA, not from direct public access to esoteric, technical reports. But whatever is one's primary rationale -- public access or peer access -- the other comes with the OA territory.

Are would-be users whose institutions cannot afford subscription access to the publisher's copy-edited version better off with a refereed final draft, not copy-edited, or are they better of without out it? (The answer is obvious.)

If and when Green OA self-archiving (of refereed, non-copy-edited final drafts of journal articles) and Green OA self-archiving mandates should ever make journal subscriptions unsustainable, author-institutions can pay for peer review by the article out of their windfall subscription cancellation savings on the Gold OA cost-recovery model. If they find it worth paying for too, the copy-editing service can be bundled with the peer review service.

Closing the gap between scholar interest and scholar action

Stevan Harnad, OA Primer for the Perplexed: II, Open Access Archivangelism, June 8, 2008.

Summary:  There are two forms of OA: free access online, and free access plus re-use licenses of various kinds. The first is provisionally called "OA1" and the second "OA2". These are place-holders pending better terms to be proposed shortly. Green OA self-archiving can in principle provide either OA1 or OA2. All authors [of peer-reviewed journal articles] want OA1 (i.e., all authors want their published articles freely accessible online). Nevertheless, most authors still think it is not possible to make their articles freely accessible online (for at least 34 reasons, each of them leading to Zeno's Paralysis, all of them groundless, the most frequent ones being that authors think it would violate copyright, bypass peer review, or entail a lot of work on their part). So although all peer-reviewed journal article authors (and definitely not not true of all book authors, software authors, music authors, video authors) do want their work to be freely accessible to all would-be users, not just those who can afford the access tolls, most (85%) of them still don't make their articles freely accessible online (by self-archiving them). That is why Green OA self-archiving mandates by researchers' universities and funders are needed: To cure refereed journal article authors of the 34 unfounded phobias of Zeno's Paralysis.

Green OA and the transition to gold

Stevan Harnad, The cost of peer review and electronic distribution of scholarly journals, Open Access Archivangelism, June 8, 2008. 

Summary:  Talat Chaudhri and I agree that Green OA via self-archiving is feasible and desirable, and that publication will eventually consist of peer review alone. The only points of disagreement are about how to get there from here. I advocate Green OA mandates, whereas Talat advocates direct transition to peer-review-only, administered by university consortia. What Talat does not explain, however, is how we are to get the 25,000 journal titles that are currently being published by their current publishers to migrate to (or be replaced by) such consortia. Nor does Talat explain how the consortia's true peer-review expenses would be paid for, even if the 25K journals titles did miraculously migrate to such consortia of their own accord (although the answer even then is obvious: via Gold OA author-institution fees, paid out of their subscription cancellation savings).

OA at the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference

Open Access to Global Knowledge, a QuickTime video by Diedie Weng and Leslie Chan.  From the description:

In December 2007, the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference in Malaysia [Kuala Lumpur, December 11-13, 2007] held a series of effective events to promote the Open Access Movement. This report presents the significances of "open access" from the diverse perspectives of the organization, researcher, the funder, and the publisher at the conference.

PS:  Also see the conference program and the two panels on OA:

Disciplinary repositories can harvest from institutional repositories

Stevan Harnad, Institutional Repositories vs Subject/Central Repositories, Open Access Archivangelism, June 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

Beth Tillinghast wrote on the DSpace list:

"I have just run into my first case where I am finding our IR in competition with a Subject Repository... I am wondering if others have run into this dilemma and can provide me with many good reasons why submission should take place in an institutional repository rather than a subject repository?"

The dilemma has a simple, optimal and universal solution, with many, many good reasons supporting it:

Direct deposit should be in each researcher's own institution's IR. SRs and CRs can harvest from IRs.

That's what the OAI protocol is for. Institutions are the (distributed) research providers. They are the ones with the direct stake in the record-keeping and showcasing of their own research output, in maximizing its accessibility, visibility, usage and impact, and in assessing and rewarding its research performance. Institutions are also in the position to mandate that their own research output be deposited in their own IR; funder mandates can reinforce that, and can benefit from institutional monitoring and oversight (as long as funders too mandate institutional deposit and central harvesting, rather than direct central deposit)....

(Before you reply to sing the praises of SRs and CRs, recall that their virtues are identical if they are harvested rather than the loci of direct deposit. The overwhelming benefit of IR deposit is that that is the way to ensure that all research output is universally self-archived.)

(And before you reply that seasoned Arxiv depositors will resist institutional deposit, forget about them: they are not the problem. They are self-archiving already, and have been for a decade and a half. Arxiv self-archivers' habits will be integrated with those of the rest of the self-archiving community once self-archiving mandates prevail and institutional self-archiving becomes universal. For now, focus your attention on the 85% of researchers who do not yet self-archive at all, anywhere. They are the problem. And convergent institutional [and funder] self-archiving mandates are the solution....)

Podcast of Jimmy Wales on the future of publishing

Jimmy Wales, Free Culture and the Future of Publishing, presented at O'Reilly Tools of Change Conference (June 19, 2007). (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

Case study of OA humanities journal

Michael Papio, Reflections on Heliotropia and the Future of E-journal Publishing in the Humanities, StoricaMente, May 15, 2008. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
With the help of a small group of scholars dedicated to the open-access dissemination of research on Boccaccio and fourteenth-century Italy, I launched an online journal called Heliotropia at Brown University during the summer of 2003. Though none of us at that time had any thoroughgoing experience with e-journal publishing, each of us had already spent nearly a decade exploring the possibilities inherent in the marriage of hypermedia technologies and the study of Boccaccio. Fortunate to have profited from the assistance of the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown and from an unusually enthusiastic reception on the part of students and teachers in the United States and elsewhere, we were guided by the hypothesis that a free-access e-journal of Boccaccio Studies would be not only an extremely useful resource in a general sense but also a significant boon to the community of Boccaccio scholars at large. What we admittedly did not anticipate was the speed at which Heliotropia would begin to fulfill its goals. In 2004, it was accepted as the official publication of the American Boccaccio Association and in the period since its inception has experienced a fivefold increase in accesses. This success has been as unexpected as it is gratifying. While data on e-journal publishing have been collected by a number of studies over the years, remarkably little critical attention has been given by Italianists to the possibilities inherent in e-publishing. The purpose of the present essay is, in short, to introduce some of the chief concerns related to e-publishing to humanistic scholars who, however well informed they may be in their own fields, have yet to face the often bewildering challenges presented by new media. ...

On OA journals and licenses

Klaus Graf, License Status of Open Access Journals, Archivalia, June 5, 2008.
The first journals with the SPARC Europe Open Access Seal were added to the Directory of Open Access Journals: [see screenshot] ...

Unfortunately only the publishers can add the license status to DOAJ (personal mail by Anna-Lena Johansson, May 21, 2008). This decision isn't appropriate. None of the many BioMedCentral CC-BY journals is tagged with CC-BY in DOAJ.

According to my mantra make all research results CC-BY I recommend that all Open Access journals should apply for the SPARC Europe OA seal.

If a journal publisher don't want CC-BY it should consider another CC license.

But anyway publishers should make the license and self-archiving status of the journal clear. Here are some tips. ...

JISC contributions to OAI-ORE

ORE@JISC, JISC Information Environment Team blog, June 4, 2008.
With the release of the beta OAI-ORE specification this week, I thought it was worth highlighting some of the JISC work in the UK that is contributing to this initiative. Two short projects are looking to experiment with ORE and feed back into its development. The FORESITE project at Liverpool, run by Rob Sanderson, has produced ORE resource map descriptions of the JSTOR collection (1.8 million full text articles), and will also ORE-enable the DSpace repository platform, depositing the JSTOR-ORE collection into DSpace using the SWORD protocol. The Theorem project, based at Cambridge and run by Jim Downing, is looking at etheses, both representing ‘ideal’ born-digital theses as ORE resource maps, and looking at workflows around these. This project is working closely with the Integrated Content Environment (ICE) developed by Peter Sefton at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, to create an authoring and management environment that produces and handles chemistry theses as born-digital objects, with live links to data, and so on. This work complements an international project led in the UK by Chris Awre, and involving partners from the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, which is looking to get some international agreement on a complex object format for theses, drawing from the ORE specifications, but building on specifications currently used, such as x-metadiss in Germany. Given the relative simplicity of doctoral theses – they have limited versioning issues for example – and the pressing need in many countries to automate the thesis workflow, it may be that theses become an early ORE adopter.

New OA journal of pediatric cardiology

The Annals of Pediatric Cardiology is a new OA journal published by the Pediatric Cardiac Society of India and Medknow. There are no article processing charges. The contents are available under a license similar to the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. The inaugural issue is now available.

Building compliance with the OA policy at CSIR

Adele van der Merwe, Databases, Institutional repositories (IR) and organizational workflows, an abstract of a presentation at the Ninth Southern African Online Information Meeting (Pretoria, June 3-5, 2008).  Excerpt:

The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) is one of the leading research and development, technology and innovation institutions in Africa....

At the CSIR, it is expected that authors to submit their documented research output for inclusion in the Technical Outputs Database (TOdB) but that does not ensure that compliance is at 100%. In addition, suitable records in TOdB must be flagged for inclusion in the institutional repository. Unfortunately, it is not always feasible for the librarians to make the decision regarding the inclusion or exclusion of items....In an attempt to address compliance, selection and quality control issues, a workflow system was developed for the TOdB system that also impacts on the Institutional Repository. The intention of this paper is to describe the process that was followed to design the workflow system, a discussion of the system itself and, in conclusion, an overview of the first months after the implementation of the system.

PS:  Note that this is the South African CSIR, not the Indian CSIR.  For background on OA policy at at the South African CSIR, see Eve Gray's October 2006 IPF report (p. 3) or Heila Pienaar and Martie van Deventer's August 2007 presentation (slide 13).  I'd be grateful if anyone could point me to the text of the CSIR policy itself.

German overview of OA

Celina Ramjoué, Open Access:  Den Zugang zu Forschungsergebnissen fördern, UNESCO heute:  Zeitschrift der Deutschen UNESCO-Kommission, 1/2008. 

PS:  Because the file is a PDF, I can't link to a machine translation.