Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 21, 2008

State of OA among bioethics journals

Jim Till, Assessing medical ethics journals, Be openly accessible or be obscure, June 21, 2008. Evaluates the OA policies of several top journals in medical ethics and bioethics, and OA to articles in PubMed with the tag "ethics".

Presentations on OA publishing in practice

Matthew Cockerill has blogged the presentations on Putting Open Access Publishing into Practice: funding mechanisms, institutional collaboration and building repositories from the ARMA/INORMS 2008 conference (Liverpool, June 18, 2008).

Video on OA to legal info

Charles Bailey blogged a series of videos, titled A Short History of Legal Information Institutes, which were posted to YouTube on May 23, 2008. The three-segment video [1, 2, 3] covers the historical development of open access to legal information.

June issue of J. of Science Communication

New OA monograph series on the Ancient Near East

John F. Hobbins, New Online Ancient Near East Monograph Series Established, Ancient Hebrew Poetry, June 20, 2008.
The Society of Biblical Literature, in partnership with the Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo Oriente, Universidad Católica Argentina, announces the establishment of a new online, open-access monograph series. The focus of the series will be on the ancient Near East, including ancient Israel and its literature, from the early Neolithic to the early Hellenistic eras. Proposals and manuscripts may be submitted in either Spanish or English. Manuscripts are subject to blind peer review by two members of the series’ editorial board before acceptance. ...

New OA journal of molecular brain research

Molecular Brain is a new OA, peer-reviewed journal of "studies on the nervous system at the molecular, cellular and systems level". The journal is published by BioMed Central, which announced the release on June 19. Authors retain copyright to their articles, which are available under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Article-processing charges are £800 (€1015, US$1560), subject to discounts and waivers.

JASIST allows self-archiving

Charles Bailey, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology Goes Green, DigitalKoans, June 20, 2008.

In a forthcoming "Early View" editorial in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology ("JASIST Open Access"), Donald H. Kraft announces that JASIST will permit self-archiving "on the Contributor's personal Web site or in the Contributor's institution's/employer's institutional repository or archive" (institutional intranets are also permitted). This excludes disciplinary archives, such as dLIST and E-LIS, which are global in nature.

Such self-archiving can occur for both preprints and postprints. The author cannot "update the submission version [version submitted for consideration that has not undergone peer review] or replace it with the published Contribution." However, the author can "update the preprint [accepted version that has undergone peer review] with any corrections." ...

More from the Early View editorial:

...Prior to publication, the Contributor must include the following notice on the preprint: This is a preprint of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology ? [year] (American Society for Information Science and Technology). After publication of the Contribution by Wiley-Blackwell, the preprint notice should be amended to read as follows: This is a preprint of an article published in [include the complete citation information for the final version of the Contribution as published in the print edition of the Journal], and should provide an electronic link to the Journal's World Wide Web site. The Contributor also may update the preprint with any corrections made, in which case the notice shall further be amended with the following language This preprint has been updated to reflect changes in the final version.

Comment.  I applaud the substance of the new JASIST policy.  However, in one respect it will create needless confusion.  JASIST requires authors to label their self-archived manuscripts as "preprints" even when they have been approved by the JASIST peer review process.  To most readers, "preprint" means that a manuscript has not yet been refereed.  JASIS does allow self-archiving of the peer-reviewed manuscript, which is the important point of substantive policy.  It shouldn't require the use of a misleading label.

Another OA journal grows in impact

Gunther Eysenbach, ISI/SCI Journal Impact Factors in Medical Informatics: Open Access Journal on Top, Gunther Eysenbach Random Research Rants, June 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

Yesterday, on June 20th, 2008, ISI/SCI released their 2007 Journal Citation Reports, reporting journal impact factors for the worlds' most important scholarly journals. The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) remains one of the most successful Open Access journals in the world *. For the second year in a row, JMIR came out as the #2 ranked journal in the medical informatics category (out of 20 journals). JMIR slightly improved its impact factor to 3.0 and has now almost the same impact factor as the leading medical informatics journal (JAMIA), whose impact factor dropped to 3.1. JAMIA is published by Elsevier and backed by an influential scientific society (American Medical Informatics Association), while JMIR is pretty much a one-man show on a shoestring budget. Anyone still not convinced about the open access advantage....

* When making this bold statement I am not talking about the absolute impact factor, but about the ranking within its subdiscipline. For example, PloS Med has obviously a higher impact factor (because general medical papers are more frequently cited than medical informatics papers), but is only ranked as #6 in its category "Medicine, General", whereas JMIR maintains its #2 rank in its category.

Update on the CIC's Shared Digital Repository Project

On May 21, Indiana University posted an update on the Shared Digital Repository Project, a consortial repository for the 12 institutional members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

...The SDR offers persistent and high-availability storage for digitized book and journal content, beginning with the Google content from the CIC members and later extending to other digitized content. The SDR will leverage technology investments and developments at the University of Michigan to build (through IU/UM collaboration) more generalized versions of Michigan's services and gain efficiencies from Michigan's investments....

Milestones and status:

As of April 11, 2008, the SDR contains:

  • 1,122,007 volumes
  • 791,460 titles
  • approximately 393 million pages
  • 213,379 individual volumes in the public domain (19% of the total) ...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Audiobook publisher to drop DRM

Cory Doctorow, Blackstone Audio phases out audiobook DRM, Boing Boing, June 20, 2008.

... Blackstone Audio, one of the largest audiobook publishers in the world, announc[ed] that Blackstone was phasing out its use of DRM. Blackstone is contacting the rightsholders for all its titles notifying them that they'll be releasing their catalog in DRM-free MP3 (with some kind of watermarking ...) format unless they hear otherwise by a certain date.

Blackstone now joins with Random House Audio (the audio division of the world's largest publisher, Bertelsmann) in rejecting DRM for its audiobooks and I've heard off-the-record accounts of other major audiobook houses planning to do the same.

All this raises the question: when will Audible -- the largest audiobook retailer in the world and the exclusive provider of downloadable audiobooks for iTunes and Amazon -- drop the DRM on its audiobooks? I was shocked a month ago to hear from Amazon that they would not carry the Random House Audio audiobook of my ... bestselling novel Little Brother because it was only available as an MP3. Official Amazon policy on audiobooks still seems to be no DRM = no dice. ...

Oregon moves to rescind copyright claim on its laws

Cory Doctorow, Oregon folds: Legislative Counsel's Committee says Oregon's laws aren't copyrighted, Boing Boing, June 19, 2008.
Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,

Justia and Public.Resource.Org were invited, along with Karl Olson our counsel, to testify before the Oregon Legislative Counsel Committee. We were joined by a public panel of wikipedians and open source advocates.

The process was incredibly well organized. There was a comprehensive briefing packet prepared for the committee, the members asked lots of intelligent questions, and then Dexter Johnson the Legislative Counsel recommended to the committee that they waive assertion of copyright on their statutes. The Majority Leader placed the motion, the President of the Senate called the vote, and the vote was unanimous. ...

See also the post at the Justia blog and the prepared statements submitted to the committee.

Math societies critique impact factor, mention OA advantage

Robert Adler, et al., Citation Statistics, a report by the International Mathematical Union, the International Council of Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, June 12, 2008. (Thanks to Wired Campus.) From the executive summary:

This is a report about the use and misuse of citation data in the assessment of scientific research. ... There is a belief that citation statistics are inherently more accurate because they substitute simple numbers for complex judgments, and hence overcome the possible subjectivity of peer review. But this belief is unfounded. ...

We do not dismiss citation statistics as a tool for assessing the quality of research—citation data and statistics can provide some valuable information. ... But citation data provide only a limited and incomplete view of research quality ... Research is too important to measure its value with only a single coarse tool.

... If we set high standards for the conduct of science, surely we should set equally high standards for assessing its quality.

From the body of the report, discussing the ambiguous meaning (and thus value) of citations:
... [M]ost citations are rhetorical. ... Why is this important? Because unlike "reward" citations, which tend to refer to seminal papers, the choice of which paper to cite rhetorically depends on many factors—the prestige of the cited author (the "halo" effect), the relationship of the citing and cited authors, the availability of the journal (Are open access journals more likely to be cited?), the convenience of referencing several results from a single paper, and so forth. Few of these factors are directly related to the "quality" of the cited paper. ...
Comment. In a recent post, I suggested "OA [would become] a more mainstream topic in scientometrics ...". As if on cue, here is a mainstream report on scientometrics, suggesting that the accessibility of a paper may be a factor in how frequently it is cited. The discussion of the OA advantage goes no further than that in the excerpt, but that it even warrants a mention is noteworthy.

See my further comments at

OCS now available in Catalan

The Public Knowledge Project's Open Conference Systems software is now available in Catalan. Open Journal Systems is also in the process of being translated into Catalan.

Why are women underrepresented on RePEc?

Christian Zimmermann, Where are the women?, The RePEc blog, June 19, 2008.

Women have always been underrepresented in Economics. For example, regarding US faculty, the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession ... determines in its latest annual report that women represent 28% of assistant professors, 21% of associate professors and 8% of full professors in PhD granting Economics department. As a whole, they represent 19% of all Economics faculty.

The point of this post is not to complain about the low proportion of women in the profession, or about their dwindling share up the ladder, but about the lack of involvement on women in RePEc. Currently, their share is at 14.5%. It is clearly below the 19% mentioned, although it is slowly increasing (it was 13.6% a year ago and 12.7% two years ago). Why this underrepresentation?

It is of course possible that there is a bias in those numbers, because the CSWEP numbers pertain only to the United States and the RePEc Author Service covers the whole world. So, let us analyze the top 1000 economists from Tom Coupé’s list. Of the men, only 22.9% are not registered taking the ranking by publications, and 32.4% with the ranking by citations (which includes quite a few non-economists). For women, the numbers are 37.2% and 44.4%. We see that top female economists are less likely to be signed up with RePEc.

Therefore, encourage women to register at the RePEc Author Service! ...

Comment. As OA becomes a more mainstream topic in scientometrics and the sociology of science -- and as the benefits to authors become more widely accepted -- expect to see more attention to demographic concerns of participation. Who's being left out of the OA revolution?

Richard Poynder interviews Leslie Chan

Richard Poynder, The Open Access Interviews: Leslie Chan, Open and Shut? June 20, 2008.  This is another of Richard's superb, detailed interviews.  In addition to profiling Leslie's tireless and important work for OA, and how he came to it, Richard gives useful background on how the broken system of scholarly communication is especially broken for researchers in developing countries.  As usual, the hardest thing about blogging a Poynder interview is to keep the excerpt short.  Read the whole thing.  Excerpt:

Every revolution has its unsung heroes: those people who contribute a great deal to a cause, but who are insufficiently recognised for it — sometimes because their efforts take place behind the scenes, sometimes because they are unduly modest, sometimes for a combination of such reasons.

That would appear to be the role that Leslie Chan has played in the Open Access (OA) movement. Without fanfare, and with little public thanks, Chan has for over ten years now tirelessly promoted OA — travelling the world to give presentations on the topic, writing articles in support of it, and advising, assisting, and motivating others to play their part too, all voluntary work that Chan has had to fit around a full-time teaching post at the University of Toronto Scarborough....

Chan could not but be struck at the absurdity of [a journal charging him $2,000 to publish a color photo of a blonde macaque in one of his primatology articles and the professional risk he'd face in posting the photo online himself] : Researchers around the world were now able to communicate with one another instantly over the Internet and yet, as he put it, "they couldn't use the medium to communicate the results of their research to other researchers...."

At the same time, Chan was frustrated by the difficulties he was experiencing accessing some of the key literature on macaques he needed for his thesis. Many of these papers were published in journals originating from countries like India, China, and Indonesia, but his university library did not subscribe to these journals....[E]ven though these journals were modestly priced, the library budget was so heavily (and disproportionately) tied to big commercial journal packages from Western publishers....

One initiative that Chan was especially drawn to was Bioline International....Since most developing country (DC) publishers did not have the necessary resources to put their journals online themselves, the Kirsops [and Bioline] decided to do it for them. In this way, they reasoned, they would make DC research more visible — benefiting not only the publishers, but also their authors, the developing world at large, and global science too....

After failing to get a grant from the Canadian government, Chan introduced a pay-per-view system for Bioline. But two years later, after Chan had made just eight sales (at $8 a time), administrators at the University of Toronto pointed out to him that it was costing $5 to process each payment. Since Chan had agreed to pass 90% of all revenue back to the publishers this meant that processing each transaction was costing Bioline five times more than it was earning from the sale....

Once again Chan was struck at the absurdity of the situation: ...Bioline had achieved the very opposite of its stated objective of making DC research more visible to the world — for by introducing a financial firewall between Bioline papers and potential consumers, Chan had simply locked out potential readers, not increased access.

At the same time...those Bioline publishers who had opted out of the payment system — insisting that their journals be made freely available to anyone who wanted to read them — had seen the number of papers downloaded from their journals grow exponentially....[creating] a vivid demonstration of a lesson the Internet has taught many: When content is made available on the Web it can attract a much larger readership than in print, but very few people are prepared to pay for the privilege of reading it online. Consequently, any access barrier introduced is almost invariably counterproductive....

Obscurity of their own work aside, researchers in the developing world face a second problem: The bulk of published research is published in Western journals, and in order to access these journals it is necessary to pay subscription fees — fees that few DC research institutions can afford to pay. This puts DC researchers at a further disadvantage when conducting their research — since they are frequently unable to access the findings of others working in their field....

Further compounding the problem, Western journals are the first choice for DC researchers when seeking to get their own papers published. While the odds are stacked against them, some succeed. And when they do, although their research will be more visible to researchers in the West, it will be as good as invisible to their compatriots....

As fellow OA advocate Jean-Claude Guédon puts it, "Leslie has played an important role in insisting that the OA movement not limit itself to core, elite, Western-led science. He sees OA also (not exclusively, but also) as a way to help developing or emergent economies develop meaningful scientific capacity."

For instance, says [Subbiah] Arunachalam, Chan's advocacy work in India a few years ago inspired Dr D K Sahu of MedKnow Publications to launch 50 local OA journals, and several Indian librarians to create institutional repositories, including repositories at key Indian research institutions like the National Information Centre in New Delhi, the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela and the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.  Again, this was done without any form of self-publicity, and often unbeknownst to the movement at large.

Chan is also notable (in a movement not short of grumps) for his user-friendliness. As fellow OA advocate Alma Swan puts it, "Leslie is one of the world's nicest people, with a 'do good' gene being expressed in every cell of his body." She adds, "He is very good at making connections, persuading people and influencing things in general."

A good example of Chan's persuasiveness was the role he played in getting Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to adopt an Open Access policy. Arunachalam had been trying to persuade IDRC vice president Rohinton Medhora to embrace OA for some time, with little success. Then one day Chan turned up and, as Arunachalam puts it, "clinched the deal".

Another Chan quality is his inclusiveness. This was personally evident to me when he summarily rejected my claim that the movement is bedevilled with warring factions — evidenced I suggested by the frequent arguments over the respective merits of Green OA versus Gold OA, or the disagreements over the relative importance of price and permission barriers.

"I would say that views within the Open Access movement are both looser and more diverse than might at first appear," he insisted, "and have always been. Moreover, they change over time."

In any case, he said, differences of opinion are important, as are a diversity of approaches and constant experimentation. The model he constantly invokes is that of evolution. As he put it to me, "What evolution tells us is that you are more likely to find success if you try three, four, or maybe five models than if you just try one. The more diverse ways we can develop to achieve the same end goal the better." ...

What helps, says Chan, is that "I really believe in this stuff." Or as he put it during a recent email discussion I was copied into, "The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously reminded us that 'Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.' I would like to paraphrase Dobzhansky and claim that 'Nothing in Scholarly Communications Makes Sense Except in the Light of Open Access'." ...

What's at stake if Bioline has to close through lack of funding, and OA fails to deliver the goods for the developed world? We can't say, but consider this: Each year half a billion people are infected with malaria and over a million die as a result. Likewise, there are 300,000-500,000 cases of African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) each year, which the World Health Organisation estimates leads to 66,000 deaths.

If it is true that increasing the visibility of research into diseases can shorten the time it takes to develop cures, then we should surely be doing everything we can to hasten universal OA. And if services like Bioline can play a special role in increasing the visibility of research into neglected diseases, then shouldn't organisations like the WHO and FAO be funding it? After all, if services like Bioline can play a role (however small) in saving lives, and reducing human misery, wouldn't it be money well spent to support them? ...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Comment periods on clinical trial data

There are currently two opportunities for the public to comment on registries for the results of clinical trials. (Thanks to Emma Veitch.)
  • The World Health Organization is conducting a public consultation for feedback on the proposal that "the findings of all clinical trials must be made publicly available". Background information is available from an article published in the Bulletin in April 2008. The survey will be open to responses until midnight (Geneva time) on July 4, 2008. From the article:
    ... The next step [beyond registration of clinical trials] to informed decision-making is to make the findings of clinical trials available, since it is knowledge of the findings, rather than of the existence of a trial, that is likely to have the greatest impact on people trying to choose between alternative interventions. The arrival and growth of electronic publishing and the Internet as dissemination tools without page or length restrictions has greatly expanded the ability of people to make findings available and accessible in full. The recognition of the need for reliable evidence to improve healthcare and to facilitate the synthesis of the results of research into systematic reviews has fuelled the demand for access to the findings of all research, as have the needs of the numerous other stakeholders in clinical research.

    The position proposed by the members of the WHO Registry Platform Working Group on the Reporting of Findings of Clinical Trials is that "the findings of all clinical trials must be made publicly available". ... Our goal is to contribute to the ongoing debate and to foster the collaboration that is necessary to ensure that the findings of clinical trials do not remain hidden from the people who need access to them. ...

    Historically, access to the results of a trial has usually been achieved through publication in a peer-reviewed journal. This traditional publication model has its limitations, particularly in an environment where the end users of research information now include healthcare policy-makers, consumers, regulators and legislators who want rapid access to high quality information in a “user-friendly” format. In future, researchers may be legally required to make their findings publicly available within a specific timeframe (assuming any legislation created does not have escape clauses built in). In the United States of America, such legislation is already in place. This may compromise the ability of researchers to publish trial findings in a peer-reviewed journal. Although some journal editors have acknowledged the changing climate around results registration and reporting, they may have a conflict of interest in that they will probably want the key (and potentially most exciting) messages from a trial to appear first, and perhaps exclusively, in their publication. ...
  • The implementation of the U.S. legislation referenced above is now being planned. Section 801 of Public Law 110-85 (the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007) requires that clinical trials for any drugs, biologics, and medical devices subject to FDA regulation must be registered at The bill also lays out certain information that must be submitted about these trials, that this information must be available to the public over the Internet through a database administered by the NIH, and certain conditions on how the information must be available. It doesn't require depositing the raw data of the trial's results, nor of publications resulting from the trial; i.e., the bill requires OA to certain information about the trial, but not OA to the complete trial data nor OA to publications resulting. A mockup of the data entry interface for the database is now available. The deadline to comment on the mockup is July 9, 2008.
Comment. As Peter points out, this is call for public comments: an occasion for people to call for OA to the trial data themselves. It's also noteworthy how the rhetoric for public disclosure of trial results parallels the arguments for OA.

New OA journal on information science

Beiträge und Reportagen aus den Informationswissenschaften (BRaIn) is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal from the U of Potsdam Department of Information Sciences.  BraIn doesn't yet have a web site.  (Thanks to BibliothekarInnen sind uncool.)

Smithsonian Institution joins Flickr Commons

The Smithsonian Institution announced on June 18 it had joined The Commons on Flickr, with an initial set of 800+ images. The photos are available here. (Thanks to Boing Boing.) From the announcement:
... The images in this initial Smithsonian posting came from the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, National Postal Museum, Anacostia Community Museum, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and Smithsonian Institution Libraries. ...

The photographs include a small but broad selection of the 13 million images in the Smithsonian collections—only a fraction of which have been digitized. The Smithsonian images now on Flickr are organized into six sets: Smithsonian’s First Photographer, American Celebrations, Portraits of Artists, Portraits of Scientists and Inventors, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and People and the Post. These sets contain photographs collected from outside sources, as well as those taken by Smithsonian staff, and represent a broad range of subjects and themes in art, history, culture and science. Links are provided from each photograph to the Smithsonian Web sites that contain additional information about the images and the collections they represent.

“Our goals in participating in The Commons on Flickr are to expose new, larger, broader and younger audiences to our photographic collections and help them discover more of the Smithsonian educational resources,” said Richard Kurin, Acting Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. “We also hope to learn how Web site visitors use our digital collections so that we can better serve the public.”

Highlights of Smithsonian images include a cyanotype of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1910; a 19th-century portrait of Albert Einstein and other scientists; and images from the Silk Road program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2002. In addition, there are 250 images from Thomas Smillie (1843-1917), the Smithsonian’s first photographer, who documented all important events and research trips for the Smithsonian; American celebrations, such as personal family celebrations, world expositions and national powwows, the celebrations of Native American dance and song; and a selection of images from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual event on the National Mall. ...

During the next several months, the Smithsonian will provide more than 1,200 digital photographic images to Flickr. ...
Comment. The Smithsonian is the fourth institution to join The Commons, after the Library of Congress, the Powerhouse Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.

The Smithsonian was previously the target of guerrilla archiving by Public.Resource.Org, which posted 6,000+ of the institution's images on Flickr more than a year ago.

Stanford launches a YouTube channel

Stanford has launched a YouTube channel.  (Thanks to Open Culture.)  From the June 16 announcement:

...The channel...includes nearly 200 other videos, and Stanford will continue to add additional content as it becomes available.

The university has drawn from departments and programs across campus and uploaded videos of classes, faculty interviews, panel discussions, seminars and other events in order to showcase the breadth and caliber of academic offerings at Stanford....[T]he university is building upon its efforts to provide online access to free educational content for the Stanford community and greater public....

The channel also carries videos of courses on current research and developments in computer systems, a speaker series on topics related to human-computer interaction and sequences of classes on modern physics taught by Leonard Susskind, the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford.

The videos are organized in playlists, such as one for Stanford's Educational Thought Leaders Seminar and another called Medcast, which features events and faculty at the School of Medicine....

Stanford is among a growing number of universities, including the University of California-Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with channels on YouTube....

In October 2005, Stanford was the first university to launch a collection of audio and video content in Apple's iTunes U, and the collaboration with YouTube builds upon those efforts....

OA repository for public policy research

The Center for Government Studies and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis officially launched PolicyArchive, the first OA repository for public policy research.  PolicyArchive is built on DSpace.  From today's announcement:

...PolicyArchive plans to become the largest online repository of public policy research in the world. At its launch, the archive already contains over 12,000 policy documents from over 220 think tanks and other research organizations. It will house up to 20,000 documents by the end of 2008.

"PolicyArchive builds an online bridge between the worlds of public policy research and legislative implementation," says Tracy Westen, CEO of the Center for Governmental Studies. "PolicyArchive will put high quality, current research instantly at policymakers' finger tips."

Contributors: Current contributors to PolicyArchive include the Aspen Institute, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Cato Institute, Center for American Progress, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center for Democracy and Technology, Common Cause, Congressional Research Service, Economic Policy Institute, Hudson Institute, Lithuanian Center for Strategic Studies, Mathematica Policy Research, National Bureau of Economic Research, National Center for Policy Analysis, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, New America Foundation, Public Policy Institute of California, RAND, Reason Foundation and the Southern Sudan Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation, among others (see attached contributor list).

Need: Sound research is critical to public policy in a world that grows more complex every day. But locating and obtaining this research online can be difficult or impossible, and researchers looking for different perspectives on controversial issues often get frustrated hunting through the Web sites of myriad organizations.

Solution: PolicyArchive changes all that. It lets users view research online, free of charge, covering 306 subtopics and contributed by a wide range of nonprofit, educational, governmental, private and international think tanks and research organizations.

Features: PolicyArchive enables publishers to upload their own research and make it freely available to legislators, policymakers, scholars, citizens and others. The site contains summaries and full texts of research, a subject index, an internal search engine, research synopses, sign-up newsletters and email notifications of new research. The next version will feature online communities, user ratings and reviews, personalized "bookshelves" and information on researchers and funders.

Benefits: PolicyArchive will help elected officials and their staffs, policy researchers and charitable foundations....

"Partnering with CGS allows us to build on the model for the 21st century academic library and be a leader in providing long term open access to public policy research," said David Lewis, Dean, IUPUI University Library. "We are pleased to be part of this important project." ...

Update.  The repository has been online for some time and we blogged a pre-launch preview last October.

Debunking myths about Citizendium

On copyrighted laws and OA

James Grimmelmann, Copyright, Technology, and Access to the Law: An Opinionated Primer, self-published essay, June 17, 2008. (Thanks to Andrew Raff.)
Recently, the state of Oregon has used copyright law to threaten people who were publishing its laws online. Can they really do that? More to the point, why would they? This essay will put the Oregon fracas in historical context, and explain the public policies at stake. Ultimately, it’ll try to convince you that Oregon’s demands, while wrong, aren’t unprecedented. People have been claiming copyright in “the law” for a long time, and at times they’ve been able to make a halfway convincing case for it. While there are good answers to these arguments, they’re not always the first ones that come to hand. It’s really only the arrival of the Internet that genuinely puts the long-standing goal of free and unencumbered access to the law within our grasp. ...
Comment. If you're looking for a thorough legal, historical, and ethical overview to this issue, start here. This excerpt is just the tip of the iceberg.

200 packages on CKAN

Jonathan Gray, Over 200 Packages on CKAN!, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, June 17, 2008.

Today the number of packages in the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) has passed the 200 mark! CKAN is an open registry of (open) knowledge packages - from genes to geodata, sonnets to statistics.

CKAN currently includes basic metadata about each package - including title, URL, download URL, tags, license information and notes. Packages include everything from a large collection of choral music to data for carbon footprinting.

CKAN is being developed to serve the community of people who create, re-use and re-distribute open resources. If you have any suggestions for new features, or you would like to help out with any aspect of its development - please get in touch! You can find out more about forthcoming technical work at its trac page.

We will soon be organising another CKAN Package Party - to accelerate the registration of packages into CKAN. We also want to get more comprehensive coverage of open material in different domains - whether geodata, socioeconomic data, scientific data or literary corpora - and will be working more closely with researchers and developers to curate parts of the registry. ...

Impact factors for BMC journals

Matthew Cockerill, Official 2007 Impact Factors show excellent performance by BioMed Central journals, BioMed Central Blog, June 19, 2008.

The 2007 Journal Citation Report from Thomson Reuters, which has just been released, confirms the excellent performance and growing reputation of BioMed Central's journals.

There are now 40 BioMed Central journals which have official Impact Factors. Highlights of this year's Impact Factors include an impressive showing by BMC Biology, the biological flagship journal of the BMC series, which debuted with an Impact Factor above 5.0, and Molecular Pain, which confirmed its status as one of the leading journals in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine with an impressive Impact Factor of 4.13.

Malaria Journal retained its status as the No 1. ranked journal in the field of Tropical Medicine, while Retrovirology appeared for the first time in the JCR, ranking 5th of 25 journals in the Virology category, ahead of long established titles such as the journal Virology. BMC Plant Biology jumped straight into the upper echelons of the Plant Science rankings, with an Impact Factor of 3.23, which places it 18th of 152 journals in that area.

Overall, the median Impact Factor of a BioMed Central journal has increased from 2.77 to 2.91. Last year, BioMed Central had 4 journals with Impact Factors above 4.0 and 10 journals with Impact Factors above 3.0. This year, we have 8 journals above 4.0, and 17 greater than 3.0.

Full list of 2007 Impact Factors [Note: omitting table] ...

In addition to the 40 journals listed above, many more BioMed Central journals are already tracked by Thomson Reuters and are due to receive official Impact Factors in the next year or two. For information on the expected timing of future Impact Factors, as well as unofficial Impact Factors for journals not yet tracked by Thomson Reuters, see BioMed Central's Impact Factor FAQ page. ...

See also our post on 2007 impact factors for PLoS journals.

OA abridgment of guide to developing OA journals

On June 18, David Solomon announced he had released an OA abridgment of his book, Developing Open Access Electronic Journals: A Practical Guide, available for download here. From the announcement:
... This version lacks the chapters covering background information and the depth of coverage of the topics in the original book. It is organized in an outline format. ...
See also our coverage of the book's release. We also linked to a review of the book from Learned Published.

New OA student journal of American studies

aspeers is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal of American studies. The inaugural issue was released in April 2008. According to the journal site, "Most members of the reviewing editorial staff are MA candidates [in the American Studies program at the University of Leipzig]". The journal will be issued annually and is also available in print (via print-on-demand). (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

David Lipman honored for his service to America

David Lipman is one of 29 finalists for a 2008 Service to America Medal or "Sammie".  The Sammies are presented every year by the non-profit, non-partisan Partnership for Public Service to outstanding employees of the US federal government.  The finalists were announced yesterday, and the Sammies will be awarded on September 16, in Washington, D.C.

Lipman is the Director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, within the NIH, and is being recognized for his work in developing PubMed Central.

Comment.  Congratulations to David, one of the unsung or insufficiently sung heroes of OA.  If time is short, you can catch up on his long career of dedication to OA through this 2003 interview in Open Access Now or this 2007 interview for KRUU FM.  If time is not short, see my many past posts about him and his work.

Update (6/23/08).  Also see the press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.  Excerpt:

..."Perhaps the greatest testament to the value of this resource is the phenomenal amount of traffic it has attracted," according to the Partnership for Public Service profile of Dr. Lipman. "Each day, users retrieve about 650,000 articles, making it one of the most important sites in the world for finding quality biomedical information. Dr. Lipman has allowed scientists, physicians, patients, advocates, students, teachers, journalists and others to access information that affects their lives and work. This work has enhanced collaboration and, as a result, is revolutionizing scientific research and speeding the translation of existing knowledge into new breakthroughs."

Proponents of free public access to NIH-funded research findings hailed the selection of Dr. Lipman. "The Award Committee's recognition of Dr. Lipman is a potent reminder of the high value the American public places in being able to access and use the product of their collective investment in research," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and administrator of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. "Dr. Lipman, the PubMed Central team, and the NIH have made a critical contribution to advancing the public good with the creation of PubMed Central."

Sharon Terry, President and CEO of Genetic Alliance, adds, "Dr. Lipman is a visionary leader in the age of networked information. He was way out ahead in developing PubMed Central. His contribution is a living resource of public information that catalyzes the research and services needed to save lives." ...

The finalists for the 2008 Service to America Medals were chosen from nearly 500 nominations recognizing work at two-dozen federal agencies....

Update (6/23/08).  Also see Megan Scudellari's story in The Scientist.  Excerpt:

..."I think it's a recognition of the value of PubMed Central," David Lipman, who launched PubMed in 2000, told The Scientist. "For that, I'm really thrilled." ...

OA to '76 Copyright Act report

Tim Armstrong, An Open Access Success Story, Just in Time for CALI, Info/Law, June 17, 2008.

... The open-access project I blogged about here last October has yielded some impressive results. The project involved scanning and proofreading the House Judiciary Committee’s Report on the landmark Copyright Act of 1976. To my knowledge, the House Report has never been freely available online — a keenly felt omission, given how frequently United States courts in copyright cases rely on the Report ...

That problem has now been remedied.

Working in irregular bursts over the last eight months, volunteers at the English-language Wikisource project (a sister site of the much better known Wikipedia encyclopedia) have proofread all 370 page scans from the original House report, and the results have been stitched together to form a single document: Copyright Law Revision (House Report No. 94-1476). As the accompanying color-coded chart reveals, most pages of the report have been proofread by at least two different users, and the rest should be finished within a few weeks if current trends continue.

Here are just a few reasons why the Wikisource version of the House Report is the best now available anywhere.

  • It’s free. Like all U.S. government works, the text is in the public domain. And Wikisource, unlike proprietary database vendors, doesn’t purport to limit your freedom to copy or reuse the public-domain texts that are hosted on the site. ...
  • It’s complete. Other online versions of the Report, as well as most hard-copy reprints ... omit certain portions. ... Wikisource, in keeping with its general editorial philosophy, reproduces the complete text in its entirety; the site’s editors don’t substitute their own judgments about which portions of the document will be useful to you.
  • It’s pinpoint-hyperlink-able (I’m sure I’m overlooking a more technologically correct way of saying that). Did you spot those hyperlinks in the preceding paragraph? Mitigating the potential unwieldiness of posting a 370-page document as a single Web page is the fact that anchor elements are included to take you directly to any page within the document. So if you want to jump straight to the Committee’s discussion of fair use, for example, you can.
  • It’s (optionally) annotated. Wikisource reproduces original texts as published, warts and all. But the architecture of the site makes it easy to offer an alternative annotated version of the text where errors are marked and corrections offered. ...

Another society journal converts to OA

Computational Linguistics will convert to OA, starting with the first issue of 2009.  (Thanks to Hal Daume III.)  CL is owned by the Association for Computational Linguistics and published by MIT Press

I don't know yet whether MIT will continue as the publisher after the conversion.

New TA journal with free online access for news media

Taylor & Francis have launched a new journal, The Sixties.  It's not OA, though it does participate in iOpenAccess, the T&F hybrid OA program.  I'm blogging it because of an unusual wrinkle in its access policy.  You won't find it described on the journal web site (not even under "Full Pricing Details").  But here's a description from yesterday's story in News Blaze:

...Free online access to The Sixties is available to members of the press....


  • Many subscription journals offer free online access to researchers from developing countries.  But I've never seen a subscription journal offer free online access to the press.
  • Obviously it falls short of OA.  But I don't want to dwell on that, and I don't want to tell non-OA journals what's in their interest.  But I must say that I like this idea, that is, for journals that must fall short of OA in the first place.  The policy shouldn't reduce subscriptions from research institutions, and it should help publicize the journal's articles and brand.  Some journals publish very few articles that news media would like to cover, but The Sixties may publish many of them.  How many newsworthy journal articles go unreported because journalists themselves don't have access?  This T&F policy will certainly make it easier for journalists to learn what The Sixties is publishing.  But why stop there?  Why not give journalists a chance to see what every journal is publishing?  I don't see any downside, even for a non-OA journal.
  • That's an honest opinion, but I also think the policy would (slightly and indirectly) benefit OA.  Increasing the supply of free publicity for non-OA literature can only increase the demand for OA literature.
  • Journalists may have free online access to articles in The Sixties, but their readers won't.  Hence if they publish links to those articles, very few readers will be able to click through to full-text.  That huge advantage is still reserved to OA articles and OA journals.

OA as a priority for librarians

Eric Lease Morgan, Top Tech Trends for ALA (Summer ‘08), LITA Blog, June 19, 2008.  Excerpt:

Here is a non-exhaustive list of Top Technology Trends for the American Library Association Annual Meeting (Summer, 2008). These Trends represent general directions regarding computing in libraries — short-term future directions where, from my perspective, things are or could be going. They are listed in no priority order....

  • Data sets - Increasingly it is not enough for the scholar or researcher to evaluate old texts or do experiments and then write an article accordingly. Instead it is becoming increasingly important to distribute the data and information the scholar or researcher used to come to their conclusions. This data and information needs to be just as accessible as the resulting article. How will this access be sustained? How will it be described and made available? To what degree will it be important to preserve this data and/or migrate it forward in time? These sorts of questions require some thought. Libraries have experience in these regards. Get your foot in the door, and help the authors address these issues.
  • Institutional repositories - I don’t hear as much noise about institutional repositories as I used to hear. I think their lack of popularity is directly related to the problems they are designed to solve, namely, long-term access. Don’t get me wrong, long-term access is definitely a good thing, but that is a library value. In order to be compelling, institutional repositories need to solve the problems of depositors, not the librarians. What do authors get by putting their content in an institutional repository that they don’t get elsewhere? If they supported version control, collaboration, commenting, tagging, better syndication and possibilities for content reuse — in other words, services against the content — then institutional repositories might prove to be more popular....
  • Open Access Publishing - Like its sister, institutional repositories, I don’t hear as much about open access publishing as I used to hear. We all know it is a “good thing” but like so many things that are “free” its value is only calculated by the amount of money paid for it. “The journals from this publisher are very expensive. We had better promote them and make them readily visible on our website in order for us to get our money’s worth.” In a library setting, the value of material is not based on dollars but rather on things such as but limited to usefulness, applicability, keen insight, scholarship, and timeliness. Open access publishing content manifests these characteristics as much a traditionally published materials. Open access content can be made even more valuable if its open nature were exploited. Like the content found in institutional repositories, and like the functions of “next generation” library catalogs outlined above, the ability to provide services against open access content are almost limitless. More than any other content, open access content combined with content from things like the Open Content Alliance and Project Gutenburg can be freely collected, indexed, searched, and then put into the context of the patron. Create bibliography. Trace citation. Find similar words and phrases between articles and books. Take an active role in making open access publishing more of a reality. Don’t wait for the other guy. You are a part of the solution....

Update (6/29/08). Sarah Houghton-Jan posted her list of top technology trends to the same blog. She sticks to five, and OA still makes the cut:

Libraries are going to soon start getting off of our pricey pedestals and only featuring digital content that we pay for. Yes, we all pay thousands of dollars for some excellent downloadable audio books, encyclopedias, journals, and a lot more. But all of that lovely open access (read: free) digital content that exists out there through sites like the Directory of Open Access Journals, Project Gutenberg, and more are credible and respected, and we owe it to our users to let them know about this content.

ACRL supports SCOAP3

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has written a letter of support for the CERN SCOAP3 project, June 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

...In recommending that ACRL convey its support of the SCOAP3 effort to the organizers and to its own members, ACRL's Scholarly Communication Committee consulted with a range of member groups. ACRL's University Library Section lent support, noting, "We believe that it is imperative that universities lead the way to develop open access initiatives that embrace access and the need for peer review." ACRL?s Science and Technology Section (STS), one of the library groups most involved with scientific publishing, commented:

STS recognizes the importance of encouraging new models that provide greater open access to the journal literature. The HEP community is already very open to new models of publishing, making it a good community to experiment with the SCOAP3 plan. Moreover, HEP is at risk of losing its core, yet low-use journals due to increased cancellations, and this impacts the peer-review process it still depends upon for tenure, funding decisions, etc. SCOAP3 seems to provide an innovative and promising approach to the peer review issue while maintaining access for all. As one library colleague noted, ?The SCOAP3 Model (or something like it) is the only way that I see for [my institution] to keep access to the official published copies of the HEP journals.? ....

SCOAP3 is unique in its explicit goals to unite researchers and libraries and to partner with publishers so that aggregated financial contributions will support HEP publishing, make the results available at no cost to any reader any where, and serve as a potential model to other disciplines.

Therefore ACRL encourages its members to consider joining the SCOAP3 effort when appropriate....

From the SCOAP3 announcement:

...More details are in a podcast interview with John Ober and Kim Douglas, current and incoming co-chairs of ACRL's Scholarly Communications Committee.

OA in EU and Lithuania

The presentations from the meeting, Open Access in European Union and Lithuania (Vilnius, May 7, 2008) are now online.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Aberystwyth U launches and IR

Aberystwyth University has officially launched CADAIR, its institutional repository.  (Thanks to the Repositories Support Project.)

Access to traditional Chinese medical journals

W.Y. Fan and six co-authors, Traditional Chinese Medical Journals Currently Published in Mainland China, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, June 2008.  The June issue isn't yet online, so I'm linking to the abstract at PubMed.  From the abstract:

Background: Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) journals have been playing an important role in scholarly communication in China. However, the information in those periodicals was not enough for international readers.

Objective: This study aims to provide an overview of TCM journals in China....

Results: One hundred and forty-nine (149) TCM journals are currently published in mainland China....One hundred (100) TCM journals have accessible URLs, but only 3 are open access with free full texts.

Conclusions: Publication of TCM journals in China has been active in academic communication in the past 20 years. However, only a few of them received recognized high evaluation. English information from them is not sufficient. Open access is not extensively acceptable. The accessibility of those journals to international readers needs to be improved.

Spanish OER portal launches

Agrega, a Spanish repository of open educational resources, launched recently. The project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science; the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, and Commerce; and Spain's autonomous communities. The audience is teachers and students of primary and secondary schools, without any special technical experience. The materials are available under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. (Thanks to Tecnología para Contenidos Abiertos Reutilizables.)

Impact factors for PLoS journals

Mark Patterson, 2007 Impact factors for PLoS Journals, PLoS blog, June 18, 2008.

The latest impact factors (for 2007) have just been released from Thomson Reuters. They are as follows:

  • PLoS Biology - 13.5
  • PLoS Medicine - 12.6
  • PLoS Computational Biology - 6.2
  • PLoS Genetics - 8.7
  • PLoS Pathogens - 9.3

As we and others have frequently pointed out, impact factors should be interpreted with caution ... Nevertheless, the 2007 figures for PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine are consistent with the many other indicators ... that these journals are firmly established as top-flight open-access general interest journals ...

The increases in the impact factors for the discipline-based, community-run PLoS journals also tally with indicators that these journals are going from strength to strength. For example, submissions to PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens have almost doubled over the past year ...

Another measure of impact is media coverage, and all of our journals routinely attract substantial media attention, which reflects the importance and public interest of much of the work that is published. ...

Although Thomson is yet to index our two youngest journals, other indexing databases are. ... Using Google Scholar, for example, one can find that the article by Neal Fahlgren and coauthors, about the cataloguing of an important class of RNA in plants and one of the most highly cited PLoS ONE articles so far has been cited 42 times - strong evidence that good research, even if published in a new journal, will rapidly find its place in the scientific record when it’s made freely available to all.

Spanish translation of Alma Swan's "Open Access and the Progress of Science"

Alma Swan, El acceso abierto y el progreso de la ciencia, madri+d, June 17, 2008. A Spanish translation of the author's English original, Open Access and the Progress of Science (published in American Scientist, May-June 2007). (Thanks to Open Access.)

Copyright and OA, in Spanish

Javier de la Cueva, El derecho a la ciencia. La ciencia en abierto [The right to science: Science in the open], madri+d, March 2008. English abstract (edited from that provided for clarity):
The paper describes the typology of individual and collective authors with rights on scientific works, as well as the types of existing works, depending on the number of authors, their condition, and the organization under the work is created. Identifying authors and managing permissions is often a hard or impossible task that hinders innovation. Solutions that are being implemented in order to overcome the problem are the use of Copyleft works or mechanisms such as Open Access.

Profile of digitization project

Brian Bell, One of Canada's oldest and newest digitization initiatives, Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research 3(1), 2008. (Thanks to Michel-Adrien Sheppard.) Abstract: is a new independent, non-profit, alliance of partners, including Library and Archives Canada, from all parts of Canada's cultural, heritage, research, broadcasting and publishing communities, chartered to raise funds, receive donations and grants and to act as the overall coordinator and facilitator for digitization initiatives and related enduring access services and preservation infrastructures. Working with Library and Archives Canada under the framework of the Canadian Digital Information Strategy, has a 'master plan' to facilitate a coherent national digital information strategy. The community has developed a bilingual metadata toolkit to suit most types of material as an option for those who need it. The community also supports a powerful bilingual public access Indexing and Discovery Portal system (right now branded AlouetteCanada) to enhance the searching and discovery of local digital collections of all types across the country.

Poster on open data utilities

The DataShare project has produced a poster on open data utilities to be presented at the 4th International Conference on e-Social Science (Manchester, June 18-20, 2008). The poster contains an introduction to open data, information on visualization and geodata, examples, and questions for discussion.

July issue of Learned Publishing released

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Two more OAD lists

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

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

Nature's limited encouragement of self-archiving

Stevan Harnad, Nature's Fall from Aside the Angels, Open Access Archivangelism, June 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

Steve Inchcoombe, managing director of Nature Publishing Group writes, of Nature:

"We also support and encourage self-archiving of the author?s final version of accepted articles."

But if you look in the Romeo directory of publisher self-archiving policies, you will find that whereas Nature is indeed among the 92% of journals that have endorsed the immediate self-archiving of the author's unrefereed first draft (the preprint), Nature is not among the 63% of journals that have endorsed the immediate self-archiving of the author's peer-reviewed final draft (the postprint) -- the one that is the real target of OA, and indispensable for research usage and progress.

Nature used to be "green" on the immediate self-archiving of both preprints and postprints, but, taking half of NIH's maximal allowable access embargo as its own minimum in 2005, Nature became one of the few journals that back-slid in 2005 to impose a 6-month embargo on open access to the peer-reviewed final draft.

It doesn't make much difference, because Institutional Repositories still have the almost-OA email eprint request Button to tide over research usage needs during the embargo, but let it not be thought that Nature is still on the "side of the angels" insofar as OA is concerned...

PS:  Also see my own comments on the Inchcoombe interview.

Seoul Declaration calls for OA to publicly-funded research

Civil society organizations participating in the OECD 2008 Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy (Seoul, June 17-18, 2008) have issued the Seoul Declaration (June 16, 2008).  Excerpt:

...The policy goals for the Future Internet Economy should be considered within the broader framework of protection of human rights, the promotion of democratic institutions, access to information, and the provision of affordable and non-discriminatory access to advanced communication networks and services....Economic growth should be for the many and not the few. The Internet should be available to all. We therefore call attention of the OECD to Ministers to the following issues and we make the following recommendations: ....

* Promotion of Access to Knowledge. We support open access to government-funded scientific and scholarly works and endorse the OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data. We support the OECD Recommendation for Enhanced Access and More Effective Use of Public Information. OECD countries should oppose extensions of copyright terms and private ownership of essential knowledge and cultural information that can be made available on the Internet. We recommend that the OECD undertake a study on the importance of copyright exceptions for education, libraries and archives, the disability community, and new innovative services....

PS:  According to Gwen Hinze at EFF (email to the A2K list), the Declaration has already been signed by "EPIC, EFF, EDRi, IRIS, IT4Change, Public Knowledge, APC, and Consumers Korea, Jinbonet, and many individuals."  If it's still open for new signatures, could anyone point me to the web site collecting them?  I'll blog the link here.

Update.  Civil society organizations wishing to sign the declaration should send an email to Katitza Rodriguez Pereda of EPIC at katitz [at]

Update.  Ziga Turk, the Slovenian Minister for Growth, blogged some notes on the declaration from Seoul this morning:

I am still in Seoul where we have just adopted the Seoul declaration. Here are some notes from my intervention on the plenary before the signing: ...

What internet is enabling is many more people to get involved in creative and innovative processes. This type of innovation is called 'open innovation' and for it to work, information and data on which the innovation and creative processes are based, must be made broadly available. One set of such data is scientific data and scientific publications.

This is somehow covered in item b on page 6, bullets 2 and 5 and I would like to understand that it covers open scientific publishing as well. While we support the declaration, I would like to invite the OECD to investigate and continue to make policy recommendations in the future, with regard to the access to scientific publications that are reporting on publicly funded research.

In the near future we will be seeing an intensification of publicly funded research on sustainable development and open access to this research would speed up the dissemination of the technologies to fight climate change....

Update.  My original post linked to the June 16 draft of the declaration, and Turk's post links to the June 18 final edition of the declaration.  Note that the final edition deletes the paragraph in support of OA.  I'd be grateful if anyone could shed light on the maneuvering behind this deletion. 

Update.  There are two Seoul Declarations, one by civil society organizations and one by OECD ministers.  The former still includes the paragraph on OA and the latter (apparently) never did.  Thanks to Sherman Siy of Public Knowledge for this important clarification.

Update.  Also see the article in Mediacaster Magazine.

Update (6/23/08). Also see the blog notes on the declaration from Sherwin Siy, who attended the Seoul conference for Public Knowledge.

Caltech grad students draft a resolution on OA

From the Chair, gscnews, June 2008. (Thanks to George Porter.)
... [T]he [Graduate Student Council] is trying to become more active on your behalf. From conversations with many of you, including our Academics Committee and appointees to the Faculty Library Committee, the first of these resolutions on your behalf is presently being drafted. The subject is open-access, particularly whether or not we, as publishing scientists, should maintain the copyright to our work when we publish. Currently many publishers require a transfer of copyright upon publication, and several professors at the institute simply cross these requirements off the contract when they submit work. However, while faculty can change their contracts and still expect their papers to be published, we graduate students cannot afford to be so cavalier. We are currently considering a resolution in favor of an opt-out policy for such rights maintenance, meaning that graduate students won't have to worry about haggling over the issue with different journals as that role will be filled by our library. Similar steps to protect these copyrights have already been taken by Harvard faculty and the National Institute of Health, along with professional societies in high-energy physics and neuroscience. Please let me know of any concerns you have moving forward with this, and I will relay them to the Faculty Library Committee (in addition to, of course, to the GSC Board of Directors).

I've heard from several of you about our resolution, and many suggestions have already been incorporated. If you feel strongly one way or the other about this or other issues at Caltech, please contact your option representative ...

Dutch philosophy journal converts to OA

Krisis, a 27-year-old peer-reviewed Dutch philosophy journal, converted to OA in January 2008. (Thanks to lilyheart.)

OAI-PMH export for CDS/ISIS databases

Stefka Kaloyanova, et al., Achieving OAI PMH compliancy for CDS/ISIS databases, The Electronic Library 26(3), 2008. Abstract:
Purpose – ... [T]o present the work recently carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with Associazione per la documentazione le biblioteche e gli archivi (DBA) in Italy to make web CDS/ISIS-based applications compliant with the OAI-PMH. CDS/ISIS is an Integrated Storage and Information Retrieval System of Unesco, which is widely used especially in Latin America and Africa. There are hundreds of CDS/ISIS-based application systems managing bibliographical reference...

Design/methodology/approach – The methodology adopted included study, analysis and evaluation of three existing solutions for exposing metadata from the CDS/ISIS database repositories to the OAI framework.

Findings – The implementation did not include the development of automatic procedures for incremental harvesting from CDS/ISIS databases nor the normalization of the harvested data. However, a lot of experience in implementation of OAI was gained which will be useful for future development of non-CDS/ISIS systems.

Research limitations/implications – The research and development work demonstrates the importance and implications of this work for the whole CDS/ISIS community and specifically for the participating centres from the AGRIS network.

Originality/value – It proposes an open source, easily parametrizable plug-in tool, which can be adapted to expose metadata from a general structure CDS/ISIS database using the OAI-PMH protocol. This work assures that semantically rich metadata for agricultural science and research publications based on the “AGRIS Application Profile” can be handled by the OAI protocol. This in turn allows for further creation of additional services based on the exchange of knowledge on agricultural science and technology publications world-wide.

COMMUNIA network seeks new members

COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain, is accepting applications for new network members. See the June 16 post to SPARC-OAForum for details.

New OA journal of optometry

The Journal of Optometry is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Spanish General Council of Optometry. The journal publishes in English, along with Spanish translations of all abstracts and selected full articles. Authors retain copyright of their articles. (Thanks to Dominick Maino.)

OA sources for New Zealand history

A librarian at the University of Auckland has collected a list of OA sources on New Zealand history, posted June 17.

Momentum for OA publication funds

Matthew Cockerill, Growing support for central open access publication funds, BioMed Central Blog, June 16, 2008.

BioMed Central has long argued that institutions can most effectively encourage their researchers to embrace open access publication by setting up central open access funds. Such funds are analagous to the central library budgets that cover the cost of the traditional publication model, and are the best way to ensure that authors are not dissuaded by financial barriers from publishing in open access journals. In recent months, the idea of central open access funds has attracted more and more attention. ...

Last year, BioMed Central helped to organize a satellite workshop at the Association of Research Administrator (ARMA) annual conference on the topic of open access, and how the costs of open access publication could be covered using indirect research funding. This year, a similar session now forms part of the main programme of the 2008 ARMA conference which is taking place in Liverpool, UK from 16-19 June 2008. This year the ARMA conference is being held jointly with the International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS) ...

The US counterpart to ARMA is the Society for Research Administrators (SRA). At the SRA annual meeting, which takes place at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel outside Washington, DC from October 9-13, BioMed Central is again involved in a session focusing on open access publishing from the perspective of a research administrator, with an emphasis on the topic of central open access funds. ...

With mandatory open access policies from all the largest UK biomedical funders, many UK universities are trying to establish how best to administrate funds to cover the cost of open access publishing. For example, the Research Council UK open access policy statement makes clear that institutions can treat open access publication fees as an indirect cost under Full Economic Costing, but it is not necessarily clear how this should be done, in practice.

The recent decision by the UK Research Information Network, together with Universities UK, to set up a working group looking at these issues is therefore very timely. BioMed Central is actively participating in this working group, which aims to develop recommendations and best practices for the channeling of funds towards open access publication fees, and is due to deliver its recommendations later this year. ...

In a recent interview with the Library Journal Academic Newswire, Stuart Shieber, the newly appointed Director of [Harvard University's Office of Scholarly Communication], called attention to the need for central funding for OA publication fees:

Shieber's goal is to see OA journals exist on "equal footing" with subscription-based journals. As of now, he says, they do not, because much of the money that underwrites the services of subscription-based journals comes from libraries while the money that underwrites OA journals comes mostly from author charges. “Authors don’t get underwriting help from the library when they publish in OA journals, while they do from publishing in subscription-based journals," he explains. To put OA and subscription journals on a "level playing field," he suggests, "you'd want to underwrite OA journals just as you do subscription journals."

Monday, June 16, 2008

OA as a transition of power

Jean-Claude Guédon, A Take on Peter Suber's "The Opening of Science and Scholarship".  A new contribution to the Publius Project of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, June 16, 2008 (and a response to my contribution, The opening of science and scholarship).  Excerpt:

There is much to be liked in Peter Suber's piece, but one of the most important facets of his argument certainly lies in his beginning: "Who controls access..?" Indeed, the issue of control is closely related to access. Placing it center stage as Suber does reminds us that power is at stake in the quest for Open Access. Discussing the issue of power is not always appropriate in polite company, but in the case of Open Access, it cannot be avoided....

In listing the advantages of Open Access, Peter Suber brings out characteristics that correspond to the non-contentious meaning of "revolutionary" (and he does not use the word). However, the publishers' resistance to Open Access is not easily understood from this non-confrontational perspective. Only the quest for power can account for their fierce reactions and their intense lobbying efforts, both in Washington and Brussels....

[T]he rise of the internet removed almost all obstacles to copying, including time and cost. To preserve their role (and revenues), publishers felt that the architecture of control inherent in the print world had to be adapted to the digital world. Key elements of the new architecture of control include centralized servers protected by passwords and licensing schemes rather than outright sales. Moreover, publishers want their copy of the scientific or scholarly article to be the reference copy, the only copy that can be cited.

Why do authors submit manuscripts to publishers although they restrict their dissemination so much? Simply because the architecture of control also includes the branding capacity of journals....

To conclude, the deeper phenomenon behind Open Access has to do with the internet itself. The networked, distributed structure of the TCP/IP protocols harbors an architecture of control of its own which challenges other modes of control. These challenges emerge in various fields, for example free software and the distributed production of knowledge as in Wikipedia. It also reveals itself in the ways in which scientists and scholars want to work and recover full control over the mores of their tribe.

In short, Open Access is a wonderful observation platform to study how an old architecture of control unravels and a new one emerges. For this reason, it is important not only in itself, but also as a way to question the unfolding of the digital age and to meditate on its future.

Workshops on wiki skills for education

WikiEducator is hosting a series of online and face-to-face workshops for educators on developing OER content and wiki skills for education. The initiative is called Learning4Content; schedules of upcoming F2F and online workshops are available. (Thanks to Ken Udas.)

Philosophical perspectives on openness

Tom Chance, Open Source City in Liverpool Capital of Culture programme, Tom Chance's website, June 15, 2008.
... I'll be talking about a few philosophical perspectives on intellectual property, using Kant, Locke and Marx as my starting points. Should we follow Richard Stallman in thinking that there is a categorical imperative to share freely? Perhaps the nonrivalrous nature of information means there is a good case to leave it in common rather than seeking private ownership? Or should we be more concerned with the act of creation, the way in which people labour on ideas and information, and encourage spaces in which we can engage in unalienated labour? ...
Update. See also the slides and related links from Chance's presentation.

FAQs about OA

The Open Access Directory (OAD) list of FAQs about OA is now open for community editing.

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

A son's gift: OA to his father's papers

Jonathan Eisen, Freeing My Father's Scientific Publications, The Tree of Life, June 16, 2008.
... [M]y father was a scientist too --- an MD who did research at the NIH ... Given my propensities for putting things on the web and trying to disseminate scientific information, I came up with a plan last night to create some sort of web page in his honor with some information about his work and his life. ...

So, of course, being the obsessed Open Access advocate, the first thing I decided to look at was what publications of my father's I could get my hands on. ...

So - my first step in this journey was to search Pubmed ... I was left with 35 publications in PubMed ... So then I asked - which of these were available online in one way or another. According to Pubmed 24/35 were available online. Of those available online:
  • Pubmed Central: 3
  • Free access: 13
  • Fee access: 8
  • Unavailable: 11
This made me both happy and sad. I was glad to see some of his publications in Pubmed Central ... It was also good to see many available for free, even if this was only at some journals site. ... But I was a bit saddened to see how many of his papers, which are now all over 20 years old, being available only for a fee. And I was also a bit saddened to see how many had not yet made it into the digital world.

So - what to do next? ... [M]y first step was to see if any of the ones that Pubmed did not have links for might be available online anyway. And indeed a few were. ...

So for those 7 that are currently unavailable (at least anywhere I could find) digitally, my next step is to try and lobby the journals to make them available ... although some of the journals seem to not exist anymore ...

My next goal is to see if the "free" access journals have any plans to submit stuff to Pubmed Central. ...

My final initial goal, and probably the most challenging, is to figure out ways to make the papers that are current "fee for access" available for free. ...

So right now, the process is incomplete. I am actually learning a good deal about OA from looking into older papers rather than just all the new papers I tend to focus on. And hopefully in the process I can free up all of my father's papers so that his scientific legacy does not fade away as rapidly due to lack of access. And then next maybe I can focus on my grandfather's publications. ...

Free to some in Africa, but not OA

The International African Institute and Edinburgh University Press have announced that their journal Africa: Journal of the International African Institute will be available free to libraries and non-profit research and educational institutions in some countries in Africa. (Thanks to Electronic Publishing Trust for Development.)
...This development comes at a time where electronic publishing and dissemination is offering opportunities to break with conventional models of research dissemination. Yet the African continent suffers lack of visibility for research output, and a chronic lack of financial resources in higher education and research institutions, including for journals subscriptions. Research seldom crosses borders within the continent, and there is a North-South divide in access to scholarly research and publication outlets.

By opening the journal up to institutions in Africa, the institute is fulfilling its historic mission and highest priority to promote access to African research and publication internationally. We hope to widen our readership in the continent, and encourage more contributions from African scholars. ...

New beta release of Fedora available

Fedora 3.0 Beta 2 has been released. The new version
introduces the Content Model Architecture, a powerful ... integrated structure for persisting and delivering the essential characteristics of digital objects in Fedora while simplifying its use.
The developers are requesting feedback from beta testers.

Latest additions to DOAJ: 12 new entries

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

More on Madrid's OA policy

First Spanish Open Access explicit policy, DRIVER, June 12, 2008.
The Autonomous Community Government of Madrid has established the first open access policy, regarding their funding of research projects and requiring the deposit of their results in the available open access repositories of the "e-ciencia" [e-science] platform which includes all public universities of Madrid, the Spanish Research Council and UNED [National Distance Education University].

Already the Spanish Research Council and one of the Universities, "University Rey Juan Carlos I" have adopted, as mandate, such a recommendation. It is hoped that the rest of the public universities of Madrid and UNED will follow soon.
Comment. The language here is still ambiguous (is it a "requirement" or a "recommendation"?), but this provides a bit more information than what we previously knew about this policy (which was in Spanish only).

STM on copyright limitations & exceptions

The International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers has released a position paper on limitations & exceptions to copyright.
... The public interest of research and education is best served by encouraging the creation of new publications and information services with [education and research] audiences and markets in mind. For example, journal articles, academic treatises and textbooks are published by STM publishers for the very purpose of contributing to scholarly communication and education. Libraries for non-commercial research or non- commercial educational institutions are the primary purchasers of (or licensees for) STM publisher materials and services. Offering publications and information services to these non-commercial communities, eg by way of subscription or individual journal article supply, is the very essence of “normal exploitation” which must be left free of exceptions that prejudice the legitimate interests of rights-holders unreasonably.

Further, STM publishers have embraced digital technology and offer much of their material online or in digital form (almost all journal and database content, and an increasingly large number of books) and provide online services such as individual article purchase and access. Publishers have entered the digital environment, recognising both the new opportunities for distribution it presents, and also the significant risk for widespread unauthorised downloading.

STM publishers are also actively engaged with other agents and distributors to distribute or provide access to or copies of such materials. ...
Comment. The paper goes on to discuss specific topics such as course packs, archiving, orphan works, and inter-library loan.

L&E's aren't OA, but they do offer the opportunity to reduce barriers to access and use (see, e.g., fair use). The position paper is also noteworthy because much of STM's rhetoric is identical to its positions on OA: that publishers are rightful rightsholders, that they provide useful services to the research and education communities, that their profit motive should be considered in the interest of research and education, etc.

See also Heather Morrison's comments on the paper:
... One of the disturbing elements of the STM statement is its complete lack of recognition of authors, as well as other contributors to scholarly publishing. ...

Libraries should post this prominently on their scholarly communications websites. When scholars are giving away their copyright, they should be aware of who they are giving it to.
See also past OAN posts on limitations and exceptions (1 and 2), as well as the post on OA as balance to copyright control.

Heather Morrison on the cost of embargoes

Heather Morrison made two posts on the subject of self-archiving embargoes to her blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, on June 14, 2008:
  • Knowledge, Now! Or why we cannot afford embargoes:
    ... We humans have other problems to resolve, and we need to figure them out quickly. One is global warming. Figuring out how to slow or reverse the trend is an urgent need. We need to find environmentally friendly ways of producing and consuming energy, and the sooner the better. In our globalized world, we need to learn how to live together in peace.

    It is understandable that publishers accustomed to a subscriptions approach to disseminating information worry about whether open access will impact their revenues ...

    However, we cannot afford embargoes. The point of scholarly research is advancing knowledge. In the course of pursuing knowledge, money is spent. Some will profit by this, whether they sell laboratory equipment, or publish the results of research. This is a fine thing, but it is not the point. If the lab finds a better way of doing research and no longer needs to purchase an outdated piece of equipment, would we say that the lab must continue doing research the old way, to keep the equipment-makers in profits? Of course not!
  • Put yourself in the patient's shoes: no embargoes to medical research:
    ... For anyone considering whether an embargo period on open access is fair, or how long an embargo period is fair, please put yourself in the patient's shoes.

    Imagine that you are in your own living room, talking with your loved one who has just received a diagnosis of a terminal or very serious illness, that cannot be treated with yesterday's treatments.

    If a new treatment or cure is made possible with money paid for by your tax dollars, how long do you think you, your loved one and your health care providers should wait to read the results?

    If a new line of research has opened up that shows some promise of a new treatment, how long should we hold off on making the results available to all researchers so that everyone available and interested can build on what has been done, and advance our knowledge towards the cure? ...

OA to UK surgical death rates, with restrictions

Michael Cross, NHS plans to reveal surgeons' deathrates online, The Guardian, June 12, 2008. (See also the accompanying post on the Free Our Data blog.)

... From next year, the NHS Choices website will reveal the deathrates of patients undergoing major surgery at NHS hospitals in England. The data will reveal which surgeons are most likely to have patients die under their knives. ...

[W]hile the strategy enthuses about the power of information in the new web world, it makes no mention of allowing re-use in mashups and commercial ventures. The site's terms and conditions themselves suggest such use is out of bounds: "For your own personal non-commercial use you may copy, download, adapt or print off copies of the materials, information, data and other content included on NHS Choices ('NHS Choices content'). You will need to obtain permission in writing from us before you make any other use of NHS Choices content."

NHS Scotland, which in 2006 set a precedent by revealing statistics, has similar conditions. Its copyright notice allows information to be reproduced for use within NHS Scotland or educational purposes, but not by commercial organisations.

While there is no sign of anyone wanting to re-use surgeons' mortality data in commercial or other products, the NHS's policy appears at odds with the government's commitment to last summer's Power of Information review, which called on public bodies to allow free re-use of data. ...

Extracting geodata from PDFs

Roderic Page, From PDFs to Google Earth, iPhylo, June 13, 2008.
I've added a service to bioGUID that takes a PDF and attempts to extract latitude and longitude data ... returning those co-ordinates in either a Google Earth KML file, or in JSON format. ...

To see what it can do, try this URL to get a list of localities in the paper Description of eight new species of shrub frogs (Ranidae: Rhacophorinae: Philautus) from Sri Lanka.

Then try this one to get the KML file, and open it in Google Earth. The service uses a bunch of regular expressions to try and extract latitude and longitude pairs from the text ...

The ultimate aim is to assemble a bunch of Open Access PDFs (say, from Zootaxa), run them through this service, then display the result on Google Earth. Think of it as a geography of taxonomy. ... portal expands

Joab Jackson, DOE expands global science portal, Government Computer News, June 12, 2008. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
An international science portal co-created by the Energy Department has expanded its scope to include connections to databases and scientific Web sites from more than 44 countries, Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information announced today.

The portal, called, allows users to query more than 200 million science and technology documents not typically indexed by popular search engines. When it debuted in June 2007, it linked to 12 databases from 10 countries.

The newly expanded service now includes 32 national scientific databases and links to portals from 44 countries. ...
See also our past posts on

Update. See also the announcements from and

Update. See also the announcement from the British Library.

Update. See also the blog post from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

DRIVER software released

Version 1.0 of the DRIVER software infrastructure, D-NET, has been released.

Update. Also see the press release, November 12, 2008.

More on how OA supports metrics (and metrics support OA)

Stevan Harnad, Citation Statistics: International Mathematical Union Report, Open Access Archivangelism, June 15, 2008. 

Summary:  The IMU's cautions are welcome: Research metrics do need to be validated; they need to be multiple, rather than a single, unidimensional index; they need to be separately validated for each discipline, and the weights on the multiple metrics need to be calibrated and adjusted both for the discipline being assessed and for the properties on which it is being ranked. The RAE 2008 database provides the ideal opportunity to do all this discipline-specific validation and calibration, because it is providing parallel data from both peer panel rankings and metrics. The metrics, however, should be as rich and diverse as possible, to capitalize on this unique opportunity for joint validation. Open Access not only provides more metrics, but it increases them, as well as providing open safeguards against manipulation and misuse.

Connecting OA repositories and grid computing

OGF-Europe Connects Developers, Users of Digital Repositories, GRID Today, June 16, 2008.  A report on the 23rd Open Grid Forum (Barcelona, June 2-6, 2008).  Excerpt:

Researchers increasingly depend on open access to information as amounts of data increases exponentially. Digital Repositories (DR) enable access to the new knowledge base and encourages use of scientific content in a standardized, open way. As scientific research groups show signs of increased adoption, government agencies and other sectors such as the humanities are starting to plug into such repositories....

The OGF-Europe Community Outreach Seminar at OGF23 explored DRs from diverse perspectives, bringing valuable insight into domain requirements, user case studies and best practices. Special emphasis was placed on best practices, interoperability, standardization and funding for such repositories....

Metadata, audit trails (provenance), versioning, data life cycle have been largely discarded by the community because they have been viewed to be too domain specific, whereas a number of communities actually share the same requirements. This gap could be bridged if universal terms of reference were used by the various communities to enable them to meet on a common ground....

Several talks demonstrated the value of grid for DRs but how they can benefit from the computational grid remains an open question. Some examples cited include large-scale migration efforts, analysis of primary data managed by repositories, linking publications and primary data and workflows, though these examples should be backed up with fully-fledged use cases. Systems stemming from the grid community are increasingly providing some repository functionality, such as gCube, the D4Science project, and iRODS, while repository systems are assuming "grid-like" functionalities, with Fedora performing journaling and making plans for replication....

However, one message is clear: it is vital that for DRs to flourish, they must contain reliable information, be sensitive to user-community needs and be interoperable. ?This is a hugely important area that is only going to become more important as time goes on....

More on OA repositories

Jeremy Gardner, Open Access and Institutional Repositories: Issues in Todays Digital Libraries.  Self-archived June 16, 2008.  It looks like a student paper for LIS 505 at the University of Buffalo, taught by Christopher Brown-Syed.  Excerpt:

...This paper aims to examine some of the current literature on the open access movement; specifically, its relationship with academic journals. This paper will also look at the issue of institutional repositories and its relationship to the OA movement....

New digital collection of HBCU history

HBCU Libraries Launch Online History Collection, Library Journal Academic Newswire, June 12, 2008.
The first digital collection of documents and materials chronicling the founding of America’s historically Black colleges and universities is now available online. The project, entitled A Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of the Historically Black College and University, was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and represents “the first collaborative effort by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) libraries to make a historical collection digitally available.” It includes more than 1000 scanned photographs, manuscripts, letters, and publications from ten institutions designated as Historically Black.

The online collection, the product of a partnership between the HBCU Library Alliance, HBCU institutions, the Southeastern Library Network, and Cornell University, is hosted by the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. Its rich content dates back to the early 1800s, and includes campus charters, student yearbooks, early campus architectural drawings, and an assortment of photographs ranging from portraits of first presidents, to graduating classes, famous alumni, and churches ...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An era of public knowledge

John Willinsky, Might the Age of Information Graduate into an Era of Public Knowledge?  A new contribution to the Publius Project of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, June 13, 2008 (and a response to my contribution, The opening of science and scholarship).  Excerpt: 

...Today, with the advent of networked information systems facilitating global collaboration, a good deal of knowledge is being hammered out and openly shared online today. It is tempting, at this early stage, to imagine that the openness of this knowledge is contributing to the educational and democratic quality of our lives and, in this optimistic and perhaps naive vein, to look for ways of supporting its development....

[W]hat distinguishes today?s information flow in a more promising way is how people are coming online to discover, read, review, revise, instruct, and comment. It is like a massive second wave of the public library movement that swept large and small communities more than a century ago, only this time with annotation, commentary and marginal notes invited. Pundits may decry the ineptness to be found in much of it, but I come at this as an educator. Teachers work hard to foster just such engagement, interpretation, and judgment because it speaks to an educated sensibility and concern. It speaks to a democratic exuberance that will take some getting used to, much as did the idea of teaching every child to read and write, as a human right....

What, then, of the scholarly publishers? fears that this open access approach to scholarship threatens the viability of the peer-review journal? ...

In appears that there is more than enough money on the table to make all that is published freely and universally available. I say more than enough, because studies by Ted Bergstrom show that in economics the scholarly societies are publishing the highest quality journals for a fifth of the cost (on a per-page basis) of the corporate publishers who currently hold a majority of the titles in this field....

Libraries, IRs, and OA to data

Research data takes centre stage at Edinburgh conference, JISC, June 12, 2008.
The management and preservation of research data moved centre stage at the [Society of College, National and University Libraries] conference in Edinburgh today. The annual gathering of senior librarians heard from a number of speakers about the information needs of the research community and in particular the role of libraries in managing the increasing amounts of research data being created. ...

[JISC Executive Secretary Malcolm Read said] that there was a growing recognition that a journal article divorced from the data on which it was based was ‘incomplete’; the quality of research is improved when linked to data’, he said, which was why the question of research data and institutional repositories was such an important one and why it impacted on the quality and reputation of UK research.

But there are, he suggested, a number of questions to be dealt with: ‘Who owns the data; how do you select what is worth proving; which resources should be open access, how much will it cost, and so on’. ...

Another key issue is that of interoperability, he said, in order to exploit the opportunities for inter-disciplinary research. So repositories needed to be built according to standards, and JISC is, he said, investing in such activities ...

[Jean Sykes, Librarian at the London School of Economics said] [t]here was a considerable demand for storage of research data ... and a 360% growth in anticipated data volumes over the next three years.

The UK Research Data Service, the result of a collaboration between ... more than 40 stakeholders, would attempt to help tackle this issue, she said. ...

New archive of dinosaur papers

The Theropod Archives is a collection of papers and citations (where no OA version is available) of articles about theropods. The site launched on May 29, 2008. (Thanks to Brian Switek and Judy Breck.)

Comment. One common argument dismissing OA is that few outside of academia have any interest in reading academic papers. It's interesting to note, then, that this collection of papers -- meticulously assembled and cited -- was prepared not by professional researchers, but by an amateur. I don't know whether this site would be valuable to a professional researcher, but it would clearly be a good starting place for an interested amateur, and access to these articles has clearly been meaningful to the archivist. As I've argued previously, that OA facilitates personal enrichment and lifelong learning is an argument in its favor -- especially at a time when scientific literacy is at a social premium.

More on OA to case law

Daniel Fisher, The Law Goes Open Source, Forbes, June 2008. (Thanks to Legal Research Plus.)

[... Fastcase] uses computer algorithms to perform all the case indexing now done by the thousands of human editors at Westlaw and Lexis. Operating out of a slightly seedy Washington office building, Fastcase brings in less than $10 million a year in revenue, hardly a threat to the Wexis duopoly, which last year roughly split a combined $1.6 billion in pretax profit on sales of $6.5 billion.

Disruption is in the air, however. Fastcase sells bulk memberships to state bar associations for as little as $2 per member per year, a compelling reason for law firms to at least try it out. Just as cheap personal computers undermined the mainframe business in the 1980s and open-source programs like Linux and Mysql are challenging Microsoft and Oracle today, outfits like Fastcase are attacking Wexis' stranglehold on legal research from the bottom up.

A mix of for-profit and not-for-profit firms have missions similar to Fastcase's, including PreCydent, and Collexis Holdings' Casemaker division. They are assembling a digital version of the collections that fill miles of shelves at law libraries across the country. ...

Introduction to self-archiving

Tomas Lund?n, Publishing in Open Archives, Open Access Information, June 15, 2008.  Nothing new here for readers of OAN, but it's a useful overview for others.  If you suggest it to colleagues who are new to the topic, follow up with Stevan Harnad's Self-Archiving FAQ.

Update.  Also see J?rgen Eriksson and Aina Svensson's similar piece at the same site, Introduction and Background to Open Access Journals.

Need for green OA regardless of cost of gold OA

Stevan Harnad, Journal Affordability, Research Accessibility, and Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, June 14, 2008.  Excerpt:

Poynder, Richard (2008) Open Access: Doing the Numbers. Open and Shut. Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Excerpt: "Can OA reduce the costs associated with scholarly communication? If so, how, and when? If not, what are the implications of this for the "scholarly communication crisis?" These are important questions. But without accurate numbers to crunch we really cannot answer them adequately. Wouldn't it be great therefore if other publishers decided to be as "open" as APS in discussing their costs? One thing is for sure: If OA ends up simply shifting the cost of scholarly communication from journal subscriptions to APCs without any reduction in overall expenditure, and inflation continues unabated, many OA advocates will be sorely disappointed..."

Richard Poynder has written another of his penetrating, timely and incisive analyses of the causal dynamics underlying the OA movement. His relentless probing is invaluable. Nor is it anodyne neutral journalism that he keeps offering us: Richard is engaged and thinking deeply, and causing more than one uncomfortable moment to both proponents and opponents of OA....

As usual, though, I cannot agree 100% with everything Richard writes..., this time on the true costs of journal article publishing. My demurral is on two points: (1) whether the question of the true costs of the various components of journal publication (which I too have cited, as an important unknown, many times in the past) needs to be answered right now (i.e., whether any practical action today is in any way contingent on knowing those costs in advance -- I think not) and (2) whether reducing the costs of journal publication is or ought to be one of the explicit objectives of the OA movement. (I think journal unaffordability is merely one of the two principal factors that drew the research community's attention to the need for OA. Journal cost reduction is not itself the explicit objective of OA.)

The need for Open Access (OA) is driven by two problems: (i) journal affordability and (ii) research accessibility -- in other words, spending less money and accessing more research. Richard Poynder points out in his essay that it is not known whether or not universal Gold OA publishing would save money.

But OA is not the same thing as Gold OA publishing. (Richard is of course fully aware of this.) Once universally adopted, Green OA self-archiving and Green OA self-archiving mandates can and will (and do) provide 100% OA, solving the research accessibility problem, completely....

The rest, in contrast, is all a matter of pre-emptive (and paralytic) speculation and counter-speculation: Can-we, could-we should-we reach 100% OA directly via Gold OA alone? Would it save money? Would it make publishing unaffordable to some in place of making research inaccessible to others? Would Green OA give rise to Gold OA (and the above hypothetical problems)? Or would it lower the costs of publishing?

No one knows the answer to these (and many other) questions about hypothetical contingencies regarding universal Gold OA and its hypothetical costs. The only thing we do know is that Green OA, if all universities mandate it and all researchers do it, will provide OA itself, solving the research accessibility problem completely. And that is all we need to know. The rest is about what we need to do....

Providing and mandating Green OA is a no-brainer, like providing and mandating seat-belts, or smoke-free zones. It is obvious in the latter two cases that speculating instead about hypothetical economic effects on the tobacco or car-manufacturing industry instead of doing the obvious would be absurd....

Launch of LiquidPub

The Institut Jean Nicod in Paris officially launched the LiquidPub project on June 1, 2008.  From the project home page:

The world of scientific publications has been largely oblivious to the advent of the Web and to advances in ICT. Even more surprisingly, this is the case even for research in the ICT area: ICT researchers have been able to exploit the Web to improve the (production) process in almost all areas, but not their own. We are producing scientific knowledge (and publications in particular) essentially following the very same approach we followed before the Web. Scientific knowledge dissemination is still based on the traditional notion of ?paper? publication and on peer review as quality assessment method. The current approach encourages authors to write many (possibly incremental) papers to get more ?tokens of credit?, generating often unnecessary dissemination overhead for themselves and for the community of reviewers. Furthermore, it does not encourage or support reuse and evolution of publications....

The Liquid Publications community proposes a paradigm shift in the way scientific knowledge is created, disseminated, evaluated and maintained. This shift is enabled by the notion of Liquid Publications, which are evolutionary, collaborative, and composable scientific contributions. Many Liquid Publication concepts are based on a parallel between scientific knowledge artifacts and software artifacts, and hence on lessons learned in (agile, collaborative, open source) software development, as well as on lessons learned from Web 2.0 in terms of collaborative evaluation of knowledge artifacts.

The main concepts are illustrated in the papers [at the LiquidPub web site]....

In a nutshell, the approach proposes the following ideas and contributions:

1. It introduces the notion of Liquid Publications (and, analogously, Liquid Textbooks) as evolutionary, collaborative, multi-faceted knowledge objects that can be composed and consumed at different levels of detail.

2. It abstracts (and replaces) the notions of journals and conferences into collections, which are groupings of publications that can be based on topic and time but also on arbitrary rules in terms of what is included and how the quality of publications is assessed for them to be included in the collection. Collections can themselves be liquid. We believe that journals as they are conceived today (a periodic snapshot of papers on a given topic, selected by a restricted group of experts and based on submissions) will soon become obsolete both in their printed and electronic forms.

3. It proposes a radically different evaluation method for publications and for authors....The method also encourages early dissemination of innovative results....

Although the change advocated here is dramatic, the transition is not....

PS:  Note that LiquidPub is looking for a post-doc.

Update.  Institute Jean Nicod is only one of four institutions collaborating on LiquidPub.  The three principal investigators for the project are all from the University of Trento.  (Thanks to Jim Law, at Trento, for the correction.)