Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Materials science journal converts to no-fee OA

After seven years of TA publishing, Science and Technology of Advanced Materials converted to no-fee OA with its January-March issue.  From Teruo Kishi's editorial in that issue:

Welcome to the first issue of the new-look Science and Technology of Advanced Materials (STAM) journal which is being published by [Japan's] National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in partnership with IOP Publishing.

STAM is sponsored by NIMS and is a web-based, open-access source of the latest information on international developments in materials science. The contents are free to read, there is an 'author friendly' copyright policy, and there are no publication charges. [The costs are covered by NIMS.]  By employing this publication model, NIMS hopes to contribute to the research activities of materials scientists worldwide....

Further, to give greater worldwide visibility to our authors, we will distribute copies of the journal free of charge at international conferences and the STAM website will feature regularly updated news and research summaries of important developments....

List of data repositories

The Open Access Directory (OAD) list of Data repositories is now open for community editing.

OAD is a wiki, and you can help the cause by adding or revising entries to its lists.


Friday, July 04, 2008

BMJ adopts continuous publishing

This week BMJ started publishing its articles online as soon as they are ready.  (All research articles in BMJ are OA.)  For details, see the BMJ FAQ.

Case study of the OA Journal of Maps

Mike J. Smith, Open Access Journal Publication: Implementation, Copyright and Dissemination, Using the Journal of Maps as a Case Study, forthcoming in the proceedings from Digital Mapping Techniques '07, Columbia, South Carolina, May 20-23, 2007.  Excerpt:

...This article explores the broad implementation of OA journals, issues pertaining to copyright and the distribution of (geospatial) research data....

The Journal of Maps was established against the backdrop of a perceived decline in the publication of research based maps. With the movement of print published journals towards a standardised A4 copy format, large maps are not easily publishable. The inclusion of “inserts” (folded or stitched) into journals appears to have declined over the last century and, with the high cost of colour printing, there is an apparent decline in research map publication. Maps are also rarely seen as a research goal in their own right, with the focus of journal publication often upon the communication of research results. JoM was therefore founded as a charity with the specific remit of publishing research maps....

Publisher business models using CC licenses

John Buckman, Short film about Creative Commons Business Models, buckman's magnatune blog, June 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

Frances Pinter and David Percy have made an excellent documentary film about business models in the publishing world that use Creative Commons licenses.

Frances has been heading a CC-based publishing project in Africa. It is the Publishing and Alternative Licensing Model of Africa (PALM Africa), is based in Uganda, and South Africa, and she tells me the Ugunda project is going especially well. She also tells me she'll be soon expanding this idea into other publishing spheres, which is very exciting.

Percy is an award-winning film-maker, and so the production quality of the film is quite high. The film is 30 minutes long, with three 10 minute interviews (to fit into Youtube's ten minute max)....

The three 10 minute interviews are with John Buckman, Tom Reynolds, and Timo Hannay.  Here's the full 30 minute video.

Notes from Edinburgh on data sharing

Stéphane Goldstein has blogged some notes on the eScience Institute workshop, Data Sharing in the Biosciences : a sociological perspective (Edinburgh, June 26, 2008).  Excerpt:

...[T]here wasn't quite as much sociology as I expected, but the discussion provided lots of insights into varied practices regarding the management and sharing of data, and the cultural factors that  underpin this.

In this vein, the meeting explored the relationship between research culture and technology. It was attended by about 25 participants from various perspectives:
biomedical researchers (biologists, geneticists and proteomicists especially), sociologists, bioinformaticians, research funders... There were presentations highlighting data sharing practices in genetics and proteomics, citing examples from the RNAi Global Consortium and the European Bioinformatics Institute. I was particularly interested in a talk from Sabina Leonelli, from the London School of Economics, who pointed to the tensions that make the effective sharing of data so challenging; for instance, behavioural tensions between protectionism and the need to share resources with regard to dissemination, and the different sorts of tensions between the stability of classification categories and the dynamism/diversity of research practices.

It was also keen to take part in the session that covered the issue of rewards and incentives for researchers who create and disseminate data (a key issue, incidentally, in the RIN's recent report on publication and quality assurance of research data outputs). There was an understandable consensus that data are an important research output in their own right, but that conventional methods of reward and recognition do not properly address data creation. There was less agreement, however, about the best means of incentivising researchers: carrot or stick? One way or the other, the role of research funders is crucial....

Effect of online access on researcher behavior

Arthur Eger, Database statistics applied to investigate the effects of electronic information services on publication of academic research – a comparative study covering Austria, Germany and Switzerland, GMS Medizin - Bibliothek - Information, June 26, 2008.  (Thanks to MedInfo.)

Abstract:   In this study, estimations of the effects of electronic information services on academic research as made in 2004, are confronted with the actual situation. For this purpose database statistics on session length per user session, the role of “Referrers” and number of Full Text Articles requested per user session are analysed. The effect of a larger content offering is studied by analysing the relationship between subscribed titles and Full Text Articles requested. Finally a possible relationship between R&D spend, subscription spend and article publication is sought. This study found that time spent on Browse/scan and Search is increasing, possibly caused by a broader penetration amongst less trained users. This study further clearly showed that a larger content offering coincides with a dramatic increase in Full Text Article requests, and an increase in Full Text Article requests, after about 2 years, coincides with increased article publication.

From the body of the paper:

This study further clearly showed...that the contribution of Back File material to the total number of Full Text Article requests is modest.

Comment.  I see two implications for OA:

  1. When users have more online content accessible to them (whether OA or pre-paid by their institution), they click through for full-text "dramatically" more often, showing a rough correlation between breadth of access and research productivity and depth.
  2. Demand for older articles is "modest" compared to demand for new ones, showing that publishers do not need lengthy embargo periods before releasing their backfiles to OA.  Eger's data don't show how short an embargo period period could be for a given journal.  But in estimating the shortest viable length for an embargo, remember that we're not looking for the moment when the demand reduces to zero, but for the moment when the benefits to the journal from offering OA to the backfile (visibility, usage, and citation impact) outweigh the loss of income from access fees.

The compelling argument for OA to Indian research

'Open access can vastly help Indian science', India PR Wire, July 4, 2008.  Excerpt:

Can India make the most out of its investments in scientific research to spur its growth and promote domestic talent through the Open Access route, a global expert in the field says.

India could easily make its scientific research widely accessible for greater impact at very low costs, thus helping take its research forward, Open Access proponent Steven Harnad has said....

His comments came in the respected Bangalore-based Current Science journal, widely influential among the scientific community....

'There are plenty of institutional repositories in India, and they are cheap to create because the software is free. But they are mostly empty, because self-archiving has not been mandated,' Harnad contended....

Proponents of Open Access argue that prices of scholarly journals have risen sharply, particularly over the last decade. So, most universities, also in the affluent West, can no longer afford subscriptions to all of the journals that their academics need....

Harnad argued that universities, research institutions and research fund providers 'the world over' are at last beginning to require researchers to deposit on-line drafts of articles for their peer-reviewed journals in their institutional repositories.

Such deposits of academic journals would not result in costs or copyright issues, he noted.

This, he suggested, would make available all of India's research output to the rest of the world, and, in exchange, India would have open access to 'the research output of the rest of the world'.

Current Science had recently suggested in an editorial that Indian academic institutions are finding it 'exceedingly expensive' to have a well-stocked library of science journals.

The editorial termed the pro-Open Access argument 'compelling', saying it was a 'new wind' blowing over the 'turbulent world of science publishing'....

CommentApparently Stevan's piece isn't yet online.  The most recent issue of Current Science online is from June 25.  See the update below.

Update.  Stevan's piece was published in the May 25 issue:   How India can provide immediate open access now.  (Thanks to D.K. Sahu.)  It's a letter to the editor responding to the editorial of P. Balaram in the April 10 issue.   (Also see my comment on Balaram's editorial.)  From Stevan's letter: 

Balaram’s editorial devotes most of its space to the problem on research accessibility and usage being restricted by costs and copyright. It briefly mentions, but does not clearly explain the simple, proven solution: mandated self-archiving....

Universities, research institutions and research funders the world over are at last beginning to require researchers to deposit on-line drafts of their peer-reviewed journal articles in their IRs. Deposit itself is neither a cost nor a copyright issue, nor is it complicated. All institutions and funders need to mandate deposit of the final refereed electronic draft, the ‘postprint’, immediately upon acceptance for publication.

Sixty-two per cent of journals are already ‘green’: they have already formally endorsed making the postprints open access (OA) immediately upon deposit. For the remaining 38% of journals that embargo access, the postprints can be deposited as closed access, and the IRs have a button that allows users worldwide to semi-automatically request a postprint and authors to semi-automatically provide a single copy to the requester with one keystroke....

Journal cost-recovery models and copyright policy are irrelevant [to OA archiving]....

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another book on OA

Barbara Malina (ed.), Open Access Opportunities and Challenges:  A Handbook, the German UNESCO Commission, July 2008.  A 144 pp. collection of articles on OA by 38 authors.  (Thanks to Napoleon Miradon.)

This is an English translation of Open Access: Chancen und Herausforderungen - ein Handbuch, which the German UNESCO Commission published on June 6, 2007.

PS:  The German edition includes a short section by me on OA in the US, an abridgement of my longer piece in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos, 2006.  The English edition includes an abridgement and update (as of September 2007) of the same longer piece. 

Comment.  Also see Canessa and Zennaro's Science Dissemination using Open Access, which I blogged this morning.  That makes two books on OA in one day.  If you count Kylie Pappalardo's Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment:  A Guide for Authors, which I blogged on Tuesday, then that's three books on OA in three days.


Student projects on OA

The final projects from Heather Morrison's course on open access (University of British Columbia, Spring 2008)  are now online.  Heather says the projects include "subject guides to open access resources for the environment, chemistry, environmental and occupational health, HIV/AIDS, Media Studies, a tutorial on preservation issues, and a draft research projects on OA mandates."

OA monographs from Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Hybrides Publizieren: Gemeinschaftsprojekt von Verlag und Bibliothek der Bauhaus-Universität, a press release from Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, July 1, 2008.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read the press release in German or Google's English.

At Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, the press and library are working together to publish a series of dual-edition (OA/TA) monographs, and just published their first title, Die Realität des Imaginären

New book on OA

E. Canessa and M. Zennaro (eds.), Science Dissemination using Open Access, a new book published under a CC-NC-ND license by the Science Dissemination Unit of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, July 2008.

The book knits together pieces from many sources into a single narrative.  (Disclosure:  some of the pieces are mine.)  It's available as a downloadable PDF (4.74 MB, 196 pp.) or an online edition in an ebook viewer with turning pages.

From today's announcement:

The book is a compendium of selected literature on Open Access, both on the technical and organizational levels, and was written in an effort to guide the scientific community on the requirements of Open Access, and the plethora of low-cost solutions available. The book also aims to encourage decision makers in academia and research centers to adopt institutional and regional Open Access Journals and Archives to make their own scientific results public and fully searchable on the Internet. Discussions on open publishing via Academic Webcasting are also included.

The book is an effort by ICTP-SDU (Italy) in collaboration with CERN (Switzerland) enabled by the support of INASP (UK).


Milestone for the E-LIS repository

E-LIS has passed the milestone of 8,000 deposited documents.  (Thanks to Andrew Waller.)

New communication channels for biology

Videos of the presentations at New Communication Channels for Biology (San Diego, June 26-27, 2008) are now online.  (Thanks to Bora Zivkovic.)

Research repository systems

Chris Rusbridge, Research Repository System persistent storage, Digital Curation Blog, July 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

This is the seventh and last of a series of posts aiming to expand on the idea of the negative click, positive value repository, which I'm now calling a Research Repository System. I've suggested it should contain these elements:

At a very basic level, the RRS should provide a Persistent Storage service. Completely agnostic as to objects, Persistent Storage would provide a personal, or group-oriented (ie within the institution) or project-oriented (ie beyond the institution) storage service that is properly backed up. There’s no claim that Persistent Storage would last for ever, but it must last beyond the next power spike, virus infection or laptop loss! ...Conversely (and this isn’t easy), there must be reliable ways of taking parts of it with you when away from base, so synchronisation with laptops or remote computers is essential. It should support anything: data, documents, ancillary objects, databases, whatever you need. It’s possible that “cloud computing” eg Amazon S3, the Carmen Cloud or other GRID services might be appropriate....

Some spinoffs you should get from your RRS would include persistent elements for your personal, department, group or project web pages (even the pages themselves). It should provide support for your CV, eg elements of your bibliography, project history, etc. It will provide you and your group with persistent end-points to link to. And your institution will benefit, first from the fact that it is supporting its researchers in curating their data and supporting verifiability of publication, and also benefiting from the research disclosure aspects.

I guess that just about wraps it up. So who's going to build one?

PS:  For background, see Rusbridge's original post on negative click repositories and some of the buzz it generated.

Update (8/5/08). Chris has summarized the responses to his idea.

Macquarie VC preparing to propose OA mandate

Steven Schwartz, Open Access: what do you think?  Macquarie University Vice Chancellor's Office, July 3, 2008.  Schwartz is the Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University.  Excerpt:

I am thinking about bringing a paper to the Macquarie University Senate on Open Access, the subject of an earlier blog.

A draft of this paper appears below. I would like your feedback. Have I missed anything? Can the paper be improved?

For more information on Open Access, you might like to consult this guide.

DRAFT - Open Access at Macquarie

Scholarly research is one of Macquarie’s most important contributions to society. As academics, we all have an interest in disseminating our work to the widest possible audience....

It is time for Macquarie University to join the ranks of a growing number of universities worldwide as well as a growing number of funding councils (ARC, NIH, ERC) to mandate that our refereed research output be deposited (“self-archived”) in Macquarie University’s Institutional Repository.

At a minimum, the mandate will only require us to deposit our refereed, revised, final drafts in the Macquarie repository immediately after its acceptance for publication. The electronic copy will provide a record of our research and can be used for government audits, promotions, report generation, grant applications as well as other purposes. In other words, no other data collection will be necessary; no other tiresome forms will need to be completed.

Depositing an article in the repository is not the same as making it accessible to scholars around the world. Articles in the repository will not be automatically accessible to outsiders. The author will determine who has access. This is necessary because some journals have policies that prohibit open access (in some cases, only for an embargo period) and academics need to be flexible in what they make available. Thus, for articles published in journals that do not yet endorse Open Access, or who impose an embargo, access to the deposit can be set as Closed Access permanently or for the length of the embargo. Under Closed Access, only the author has access to the full text. The metadata (author, title, date, journal name, and so on) will still be visible to all users webwide.

In practice, journal policies may not prove to be a major problem. The great majority of scholarly journals do not object to making authors’ self-archived papers “Open Access” immediately. (For a database summarising the policies of most journals, see here). Note, however, that some journals only make the Open Access option available on authors’ request.

For those who wish to fulfill user needs during the Closed Access embargo period, the Macquarie repository will have an “Eprint Request” button. Anyone webwide can press the button to send an automatic Eprint request to the author. The author can click to send one individual Eprint to the requester. Researchers have used this practice for many years, originally with paper reprints. (To see how this works, see here.) ...

To make our scholarly work available to all scholars including those in developing countries and those without access to expensive library subscriptions, and to ensure that the University has a record of its scholarly output, Senate resolves to recommend that Council:

1. mandates that all refereed, revised, final draft manuscripts be deposited in the Macquarie repository after its acceptance for publication;

2. mandates that all journal article manuscripts be deposited in the repository but monographs will be self-archived at authors’ discretion;

3. requires that, where permissible, manuscripts be made Open Access, available to anyone on the web; and

4. permit, where necessary because of journal policy, or the author requests, manuscripts to be made Closed Access until dissemination is permitted.


  • If adopted, this would be one of the strongest university policies anywhere.  I especially applaud its mandatory language, the dual deposit/release strategy or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access, and the use of an email request button for manuscripts during the period after deposit and before OA release.  I also like the way it offers no opt-out for deposit, and allows slack only on the timing of the release. 
  • My only suggestion is to clear up a slight inconsistency in the "release" half of the deposit/release policy.  Schwartz' description suggests that authors could choose (for a variety of reasons) to leave deposits closed forever even if the publisher's embargo was temporary.  But point #3 of draft resolution requires OA release "where permissible".  My preference would be to resolve this tension in favor of point #3. 
  • Once this tension is resolved, however, I urge Schwartz to present it to the Macquarie University Senate --and the Senate to follow Harvard and Stanford by adopting it in a unanimous vote.


Norwegian government considers an OA mandate

OA mandate forthcoming in Norway?  Co-Action Publishing, June 30, 2008.  An English summary of this June 2 document from the Norwegian government.  Excerpt:

This month the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research issued a request to the Norwegian Research Council and The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (UHR) for advice on Open Access to scientific articles.

In a Parliamentary Report nr. 20 (2004-2005) the government signaled that the Ministry would be investigating the possibility of making the results of publicly financed research more widely available. The current request for advice is a follow-up to the report and comes on the heels of a number of international events that have furthered Open Access, including a number of mandates from other national research councils and the Harvard University mandate.

The official request states that “The Ministry of Education and Research wishes to see the possibilities for stimulating an increased use of Open Access publishing of peer-reviewed scientific literature.” By Open Access, the Ministry refers to both gold and green publishing, but there appears to be a stronger emphasis on self-archiving as the request specifically states that the investigation should evaluate whether a mandate on self-archiving (green) of publicly financed research should be introduced, as well as an evaluation of the legal, technical, economic, administrative, and other consequences of such a mandate.

Comment.  There's a good chance that Norway will end up adopting an OA mandate.  The government is asking advice from the Norwegian Research Council, which created an OA working group last fall and is now working on an OA position paper.  The government is also asking advice from the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions, which joined SCOAP3 in January 2008, and submitted a pro-OA comment (in English) to the EC in June 2006, calling on the EC to provide OA to publicly-funded research and revealing that it had already called on its own member institutions to adopt local OA policies.


New OA journal of theological librarianship

Theological Librarianship is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the American Theological Library Association.  The inaugural issue (June 2008) is now online.  (Thanks to David Cassens.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Not piracy, not civil disobedience, and not OA

Jeffrey Young, Textbook Piracy Grows Online, Prompting a Counterattack From Publishers, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 1, 2008.  Also see the CHE's blog post on the story, if only because it supports user comments.  From the article:

College students are increasingly downloading illegal copies of textbooks online, employing the same file-trading technologies used to download music and movies. Feeling threatened, book publishers are stepping up efforts to stop the online piracy....


  • Nobody is calling this OA, and that's good.  I'm only blogging the story in order to distinguish lawful OA from unlawful file-swapping.  Yes, expensive textbooks are a serious problem.  I myself have often written about a growing textbook pricing crisis.  But the solution is to create and use OA textbooks (a growing movement, BTW), and share the work of the consenting, not to infringe the copyrights of TA textbooks and share the work of the unconsenting.  For more, see my October 2003 article, Not Napster for science.
  • The anonymous host of Textbook Torrents, one of the web sites offering illicitly-scanned copyrighted textbooks for downloading, called his actions "civil disobedience".  Please.  I strongly support OA textbooks and I know something about civil disobedience, which is an act of political protest, not an act for personal gain.  On the contrary, it can involve serious personal hardship, such as police dogs, firehoses, and imprisonment.  Martin Luther King, Jr., taught his followers to "accept blows without retaliation".  Most disobedient activists willingly accept legal penalties, in part to publicize their protest and in part to make clear that they are not acting for personal gain.  The exceptions are protesters whose purpose is to challenge the constitutionality of the law they violated.  The host of Textbook Torrents "asked to remain anonymous for fear of legal action against him" (according to the Chronicle).  By all means point out the problem in stark terms, and offer the strongest ethical or political defense of your solution that you can.  Just don't call it civil disobedience.
  • I hate to point out an other hand, but there is one.  For years publishers have abused language on their side by calling copyright infringement "piracy".  It's not piracy, which ranges from theft of physical property all the way to maiming, mayhem, and murder.  Perhaps the host of Textbook Torrents can strike a plea bargain with the lexicography police:  If publishers will stop calling copyright infringement "piracy", he or she will stop calling it "civil disobedience". 

Update (10/10/08). Textbook Torrents shut down.

More on the balance of OA and patient privacy

Matthew Dublin, CARe Program's Balancing Act for Patient Privacy and Open Access, Genome Technology, July/August 2008.  Excerpt:

One project making headway on the slippery slope of patient privacy versus free data access is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Candidate Gene Association Resource project, known as CARe. The goal of the program is to provide a hosted resource for investigators where nine separate national heart, lung, and blood cohorts are combined to provide meta-analysis of clinical data from more than 50,000 patients together with genome-type data. The project's leaders had the hair-pulling task of striking a balance between how openly accessible they could make the data without compromising the patients' identity.

"By definition, when someone has been genotyped or has received whole genome scans, they're identified," says Marcia Nizzari, director of the informatics development program in the medical and population genetics group at the Broad Institute. "So there's an issue of how do you handle security and yet at the same time make things open enough to really make it a resource to the research community that's valuable." ...

Nature News looks at PLoS' finances

Declan Butler, PLoS stays afloat with bulk publishing, Nature News, July 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

Public Library of Science (PLoS), the poster child of the open-access publishing movement, is following an haute couture model of science publishing — relying on bulk, cheap publishing of lower quality papers to subsidize its handful of high-quality flagship journals.

Since its launch in 2002, PLoS has been kept afloat financially by some US$17.3 million in philanthropic grants. An analysis by Nature of the company's accounts shows that PLoS still relies heavily on charity funding, and falls far short of its stated goal of quickly breaking even through its business model of charging authors a fee to publish in its journals. In the past financial year, ending 30 September 2007, its $6.68-million spending outstripped its revenue of $2.86 million, according to the publicly available accounts.

But its financial future is looking brighter thanks to a cash cow in the form of PLoS One, an online database that PLoS launched in December 2006. PLoS One uses a system of 'light' peer-review to publish any article considered methodologically sound. In its first full year of operation in 2007, PLoS One published 1,230 articles, which would have generated an estimated $1.54 million in author fees, around half of PLoS's total income that year. By comparison, the 321 articles published in PLoS Biology in 2007 brought in less than half this amount....

From the outset, the company consciously decided to subsidize its top-tier titles by publishing second-tier community journals with high acceptance rates that would be cheaper to produce....

“If the original model was to be self-sustaining through author fees, it seems that PLoS is not even half-way there,” says Bernard Rous, deputy director of publications of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society. Nevertheless, Rous endorses PLoS's strategy of tapping multiple revenue sources and cross-subsidizing to allow open access to all its titles....

“It's fair to say that the community-run journals, including PLoS One, are contributing very well to our overall financial picture, says Peter Jerram, chief executive of PLoS, adding: “PLoS is on track to be self-sustaining within two years. In the interim some philanthropic support will be needed....

BioMed Central has an estimated annual revenue of around £10 million ($20 million). It is already “pleasantly profitable”, according to a science-publishing consultant who asked to remain anonymous. “BioMed Central knows well that much of the journal middle order is more profitable than the great brands because of the lower editorial costs and the cheaper marketing costs for bundles of journals. I suspect that PLoS One is a result of learning the same lesson,” adds ["a science-publishing consultant who asked to remain anonymous"].

BioMed Central is now up for sale, which will be a “fascinating first market test of what people will pay for an open-access company”.

Comment.  Declan Butler last used tax records to investigate PLoS' finances in June 2006.  See some of the comments (first set, second set) generated by his investigation.

Update.  The story has now triggered a large number of comments (scroll to the bottom of the page).  Also see blog comments by Charles Bailey, Mike Dunford, Jonathan Eisen, Timo Hannay, Alex Holcombe, Bill Hooker, Lars Juhl Jensen, GrrlScientist, Greg Laden, Anders Norgaard, and John Wilbanks.

A rights-based approach to OA

Gavin Yamey, Excluding the poor from accessing biomedical literature: A rights violation that impedes global health, Health and Human Rights, 10, 1 (2008).  Excerpt:

...The full text versions of most biomedical studies — an essential treasury of life-saving knowledge — are locked away behind access barriers. These access tolls bring enormous profits to the traditional corporate publishing industry, but at the same time make it impossible for many people worldwide to access the biomedical literature. The imposition of such tolls arguably violates the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right “to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (Article 27, section 1).

In this article, I take a rights-based view of this current crisis of restricted access to the results of scientific and medical research. Such research is conducted in the interests of the public, and yet the results are largely kept out of the public domain by traditional corporate publishers who own them, subject them to extremely tight copyright restrictions, and sell them in a market worth about US$5 billion. The results of biomedical research have unfortunately been privatized, monopolized, and concentrated in the hands of a tiny number of multinational corporations.

This article considers how exclusion from accessing the biomedical research literature harms global public health. I argue that this literature should be considered a global public good and base my argument upon long-standing and recent international declarations that enshrine access to scientific and medical knowledge as a human right. I present an emerging alternative publishing model, called open access, and argue that this model is a more socially responsive and equitable approach to knowledge dissemination. I situate open access publishing within a broader movement that has emerged in the digital era to create a public “knowledge commons,” which can play a crucial role in supporting an informed citizenry in its efforts to promote human rights....

Comment.  This is the most careful rights-based argument for OA that I've seen, and the only one that ties the argument closely to relevant provisions of international treaties on human rights.

European OA pilot coming

Yesterday the European Commission released this very brief announcement:

Following on the Council Conclusions and the Commission Communication on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation, the European Commission is developing an open access pilot in FP7. More information will be available soon.

Comment.  For OA-related excerpts from the Council Conclusions (November 2007) and the Commission Communication (February 2007), and my comments, see my two blog posts on the Conclusions (one, two) and my blog post and newsletter article on the Communication.  Both documents fall short of endorsing the near-consensus recommendations for an OA mandate the EC received from the EU research community.

In the Communication, the EC said that "Initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced on the basis of public funding" (p. 7), and that it would eventually "issue specific guidelines on the publication of articles in open repositories after an embargo period" (p. 8). I suspect that the coming OA pilot is not the same as the coming OA guidelines, but just an experiment to help shape the guidelines.


Presentations from eIFL meetings

The presentations from the eIFL meeting of repository managers from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine (Kyiv, June 18-21, 2008) are now online.  Thirteen are in Russian, two in English.

The presentations from the eIFL workshop on Open Access: New Models for Scholarly Communication in Moldova (Chisinau, Moldova, June 23-24, 2008) are now online.  Eight are in Russian, five in English, and one in Romanian.

Open data repository at DOE

The US Department of Energy has launched the DOE Data Explorer (DDE).  From the site:

Discover the data behind DOE's scientific publications!

Use the DOE Data Explorer (DDE) to find scientific research data - such as computer simulations, numeric data files, figures and plots, interactive maps, multimedia, and scientific images - generated in the course of DOE-sponsored research in various science disciplines. The DOE Data Explorer includes a database of citations prepared by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) based on the information found at data-hosting Web sites. It is intended to be particularly useful to students, the public, and to researchers who are new to a field or looking for experimental or observational data outside their normal field of expertise.

You may browse or search the database, then link to a data collection where it resides. You will often find specialized search interfaces and software toolkits developed by the data owners. These allow you to search deeper into the data files and help you understand, analyze, and use the data within the context of your own research interests.

The publicly available data collections support DOE research results that are well documented in journal articles, conference literature, and technical reports. Key DOE databases of R&D information are searchable through the Science Accelerator. The DOE Data Explorer will include enhanced search capabilities across specialized Web sites as it continues to grow.

Each dataset has two web pages, one a prose description with associated metadata and the other an interface for searching, browsing, and downloading.  For example, see the two pages (1, 2) for the DOE file of Evaluated Nuclear [Reaction] Data.

UK contest for creative uses of OA public sector info

What would you create with public information?  A contest from the UK government.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody and Richard King.)  Excerpt:

Ever been frustrated that you can't find out something that ought to be easy to find? ...Do you think that better use of public information could improve health, education, justice or society at large? ...

The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated. The Power of Information Taskforce is running a competition on the Government's behalf, and we have a £20,000 prize fund to develop the best ideas to the next level. You can see the type of thing we are are looking for here

To show they are serious, the Government is making available gigabytes of new or previously invisible public information especially for people to use in this competition.  Rest assured, this competition does not include personal information about people.

We're confident that you'll have more and better ideas than we ever will....

Go on, Show Us A Better Way.


I just mailed the July issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at how access barriers create a "last-mile problem" for knowledge.  The round-up section briefly notes 128 OA developments from June.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Book-length guide to OA for academic authors

Kylie Pappalardo, Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment:  A Guide for Authors, Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project, June 2008.  A very comprehensive 150 pp. guide for authors.  Excerpt:

This guide aims to provide practical guidance for academic authors interested in making their work more openly accessible to readers and other researchers.

The guide explains, in detail, the principles and features of the open access movement and outlines the benefits of open access, particularly those relating to dissemination, citation impact and academic reputation. It examines institutional repositories and open access journals as tools for implementing open access, and explains how they operate and how they can be best utilised by academic authors. The guide further considers how moves by funding bodies and academic institutions to mandate the deposit of research output into institutional repositories affects authors in today's publishing environment.

The underlying law of copyright is also explained, with a practical emphasis on how authors can best deal with their legal rights to enable open access to their academic work. The guide outlines authors' options for providing open access to their work, including the use of copyright licences and open content models such as Creative Commons licences. A Copyright Toolkit is provided to further assist authors in managing their copyright.

Importantly, the guide addresses how open access goals can affect an author's relationship with their commercial publisher. It provides guidance on how to negotiate a proper allocation of copyright interests between an author and publisher in order to allow an author to deposit their work into an institutional repository and reuse their work. The guide addresses both legal and non-legal issues related to maintaining a positive relationship with publishers while still ensuring that open access can be obtained....


Presentations from Italian OA conference

The presentations from Open Access, digital preservation e deposito legale: Policy, progetti e servizi per la ricerca [Open Access, digital preservation and legal deposit: Policy, projects and services for research communities] (Rome, May 8, 2008) are now online. The presentations are in a mix of English and Italian.

See also: We previously blogged a presentation by Maria Cassella at this conference.

Update. See also Elena Giglia's report on the conference (in Italian).

Retroactive OA to Nobel-winning science

Open Access to Nobel Prize awarded work – a pilot project, an announcement from Sweden's  Also see the less formal presentation of the idea.  (Thanks to Jan Hagerlid.)  Excerpt from the former:

Project co-ordinator: Jörgen Eriksson, Lund University Libraries...

Grant from the National Library of Sweden and the Swedish Knowledge Foundation: 620 000 SEK

Final report: 2009-08-31

The pilot project involves the creation of a work-flow and a method for the achievement of  free and open access to key publications of Nobel Laureates in physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine at The pilot project will investigate publisher and copyright issues, accessibility to materials from different time periods, etc. Three Nobel Laureates from each Nobel Prize category and from each of three identified time periods will be selected to be included in the pilot project.

The pilot project will not only result in free, world-wide access to some of the 20th century’s key scientific publications, but will also draw further attention to Open Access as an alternative way of publishing.

After the pilot project a project plan will be developed for a full scale Open Access project, including key publications of all Nobel Laureates in physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine....

Lund University Libraries’ head office has experience in working with Open Access publishing, in running an institutional repository and in developing and maintaining library internet services. The library is furthermore in possession of  large literature collections whereof  much older material will be readily available for digitization, an area where the library already has experience and equipment.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, respectively, who manage the nomination- and selection processes of the Nobel Laureates in physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine, will secure the quality of the selection of key publications.



Quarterly report on the growth of OA

Heather Morrison, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: June 30, 2008, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, June 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

Highlights: the growth of open access continues to amaze! The Directory of Open Access Journals added 750 new titles over the past year, a rate of increase of 2 titles per calendar day. This is close to double the growth rate of 1.2 titles per calendar day as reported in June 2007. OAIster recently passed a significant milestone, the 1,000th repository harvested. OAIster added close to 5 million items over the past year, for a growth rate of 30%. A Scientific Commons search now encompasses close to 20 million items.

PubMedCentral is showing early signs of success of the new NIH mandate policy. 466 journals now participate voluntarily in PMC (up from 410 in March); of these, 355 or 75% provide immediate free access. There is a marked increase in the percentage of NIH-funded items that are freely available shortly after publication (30, 60, or 90 days after publication). For example, the percentage of NIH-funded articles freely available within 30 days of publication has increased 50%, from 6 to 9%. (Thanks to Jim Till for the earlier data and search strategy). This remarkable increase in free access immediately or soon after publication is important because it exceeds expectations. NIH allows up to 12-month embargo, but clearly not everyone is interested in taking advantage of this generosity.

RePEC and E-LIS have had strong growth over the past year, each increasing by about 25%. The only negative is Highwire Free, which grew slightly overall but lost one fully free site, producing a small but rare negative growth number. Björk Roosr, and Lauri presented an important study at the ELPUB conference, reporting that close to 20% of the world's peer-reviewed literature published in 2006 is freely available, whether published as open access or self-archived by the author.

The Open Data Edition of Dramatic Growth can be found here. A plain data version (without quarterly growth) is available here - note the second sheet which has data on PMC titles. A list of journals participating in PMC and analysis by time of free access is available here. If anyone would like to collaborate on these documents (even just to be able to download them), please let me know.


Update (7/6/08).  Also see Heather's correction.


Wikifying ChemSpider

Antony Williams, ChEBI, Rich Text Formats and Advances Towards Wikiing, ChemSpider Blog, June 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

I have been in discussion with Christoph Steinbeck and colleagues from the European Bioinformatics Institute. Specifically, we are interested in linking up to AND embedding the text from their ChEBI Entities of the Month. So, as is my preferred manner of not assuming everything is Open Data but rather asking for permission, I approached Christoph. I asked for permission to copy the text for the Entities of the Month onto the appropriate record view in ChemSpider. When I asked the question we were not yet ready to accept rich text format with embedded hyperlinks, a strength of many of the articles on ChEBI’s Entity of the Month.

I am happy to announce that as part of our ongoing effort to Wikify ChemSpider and allow people to add descriptions to the individual record views we have added a rich text editor and are presently testing it. At present we have rolled out the FULL implementation of the editor....

Some of you might be asking:

1) will we support versioning of the articles as people modify/edit the article (as is done with Wikipedia)? Yes, we will. Soon.

2) will curators have the ability to lock articles? Yes, in the future we will introduce this if it’s deemed appropriate.

3) will it be possible to allow only one individual (or group) to edit an article? Yes, one of the future directions is to allow an individual or group to perform Open Notebook Science in front of the public but not allow the public to edit the results. They would of course be allowed to comment on the research. Future development…

UK food lobby raising FUD about OA

The UK Food Standards Agency is considering an OA policy.  This by itself isn't news.  It's been considering an OA policy since 2004

But now lobbyists are noticing and raising concerns.  What's new here is that the lobbyists are not publishers but food manufacturers.  Apparently they object to some FSA-sponsored research done at Southampton, which led to a proposal to ban certain food colorings.  But instead of (or in addition to) criticizing the science, they are criticizing OA, as if it would lower peer-review standards. 

For details, see Rick Pendrous, Experts raise concerns over FSA's possible adoption of 'open access' research policy, Food Manufacture, July 1, 2008.  Excerpt:

Industry experts have raised concerns about the Food Standards Agency (FSA) adopting an 'open access' policy for publication of its research.

Their fears have emerged from the controversy following the publication of research into the effect of colourants on children.

Traditionally scientific research is peer-reviewed by experts in the field before being published in respected academic journals, which sometimes have a virtual stranglehold on publication. The process is often very time-consuming and restricts the distribution of information.

Increasingly, academics are exploring 'open access' publication which, while retaining validation of the research, would result in studies being more quickly disseminated online.

FSA chief scientist Andrew Wadge said: "We are also investigating open access publication, which would speed things up."

However, leading industry experts and academics are increasingly worried that the FSA is too much led by public opinion. Concerns were raised regarding the research it commissioned from Southampton University into the consumption of food additives by children.

Several commentators were highly critical of the FSA's call for an EU-wide ban on the six colours used in the study, which was subsequently rejected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for its failure to identify the effects of individual additives.

One source said: "It makes me nervous about how they will handle 'open access' - let alone peer review - going forward." ...

Comment.  As usual, the lobbyists don't connect the dots or try to show how OA is supposed to jeopardize peer review.  The food manufacturers may be completely misinformed and believe that the essence of OA is to bypass peer review rather than to remove access barriers to peer-reviewed research.  We know that this misconception is widespread among people new to the issue who haven't taken the trouble to read about it.  Or, like the publishing lobby, the food lobby may know that OA is compatible with strong, independent peer review but prefer to raise FUD than concede the point.  Either way, however, it's a false and deceptive line to take.  For a detailed response, see my article from September 2007.

More on gold OA mandates

Gunther Eysenbach has written a lengthy argument (June 28) in support of gold OA mandates (mandating submission to OA journals rather than deposit in OA repositories), and Stevan Harnad has written a lengthy rebuttal (June 30).  Both are difficult to excerpt, so I'll just refer you to the full texts.

Comment.  But I'm not neutral on the question.  I've often argued against gold OA mandates (for example, here), although as far as I know only one institution has ever considered adopting one.  I've also often defended the principle that universities should not limit the freedom of researchers to submit their work to the journals of their choice (most recently here).  So I'm not persuaded by Gunther's argument, even though I strongly support gold OA, see the efficiencies he underlines, and want to take advantage of them as we free up the money to pay for OA journals, now largely locked away in TA journal subscriptions. 

Gunther's argument overstates the sense in which OA repositories "publish" (hence the sense in which they create a parallel publishing system) and understates the difficulties of restricting where scholars can submit their work (whether or not the restrictions favor OA).  Authors would face serious career difficulties in accepting these restrictions and policymakers would face serious political difficulties in imposing them.  Gunther is right that the author difficulties would disappear if all journals were OA.  But because of the policymaker difficulties, that simply will not happen, not by legislative fiat and not by funder collusion. 

It matters that OA archiving is much simpler and much less expensive than publishing, and doesn't create a full parallel system.  It matters that OA archiving is minimally parallel, or supplementary, and doesn't require regulating publishers.  It matters that OA archiving is under the control of scholars and universities, and doesn't require waiting for markets or legislation.  These features make OA archiving a natural strategy for the early and middle stages of a campaign like ours, because it can harness unilateral action by persuaded individuals and institutions.  Deeper institutional change is necessary too, and it's happening.  But it must come late, as a result, not early, as a strategy.

Charles Bailey's retrospective of online publishing

Charles Bailey has posted a look back at his 19 years of Internet digital publishing. The description from his blog post:

In 1989, the Internet was much more fragmented than it is today, and the primary information access tools were e-mail, FTP, mailing lists, and Usenet newsgroups. ...

In June 1989, I began my scholarly digital publishing efforts, launching one of the first e-journals on the Internet, The Public-Access Computer Systems Review: a journal that, if it has been published today, would be called an "open access journal," since it was freely available, allowed authors to retain their copyrights, and had special copyright provisions for noncommercial use.

Nineteen years later, I've published a variety of other freely available digital works, including DigitalKoans, 72 versions of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, and the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.

"A Look Back at Nineteen Years as an Internet Digital Publisher" provides a chronology of the highlights of my digital publishing efforts, updated use statistics for them, and a brief bibliography of articles about them.

June issue of Psychosomatic Medicine is OA

The June issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, a special issue on HIV, is available OA. (Thanks to Jim Till.)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Elsevier opens 7,500 articles for contest

Elsevier has launched an Article 2.0 Contest.  From the site:


We’ve worked hard to build the Article 2.0 dataset, and now we’re opening it up to developers via a simple, straightforward REST API. We will provide contestants with access to approximately 7,500 full-text XML scientific articles (including images) and challenge each contestant to be the publisher. In other words, each contestant will have complete freedom for how they would like to present the scientific research articles contained in the Article 2.0 dataset. We will encourage the use of XQuery, but this will not be a mandate. By leveraging these APIs, the contestant becomes the publisher and can render scientific articles to meet their needs including integrating the article into existing applications or combining it with other web service APIs.

More details about the contest will be added to the site throughout the summer....

Criteria used for selecting the best scientific article presentation will be - creativity, value-add, ease of use & quality....

First prize is $2,500.  Second and third prizes are $1,000 and $500.

Comment.  An idea presupposing the removal of price and permission barriers, such as a mash-up with data repositories, Freebase, Google Earth, Open Social, and Skype (or heck, all of the above) isn't likely to win.  But it may spark ideas that others are willing to put into practice.   

Peter Murray-Rust is entering the contest, but he isn't disclosing his idea yet.

UpdateChemSpider may also enter the contest.

More on the plan for OA to the Founders' papers

Peter Hirtle, Free the Founding Fathers! LibraryLaw Blog, June 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

...NARA’s report, “The Founders Online: Open Access to the Papers of the America’s Founding Era,” was sent to Congress in April, but it has received little notice or discussion. This is unfortunate because it is an important work on an important issue. There is much to admire in the report, but overall it demonstrates a fundamental failure to understand what open access means or how technology can make scholarship more productive. It seems more interested in protecting existing partnerships and editorial practices than in breaking new ground and fostering public access. Let’s hope that Congress recognizes how unsound the recommended approach is and pushes NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] to do more....

In addition, while Congress directed the Archivist "to develop a comprehensive plan for the online publication, within a reasonable timeframe, of the papers of the Founding Fathers," the report has elected to speak of "open access" (rather than just online access). There are problems with the report's vision of open access, as I outline below, but NARA is to be commended for in theory at least making open access its goal....

In spite of these positive steps, the overall report is incredibly disappointing, both for what it says and what it leaves out. Here are just a few examples:

[1] The report sets up as an option, which it then rejects, scanning published volumes as they are finished. No one would even consider the idea of scanning published volumes that have been produced from electronic files....There is no discussion of how to provide open access to previously published volumes....

[2] What about copyright you might ask (as Allen Weinstein did at the Congressional hearing)? There is no discussion of the extent of copyright ownership in the product produced by the projects. It would be a scandal if over $17 million dollars in NHPRC funding had been used to allow 3rd parties to commercialize and control the words of the Founding Fathers. Fortunately, under the regulations governing grants to higher education institutions and non-profit organizations (OMB Circular No. A-110, section 36), Federal awarding agencies are required to "reserve a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so." NARA can therefore do what it wants with the volumes produced to date. Nevertheless, the absence of any discussion of copyright in the report is appalling....

[5] Perhaps the most problematic issues in the report surround its use of the term "open access." For some, open access means "digital, online, and free of charge." The report, while saying it wants to provide open access to the material, appears to recommend that all material be given to UVA's Rotunda system for delivery. Rotunda follows a subscription model - not open access - that is remarkably expensive considering that citizens have already paid for all of the editorial work on these volumes. How could this be open access? Apparently Rotunda might be willing to give up its subscription approach if a foundation were willing to pay for all of its costs. Unless such a commitment is in place, I find it disingenuous to describe a Rotunda delivery option as "open access." There is no discussion of other, free, delivery options, such as the willingness expressed by Deanna Marcum of the Library of Congress at the Senate Hearing to make all of the Founding Fathers papers accessible through LC (which already has a good site pointing to currently accessible papers).

[6] Others argue that for true open access, information must be accessible outside of specific delivery systems (such as Rotunda) and made available in bulk. Open data and open interfaces allow for all sorts of interesting uses of material. For example, someone might want to mashup George Washington's papers to Google Maps in order to be able to easily visual geographically the spread of information. Others might want to mesh manuscript material with published secondary literature. Rather than anticipating the widespread dispersal and re-use of the Founding Fathers papers, however, and hence the need for harvestable data, open APIs, distributed access, etc., the report calls instead for "a single, unified, and sustainable Web site" - apparently the locked-down Rotunda system....

Congress needs to reject this report and tell the NHPRC [National Historical Publications and Records Commission] to get it right.


  • Peter H is right on both sides of his nuanced judgment.  NARA's intention to produce an OA edition of these papers is admirable.  Its understanding of OA and plan for delivering it are deplorable. 
  • It's hard to distinguish incompetence from deliberate compromise.  Take the example of producing an "OA" edition by scanning a printout of a digital edition.  Either that's a clueless kludge or a deliberate attempt to limit the usefulness of the result by blocking cutting/pasting by users and indexing by search engines.  (Why even consider the latter?  The next example may provide an answer.)  Or take the delivery through UVA's subscription-based Rotunda system.  Either that's a deep misunderstanding of OA or it's a deliberate attempt to let a university press generate revenue from the project (and still use the rhetoric of OA).  The desire for UP revenue, even at the expense of public access for publicly-funded research, was at the basis of some of the protests against the policy of the NEH Scholarly Editions program to favor grant proposals that promised OA for their results.  Could NARA have been lobbied by the same interests that protested the NEH policy?
  • But it doesn't matter much.  Incompetence and deliberate compromise both fail to serve the public.  Congress ought to notice and say so.

NSERC developing an OA policy

Kathleen Shearer announced at ElPub 2008 (Toronto, June 25-27, 2008) that Canada's National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is developing an OA policy.  Heather Morrison reports:

Kathleen Shearer, research associate at the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), talked about an open access policy in the works at Canada's NSERC, one of Canada's three major federal funding agencies, anticipated for March 2009. The NSERC policy is likely to resemble that of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, with expectation of OA within 6 months of publication via OA publishing (preferred and encouraged) or self-archiving. Kathleen stressed that OA policies need to be accompanied by strong implementation strategies, and that libraries have a key role to play in OA education, advocacy, and infrastructure.

PS:  I'll report more details when I have them.

Update.  At the CARL Annual Meeting, May 15, 2008, NSERC's Denis Leclerc gave a slide presentation previewing the NSERC policy.  Thanks to Heather Morrison, who adds a summary and comments:

...The status quo is not an option; there are profound negative consequences to not having an open access policy. The plan is to present an OA policy to NSERC by March 2009. Overall, the policy is likely to be similar to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) policy, with some important innovations under consideration. One very innovative idea under consideration is the possibility of negotiating consortial arrangements with publishers to cover article processing fees, possibly working cooperatively with libraries. This is a gem of an idea. Bringing the library subscription purchase together with article processing fees is the best possible way to avoid double dipping (publishers receiving revenue for both subscriptions and article processing fees) in the short term, and for facilitating full-scale transition to open access in the longer term. Also noteworthy is that NSERC is contemplating investment in infrastructure, to support local publishing and repository development, and that the need for enforcement of an OA policy is being addressed early on.


Negative consequences to NSERC of not having an OA policy - from Denis Leclerc's presentation: ...

  • where original/raw data is not openly available for scrutiny, scientific misconduct may be facilitated.
  • NSERC may be vulnerable to criticism regarding accountability to taxpayers.
  • Missed opportunity to further demonstrate societal impact and relevance, as well as potential additional means to measure and monitor scientific output from funded research.
  • Missed opportunity with respect to the 5th goal of NSERC's Strategic Plan - To increase the visibility of Canadian NSE research in Canada and worldwide.
  • Conclusion: the Status Quo is not an option
  • Options being explored range from policy to institutional repository development. Particularly noteworthy is the idea of negotiating consortial deals with publishers, perhaps working cooperatively with university libraries to cover author OA charges, funding for infrastructure development, including support for local publishing, and enforcing / monitoring adherence to policy.


OA mandate at the OICR

Open Access Policy will give researchers worldwide immediate access to OICR data, Portal, 2, 3 (2008).  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Excerpt:

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is taking the lead in 2008 and making the research it funds available to the public through an open access policy that takes effect July 1. OICR’s policy, “Access to Research Outputs,” provides the guidelines for OICR’s scientists when they publish their work and describes the institutional repository where all publications from OICR scientists will be deposited for public accessibility.

The policy, which builds on the policy in place at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), requires OICR researchers to provide unrestricted access to their publications within six months of publishing, either through self-archiving of the journal article in the OICR Institutional Repository or through publication in open access journals. The large majority of publishers already offer such accessibility within their copyright agreements.

“The main reason behind implementing an open access policy at OICR is that it allows the world to read OICR’s published papers and to benefit from the research funded by the Ontario government,” says Francis Ouellette, OICR’s Associate Director of Informatics and Biocomputing and a key member of the panel tasked with developing this policy for OICR....

Ouellette says researchers are starting to recognize that open access publishing and repositories greatly expand readership not only within the international research community itself, but also among the public.

“The average person knows how to use a basic search engine and knows how to find information and articles that are relevant to their disease,” Ouellette says. “If they have open access to research publications, even if they can’t fully understand the content, they can take that paper to their physician and ask about the disease. Open access empowers patients and their families – and since the research at OICR is publicly funded, they should have access to it.”

Ouellette feels that in addition to federal funding agencies, it is up to [provincial] organizations like OICR who are developing new policies to lead the way and prove that open access can work....

Heather Morrison reports that Ouellette announced the OICR policy at ElPub 2008 (Toronto, June 25-27, 2008).  More details:

[The policy] is nearing completion and details will be released within the next couple of weeks....An OICR institutional repository will be established, and OICR funded scientists will be expected to deposit peer-reviewed journals articles in the IR as soon as they are accepted for publication, and made freely accessible within 6 months of publication. OICR encourages publication in fully open access journals, and has plans for a fund for direct reimbursement of OA article processing fees for OICR-funded research, up to a maximum of $3,500 if the first, last or corresponding author is funded by the OICR. It is assumed that if scientists belonging to multiple institutions are contributing to a publication, they will share proportionately the cost of publication. Researchers are also expected to immediately deposit publication-related research data into a publicly accessible database....

[The] access policy team [is] chaired by Jim Till. OICR funds about 60 principal investigators at about $75 million per year, and is in a growth process; in the next few years, OICR is expected to grow to about 120 principal investigators....

Note: watch for OA policies at other Canadian provincial funding agencies - discussions are underway!

Comment.  Kudos to all involved, especially Francis Ouellette and Jim Till.  I'm looking forward to the text of the policy.  For the policy on which it is modeled, see the OA mandate from CIHR and my comments.


More on the Katz-Harnad exchange at AAUP

Stevan Harnad, Exchange with Stan Katz at Association of American University Press Meeting in Montreal, Open Access Archivangelism, June 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

Stan Katz has blogged a summary of the OA session at the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Meeting in Montreal in the the Chronicle of Higher Education Review. Here are six little clarifications: ...

(2) SK: "[T]he obligation [i.e., recent mandates like Harvard's] to “publish” by mounting articles on free websites will make it impossible for nonprofit presses and learned societies to sustain themselves."

The mandates are for authors to mount (i.e., self-archive) the final, refereed draft of their published article, not to "publish" it by mounting it. This self-archived "Green OA" draft is a supplement, provided for all users whose institutions cannot afford access to the publisher's version. It is not itself another publication.

The publisher might be nonprofit or commercial; that is not the relevant question. The relevant question is whether or not the supplementary OA draft causes cancellations, rendering journal subscriptions unsustainable for covering costs. So far, in the few fields where OA self-archiving has been taking place the longest (15 years) and most extensively (100%) -- e.g. high-energy physics, published by the American Physical Society (APS), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Reed-Elsevier -- the publishers report that they find no detectable subscription cancellations associated with self-archiving:

However, if and when OA self-archiving ever does cause catastrophic cancellations, making subscriptions unsustainable, then, and only then, journals can (a) offload all their former access-provision and archiving functions, along with their costs, onto the distributed network of institutional repositories, (b) downsize to peer review alone, and (c) convert to the "Gold OA" publication-cost-recovery model, charging the author-institution, per outgoing paper, for peer review and certification instead of charging the user-institution, per incoming journal, for access. The institutions will (on the very same hypothesis, of catastrophic cancellations) have more than enough annual windfall subscription cancellation savings out of which to cover those charges.

(3) SK: "Harnad’s suggestion is that the universities transfer the payments they are currently making to their academic presses to subsidize peer review and archiving of their faculty scholarly output."
No, my suggestion is only that universities should mandate self-archiving. Then, if and when the resulting universal OA should ever make subscriptions become unsustainable, the universities' subscription savings will, by the same token, be freed to pay for the university's peer-review costs. That is no subsidy: It is direct payment for a service, out of the very same funds formerly used to purchase a product....
(6) SK: "[OA has] different... implications...for the humanities and social sciences"

OA pertains to refereed journal articles publication in all disciplines. Humanities and social sciences are not exceptions in any way. All research, in all scholarly and scientific disciplines, benefits from maximizing its uptake, usage, applications and impact by eliminating the access-barriers that have been made obsolete and unnecessary by the advent of the PostGutenberg Galaxy.

PS:  Also see my brief response to Katz' blog post.

More from the AAUP meeting

Jennifer Howard, Scholarly Publishers Discuss How They're Adapting to Changing Realities, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 30, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  More on the AAUP Annual Meeting 2008 (Montreal, June 26-29, 2008).  Excerpt:

The ground continues to shift beneath their feet, but scholarly publishers are showing signs that they have begun to learn to shift with it....

"We meet under some darkening clouds," Alex Holzman, the new president of the association and the director of Temple University Press, said in a lunchtime address to the group.

Mr. Holzman was not referring to the rain threatening outside but to forces that have rattled academic publishing: technology that changes in the blink of an eye, the open-access movement, a dismal economy, and overburdened state and library budgets. "The STM problem is crushingly real," Mr. Holzman said in a reference to the exploding costs of subscriptions to science, technical, and medical journals—costs that have eaten away librarians' budgets and cut into university-press sales....

In conversations and at panels, one had glimpses of a new ecosystem of scholarly communication in which an editor at may have better ideas about how to market a scholarly book than the book's own publisher does. (The Chronicle talked with one such editor, whose enthusiasm for scholarly books was formidable.) It's a world in which librarians are just as fed up with rapacious commercial publishers and sometimes stingy university administrations as university presses are....

Stevan Harnad —a champion of open access...— went out of his way to salute the quality-control system that publishers provide. Mr. Harnad is a cognitive scientist at the University of Quebec at Montreal. If the world wants high-quality scholarly literature, "which, as far as I'm concerned, we do forever," Mr. Harnad said, then it will have to find some way to pay for the kinds of peer review and copyediting that publishers have traditionally provided. Mr. Harnad, like others here, seemed to be suggesting a middle way, in which information could be free in some forms and still produce revenue for publishers....

University presses have..., for the most part, made their peace with Google —or at least Google Book Search. Since Microsoft has dropped its competing Live Search Books program, the Google option has become "the main game in town for discovering scholarly monograph content online," as the conference program put it.

All but a handful of university presses—that is, all except no more than six, according to Chris Palma, strategic partnership development manager for Google Book Search —have signed up....

Coimbra launches an IR

Portugal's University of Coimbra has launched an institutional repository, Estudo Geral.  The IR front page cites the OA Declaration (November 2006) of the Council of the Rectors of Portuguese Universities, which Coimbra endorsed early in 2007.  (Thanks to Eloy Rodrigues.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blog notes from EADI conference

Gary Edwards, Hard Talk: Interrogating Open Access, 12th European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes General Conference conference blog (Geneva, June 24-28, 2008), June 28, 2008.

In this session a varied group of advocates and sceptics of Open Access (OA) aims to cut through the jargon to find out what OA really means to the EADI community.

Professor Leo Waaijers (SURF Foundation) opened this debate with an impassioned talk on a hybrid model for publishing journal articles in an open access arena (i.e. free for everyone to view online). ...

He mentioned two key developments in the OA debate. The first was the Berlin declaration in 2003 that 250 Universities declaring that OA was the way forward. The second declaration was the European University’s Association comprising all 850 Universities in Europe offering a statement on OA.

Following that other actors have been slowly moving forward on the OA bandwagon ... He talked of [the] hybrid [journal] model ...

After Waaijers’s presentation it went into the panel discussion ... The host, Professor Lawrence Haddad (Director of IDS) led a lively discussion with good input from the audience. The key question that was raised was ‘who pays’ for the journal articles, and publishing in high quality journals is expensive. Leo Waaijers suggested that is it the institutes themselves should make publishers tender for their researchers journal articles (almost like a bidding war). David Mainwaring commented that this might then produce a two-tier system where only rich institutes would have the buying power to make their journals open access and that the poorer ones would still be forced to sell of the copyright route. Lawrence Haddad agreed that this would give southern researchers more access to materials from northern institutes but would it happen the other way round?

Leo Waaijers suggested that [it] should be an EADI consensus amongst the institute Directors to impose OA models for publishers, but an audience member suggested that if OA was inevitable then why should there be a consensus. Leo Waaijers replied that some publishers were firmly against OA and that if there were a consensus then it would speed things up.

David Mainwaring suggested (and was party agreed by some members of the panel) that perhaps it was wise to go into this new realm slowly as to avoid any pitfalls. Leo Waaijers responded and asked why institutes should be so passive about this issue and it should be the Director’s responsibility to take this forward. He brought up that research showed that OA journals get 2 to 3 times more citations than paid subscription model journals (though some publishers argued against this data). Michel Wesseling said that OA was essential for institutional alumni particularly from his institute in that when students leave they only have a 6 month grace period to still get online access from their library and it would be a great access if it was continued on a permanent basis. ...

The final consensus was that unsurprisingly there was no quick answer and what it comes down to is who will pay for freely available peer-reviewed published development research. What was frustrating about this session was that the issue of Institutional Repositories was only touched on. It will be interesting that at the next EADI general conference in 3 years time how many Institutes will have their own repositories or have signed up to an OA agreement.

Presentation on green and gold OA in Italian

Maria Cassella, Green Road e Gold Road: percorsi interagenti per l'Open Access, presented at Open Access, digital preservation e deposito legale: policy, progetti e servizi per la ricerca (Rome, May 8, 2008). English abstract:
Green Road and Gold Road are complementary strategies to Open Access as stated in the BOAI (2002). Presentation focuses on both Green Road and Gold Road most recent achievements.

First author discusses strategies and ideas to ingest content in IRs from mandates to economic incentives to new personalized features enriching repositories.

Following attention is drawn on OA journals and OA hybrid models.

Finally author discusses the idea that the two roads to Open Access will naturally overlap due to IT developments and researchers’ needs. RIOJA, the University of California eScholarship Repository and the Lund Virtual Medical Journal are presented as experiments supporting the idea of Green Road and Gold Road as converging strategies to Open Access.

Addressing long-term worries about the rise of OA

Stan Katz has blogged some notes on the OA discussion, including his talk, at the AAUP Annual Meeting 2008 (Montreal, June 26-29, 2008).  Excerpt:

...I will come back to the topic in another blog, but for the moment let me say that I fear that the obligation to “publish” by mounting articles on free websites will make it impossible for nonprofit presses (such as the university presses I was addressing in Montreal) and learned societies to sustain themselves. Harnad’s suggestion is that the universities transfer the payments they are currently making to their academic presses to subsidize peer review and archiving of their faculty scholarly output. I argued that there are at least two problems with this approach. One is that universities increasingly expect their presses to be self-sustaining economically, and are unlikely to put up the necessary funding. The other is that not all scholars (and nonprofit publishers) are connected to universities. Who will subvene their publications?

Harnad is an accomplished advocate, and I agree with much of what he has to say. But I also think that we are living in interesting times from the perspective of scholarly publication. And I am worried....


  • I wasn't there and shouldn't speculate on what Harnad said to Katz.  (Moreover, Stevan will surely speak for himself.)  But I suspect that Stevan's point was slightly different.  If we're talking about the hypothetical future in which the rise of green OA threatens the survival of peer-reviewed TA journals, and the question is how to preserve peer review, then the answer is to redirect the money now spent on journal subscriptions, not to redirect the money now spent on university presses.  In any case, that's my recipe.  For more details, see the detailed discussion in my article from September 2007.  Quick excerpt:
    [W]ill the rise of OA archiving cause cancellations of TA journals? ...The evidence, as opposed to the fears, is that it won't. But if it will in some fields other than physics, then we'll lose some peer-reviewed TA journals. As we do, we'll reap savings that we can redirect to peer-reviewed OA journals (which might be the same journals under different business models)....

    I am not saying that we should deliberately defund TA journals in order to fund OA journals, and I am not saying that TA journals should die....I am saying that funding agencies should mandate OA archiving without fear. (So should universities, but I'm omitting that argument here.) Either peer-reviewed TA journals will survive the transition, as they have in physics, or they won't and we'll face the decision whether to re-fund peer review by spending the savings on peer-reviewed OA journals....

  • I would also question the assumption that society publishers have more to lose than to gain from OA, as well as the slightly different assumption that more society publishers will lose by OA than will gain by it.  Half a year ago, Caroline Sutton and I found 425 societies publishing 450 full OA journals and 21 societies publishing 73 hybrid OA journals.  Our latest numbers are even higher and we'll release them soon.

Update (6/30/08).  I was right that Stevan would speak for himself.  See his blog post.

What happened to the California draft OA policy and what might still happen?

Norman Oder, At SPARC Forum, News of the University of California’s Open Access Near Miss, Library Journal, June 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

We all know that the Harvard University Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FAS) passed a pioneering Open Access (OA) mandate this February, but a lot of us didn’t know that the University of California (UC) almost got there first. UC’s near miss was discussed by representatives at a packed SPARC Forum at the American Library Association annual conference yesterday in Anaheim. “I’m thrilled and envious about Harvard,” moderator John Ober of the California Digital Library told the audience, noting that UC’s draft policy (details) never passed. “We hit a long fly ball to the warning track, but Harvard hit a home run....

Harvard computer science professor Stuart Shieber, now director of Harvard’s new Office for Scholarly Communication, first explained some background for Harvard’s policy. While a spur was “the unsustainability of journal price increases,” he said he talked about costs “always with great trepidation,” because, at heart, the issue is not costs but “the underlying systemic problems [that] have led to a reduction in access.” While commercial journals cost six times the price per page compared to OA journals, he said, there’s no proof commercial journals are six times better; in fact, the cost per citation is 16 times higher for commercial journals. “There must be some underlying market dysfunction,” he said.

Catherine Candee, executive director, Strategic Publishing and Broadcast Initiatives, from the office of the UC’s president, said that OA was “one of the best tools we’ve got” [for building] “a sustainable publishing and communication system,” but getting there isn’t easy. She said UC’s OA push began with several spurs. Some difficult negotiations in 2004 with STM publisher Elsevier helped faculty “wake up to the fact we were spending an arm and a leg.” A faculty survey from scholarly communication office led to the conclusion that the tenure and promotion system impedes changes in faculty behavior....

So the UC Senate Committee on Scholarly Communication formed, aiming to develop an OA policy. In 2006, the Academic Senate endorsed a proposal for a Scholarly Work Copyright Policy, which was essentially OA. In January 2007, she said, the provost requested Senate and administrative review of policy, involving all ten campuses. However, by July 2007, concerns over implementation overwhelmed support for the policy’s goals and intent, she said, and the policy was sent back to the provost.

Now UC faculty members, librarians, and administrators are consulting over a new version, she said. “There was a lot of inspiration from Harvard’s action,” she said. “If only we’d done something so elegantly simple…. There continues to be discussion on the local level, local committees trying to get their Senates to take it off, but system-wide, the discussion is really postponed ‘til the fall.”

UC should have kept the policy simple, Ober said, given that there were three different opt-out scenarios: “We were trying in some senses to encourage compliance by making it very difficult to opt out, which was probably the wrong way to go.” ...

[Y]esterday a representative of Harvard Medical School said, “I think we’re going to be the next school to go for OA."

And how many people so far are opting out. “We don’t even know yet,” Shieber said.

Comment.  For background, see my blog posts on the UC's draft OA policy from January 2006 and February 2007.   (From my January 2006 comment:  "If I were at the U of California, I'd send supportive comments immediately to both the Academic Council and the Special Committee on Scholarly Communication. I might recommend a simplification of the policy....)  For a recap of the major steps and links, see my postscript on the California policy at the end of my March 2008 article on the Harvard policy.


Two letters to The Lancet

The Lancet has published two letters to the editor in response to its (remarkably pro-OA) editorial from March 8, 2008.  Free online access after free registration. 

From Matthew J. Cockerill and Melissa Norton, Open-access journals are delivering high impact, and more, June 21, 2008:

We welcome The Lancet's Editorial on open-access publishing (March 8, p 785), but question the claim that “Although BioMed Central has grown substantially during the past 3 years, it has yet to capture the quality end of the research sector”.

Impact factors are the most commonly used journal quality metric, and Malaria Journal (ranked number 1 in tropical medicine) is one of many examples of BioMed Central journals with impressive impact factors.

Unfortunately, however, Thomson Scientific's failure to track many new open-access journals means that these impact factors still do not provide the full picture.

The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is an alternative citation metric based on data from Elsevier's more comprehensive Scopus service, which covers more than 13000 journals. In the most recent SCImago rankings, two BioMed Central journals, Journal of Biology and Genome Biology, are ranked in the top 0·5% of all journals listed, ahead of all five PLoS titles. More than half of ranked BioMed Central journals are in the top 15% of the SJR listings, indicating that a typical BioMed Central title is substantially more highly cited than the average traditional journal....

From Dr. Sudarshan Kumari, Open access journals are a boon, June 23, 2008:

Open access journals are a boon to practitioners and research personnel both, irrespective of the impact factor. They not only provide updated information on the topics we want to find out, also save time and money both....I feel if the publishers find it practical, more journals should as open access journal to help the medical community specially for keeping professional updated in their field , in this era of advances fast growing advances in medical field.

Details on the Stanford OA mandate

Before the Stanford University School of Education (SUSE) voted to adopt an OA mandate, it discussed the OA mandate adopted by Harvard Law School in May 2008

Here's the Stanford Q&A about the Harvard policy and the motion unanimously adopted by the SUSE faculty.  Thanks to Stanford's John Willinsky for the documents, permission to distribute them, and for his pivotal role in developing the policy at SUSE.

From the Q&A about the Harvard policy:

Question: What are the benefits of archiving copies of our articles at Stanford and making them freely available to readers?

Response: The evidence to date indicates that providing open access to published journal articles in this manner increases the reading of and engagement with the work, which in our case means further use by educators, policymakers and the interested public (most of whom have no other source of access), as well as colleagues and students here and abroad....

Question: What would such an archive of our work look like?

Response: On having a journal article published, authors would submit to the publishers a prepared copyright addendum (permitting Stanford to post the work) that would accompany the publishers’ copyright agreement. SUSE would grant to any author who requested it a waiver excusing them from complying with the motion should a publisher refuse to accept the terms of the addendum. SUSE staff would be able to upload the article to the SUSE archive. Once the article was placed in the SUSE archive, readers would be able to find it through the SUSE website by (a) browsing the archive by community or project, author or topic, (b) searching the well indexed archive or (c) clicking on an article link on a faculty member’s or project’s page, as well as through Google and Google Scholar searches....

Question: My only the part that says we grant to the university…

a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit.

Why do we need to do that? Can't we just put in an easy to access, searchable repository and say anyone can access it as long as they don't sell it....

Response: The reasoning goes like this -- the university asks that you grant to it this non-exclusive right to post your final version to ensure that the copy can be legally posted on a Stanford site. The majority of publishers (Sage, AERA, Taylor and Francis, Springer, Elsevier, etc.) already grant back to authors this right to archive their work, so retaining this non-exclusive right for the university shouldn't be a problem (with no instances of publisher’s refusal to participate reported in the closely watched instance of Harvard's 4-month-old policy). However, should a publisher insist that it cannot abide by such terms, the author simply seeks a waiver from the university, which is a right of authors built into the motion...

Question: ...Can't that be done without granting "irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright"? In other words, grant the right to do specifically what we want done with our contributions to the world--make available to any and all... rather than granting irrevocable any and all rights....

Response: ...Under current conditions, we typically transfer an exclusive and "irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright" to journal publishers. What changes with an archiving motion such as this is that “nonexclusive” rights are transferred by the author to both publisher and university. The university needs a “worldwide” copyright transfer to post a copy that will be globally accessible. The transfer is "irrevocable," in both cases, to prevent you from arbitrarily changing the terms (by, for example, claiming a licensing fee). This transfer of copyright does not preclude you from, for example, requesting that a work be updated or removed. Journals are rightly reluctant to do this (and typically note changes made in the journal); the university would want to make similar changes to reflect the scholarly record, as well, as this motion covers published work....

Question: The other thought I had was I wonder what the Harvard law people who wrote the motion would say in answer to these questions. Presumably they would know something about the legal ins and outs....

Response: From John Palfrey (Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society; and responsible, along with Terry Fisher for the motion) on being sent this document: I think your responses to the questions are right. The only thing I can say is that we went around and around on these issues, and resolved that the grant of the nonexclusive license should be very broad, to allow for stability over time, and to rely on trust to large degree as well -- that the university would not abuse the broad right. The policy will be reviewed after 3 years (and could be amended or rescinded then). And the danger of a very narrow that you don't know what the university might want collectively to do down the road, and you'd then have an impossible scenario of going back to collect rights later from those who came before. This was our decision, but others might go another way that's better for you....

From the motion unanimously adopted by the SUSE faculty:

This motion, based on the Harvard Law School open access motion, was passed unanimously by the faculty of the School of Education, Stanford University on June 10, 2008, and was cleared by the Provost's Office and Stanford University's legal counsel on June 25th, 2008.

Stanford University School of Education Open Access Motion
In recognition of its responsibility to make its research and scholarship as widely and publicly available as possible, the faculty of the Stanford University School of Education is determined to take advantage of new technologies to increase access to its work among scholars worldwide, educators, policymakers, and the public. In support of greater openness in scholarly and educational endeavors, the faculty of the School of Education agree to the following policy:

Faculty members grant to the Stanford University permission to make publicly available their scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. They grant to Stanford University a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to their scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are properly attributed to the authors not sold for a profit.
The policy will apply to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while a faculty member of the School of Education, beginning with articles for which the publisher's copyright agreement has yet to be signed. The Dean or the Dean's designate will waive application of the policy upon written request from faculty who wish to publish an article with a publisher who will not agree to the terms of this policy (which will be presented to the publishers in the form of an addendum to the copyright agreement).

No later than the date of publication, faculty members will provide an electronic copy of the final version of the article at no charge to the appropriate representative of the Dean of Education's Office, who will make the article available to the public in an open-access repository operated by Stanford University....


  • There are now three university school or departmental OA mandates in the US:  the new one at SUSE and the two from Harvard (Faculty of Arts and Sciences in February 2008, and the Law School in May 2008).  All three were adopted by unanimous faculty votes.  Kudos to all involved at SUSE, especially John Willinsky who initiated the policy.
  • There's now no doubt that the Harvard policies (on top of the 20+ other university OA mandates worldwide) will influence other universities to follow suit.  The question now is what Stanford will add to that momentum.
  • Since the Stanford policy so closely tracks the Harvard Law policy, which in turn closely tracks the Harvard FAS policy, much of my analysis of the Harvard FAS policy applies here as well:

    The publishing lobby has often argued that the call for OA mandates is a sign that researchers oppose OA and must be coerced.  This argument always flew in the face of the evidence, but the unanimous Harvard vote should be the last nail in the coffin in which we bury the idea.  For the same reason, the Harvard vote decisively confirms Alma Swan's finding that the overwhelming majority of researchers do not resent OA mandates and would willingly comply with one from their funder or university....

    Is a policy with an automatic opt-out on request still a mandate?  This is an unfruitful question which devolves quickly into a verbal dispute.  A better question is whether opt-outs will be rare or common....

    Pat Schroeder, President of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), told Science Magazine that Harvard's willingness to grant opt-outs means that the policy is not a mandate.  OK.  But even Pat Schroeder knows that shifting the default and requiring dissenters to opt out can be a game-changer.  Otherwise she wouldn't object to Google's opt-out Library Project or make her organization the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit to stop it....

    Even at schools with more mandatory mandates, or no opt-outs, successful implementation depends...on expectations, education, assistance, and incentives, not coercion....

    The Harvard policy shifts the default from non-archiving to archiving, and shifts the burden from OA cooperators to OA dissenters.  That's much more than a mere request or encouragement.... 

    [Opting out] is not a heavy burden, but then neither is OA archiving.  As we well know from long experience on the other side of this line, even a light burden can change behavior on a large scale....

    Harvard is not acquiring ownership, just a non-exclusive license....This has two important legal consequences, when faculty do not request opt-outs.  First, Harvard will have an express license from the copyright holder to host and disseminate OA copies of these works.  Second, publishers will never acquire the rights which would allow them to forbid OA archiving at Harvard or to claim that it infringes their copyright.

    This elegantly solves every copyright-based objection to OA archiving....The less elegant and less effective alternative adopted at some funding agencies and universities is to require OA archiving except when publisher policies don't allow it, thereby giving the opt-out to publishers rather than authors....