Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More on disciplinary v. institutional repositories

Stevan Harnad, The OA Deposit-Fee Kerfuffle: APA's Not Responsible; NIH Is. PART II, Open Access Archivangelism, July 19, 2008.

See also PART I and PART 0.

Summary:  The concept underlying the OAI metadata harvesting protocol is that local, distributed, content-provider sites each provide their own content and global service-provider sites harvest that content and provide global services over it, such as indexing, search, and other added values. (This is not a symmetric process. It does not make sense to think of the individual content-providers as "harvesting" their own content (back) from global service-providers.)

The question is accordingly whether OA deposit mandates should be (1) convergent, with both institutional and funder mandates requiring deposit in the author's own OA Institutional Repository (IR), for harvesting by global overlay OA services and collections (such as PubMed Central, PMC) or (2) divergent, requiring authors to deposit all over the map, locally or distally, possibly multiple times, depending on field and funding. It seems obvious that coordinated, convergent IR deposit mandates from both institutions and funders will bring universal OA far more surely and swiftly than needless and counterproductive divergence.

In the interests of a swift, seamless, systematic, global transition to universal OA, NIH should accordingly make one tiny change (entailing no loss at all in content or functionality) in its otherwise invaluable, historic, and much-imitated mandate: NIH should mandate IR deposit and harvest to PMC from there.

The spirit of the Congressional directive that publicly funded research should be made publicly accessible online, free for all, is fully met once everyone, webwide, can click on the link to an item whose metadata they have found in PMC, and the article instantly appears, just as if they had retrieved it via Google, regardless of whether the item's URL happens to be in an IR or in PMC itself.

A possible reason the NIH mandate took the divergent form it did may have been a conflation of access archiving with preservation archiving: But the version that NIH has (rightly) stipulated for OA deposit (each "investigator's... electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication") is not even the draft that is in the real need of preservation; it is just a supplementary copy, provided for access purposes: The definitive version, the one that really stands in need of preservation, is not this author-copy but the publisher's official proprietary version of record.

For preservation, the definitive document needs to be deposited in an archival depository (preferably several, for safety), not an OA collection like PMC. But that essential archival deposit/preservation function has absolutely nothing to do with either the author or with OA.

PS:  This is just a summary.  The rest of the post responds to my responses to Stevan's earlier posts in this series.  I'll let him have the last word.

Defining repositories

Crowdsourcing ideas on repository definition, JISC Information Environment Team blog, July 18, 2008.

We have had a couple of meetings recently to discuss the future of repositories. For these meetings we set up a site so that people could discuss the definition of a repository and related ideas. This discussion has been very interesting so we have decided to open it up for wider comment.

... Feel free to vote and comment on the ideas that are up there or submit your own if you have something to add. ...

The information that we gather on this site will be used to prepare reports that are designed to guide JISC’s future funding plans for repositories. ...

PALINET cluster of wiki pages on OA

Walt Crawford has launched a useful cluster of pages on OA at the PALINET wiki.  Currently the cluster includes a wikified version of my Very Brief Introduction to OA, a wikified version of my Open Access Overview, and these pages written and compiled by Walt himself --but now open for public editing:

These two pages in the cluster are currently empty but should start to fill out soon:

The rise of (TA) online ejournals

Norm Medeiros, Access Revolution: The Birth, Growth, and Supremacy of Electronic Journals as an Information Medium, the author version, in Wayne Jones (ed.) E-Journals Access and Management, Routledge 2008, chapter 12, pp. 187-199.

Abstract:   The tremendous growth of e-journals in the marketplace has forced libraries to rethink their means of providing access to these coveted resources. Over the past 20 years, methods to connect users to e-journals have taken different shapes, fluctuating among a plethora of theories, ideologies, and technologies. This chapter attempts to synthesize the methods employed by academic libraries during this period to provide seamless e-journal access to users.

PS:  The article focuses on priced online access and has a brief overview of OA in the final paragraph.

New interim policy from the APA

The American Psychological Association has posted a new interim policy on NIH-funded authors and self-archiving. 

If you remember, last week the APA posted a policy (1) charging a $2,500 fee to deposit author manuscripts in PubMed Central, and (2) revoking the APA's long-standing green policy, or permission to self-archive, at least for NIH-funded authors.

The new interim policy drops the deposit fee and reaffirms the green policy, even for NIH-funded authors.  Excerpt:

A previous APA Web site posting of these author instructions that included reference to a publication fee for manuscripts based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since October 1, 2007, is currently being re-examined and is not being implemented at this time.  APA will continue to deposit NIH-funded manuscripts on behalf of authors in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC) in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy, as noted below.

Authors of manuscripts to be published in APA journals may post a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript, as a word processing, PDF, or other type file, on their personal Web site or on their employer's server after the manuscript is accepted for publication. The following conditions would prevail: The posted article must carry an APA copyright notice and include a link to the APA journal home page, and the posted article must include the following statement: "This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.” APA does not provide electronic copies of the APA published version for this purpose, and authors are not permitted to scan in the APA published version....


  • I applaud the APA for reaffirming its green policy for all APA authors, including NIH-funded authors, and I applaud it for dropping the deposit fee.
  • I call the new policy "interim" because the policy page says that the deposit fee "is currently being re-examined and is not being implemented at this time."  I urge the APA to make the interim policy permanent.
  • The new interim statement resolves a conflict between the APA's 2002 policy, allowing self-archiving, and the (now-deleted) 2008 policy restricting it.  But there is one more conflict I hope the APA will resolve shortly.  The APA publication rights form does not expressly allow self-archiving and, read narrowly, may prohibit it.  (Thanks to Stuart Shieber for pointing this out.)  It allows authors to "reproduce" their paper for "personal use or for company use" and to "make limited distribution of all or portions of the...paper prior to publication."  But that is all.  This language was in force even before last week's policy restricting the APA green policy.  By contrast, both the 2002 policy and the new interim policy are more explicit and more helpful in their permission for self-archiving.  The 2002 policy allows authors to "post a copy of the final manuscript...on their Web site or their employer's server after it is accepted for publication" and the new interim policy allows authors to "post a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript...on their personal Web site or on their employer's server after the manuscript is accepted for publication."  I hope the APA will soon make its publication rights form as clear and unambiguous as these two policy statements.
  • For my comments on the retracted policy (charging a deposit fee and revoking the permission to self-archive for NIH-funded authors), see my blog posts for July 15 and July 16.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Dutch-Indian partnership will promote OA

Dutch Universities in Partnership with India, NIS News, July 17, 2008.  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)  Excerpt:

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) yesterday signed a bilateral agreement with its Indian sister organisation Association of Indian Universities (AIU). The two organisations agreed to encourage the partnership in the area of education and scientific research....

India has 415 universities, of which 285 are members of the AIU....

From the Memorandum of Understanding (not online) signed by Sijbolt Noorda, President of the VSNU, and Dayanand Dongaonkar, Secretary General of the AIU:

Areas of Cooperation....

Access to publications

The Parties will promote among their members open access to scientific and scholarly publications.

EC green paper on L&Es

On July 16, the European Commission has released a green paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy. (Thanks to IP Watch.) From the EC press release:
... With this Green Paper, the Commission plans to have a structured debate on the long-term future of copyright policy in the knowledge intensive areas. In particular, the Green Paper is an attempt to structure the copyright debate as it relates to scientific publishing, the digital preservation of Europe's cultural heritage, orphan works, consumer access to protected works and the special needs for the disabled to participate in the information society. The Green Paper points to future challenges in the fields of scientific and scholarly publishing, search engines and special derogations for libraries, researchers and disabled people. ...
From the green paper:
The purpose of the Green Paper is to foster a debate on how knowledge for research, science and education can best be disseminated in the online environment. The Green Paper aims to set out a number of issues connected with the role of copyright in the "knowledge economy" and intends to launch a consultation on these issues.

The Green Paper is essentially in two parts. The first part deals with general issues regarding exceptions to exclusive rights introduced in the main piece of European copyright legislation ...

The second part deals with specific issues related to the exceptions and limitations which are most relevant for the dissemination of knowledge and whether these exceptions should evolve in the era of digital dissemination.
The green paper ends with a call for comments, due November 30, 2008. There are a specific set of questions raised in the green paper, but responses may be open-ended and address other issues.

Comment. Question 19 is the one perhaps most relevant to OA:
Should the scientific and research community enter into licensing schemes with publishers in order to increase access to works for teaching or research purposes? Are there examples of successful licensing schemes enabling online use of works for teaching or research purposes?

Update. Public comments on the green paper are due by November 30, 2008. Send them to

Spanish column on copyright and OA

El copyright y el Open Access, Los futuros del libro, July 16, 2008. (Thanks to madri+d.) Read it in the original Spanish or Google's English.

Spanish column on the business of OA

Juan Freire, La edición científica y la cruda realidad del acceso abierto,, July 15, 2008. Read it in the original Spanish or Google's English.

New delayed-access repository of space data

Manoj K. Das, Storehouse of space data, The New Indian Express, July 17, 2008. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)
Joining hands with a global initiative to build up science data, India is setting up a huge repository of space information which will be made available free to all universities and scientists across the world. ...

The whole volume of data [from Indian exploration projects] will be maintained online. It will be made available after a lock-in period of 18 months during which access will be allowed only to Indian space scientists.

Once they complete their scrutiny, India will host it on a website that can be accessed by anyone. ...

New OA journal on data mining in life sciences

On July 18, BioMed Central announced a new peer-reviewed OA journal, BioData Mining. The inaugural issue is now available. The article-processing charge is £800 (€1000, US$1590), subject to discounts and waivers. Authors retain copyright to their work, and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Scribd and Lulu partner

Print-on-demand publisher Lulu (which offers an OA option for content providers) and document sharing site Scribd are partnering, according to ReadWriteWeb. Lulu will begin making some of their OA content available in Scribd's iPaper format (a "sort of a YouTube for PDFs"), including utilizing iPaper's ability to embed AdSense ads within the documents. (Thanks to Adam Hodgkin.)

New OA journal of Cuban studies

The International Journal of Cuban Studies is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published under a CC-BY-NC-ND license by the International Institute for the Study of Cuba at London Metropolitan University.  The inaugural issue is now online.  (Thanks to John Reidelbach.)

What free science could learn from free trade

Michael Nielsen, The Future of Science, Michael Nielsen's blog, July 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

In your High School science classes you may have learnt Hooke’s law....What your High School science teacher probably didn’t tell you is that when Robert Hooke discovered his law in 1676, he published it as an anagram, “ceiiinossssttuv”, which he revealed two years later as the Latin “ut tensio, sic vis”, meaning “as the extension, so the force”. This ensured that if someone else made the same discovery, Hooke could reveal the anagram and claim priority, thus buying time in which he alone could build upon the discovery....

Imagine modern biology if the human genome had been announced as an anagram....

Part I: Toward a more open scientific culture...

Many online tools...[expand the range of scientific knowledge that can be shared with the world], and some have had a major impact on how scientists work. Two successful examples are the physics preprint arXiv...and GenBank....

There is a second and more radical way of thinking about how the internet can change science, and that is through a change to the process and scale of creative collaboration itself, a change enabled by social software such as wikis, online forums, and their descendants....

The problem all these sites [collecting comments on scientific papers] have is that while thoughtful commentary on scientific papers is certainly useful for other scientists, there are few incentives for people to write such comments....The contrast between the science comment sites and the success of the reviews is stark....Some people find this contrast curious or amusing; I believe it signifies something seriously amiss with science, something we need to understand and change....

These failures of science online are all examples where scientists show a surprising reluctance to share knowledge that could be useful to others. This is ironic, for the value of cultural openness was understood centuries ago by many of the founders of modern science; indeed, the journal system is perhaps the most open system for the transmission of knowledge that could be built with 17th century media. The adoption of the journal system was achieved by subsidizing scientists who published their discoveries in journals. This same subsidy now inhibits the adoption of more effective technologies, because it continues to incentivize scientists to share their work in conventional journals, and not in more modern media....

We should aim to create an open scientific culture where as much information as possible is moved out of people’s heads and labs, onto the network, and into tools which can help us structure and filter the information. This means everything - data, scientific opinions, questions, ideas, folk knowledge, workflows, and everything else - the works. Information not on the network can’t do any good....

Such extreme openness is the ultimate expression of the idea that others may build upon and extend the work of individual scientists in ways they themselves would never have conceived....

Let me describe two strategies that have been successful in the past, and that offer a template for future success.

The first is a top-down strategy that has been successfully used by the open access (OA) movement. The goal of the OA movement is to make scientific research freely available online to everyone in the world. It’s an inspiring goal, and the OA movement has achieved some amazing successes. Perhaps most notably, in April 2008 the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandated that every paper written with the support of their grants must eventually be made open access. The NIH is the world’s largest grant agency; this decision is the scientific equivalent of successfully storming the Bastille.

The second strategy is bottom-up. It is for the people building the new online tools to also develop and boldly evangelize ways of measuring the contributions made with the tools....

Part II: Collaboration Markets: building a collective working memory for science...

In economics, it’s been understood for hundreds of years that wealth is created when we lower barriers to trade, provided there is a trust infrastructure of laws and enforcement to prevent cheating and ensure trade is uncoerced.  The basic idea...goes back to David Ricardo in 1817....

Although Ricardo’s work was in economics, his analysis works equally well for trade in ideas....Unfortunately, science currently lacks the trust infrastructure and incentives necessary for such free, unrestricted trade of questions and ideas.

An ideal collaboration market will enable just such an exchange of questions and ideas. It will bake in metrics of contribution so participants can demonstrate the impact their work is having. Contributions will be archived, timestamped, and signed, so it’s clear who said what, and when. Combined with high quality filtering and search tools, the result will be an open culture of trust which gives scientists a real incentive to outsource problems, and contribute in areas where they have a great comparative advantage. This will change science.

Do repositories scale to hold large amounts data?

Stuart Lewis, About to load test DEF repositories, Stuart Lewis' Blog, July 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

One of the core aims of the ROAD [Robot-generated Open Access Data] project is to load test DSpace, EPrints and Fedora [DEF] repositories to see how they scale when it comes to using them as repositories to archive large amounts of data (in the form of experimental results and metadata). According to RAOR, the largest repositories (housing open access materials) based on these platforms are 191510, 59715 and 85982 respectively (as of 18th July 208). We want to push them further and see how they fare....

OA in Lithuania

The two presentations from the government-sponsored conference, Open Access in European Union and Lithuania (Vilnius, May 7, 2008), are now online:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blog notes on EuroScience Open Forum

Cameron Neylon has blog notes on a satellite meeting of the EuroScience Open Forum (Barcelona, July 18-22, 2008): Update. See also the blog notes by Peter Murray-Rust.

Update. See also the reflections by Neylon:
... There is a real sense that the ideas of Open Access and Open Data are becoming mainstream. As several speakers commented, within 12-18 months it will be very unusual for any leading institution not to have a policy on Open Access to its published literature. In many ways as far as Open Access to the published literature is concerned the war has been won. ...

Open Data remains further behind, both with respect to policy and awareness. Many people spoke over the two days about Open Access and then added, almost as an addendum ‘Oh and we need to think about data as well’. ... [T]here is still much advocacy work to be done here. John Wilbanks talked about the need to set achievable goals, lines in the sand which no-one can argue with. And the easiest of these is one that we have discussed many times. All data associated with a published paper, all analysis, and all processing procedures, should be made available. This is very difficult to argue with ... [T]his is a very useful marker, and a meme that we can spread and promote. ...

[The] key questions to me revolve around how we can convert aspirations into community norms. What is needed in terms of infrastructure, in terms of incentives, and in terms of funding to make this stuff happen? ...

Update. Also see the blog notes of Victor Henning.

Update. Also see the blog notes of Jia Hepeng.

Update. Also see the blog notes of Donna Wentworth.

Update. Also see the blog notes of Jonathan Gray.

Update. See also the blog notes by Maynard S. Clark.

Forthcoming book on OA

Charles Bailey reports that the University of Minnesota Press will publish Digitize This Book! The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now by Gary Hall in October 2008. From the book's description:

How open access can transform academia for the better.

In the sciences, the merits and ramifications of open access—the electronic publishing model that gives readers free, irrevocable, worldwide, and perpetual access to research—has been vigorously debated and is now increasingly proposed as a valid means of both disseminating knowledge and career advancement. In Digitize This Book! Gary Hall presents a timely and ambitious polemic on the potential that open access publishing has to transform both “papercentric” humanities scholarship and the institution of the university itself.

Hall, a pioneer in open access publishing in the humanities, explores the new possibilities that digital media have for creatively and productively blurring the boundaries that separate not just disciplinary fields but also authors from readers. Hall focuses specifically on how open access publishing and archiving can revitalize the field of cultural studies by making it easier to rethink academia and its institutions. At the same time, by unsettling the processes and categories of scholarship, open access raises broader questions about the role of the university as a whole, forcefully challenging both its established identity as an elite ivory tower and its more recent reinvention under the tenets of neoliberalism as knowledge factory and profit center.

Rigorously interrogating the intellectual, political, and ethical implications of open access, Digitize This Book! is a radical call for democratizing access to knowledge and transforming the structures of academic and institutional authority and legitimacy.

Digitization milestone at U. Florida

Two million pages can be accessed from UF Libraries’ Digital Collections, InsideUF, July 17, 2008.

[The University of Florida's] Digital Collections (UFDC) now provides free, online access to more than two million pages converted from the libraries’ paper collections, UF museums and other UF programs. UFDC hit the one-million page mark in September 2007, and steady growth continues. It is now the largest university-based digital library in the Southeast, and one of the largest in the country.

Titles available in UFDC are not commercially available, and they are often difficult to access or use in their original state. Library archives and special collections, Florida Museum of Natural History Herbarium specimens, selected Harn Museum of Art objects and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program interviews can be viewed online without restriction. Microfilmed books and newspapers have been freed from the instability of microfilm. Additionally, UFDC accepts contributions from partners throughout Florida, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, mitigating travel time and costs.

Digitization is funded by state, federal and international granting agencies, through library, museum and faculty research, and from donations ...

Access to clinical trial data and the Ingelfinger rule

Next Stop, Don't Block the Doors: Opening Up Access to Clinical Trials Results, editorial, PLoS Medicine, July 15, 2008.

2008 has been a good year for access to research. [Several OA policies worldwide were announced, adopted, or implemented ...] Judging by the ever-increasing number of submissions to PLoS journals, authors appear to be voting with their manuscripts for open access to research.

The year is only half over, however, and at least one important milestone is still to come. As of September 27, 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA) will require that clinical trials results be made publicly available on the Internet through an expanded “registry and results data bank” [8].

Under FDAAA, enrollment and outcomes data from trials of drugs, biologics, and devices (excluding phase I trials) must appear in an open repository associated with the trial's registration, generally within a year of the trial's completion, whether or not these results have been published. ...

PLoS Medicine and the other PLoS journals endorse timely and accessible reporting at all stages of clinical drug and device development. As we now state in our Author Guidelines: “... Prior disclosure of results on a public website such as will not affect the decision to peer review or acceptance of papers in PLoS journals” [9].

... In June, members of the World Health Organization's Registry Platform Working Group on the Reporting of Findings of Clinical Trials ... noted that “Although some journal editors have acknowledged the changing climate around results registration and reporting…they may have a conflict of interest in that they will probably want the key (and potentially most exciting) messages from a trial to appear first, and perhaps exclusively, in their publication” [12].

Indeed, one criterion that editors must determine is how much data can be publicly presented without constituting prior publication—standard grounds for disqualifying a manuscript from consideration. ... In 2007, prior to the passage of FDAAA, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) had announced that its 12 affiliate journals would permit very limited prepublication presentation of results ... and had noted that “[r]esearchers should be aware that editors may consider more detailed deposition of trial results in publicly available registries to be prior publication” [13].

How will journals adapt such positions in the wake of FDAAA ... ? ...

Traditionally, journal editors have assumed substantial responsibility for, and taken a lead in defining, the quality of research reports that do reach the public. ... Beyond financial concerns, it is therefore appropriate that editors consider the effects that the availability of results outside traditional publication might have. ...

... [W]ill immediate and universal access via the Internet to an ever-increasing number of health-savvy readers provide a better level of scrutiny? ...

In the best case, unfettered access by these parties would provide radical improvements over the current system, in which limited access to data hampers systematic review and abets disingenuous drug marketing. It's not difficult to imagine a vigorous network of skilled evaluators serving as watchdogs over posted data that have been misrepresented or remain unpublished. Perhaps peer-reviewed journals will provide a forum for publishing independent analyses of such datasets. ...

See also our earlier post on the FDAAA.

Online researchers have access to more articles but cite fewer

James Evans has an article in the July 18 issue of Science Magazine, showing that when researchers have access to more papers, they cite fewer of them in their own work.  The July 18 isn't yet online, but here's an article from today's Economist about Evans' research.  (Thanks to Heather Joseph).  Excerpt:

...[James Evans] found that as more journals become available online, fewer articles are being cited in the reference lists of the research papers published within them. Moreover, those articles that do get a mention tend to have been recently published themselves....

[Evans used Thomson citation data on] 6,000 of the most prominent academic journals, some going back to 1945. By cross-referring these to a database called Fulltext Sources Online, he was able to work out when each of these journals became available on the web—and whether a journal had posted back-issues electronically as well. The result was a set of 34m research papers, which he was able to mine in search of his answers.

For each research paper he looked at, he calculated the average age of the articles cited as references. He then calculated, for each of those cited articles, the number of back-issues of the journal it had been published in which were available on the web at the time when it was cited, and averaged that too. Finally, he looked for correlations between the two averages.

What he discovered was that, for every additional year of back-issues of a journal available online, the average age of the articles cited from that journal fell by a month. He also found a fall, once a journal was online, in the number of papers in it that got any citations at all. Indeed, he predicts that for the average journal today, five extra years’ worth of online availability will cause a precipitous drop in the number of articles receiving one or more citations—from 600 to 200 a year....

Why this should be so remains unclear. It does not seem to have anything to do with economics. The same effect applied whether or not a journal had to be paid for. One explanation could be that indexing works by titles and authors alone, as happened with printed journals, forced readers to cast at least a cursory glance at work not immediately related to their own—or even that the mere act of flicking through a paper volume may have thrown up unexpected gems. This may have led people to make broader comparisons and to integrate more past results into their research....

Also see the press release and video from the NSF, which funded Evans' work.   From the press release:

..."More is available," Evans said, "but less is sampled, and what is sampled is more recent and located in the most prominent journals."

Evans's research also found that this trend was not evenly distributed across academic disciplines. Scientists and scholars in the life sciences showed the greatest propensity for referencing fewer articles, but the trend is less noticeable in business and legal scholarship. Social scientists and scholars in the humanities are more likely to cite newer works than other disciplines.

So what is it about doing research online versus in a bricks-and-mortar library that changes the literature review so critical to research? Evans has identified a few possible explanations. Studies into how research is conducted show that people browse and peruse material in a library, but they tend to search for articles online Online searches tend to organize results by date and relevance, which leads allows scholars and scientists to pick recent research from the most high profile journals. Some search tools like Google factor the frequency with which other users select an item during similar searchers to determine relevance. Online, researchers are also more likely to follow hyper-linked references and links to similar work within an online archive. Because of this, as more scholars choose to read and reference a given article, future researchers more quickly follow.

Does this phenomenon spell the end of the literature review? Evans doesn't think so, but he does believe that it makes scholars and scientists more likely to come to a consensus and establish a conventional wisdom on a given topic faster. "Online access facilitates a convergence on what science is picked up and built upon in subsequent research." The danger in this, he believes, is that if new productive ideas and theories aren't picked up quickly by the research community, they may fade before their useful impact is evaluated. "It's like new movies. If movies don't get watched the first weekend, they're dropped silently," Evans said....


  • It's hard to say much based on a newspaper summary and a press release.  But at first glance, Evans' results conflict with the many studies showing that OA articles are cited significantly more often than non-OA articles.  These studies differ from one another on how to explain the correlation between OA and increased citation counts, but they agree on the correlation.  However, there may be ways to reconcile the two sets of results.  For example, authors may cite fewer articles when they have more to choose from, but they may still cite OA articles relatively more often than TA articles.  Or the average number of citations per article may decline with the growth of the total number of articles accessible to authors, but OA articles might bring the average up, and TA articles might bring it down.  Or the multiplication of ejournals may be narrowing the scope of the average paper, and therefore shortening the average reference list, but citations may be growing overall and the citations of OA articles may be growing faster than the citations of TA articles.  (On the other side, the Economist said that "the same effect applied whether or not a journal had to be paid for" --though without specifying exactly which effect.) 
  • Evans' results also appear to conflict with a recent study by 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.  Eger found 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."  If Evans is right that "less is sampled", then the two studies are definitely incompatible.  But if we look only at Evans' conclusions about citations, the two studies may be compatible.  Evans is saying that access to more literature reduces the number of different sources one cites, and Eger is saying that it increases ("dramatically" increases) the number of articles one requests or samples.  Researchers may be viewing more articles but citing fewer.  Are they using their enhanced access to browse neighboring topics?  Are they exploring serendipitous discoveries, only some of which turn out to be citable?  Does their wider reading help them zero in on citable research?

Update (7/18/08).  Evans' paper is now online:  Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship, Science, July 18, 2008.  Only this abstract and the supporting online material are free online:

Online journals promise to serve more information to more dispersed audiences and are more efficiently searched and recalled. But because they are used differently than print—scientists and scholars tend to search electronically and follow hyperlinks rather than browse or peruse—electronically available journals may portend an ironic change for science. Using a database of 34 million articles, their citations (1945 to 2005), and online availability (1998 to 2005), I show that as more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles. The forced browsing of print archives may have stretched scientists and scholars to anchor findings deeply into past and present scholarship. Searching online is more efficient and following hyperlinks quickly puts researchers in touch with prevailing opinion, but this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon.

Update (7/18/08).  Brandon Keim's blog post on the article at Wired Science has triggered a discussion in the comment section.

Update (7/18/08).  Also see Lila Guterman, Access to Online Journals Reduces Breadth of Citations, Study Finds, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

...Mr. Evans's results puzzle Carol Tenopir, a professor of information sciences at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Along with Donald W. King, a research professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she has been studying scholars' reading habits since 1977.

"We found exactly the opposite" of Mr. Evans's results, she said. After 20 years of holding steady, the number of older articles that researchers read has increased in the past 10 years. So has the number of journals from which researchers read at least one article.

She suggested that citations lag behind reading by several years and that, because many journals put their older files online only recently, Mr. Evans may find a change in the trend if he looks again in a few years....

Update (7/19/08).  Also see Bill Hooker's analysis.  Excerpt:

...It's potentially worrisome if more citations are going to fewer journals, but once again I see no more reason to attribute that to increasing online availability than to attribute it to the sharply rising cost of scientific journals in any form.  It's well documented that as journal prices have continued to rise, researchers and institutions have had to cut back on the number of subscriptions they take.  It is not difficult to imagine that "long tail" and "preferential attachment" phenomena (see, for instance, Evans' own references 14 - 18...) would drive the concentration of likely subscriptions towards a pool of "must have" journals.  Indeed, publishers actively promote the concept of such a pool and compete strongly to be seen to be part of it.

Finally, and to me most importantly, Evans seems to me to gloss over the question of what proportion of the online archives are freely available, and what effect that has on the phenomenon he is attempting to model....

I take issue with [Evans' conclusion that OA and TA show a similar effect].  On one of three [of Evans' own] measures they have the opposite effect, and on the other two measures commercial access has by far the stronger effect.

What this suggests to me is that the driving force in Evans' suggested "narrow[ing of] the range of findings and ideas built upon" is not online access per se but in fact commercial access, with its attendant question of who can afford to read what.  Evans' own data indicate that if the online access in question is free of charge, the apparent narrowing effect is significantly reduced or even reversed.  Moreover, the commercially available corpus is and has always been much larger than the freely available body of knowledge (for instance, DOAJ currently lists around 3500 journals, approximately 10-15% of the total number of scholarly journals).  This indicates that if all of the online access that went into Evans' model had been free all along, the anti-narrowing effect of Open Access would be considerably amplified....

Indeed, I would suggest that if the entire body of scholarly literature were Openly available, so that every researcher could read everything they could find and programmers were free to build search algorithms over a comprehensive database to help the researchers do that finding, then in fact the opposite effect would obtain....

In support of this assertion, consider the expanding body of literature on the Open Access "citation advantage" -- studies which show that the likelihood of a given paper being cited is increased up to several hundred percent if the paper is OA rather than commercially available.  There is some controversy over that literature, but it stands in direct contrast to the idea that online access of any kind tends to narrow citation reach.

There are more data in Evans' paper that speak to the free-vs-commercial issue, and some of those data show free access having a stronger "narrowing" effect than commercial access.  I'd go through it in detail, but I am probably already pushing the limits of fair use so I'll have to refer you to the published article -- in particular, Figure 2 panels A and B.  My response is much the same, that the apparent effect suffers from a loading in "favour" of commercial access, because of the wildly disparate sizes of the two different bodies of online literature. 

Update (7/19/08).  Bora Zivkovic has collected a good number of early comments on the paper.

Update (1/5/09).  Also see the January 2, 2009, letter to the editor of Science by Yves Gingras, Vincent LaRiviere, and Eric Archambault.  Excerpt:

J. A. Evans's report, "Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship" (18 July, p. 395) suggests that (i) the average age of citations to scientific papers dropped over the years as more electronic papers became accessible and (ii) the citations are concentrated on a smaller proportion of papers and journals. Such conclusions are not warranted by Evans’s data.

To measure the evolution of the average (or median) age of the references contained in papers, one has to look at all the references in all published papers and observe the evolution of their age over time. As we have shown using Thomson Reuters’s Web of Science data for the period 1900 to 2004 (for a total of 500 million references in 25 million papers), the average (and median) age of all references began to decrease in 1945 but has increased steadily since the mid-1960s. This trend is visible in all sciences, including the social sciences and the humanities....The median age of references in fields of science and engineering moved from 4.5 years in 1955 to more than 7 years in 2004, and in medical sciences it increased from 4.5 to 5.5 during the same period....In fact, Evans’s conclusions only reflect a transient phenomenon related to recent access to online publications and to the fact that the method used does not take into account time delays between citation year and publication year. Our data also show that in disciplines in which online access has been available the longest (such as nuclear physics and astrophysics), the age of references declines for a number of years in the 1990s but then increases from 2000 to 2007, the last available year of our data set. We have also measured the concentration of citations (and journals) by three different methods, including the one used by Evans. All three measures clearly show that concentration is in fact declining for papers as well as for journals....Although many factors affect citation practices, two things are clear: Researchers are increasingly relying on older science, and citations are increasingly dispersed across a larger proportion of papers and journals.

SPARC-ARL response to AAP re: NIH policy

NIH Public Access Policy Does Not Affect U.S. Copyright Law, an analysis by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and the Association of Research Libraries, July 11, 2008. See also the full analysis. From the summary:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently implemented a congressionally approved Public Access Policy designed to increase the scientific and social impact of NIH funding. ...

Although it is clear that the NIH Public Access Policy is simply a routine change in the contract between the NIH and funding recipients, the American Association of Publishers (AAP) submitted an opinion letter to NIH suggesting that this change raised copyright issues including U.S. obligations under international copyright agreements. This AAP Opinion Letter is fundamentally flawed and mischaracterizes the relevant facts and law.

Contrary to the AAP assertions, the NIH Public Access Policy does not affect U.S. copyright law in any way. NIH has added a condition to pre-existing licensing terms in its grant agreements that affirms it can legally provide public access to publicly funded research. This change in the terms of NIH grant agreements is fully consistent with copyright law. Copyright is an author’s right. Researchers are the authors of the articles they write with NIH support. In exchange for substantial federal funding, these researchers voluntarily agree to grant the federal government a license to provide public access to the results of publicly funded research. NIH receives a non-exclusive license from federally funded researchers, who retain their copyrights and are free to enter into traditional publication agreements with biomedical journals or assign these anywhere they so choose, subject to the license to NIH.

This change in the terms of the Public Access Policy has no relation to United States compliance with international intellectual property treaties. The Berne Convention on Copyright and the TRIPS Agreement concern the substance of copyright law, not the terms of licenses granted to the United States in exchange for federal funding. ...

Update (7/18/08). See Richard Sietmann's coverage of the AAP-SPARC debate in Heise Online. Read it in the original German or Google's English.

More on the IR from Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières, which announced its institutional repository in May 2008, has repeated the announcement, July 15, 2008.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill and Subbiah Arunachalam.)  From the new announcement:

The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched an open-access website on which it makes available published research based on its medical work. The site requires no password or sign-up and full-text articles are available for free. MSF hopes that health professionals, policy makers and researchers, especially those in developing countries, will now have easier access to the results of MSF’s field research....

This research has often changed clinical practice and health policy in developing countries.

At its launch, the field research site includes over 400 archived articles on issues including HIV care, malaria, tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, refugees and health politics. It also features conference abstracts and a section called ‘Programme Descriptions’ that describes lessons learnt from MSF’s field experience. As new articles are published, they will be archived on the site.

According to Tony Reid, who, along with fellow MSF Medical Editor Sarah Venis, developed the site, “MSF is mostly funded by private donations and does virtually all of its research on health issues in developing countries. We strongly believe that this research, funded by the public, should be made freely available to those who can most appropriately use it. We developed the site because we were concerned that health professionals in developing countries would not be able to pay for access to our medical research and would miss information that could be highly relevant to their work.” ...

PS:  The MSF repository was built by BMC's OpenRepository service.

More on facilitating digital preservation by removing permission barriers

International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation, a report jointly produced by Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, the Joint Information Systems Committee, the Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project, and the SURFfoundation, July 2008.  Excerpt:

This study focuses on the copyright and related laws of Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States and the impact of those laws on digital preservation of copyrighted works. It also addresses proposals for legislative reform and efforts to develop non-legislative solutions to the challenges that copyright law presents for digital preservation....

6.1.  Summary of Findings...

6.1.2.  The four countries surveyed in this report all have exceptions in their copyright and related laws that allow reproduction (and sometimes other activities) in connection with the preservation of protected works. However, many of the exceptions were enacted in an analog era and do not adequately accommodate all of the activities necessary for digital preservation. Some countries have begun the process of changing their laws to create exceptions to allow digital preservation by libraries, archives and other preservation institutions, but applying the preservation exceptions that currently exist to digital preservation is often an uncertain and frustrating exercise....

6.1.6.  ...Legal reform is needed to ensure comprehensive preservation of the vast range of copyrighted materials now being made available in digital form....

6.2.  Joint Recommendations...

Countries should establish laws and policies to encourage and enable the digital preservation of at risk copyrighted materials. These laws and policies should, at a minimum: ...

5.  Allow preservation institutions to undertake preservation activities as necessary and in accordance with international best practices for digital preservation, including (a) Reproduction and retention of such copies as may be necessary for effective digital preservation; (b) The serial transfer of copyrighted works into different formats for preservation in response to technological developments and changing standards, and (c) The communication of works within the preservation institution for administrative activities related to preservation, or between the preservation institution and legally authorized third party preservation repositories as necessary for the purpose of maintaining redundant preservation copies to protect against catastrophic loss....


  • The problem in a nutshell is that digital preservation requires copying which is unlawful under most national copyright systems.  Copying is necessary e.g. to make deposits in secure repositories, to multiply copies in order to reduce risk (on the LOCKSS principle), and to migrate content to new formats and media to keep it readable as technology changes.  Hence, preservation of copyrighted works usually requires copyright reform. 
  • However, there is an important exception:  if a copyrighted work is OA in the BBB sense, that is, if it removes permission barriers in addition to price barriers, then the requisite copying is already permitted and legal reforms are unnecessary.  In short, as I've long argued (1, 2, 3), OA facilitates digital preservation.
  • A quick skim and search of the report didn't turn up this point about OA, even though three of the institutions behind the report are strong supporters of OA (JISC, SURF, and the OAK Law project).

Update (7/18/08).   I'm happy to say that my third bullet point was hasty.  The report does make clear that OA facilitates preservation and makes statutory amendments unnecessary.  See pp. 35, 43, 44, and 103.  (Thanks to Jessica Coates.)

More on the difficulties of opening access to data

Ethan Zuckerman, The Complexity of Sharing Scientific Databases, WorldChanging, July 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[The use of open licenses by scientists is] the research interest of my colleague Melanie Dulong de Rosnay. She’s using her time as a Berkman fellow to study alternative copyright systems and their usage and relevance within academic and library communities. Yesterday, Melanie presented research on the licensing of scientific databases and the obstacles such licensing presents to collaboration between scientists around the world....

For a couple of years, [Science Commons] offered a wonderfully complex FAQ on applying Creative Commons licenses to databases - the first question read “Can a Creative Commons license be applied to a database?” After a six paragraph answer to that question, the third question read, “So, a Creative Commons license can be applied to a database?”

The approach Science Commons is taking now is a different one - they’re now recommending use of a protocol that specifies how data can be made Open Access - the FAQ on that protocol explains that the complexities of asking scientists to release their data under Creative Commons licenses was so severe that Science Commons has ended up advocating for data to be released public domain, under the auspices of their protocol, instead.

This question of complexity is what Melanie’s research has focused on. She looked at the terms of use for roughly 200 databases necessary for work in the life sciences. Evaluating the terms on all those databases, she discovered that only seven met her stringent definitions of Open Access to data - these databases could be accessed without registration; they could be downloaded for local use; they could be incorporated into other works; they had clear, understandable terms of use. This last factor proved to be the most challenging. She spent hours reading these terms with other experts in the field and discovered that, a great deal of time, the experts disagreed on what was permitted under a specific agreement.

The reason this is important, Melanie explains, is that scientific research proceeds more quickly when researchers can share resources. But with databases encumbered by different, confusing legal protections, it can become a legal nightmare for researchers to do complex work building new tools that combine information from two databases in a novel way, for instance. And databases that are protected by access restrictions can be out of reach to scientists in developing nations who might not have the financial or technical resources to access them....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Call to support OA journals in developing countries

Priya Shetty, Comment: The developing world needs its own science journals, New Scientist, July 9, 2008.  Excerpt:

The most vital debates at scientific conferences rarely take place during the formal sessions. At the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting of African health ministers in Algiers last month, the hot topic during the lunch breaks was the desperate need to improve the state of academic publishing in developing countries....

Local journals exist in developing countries, but many are failing.  These journals are locked in a vicious circle. Researchers think there is little value in publishing in them, preferring the cachet of globally recognised journals, meaning that they struggle to publish papers of the quality needed to attract future authors....

[M]any journals in developing countries are hampered by the traditional business model of trying to make a profit from print subscriptions - which is challenging, given the dearth of funds to cover subscription fees and the lack of decent postal and transport infrastructure. The revenues available to international medical journals from subscriptions and advertising (which is one reason many publishers are fiercely opposed to open access) simply don't exist in developing countries.

Publishing online is clearly the way forward, and the mushrooming of open-access journals in the west offers a model for how this can be done. Agencies such as the Wellcome Trust have thrown their weight behind open-access initiatives, partly to ensure researchers in developing countries have access to international journals. If the Trust itself began to fund the publishing of open-access journals in developing countries, that would be an even bigger positive step. Development agencies are starting to bankroll long-term efforts to strengthen health systems, but investing in local journals must become part of their funding portfolio too....

Comments.  I'd supplement this sensible op-ed in two ways: 

  1. Researchers in the South generally lack access to research done in the North as well as research done in the South.  The twofold solution is more OA from the North and more OA from the South.  We can accomplish this more easily and quickly with green OA, through repositories, than gold OA, through journals.  Hence, any call for gold OA in developing countries should be conjoined with a call for green OA in developed and developing countries.
  2. While "many journals in developing countries are hampered by the traditional business model of trying to make a profit from print subscriptions," OA journals in the South (like OA journals anywhere) needn't make the profits of the most lucrative TA journals.  Some, however, are not only sustainable, but profitable.  See for example, the 59 OA journals from Medknow Publications in Mumbai.  New support would help, but so would spreading the models that are already working.

Gates Foundation supports OA journal

The Gates Foundation has given a $900,000 grant to The Future of Children, a peer-reviewed OA journal from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Brookings Institution.  For details, see the Princeton press release.

PS:  While the journal offers free online access, and permits reproduction with attribution, it doesn't seem to use the term "open access" anywhere on its web site.

U.S. National Archives joins World Digital Library

NARA Joins World Digital Library, Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 15, 2008.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced this week that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will become a founding partner in the World Digital Library (WDL). Launched in 2005 by the Library of Congress in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the WDL will make a wealth of primary materials from countries and cultures around the world freely available on the Internet.

Weinstein said NARA will contribute digital versions of documents from its collections to the WDL, which is slated to launch for the international public in early 2009. Documents will include the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution of the United States; the Bill of Rights; the Emancipation Proclamation; as well as an array of Civil War photographs; naturalization and immigration records of famous Americans; and photographs by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Lewis Hine. The images NARA has contributed to the WDL, meanwhile are already available on the NARA web site. In addition to NARA and the Library of Congress, WDL project partners include cultural institutions and libraries from Brazil, China, Egypt, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and many other countries.

First French partner for Google Book Search

A Thaw in Franco-Google Relations? Google Books Signs First French Library, Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 15, 2008.
... [Google] this week announced that it had signed its 29th library partner for Google Book Search. Google officials announced that the Lyon Municipal Library, France’s second largest library after the national library in Paris, and the project’s first partner in France, has signed on to make more than 500,000 books available online as part of Google’s Book Search Library project.

Under the plan, Google and Lyon will digitize and offer access to out-of-copyrights works, to be searchable through Google Book Search. On the Google blog, Gérard Collomb, senator and mayor of Lyon, said the partnership would “open our library doors to the rest of the world.”

More importantly, perhaps, the partnership suggests a thaw in Franco-Google relations, and comes just a year after Google’s most impassioned international critic, Jean-Noel Jeanneney, left his post as head of the French national library. In 2005, Jeanneney made international headlines with an editorial in Paris-based Le Monde expressing alarm over Google’s original plan to digitize books from five prominent university libraries, saying that the plan would favor Anglo-Saxon ideas and the English language. In 2006, he published Google and the Myth of Universal Access with the University of Chicago Press, in which he posited that Google’s book scanning plan constituted “a risk of crushing domination by America in defining the idea that future generations have of the world.”
See also coverage at The Bookseller.

Update. See also coverage at The Bookseller on why the Lyon library opted to work with Google rather than with France's national digitization program.

Update. See also the post at the Google Book Search blog.

Canada's NRC adopts an OA mandate

Richard Akerman, Mandatory IR deposit as of 2009 for National Research Council Canada, Science Library Pad, July 15, 2008. 

From an internal email (with permission)

[The NRC Senior Executive Committee] SEC has established a policy making it mandatory, starting in January 2009, for NRC institutes to deposit copies of all peer-reviewed publications (articles, proceedings, books, book chapters) and technical reports in [the forthcoming NRC Institutional Repository, to be called] NPArC. The SEC has also approved an update to NRC Form 22 Licence to Publish (Crown Copyright) that will explicitly state NRC’s intention to deposit these publications in NPArC.

As this blog is by no means an official source of information about my organisation [NRC], if you have any questions I ask that you go through regular NRC or CISTI communications channels [NRC Newsroom and NRC Mediaroom].

Comment.  Thanks to the Richard for posting the news and kudos to all involved at the NRC.  Neither the NRC Newsroom nor NRC Mediaroom has any details yet, but I'll post more as I learn more.


New difficulties for determining when books are in the public domain

Peter Hirtle, Copyright Renewal, Copyright Restoration, and the Difficulty of Determining Copyright Status, D-Lib Magazine, July/August 2008. 

Abstract:   It has long been assumed that most of the works published from 1923 to 1964 in the US are currently in the public domain. Both non-profit and commercial digital libraries have dreamed of making this material available. Most programs have recognized as well that the restoration of US copyright in foreign works in 1996 has made it impossible for them to offer to the public the full text of most foreign works. What has been overlooked up to now is the difficulty that copyright restoration has created for anyone trying to determine if a work published in the United States is still protected by copyright. This paper discusses the impact that copyright restoration of foreign works has had on US copyright status investigations, and offers some new steps that users must follow in order to investigate the copyright status in the US of any work. It argues that copyright restoration has made it almost impossible to determine with certainty whether a book published in the United States after 1922 and before 1964 is in the public domain. Digital libraries that wish to offer books from this period do so at some risk.

Google slow to index OAI repository records

Kat Hagedorn and Joshua Santelli, Google Still Not Indexing Hidden Web URLs, D-Lib Magazine, July/August 2008.  Excerpt:

This report is a follow-up to the McCown et al. article in IEEE Internet Computing two years ago, in which the researchers investigated the percentage of URLs from OAI records in Google, Yahoo and MSN search indexes. We were interested in whether Google in particular had increased the number of OAI-based resources in its search index.

To this end, we used a slightly different methodology using the OAIster metadata corpus to see what percentage of the corpus was found in the Google search index only. OAIster harvests and aggregates OAI metadata with links to digital resources – those without links to digital objects are removed during our transformation and indexing process....

Google's indexing does not seem to have retrieved more of the hidden web since the publication of the McCown, et al. article in 2006. We would venture to conclude that Google has not endeavoured to increase their support and access to OAI materials. Even taking into account the caveats, we would also conclude that aggregations of OAI records are as valuable for user research purposes as they were at least two years ago.

From our own experience, we know that providing the OAIster records in bulk to Google proved problematic for them, and eventually they requested only the OAIster URLs instead of the complete metadata. We are not, at this point, certain that Google is using these URLs (crawling them) for addition to their search index.

It is also interesting to note that Google has recently dropped support of OAI for website indexing. Given the resulting numbers from our investigation, it seems that Google needs to do much more to gather hidden resources, not less. (Granted, the OAI for Sitemaps feature may not have been an appropriate approach for Google.) ...

We to encourage other OAI aggregators to run their metadata against the Google index, to prove or disprove our conclusions. Our source code and raw data are available upon request.

Update (7/29/08). Also see Wouter Gerritsma's comments on this article.

Update (7/29/08). Also see the note on this article in Wired Campus, the blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education. See especially the comments from readers.

Can the APA policy be defended?

Stevan Harnad, In Defense of the American Psychological Association's Green OA Policy, Open Access Archivangelism, July 16, 2008.

Summary:  So the American Psychological Association (APA) is trying to charge $2500 per article to fulfill NIH's Green OA mandate by proxy-depositing in PubMed Central on the author's behalf? So maybe if NIH had sensibly mandated depositing in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR), this awkward problem wouldn't have come up? Like the majority of journals, APA journals -- unlike ACS journals -- are Green on authors self-archiving in their own IRs. There's still time to fix the NIH mandate so good sense can prevail...


  • Stevan is mixing up unrelated issues.  The APA "deposit fee" had nothing to do with the distinction between disciplinary repositories (like PMC) and institutional repositories.  If the NIH mandated deposit in IRs instead of PMC, then the APA would demand a $2,500 fee for deposit in IRs, and the fee would be equally noxious and indefensible.  Even if the NIH's preference for PMC were as foolish as Stevan says it is (a criticism I do not share), it would not justify the APA fee. 
  • Stevan points to a 2002 APA policy statement, still online, which allows self-archiving in IRs.  But he doesn't point out that the APA's newer policy statement describing the "deposit fee" effectively negates the older green policy, at least for NIH-funded authors.  The new policy prohibits NIH-funded authors from depositing their postprints in any OA repository, disciplinary or institutional.
  • The title of Stevan's post suggests that he's defending the APA's 2002 self-archiving policy.  I join him in that.  But the body of his post attempts to defend the 2008 deposit fee as well:  "Although it looks bad on the face of it...things are not always as they seem."  Not always, but this time.
  • Both arguments are moot for a while, now that the APA has taken down the new policy statement for "re-examination".  (See the 7/16/08 update to my blog post on the policy.)

Update.  Stevan has responded to my comments and restated his position:  The OA Deposit-Fee Kerfuffle: APA's Not Responsible; NIH Is, Open Access Archivangelism, July 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

In Open Access News, my comrade-at-arms, Peter Suber commented on my essay "In Defense of the American Psychological Association's Green OA Policy," which defended the APA from criticism for levying a $2500 fee on authors for compliance with the NIH mandate to deposit in PubMed Central (PMC). I had said the problem was with NIH's stipulation that the deposit had to be in PMC rather than in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR): The APA has since 2002 been solidly among the majority of publishers that are Green on OA self-archiving, meaning they explicitly endorse deposit in the author's own institutional IR immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no fee....APA has now re-confirmed (see below) that it has no intention of back-sliding on that 6-year-old green policy (as Nature Publishing Group did 3 years ago, immediately upon the impending announcement of the NIH policy).

Peter Suber: "Stevan is mixing up unrelated issues.  The APA "deposit fee" had nothing to do with the distinction between disciplinary repositories (like PMC) and institutional repositories.  If the NIH mandated deposit in IRs instead of PMC, then the APA would demand a $2,500 fee for deposit in IRs, and the fee would be equally noxious and indefensible.  Even if the NIH's preference for PMC were as foolish as Stevan says it is (a criticism I do not share), it would not justify the APA fee."

Peter seems to be replying with a hypothetical conditional, regarding what the APA would have done. But the APA has already been formally endorsing immediate Open Access self-archiving in the author's own IR for six years now. Moreover (see below), the publisher, Gary Vandenbos, has confirmed that APA has not changed that policy, nor are there plans to change it....

[Quoting Gary VandenBos, Publisher, American Psychological Association Journals, in an email to Stevan, July 15, 2008:]  I expect no change in the existing [green] policy. Have not ever heard anyone suggest it....

For the record...: Of course a $2500 fee for depositing in [PMC] is absurd, but what reduced us to this absurdity was needlessly mandating direct deposit in [PMC] in the first place....

Comments on Stevan's July 17 post:

  • If the APA stands by its 2002 policy to allow self-archiving in institutional repositories, without fees or embargoes, then I will applaud it.  I see the evidence Stevan has elicited from the APA's Gary VandenBos that the APA intends to stand by that policy.  So far, so good.  (I thank Stevan for digging, and thank VandenBos for allowing him to publish his response.)  But when VandenBos says that the APA will stay green, he also says that he hasn't heard anyone suggest otherwise.  I'd feel better about his reassurance if it were more responsive to the policy the APA just took down for re-examination.  That policy said explicitly that NIH-funded authors could not self-archive anywhere, even in their own IRs.  For NIH-funded authors, it retracted the APA's green policy. 
  • At the moment, I see two conflicting APA statements and no evidence that either statement took the other into account.  So I'm still waiting for a definitive clarification from the APA.  But as I say, if the APA reaffirms the 2002 policy to allow no-fee, no-embargo self-archiving to IRs, then I will applaud it.
  • However, if the APA retains the "deposit fee" for NIH-funded authors, then I will continue to criticize it.  The APA will still be charging for green OA, which is utterly unnecessary.  It will still fail to deliver immediate OA or OA to the published edition, which fee-based OA journals always deliver in exchange for their fees.  If the APA reaffirms its 2002 green policy, then NIH-funded authors could bypass the deposit fee when self-archiving to their IRs.  But they couldn't bypass the fee when self-archiving to PMC, and they are bound by the NIH policy to deposit in PMC (or have their journal do so for them).  Stevan hopes that policies like the APA's will pressure the NIH to drop this requirement and allow deposits in an IR to suffice.  But even if that ought to happen, it won't happen soon and very likely won't happen at all.  One reason is simply that the requirement to deposit in PMC was mandated by Congress.  The NIH undoubtedly supports the Congressional directive, but it's not an in-house policy decision that the agency is free to reverse at will. 
  • But should Congress and the NIH prefer PMCs to IRs?  Maybe, maybe not.  I see good arguments on both sides.  But they are irrelevant here because (1) the APA deposit fee would still be unnecessary and (2) there's no evidence that the APA was motivated, as Stevan is, to protest the preference for PMC --as opposed to (say) mandatory OA.  (For the record, my position is close to Stevan's:  institutional and disciplinary repositories should harvest from one another; that would greatly lower the stakes in the question where an OA mandate should require initial deposit; if we got that far, I'd be happy to see a policy require deposit in IRs.)
  • Stevan does call the deposit fee absurd.  So we agree on that as well.  But he adds that the NIH preference for PMC over IRs "reduced us to this absurdity".  I'm afraid that's absurd too.  If the NIH preference for PMC somehow compelled publishers to respond with deposit fees, then we'd see many of them.  But in fact we see almost none.  Even if the NIH preference for PMC were a choice the agency could reverse at will, the APA deposit fee is another choice, not necessitated by the NIH policy and not justified by it.

Update (7/19/08).  Stevan has responded to my latest comments.  I'll let him have the last word.  But do see the APA's new interim policy, posted online this morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Choices for libraries

Shannon Bohle, The choices you make extend beyond delivering digital content, Library Journal, July 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

...We need to take a step back and consider how librarians in the last decade have found themselves on the fast track from the sequestered content villas of subscription databases to the sprawling information architecture of our new socially networked digital environment.

There are basically three competing models at work in the metadata and digital asset management (DAM) world at large. For lack of an existing terminology, we can label these groups the “competitive isolationists,” the “exclusionary collaborateurs,” and the “free mashups and crossovers.” ...

At one end of the spectrum, there are “competitive” institutions that vigorously and successfully protect their holdings, regardless of copyright status, using expensive software packages....[T]he costs for these systems, including software, staff time, and service contracts, usually extend into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and thus are an option only for the elite. Two popular examples of these systems include CONTENTdm and Digitool. These top institutions pay for the best technicians but cannot use their human capital to the fullest owing to software companies’ desire to protect their intellectual property. Library staff and technicians, for instance, cannot access or modify the source code. Other drawbacks to these systems can be a lack of built-in collaborative tools for user input and the inability to be crawled by search engines like Google via deep linking.

Another reason that places these systems at the far end of the metadata continuum is the benefit this “isolationist” model derives from their use of others’ metadata without necessarily relinquishing their own, akin to a “we’ll take yours and keep ours” approach....

At the far end of the spectrum from the competitive isolationists, there are individuals and organizations that have begun to explore new ways to free their content and metadata, allowing it to be reused and remixed in exciting new ways. One example is those groups that have “relinquished” their noncopyrighted and/or copyrighted holdings by crossing over to the “Creative Commons” (CC) for all noncommercial use. For example, Duke University Libraries now includes the CC license at the bottom of every page of its online special collections. Another example is Wikisource, where archival content can be deposited under the GNU Free Documentation License....Recently, the Library of Congress (LC) joined a small contingent of archival repositories when it mounted one of its out-of-copyright collections on the social tagging–enabled web site Flickr....

Perhaps the greatest advantage of these collaborative and Web 2.0 tools is in their ability to facilitate cooperation across all kinds of boundaries....

APA will charge authors for green OA

The American Psychological Association may have the worst publisher policy to date for NIH-funded authors.  Excerpt:

In compliance with [the NIH OA policy], APA will deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript of NIH-funded research to PMC upon acceptance for publication. The deposit fee of $2,500 per manuscript for 2008 will be billed to the author's university per NIH policy....

Even after collecting the fee, the APA will not deposit the published version of the article, will not allow OA release for 12 months, will not allow authors to deposit in PMC themselves (and bypass the fee), will not allow authors to deposit in any other OA repository, and will not allow authors to retain copyright.


  • I don't oppose publication fees at OA journals.  But publication fees at OA journals buy gold OA, which always includes immediate OA and OA to the published edition of the article.  In most cases it also allows the author to retain key rights, including the right to deposit the work in an OA repository independent of the publisher.  But the APA is not charging for gold OA.  It's charging for green OA:  deposit in an OA repository (PMC) and nothing more.  In fact, the APA is frank enough to call its demand a "deposit fee" rather than a "publication fee".  No author or author-sponsor should ever have to pay a fee to deposit an article in an OA repository. 
  • The NIH policy does not prevent publishers from charging fees.  Indeed, it doesn't prevent publishers from doing anything.  It regulates grantees, not publishers.  But it certainly doesn't require publishers to charge fees.  The APA is simply being dishonest when it says that it will bill its fee to universities "per NIH policy". 
  • The foulness of this policy wouldn't matter if NIH-funded authors simply steered clear of APA journals.  That's my recommendation.  A green OA fee is not a good use of grant funds, university funds, or author funds.
  • The APA isn't the first publisher to charge for green OA, especially for authors under green OA mandates from their funders.  Both Wiley and the ACS did it under the previous (voluntary) version of the NIH policy, and the OAD is documenting publishers who try the same tactic under the new (mandatory) version of the policy.
  • See my past posts on the APA's opposition to the NIH policy.

Update (7/16/08).  This morning the APA policy page deleted the language summarized above and replaced it with these paragraphs:

A new document deposit policy of the American Psychological Association (APA) requiring a publication fee to deposit manuscripts in PubMed Central based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently being re-examined and will not be implemented at this time. This policy had recently been announced on APA’s Web site. APA will soon be releasing more detailed information about the complex issues involved in the implementation of the new NIH Public Access Policy.

APA will continue to deposit NIH-funded manuscripts on behalf of authors in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Update (7/16/08).  Also see Kevin Smith's comment, Making Elsevier Look Good:

...Since there is virtually no cost associated with the mechanics of deposit itself, and the NIH policy allows an embargo on public availability of articles of up to one year in order to protect the traditional subscription market, it is hard to see what this policy is intended to accomplish other than to force an additional income stream out of the faculty authors who already provide the APA with free content. And there is heavy irony in the APA’s assertion that they can do this “as the copyright holder.” ...

Two simple and specific messages need to be delivered over and over to our faculty authors if this dysfunctional and abusive system is to change.

First, they need to be reminded that they do have choices about where they publish their work; there is no logic in remaining loyal to a particular journal when the publisher of that title has clearly decide to place profit and self-interest above the well-being of the academy, the discipline, or its scholarly authors.

Second, regardless of where they publish their research, scholars should resist transferring copyright to journal publishers. APA can only tell scholarly authors what that can and cannot do with their work after they have received a transfer of copyright; up to that point they must negotiate, not dictate....



Rangifer converts to OA after 26 years of TA

Rangifer, the journal of "Research, Management and Husbandry of Reindeer and other Northern Ungulates", has converted to OA after 26 years of TA publication.  Rangifer is published by the Nordic Council for Reindeer Husbandry Research, uses CC-BY licenses, and has earned a SPARC Europe seal of approval.  (Thanks to Jan Erik Frantsvåg.)

Webcast of ELPUB funder policy session

Jim Till, Webcast of funder policy session at ELPUB 2008, Be openly accessible or be obscure, July 15, 2008.

The ELPUB 2008 Conference Schedule for June 27 included an afternoon Plenary Session entitled: “Funding Policies and Research Access - Round Table”. A webcast of this session is online ...

The session was chaired by Eve Gray< (University of Cape Town) and the panelists were: Fred Friend (JISC), Geoff Hynes (CIHR), Neil Thakur (NIH), Kathleen Shearer (CARL) and Francis Ouellette (OICR).

The individual presentations in the webcast can be found in the following (approximate) time intervals:

Fred Friend (0-0.22); Geoff Hynes (0.23-0.41); Neil Thakur (0.42-0.52); Kathleen Shearer (0.53-1.05); >Francis Ouellette (1:06-1:17). The presentations are followed by questions from the audience (1:18-1:38). ...

Most of the remainder of the webcast involves a presentation by the Closing Speaker of the two Keynote Speakers, Stevan Harnad ...

MyDriver service offers personalized email alerts

On July 14, the DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research) project announced the addition of a new current awareness service in the D-NET platform to receive alerts on new contents matching a search term. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

OAD list of business models for OA journals

The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened a list of OA journal business models for community editing. 

The goal of this list is to catalog the basic themes in financing OA journals, and all the extant variations on those themes.  From the scope notes:

This is a list of business models and revenue sources for OA journals.  Some revenue sources are supplementary and not sufficient. We aim to include all the revenue sources actually used by OA journals, even if they are small parts of larger business models.

The list has reached a critical mass but still needs a lot of work.  Remember that OAD is a wiki, and you can help keep its lists comprehensive, accurate, and up to date.


Software spec for Names Project released

The Names Project is a JISC-funded initiative "to scope the requirements of UK institutional and subject repositories for a service that will reliably and uniquely identify individuals and institutions". The Software Requirements Specification for the Names prototype name authority service was released on July 11, 2008. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Economic, legal, and technical OA

Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, Opening Access in a Networked Science.  A new contribution to the Publius Project of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, July 14, 2008 (and a response to my contribution, The opening of science and scholarship).  Excerpt:

Some researchers can’t use their own scholarship anymore because, in order to be published, they assigned all their rights without being aware of the implications of the exclusive terms of their initial agreements with their publishers. They can’t publish their own articles on their webpages; they aren’t sure whether they can send a copy of the post print to their colleagues or reuse it for a book or in class. Furthermore, their library might not be able to afford the subscription to the journal that published their article.

Science is being built incrementally. Scholars quote previous works and aim at disseminating new knowledge broadly into society. How can society take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital publishing and distributing to share scientific results more quickly and thus facilitate the discovery of new knowledge? What steps can further open science and scholarship? Should we simply ensure access to knowledge without paying a fee, or should we do even more to improve that access, such as enhancing legal and technical capabilities for finding, extracting, annotating and compiling information in order to make better use of it? ...

Economic OA

Research available only for a fee can’t be read by researchers from less favored institutions and countries....The public won’t read these articles either....

Legal OA

Legal OA is an additional condition, allowing redistribution, and goes beyond the removal of financial barriers to accessing and reading. Removing permission barriers grants the public rights to use material beyond simple access....

The Creative Commons Attribution license complies with the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition and makes legal OA a reality....

Technical OA

Just as price and rights clearance, technology can create barriers to access, redistribution and reuse of articles and data. But technical choices can also help remove them Technical OA should ensure that materials can be actually and effectively reused, mined, processed, aggregated, integrated, and searched by both humans and machines....

Monday, July 14, 2008

On the British Library's digitization program

Tracey Caldwell, Scan and Deliver, Information World Review, July 11, 2008. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
... The British Library has digitisation projects going on all fronts ... Three of its projects are funded by JISC, which is supporting 16 digitisation schemes in the UK to the tune of £10m. ...

Digitisation projects have to take many factors into account. ... But the biggest project challenge of all proved to be copyright clearance.

... Ben White, copyright compliance and publisher licensing manager at the British Library, says: “If you are going to go up to 1900, as we are, you have to acknowledge that some of that would be in copyright. In the EU the law is that for books, maps and pictures copyright is life plus 70 years, so if you do the maths you know that some of it is going to be in copyright.” For example, if an author of a book published in 1900 lived until 1938, the work would still be in copyright.

White adds: “To digitise historical out-of-print books, we have to go back to the 1860s. Google is blocking access from the EU to anything post-1865 ...”

In the US, copyright law is clearer: copyright has expired on all works published before 1923, paving the way for mass digitisation. ...

If it is informed of a rights holder, the British Library removes digitised materials pending permissions being sought and granted. It is lobbying for legal protection for its stance for all public bodies. ...

The process of copyright clearance during the British Library's digitisation of soft targets - works that are mostly out of copyright - is certainly serving to underline the need for secure frameworks within which public and academic institutions can go forward with digitisation initiatives that might include more recent works. Guidance about the exceptions and grey areas is being put together but copyright clearance looks set to be a long hard road for some time to come.

Researching SJI

Richard Poynder is requesting help in his research on Scientific Journals International.  From his post to the AmSci OA Forum today:

Like Bentham [which Poynder wrote about in April 2008], SJI was brought to my attention by researchers concerned about the way in which it appears to be recruiting its editors, and seeking article submissions. The suspicion is that SJI is spamming academics in a scattergun way. Some of those who contacted me argue that it is also unclear what (if any) peer review takes place when papers are submitted....

[W]hile the company claims to have more than 100 "peer-reviewed Open Access journals for all disciplines," many of these journals don't currently appear to exist. When visitors to the site click on a link to some of the journals, for instance, they often simply get the message "Coming soon ..." (e.g. [here])....

Last year some researchers became sufficiently suspicious that they began to blog about SJI's activities....

Plutchak also pointed out that there was a lack of transparency about the ownership of SJI. "Nowhere on the website could I find any indication of who is actually behind these journals," he wrote. "There's a business address in St. Cloud, Minnesota, but no one is named." ...

To this I received a reply signed by a Professor Niaz Ahmed, who described himself as Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Mass Communications, Saint Cloud State University, and pointed me to his web site. Ahmed drew my attention to a "Fraud Alert" note that had been added to the SJI web site, and complained that SJI had become a target for misleading rumours designed to discredit it. Then, in a second message sent immediately afterwards, Ahmed accused me of not introducing myself properly, for which reason, he added, he was "inclined to believe that you are just another jealous or racist individual who is trying to spread rumours about SJI."

Shortly afterwards I noticed an additional paragraph had been added to the front page of the SJI web. This states that SJI operates "an innovative quadruple-blind review system, where the referees, authors and editors remain anonymous throughout the peer-review process." The new wording also said that, "Names of the chief editor or associate editors are not published on SJI Web site. Authors or reviewers cannot contact the editors to influence the review process deliberately or unintentionally." ...

I sent one final request asking Ahmed to confirm whether or not he was willing to speak with me. I received no reply....

Where does this leave us? Either SJI is, as Ahmed maintains, a victim of disinformation and malicious gossip, or there are genuine reasons to ask probing questions about the company's activities....

It seems to me that the key questions are these:

1. How exactly is SJI recruiting editors to its journals, and what is their role once recruited?

2. How are papers being solicited, and what exactly happens to them once they are submitted?

3. What are the merits and demerits of the quadruple-blind system that SJI says it operates?

4. Likewise, what are the merits and demerits of not making public the names of journal editors? Is there a lack of transparency in the system?

5. Why does SJI appear to have a large number of empty journals (while claiming to have over 100)? ...

I would be grateful if members of this list could help me answer the above questions....

PS: I should stress that Niaz Ahmed [of St. Cloud University] appears to have no connection whatsoever with Dr Niyaz Ahmed, an Indian-based OA advocate, and section editor for PLoS ONE.

Update.  See Stevan Harnad's comments:

Summary: Because it is relatively easy to start up fleets of "peer-reviewed journals" online with minimal experience, answerability, quality-control, cost, or risk, because the call for Open Access (OA) is getting stronger, because traditional journals are perceived as getting weaker, and because there is still widespread ignorance and inertia regarding the fastest and surest way of providing OA (Green OA self-archiving), there seems to be a growing "dot-gold rush" of Gold OA journal start-ups, based on spamming the research community to solicit editors, referees and authors. Needless to say, these antics are giving OA a bad name. The eloquent and insightful chronicler of the OA movement, Richard Poynder, is doing some investigative journalism on this fast-feeding frenzy and looking for help from the research community.

Update. See SJI's first response to Poynder's inquiries (August 19, 2008), Poynder's response to that (August 22, 2008), and SJI's second response to Poynder (August 29, 2008). 

The SJI responses accuse Poynder of libel and racism.  Both charges are gratuitous.  The libel charge looks like an attempt to intimidate and the racism charge looks like an attempt to change the subject.  I know Poynder's work well and have often blogged it.  He's a careful, fair-minded, and professional journalist.  Moreover, his original post consisted of questions without answers.  SJI is not helping its cause.  (Disclosure:  Poynder interviewed me in October 2007.)

Also see comments by Klaus Graf, Bill Hooker, Matt Hodgkinson, Nathan, Dorothea Salo, and an anonymous former referee for SJI

(and Stevan Harnad's comments on that anonymous former referee).

Update (10/6/08). Stevan Harnad and I issued a joint statement in support of Richard Poynder.

Update (10/24/08). SJI posted a five-point response to the questions about its peer review process.

Radio interview on OA

Sundar Raman interviewed Graham Steel on OA in October 2007 for Open Views on KRUU FM.  Unfortunately, Open Views went off the air soon after and Graham's interview was never broadcast.  Fortunately, Graham just posted a podcast of the interview to mP3space.

Editorial and discussion in support of OA

Françoise Thibault, Écrire et diffuser la science : les défis majeurs de l’Open access, Médecine Sciences, June-July 2008.  An editorial.  In French.  No abstract.

Also see from the same issue:  Jean-Claude Guédon, Repenser le sens de la communication scientifique : l’accès libre.  Includes an English abstract:

The recent US law (H.R.2764) affecting NIH policy and the recent unanimous vote by the Arts and Science faculty of Harvard University in favour of a mandatory deposit of researchers’ publications in a suitable repository have brought the Open Access movement into public light. After reviewing the historical background of Open Access, its evolution and extension in the United States, Great Britain, France and Canada are examined. Policies aiming at strengthening Open Access to scientific research are viewed as the direct consequence of treating scientific publishing as an integral part of the research cycle. It should, therefore, be wrapped into the financing of research. As the greater part of research is funded by public money, it appears legitimate to make its results as widely available as is possible. Open Access journals and repositories with strong deposit mandates form the backbone of the strategies to achieve the objective of Open Access. Despite the claims of some publishers, Open Access does not weaken or threaten the peer review process, and it does not conflict with copyright laws.

PS:  For some reason, Google Translate doesn't work on these articles.

Update. From the same issue, also see Pierre Bérard, Sur le rôle des publications en mathématiques, which discusses the use of Arxiv, HAL, OAI-PMH, Gallica, and NUMDAM for mathematics research. (Thanks to Gavin Baker.)

Open data + open software = open service

Rufus Pollock, Open Software Service Definition Launched, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, July 14, 2008.  Excerpt:

For more than a year we’ve been working with a variety of groups and individuals to fashion a clear definition of ‘openness’ in relation to online, software-based, ’services’ (think: search engines, webmail, online spreadsheets, etc). The result, launched today, is the Open Software Service Definition....

Simultaneously released, and to which we are party, the Franklin Street Declaration explicitly encourages those producing network software services to take an open approach....

[S]oftware ’services’, in contrast to a traditional software ‘applications’, present problems for those who care about freedom and openness....

At the same time, ’services’ also tend to combine both software and data to a greater extent that with traditional applications (think of most online map services such as Google or Yahoo! maps). Both data and code are necessary for those who wish to run the service for themselves or who wish to extend it. Thus ‘openness’ will require that both code and data are ‘open’.

The Open Software Service Definition takes both these major features of software services into account and ensures that the users (and reusers) of an ‘open software service’ enjoy the same freedoms as those using free/open software....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More on open textbooks

Svetlana Shkolnikova, Online 'open textbooks' save students cash, USA Today, July 10, 2008. (Thanks to Georgia Harper.)
As textbook prices skyrocket, college students and faculty seeking more affordable options increasingly are turning to "open textbooks" as an alternative.

Open textbooks are free textbooks available online that are licensed to allow users to download, customize and print any part of the text. Professors can change content to fit their teaching styles. Some authors offer a print-on-demand service that produces professionally bound copies for $10 to $20.

Textbook prices have outpaced inflation 2-to-1 in the past two decades, says a 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office. They account for 26% of tuition and fees at four-year public universities and nearly three-quarters of costs at community colleges, the GAO says. ...

[Nicole Allen, director of the Make Textbooks Affordable campaign by Student Public Interest Research Groups] is leading an effort to gather signatures for an Open Textbook Statement of Intent, which asks faculty to consider using open textbooks. The statement has more than 1,200 signatures from faculty in all 50 states in schools ranging from community colleges to four-year universities to graduate schools. ...

Some in the publishing industry have noticed the trend.

Eric Frank spent seven years working for Pearson Education, one of the nation's leading textbook publishers, before quitting last year to pursue a new business venture. He spent three months talking to students, teachers and authors about textbooks, trying to find a solution to their complaints.

It became clear that open textbooks would provide the ideal solution, Frank says.

"The current business model fails the students, the faculties and the authors," he says. "Students are used to having choices in what to buy; instead they're getting the same thing they got 50 years ago and paying a lot for it. Instructors have different teaching styles, but a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter book never allows them to deliver it. The authors are getting paid less and less for their book.

"We flip the model completely."

Frank and his business partner, Jeff Shelstad, in January plan to launch Flat World Knowledge, the first commercial open textbook publisher. It will offer free online textbooks that can be printed and bound, for about $25 for black and white and $35-$39 for full-color copies. The average price of a traditional textbook varies by subject; many new textbooks cost about $150, Allen says.

Instructors will be able to modify the content, and authors will be compensated "at least as well as the traditional model." Frank is recruiting authors, who will receive royalties for texts and supplementary materials such as study guides. ...
See also the comments by Harper:
... Open access is just one part of a much bigger and more complex picture. I am very optimistic that open access will find its way into the book market (or what we call books today), but again, it's not like that will cut off the flow of revenues. Quite the contrary. It just makes it possible for a lot more people to benefit from the work of authors while authors and those who help them ready their works for public consumption still reap sufficient financial rewards to make creating worthwhile. Maybe the biggest stumbling block is understanding that as a copyright owner, you don't have to appropriate every cent of public benefit from your work. There's viability in skimming off the top and letting some of the benefit go to those who never would have been able to buy your book anyway. That concept seems really counter-intuitive to many authors and publishers, but I think it's what makes open access a successful competitor -- authors and publishers can still get paid (if that's what they want) but people who would not have had access also derive benefit. ...

OA to resolve doubts about the corrupting influence of money

Is psychiatric research corrupted by drug money?  Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) wants to know and is asking the Senate to investigate the financing of the American Psychiatric Association

How can psychiatrists clear the air?  Here's one answer, quoted in yesterday's New York Times:

...“Having everyone stand up like a Boy Scout and make a pledge isn’t going to quell suspicion,” said Dr. Donald Klein, an emeritus professor at Columbia, who has consulted with drug makers himself. “The only hope to rule out bias is to have open access to all data that’s produced in studies and know that there are people checking it” who are not on that company’s payroll....


The Great Western Library Alliance has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.  From the SCOAP3 announcement:

...The Deans and Directors of GWLA had already endorsed SCOAP3 project.

Dr. Joni Blake, Executive Director of the GWLA, said "The member libraries of the Alliance are keenly interested in this project and what it would mean to the future of scholarly communication. Our greatest hope is that SCOAP3 proves not only to be a successful model for the HEP community, but is also scalable and expandable into other disciplines." ...