Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, August 22, 2008

On Northwestern Law Review's OA essay series

Gregory S. McNeal, Thoughts on Innovation in Law Review Publishing (Part 1 of 2), The Blog, August 11, 2008 (Thanks to Law School Innovation.)

My recent experience publishing with the Northwestern University Law Review got me thinking about innovation in law review publishing. ...

My essay ... deals ... a timely subject with rapidly changing law. Because of this I faced some publishing dilemmas. My draft was regular essay length ... but was also too timely to wait for a law review issue to be printed. Given the work I put into the essay, I didn’t want it to sit in SSRN or BePress hoping for a cite or some attention via listserv. It was too long to blog, and I didn’t want to relegate it to a “less prestigious” (whatever that means) publication by accepting any offer I could find based solely on timeliness. As I tried to find a home for my essay, I thought that The Northwestern Law Review was innovative enough to accommodate my needs. Exploring their website I found that they have a feature known as “colloquy” essays, which follow the same editorial standards for acceptance into the Law Review (a big hurdle) but are published as soon as editors complete their cite-checking and BlueBook review. What that meant was if I could get accepted, I could publish my thoughts while the legal and policy debate was still underway.

... That allowed for immediate publication of my essay (after editorial review) on the Northwestern Law Review website, along with publication in the completed print issue later this fall. I still have to wait for the final page numbers, but I have a citation that other scholars can rely on ... and more importantly the ideas are out there as part of the dialogue.

There are some other cool features that the Northwestern Law Review includes with their webpage. First, are open comments below the essay. ... [W]hat it means for other scholars is that they can immediately respond to my thoughts and link to their own related scholarship. Bloggers can blog on their own site about my essay, and can preview their thoughts in the comments, dropping a link to their own blogs. All of this makes for an interactive dialogue, which is really what scholarly debate should be about.

In the spirit of scholarly debate, Northwestern will also host a series of “colloquy posts” where other professors will write short response essays about my work. Those essays, which will only appear on-line, will be indexed in Lexis and Westlaw. ...

What really struck me about going through this process was how much sense it makes, and how innovative it is. ...

Moreover, the timeliness of their system, the indexing of response essays, and open comments all seem to be great examples of a potential part of future of legal scholarship. For legal scholars seeking to write about on-going developments in rapidly changing fields, a print venue supplemented with early and rapid on-line publication is a valuable asset. ... [T]he system Northwestern has in place demonstrates how law reviews can provide a forum for timely scholarship that aims to have an impact beyond the halls of the academy.

Of course, all of this got me thinking. Why would any law review wait until they build an entire issue before making the .PDF of an article available on line? It seems allowing the publication process to be driven by when an issue is “full” is an unnecessary limitation in this age of .PDFs, blogs, and print-on-demand. While having a printed issue and reprints is nice, and perhaps required by some, that technical limitation shouldn’t define the publication process. ...

See also Part 2, where McNeal suggests other changes for law review publishing.

US court upholds validity of open licenses

Lawrence Lessig, huge and important news: free licenses upheld, Lessig Blog, August 13, 2008.

... I am very proud to report today that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (THE "IP" court in the US) has upheld a free (ok, they call them "open source") copyright license, explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. (The specific license at issue was the Artistic License.) This is a very important victory ...

In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license. ...

See also the blog post and press release by Creative Commons, the blog post by Sherwin Siy of Public Knowledge, or the BBC story.

Interview with Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation

Donna Wentworth, Voices from the future of science: Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation, Science Commons blog, August 18th, 2008.

If there’s a single quote that best captures the ethos of open science, it might be the following bon mot from Rufus Pollock, digital rights activist, economist at the University of Cambridge and a founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation: “The best thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else.” ...

[Q.] Your Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) is a registry for open knowledge packages and projects, and people have added more than 100 in the past year. Can you tell us how the project got started? What have the recent updates achieved? And what are your future plans — where do you hope to go next?

[A.] ... The impetus behind CKAN was to make it easier for people to find open data, as well as to make their data available to others (especially in a way that can be automated). If you use Google to search for data, you’re much more likely to find a page about data than you are to find the data itself. As a scientist, you don’t want to find just one bit of information — you want the whole set. And you don’t want shiny front ends or permission barriers at any point in the process. We’ve been making updates to CKAN so machines can better interact with the data, which makes it so people who want data don’t have to jump as many hurdles to get it. Ultimately, we want people to be able to request data sets and have the software automatically install any additions and updates on their computers.

What are the biggest challenges to making open science work? If you had to lay out a 3-point agenda for the next five years, what would the action items be?

I think that, like with nearly everything else, the social and cultural challenges may be the biggest hurdle. ...

As for a 3-point agenda:

1.) Open access is very important. In particular, I’d like to see the funders of science mandate not just open access to publications but also, as part of the process, open access to the data. ...

2.) I think we need more evangelism/advocacy for open science. ...

3.) We need to make it easier for people to share and manage large data sets. ...

What do you see as the most important development in open science over the last year?

Without question, the progress we’re making with data licensing ...

Hindawi starts institutional membership program

Hindawi Announces an Open Access Institutional Membership Program, press release, August 18, 2008.
Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of its Open Access Institutional Membership program, which will enable authors from member institutes to publish their work in Hindawi's 125+ open access journals without having to administer and pay any Article Processing Charges from their individual research budgets. ...

Hindawi's membership program is based on a flat rate payment that covers all accepted articles that are submitted by an author from a member institute during the period of the membership. The cost of the membership depends on the level of research output of the institute and their historical publishing pattern in Hindawi journals. Anyone who would like to receive a quotation for their institute can do so by contacting

In order to help universities and other research organizations judge the level of participation of their researchers in Hindawi journals (whether as authors, editors, or reviewers), Hindawi has created institutional profile pages to showcase the output of an organization. The institutional web page of a particular institute can be accessed using a URL of the form "," where "domain" is the domain name of the particular institution. For example, the institutional web page for the University of California, Los Angeles is located at

In addition to the 125+ open access journals that Hindawi currently publishes, this membership will include any journal that is added to Hindawi's collection during the term of the membership.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What open science can learn from the Protein Data Bank

Cameron Neylon, Re-inventing the wheel (again) - what the open science movement can learn from the history of the PDB, Science in the open, August 17, 2008.
... One of the long term champions of data availability is Professor Helen Berman, the head of the Protein Data Bank (the international repository for biomacromolecular structures) ...

I have written before about how the world might look if the PDB and other biological databases had never existed, but as I said then I didn’t know much of the real history. One of the things I hadn’t realised was how long it was after the PDB was founded before deposition of structures became expected for all atomic resolution biomacromolecular structures. ...

Helen made the point strongly that it had taken 37 years to get the PDB to where it is today; a gold standard international and publically available repository of a specific form of research data supported by a strong set of community accepted, and enforced, rules and conventions. We don’t want to take another 37 years to achieve the widespread adoption of high standards in data availability and open practice in research more generally. So it is imperative that we learn the lessons and benefit from the experience of those who built up the existing repositories. ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

OA publications from U.S. Institute of Peace

The U.S. Institute of Peace, an "institution established and funded by Congress", provides an OA collection of its publications on international affairs, conflict prevention and resolution. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Video clips from OA documentary

The Open Access Documentary Project, produced by Intelligent Television and BioMed Central, has posted some video clips of interviews conducted for the documentary. (Thanks to Science Commons.)

See also our past post on the documentary project or all past posts on Intelligent Television.

Update to registry of GPO digitization projects

The Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects, maintained by the Government Printing Office, was updated on June 18, 2008. (Thanks to Free Government Information.) From the announcement:

... The enhanced Registry provides the ability to:

  • Browse digitization projects by category or alphabetically by title.
  • Search the entire Registry or filter searches by category or fields.
  • Quickly access new and recently updated listings.
  • Utilize RSS feeds to keep informed of new and updated projects.
  • View listings by contributor.
  • Contact fellow digitization participants.
  • Recommend listings to others.
  • Report broken links. ...

GPO hopes that the robust features and easy-to-use nature of the enhanced Registry encourages fellow digitization participants to build a comprehensive listing of all Federal digitization projects. Project listings derive from voluntary and solicited contributions from Federal depository and other libraries, Federal and other government agencies, and other non-profit institutions. ...

See also our previous post on the Registry or all past posts on OA at the GPO.

Questionnaire on Intute Repository Search

Evidence Base is collecting a one-page questionnaire about the Intute Repository Search tool. The questionnaire is undated but apparently recent. The questionnaire appears to be open to the public and does not include a deadline for participation.

Presentation on OA and OERs

Stian Håklev, Open research, open educational resources and open learning - experiments and ideas, presentation at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, August 13, 2008. See also the author's blog post on the presentation or the audio of the presentation.

EuropeanaLocal to expand participation in European Digital Library

EuropeanaLocal is a project funded by the European Commission to "involve and help local and regional libraries, museums, archives and audio-visual archives" to provide access to their content through Europeana, the European Digital Library. The project started on June 1, 2008. A kick-off meeting was held on June 25-26.

See also our past posts on Europeana.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Apologies for the delay getting posts up. I recently moved and the Internet connection in my new apartment is not yet reliable.

In addition, my part of Florida looks to be in the path of Tropical Storm Fay. I don't anticipate any issues with safety, but power outages are likely, and occasionally take several days to be repaired. Hopefully there will be no issues, but I wanted to alert readers of the possibility of no or few posts for a few days.

Between the two concerns (which will hopefully both be resolved soon), I'll be catching up as quickly as I can. Thanks for your patience.