Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 30, 2008

NIH takes two OA DNA databases offline to protect patient privacy

Jason Felch, DNA databases blocked from the public, Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

The National Institutes of Health quietly blocked public access to [formerly OA] databases of patient DNA profiles after learning of a study that found the genetic information may not be as anonymous as previously believed....

Institute officials took the unusual step Monday and removed two databases on its public website. The databases contained the genetic information of more than 60,000 cooperating patients. Scientists began posting the information publicly eight months ago to help further medical research.

Creators of the databases had taken steps to mask the identities of the patients....However, the independent study released today reported that a new type of DNA analysis could confirm the identity of an individual in a pool of similarly masked data if that person's genetic profile was already known....

"It's possible, but the likelihood is quite low" that a patient's privacy could have been violated, said Dr. Elizabeth Nable, head of the institute's genetic oversight body, in an interview Thursday evening. "We wanted to err on the side of caution." ...

Researchers favor public access to large pools of such data to speed the pace of medical innovation, but the privacy and public policy implications of such moves are still being understood.

Most patients in the databases signed consent forms after being promised their information would remain private....

Update. Also see the article by Elias Zerhouni and Elizabeth G. Nabel on the take-down, Science Magazine, September 4, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers). Zerhouni is the Director of the NIH and Nabel is Co-Chair of the Senior Oversight Committee, NIH Policy for Sharing GWAS Data, and Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Update (9/5/08).  Also see Natasha Gilbert's article in Nature News, September 4, 2008.  (Thanks to Kay Chapman.)  Excerpt:

...[S]cientists working in the field are complaining that the moves are premature and will impede research....

Update (9/11/08).  Kay Chapman asked me by email for my thoughts on this development, and then for permission for post them on her blog.  As long as she's posting them, I suppose I should post them as well.  (Thanks for the nudge, Kay.)

The NIH is as strong a supporter of OA as the Wellcome Trust.  But on medical data, both agree that privacy takes priority, or that only anonymized medical data can be made OA.  What’s interesting to me is that the method for identifying individuals from these data was discovered after the data were thought sufficiently private and put online.  Since scientific ingenuity is always at work, that suggests there may be a steadily creeping expansion of the privacy exception to OA.

I'm not very alarmed, in part because the same scientific ingenuity can find new ways to anonymize data, and in part because I share the view that patient privacy takes priority.

Because I don't work in the field, I have no opinion on whether the NIH/Wellcome action was really necessary to protect privacy.  But I don't think the action will have any effect on OA datasets where privacy is not an issue.

JISC Scholarly Communications Group modifies its plans for OA

The JISC Scholarly Communications Group revised the description of its mission today, including the way it described its plans for OA.

From the previous edition:

...[To] identify the desirable characteristics of an ideal open access system, addressing both the deficiencies of the existing system and optimising the opportunities that the digital age enables....

From the new edition:

...To identify the desirable characteristics of the scholarly communication system, addressing both the deficiencies of the existing system, considering the behavioural factors which drive scholarly communication, and optimising the opportunities that the digital age enables;

To establish an evidence base for desirable models (including but not exclusively Open Access) that would be valuable to the community, taking into account disciplinary differences; ...

An OA chemical database for document searching

Antony Williams, Chemistry Document Markup and Free Access Structure-Based Searching of Publications, ChemSpider Blog, August 29, 2008.

... A lot of effort is being expended in “text-mining” publications, post-publication, to index these articles and make them searchable not only by text but by the specific language of chemistry, chemical structures. ...

We are considering a system whereby authors are asked to contribute to the availability of a free online service for performing structure and substructure-based searches of chemistry articles. While the submission of journal articles is already a lot of work ... we hope that authors will support a service whereby they can upload their own articles to a “validation and mark-up service”. ...

The result of this project will be a way for publishers to link their articles directly to a free access chemistry database and use a series of web services to enable other capabilities (to be defined). It will also allow articles in Open Access and non-Open Access publications to searchable by the “language of chemistry”. ...

We are also going to provide a Microsoft Word add-on which will allow users to prepare articles for publishing using similar technologies. ...

Notes from Kyrgyz OA conference

Iryna Kuchma, "Open Access and Web 2.0: Improving the scientific communications" workshop, eIFL, August 28, 2008.

On August 2-3, 2008 Kyrgyzstan Library Information Consortium in collaboration with and American University of Central Asia organized the workshop "Open Access and Web 2.0: Improving the scientific communications" for Kyrgyz librarians. Seminar presentations (all in Russian) are here.

The Kyrgyzstan Libraries Information Consortium coordinates open access projects in Kyrgyzstan. Among them [are] a pilot open repository in the American University of Central Asia, [and] a national open repository for ETDs (CRAD) ... There are plans to enrich this repository with any scholarly content materials not only from Kyrgyzstan but also from Central Asia. This new shared open repository for Central Asia will be discussed at the 9-th International conference "Issyk Kul 2008: Libraries and democratization of society", that will take place on the 1st to 5th of October 2008 in Kyrgyzstan.

Among other plans: launching Open Access declaration in Kyrgyzstan to encourage the funders of the research to mandate open access, ... creating a directory of open access scholarly content in Russian language, publishing and disseminating advocacy kits in Russian language about open access for scientists, scholars and students, creating intellectual property policies in research institutions to support open access self-archiving, ...

Open Access was also presented at the BarCamp Central Asia 2008 – the first non-conference [sic] of such kind in Central Asia (the presentation in Russian is here) that took place the same days – August 2-3, 2008 in the American University of Central Asia. ...

New social networking and research management site

Indiana U researchers launch social networking and research management tool for scientists, press release, August 27, 2008. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Indiana University researchers have introduced Laboratree, a web-based solution to the complex problems of scientific collaboration. ...

In addition to professional social networking, collaborators can upload documents to Laboratree, where colleagues can view, download, edit, and manage research papers and data. Colleagues will have access to all versions of a document, tracking edits made, while an intuitive check-in, check-out system eliminates conflicting changes.

Laboratree implements the recently developed OpenSocial platform ... Using OpenSocial means software applications and tools by others can be plugged in to Laboratree, freely exchanged between social networks that have incorporated the new platform. ...
Update. See also this story from iTnews Australia.

More on bloggers and OA

Bora Zivkovic,, v.2.0, A Blog Around the Clock, August 29, 2008.
... [W]e took a little look [at the new release of] at the PLoS HQ and noticed that out of 87 pages of 'all results' there are 8 pages of 'PLoS' results - implying that about 10% of all the [] posts are on PLoS papers from all seven journals - and of those, 4 pages are just on PLOS ONE papers - which is about 5%. All I can say is w00t! for Open Access - when bloggers can read, bloggers will write.

Profile of DOE Data Explorer

Meredith Ayers, DOE Data Explorer, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Summer 2008. Overview:

The Department of Energy (DOE) Data Explorer is a relatively new and currently unsophisticated research tool which helps researchers, students, and the public find stored and maintained data sets. The site claims to have cited over 200 data sets and is continuing to grow. The DOE does not claim responsibility for the accuracy and availability of the stored data. The purpose of the engine is to make both archived and active data easier to find. The Data Explorer is operated and maintained by the DOE's Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) which is responsible for providing all the bibliographic information in the database based on the information found at the web sites hosting the data.

The Data Explorer indexes collections of scientific research data, figures and plots, numeric files, scientific images, interactive maps, multimedia and computer simulations. The data collections themselves reside on various servers in numerous locations including national laboratories, data centers, colleges and universities, corporations, and international organizations. Access to the data collections is free, however, some may require password registration. Users should note that they may need specific software in order to access some data collections.

See also our past posts on Data Explorer.

List of OA backfiles in ancient studies

Charles Ellwood Jones has posted a list of some OA backfiles of ancient studies journals, posted August 28.

Ukranian publisher and society collaborate with Connexions

Two new modules on the Connexions site were recently added by Ukraine-based Nauka Publishers and the Center for American Literary Studies in Ukraine at the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. (Thanks to EIFL.) The courses:

Which publishers allow self-archiving the published PDF version?

Publisher version/PDF use in Institutional Repositories, press release, August 27, 2008.

... There is often a question about the use of the publishers own PDF version of research articles and whether these can be archived. It is often believed that all publishers prohibit the use of their own PDF: in fact the situation is very different.

SHERPA has analysed its records to determine which of the 414 publishers listed allow authors to deposit the publishers' version or publishers' PDF of a journal article into the author's institutional repository. 50 publishers allow immediate, un-embargoed deposit into repositories -- even more allow use in restricted circumstances. This means that there is a large volume of work which can be deposited directly into repositories even if the author has not retained their own final draft. ...

The results have been mounted on the RoMEO site ...

In total this shows that 69 out of the 414 publishers listed in RoMEO, allow the use of the publishers' final version of an article in an institutional repository in some manner. These 69 publishers cover approximately 1334 journal titles.

Update. See also Jason Baird Jackson's comments on the American Anthropological Association's policies.

On repositories and publishers' copyright set statements

Jenny Delasalle has posted a summary of responses to her question on how repositories handle publisher requirements to include set statements with articles.
... The basic issue I asked about is what to do with copyright statements, whether to include them in cover sheets and/or metadata records for items. Should copyright statements be exactly as laid out by publishers and how [do] we make sure that we are aware of publishers’ precise wishes? ...

[Different repositories take different approaches to the question ...]

No-one has had any complaints from publishers about their approach. This is another issue that relates to the importance of a swift and robust take-down policy, should any such complaints be received. ...

List of Texas IRs

Charles Bailey has compiled a list of institutional repositories from Texas university and health science academic libraries, posted August 27.

New OA journal of plant molecular biology

Plant Omics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of plant molecular biology from Southern Cross Publishing. There appears to be no article processing fee. (Thanks to Websites from Australia.)

Evidence for the OA citation advantage, and inconclusive evidence against

Stevan Harnad, On Eggs and Citations, Open Access Archivangelism, August 19, 2008.  Excerpt:

Failing to observe a platypus laying eggs is not a demonstration that the platypus does not lay eggs....

Failing to observe a significant OA citation Advantage within a year of publication (or a year and a half -- or longer, as the case may be) with randomized OA does not demonstrate that the many studies that do observe a significant OA citation Advantage with nonrandomized OA are simply reporting self-selection artifacts (i.e., selective provision of OA for the more highly citable articles)....

The many reports of the nonrandomized OA Citation Advantage are based on samples that were sufficiently large, and on a sufficiently long time-scale (almost never as short as a year) to detect a significant OA Citation Advantage.

A failure to observe a significant effect with small, early samples, on short time-scales -- whether randomized or nonrandomized -- is simple that: a failure to observe a significant effect: Keep testing till the size and duration of your sample of randomized and nonrandomized OA is big enough to test your self-selection hypothesis (i.e., comparable with the other studies that have detected the effect)....

DOAJ growing twice as fast as last year

Heather Morrison, DOAJ growth rate nearly doubles in the past year, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

...This simple chart [PS: omitted here] illustrates the near doubling of the growth rate of the Directory of Open Access Journals from 2007 to 2008, from an average of more than 1.2 new title per calendar day, to an average of 2.2 new titles per calendar day.

As further illustration of the growth rate of DOAJ: as of today, DOAJ includes 3,587 journals , and has added 63 new titles in the last 30 days, more than 2 new titles per day (and it's August!). Since September 30, 2007, DOAJ has grown from 2,846 titles, an increase of 741 titles in 11 months, or 330 days at 30 days/month, for an average net growth of 2.2 titles per day. In the September 30, 2007 Dramatic Growth of Open Access update, I noted a growth rate of 1.2 titles / day for DOAJ over the previous year....

Update (9/3/08).  See Heather's follow-up post:

Over at Social Justice Librarian, Devon Greyson...takes content from my post DOAJ growth rate nearly doubles in the past year, and adds content of her own, such as [an] alternative DOAJ growth chart, showing numeric growth as well as the accelerating growth rate.

This to-and-fro is made possible by our respective Creative Commons licenses....

Publicly-funded lobbying against OA for publicly-funded geodata

The UK Ordnance Survey, or government mapping agency, is using public funds to pay a lobbying firm to push back against mounting public pressure to make its publicly-funded data OA. 

For details, see two articles by Michael Cross in The Guardian (August 21 and August 28) and two blog posts by the Free Our Data campaign, in which Cross is a leader (one and two, both from August 28).

For background, see our (many) past posts on the Free Our Data campaign to free up the data gathered by the Ordnance Survey.

OA, serendipity, peer-review conservatism, and fostering discovery

Jean-Claude Bradley, Happy Accidents: A Must-Read for Open Scientists, Useful Chemistry, August 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

...The fact that some of us in the Open Science community are discussing [serendipity and peer-review conservatism] does not mean that we are advocating for the abolition of peer review or the NIH. We are not that naive. We still submit proposals and manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals (although given a choice we probably would pick an Open Access journal over one running on a paid subscription model).

The point is what we do in addition to all those traditional processes.

We can share our failed experiments. We can share our research plans. We can discuss science freely admitting what we don't know. We can record our talks at closed meetings and make them public. We can initiate and participate in serious scientific conversations going on in the blogosphere without worrying about everyone's title and rank.

Basically, we can collaborate in ways that are most conducive to serendipitous discoveries. The free social software, databases and other infrastructure now available make this information exchange easier than ever.

The key question for a researcher today: to hoard or not to hoard?

To me, it seems likely that data hoarders will find it more and more difficult to claim priority for a contribution when competing against loose associations of open collaborators motivated by insatiable curiosity.

Some of the folks from the funding side are getting it. Take a look at SubMeta.

Wilbanks video on copyright, OA, and Science Commons

John Wilbanks has made an excellent 12-minute video on the copyright problems obstructing research and the solutions available from OA, Creative Commons, and Science Commons.

Update.  John reports on his blog that this video is the first in a series.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Designing an open archive network for agricultural research

Imma Subirats and five co-authors, Towards an architecture for open archive networks in agricultural sciences and technology, Online Information Review, 32, 4 (2008) pp. 478-487.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore addressing the accessibility, availability and interoperability issues of exchanging agricultural research output by means of the AGRIS application profile – an exchange metadata standard – and controlled vocabularies or subject-specific knowledge organisation systems.

Design/methodology/approach – Based on an analysis of the open access (OA) publishing model and the open archives initiative (OAI), the authors share their proposal for the architecture for open archive networks in agricultural sciences and technology.

Findings – The lack of adequate information exchange possibilities between researchers in food and agricultural sciences represents a significant weakness, limiting the research system to properly help address the issues of agricultural development. The OA publishing model promotes the availability of content online, including grey literature, which is not available through commercial distribution channels but which significantly contributes to agricultural research and development. The new architecture proposed in this paper is based on these OA and OAI paradigms and has three components: the creation of content with agreed content description standards, the harvesting of the content using common exchange standards and the value-added services provided to the users using the exchanged standard content.

Originality/value – The paper presents how the agricultural sciences and technology community can adopt the OA model and OAI tools. The paper will be useful to information professionals who are planning to improve the accessibility and interoperability of the agricultural research produced in their institution by the creation of institutional repositories.

A cultural heritage repository for Malaysia

Zuraidah Abd Manaf, Establishing the national digital cultural heritage repository in Malaysia, Library Review, 57, 7 (2008) pp. 537 - 548.    Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to uncover the perceptions of information professionals with regards to the establishment of a National Digital Cultural Heritage Repository Center (NDCHR) in Malaysia.

Design/methodology/approach – This study adopts a modified Delphi study to identify the factors that contribute towards the establishment of an NDCHR in Malaysia. A three-round modified Delphi study was used in this study to obtain consensus among the experts with regards to the factors that contribute towards the establishment of the central repository.

Findings – The establishment of an NDCHR requires collaboration efforts among the different types of cultural institution in Malaysia. The aspiration of the establishment to improve accessibility, resource discovery, preservation and promotion of the nation's cultural heritage information would contribute toward restructuring some common grounds and thinking among the different types of cultural institutions with respect to effective approaches to managing and organising the nation's digital cultural heritage information.

Practical implications – Findings and discovery of the study are significant in providing a general framework to establish an NDCHR in Malaysia.

Originality/value – The outcome of the study will contribute toward the establishment of a central repository for digital cultural heritage information in Malaysia.

OA data repository for UK social science data

The UK Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) has launched UKDA-store, an OA repository for data in the social sciences.  (Thanks to DataShare.)  From the July 24 announcement:

The ESRC Research Methods Festival at Oxford was the venue, on 30 June 2008, for the launch of UKDA-store, a new self-archiving system for the storage and sharing of primary research data outputs in the social and behavioural sciences.

Research data and output sharing is an important part of publicly-funded research, and research funders are increasingly implementing formal data sharing polices, in line with high-level recommendations and policies made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others. The ESRC was one of the first UK funding bodies to initiate a data sharing policy and fund an archive to house research data generated as a result of its funding....

UKDA-store is complementary to the formal preservation and dissemination system for data that are offered by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Data Policy. While the UKDA-store system can hold all kinds of digital objects from numeric and textual datasets to technical and research reports, it can also link virtually to outputs held in other repositories. UKDA-store will enable a greater number of research data outputs to be shared by investigators, in cases where ESDS may not have the resources to acquire and store these data, or where the data simply do not fit the ESDS collections development policy.

UKDA-store, developed with funding support from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), uses a state of the art open source repository system based on FEDORA to allow contributors to manage their own data and research outputs. The benefit to users searching for a range of research outputs is that the system allows linking between research funding information, research outputs, publications and archived data sources.

Phase I is geared to ESRC researchers, who have submitted data resources at the end of their awards, where data are deemed to be more suited to a self-archiving repository system than formalised acquisition and preservation with ESDS....

Also see the UKDA-store FAQ and user guide.


  • At the moment, UKDA-store is limited to work by ESRC-funded researchers.  Although the ESRC adopted an OA mandate for literature and data in June 2006, I can't tell whether deposit in UKDA-store is mandatory for ESRC-funded researchers.
  • It appears that the "store" in UKDA-store refers to the JISC-funded StORe (Source-to-Output Repositories) project.  But this is a guess.


More on the OA impact advantage

David Flaxbart, On Impact of OA, the Jury is Still Out, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Summer 2008.  Excerpt:

The conventional wisdom among Open Access advocates and librarians is that articles that are freely available will be read more, downloaded more, and by extension cited more. It seems like a no-brainer: take down the walls and people will come in. Indeed, a number of studies published in recent years have claimed to confirm that assumption. But a new paper by Philip Davis and his colleagues at Cornell University suggests that the citation effect may not be there after all (Davis et al. 2008).

We desperately need objective, quantifiable evidence that OA does what it claims to do, rather than taking these things as a matter of near-religious faith. Only with hard evidence can we refute publisher claims that OA is evil, destructive, and unnecessary, and demonstrate to all stakeholders that OA is worthy of further investment and advocacy....

Any study that calls into question the efficacy of OA will be eagerly seized upon by the opponents of OA and used to attack further efforts and policies that are now, after many years, beginning to bear fruit. We have already seen some publishers set up little-used author-pays OA options as a straw man to "prove" that authors don't care about OA and don't want to pay for it. The last thing we need is to give the naysayers more ammunition....

Studying the effect of OA in the scholarly communication environment is devilishly tricky. There are many variables and unknowns that can't be quantified or controlled....

Critics have been quick to point out that the time frame for Davis' study was short, and that the articles have not been out long enough for their full citation impact to be apparent.  Davis has indicated that his team will continue to track the articles for several more years....

Comment.  With one exception, good points all.  The exception is this sentence:  "We desperately need objective, quantifiable evidence that OA does what it claims to do, rather than taking these things as a matter of near-religious faith."  This leaves the impression that previous claims that OA boosts citation impact are taken on faith, not grounded in evidence.  Flaxbart seems unaware of the dozens of evidence-based studies concluding that OA does indeed boost citation impact.  He doesn't mention them in his piece and or cite them in his reference list.  But he does note, correctly, that "[s]tudying the effect of OA in the scholarly communication environment is devilishly tricky."  We're seeing multiple evidence-based investigations taking on that devilish complexity.  As in any other domain, the investigators quarrel a bit about their methods and interpretations of the data.  But the debate is definitely evidence v. evidence, not evidence v. faith.

OA projects and advocacy in Canada

Abstract:   The open access movement in Canada is very active in many areas. This is not surprising; of the 16 people at the Budapest meeting which was the foundation of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), three were Canadians, all global leaders in this arena: Leslie Chan, Jean-Claude Guédon, and Stevan Harnad. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) was among the earliest signatories of the BOAI, and quickly initiated a nationwide institutional repository program. The Canadian Library Association (CLA) recently approved an innovative “Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries,” calling for all libraries to participate in advocacy, educating patrons abut open access resources, and encouraging support for open access, including economic support. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has an open access mandate policy, requiring open access to CIHR-funded research within six months. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has an Aid to Open Access Journals program. Other funding agencies in Canada either have, or are developing, open access policies and support. This article presents an overview of CLA advocacy and open access in Canada, with a focus on initiatives with a strong library involvement or leadership.

Toward a database of open projects

Jonathan Gray, A Map of Openness? Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, August 28, 2008.  Excerpt:

We’ve recently been in conversation with various individuals about starting a project to map open projects and groups....

We’ve put a few notes about the project on the OKF [Open Knowledge Foundation] wiki [here].

A tentative description of the projects reads:

A versioned database of open projects, open initiatives and the organisations and individuals behind them. A publicly editable directory and knowledge base of information about these projects and groups. A visual interface to explore and analyse the material.

Related developments include:

  • Michel [Bauwens] has blogged a bit about the initiative here, and has made an ‘Open’ category on the P2P Foundation wiki - including “descriptions of nearly 400 open concepts and initiatives, a list of open definitions, a directory of podcasts on the topics to learn more (and soon: a directory of video webcasts)”.
  • Heather [Ford] has put a diagram - which she used in her iSummit ‘08 keynote speech - on her blog.
  • Mark [Surman] started a page on the Open Everything wiki for starting to gather examples of different kinds of open projects.

We’d love to have a wiki-like registry (like CKAN) with a visual interface for exploring the material - perhaps using something like Prefuse or Processing.

If you have any thoughts - or you’d like to get involved - please get in touch on our discuss list or at info at the OKF domain name!

Comment.  This is a great idea.  If I can speak for the Open Access Directory, we've been considering something similar (and narrower):  at least a list of university-based initiatives and at least those initiatives focused on OA to research literature and data.  We have a draft list under development, but it's on hold while we try to figure out how make the best use of the limited database functionality of the Mediawiki software, e.g. so that we can tag each initiative by type, discipline, nation, and so on.  But no matter who does it, and no matter how many similar projects overlap, it's still a great idea.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guide to US copyright law, especially for research grantees

CENDI, the US federal government STI managers group, released an August 2008 update to its extensive FAQ About Copyright

Section 4 is devoted to Works Created Under a Federal Contract or Grant.  Question 4.12 directly addresses the NIH policy:

4.12  What Language could be used in a copyright agreement between a contractor or grantee author and a publisher to clarify the author’s right to deposit journal articles in the electronic repository of the government agency that funded the author’s research?

In 2005 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented a Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research. The NIH Policy explicitly recognizes and upholds the principles of copyright. Authors and journals can continue to assert copyright in NIH-funded scientific publications, in accordance with current practice. The policy encourages authors to exercise their right to give NIH a copy of their final manuscript before publication.  While individual copyright arrangements can take many forms, NIH encourages investigators to sign agreements that specifically allow the manuscript to be deposited with NIH for public posting on PubMed Central as soon as possible after journal publication.  Institutions and investigators may wish to develop particular contract terms in consultation with their own legal counsel, as appropriate.  But, as an example, the kind of language that an author or institution might add to a copyright agreement includes the following:

"Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication or thereafter, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible after publication by Journal."

2 proposed abstracts on data sharing

Heather Piwowar has posted two two participation statements for upcoming conferences on the topic of data sharing -- the titles are our paraphrases:

Large OA database of chemical molecule structures is an OA database of "more than 4 million small molecule structure files in pdb format, and molecular graphics representations. About 50 million molecules are still in the pipe ...". (Thanks to Antony Williams.)

See also Williams' comments on the database:
The statement that there are 50 million molecules in total coming suggests that the database is a republication of PubChem and the SDF archives seem to suggest so too ...

At present the database therefore appears to be the PubChem database in PDB format. ...

Microsoft considers adding chemistry-related features to Word to support data-mining

Chem4Word is a project by Microsoft to "investigat[e] the introduction of chemistry-related features in Microsoft Office Word, including authoring and semantic annotations". (Thanks to Antony Williams.) One of the project's goals is to
Store and expose chemical information in a semantically rich manner to support publishing and mining scenarios, for authors, readers, publishers, and other vendors across the broad chemical information community ...

Open Content Alliance names Executive Director

Maura Marx Named First Executive Director of the Open Content Alliance, press release, August 26, 2008.
The Internet Archive and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced today the appointment of Maura Marx as the first Executive Director of the Open Content Alliance (OCA). A search committee representing OCA member institutions made the appointment after an intensive search process. Ms. Marx will move to the OCA from the Boston Public Library, where she most recently founded the Digital Library Program and was instrumental in evolving the Library’s philosophy toward Open Content principles.

The Open Content Alliance is an international alliance of leading academic and cultural heritage institutions working to build joint digital collections for free public access. Ms. Marx has been appointed to the new position of Executive Director in order to expand its activities as the preeminent center in the world for promoting the creation and open sharing of digital content. ...

Among Ms. Marx's first actions will be incorporation of the OCA in the State of Massachusetts and creation of a Board of Directors. She will focus on building collaborations across institutional boundaries, expanding the OCA community and becoming involved in public policy advocacy efforts. ...

Presentation on ChemSpider for drug discovery

Antony Williams, Can a free access structure-centric community for chemists benefit drug discovery?, American Chemical Society National Meeting (Philadelphia, August 17-21, 2008). Abstract:
ChemSpider is an online database of over 20 million chemical structures assembled from well over a hundred data sources including chemical and screening library vendors, publicly accessible databases and resources, commercial databases and Open Access literature articles. Such a public resource provides a rich source of ligands for the purpose of virtual screening experiments. These can take many forms. This work will present results from two specific types of studies: 1) Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship (QSAR) based analyses and 2) In-silico docking into protein receptor sites. We will review results from the application of both approaches to a number of specific examples. QSAR analyses utilizing the ChemModLab environment for assessing quantitative structure-activity relationships will and screening using a molecular surface descriptor model.

Report criticizes digital textbooks, recommends OA

The Student PIRGs's Make Textbooks Affordable campaign has released a report, Course Correction: How Digital Textbooks are Off Track and How to Set Them Straight, dated August 2008, recommending OA for digital textbooks. (Thanks to Creative Commons.) From the executive summary:

Textbooks are an essential but increasingly expensive part of obtaining a college degree. With students spending between $700 and $1,000 per year and prices rising faster than inflation, the need for a solution is increasingly urgent.

Digital textbooks are a promising way to lower costs for students. The digital format has the potential to cut production costs, increase options for students, and open up the market to more competition. ...

The Student PIRGs conducted this study to determine how digital textbooks can live up to their potential as a solution. ... [W]e confirm three fundamental criteria – affordability, printing options, and accessibility. We found that publishers’ digital “e-textbooks” fail to meet these criteria, and that an emerging form of digital textbooks – open textbooks – are a perfect match.

Update. See also the coverage from Ars Technica.

Presentation on using ChemSpider

Antony Williams has posted his presentation on ChemSpider at Drexel University from August 21, 2008. The presentation is a screencast (slides + audio) and is about 80 minutes long.

Blog notes on BioBarCamp and SciFoo

Donna Wentworth, What’s open science?, Science Commons blog, August 22, 2008. Links and excerpts to blog discussions following BioBarCamp and SciFoo.

See also our past posts on SciFoo.

PSI in Democratic Party platform

On August 15, the Democratic National Committee released the party's national platform for 2008. The platform has this to say about public sector information:
... We will lift the veil of secret deals in Washington by publishing searchable, online information about federal grants, contracts, earmarks, loans, and lobbyist contacts with government officials. We will make government data available online and will have an online video archive of significant agency meetings. ...

October 14 will be Open Access Day

SPARC, PLoS, and Students for Free Culture have picked October 14, 2008, to be the first Open Access Day.  From today's announcemeant:

Building on the worldwide momentum toward Open Access to publicly funded research, Open Access Day will create a key opportunity for the higher education community and the general public to understand more clearly the opportunities of wider access and use of content.

Open Access Day will invite researchers, educators, librarians, students, and the public to participate in live, worldwide broadcasts of events. In North America, events will be held at 7:00 PM (Eastern) and 7:00 PM (Pacific) and feature appearances from:

Sir Richard Roberts, Ph.D., F.R.S.
Joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1993 for discovering split genes and RNA splicing, one of 26 Nobel Prize-winners to sign the Open Letter to U.S. Congress in support of taxpayer access to publicly funded research, and currently at New England Biolabs, USA. [7PM Eastern]

Philip E. Bourne, Ph.D.
Philip E. Bourne is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Computational Biology and the author of the popular PLoS Computational Biology Ten Simple Rules Series. He is Professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California San Diego, Associate Director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank, Senior Advisor to the San Diego Supercomputer Center, an Adjunct Professor at the Burnham Institute, and Co-Founder of SciVee. [7PM Pacific]

Librarians and student organizers are invited to host meetings around the broadcast. To see a list of participating campuses and to sign up, visit the Open Access Day Web site....Additional international events will be announced shortly.

The event will also mark the launch of the new “Voices of Open Access Video Series.” Key members of the research community, including a teacher, librarian, researcher, student, patient advocate, and a funder, will speak on why they are committed to Open Access....

Open Access Day was inspired by the National Day of Action on February 15, 2007, led by Students for FreeCulture with support from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access....

PS:  For background, see our past posts on the February 15, 2007, National Day of Action.

Update.  I hope you participate.  Take the message directly to the faculty, students, librarians, and administrators at your institution.  Set up a campus meeting.  Point to the existing university OA mandates, explain them, and set up a local committee to help launch one on your own campus. 

UpdateDorothea Salo plans to win the blog contest.  Give her a run for the money goodie bag.

The British Library's digitization plans: some OA, some not

The British Library has released its Digitisation Strategy 2008-2011, August 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

...Through digitisation, we are creating a valuable and enduring resource for scholars and the public alike. We estimate that this digitisation activity to date represents less than 1% of our collection. We want to build on our achievements in this area by maintaining and extending our digitisation programme....

By digitising our collection we aim to:

  • Open up access to content in the British Library’s collection;
  • Create a critical mass of digitised content;
  • Add value to, and open up previously unimagined areas for research;
  • Support innovative methods of research;
  • Facilitate the interpretation of our content by others for new audiences;
  • Transform discoverability of our content;
  • Make our content more visible and increase use;
  • Preserve unique, rare and fragile heritage items by digital reproduction and protect vulnerable documents;
  • Reveal illegible and hidden text or images and permit non-intrusive testing of materials;
  • Generate income to support our long-term digitisation programme.

Over the next 3 years we will build on our existing digitisation programme. Current projects include the digitisation of:

  • 20 million pages of 19th century literature [approximately 80,000 books];
  • 1 million pages of historic newspapers in addition to the 3m already digitised;
  • 4,000 hours of Archival Sound Recordings in addition to the 4,000 hours already digitised;
  • 100,000 pages of Greek manuscripts....

We want to make the Library’s collection available to as wide a range of users as possible through digitisation and ensure sustainability of the service. We will develop a range of business models including:

  • Open access, provided free of charge;
  • Limited open access (where funding allows for free as well as fee-based models);
  • Mediated access provided through a fee-paid service....

We will protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)....

  • We will reserve our right to assert IPR over the digitised collections we create....

A fee-based OA journal explains its fees

Claire Bird, Keith Fox, and Rich Roberts, Publication Charges, Nucleic Acids Research, August 12, 2008.  An editorial.  NAR is the first full OA (not hybrid OA) journal from Oxford University Press.  Excerpt:

NAR's full open access initiative is now in its fourth year. There is no question that during this period the greatest challenge has been to set author charges that are within the reach of authors’ hard-won funding, yet financially sustainable for the journal. This is a continued topic of discussion for NAR's editors and publishers....

NAR does not apply additional submission fees, page charges for up to nine pages, colour or supplementary data charges, or charges for depositing in NIH or supplying a PDF version of the published article to authors. A recent review of other journals in this field suggests that the total costs of publishing may not always be dissimilar to publishing in NAR....

The open access element of NAR's publication charge is mandatory, the choice we made when we adopted this alternative business model in 2005. In turn, authors can decide whether publishing in NAR warrants any additional costs, but it is certainly worth considering that page and colour charges alone in other journals may often reach the USD 1000–1500 range.

It is also important to note that authors are entitled to a 50% discount on the NAR open access charge if they are based at a member institution or have paid the full charge for another NAR paper in the last 12 months....

Fair and fast peer review of your paper, with first decision times averaging 26 days. Rapid online publication of the final version within 4 weeks of acceptance on average, and we continue to look for ways to make this process faster. Immediate open access to all online users. The NAR site attracts over 380 000 full-text downloads per month, with a further 260 000 downloads per month via PubMed Central. Automatic deposit of the final version of your article in PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central, assuring easy compliance with the policies of funders including HHMI, NIH, UK MRC and the Wellcome Trust....

Top 10 govt web sites in the US

Update on the EC experimental OA mandate

When the European Commission announced its OA pilot project and experimental OA mandate last week, the project home page was largely empty.  But it has now been filled with the basic information already promulgated through last week's press release and associated documents.

One document is new, however:  Open Access Pilot in FP7: information for researchers, a short brochure highlighting the main points of the policy. 

The EC says we can expect more information on September 1.  Stay tuned.

The case for OA to PSI

Hjálmar Gíslason, The Case for Open Access to Public Sector Data, Technology and other wonders, August 28, 2008.  An article forthcoming in The Reykjavík Grapevine.  Excerpt:

Government institutions and other public organizations gather a lot of data....In these public data collections lies tremendous value. The data that has been collected for taxpayers’ money for decades or in a few cases even centuries (like population statistics) is a treasure trove of economical and social value. Yet, the state of public data is such that only a fraction of this value is being realized.

The reason is that accessing this data is often very hard. First of all its often hard to even find out what exists, as the sources are scattered, there is no central registry for existing data sets and many agencies don’t even publish information on the data that they have.

More worrying is that access to these data sets is made difficult by a number of restrictions, some accidental, other due to lack of funding to make them more accessible and some of these restrictions are even deliberate. These restrictions include license fees, proprietary or inadequate formats and unjustified legal complications.

I’d like to argue that any data gathered by a government organization should be made openly accessible online....

The only exception to this rule should be when other interests - most importantly privacy issues - warrant access limitations.

There is a number of reasons for this. First of all, we (the taxpayers) have already paid for it....Secondly it gives the public insight into the work done by our organizations in a similar way as Freedom of Information laws have done....The most important argument - however - is that open access really pays off. Opening access and thereby getting the data in the hands of businesses, scientists, students and creative individuals will spur innovation and release value far beyond anything that a government organization can ever think of or would ever spend their limited resources on....

An OA policy for Macquarie University

Macquarie University has adopted an OA policy.  From today's announcement:

Research conducted by Macquarie University experts will soon be freely available to anyone with access to the internet, following a unanimous decision by the Macquarie University Council last night.

Council voted to endorse University Senate recommendations that research articles be deposited in the online Macquarie University repository ResearchOnline after their acceptance for publication.

"This historic decision will make Macquarie's scholarly work much more available to researchers, including those in developing countries and those without access to expensive journal subscriptions," said Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steven Schwartz.
"It is an example of using modern communication technology to achieve one of the oldest and most central academic aims - the free dissemination of knowledge."

The Macquarie decision follows similar initiatives by overseas universities such as Harvard and Stanford, and funding bodies such as the US National Institutes of Health, National Research Council of Canada and European Research Council....

[Said Schwartz:]  "Although academics do much of the work associated with these journals for free, the journals can still be prohibitively expensive. Some cost $20,000 for a one-year subscription."

Manuscripts of Macquarie research that are accepted for publication will now be immediately available to anyone on the web. In a few cases, access to some articles may be temporarily embargoed because of a journal's policy. However, Professor Schwartz said that embargoes are the exception rather than the rule.

"The great majority of scholarly journals do not object to making authors' self-archived papers 'Open Access' immediately," he said....


  • For background, see Schwartz' July 3 blog post outlining a draft OA policy, and my comments on it.  (You have to love a Vice Chancellor who initiates an OA policy, who has a blog, and who blogs a draft OA policy for public comment.)  Schwartz hasn't yet blogged about the vote at the University Council.
  • Macquarie hasn't yet released the policy text.  So I can't tell how near or far it is from the draft Schwartz blogged last month.  In particular, I can't tell whether it encourages or requires OA.  But all the policies cited in the announcement --at Harvard, Stanford, the NIH, ERC, and Canadian NRC-- are mandates, which suggests that the Macquarie policy is also a mandate. 
  • The July draft policy was exemplary:  it included mandatory language, the dual deposit/release strategy (or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access), and an email request button for sharing manuscripts during the period after deposit and before OA release.  It also provided no opt-out for faculty deposits, and only allowed slack on the embargo period before OA release. 
  • I'll post the policy language when I have it.  Meantime, kudos to VCk Schwartz and the Macquarie University Senate and University Council.

Update (8/29/08).  There's a short article on the Macquarie policy in today's issue of The Australian.  It's notable mainly for describing the policy as a mandate.  "Macquarie University has joined the small club of Australian institutions that require academics to make their research papers freely available over the Internet."

Update (8/29/08).  It's a mandate.  Thanks to Steven Schwartz, here is the language adopted by the University Senate and Council:

Senate resolves to recommend that Council:

  • mandates that all refereed, revised, final draft research manuscripts be deposited in the Macquarie University Repository after their acceptance for publication,  except for books or chapters in books which may be self-archived at the author's discretion;
  • requires that these manuscripts be made Open Access, available to anyone on the web, except where this is restricted by publisher policy.

Schwartz adds that "there is no opt out. Deposit is mandatory and access can only be restricted during embargo periods and not beyond."


Update on the book search projects

The September issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  This issue contains a length section, Updating the Book Discovery Projects, on recent developments with Microsoft Live Search Books, Google Book Search, the Open Content Alliance, and the Open Library.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More on OA textbooks

Gale Holland, Free digital texts begin to challenge costly college textbooks in California, Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2008. See also the comments by Jonathan Eisen. Here's the money quote from Preston McAfee:
... "What makes us rich as a society is what we know and what we can do," [McAfee] said. "Anything that stands in the way of the dissemination of knowledge is a real problem." ...
See also our past posts on McAfee.

Forthcoming OA journal of sports medicine

Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation Therapy & Technology is an OA, peer-reviewed journal soon to be launched by BioMed Central. It will be the official journal of the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The journal is now accepting submissions.

DSpace 1.5.1 released

A new version of DSpace, 1.5.1, was released on August 15, 2008. The software is available for download here. See also the release notes.
This release contains numerous bug fixes from the 1.5.0 release ...
Update. Dorothea Salo points out via email that this is a beta release.

Update. The final (non-beta) release of 1.5.1 is now available.

OA to Large Hadron Collider docs

The complete scientific documentation on the Large Hadron Collider is now available, having been published on August 14, 2008 in a special issue of the Journal of Instrumentation. See the press release from CERN. (Thanks to Glennda Chui.)

See also Chui's comments:

... Another long, boring technical document to gather virtual dust on virtual shelves?

Not at all, judging from the continued popularity of The Stanford Two-Mile Accelerator, affectionately known as The Blue Book, which was published in 1968 to preserve the knowledge and experience gained in building the [Stanford Linear Accelerator Center] linac. The recent struggle to make it available to a wide audience shows what a milestone the open-access publication of the LHC documentation is.

Most copies of The Blue Book had vanished from the SLAC Library, and the librarians wanted to make it available electronically. But they ran into a snag: No one could figure out who owned the copyright, so there was no one to give permission to put it on the Web.

“It’s an orphan work,” SLAC archivist Jean Deken told me Friday. The original publisher was bought by another, which was bought by another, and so on. Finally, with the help of an expert from Stanford Law School, librarian Abraham Wheeler tracked down the current owner of the copyright–which said that since it could not find any documentation on the book, it could not grant permission to reproduce it.

After much legal head-scratching it was decided that SLAC could post the book online, which it did last summer. You can read about the copyright saga here, and browse the book here. ...

Best practices for access to images

Best Practices for Access to Images: Recommendations for Scholarly Use and Publishing, a draft version of the recommendations from Scholarly Publishing and the Issues of Cultural Heritage, Fair Use, reproduction fees and Copyrights (Berlin, January 11, 2008). Posted by André Gunthert on August 22, 2008 on Actualités de la Recherche en histoire visuelle.

... Scholars in the humanities, especially those concerned with images, face a bewildering array of restrictions. A confusing patchwork of policies regarding access to images, image reproduction, and cultural heritage citation is hindering new research and publication in the humanities.

For a variety of reasons, many museums, libraries, and image repositories restrict access to digital image collections. ...

To promote creative scholarship in the humanities and to foster a deeper understanding of cultural heritage, curators and scholars must work together in new ways. Put simply, what’s needed is a policy of open access to visual sources not covered by copyright. ...


  1. To clarify terms of copyright, intellectual property, and physical ownership rights concerning objects in the public domain
  2. To provide assistance to scholars negotiating access with cultural heritage repositories
  3. To explain scholars’ needs to museums, libraries, and other repositories
  4. To explore how institutions may allow scholars greater access to images
  5. To establish practices that enable institutions, scholars, and publishers to form mutually beneficial relationships ...

A scientific wiki that keeps track of author contributions

Robert Hoffmann, A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters, Nature Genetics, August 27, 2008.

Abstract:   WikiGenes is the first wiki system to combine the collaborative and largely altruistic possibilities of wikis with explicit authorship. In view of the extraordinary success of Wikipedia there remains no doubt about the potential of collaborative publishing, yet its adoption in science has been limited. Here I discuss a dynamic collaborative knowledge base for the life sciences that provides authors with due credit and that can evolve via continual revision and traditional peer review into a rigorous scientific tool.

Also see the press release, the WikiGenes site, or the video guided tour.

More on open education

The August issue of Open Source Business Resource (OSBR) is devoted to education.  (Thanks to Kevin Goheen.)  Here are some of the OA-related articles:

Also see the July 2008 issue on accessibility and February 2008 issue on open data.

SciFoo 2008 presentations on OA

Two YouTube videos of presentations on OA at Scifoo 2008 (Mountain View, August 8-10, 2008) are now online:

The same SciFoo page also links to all known blog reports on the event. 

SciFoo is co-sponsored by Google, the Nature Publishing Group, and O'Reilly Media.

Report on Open Repositories 2008

Mahendra Mahey, Open Repositories 2008, Ariadne, July 2008.  A report on the Open Repositories 2008 conference (Southampton, April 1-4, 2008).

PS:  See our past posts on the conference, including links to many live blog reports.

New library survey asks about journal prices and OA

Primary Research Group is conducting a survey of "academic and research library purchasing practices for scholarly and professional journals."  Some of the questions address journal prices and OA.  (Thanks to medinfo.)  For example:

  • Which phrase comes closest to describing your attitude towards the open access movement?
    • It’s a nice idea but I don’t think that it will affect journal prices much.
    • It has not had much of an impact yet but it should eventually slow the growth of price increases for journals or modestly improve contract conditions.
    • It has already slowed the growth of price increases for journals or modestly improved contract conditions and there may be additional gains but nothing too dramatic.
    • We have already made significant progress and if we continue to grow the base of open access articles open access will eventually lead to significantly lower journal costs for libraries.
  • How do you agree to this statement? : Journal publishers have been able to continuously increase prices because they control peer review and this control of peer review has not been challenged by an alternative system controlled by academics themselves. If libraries want to force down the price of journals, they must develop an alternative peer review process that breaks the monopoly that private publishers have on this process....

Spanish participation in the February 2007 EC meeting on scientific publication and OA

Fernanda Peset, Scientific publishing in the European research area, El profesional de la información, February 2008 (one page).  Self-archived August 25, 2008. 

Abstract:   This article reviews the publication of the European Commission Conference Scientific publishing in the European research area: access, dissemination and preservation in the digital age: Conference, Brussels, 15-16 February 2007. And specially the Spanish participation.

German argument for OA to publicly-funded research

Rainer Kuhlen, Wissen kann kein Eigentum sein, Süddeutsche Zeitung, August 25, 2008.  (Thanks to  An op-ed arguing for OA to publicly-funded research. 

PS:  Because the article is a PDF, I can't link to a machine translation.  The article is also available in open document text (ODT) format, and there must be a way to link to a machine translation of that edition.  But I haven't figured it out yet.  (If you can help, please let me know.)  Also see our past posts on Kuhlen's work for OA.

Hong Kong Polytechnic launches an IR

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has launched an institutional repository, PolyU IR.  It's already recruiting deposits, but won't officially open for use until late 2008.  (Thanks to Calvin Yu.)

More publisher objections to the NIH policy, and more NIH replies

The Professional/Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has posted four of its letters to the NIH, objecting to various aspects of the NIH policy, and two responses from the NIH, responding to the objections.  The letters range from March to July, 2008.

From the AAP/PSP to the NIH:

From the NIH to the AAP/PSP:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dead Sea Scrolls will be OA

Ethan Bronner, Israel to Display the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet, New York Times, August 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

In a crowded laboratory painted in gray and cooled like a cave, half a dozen specialists embarked this week on a historic undertaking: digitally photographing every one of the thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the aim of making the entire file — among the most sought-after and examined documents on earth — available to all on the Internet....

The 2,000-year-old scrolls, found in the late 1940s in caves near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, contain the earliest known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible (missing only the Book of Esther), as well as apocryphal texts and descriptions of rituals of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus....

“The project began as a conservation necessity,” explained [Pnina Shor, head of the conservation department of the Israel Antiquities Authority]. “...We realized then that we could make the entire set of pictures available online to everyone, meaning that anyone will be able to see the scrolls in the kind of detail that no one has until now.”

The process will probably take one to two years — more before it is available online — and is being led by Greg Bearman, who retired from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Data collection is directed by Simon Tanner of Kings College London.

Jonathan Ben-Dov, a professor of biblical studies at the University of Haifa,...said that it had long been very difficult for senior scholars to get access.  Once this project is completed, he said with wonder, “every undergraduate will be able to have a detailed look at them from numerous angles.”

What's holding up OA textbooks in Canada?

Rusell McOrmond, Open Access textbooks, provincial ministers of education and Access Copyright, Enterprise Insights, August 19th, 2008.

... Textbooks are most often authored by people who are staff at educational institutions. This staff then sells (or often gives away) their work to educational publishers who then edit and re-sell the material back to the educational sector. These educational publishers then further demand high photocopying and other fees through organizations like Access Copyright. ...

There is an alternative, which is to make the textbook material freely available at the source (the educational author), use print-on-demand (or electronic reading), and skip the educational publishers entirely. ...

When Mark Leggott, a University Librarian at the University of Prince Edward Island, blogged about the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) encouraging academics to retain copyright, he suggested that this could “build a strong foundation for open access”. ...

CAUT is also a member of Access Copyright, and may be thinking more as royalty-demanding authors than as educators helping reduce high costs to students. ...

Best practices for versioning in repositories

Jenny Brace, Versioning in Repositories: Implementing Best Practice, Ariadne, July 2008.
... In the survey that [the Version Identification Framework Project] carried out in autumn of 2007, only 5% of academics and 6.5% of information professionals surveyed found it easy to identify versions of digital objects within institutional repositories. Across multiple repositories the figures were only 1.8% of academics and 1.1% of information professionals. Moreover, a third of information professionals who work with repositories stated that they either have no system currently in place or ‘don’t know’ how they deal with versioning at present. ...

For example, one researcher may need to find the published version in order to give an accurate citation, whilst another would like to view an earlier version of the same work in order to assess the development in the thought of the author or content creator. ... [H]ow can any of these researchers know that they have found the relevant, or appropriate item? How can the end-users trust the information or indeed the repository itself? ...

Directory of repository blogs

The Repositories Support Project has released the RSP Blog Directory, which contains a list of blogs about repository-related subjects.

See also the OAD list, Blogs about OA, which is a wiki (you can edit it!).

UK OA law project

The Free Legal Web is a project to create a "Wikipedia of English law", apparently launched on August 12, 2008. (Thanks to the Open Knowledge Foundation.)

OER repository for India's open universities

eGyanKosh is a repository, launched on June 9, 2008, for OERs from India's open and distance-learning institutions. (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)

JoVE now indexed in PubMed & MEDLINE

The Journal of Visualized Experiments announced on August 17 that it had been accepted for inclusion in PubMed Central. JoVE is the first video-journal to be indexed by PubMed. (Thanks to Wired Campus.)

Press releases inadequate source for science reporting

Bindee Kuriya, et al., Quality of Pharmaceutical Industry Press Releases Based on Original Research, PLoS ONE, July 30, 2008. From the abstract:
Background: Press releases are a popular vehicle to disseminate health information to the lay media. ... [W]e sought to systematically examine pharmaceutical company press releases about original research for measures of quality.

Methodology/Principal Findings: ... More than half (59%) reported results presented at a scientific meeting. Twenty-one percent of releases were not explicit about the source of original data. While harms or adverse events were commonly cited (76%), study limitations were rarely noted (6%). Almost one-third (29%) of releases did not quantify study results. Studies presented in abstract form were subsequently published within at least 20 months in 53% of cases.

Conclusions: Pharmaceutical company press releases frequently report basic study details. However, readers should be cautioned by the preliminary nature of the data and lack of identified limitations. Methods to improve the reporting and interpretation of drug company press releases are desirable to prevent misleading media coverage.
Comment. One such method should be to ensure that journalists (and the public) have access to the unfiltered, original research.

Ithaka's 2008 report on its 2006 faculty and librarian surveys

Ross Housewright and Roger Schonfeld, Ithaka’s 2006 Studies of Key Stakeholders inthe Digital Transformation in Higher Education, Ithaka, August 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Although open access and increasing access to research in the developing world have been topics of substantial interest in our community, it is still the case that faculty decisions about where and how to publish the results of their research are principally based on the visibility within their field of a particular option. Faculty are most interested in publishing in journals with wide circulation and reading, and are far less interested in issues such as whether the journal is available for free to the general public or accessible to the developing world (see Figure 15). For the most part, these priorities are stable across disciplines and institutional sizes, except for a few minor variations – faculty at larger schools are somewhat more concerned with the selectiveness of the journals they publish in, and scientists are less concerned with the potential need to pay to publish in the journal, differences easily explained by the particulars of their environments.

Although in general, major disciplinary groups place a relatively equally low priority on free availability in choosing a publication venue, certain individual disciplines are more concerned. Education, geography, Latin American studies, music, and public health scholars are the disciplines most invested in free availability. A more obvious pattern can be seen in the case of concern about access to journals in developing nations. Although this is not generally a strongly held priority, area studies disciplines, such as African or Latin American studies, value accessibility in developing nations. While about 45% of the total faculty population is concerned with accessibility in the developing world, almost 70% of African and Latin American studies faculty rate this as very important in their publishing choices.

The foremost priority for faculty, in every discipline and every size institution, is in having their work seen by their peers within their field, presumably because this is the audience they seek to influence and the one that will most directly impact their career development....

With these priorities in mind, libraries and institutions should consider what services they can develop to assist faculty in maximizing their impact within their field. The Berkeley Electronic Press, for example, provides the SelectedWorks tool to assist researchers in presenting their work in an organized and accessible fashion. The RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) tool similarly allows researchers to create research portfolios easily, centralizing access to their work in an individual author profile. Both of these tools offer enhanced web presence as well as access to individualized tools to raise their profile. For example, SelectedWorks provides researchers with individual mailing lists, so they can alert their peers to new works. These sorts of tools and services offer researchers greater ability to market their work to their peers and enhance their stature within their community. Such services may also advance other agendas, but faculty members will most broadly be attracted to services which offer greater prominence within their field....

See Table 15 (p. 21), which shows how faculty rank six journal features or policies.  Gold OA ranks sixth out of six, and wide circulation among scholars in one's field ranks first.  The survey did not apparently ask about green OA.  For background, see my June 2007 blog comments on an earlier presentation of the same result.

This report is based on 2006 surveys which generated 4,100 responses from faculty and 350 from librarians. 

These detailed surveys have produced many thousands of pages of data....This document focuses on identifying differences between respondents based on institutional size and disciplinary divisions....[B]ut we have a great deal more data and detail than contained herein....

Hence, it's welcome and important that Ithaka has opened the data files.  From the August 22 announcement:

Ithaka has recently released the datasets from our 2006 surveys of the behavior and attitudes of faculty members and academic librarians....

The faculty study focuses on attitudes and behaviors in the transition to an increasingly electronic information environment, examining perceptions and use of information services in the research and teaching processes....

For those who are interested in investigating our data in greater depth, we have deposited the raw datasets from these studies with ICPSR, and the faculty and librarian studies are available [here] and [here], respectively....

Measuring institutional involvement in OA

Gavin Baker, Benchmarking institutonal participation in open access, A Journal of Insignificant Inquiry, August 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

Benchmarks and peer comparison are handy motivators. So I’m interested in the new tool released by open access journal publisher Hindawi as part of its new institutional membership program. The new tool allows anyone to see at a glance the entirety of an institution’s affiliates’ participation with Hindawi journals.

See, e.g., the page for the University of Florida. We see that 73 articles in Hindawi journals were authored by UF researchers, by 91 individual authors; that 21 UF researchers are editors of a Hindawi journal, and that 59 UF researchers have reviewed articles for a Hindawi journal.

That’s neat to know — but how does it compare to peer institutions?

Currently, the information only appears to be available through the page for each institution (in the format’s domain/). I hope Hindawi will provide an open API for this data to facilitate tools for making comparisons, finding connections, etc. And I hope other OA publishers will follow Hindawi’s lead by providing a similar service — along with OA archives and services such as the DOAJ....

Who knows what we might reveal about the anthropology of participation in OA, if only we had the data in a malleable format?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Zoho launches a central repository for Zoho docs

Zoho Share Consolidates Content, a press release from Zoho, August 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

Zoho today announced Zoho Share, a central repository that aggregates and lists all business and personal user content published in Zoho Show presentations, Zoho Sheet spreadsheets, and Zoho Writer documents and PDFs. A video tour of Zoho Share is available [here]....

Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, and Zoho Show give users several options to share and publish their content, including sharing it with select users, embedding it in a blog or making it public and accessible to anyone online. Published content, however, remains in the individual Zoho applications, with no single point of access to all published content, regardless of type or author.

Zoho Share gathers all the Zoho users’ content published in the individual Zoho applications and makes it available from a central interface....

Users do not need a Zoho account to view published content on Zoho Share. Publishing content, however, requires a Zoho account as does posting messages and adding comments....

More on Microsoft's tools to support OA

Robin Peek, Microsoft Research Offers New Software Tools That Support Open Access, Information Today, August 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Unlike Microsoft Corp., Microsoft Research does not sell anything....Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. The scientific advisory board of Microsoft Research includes Clifford Lynch, Ph.D., executive director, Coalition for Networked Information; and Christine Borgman, Ph.D., professor, Presidential Chair in Information Studies, University of California–Los Angeles.

Speaking to more than 400 faculty members from leading research institutions worldwide, Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s External Research Division, "emphasized the role his group plays not only in supporting specific collaborative research projects, but also in improving the process of research and its role in the innovation ecosystem, including developing and supporting efforts in open access, open tools, open technology and interoperability."

This commitment to openness was not a surprise. Hey is a former academic who spent 4 years in charge of the U.K.’s e-Science Initiative before taking the position at Microsoft Research in 2005. Microsoft Research labs has committed to publishing in the open literature. However, while all the projects will be freely available as a download, Microsoft will not build applications on the Linux platform....

[Here omitting details on the tools themselves.]

PS:  For background, see our post on the new Microsoft OA tools.

New Create Change interview

Create Change has released a new interview with Daniel Ferreras, associate professor of foreign languages at West Virginia University.

... Why have you been an advocate of open access?

Information wants to be free. The more we share knowledge, the faster knowledge will advance. I am somewhat surprised by the reluctance of some faculty members to provide open access to their work. It seems natural that, as members of the academic community, we should share our findings with our peers and our students, and promote evaluation and discussion of our work. This can only be beneficial for the community as well as for our own advancement. We should not ignore the fact that a faculty member is responsible for research as well as for teaching and service, therefore our research activities are actually already funded by our salaries. To prevent access to our research appears then not only counterproductive but also in contradiction with the very definition of our activity.

You’ve been quoted as saying “students will show us the way” in these endeavors. Can you explain what you mean by that?

The youth are in touch with modernity at large. ... They have embraced the electronic age of communication without doubt or fear. Scholars can learn from the students, as much as they learn from us. ...

Profile of open science

Carolyn Y. Johnson, Out in the open: Some scientists sharing results, The Boston Globe, August 21, 2008.
Barry Canton, a 28-year-old biological engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has posted raw scientific data, his thesis proposal, and original research ideas on an online website for all to see.

To young people primed for openness by the confessional existence they live online, that may not seem like a big deal.

But in the world of science - where promotions, tenure, and fortune rest on publishing papers in prestigious journals, securing competitive grants, and patenting discoveries - it's a brazen, potentially self-destructive move. ...

Canton is part of a peaceful insurgency in science that is beginning to pry open an endeavor that still communicates its cutting-edge discoveries in much the same way it has since Ben Franklin was experimenting with lightning. Papers are published in research journals after being reviewed by specialists to ensure that the methods and conclusions are sound, a process that can take many months. ...

Openness has always been an integral part of science, with scientists presenting findings in journals or at conferences. But the open-science movement, with many of its leaders in the Boston area, encourages scientists to share techniques and even their work long before they are ready to present results ... In such open forums, the wisdom of the crowd could offer the ultimate form of peer review. And scientific information, they say, should be available without the hefty subscription fees charged by most journals.

... The idea is that opening up science could speed discoveries, increase collaboration, and transform the field in unforeseen ways. ...

Search engine of OA content

Lalisio Literature offers an OA search engine, which currently indexes arXiv and PubMed Central. (Thanks to Information Today.)

OA university press releases business plan

Newfound Press, the University of Tennessee Libraries' digital imprint, released its Business Plan, 2008-2011 on July 1. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Excerpt:
... Resource needs for personnel, technology, and operating expenses will be met from a combination of existing library infrastructure, the allocation of state or endowed funds, partnerships, and grants. Because an endowment designated for Newfound Press would support long-term sustainability, a program statement will be prepared for the current university development campaign. ...

The Editorial Board expects to publish fifteen to twenty monographs, six journals and six multimedia presentations during the three-year period, emphasizing multimedia and other emerging forms of scholarly communication in the allocation of resources. ... Newfound Press is available to any author seeking a publisher. An open access imprint, Newfound Press receives non-exclusive permissions for works published, enabling authors to gain maximum exposure for their work while retaining their intellectual property rights. ... Newfound Press offers authors and editors a test bed for publishing research that may appeal to a limited audience or be expressed in non-traditional formats. ... During its formative stages, Newfound Press will consider content in any discipline from any scholar, using criteria established by the Editorial Board to guide the selection of the works published. ...
See also our past posts on Newfound Press.

Interview with DOAJ staff

Tom Hill, An interview with DOAJ, Libertas Academica blog, August 21, 2008.
... [Q:] What developments can we expect to see in the future?

[A:] We’d like to have tools to measure impact factors. We’d also like to provide long-term preservation.

[Q:] What will DOAJ be like in five years?

[A:] Difficult to say but bigger of course. ... [A] wish: that all journals should provide us with their content, so that all journals are searchable on an article level.

[Q:] How many people work on DOAJ? What do they do?

[A:] We have 3 librarians and one technician/system developer, but we share him with the rest of the head office.

Many might think that we “only” add journals to DOAJ but far from that. We receive a lot of feedback and we are very dependent on it for things like broken links to URLs. Also we get a lot of technical questions ...

We publish a newsletter for sponsors and members and we also evaluate journals suggested to DOAJ and contact the editors. Then often follows a long communication about our criteria, which is not always clear to all editors. We communicate in English, but it is not always the first or second language for an editor. ...

Part of our time we check that the already-added journals still live up to our criteria. ...

We assist editors in formulating information correctly ... Many people wanting to start an open access journal are not always confident about how to do it, for example that an ISSN is needed. ...

OA-related RSS feed aggregator

Vedran Vucic has created an RSS Feed aggregator about Open Access, apparently released earlier this month. As the name suggests, it aggregates (puts together on one page) the RSS feeds of blogs about OA. I can't find a list of the feeds included.

Comment. See also Charles Bailey's Open Access Update, an OA-related RSS feed aggregator running since September 2006.

Max Planck Society to fund researchers' PLoS processing fees

MPS and PLoS agree upon central funding of publication fees, press release, August 21, 2008.
In accordance with its commitment to ensure public availability of its research output, the Max Planck Society (MPS) has reached an agreement with the Public Library of Science (PLoS) for the central funding of publication fees of MPS scientists without burdening the budget of single Max Planck Institutes.

Like many Open Access journals, PLoS journals charge a fee for publication. For papers accepted in PLoS journals after July 1st, 2008, MPS will pay the publication fee directly to PLoS from central funds for all articles where the corresponding author is affiliated with a Max Planck Institute. ...

As co-initiator of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) MPS has actively supported change in scientific publishing in accordance with Open Access principles. ...
See also the PLoS blog post.

Update.  Also see Stevan Harnad's comment:

One can only leave it to posterity to judge the wisdom of the Max Planck Society in being prepared to divert "central" funds toward funding the publication of (some) MPS research in (some) Gold OA journals (PLoS) without first mandating Green OA self-archiving for all MPS research output.

It is not as if MPS does not have an Institutional Repository (IR)....But, despite being a long-time friend of OA, MPS has no Green OA self-archiving mandate. I have been told, repeatedly, that "in Germany one cannot mandate self-archiving," but I do not believe it, not for a moment....

At the very least, Closed Access deposit in [the MPS IR] can certainly be mandated for all MPS published research output....This is called the "Immediate Deposit, Optional Access" (IDOA) Mandate....

This should not be construed as any sort of critique of PLoS, a superb Gold OA publisher, producing superb journals. Nor is it a critique of paying for Gold OA, for those who have the funds.
It is a critique of paying for Gold OA without first having mandated Green OA....

Looking at the OA citation advantage in hybrid OA journals

Philip M. Davis, Author-choice open access publishing in the biological and medical literature: a citation analysis, forthcoming in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology.  Self-archived August 18, 2008. 

Abstract:   In this article, we analyze the citations to articles published in 11 biological and medical journals from 2003 to 2007 that employ author-choice open access models. Controlling for known explanatory predictors of citations, only 2 of the 11 journals show positive and significant open access effects. Analyzing all journals together, we report a small but significant increase in article citations of 17%. In addition, there is strong evidence to suggest that the open access advantage is declining by about 7% per year, from 32% in 2004 to 11% in 2007.

Also see Davis' blog post about this article.

Update.  See Stevan Harnad's comments:

Summary: ...The outcome [of Davis' study], confirming previous studies (on both paid and unpaid OA), is a significant OA citation Advantage, but a small one (21%, 4% of it correlated with other article variables such as number of authors, references and pages). The author infers that the size of the OA advantage in this biomedical sample has been shrinking annually from 2004-2007, but the data suggest the opposite. In order to draw valid conclusions from these data, the following five further analyses are necessary:

  1. The current analysis is based only on author-choice (paid) OA. Free OA self-archiving needs to be taken into account too, for the same journals and years, rather than being counted as non-OA, as in the current analysis.
  2. The proportion of OA articles per journal per year needs to be reported and taken into account.
  3. Estimates of journal and article quality and citability in the form of the Journal Impact Factor and the relation between the size of the OA Advantage and journal as well as article “citation-bracket” need to be taken into account.
  4. The sample-size for the highest-impact, largest-sample journal analyzed, PNAS, is restricted and is excluded from some of the analyses. An analysis of the full PNAS dataset is needed, for the entire 2004-2007 period.
  5. The analysis of the interaction between OA and time, 2004-2007, is based on retrospective data from a June 2008 total cumulative citation count. The analysis needs to be redone taking into account the dates of both the cited articles and the citing articles, otherwise article-age effects and any other real-time effects from 2004-2008 are confounded.
The author proposes that an author self-selection bias for providing OA to higher-quality articles (the Quality Bias, QB) is the primary cause of the observed OA Advantage, but this study does not test or show anything at all about the causal role of QB....The author also suggests that paid OA is not worth the cost, per extra citation. This is probably true, but with OA self-archiving, both the OA and the extra citations are free....

Update (9/18/08). Davis has self-archived a revised version of this paper.

Update (12/15/08). The published version of this article is now online.

More on Otago Polytechnic's use of CC-BY licenses for its IP

Sarah Stewart, Working with an open access intellectual policy, Sarah's Musings, August 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

A couple of things have made me reflect on how it is for me to be working under an institutional intellectual policy that recognizes the individual's ownership of intellectual property, and encourages open sharing of knowledge and resources....

Otago Polytechnic has a default creative commons attribution license to all its material and resources....

I have been very aware of the IP policy and I guess I have got to the stage that I take it for granted. But it wasn't until I attended the Heywire8 Think Tank on Friday that I truly realized the significance of this amazingly stance taken by the Otago Polytechnic leadership, Phil Ker and Robin Day. For example, I did not realize that Otago Polytechnic was the first educational institution in the world to take this stance with regard to IP. And it was inspiring to see how excited the Think Tank participants - e-learning leaders of New Zealand - were about working to make this a national approach to educational resources....

The other thing that has made me reflect on the IP policy is a comment Lorna Davies made when she heard the details from Leigh Blackall at the DEANZ conference last week. Lorna says
What this session did for me was to bring home the huge responsibility that this inverted policy places on staff. I appreciate that they retain rights over their own material but they also incur a considerable amount of responsibility....

Comment.  For background, see our March 2008 post on Otago's progressive IP policy.  Note that the libre OA policy only applies to IP owned by the university, and that the university does not claim ownership of faculty research publications.

More on the economic impact of OA

John Houghton, Uncovering the social and economic benefits of open access, a 27 minute podcast from JISC, August 25, 2008.  From the blurb:

Professor John Houghton's work to explore the social and economic impact of open access has had a significant impact on debates in his native Australia. Currently working for JISC to investigate the UK experience in this area, he talks to Philip Pothen about his work, the wider benefits of institutional repositories and why he thinks the open access argument is now won.

PS:  For background, see our past posts on Houghton's research.

Special issue of OCLC Systems and Services on OA

The new issue (vol. 24, no. 3, 2008) of OCLC Systems & Services is devoted to OA.  Apparently it's a two-part issue; this is Part 1, and Part 2 is still to come.  Only abstracts free online, at least so far.

Update (9/25/08). An OA edition of Norm Medeiros' article is now online.

More evidence that OA editions help sell print books

Jeffrey Tucker, Kinsella Vindicated, Ludwig von Mises Institute Blog, August 22, 2008.  (Thanks to Kimmo Kuusela.)  Excerpt:

You will note that [N. Stephan] Kinsella's book Against Intellectual Property is the #2 bestseller in the [Ludwig von Mises Institute] store. This is despite its having been [free] online for six years and remains so, in two formats. What a way to demonstrate a thesis. If you have something that is valuable to others, people might be willing to pay for it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Support for OA journals

Tara Brabazon, It’s time for academic access all areas, Times Higher Education Supplement, August 14, 2008.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  Excerpt:

Stop decrying the signal-to-noise ratio in online scholarly resources...and give open-source web journals your full support....

This selling of scholarship is creating a two-tier system between the information-rich and the information-poor in the higher education sector. Some institutions can afford to buy the range of journals from the commercial aggregators, while others are left with a reduced list. When moving into Google Scholar, researchers can see their university’s position in the digital pecking order....

While the Google Generation report notes that scholars are reading abstracts, it leaves unmentioned the fact that frequently only the title, author and abstract are available online without the use of a credit card....

The way to counter the commercial aggregators, improve the quality of online research and draw students away from blogs and Wikipedia is to commit to reading, citing,...and publishing in online, open access, refereed journals....

Researchers, writers, activists and citizens can complain about this corporate restriction of scholarship, or we can actually do something....

Comment.  OA journals are part of the solution, for the reasons Brabazon outlines.  But Brabazon doesn't mention OA archiving, which is another, complementary part of the solution.

Improving the OA infrastructure

Suvarsha Minj, The dynamics of open access publishing, Current Science, August 10, 2008.  Excerpt:

[A library patron]...requested...a paper published in Resonance in 1999. I had all the resources at my disposal to get it instantly. First, the journal was open access and the publisher, Indian Academy of Sciences (IASc), Bangalore had digitized back volumes and made them available on-line....I quickly browsed to the particular issue of the journal on the IASc website. To my disappointment the journal article was not linked to the table of contents.

My second source was Google. I searched and found the paper in SpringerLink!...When I tried downloading the full article, [Springer] directed me to a shopping cart. Why should I pay for an open access journal article?

It came to my mind that my employer had paid access to SpringerLink....I logged in and found the article. But as we did not subscribe to the journal, we did not have access to the full text. We would still have to pay for it....

Eventually, I did find the paper though a Google search, in the Archives of IASc....

[Why was this so difficult?]  Is not the aim of open access to make available content freely to the reader? If so, why are we placing our open access journals behind the walls of a commercial publisher? (Incidentally, the SpringerLink page ranked higher in the search results of Google than IASc archive page.) Why is the information that a journal is open access not visible somewhere on the commercial aggregator’s site? (If I did not have prior knowledge that Resonance is an open access journal, I cannot know this while viewing the page on SpringerLink.) If getting a higher readership by offering it through a commercial aggregator’s site is the purpose, are there not other ways to do it? ...

In my view, the open access movement in India should primarily focus in these two directions....

(i) Policy decisions from academic and government bodies: Advocates of the open access policy mention two important areas that need to be addressed. First, research funded by public grants should be made publicly accessible. Second, grants themselves should accommodate the ‘author-pays’ model whenever required.

(ii) Technology implementation: Open access is a reality today only because the technology is available to make it happen. Given this fact, implementation of the necessary technology infrastructure should become a priority. There is no dearth of trained manpower in India to make it happen....(a) Institutional repositories: We need to develop and encourage institutional repositories at every research organization....(b) Open access journals: We need to publish Indian journals using tools that expose metadata with the OAI–PMH protocol. This is a method to get better readership and automated dissemination across many platforms like OAIster, and better visibility....

We need [OA] implementers and we need them fast! Otherwise our journals will be gobbled up quietly by those with commercial interests...[which will] maximize profits rather than scholarly communication....

Mini-course on OA for Stanford homecoming

John Willinsky will teach a mini-course on OA at the Stanford Reunion Homecoming, October 9, 2008.  (Thanks to Terry Foreman.)

IEEE is considering a hybrid OA journal program

Heather Morrison, IEEE and Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society OA Panel, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

Abstract:   This post is a brief summary of an open access panel discussion at the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) meeting in Vancouver, August 22, 2008. EMBS is a part of the IEEE (international engineering association). IEEE has been a leader in green self-archiving policy since 1995, allowing authors to self-archive on their own web pages or institutional repositories, with no embargos, and even the publisher's PDF - but oddly enough, not disciplinary repositories such as PubMedCentral. IEEE is now, like many publishers, considering a gold open access option for authors. This could be a very interesting discussion process! Based on yesterday's meeting, IEEE should probably assume that if they ask their authors to pay article processing fees, they can expect in-depth questions about why the fees are so high. Naturally, engineers will have many, many ideas about how to do things better, and for less, too! ...

My advice to EMBS, and IEEE: keep the great green policy - and add disciplinary repositories, with no embargo. Ask the advice of your members; they have lots to contribute! If you come up with an optional OA program, consider allowing members to offset fees with their volunteer work. Be sure to lower library subscriptions to reflect revenue, and develop library membership schemes so that libraries can pay some, or all, of the fees for their authors....

Ireland's Higher Education Authority adopts an OA mandate

Ireland's Higher Education Authority (HEA) has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Niamh Brennan.)  From its August 19, 2008, announcement:

...Where a research publication arises in whole or in part from HEA funded research (i.e. where one or other of the researchers concerned receives HEA funds in support of their endeavours), the following policy will be adhered to with effect from 30th June 2008....

Conditions to which HEA funded award recipients should adhere:

1.  All researchers must lodge their publications resulting in whole or in part from HEA-funded research in an open access repository as soon as is practical after publication, and to be made openly accessible within 6 calendar months at the latest, subject to copyright agreement.

2.  The repository should ideally be a local institutional repository to which the appropriate rights must be granted to replicate to other repositories.

3.   Authors should deposit post-prints (or publisher's version if permitted) plus metadata of articles accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and international conference proceedings.

4.   Deposit should be made upon acceptance by the journal/conference. Repositories should release the metadata immediately, with access restrictions to full text article to be applied as required. Open access should be available as soon as is practicable but not later than six months after publication.

5.  Suitable repositories should make provision for long-term preservation of, and free public access to, published research findings.

6.  Books and book chapters are not covered by such repositories but the following condition applies in such cases.  When a book goes out of print or four years following publication, whichever is sooner, and the publisher does not foresee a further print run or availability online for the work within a six-month period, then authors should make the work available online in an open and accessible way.

7.   ...Data in general [as opposed to metadata] should as far
as is feasible be made openly accessible, in keeping with best practice for reproducibility of scientific results.

8.   Software, together with methods and algorithms, are not directly covered by Open Access repositories.  However in keeping with best practice of scientific reproducibility key scientific results should be made available openly.

9.  HEA may augment or amend the above requirements wherever necessary to ensure best practice in Open Access....


  • The HEA policy is nearly identical to the OA mandate adopted by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) in May 2008.  In my blog comment on the IRCSET policy, I said: 
    This may be the best funder mandate anywhere....I particularly applaud the mandatory language, the firm six month deadline with no loopholes for resisting publishers, the equal standing of central and distributed repositories, [the application to data and software], and the full implementation of the dual deposit/release strategy (or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access)....
  • However, there is one difference which significantly weakens the HEA policy.  While IRCSET requires OA within six months of publication, without qualification, HEA requires OA within six months "subject to copyright agreement."  This is precisely the loophole for resisting publishers that I praised IRCSET for omitting.  The HEA policy defers to any publisher policy which prohibits OA archiving or requires a longer embargo period.  It gives publishers a simple opt-out.


EC launches an experimental OA mandate

The European Commission has launched an experimental OA mandate for 20% of its 2007-2013 research budget.  From the EC press release (August 20, 2008):

Fast and reliable access to research results, especially via the Internet, can drive innovation, advance scientific discovery and support the development of a strong knowledge-based economy. The European Commission wants to ensure that the results of the research it funds under the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) with more than € 50 billion from 2007 - 2013 are disseminated as widely and effectively as possible to guarantee maximum exploitation and impact in the world of researchers and beyond. The Commission today launched a pilot project that will give unrestricted online access to EU-funded research results, primarily research articles published in peer reviewed journals, after an embargo period of between 6 and 12 months. The pilot will cover around 20% of the FP7 programme budget in areas such as health, energy, environment, social sciences and information and communication technologies.

"Easy and free access to the latest knowledge in strategic areas is crucial for EU research competitiveness. This open access pilot is an important step towards achieving the 'fifth freedom', the free movement of knowledge amongst Member States, researchers, industry and the public at large," said EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Poto?nik. "Beyond, it is a fair return to the public of research that is funded by EU money."

"...Our new pilot will harness that potential, making it easier for researchers, businesses and policy makers to address global challenges like climate change by providing them with access to the latest research," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "I welcome especially the fact that scientific publishers have started to move gradually towards new dissemination models and are collaborating with researchers on open access. They have given valuable input to the Commission on these areas, which has been used in the preparation of the pilot project. This will allow a mutually beneficial coexistence that maximises the effects of open access on publicly funded research while leaving room for privately financed business models in publishing."

The Commission's open access pilot, to run until the end of FP7 [in 2013], aims to ensure that the results from EU-funded research are progressively made available to all. Grant recipients will be required to deposit peer reviewed research articles or final manuscripts resulting from their FP7 projects in an online repository. They will have to make their best effort to ensure open access to these articles within either six or twelve months after publication, depending on the research area. This embargo period will allow scientific publishers to get a return on their investment....

Also see the pilot project FAQ.  Excerpt:

Why are embargo periods running from 6 to 12 months instead of a single embargo period?

Scientific publishers draw attention to the fact that when considering open access policies, funding bodies should be aware that "one size does not fit all". The length of time during which research results are novel and useful varies according to discipline....

As this is a pilot initiative, the different embargo periods allow the Commission to experiment and assess the impact of such embargo periods....

The new OA clause in grant agreement makes clear that the embargo period

will be 6 months in the thematic areas "Health", "Energy", "Environment (including Climate Change)", and "Information & communication technologies"...and the activity "Research infrastructures"..., and 12 months in the thematic area "Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities" and the activity "Science in Society".

Also see the full text EC decision (August 20, 2008) and its Annex 1.


  • Key points:  (1) the project is limited to 20% (€10+ billion) of the FP7 research budget (€50+ billion), but is part of a plan to insure that publicly-funded research is "progressively made available to all"; (2) the pilot runs until the end of FP7 in 2013; (3) the EC acknowledges publisher input and wants the plan to preserve private-sector publishers; (4) the plan uses variable embargo periods (6-12 months) to reflect the fact that articles in different fields have longer or shorter periods of market value; (5) for the research to which the new policy applies, this is an OA mandate; deposit in an OA repository is required.
  • As far as I can tell, the policy doesn't yet specify the repositories in which grantees must deposit copies of their work or the timing of the deposits (as opposed to the timing of the eventual OA release).
  • In justifying the project, the EC uses four welcome and familiar arguments: (1) that OA makes research faster and more efficient; (2) that OA to publicly-funded research is a part of a "fair return to the public"; (3) that OA multiplies the funder's return on investment; and (4) that OA to European research will boost the European economy and improve its competitiveness.
  • The EC will release more details on September 1 at the pilot project home page (now largely empty).
  • While the EC acknowledges publisher input, it doesn't acknowledge the input from researchers and research organizations in support of OA, although it largely incorporates their recommendations.  For the major OA recommendations leading up to this pilot project, see the EC-sponsored study in 2006, the December 2006 statement from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), the January 2007 report from the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB), and a petition signed by more than 26,000 European researchers and more than 1,300 European research institutions.
  • For background, see my article on the EC's February 2007 plan or Communication for OA in Europe.  Also see the EC's cryptically brief announcement from July 2008 that this OA pilot project was coming, and the EC Research Commission's previous signals that it wanted to make "movement of knowledge" a fifth freedom alongside the movement of goods, services, capital, and labor guaranteed by the EU Treaty.
  • This isn't the first EU-wide OA mandate.  The European Research Council adopted its OA mandate in December 2007.

Update.  I was wrong in my second bullet point above.  The EC has expressed a preference for institutional repositories.  From the FAQ:

How will the open access pilot be implemented?

New grant agreements in the areas covered by the pilot will contain a clause requiring grant recipients to deposit peer reviewed research articles or final manuscripts resulting from their FP7 projects into their institutional or if unavailable a subject-based repository....

Update.  As part of a separate but related policy, the EC will pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  (Thanks to Matthew Cockerill.)  From the FAQ:

Are there similar projects on open access initiated by the Commission? ...

- the Commission has taken the initiative to use FP7 grant agreements to encourage grantees to take advantage of reimbursement for the full cost of open access publishing so that their research articles can be made available in open access mode as soon as they are published....



I've been out of the country for a week, and Gavin has had connectivity troubles from a recent move and Hurricane Fay.  We're starting to catch up now.  Some items of recent news have already been well-reported elsewhere, but we'll blog them anyway if only to keep the OAN archive useful for later searching.  Please bear with us as we work through our backlog.