Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bob Marianelli on OA

Sol Lederman, Dr. Bob Marianelli: A Catalyst for Accelerating Chemical Science, OSTIblog, September 5, 2008.
OSTI is founded on the principle that science advances only if knowledge is shared. The OSTI Corollary takes this concept to a new level. It holds that accelerating the spread of knowledge accelerates the advance of science. The advance of science can also be accelerated by funding more bright scientists. In the following blog article, Dr. Bob Marianelli reminisces and gives his perspectives about advancing science throughout his remarkable career.

Dr. Marianelli led a distinguished career as a DOE Program Manager and Director of the Chemistry Division. He had the privilege to shape and manage the process by which the Department of Energy identifies bright chemists and follows their progress. Along the way, he fostered the work of many truly extraordinary scientists, including six who went on to win the Nobel Prize, perhaps the top honor a scientist can receive. In addition to fostering the work of top scientists, Dr. Marianelli played a key role in the construction of a huge facility at Pacific Northwest National Lab, and he positively influenced the direction of other major research facilities. ...

[Q:] Do you believe that scientists and scientific programs funded by the public have an obligation to share the findings of their R&D?

[A:} Yes. I believe in open access. And, I realize that there are people who make money providing information. But, I think there's also something to be said for the fact that the government is the primary supporter of basic research in this country. And, that research is paid for with taxpayer's dollars. I believe that, therefore, we should find a way to have the results of those expenditures available to the public at large. Now, you could take a hard line and say "well, anything the government supports, they have to provide and it gets published in open form. And, someone else would say, on the other extreme, that the government should stay out of it altogether, that people can subscribe to commercial publications if they want access to that information. Since both models of information access exist now, I think we've got to find a way to compromise. The goal is to provide. So, let's recognize that there may be ways to do that where the government somehow, and this isn't unprecedented, would use the private sector to help carry out the mission of providing access to the information to the public. ...

More than 200,000 articles searchable through DOAJ

Heather Morrison notes that the Directory of Open Access Journals recently passed the milestone of 200,000 articles searchable through the DOAJ service.

Case study of digitizing dissertations

Ingrid Mason, Technical Report: Doctoral Theses Digitisation, report, September 2008. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
Doctoral theses (~1200) in the [Victoria University of Wellington] Library’s collection have been digitised and uploaded into the Library’s two research repositories: RestrictedArchive@Victoria and ResearchArchive@Victoria. ...

All items were inventoried in a separate database to record all movement, actions and tasks associated with the digitisation of the theses and the parallel permissions request (to make the thesis openly accessible). ...

OA databases of state spending

Ellen Miller, Sunshine States, The Sunlight Foundation Blog, September 4, 2008.

When Congress passed and the president signed into law the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (two years ago this month) they started a trend that has swept well beyond Washington. According to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), state legislatures are starting to emulate the new federal law that requires access through a free and searchable Web site to details on all federal spending.

Since 2007, 11 states (Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington) have established, via legislation or executive order, free and searchable Web sites that give access to state spending. And 24 other states are working on it, with more than half introducing spending transparency bills this year. ...

August news from RePEc

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in August 2008, The RePEc blog, September 4, 2008.

... We have introduced RSS feeds for our NEP mailing lists, now giving an alternative to the emails for the dissemination of new working papers. Econlit has opened a RePEc archive collecting bibliographic information about some of the top US working papers series that were not yet listed on RePEc. While traffic was low, as usual for Summer, with 575,686 file downloads and 2,316,727 abstract views, we got a steady stream of authors registering, about 10 a day.

The new archives who joined RePEc were: Institute of Agricultural Economics (Romania), University of Waterloo, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Economic Statistics e-Center, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Economic and Social Review, University College Dublin, Suffolk University, Centro de Estudios de las Finanzas Públicas, Econlit.

Finally, RePEc passed the following thresholds:
500,000 cumulative book abstract views
400,000 cumulative abstract views at Socionet
190,000 online working papers
90,000 cited working papers
40,000 articles with references
1,500 books listed

Guide to OA educational videos

Susan Ariew, You Tube Culture and the Academic Library: A Guide to Online Open Access Educational Videos, Choice, August 2008. Only this description is OA:
Ariew's essay introduces librarians to online videos as sources of useful information and as promotional tools. The first part of the essay is a guide to quality videos on video-hosting Web sites, the second to videos libraries use to promote their collections and services, the third to open source videos that libraries can use in their own instructional programs. Ariew discusses more than forty resources, all of which are listed in the cite list along with their URLs.

New version of Kete released

Kete has released version 1.1 of its software. From the description at LISNews:
... Kete is open source software that enables communities ... to collaboratively build their own digital libraries, archives and repositories. Kete combines features from Knowledge and Content Management Systems as well as collaboration tools such as wikis, blogs, tags, and online forums to make it easy to add and relate content on a Kete site. ...

Blog notes on OAPEN launch

Ben Stebbing, OAPEN - a new frontier?, Manchester University Press blog, September 4, 2008.
I went to Goettingen in Germany at the start of this week, to kick off OAPEN, a project in open access publishing. It is quite cutting edge, as it is looking at open access in humanities monographs, where other open access projects look at journals in the sciences. ...
See also our past posts on OAPEN.

Overview of some research sharing tools

Paula J. Hane, Research Sharing Gets New Tools and Goes Trendy, Information Today, September 4, 2008. Discusses Research1, Labmeeting, Mendeley, CiteULike, Zotero, WizFolio Web 2.0, and Academici, among others.

New OA publishing service for conferences

Atlantis Press is offering an OA publishing service for conferences. For a fee, the company will host an OA site for the conference and manage other publisher services. The company can also produce print and CD copies of the conference proceedings.

$400m endowment for Broad Institute

Carey Goldberg, $400m gift makes center on genomics permanent, The Boston Globe, September 5, 2008.
A record-setting $400 million gift announced yesterday will provide financial permanence for the Broad Institute, a Cambridge genomics research center that in just four years has become a worldwide leader in the effort to unravel the genetic basis of diseases. ...

[S]ince its inception, it has been "a leading partner in this whole landscape of developing genomic resources that we really do think has already revolutionized our understanding of biology," said Dr. Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Broad Institute researchers have "worked very well with others, which is very important," he said, and the institute has also been a strong advocate of the idea of free and open access to research results. "The Broad has been a real proponent of that view, and lived up to it," said Guttmacher, whose federal agency helps fund much of the Broad's research. ...
See also our past posts on the Broad Institute.

On OA to protein structure data

Structural Genomics And Open Access To Epigenetic Data, TS-Si, September 4, 2008.
... The structural papers not only represent an advance for the epigenetics field, but also an advance for how the science was done. The concurrent publication of the three papers highlights the competitive nature of this field, but in fact these papers were made possible because the [Structural Genomics Consortium], in keeping with its policy of making its data freely and immediately available, made the underlying information available in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) late in 2007. The availability of this information allowed the other groups to make more rapid progress in their own work.

"By releasing the structural information into the public databases as soon as it was available, we have ensured that other research groups could make immediate and maximum benefit from the shared knowledge," says Professor [Sirano] Dhe-Paganon [of the SGC].

[Masahiro] Shirakawa openly acknowledges that the SGC data was crucial to his team's paper, which also appears in the journal Nature. "Structural biology is a complex, but very important field, with the potential to drive forward important research in many areas. The information provided by the SGC significantly speeded up our own work."

The SGC's "open source" policy contrasts with the accepted practice in the structural biology field, which is to make the underlying data available only after the work appears in print. However, Professor Al Edwards, Director of the SGC, believes strongly that data such as the 3D structure of proteins should be made freely available as soon as they are discovered.

"From the outset, it's been important to us to release our structural data immediately," says Professor Edwards. "This is contrary to the way many scientists work, but we believe it is crucial for facilitating scientific and medical progress, and our policy has not inhibited our ability to publish our work in the top journals. All the protein structures studied by the SGC have medical relevance and making them freely available ensures that scientists are able to use them to make progress in our understanding of disease and the development of new drugs."

New OA platform for engineering conferences

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has launched Engineering Conferences Online, a new OA publishing service for conference organizers. (Thanks to Information Today.)

3 articles on IRs in developing countries

There are three articles on IRs in developing countries in the Summer 2008 issue of the INASP Newsletter:
  • Geoffrey F. Salanje, Digital Repository at Bunda College Library
  • Hasina Afroz, BRAC University Digital Institutional Repository: Some experiences
  • Sunethra Perera, Towards a National Network of Institutional Repositories of Science & Technology Information: Sri Lankan experience

Friday, September 05, 2008


I'll be on the road September 6-11 with few opportunities for blogging or email.  But Gavin will be on the job, and I'll start to catch up as soon as I return.

New grants awarded for OA humanities projects

NEH and IMLS Award Advancing Knowledge Digital Partnership Grants, press release, August 26, 2008.

Today the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced grant awards to four institutions through the Advancing Knowledge: The IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership grant program, a funding opportunity that encourages digital innovation by bringing humanities scholars together with museum, library, archives, and IT professionals. ...

The grants announced today are:

  • $250,609 to the Alexandria Archive Institute for its project, Enhancing Humanities Research Productivity in a Collaborative Data Sharing Environment. The Alexandria Archive Institute, in collaboration with the UC Berkeley School of Information, will create best-practice guidelines for the development of humanities data-sharing software to meet user needs, as well as continue to develop Open Context, a collaborative, free, open-access resource to facilitate online sharing of archaeological field research among excavators, scholars, and cultural heritage institutions.
  • $175,000 to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) for its project, AIHEC American Indian Collections Portal. AIHEC ... will federate databases focused on Native American collections and share the data in new ways with tribal colleges and community members.
  • $108,882 to the City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, for its project, A Partnership to Increase Access to Our Nation’s Historical Records. The City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, in collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia, will develop an enhanced Web site ( featuring historically significant collections at the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Records and the Free Library of Philadelphia, and will create tools to increase the level of access to and usefulness of these collections for researchers, students, and members of the general public. ...
See also the Alexandria Archive Institute's note on its grant.

Blogging the Oslo conference on scientific publishing

Alma Swan and Katarina Jander are live-blogging the Second European Conference on Science Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (Oslo, September 3-6, 2008).  Follow the conference blog for details.

Bloomsbury launches a new imprint for OA books

Bloomsbury Publishing has announced a new OA imprint, Bloomsbury Academic.  From today's press release:

...All books will be made available free of charge online, with free downloads, for non-commercial purposes immediately upon publication, using Creative Commons licences. The works will also be sold as books, using the latest short-run technologies or Print on Demand (POD).

The imprint will initially publish in the Social Sciences and Humanities building thematic lists on pressing global issues, with approximately fifty new titles online and in print by the end of 2009....

Bloomsbury Academic...will provide editorial selection, peer-review, copy-editing and formatting, along with marketing and distribution worldwide. Authors will retain their copyright. Authors will also benefit by attracting more readers and gaining greater peer recognition. Their works will come faster to publication, and not be hidebound by long production and promotion cycles. They can be searched more easily, and need never go out of print.

Bloomsbury Academic's Advisory Board is almost complete; the following have agreed to serve on the board:

  • Professor Hal Abelson -Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT
  • Dame Lynne Brindley - CEO British Library
  • Professor Reto Hilty - Director, Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law
  • Professor Robin Mansell - Head of Media and Communications Department, London School of Economics
  • Professor John Naughton - Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology, Open University
  • Shira Perlmutter - Executive Vice-President, IFPI
  • Winston Tabb - Dean of University Libraries, Johns Hopkins University

The Bloomsbury Academic platform will also be available to showcase and promote other publishers' titles. The initiative is not exclusively in the English language and Bloomsbury's German partner, Berlin Verlag, will be participating actively....Bloomsbury [is also] in discussion with Melbourne University Publishing....

Frances Pinter will be Bloomsbury Academic's Publisher, joining Managing Director Jonathan Glasspool. Pinter, who set up her own academic publishing house (Pinter Publishers) at the age of 23, was Publishing Director at the Soros Foundation and has recently been involved in promoting Creative Commons licencing in projects in South Africa and Uganda....

Update.  Also see Adam Hodgkin's comments:

...This could be the best way to publish academic monographs for the rapidly growing global network of universities and scholarly communities....

One senses that some aspects of their business model are not yet fully formed. They mention spending a lot of time with libraries, "exploring how best to serve the academic community". That sounds promising....Value based on service rather than proprietary exploitation of copyright exclusivity....

This may be an even more adventurous and bold model than the PLoS or BioMed Central propositions for scientific periodical publishing. I wonder if Bloomsbury can make it work without adopting the model of collective and open-ended sponsorship which PLoS and BMC are using, and which may be becoming rather indistinguishable from the conventional approach of heavy institutional subscriptions? The boldness of this approach is impressive. Bloomsbury Academic will surely attract important authors. Good news for academic monograph publishing.

Update (9/23/08). Also see Andrew Albanese's story in Library Journal.

Update (9/25/08).  Also see the Bloomsbury press release on its acquisition of Berg Publishers.  Excerpt:

Bloomsbury Publishing...announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire...Berg Publishers..., an independent academic publishing company with a particular focus on books and journals for the academic student market in the fields of fashion, design and culture studies....

Nigel Newton, Chief Executive of Bloomsbury, said: "The acquisition of Berg is an important element in our strategy to increase our presence in academic publishing and take advantage of a market that is already benefiting from electronic delivery and print-on-demand. The acquisition of...Berg follows Bloomsbury's announcement on September 5th of the launch of Bloomsbury Academic, headed by Frances Pinter, which will publish academic books in the fields of the humanities and social sciences." ...

Publishers go to Congress to undo the NIH policy

Andrew Albanese, NIH Public Access Policy To Face Copyright Challenge in Congress? Library Journal, September 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

In less than a week, on Thursday, September 11, the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property of the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on what sources tell LJ is a legislative attempt to redress publishers' concerns that public access policies —namely the recently enacted policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)— conflict with copyright and intellectual property laws. No text has yet been released for the legislation, tentatively titled the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.” Nor has the hearing appeared on the subcommittee's schedule.

The legislative hearing comes after publishers succeeded in adding a key phrase to the NIH public access mandate just before the bill’s passage in December, 2007 —that the NIH policy be implemented “in a manner consistent with copyright law.” As LJ reported then, that simple phrase appeared to position publishers for a possible legal or legislative challenge to the policy.

In recent months, the possibility of a legal or legislative challenge began to seem almost certain: in comments to the NIH on implementation this spring, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) included a legal memo from law firm Proskauer Rose backing publisher claims that the NIH policy conflicts with copyright law, and in June, NIH director Elias Zerhouni denied publishers’ request that the policy go through a federal rulemaking process.

Shortly after passage of the NIH public access policy, AAP’s VP for legal and government affairs Allan Adler reiterated publishers’ position that the measure was “unprecedented” and “inconsistent” with intellectual property laws, and vowed publishers would continue opposition. “[The policy] undermines publishers’ ability to exercise their copyrights in the published articles…threatens the intellectual freedom of authors, including their choice to seek publication in journals that may refuse to accept proposed articles that would be subject to the new mandate,” he said. AAP officials, contacted today, were unavailable for comment.

Anticipating such a challenge, officials at SPARC and the Association of Research Libraries, however, have strongly denied that the NIH public access policy conflicts with copyright, last year preparing a memo of their own. “Contrary to the STM publishers’ assertions, this policy does not create a statutory exception or limitation to an investigator’s copyright,” the memo states. “Rather, it merely requires the NIH to condition its grant of funding to the investigator on his agreement to provide PMC [PubMed Central] with a copy of his article for the purpose of making the article publicly available via PMC.” ...


  • Here it comes.  Albanese is right that publishers have been giving signs that they'd do this, and he's right that friends of OA have been preparing.  He cites the SPARC memo from last year, but you should also see the latest version of that memo, from this year.
  • Read Allan Adler's words carefully:  "[The policy] undermines publishers' ability to exercise their copyrights in the published articles…threatens the intellectual freedom of authors, including their choice to seek publication in journals that may refuse to accept proposed articles that would be subject to the new mandate."  The most important thing to notice is that he doesn't even allege that the policy infringes copyrights.  There's a good reason for that:  the policy doesn't infringe copyrights.  NIH grantees retain the right to authorize public access through PubMed Central, even if they transfer all other rights to a publisher.  Hence, public access through PubMed Central is authorized by the copyright holders.  As I put it when describing the NIH policy in February, "publishers cannot complain that this infringes a right they possess, only that it would infringe a right they wished they possessed." 
  • The other allegations are easily dealt with.   For example, does the NIH policy really limit author freedom to publish in journals that refuse to publish NIH-funded authors?  Or should we lay that one at the feet of publishers?
  • The publisher complaint boils down to this:  "OK, the policy doesn't violate the letter of copyright law, but it violates the spirit, which is that our ability to profit from research we didn't conduct, write up, or fund should not be put at risk just so that publicly-funded research can be made more useful, by reaching everyone who can make use of it, or just so that taxpayers don't have to pay twice for access.  OK, it's true that authors are the initial copyright holders in their work, and they are free to transfer all, some, or none of their rights to publishers.  But the spirit of copyright law is that they should transfer all of their rights to publishers.  We've grown to depend on it.  OK, it's true that we don't really know that the NIH policy will reduce our revenues, and there may be good reasons to think it won't, but at least the policy creates a risk.  The government should protect us from risks created by new new and better ways of doing things.  It violates the spirit of copyright law for a government agency like the NIH to put the taxpayers' interests ahead of our private interests as an industry." 
  • I'm just about to leave the country for a week, during which I'll have limited opportunities for blogging and email.  But I'll try to stay on top of this story.  Gavin and I will blog the developments as they unfold, and I'll have a lot more to say in the October issue of SOAN.

UpdateAlert to US Citizens:  If your representative is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, please contact him/her before the end of business on Tuesday, September 9, and express your support for the NIH policy.  There are committee members from AL, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, MA, MI, MN, NC, NY, OH, TN, TX, UT, WI, and VA.  Some members know nothing about the policy but what the publishing lobby has told them.  Explain why the policy matters to you and make it personal.  Send copies of your message to the committee leadership (John Conyers, Chairman, D-MI, and Lamar Smith, Ranking Member, R-TX).  If your representative is not a member of the committee, then you can send a message to the committee leadership alone.  For the contact info on any member, see Congress Merge.  If you can address copyright issues, do.  This committee has jurisdiction over copyright issues, and copyright is the hook publishers used to get the committee's attention.  It's tiring to mobilize all over again, but it's necessary.  Please write and spread the word.  Keep a copy of your message.  You may need it again.

Update.  Also see:  Is NIH Public Access Mandate In Danger? Library Journal Academic Newswire, September 9, 2008.


Fall issue of Libreas

The Fall 2008 issue of Libreas is now online.  Here are the OA-related articles:

PS:  Also see our March 2008 post on Kuhlen's book.

How Ireland will provide OA to its publicly-funded research

Ireland is launching a national OA platform or portal which will harvest the contents of the country's new network of institutional repositories.  See the announcement by Dublin City University (undated but this week):

A Window to Irish Research: the Creation of a National Research Website...

Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Jimmy Devins opened a Research Information Systems Conference at the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin yesterday. The conference is an integral part of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) project to develop a national research website. The goal of IUA's National Research Platform Project is to provide a web based platform where all publicly funded research projects and information can be found....

Commenting on the value of the project Minister Devins said: "Effective implementation of the Strategy for Science Technology & Innovation (SSTI) will require enhanced visibility and accessibility of the national research effort. We need more effective identification and classification of the research being conducted in the Irish higher education sector and research establishments and more effective dissemination of the results of that research to potential users, in Ireland and globally"....

The National Research Platform feasibility study will run for one year and is funded equally by the HEA Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) and the higher education sector....

Data from will provide the cornerstone for the new National Research Platform. Under the banner of the website considerable progress has been made in mining the research information systems of the higher education institutions and creating, in a single web-based location, more than 5700 profiles of knowledge experts and access to the opportunities available for licensing from this sector. Other administrations are now considering similar approaches, including the Australian government.

The portal also represents an important national resource of data capable of feeding into initiatives such as benchmarking exercises, or bibliometric analysis. The value of has been affirmed by an international peer review process which resulted in the IUA securing funding from SIF for a project to provide open access to research papers of university researchers which would use as a national access point. For the first time, Irish research will be freely available worldwide. This access will ensure Irish research has a greater impact by significantly increasing the visibility of Irish research and the concomitant increased citations and awareness....

While these efforts are underway, information on much of the national research effort remains largely inaccessible and inconsistent; either being subsumed into the strata of individual university websites, or spread across disparate and uncoordinated sites devoted to individual research projects. The National Research Platform will provide a window to Irish Research by gathering the information from these projects and presenting it in a user friendly format.


  • If I understand it, the new OA research portal will harvest its contents from university repositories and other distributed sources, rather than require direct deposits in the central database.  If so, it's the first national OA research portal anywhere to take that promising approach.
  • Ireland's Higher Education Authority (HEA) adopted an OA mandate just last month, and funded at least the feasibility study behind the new portal.  The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) adopted an OA mandate in May 2008.  Both the HEA and IRCSET mandates allow grantees to meet the OA requirement by depositing their work in their own, local institutional repositories, and both plan to make use of the network of IRs at every Irish university now under construction by the Irish Universities Association
  • This looks like the result of a careful three-step plan:  (1) launch IRs at every Irish university, (2) require OA to new articles resulting from publicly-funded research, understanding that most of them will land first in the author's IR, and (3) launch a national platform to harvest the contents of the IRs and use it to promote the visibility of national research, preserve it, organize it, and crunch it for benchmarking, bibliometric analysis, and quality assessment.  The system is a little more complicated than requiring deposit in special repositories hosted by the funding agencies (such as PMC and UKPMC).  But it's within reach for small countries with relatively few funding agencies and universities.  And it has the benefits of (1) helping universities to disseminate and analyze their own research output, (2) adding local incentives to funder mandates to increase and reward author participation, (3) adding robustness to digital preservation, and (4) ensuring that the system will scale with the growth of published research, regardless of what happens to the national platform.  To me, the greatest benefit is (5) nurturing local cultures of self-archiving at every university, which will carry over to non-funded research and magnify the impact of the funder OA policies.

Update.  Also see the comments of Garret McMahon, not only on the news but also on the presentations at the meeting where the news was announced.


OKF launches an open science mailing list

New from the Open Knowledge Foundation:

After discussions with Cameron Neylon of Open Wetware and Kaitlin Thaney of Science Commons we’ve set up an open science mailing list.

As far as we could tell, there wasn’t a general mailing list for people interested open science. Hence the new list aims cover this gap, and to strengthen and consolidate the open science community.

We hope it will be a relatively low volume list for relevant announcements, questions and notes. We also hope to get as full as possible representation from the open science community - so please forward this to anyone you think might be interested to join!

News on the CC0 public domain waiver

Donna Wentworth, Progress on the CC0 public domain waiver, Science Commons blog, September 2, 2008.

Over at the main Creative Commons blog, Diane Peters has the scoop on draft 3 of the CC0 public domain waiver, a tool for those who wish to relinquish their rights under copyright to a work, and mark it with machine-readable metadata for harvesting as part of the public domain. It is this type of tool that Science Commons advocates using in our Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data, a method for legally integrating scientific databases regardless of the country of origin. The goal of the protocol, to use Catriona MacCallum’s phrase: increasing the “Lego factor” for scientific data.

The news, in brief: Creative Commons had added additional language to the CC0 waiver to ensure that it makes sense and can be useful for people across the globe. ...

Creative Commons plans to take CC0 out of beta in late October or early November, and comments on this draft are due on September 26. If you’d like to check out the waiver or weigh in, visit the newly updated CC0 Wiki and subscribe to the cc-licenses mailing list.

See also our past posts on CC0.

Blog notes on Southampton open science workshop

Branwen Hide, Open Science, Research Information Network, undated but recent.

Yesterday was the first, but probably not last, Southampton Open science workshop [Southampton, August 31-September 1, 2008] organised and run by Cameron Neylon (School of Chemistry University of Southampton) which brought together people for a variety of backgrounds who have an interested in open science. ...

The workshop started by discussing some very interesting new web 2.0 tools which have been designed to help researchers in various aspects of the scientific processes, followed by an equally interesting afternoon. The discussion revolved around where to go next and discussed some of the problems and issues that need to be addresses before open access research becomes widely accepted. The discussion supported the recommendations made in our To share or not to share: Publication and quality assurance of research data outputs.

Here is a list of some of the projects that were discussed:

  • Myexperiment is more than just a social networking site, it is platform which enables researchers to share digital items associated with research
  • Chemtools LaBlog is an electronic lab notebook, designed to give you a complete and reproducible record of the research undertaken for the researcher and the research team.
  • Inkspot science, which is being set up to enable collaboration between scientists anywhere
  • Open notebook science which uses a number of different existing sites under one umbrella to put all the collected/relevant data online
  • Mendeley which is about managing sharing and discovering research papers. Sort of like, but will be so much more. It is still in the beta stages, but one will be able to ‘cite-while-you-write’ similar to EndNote, there will be recommendations such as one has on Amazon, and eventually you will be able to search databases directly through the programme.
  • Journal of visualised experiments . Thought it wasn’t discussed specifically, it was brought up a few times and is definitely worth a mention. It is a peer reviewed, open access, online journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format.

New OA journal of computer science and math

The International Journal of Open Problems in Computer Science and Mathematics is a new, peer-reviewed, no-fee OA journal. The inaugural issue, dated June 2008, is now online. (Thanks to Intute.)

Malamud recognized with Public Knowledge award

Public Knowledge Presents Fifth IP3 Awards to Lofgren, Scott, von Lohmann and Malamud, press release, September 2, 2008.

... PK’s 2008 IP3 awards will also be presented to Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott, Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann and founder Carl Malamud.

Awards are given to individuals who over the past year (or over the course of their careers) who have advanced the public interest in one of the three areas of “IP” – Internet Protocol, Intellectual Property and Information Policy. The awards will be presented Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C. ...

Malamud was nominated for his work providing public access to government documents. He founded in April 2007. Since then, Malamud has, among other activities, found that the Smithsonian Institution was selling public-domain photographs, and then bought copies and posted them to Flickr, and later in the year began scanning new judicial opinions and hosting open access copies. Malamud will be recognized for his contributions to Information Policy. ...

See also our past posts on Carl Malamud.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New OA copyright evidence registry

OCLC pilots WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry, press release, August 25, 2008. (Thanks to Georgia Harper.)

OCLC is piloting a new service for libraries that encourages librarians and other interested parties to discover and share information about the copyright status of books.

The WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry is a community working together to build a union catalog of copyright evidence based on WorldCat, which contains more than 100 million bibliographic records describing items held in thousands of libraries worldwide. In addition to the WorldCat metadata, the Copyright Evidence Registry uses other data contributed by libraries and other organizations.

... [B]ooks whose copyright status is unknown are destined to remain in print and on shelves until their status can be determined. The process to determine copyright status can be lengthy and labor intensive. The goal of the Copyright Evidence Registry is to encourage a cooperative environment to discover, create and share copyright evidence through a collaboratively created and maintained database, using the WorldCat cooperative model to eliminate duplicate efforts. ...

The Copyright Evidence Registry six-month pilot was launched July 1 to test the concept and functionality. Users can search the Copyright Evidence Registry to find information about a book, learn what others have said about its copyright status, and share what they know. ...

Dark data about dark matter

Geoff Brumfiel, Physicists aflutter about data photographed at conference, Nature News, September 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

An Italian-led research group's closely held data have been outed by paparazzi physicists, who photographed conference slides and then used the data in their own publications.

For weeks, the physics community has been buzzing with the latest results on 'dark matter' from a European satellite mission known as PAMELA (Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics). Team members have talked about their latest results at several recent conferences (see Nature 454, 808; 2008), but beyond a quick flash of a slide, the collaboration has not shared the data. Many high-profile journals, including Nature, have strict rules about authors publicizing data before publication.

It now seems that some physicists have taken matters into their own hands. At least two papers recently appeared on the preprint server showing representations of PAMELA's latest findings (M. Cirelli et al., and L. Bergstrom et al.)....

The preprints fully acknowledge the source of the data and reference the presentation photographed.

Piergiorgio Picozza, PAMELA's principal investigator and a physicist at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, says he is "very, very upset" by the data being incorporated into a publication. But Cirelli maintains that he and others have done nothing wrong. "We asked the PAMELA people [there], and they said it was not a problem," he says.

Photography or videotaping of conference presentations is common in some fields, such as biology, but is relatively rare in physics. Falkowski says he can't recall another case. Still, he says, "I personally don't find anything wrong with it."

Also see the growing number of comments at the end of the article.  There are more comments here, here, and here.

Michigan puts Google-scanned books into CIC consortial repository

MBooks Becomes HathiTrust, a press release from the University of Michigan, August 21, 2008.  Excerpt:

The University Library is pleased to announce that MBooks - the collection of books digitized [by Google] from the University Library's collections - will become part of HathiTrust on September 3, 2008.

HathiTrust, launched by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) libraries, is a shared digital repository for storing university library digital content, incorporating all the content from MBooks plus new content from other HathiTrust partners. (For background information, see Google and CIC Partnership news.)

The UM community will now have access to books, journals, and other documents previously unavailable through MBooks. MBooks links in the Mirlyn Library Catalog will now be renamed HathiTrust Digital Library. The options for viewing, printing, and creating collections will be the same as in MBooks....

PS:  For background, see my June 2008 post on the CIC consortial repository, which wasn't called HathiTrust at the time.  Also see Indiana University's announcement of HathiTrust, August 8, 2008.

Update.  Read about Roy Tennant's experiment to make HathiTrust searchable, August 25, 2008.

PMC deposits up sharply

NIH Update: PubMed Central Numbers Surge Dramatically in July, Library Journal Academic Newswire, September 4, 2008.  Excerpt:

PubMed Central submissions are quickly approaching another milestone number, falling just one submission short of 4000 for the month of July. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) statistics, monthly (??) submissions as of July 31 were 3,999, a significant 65 percent spike from the 2610 submissions in June. With the latest numbers yet to be assessed, it is too early to tell whether the major uptick in submissions in July is an anomaly, but the latest numbers make clear that since the official enactment of the NIH's mandatory public access policy in April, 2008, submissions are rising significantly—and rapidly.

As LJAN reported in July, beginning in the first month following passage of the new policy, January 2008, monthly submissions to PMC have risen quickly. Just before the policy officially took effect, submissions spiked to 1852 total submissions in March, then to 2,765 in April (the policy became mandatory April 7) and 2,593 in May. The April/May 2008 figures represented well over double the number of submissions for the same months in 2007 under a "voluntary" submission policy (1,198 PMC submissions in April '07; 948 in May '07). Numbers for August were not yet posted.

Cory Doctorow on WIPO and A2K

Alex Steffen, Cory Doctorow: The WorldChanging Interview, World Changing, September 3, 2008.  Excerpts (from Doctorow):

...The choice is not simply one of piracy or monopoly. There is a whole rich middle ground of public domain and open information regimes which could give developing world countries the tools they need to serve humanitarian purposes, while protecting the legitimate interests of authors, performers and inventors. WIPO could have created a global knowledge goods regime which protected both the commercial and the humanitarian fairly....

The Brazilians and the Chileans and the Argentines have been showing up and kicking a lot of ass, particularly on a treaty proposal that the EFF and CPTech and a lot of other groups helped draft: the Access to Knowledge, or A2K treaty, which starts from the premise that all the copyright, patent and trademark treaty instruments to date have got it all wrong -- they set out a mandatory minimum set of rights that everyone who's a rightsholder gets, and an optional set of rights that the public gets. As a result, you have global harmonization of the restrictions to the public access to knowledge, and you have no harmonization around the world on the rights that the public gets....

PS:  Article 5-2 of the draft A2K treaty mandates OA for publicly-funded research.  (Disclosure:  I participated in the drafting of 5-2.)

What ARL libraries are doing for OA

Pippa Smart, SPEC Kit 299: Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives, August 2007 and SPEC Kit 300: Open Access Resources, September 2007, Learned Publishing, October 2008.  Excerpt:

...The report on Scholarly Communication (SC) Education Initiatives shows that increasing numbers of US libraries are employing a SC librarian, and that the topics on which they educate faculty and promote to their library users have changed; where fair use and copyright once predominated, the emphasis is now on author rights, institutional repositories, and scholarly publishing economics (with particular reference to open access (OA) publishing).

The survey on OA reports that the majority of US academic libraries are now incorporating OA literature (journals, government reports, etc.) into their OPACs (online public access catalogues, and their linked websites, and undertake to promote these with their other (purchased) resources. The majority of libraries also report that their budgets subsidize OA journal author fees – mostly through ‘subscriptions’ to BioMed- Central and PLoS....

The surveys only report on about 70 of ARL’s member libraries [in 2007] (the surveys were sent to 123 libraries in total), so they may not be entirely representative of all institutions – but they do capture findings from many of the important academic libraries in the US....

PS:  For more details, including excerpts from the two SPEC Kits, see our blog post on Kit 299 and our post on Kit 300.

Trends in journal business models, including models for OA journals

Donald W.King and Frances M. Alvarado-Albertorio, Pricing and other means of charging for scholarly journals: a literature review and commentary, Learned Publishing, October 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Abstract:   There has been a clear upward trend over the past 50 years in traditional listed print subscription prices. The more recent trend towards electronic publishing has made possible new ways of charging for journals, such as differential pricing structures and bundling of journals which are purchased through license fees/charges (both of which enable libraries to buy significantly more journals, but at the same time make it more difficult to analyze prices). We are now also seeing a new emphasis on the 'author-side payment' model. This article analyzes pricing and charging policies and trends, illustrating how these are affected by the complexities of the evolving journal system.

More on the SHERPA list of hybrid OA journal policies

Stevan Harnad, SHERPA/RoMEO: Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, September 3, 2008.  Excerpt:

Summary:  ">SHERPA/RoMEO is listing the paid OA charges of non-Green publishers. On no account should any author have to comply with any mandate to provide Open Access (OA) by having to pay money to a publisher. That would be a grotesque distortion of the purpose of both OA and OA mandates; it would also profoundly discourage funders and institutions from mandating OA, and authors from complying with OA mandates. SHERPA has an outstanding record for supporting and promoting OA, worldwide. The OA movement and the global research community are greatly in their debt. However, SHERPA alas also has a history of amplifying arbitrary, irrelevant and even absurd details and noise associated with publisher policies and practices, instead of focusing on what makes sense and is essential to the understanding and progress of OA. I urge SHERPA to focus on what the research community needs to hear, understand and do in order to reach 100% OA as soon as possible -- not on advertising publisher options that are not only unnecessary but counterproductive to the growth of OA and OA mandates.


  • I wholeheartedly agree that "on no account should any author have to comply with any mandate to provide Open Access (OA) by having to pay money to a publisher" and I've often criticized publisher policies which would charge authors for the right to comply with their own prior funding contracts. 
  • But it doesn't follow that SHERPA shouldn't list publishers who charge for their OA option, including those who require the paid OA option for authors bound by a funder OA mandate.  I want to know who those publishers are, and listing their policies is not the same as endorsing them.  I'm happy to say that I'm the one who wanted the OAD list of Publisher policies on NIH-funded authors to include annotations to identify the publishers who demand a fee for the right to comply with the NIH policy.
  • Note that I've only excerpted the summary to Stevan's post.  In the full body of the post he replies to three objections to his conclusion:  from Charles Oppenheim, Peter Millington, and Andria McGrath.

Talking about majority of TA publishers which permit postprint archiving

Dorothea Salo, Two-thirds full?  Caveat Lector, September 3, 2008.  Excerpt:

...I’m going to dissect an often-rehearsed green-OA refrain and how I’ve seen it play out in practice. “About two-thirds of TA journals already give blanket permission for [self-archiving] and many of the others will give permission on request,” Suber says.

This just isn’t true, not unadorned, and I wish we’d stop waving it around. For it to be true, SHERPA/ROMEO (from whose database of publisher policies this datum is derived) would have to cover the entire toll-access journal universe. It doesn’t. It doesn’t even come close. Sure, it covers the behemoth toll-access publishers, but there are two problems with extrapolating from a set of data weighted heavily toward them: first, disciplinary coverage on SHERPA is extra-spotty in areas the behemoths can’t profit from (notably the humanities); and second, I have to date seen zero evidence presented that the behemoths’ policies are typical of non-behemoth publishers. I don’t think they are, myself, though I’m willing to be wrong....

The glass is not two-thirds full, folks. For the faculty I’ve dealt with, it’s often more than half-empty.


  • Dorothea starts out with some praise for the article in my September newsletter, which I appreciate. 
  • I do often say that about two-thirds of TA journals permit postprint archiving.  I'll defend the claim, at least after I correct it.  But first I can acknowledge that it's shorthand.  When I have time and remember to add them, I add these qualifications:
    First, it represents surveyed journals. Among unsurveyed journals, there are likely to be journals that do, and journals that don't, permit postprint archiving. We don't know their proportions yet. Second, the number represents journals that consent in advance to postprint archiving without requiring case-by-case requests. Many that do not consent in advance will still consent if asked individually, however. Elsevier routinely granted individual requests until mid-2004 when it decided to offer blanket permission instead. Third, it represents the journals that consent to postprint archiving, not preprint archiving. If we count the journals that consent to preprint or postprint archiving (or both), the figure rises to 93% [written in February 2006].
  • I base the claim on the numbers reported by SHERPA.  The numbers are also summarized by EPrints.  But be careful when comparing the two sources, because they use the color signifiers differently.
  • Dorothea is right that SHERPA doesn't survey all publishers, although it's steadily increasing the number it does survey.  As of today, it surveys 418.  Dorothea suggests that the SHERPA numbers are "weighted heavily" toward the "behemoth" publishers.  But while there are many commercial publishers, there are only half a dozen behemoths.  Any survey of 418 publishers covers far more than the behemoths.  (Maybe we differ on what counts as a behemoth.)  However, it may still be true that the SHERPA numbers reflect some kinds of publishers more than others.  I don't know and I'd like to know.
  • She says, "I have to date seen zero evidence presented that the behemoths’ policies are typical of non-behemoth publishers...." If we revise this to refer to the SHERPA-surveyed publishers, rather than behemoth publishers, then I agree.  We're in the same boat and we'd both like to see someone do the research.  Meantime, I'm sure we both want SHERPA continue its long-term survey of publishers.
  • The numbers fluctuate as SHERPA adds more publishers to the survey.  I used to give exact percentage figures, but when I noticed the fluctuation I decided to use looser expressions like "about two-thirds".  When I started using the expression, the SHERPA percentage was between 62 and 67%.  Today it's 56% (publishers allowing postprint archiving alone or both preprint and postprint archiving), which I would not say is "about two-thirds".  This is a reason to downsize my loose expression (and check the latest number more often).  But...
  • The journals published by the half-dozen behemoths may outnumber the journals published by the next 400+ publishers in line.  However, the SHERPA number I've been using refers to the percentage of publishers who allow postprint archiving, not the percentage of journals.  This suggests that when I want to talk about the percentage of journals, as opposed to publishers, I should revise my number upward, not downward.  At the moment, I don't know how the upward correction and downward correction net out.  If anyone has done the math (if 56% of this set of publishers permits postprint archiving, then what percentage of the journals they represent permits postprint archiving?), I'd like to hear from them.
  • One more thing I don't know and would like to know:  Is the reported percentage of publishers who allow postprint archiving in decline, or is this just an artifact of the order in which SHERPA surveys publishers?  Does it mean that publishers are retreating to less-green policies, or does it mean that unsurveyed publishers are less often green than the surveyed publishers?
  • I fully agree that the limited number of green journals, and the complex and arbitrary restrictions which even some greenish publishers put on self-archiving, are obstacles to progress. 

UpdateKlaus Graf has some evidence that SHERPA hasn't yet surveyed the principal publishers of German-language history journals.  Read his post in German or Google's English.  This is a useful piece of the mosaic, and I wish we had more detail about the publishers SHERPA hasn't yet surveyed.  BTW, he also reports that the same publishers don't provide the relevant copyright and self-archiving information on their web sites. 

Update (9/5/08).  Also see Dorothea Salo's response.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Call for publicly-funded OA journals in China

Jia Hepeng, Make China journals open access, says top scientist, SciDev.Net, September 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

A leading Chinese scientist has appealed for funding to make many Chinese journals open access and give priority to domestic science publications to boost the country's scientific journals.

"We can invest billions of yuan in big science projects, but we also need to invest a tiny 200 million yuan (US$29.4 million) in an open access fund to help the growth of our journals," said Zhu Zuoyan, the recently retired deputy head of the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) at a forum on journal development last week (27 August).

He says government-funded open access journals would be a breakthrough for science publishing in China....

He added that open access journals prioritise academic merits over commercial interests....

Zhu's remarks come amidst complaints that Chinese scientists are publishing more in overseas journals than domestic ones, which some say endangers the existence of the 5,000 scientific journals published in China....

Comment.  If the goal is OA for Chinese research, to boost its audience and impact, then green OA would be faster and cheaper than gold OA.  But if the goal (or part of the goal) is to publish the articles in China, and keep China's 5,000 peer-reviewed journals alive, that's a reason to consider the gold strategy.  But why not both?  A gold strategy without a green one is not likely to absorb the whole research output of the nation, especially as that research output grows rapidly over the next decade.

Will Google's Knol attract academic users?

Andrea Foster, What Google's New Encyclopedia Means for Students and Professors, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[I]n July, when Google unveiled Knol, another Web-based collection of user-generated articles that the company calls "authoritative," the question for faculty members...was whether students might begin to turn to this new source.

The answer from those who study online encyclopedias is, Not likely.

"On balance I just can't see Knol as an entity or as a group of articles really having the stature of Wikipedia," says Andrew Lih, an independent researcher who helped start Columbia University's new-media program. He observes that Knol, which the site defines as "a unit of knowledge," has many policies that run counter to those that give Wikipedia a certain amount of authority. For example, Knol does not insist that articles maintain a neutral tone. It welcomes opinions. It allows multiple entries on a subject. It offers authors the chance to earn money from their entries. And inaccuracies could crop up because authors have ultimate authority over their articles' content.

Mr. Lih, who is writing a book on the history of Wikipedia, says Knol isn't even trying to outdo Wikipedia....

Google, for its part, says the main difference between Knol and Wikipedia is that Knol authors affix their names to articles. For this reason Knol is designed to be a "primary source" of information. Wikipedia, which maintains authors' anonymity, is a "secondary source," a Google spokesman wrote an e-mail message....

Knol's policy of allowing authors to earn money from their entries is a major reason for scholars' skepticism....


  • There's another difference between Wikipedia and Knol that I was surprised to see omitted here:  Wikipedia doesn't allow original research but Knol does. 
  • I suggested in December 2007 that Knol could be used for postprint archiving.  But I haven't seen any evidence that anyone is using it that way.

Carl Malamud strikes in California

Nathan Halverson, He's giving you access, one document at a time, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, September 3, 2008.  Excerpt:

California's building codes, plumbing standards and criminal laws can be found online.

But if you want to download and save those laws to your computer, forget it.

The state claims copyright to those laws. It dictates how you can access and distribute them -- and therefore how much you'll have to pay for print or digital copies.

It forbids people from storing or distributing its laws without consent.

That doesn't sit well with Carl Malamud, a Sebastopol resident with an impressive track record of pushing for digital access to public information. He wants California -- and every other federal, state and local agency -- to drop their copyright claims on law, contending it will pave the way for innovators to create new ways of searching and presenting laws.

"When it comes to the law, the courts have always said there can be no copyright because people are obligated to know what it says," Malamud said. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse in court."

Malamud is spoiling for a major legal fight.

He has begun publishing copies of federal, state and county codes online -- in direct violation of claimed copyright.

On Labor Day, he posted the entire 38-volume California Code of Regulations, which includes all of the state's regulations from health care and insurance to motor vehicles and investment.

To purchase a digital copy of the California code costs $1,556, or $2,315 for a printed version. The state generates about $880,000 annually by selling its laws, according to the California Office of Administrative Law....

PS:  For background, see our past posts on Malamud's heroic efforts to provide OA to public domain information, including the documents of US law. 

Also see our past posts on the Veeck case, the tendency of building codes to be written by industry lobbies and copyrighted, and the Supreme Court's refusal to review a Fifth Circuit decision that, qua public law, those codes are in the public domain even if, qua proposals of private organizations, they are not.

Update (9/4/08).  Excerpt from Free Government Information:

...Code city is now open and the readme file is a graphic novel (view it as a Flickr slideshow here!) explaining the travesty of state and local codes being copyrighted rather than in the public domain and freely available online. Code city included full-text scans of 43 state codes -- including the entire California Title 24 Safety Codes! -- and several city codes (Little Rock, Denver, Phoenix, Wilmington, Honolulu, St Louis, Las Vegas)....

More on Flat World Knowledge

Chris Snyder, Open Source Textbooks Challenge a Paradigm, Wired, September 1, 2008.

A small, digital book startup thinks it has a solution to the age-old student lament: overpriced textbooks that have little value when the course is over. The answer? Make them open source -- and give them away.

Flat World Knowledge is the brainchild of two former textbook industry executives who learned from the inside about the wacky economy of textbooks.

In a nutshell, there is a huge, inelastic demand for college texts, even though textbook prices are high. Because of this there is a lot of piracy and a robust secondary market for textbooks -- but not for long, because they are updated every couple of years, rendering old editions virtually worthless.

Flat World's business plan aims to exploit the inefficiencies: Its books are online and free. Instead of charging for content it aims to make money by wrapping content up in "convenient" downloadable and print wrappers and selling those, along with study aides and related items. ...

See also our past posts on Flat World Knowledge.

OA backfile of Journal of Distance Education

The Journal of Distance Education has provided OA to its complete backfiles, dating to 1986. The journal is published by the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education. New issues are also OA. See the blog post by editor Mark Bullen:
... This marks the culmination of a two year project to convert the JDE to a fully online, open access journal. It consolidates three separate and different web presences for the journal and allows readers to search all the journal issues using the Open Journal System search tools. ...

New Facebook group on OA

The Twidox folks have created another Facebook group about OA.

Update. Some other OA-related presences on Facebook are the groups Access to Research Now!, we support taxpayer access, and SPARC, and the PLoS page.

More on open science

Robin Lloyd, Era of Scientific Secrecy Near End, LiveScience, September 2, 2008. (Thanks to Ria Tan.)
Secrecy and competition to achieve breakthroughs have been part of scientific culture for centuries, but the latest Internet advances are forcing a tortured openness throughout the halls of science and raising questions about how research will be done in the future.

The openness at the technological and cultural heart of the Internet is fast becoming an irreplaceable tool for many scientists, especially biologists, chemists and physicists — allowing them to forgo the long wait to publish in a print journal and instead to blog about early findings and even post their data and lab notes online. The result: Science is moving way faster and more people are part of the dialogue.

But no one agrees yet on whether this extreme sharing among scientists and even the public is ultimately good for science or undermining it. ...

More on Medpedia

Maria José Viñas, Medical Wiki Backed by Prominent Colleges Will Go Live by Year's End, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5, 2008.
Medpedia, a new online [OA] medical encyclopedia to be written and edited by a collaborative group of thousands, with support from several leading medical schools, is calling for volunteers. But not everyone will be accepted. Only those who hold an M.D. or Ph.D. in a biomedical field need apply.

That is one way in which the ambitious project, which plans to go live by the end of this year, hopes to set itself apart from existing medical Web sites. In return for contributors' efforts, Medpedia expects to provide them with a reward. Contributing to the encyclopedia will be a career-booster, its founders say, and participants could gain international reputations as experts. ...

Medpedia aims to create pages for more than 30,000 known medical conditions, as well as for the thousands of drugs being prescribed each year. All the available information on a subject will be presented in a single entry, and each topic will have an accessible version for the lay public and a more technical account for health professionals and other knowledgeable readers. ...

First reactions to the Medpedia project announcement seem enthusiastic: The online-encyclopedia team received about 3,000 applications during the project's first 24 hours.
See also our past post on Medpedia.

Presentations from FKFT conference online

Presentations from Free Knowledge, Free Technology (Barcelona, July 15-17, 2008) are now online. A few deal with OA-related topics.

Topaz releases version 0.9

Topaz, the publishing platform used by some PLoS journals, released version 0.9 of its software on September 1, 2008. The release mostly consists of bug fixes. The packages are available for download.

Collection of OA datasets and mashups

Datamob (motto: Public data put to good use.) is a site, launched earlier this year, that catalogs OA datasets and visualization interfaces. (Thanks to Olivier Charbonneau.)

New book on Indian institutional repositories

Smitha Ramachandran and Gayatri Doctor (eds.), Digital Institutional Repositories: Case Studies, Icfai Books, 2008.  The table of contents:

  1. Collection Development in Digital Information Repositories in India
  2. Open Access Initiatives in India - An Evaluation
  3. Institutional Repository Enhances Visibility and Prestige of the Institute - The Case of National Institute of Technology, Rourkela
  4. Re-engineering of Library and Information Services through Web Modeling at Delhi College of Engineering
  5. Design and Development of an Institutional Repository at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
  6. Enhancing Digital Repository of Scholarly Publications at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB) India
  7. Development of ETD Repository at IITK Library using DSpace
  8. Experimenting with a Model Digital Library of ETDs for Indian Universities using DSpace
  9. Implementation of a Digital Institutional Repository DSpace@IBSA
  10. Digital Library of SIP Reports using Greenstone at IBS Ahmedabad
  11. Scholarly Communication in a Digital World: The Role of the Digital Repository at the Raman Research Institute
  12. Institutional Repository at National Aerospace Laboratories: A Case Study
  13. Enhancing Knowledge Innovation Culture of Libraries through Union Catalogues
  14. Digital Library of ISAC
  15. Digital Collection Building: A Case Study
  16. Digital Library of India: A Testbed for Indian Language Research
  17. Index

It doesn't appear that there is an OA edition of the book, although there is a detailed, OA overview

Presentations from Ticer 2008

The presentations --papers or slides, and links to recommended reading-- from Digital Libraries à la Carte 2008 (Tilburg University, 25- 29 August, 2008) are now online. 

See especially those from Module 4 (Libraries - Partners in Research and Open Access), Module 5b (Put Yourself in the DRIVER's Seat - Practical Training for Building a European Repository Network), and Herbert Van de Sompel's two presentations, on MESUR and ORE, from Module 2.

More on SJI and the Poynder inquiry

Strange Case: Publisher Threatens OA Reporter with Lawsuit, Charges Racism, Library Journal Academic Newswire, September 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

Livening up a quiet Friday before Labor Day, a long, rambling post entitled Lies, Fear and Smear Campaigns against SJI appeared on Yale University’s Liblicense-l electronic discussion list, suggesting that a well-known U.K.-based reporter covering open access (OA) issues is facing a lawsuit from a relatively unknown publisher. The legal threats stem from a series of inquiries and Internet postings by Richard Poynder, an independent journalist in the information field, who had asked about the practices of startup Minnesota-based open access publisher Scientific Journals, Inc. (SJI). Poynder had sent out a call for information about SJI on various blogs, including Peter Suber’s Open Access Blog and on “green” OA evangelist Stevan Harnad’s forum , and had contacted SJI officials as well. His overtures to SJI, however, were rebuffed.

On the publisher’s web site, and in a ten-page post to Liblicense-l on August 29, SJI founder, Dr. Niaz Ahmed, a mass communications faculty member at St. Cloud State University, MN, called Poynder’s inquiries “libelous, unethical, and illegal,” and labeled Poynder’s journalistic approach as “arrogant, ignorant, disrespectful, hostile, and suspicious.” Ahmed told the LJ Academic Newswire that SJI has sent a legal notice to Poynder demanding “an apology and a retraction” of Poynder’s postings questioning the practices of SJI. Poynder, meanwhile, declined comment, citing the possibility of legal action.

In a brief conversation with the LJ Academic Newswire, Ahmed reiterated that SJI would indeed pursue a libel charge—as well as complaints that he was the target of racism, although he declined to offer any evidence for the explosive charge. “It will be brought out in court,” Ahmed said. The SJI post to Liblicense-l, meanwhile asserts that “no one needs to be a rocket scientist” to figure the firm was targeted because of Ahmed’s “Arabic or Moslem-sounding name.”

Librarians, contacted by LJAN and in the blogosphere, meanwhile have characterized SJI’s lengthy post as bordering on bizarre. None said they had experience with any of SJI’s fledgling journal titles—and they defended Poynder as a solid journalist. “I’ve had my differences with Poynder, but that doesn’t stop me from respecting him and his excellent work as open-access chronicler,” noted Caveat Lector blogger, Dorothea Salo.

Certainly, as Poynder’s posts suggest, there are legitimate questions about SJI’s operations and its brand of OA journal publishing....

A legal case, meanwhile, would seem to be a risky strategy for the publisher....

PS:  For background, see my post on Poynder's original inquiry, which I've since updated with links to replies and comments.

Publishers with hybrid OA journal programs

SHERPA has created a list of Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access.  It annotates each one with a link to the program, the price range for the OA option (in dollars and pounds), and remarks.  Very useful.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

NIH's largest grant will yield open data for PubChem

The NIH has given the Scripps Research Institute and eight other research centers an $80 million grant to create a biochemical research network.  All the resulting data will be OA on PubChem.  The San Diego Union-Tribune published details today:

The Scripps Research Institute has been awarded more than $80 million – its largest grant ever – to be a research hub in a federally funded network that will ferret out new targets in the body that play a key role in disease.

The goal of the network funded by the National Institutes of Health is to show how these targets could be receptive to a drug, perhaps turning off the progression or symptoms of a disease. Ultimately, the NIH wants to lay the groundwork for new treatments for rare diseases....

The grant is a significant sum when NIH funding for individual researchers has stagnated. Scripps won the funding after proving itself in a three-year pilot project with the NIH....

Scripps is one of four comprehensive research centers funded for the project. Together with five smaller specialized centers, they make up the Molecular Libraries Production Centers Network. The NIH did not name the other centers.

The results of the network's research will be posted in a PubChem, a public Internet database open to academic researchers and drug-discovery companies....

The grants enabling the network are the NIH's biggest investment to date in its Roadmap Initiative, whose goal is to eliminate roadblocks slowing biomedical research....

In addition to the grants supporting the research centers in the network, the NIH is issuing grants to individual investigators to support their basic research on new targets....

Survey of societies and scholarly communication

SAGE is conducting a survey of learned societies, Meeting the challenges: societies and scholarly communication.  (Thanks to Research Information.) 

I haven't gone through all 30 questions, but at least some are about OA. 

Responses are due September 22, and respondents may sign up to receive a copy of the results.

New document sharing site to launch

Twidox is a new document sharing site, scheduled to launch in September 2008. The site is currently in private beta. From the description on their blog:

Twidox is a free, user generated library of ‘quality’ documents that allows individuals and organizations to easily publish, distribute, share, and discover them.

Documents on twidox are accessible to everyone online and will allow people to share their knowledge and help others with their work, learning, teaching and research.

The focus of the website is on:

  • professional and industry specific documents
  • research material
  • academic papers and articles
  • coursework and dissertations and;
  • data and statistics

The site archives and indexes every published text and makes it searchable to other users, free of charge. ...

Twidox for Universities: We also offer Universities the chance to use our site for their Open Course Ware (OCW). OCW has proven a huge success in the United States with renowned universities such as ‘Massachusetts Institute of Technology’, ‘Harvard Law School’ and the ‘University of Notre Dame’ all sharing their learning and teaching material online.

Twidox wants to encourage more European Universities to do the same so that they can provide their staff and students the benefits of OCW, free of charge.

Twidox for non governmental organisations: Non governmental organisations (NGO’s) collect a huge amount of valuable and essential research data and ‘facts & figures’. twidox wants to provide NGO’s with an open platform to publish these documents to an even wider community.

Most NGO’s operate stand-alone websites which means that documents only get read by a dedicated audience. We want to provide our platform and technology to NGO’s to provide them with an even wider audience and to allow their staff and audience to benefit from twidox’s innovative technology, free of charge.

Final report on JISC's archive inventory

Daisy Abbott, JISC Final Report – Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory Project, report, August 28, 2008. Abstract:
The Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory (DRAI) Project aimed to provide a comprehensive snapshot of digital resource provision in the UK and to examine the technical infrastructure and preservation environment of this digital content. There has been a clearly articulated need for a “one stop shop” for information discovery across a range of different digital collections. By concentrating on resources containing digital objects, the catalogue of resources created during the Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory (DRAI) project updates and complements previous aggregation efforts and provides more specific information about the preservation of each collection (which has not been part of the scope of previous portals). This information is crucial to understand the current preservation environment in the UK and will build on previous work by the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) (amongst others) in building strategies for digital preservation.
See also the JISC Information Environment Team blog post:

The JISC Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory project has finished phase 2 and has catalogued a total of 3,707 online collections that staff and students in higher education can access for free. These catalogue records will be added to the IESR.

The brief of the inventory was to identify all the repositories and achives in the UK that are relevant to UK higher education and are free at point of use. For the purposes of this project a very loose definition of repositories and archives was used. The only sites that were excluded were those that restricted access and those with little or no structure.

Phase 1 of the project discovered 1,924 resources and phase 2 discovered 1,783. The records from phase 1 are already in the IESR and records from phase 2 will be added soon.

Phase 2 also enriched the metadata collected about all the resources and contacted resource owners to approve or extend the data collected about their resources. This produced a very positive response with approximately 800 resource owners providing extra information about their collections. ...

Role of academic health centers in data sharing

Heather A. Piwowar, et al., on behalf of the caBIG Data Sharing and Intellectual Capital Workspace, Towards a Data Sharing Culture: Recommendations for Leadership from Academic Health Centers, PLoS Medicine, September 2, 2008.
Sharing biomedical research and health care data is important but difficult. Recognizing this, many initiatives facilitate, fund, request, or require researchers to share their data. These initiatives address the technical aspects of data sharing, but rarely focus on incentives for key stakeholders. Academic health centers (AHCs) have a critical role in enabling, encouraging, and rewarding data sharing. The leaders of medical schools and academic-affiliated hospitals can play a unique role in supporting this transformation of the research enterprise. We propose that AHCs can and should lead the transition towards a culture of biomedical data sharing. ...

Legal background on data sharing

Mustafa Ünlü, Data Sharing and the Digital Science Commons, The [Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review] Blog, August 29, 2008.
Data is both the primary output as well as the most vital input of the scientific process. In fact, data sharing performs such a key role that without a commons based on publicly shared data, scientific progress would surely suffer. In addition, data forms the foundation for downstream commercial applications aimed at privatizing the fruits of the scientific enterprise. Yet, despite their importance, data ownership rules are subject to a unique, inchoate IP regime which is neither copyright, patent, nor trademark. Moreover, these rules change over time, depending on whether the data has been published. Prior to publication, most data is treated as proprietary and secret. At this early stage, data sharing is governed by informal norms, which are enforced, if at all, under a minimal, liability rule-based legal infrastructure. After publication, data loses its protected status and becomes a part of the public domain. At this later stage, data sharing comes under a default rule of open and free access.

The Supreme Court has confirmed that copyright does not, and was not meant to, protect published data. The Court's rationale rests on principles that uphold the commons. ... In spite of the commitment to open access after publication post-publication privatization inevitably leads to interactions between upstream data sharing and exclusive IP rights. ...

Call for OA to ALA journals

Brian Kenney, An Open and Shut Case, School Library Journal, September 1, 2008.

... [L]ibrarians are the most vocal advocates for open access to journal content—except, apparently, when it’s their own publications. I suspect this is because of [the American Library Association]’s outdated, carrot-on-the-end-of-the-stick, publishing model: keep the publications locked away as the supreme benefit of membership.

There are three problems with this approach, and one is ethical. Is it really right to harvest the intellectual capital of a profession—with no compensation for authors—then sell that content back to the profession? How can [the American Association of School Librarians], for example, ... justify withholding Knowledge Quest from the rest of the educational community?

Another issue is marketing. ... By locking away its literature, ALA loses out on a major marketing opportunity for its members, the divisions, the association, and the profession.

Finally, there is common sense. If you want your content to be used, then readers need to be able to discover it through a search engine and read it in a click. Or find it in their feed aggregator. We need to be able to forward it, post our disagreements with it, blog about it, and have it pushed to us on Facebook. It must, in short, be integrated into our professional lives. Or else it becomes irrelevant, no matter how good it might be.

Come on, ALA. Let your content go free. You’ll never miss your old-school business model again. I promise.

Update. See this update announcing plans for OA to an ALA journal, American Libraries.

Update. See also Charles Bailey's posts on OA at ALA.

Matt Cockerill on BMC Evolutionary Biology

The September 2008 issue of ScienceWatch has an interview with Matt Cockerill, the publisher of BioMed Central, on BMC Evolutionary Biology.  Excerpt:

According to a recent analysis published by, BMC Evolutionary Biology is having a growing impact among journals in the field of Biology & Biochemistry. The journal's citation record in Essential Science Indicators [SM] from Thomson Reuters includes 608 papers cited a total of 2,819 times between January 1, 1998 and April 30, 2008.

Published by BioMed Central, BMC Evolutionary Biology is an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that has been publishing articles on "all aspects of molecular and non-molecular evolution of all organisms, as well as phylogenetics and palaeontology" since 2001....

SW:  How would you account for the increased citation rate of BMC Evolutionary Biology?

Evolutionary biology is a field that has been profoundly affected by genomic and computational approaches. BioMed Central's experience was that authors in fields such as bioinformatics and genomics were amongst the first to embrace publication in open-access journals, probably because Open Source software and openness with respect to data sharing are both deeply ingrained in those communities. We are now seeing that culture of openness spreading into adjacent fields, such as evolutionary biology, and this in turn has ensured that BMC Evolutionary Biology has been able to attract a substantial number of high-quality articles.

SW:  Was there a change in policy or editorial direction that might account for this?

Actually, it wasn't so much a matter of our editorial policy, but the fact that BMC Evolutionary Biology was not tracked by Thomson Reuters until 2004, so it did not receive its first Impact Factor until June 2007, even though it had been one of the most highly cited evolutionary biology journals for some time.... 

SW:  What role do you see for your journal?

...Another key goal for the journal is to make it easier for researchers to share not just their results, but also the datasets that were analyzed to produce those results. We are working with the research community to define appropriate standards and recommendations to facilitate the sharing of such data....

September SOAN

I just mailed the September issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the ways in which journal quality and journal prestige overlap, the ways in which they diverge, and how their complex relationship affects the prospects for OA.

The round-up section briefly notes 96 OA developments from August.

Update.  Here's a story without a strong enough OA connection to blog on its own.  But because it connects well with my article in the September SOAN, I'll note it here.  The British Academy is criticizing the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) for its attempt to rate journals by their prestige.  That's right:  prestige, not quality or impact.  Journal editors in the history of science, technology, and medicine (HSTM) are circulating an editorial against the practice and asking ERIH to remove them from the index.  The copy of the editorial I received by email, forwarded from the EJournals mailing list, was signed by the editors of 45 journals.  (I can't link to it because the online version is in a closed archive.)  I've seen several OA copies of the editorial, but none has all 45 signatures, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4.  I support the journals' criticism of ERIH.  The prestige rankings will have the effect of cementing a journal's current level of prestige, nourishing the benign circle for high-prestige journals and the vicious circle for low-prestige journals.

Update. For ERIH's response to the criticism, see Michael Whorton's letter to the editor in the Times Higher Education Supplement for November 27, 2008. Whorton is a member of the ERIH steering committee.

Update (2/14/09). For a TA version of an editorial against ERIH signed by 57 journals, see T.H. Levere, Journals under threat: A joint response from history of science, technology and medicine editors, Annals of Science, 66 (2009) pp. 1 — 3. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)


Monday, September 01, 2008

Open licensing to enable reproducible research

Victoria Stodden is the winner of this year's Access to Knowledge writing competition, for her paper, Enabling Reproducible Research: Open Licensing for Scientific Innovation.  (This link points to a draft; the final version isn't yet online.) 

Abstract:   There is a gap in the current licensing and copyright structure for the growing number of scientists releasing their research publicly, particularly on the internet. Scientific research produces more than the final paper: the code, data structures, experimental design and parameters, documentation, figures, are all important for communication of the scholarship and replication of the results. I propose the Open Research License for scientific researchers to use for all components of their scholarship. It is intended to encourage reproducible scientific investigation, facilitate greater collaboration, and promote engagement of the larger community in scientific learning and discovery.

There is an analogy between the development of culture postulated by the Creative Commons licenses and fundamental scientific methodology: both envision advances through building on work that has come before. The Creative Commons licenses are designed to facilitate the creation of culture through the modification of existing media, whereas scientific understanding grows through the reproduction and extension of current scientific research. Providing an Open Research License in the spirit of the Creative Commons licenses serves to allay fears that prevent a scientist from publicly releasing all the scholarship by including an attribution component, as well as a provision that derivative works carry the same license. I argue using the ORL can only increase our scientific understanding, at very minimal cost.

The competition is sponsored by the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and the International Journal of Communications Law and Policy, with a $1,000 cash prize put up by Kaltura.  The prize will be awarded next week at the A2K3 Conference (Geneva, September 8-10, 2008).  Congratulations, Victoria!

Another TA editorial on OA

Philip A. Schwartzkroin and Simon D. Shorvon, Public (open) access policy, Epilepsia, August 2008.  An editorial.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so farEpilepsia is published by Wiley.

Update.  I've now seen the text.  The editorial announces that Epilepsia and Wiley-Blackwell will post papers by NIH-funded authors directly in PubMed Central, immediately upon acceptance, and allow OA release after a 12 month embargo.  It also explains that the PMC version is peer -reviewed but not copy-edited, and that the journal makes the copy-edited version freely available at its own web site after the same 12 month embargo.  The Wellcome Trust requires OA within six months, which is apparently too short for Epilepsia and Wiley.  Wellcome-funded authors must pay Epilepsia a $3,000 fee if they want to publish in the journal and comply with their prior funding agreement.  If they do pay the fee, however, the paper is made OA immediately upon publication.

Introducing OA to Hungarian physicians

E. Juhász, E. Kührner, and L. Vasas, [The medical relations of open access initiative], Orvosi Hetilap, September 1, 2008.  The article is in Hungarian, but PubMed has posted an English-language abstract:

The main condition of successful medical attendance and development of medical research is the use of scientific literature. The aim of our article is to briefly introduce the medical open access publishers and to call attention to the publishing possibilities. Hereby we want to incite Hungarian doctors to publish in these types of journals. Our internet research shows that since the millennium the number of open access publications has dynamically increased. A very promising fact is that most of the medical open access journals have high impact factor that guarantee high professional level. We hope that by the effect of our research more Hungarian doctors will publish in this way.

Attracting data to OA databases

Risto Kalliola and three co-authors, Open access to information bridges science and development in Amazonia: lessons of the SIAMAZONIA service, Environmental Research Letters, August 7, 2008.

Abstract:   Access to and availability of accurate information has often been stated to play an important role in sustainable environmental management. There is a growing trend of setting up internet-based information services to support the availability of relevant information. The current initiatives that aim to facilitate such information sharing through the web are still, however, often premature and unable to ensure constant flow of data from producers to users. We examine these common challenges by using as an example a network-based facility of biodiversity and environmental information about the Peruvian Amazon region called SIAMAZONIA. Launched in 2001, the service includes data provided by 13 different nodes. The experiences of this initiative have been both encouraging and confusing. A good professional level has been reached, but participation by large information holders is impeded. Participation is obviously considered an additional task rather than an attractive option for enhanced performance at the individual or institutional levels. This dilemma reflects a genuine problem in the modern scientific community, which still lacks agreed ways to reward those who share their data and results through the web. If these problems are solved, internet-based information sharing may become a vital resource for environmental management in Amazonia and also elsewhere.

Another TA response to the the NIH OA policy

A. D. Kirk and D. R. Salomon, AJT's Response to the National Institutes of Health Public Access Regulations, American Journal of Transplantation, August 22, 2008.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so farAJT is published by Wiley.

Update (9/2/08).  Heather Morrison has seen the text.  From  her summary:

The American Journal of Transplantation has decided to react to the National Institutes of Health's Public Access Policy, by depositing all journal articles into PubMedCentral immediately on publication - regardless of funding sources - for public access 12 months after publication, the maximum embargo allowable under the NIH policy....

PS:  This is a great policy.  Why hide it?

Australian govt helps fund OA legal database

Nicola Berkovic, Victorian boost for online law database, The Australian, August 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

Free online legal database AustLII received a major cash injection from the Victorian Government this week, but it will still have to go begging for funding to cover its core services.

Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced funding of $839,000 for the not-for-profit organisation, which provides the world's largest free online legal database, to boost the quantity and quality of Victorian information available on the site....

AustLII co-director and UNSW academic Graham Greenleaf said the money would help the organisation "push into new areas".

"(But) it still means we need to get a large contribution from organisations to maintain and update the existing databases," he said....

The funding announcement this week follows the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNSW, UTS and Indonesia to provide technical assistance enabling Indonesian court decisions to be made available online.

PS:  Also see our past posts on AustLII.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What the RePEc Author Service offers authors

Christian Zimmermann, Keeping contact with authors, The RePEc blog, August 26, 2008.
One crucial aspect of RePEc are the regular mailing that participants get. ... [A]uthors registered in the RePEc Author Service get an email every month with statistics, a list of new citations that were discovered, and some news about RePEc. Since we have started these emails, we noticed that authors have become much more diligent in making sure their profiles were up-to-date and that they have responded to suggestions made in the emails. ...

ACM journal asks its readers to weigh in on OA

Elizabeth Churchill and Mark Vanderbeeken, Open, closed, or ajar? Content access and interactions, interactions, September/October 2008.  Excerpt:

...[W]hen our website went live earlier this year,...a number of people expressing surprise that only the first paragraphs of articles were available for download, unless one had a subscription to the ACM’s digital library. Currently, two pieces in each issue are available in their entirety on the interactions website....But a subscription to the magazine is needed to read the rest of the articles.

At CHI 2008 in Florence in April, a panel was held on whether interactions should or should not publish more articles and possibly the magazine in its entirety, for open download...Mark Vanderbeeken of the experience design consultancy Experientia and I spoke on this panel. We discussed some of our personal thoughts and experiences of open content, and discussed our perspectives on whether the content of interactions should or should not be freely available online. Some of the points we brought up there are reiterated here.

First and foremost, paraphrasing John Thackara, quality that is not communicated is simply not quality. To put it crudely, who cares how great the ideas are if we make barriers to hearing/reading those ideas so high that the ideas only reach a small in-group. Closed content is restricted content, and restricted content shared among the few is likely to have limited impact.

Secondly, digital publication of articles is simply not a replacement for a carefully designed printed artifact. In my mind the core product, the print magazine is not going away. Print and digital artifacts have very different properties, they invite a different interaction; the experience of the content is radically different. A magazine with its layout is very different from how I would lay the same content out digitally on the web....Digital artifacts should invite the reader to want, to desire the physical artifact. And vice versa....

Thirdly, there are many kinds of value aside from charging hard currency for content. Value may be purely non-monetary; it may be about personal satisfaction, or reputation and contribution to the community....

Experientia...has demonstrated that the paradigm that company information is proprietary and should be protected at all cost is now completely bypassed. Rather, an alternative approach is being taken there: everything not protected by NDA or of strategic value (e.g. the markets they plan to address in the next four months), should be open to all...All important content and ideas are published on the company blog, Putting People First....

The company has directly experienced several benefits of this approach: ... [PS:  Omitting a list of 10 benefits.]

As the Experientia example suggests, the value-add of the open content is the ripple effect - the other things that become known which do generate monetary reward. In the case of scholarly journals and magazines like interactions, much of the labor of content production is volunteered, not for monetary gain. But the labor fits within a system where the rewards are very real - promotion of ideas, of products, of companies, of self, personal satisfaction, growth of future opportunities.

Before we get too carried away with all this happy, skipping, open sharing, printing a magazine costs money. The costs of production that need to be covered somehow are things like editing, illustrating, lay-out, printing, distribution, and archiving. Online distribution does not erase operating costs; funds are needed to cover platform and interface development and maintenance, promoting and archiving. The revenue model that is currently being followed to cover these costs is subscription, or what has been called “reader page charges”.

Other models that we can start playing with are:

  • free access after an embargo period: for those who want content immediately charge, but after a while the content can be made freely available...
  • author page charges: charge authors for the content
  • institutional, governmental and vested agency payment: many argument for open content in the academic domain argue that taxpayers have already paid for government funded work through taxes, so the results should be freely available
  • advertising: arguably the model that drives much of the internet
  • sponsorship is another possibility: this could be issue-based sponsorship or section-based sponsorship....

So the question is, what does open content mean for a magazine like interactions?

What are your views? Are you someone who would/do pay for the subscription, who would pay to download the articles…. do you have artful suggestions for business models not explored in this brief article? Please share your thoughts below!

Comment.  Many subscription journals are thinking through the same question as interactions, a journal on the interactions between people and technology published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).  But I haven't seen another journal open the question to its readership.  Kudos to the interactions editors, and the ACM, for taking this open approach.

Update.  Also see co-author Mark Vanderbeeken's blog post on the article, which quotes some dialog between Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, the journal's two editors in chief:

Jon: ...It could be argued that interactions magazine should cost money because the content in it is worth something: The content has value. I suppose it could also be argued that the magazine should be free so that value can be shared by the masses. To which argument do you subscribe?

Richard: Neither. The content in interactions is worth something - it has great value, but that alone doesn’t mean that the magazine should cost money. And though you and I are working to broaden the scope and readership of the magazine, it isn’t intended for the masses, and it can be argued that we can extend the reach of the magazine more effectively if it does cost money. Open access to interactions content might become appropriate. Indeed, we’ve already begun to increase access in a couple of ways....

More on ZooBank

Splitters and Lumpers: why planet Earth needs taxonomists, AFP, August 31, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Today many biologists are clamouring for a new approach to cataloging the planet's flora and fauna that goes beyond morphology and takes evolution into account.

A dozen competing theories have cropped up in the last decade, and at least one of them, called PhyloCode, has gained serious traction.

In other scientific disciplines, new ideas elbowing out old ones is a normal and essential process. But in taxonomy, renewal poses a special problem: how can you replace plant and animal names used for two-and-a-half centuries without causing chaos? ...

In an effort to catapult the current classification system into the 21st century, a number of taxonomists have launched Zoobank, a Web-based [OA] registry of organism names. Some 1.8 million species are listed so far.

"The registry will be the central place where everyone can go look to see what is going on in the rest of the world," said [Richard Pyle, a zoologist and fish specialist at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, and an officer in the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN)], who described it as the "most profound change in taxonomy since Linnaeus."

But even this seemingly common-sense step has created controversy, pitting advocates of Internet-based, open-access publishing against traditional and powerful publishers.

Under the current system, a new species does not officially exist until the scientific report of its discovery appears in print.

PS:  For background, see our past posts on ZooBank.

Image search engine starts with images in OA articles

Songhua Xu, James McCusker, and Michael Krauthammer, Yale Image Finder (YIF): a new search engine for retrieving biomedical images, Bioinformatics, July 9, 2008.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Abstract:   Yale Image Finder (YIF) is a publicly accessible search engine featuring a new way of retrieving biomedical images and associated papers based on the text carried inside the images. Image queries can also be issued against the image caption, as well as words in the associated paper abstract and title. A typical search scenario using YIF is as follows: a user provides few search keywords and the most relevant images are returned and presented in the form of thumbnails. Users can click on the image of interest to retrieve the high resolution image. In addition, the search engine will provide two types of related images: those that appear in the same paper, and those from other papers with similar image content. Retrieved images link back to their source papers, allowing users to find related papers starting with an image of interest. Currently, YIF has indexed over 140 000 images from over 34 000 open access biomedical journal papers.

Comment.  The OA connection here is that YIF populated its index by harvesting OA papers at PubMed Central.  It might have been able to index the papers at TA journals.  But it would either have had to pay for access or use prepaid university access and risk running afoul of at least one of the dozens or hundreds of applicable licensing agreements.  This is a good example of how OA can free up users for innovative uses.