Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Interview with Rainer Kuhlen

The September CheckPoint eLearning has a short interview with Rainer Kuhlen on OA, Wem gehören Wissen und Information?  Read it in German or Google's English.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More comments on the Conyers bill

Here's our third collection of comments on the Conyers bill from around the blogosphere.  (Also see our first and second.)

From Jonathan Blackhall at Encephalosponge:

...As a taxpayer and citizen, I cannot believe the idiocy of some of statements against open access in Congress....

From David Bollier at On the Commons:

...You would think business people could understand the simple economic proposition that taxpayers should be entitled to own and control what they pay for. But apparently not. Commercial journal publishers are now rallying to overturn the new NIH open access policy....

It’s depressing, but not entirely surprising, that two stalwart liberals are backing this betrayal of the public interest to serve a powerful corporate lobby. One is Pat Schroeder, the former congresswoman from Colorado, has headed the AAP for the past 11 years. Her former Democratic colleague on the House Judiciary Committee is John Conyers, who has since become the venerable chairman.

Meanwhile, another liberal stalwart, Howard Berman – the California Congressman who enthusiastically advocates for the motion picture industry, record industry and other copyright bullies – chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. At a hearing last week, Berman made the uninformed complaint that the “N” in NIH shouldn’t stand for Napster, implying that the NIH’s open-access policy was ripping off copyright holders.

Excuse me, Mr. Chairman: copyrights belong to authors, not to publishers. And the funders of authors’ works — in this case, U.S. taxpayers — have a legitimate say in directing how that work should be published. Giving them away to commercial publishers exclusively and in perpetuity, does not advance public knowledge, which, after all, is the primary mission of copyright law....

While the law and moral arguments are clearly on the public’s side, that does not usually stop members of Congress from protecting wealthy friends in beleaguered businesses stuck with bad investment choices. Just ask Wall Street.

From Gerard Harbison at Greg Laden's Blog:

This is called the Conyers Bill. That's John Conyers (D, Mich.). Conyers' #3 contributor in 2007-2008 election cycle was the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

He's carrying their water because they fed him a fat $10,000 bribe, er, I mean, political contribution, and because he knows that scientists don't count much in the grand scheme of things, and will vote Democrat anyway, regardless of how badly he shafts them.

From Revere at Effect Measure:

...I am one of those NIH supported researchers whose papers get locked up for decades behind copyright permission firewalls. I want you to have access to my research. I want the journals I publish in to be required to make it available to you after a reasonable time period (the shorter the better) as the NIH policy now does. It helps me professionally by making my work more widely disseminated. It helps me as a professional by making it possible to get access to scientific research, now inaccessible because of the predatory and outrageous charges of the large scientific publishers, the same people behind the Conyers legislation.

Open Access advocates are urging constituents to contact their own representatives and senators and especially members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees before September 24 to say you oppose HR6845. Like you, I get pretty tired of having to do things like this, but campaigns like this are incredibly effective. If access to research that you paid for is important to you, this is the time to do something. This legislation will lock you out of access to important public health and medical information. It needs to be stopped now.

From Kevin Smith at Scholarly Communications @ Duke:

...[T]he winner for bad idea of the week was the poorly-named “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” which could be more aptly called the “Taxpayer Pays Twice Act.” ...Its intent, then, is to make sure that taxpayer funded research stays behind toll barriers so the those who paid to have the research done must pay again to read the results of their investment.  Accountability is reduced, and nobody wins except the special interests who insist on uncompensated transfers of copyright before they will publish these works, then sometimes charge tens of thousands of dollars for subscriptions....

The impact of this bill on scientific and medical research would certainly be regressive, denying research and taxpayers the chance to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by the digital environment.  But it is also bad policy because it would enact into law an unnecessary and potentially damaging limitation on how the government can spend its money.  The bill is structured to make it illegal for the government to place, as a condition of government funding, any provision that would require the transfer or licensing of a copyrighted work.  The potential unintended consequences here are considerable, as are the opportunities to force the government to spend tax money over and over again to gain the use of material paid for by taxpayers in the first place.  Conditions on the grant of money is a major way Congress enacts policy, and no one seems to have examined how many contracts and grants might be invalidated, nor what the impact could be, if this legislation were adopted....This bill is an object lesson in the harm that can be done when legislators listen only to the demands of a narrow group of special interests and to their own parochial prerogatives instead of the broader need to serve the public interest....

The positive impact of the NIH Public Access policy is beginning to be felt; choking it off at this point would be the height of foolishness....[W]e should remain ready to fight tooth and nail if this poorly-conceived bill ever develops any real legs.

OA to Holocaust video testimonies

David DeBolt, Gift Will Help Put Holocaust Video Testimonies on the Internet, The Wired Campus, September 18, 2008.

A $2-million donation to the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education will assist the organization in beginning work to store video testimonies of Holocaust survivors in a searchable Internet archive that will be available to the public, the foundation announced today.

The gift is from the Viterbi Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation.

The videos and video clips are scheduled to be made available in two years ...

The institution’s digital library contains around 52,000 video testimonies in 32 different languages.

Funder repository from UK Food Standards Agency

Foodbase is a new OA repository from the UK Food Standards Agency for research funded by the agency. According to Intute, the repository launched in September 2008.

See also our previous post about OA at the Food Standards Agency.

Detailed summary of the hearing on the Conyers bill

Richard M. Jones, House Hearing on "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act", FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News, September 19, 2008.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

Comment.  This is the most detailed summary I've seen yet of the hearing on the Conyers bill.  If you want even more detail than this, you'll have to watch the video of the hearing, which is OA, or pay to read a third-party transcript.  I'm hoping that the government will release an OA version of the transcript --and if it does, I'll blog it.

New issue of Newsletter

The September/October issue of the Newsletter is now online.  Here's the heart of Section 5 on OA developments, overlapping slightly with items already reported here on OAN: signed the Seoul Declaration calling for open access to publicly-funded research
Civil society organizations that participated in the OECD 2008 Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy on June 17-18 in Seoul have issued the Seoul Declaration (June 16, 2008)
DSpace and
Elena Okhezina, Ural State University Library and eIFL Open Access country coordinator in Russia, and Iryna Kuchma, eIFL Open Access program manager have been invited to join DSpace Global Outreach Committee. The primary goal of the DSpace Global Outreach Committee (DGOC) is to help facilitate more regional support, trainings, user group meetings, resources for the DSpace user community world-wide. The committee’s kick off meeting will be held on September 23.
Ukrainian publisher and scholarly society cooperate with Connexions
Nauka Publishers based in Kyiv, Ukraine, specialised in educational and scientific literature, and the Center for American Literary Studies in Ukraine at the Institute of Literature after Taras Shevchenko of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine started cooperation with Connexions – an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web.  Two modules and courses have been published: Contemporary Media Systems and Political Communications based on Ukrainian translation of the book by Daniel C. Hallin Comparing media systems: three models of media) and Discourse of Romantism in the US Literature....
Blogs about Open Access from countries

- Gray Area: Opening up scholarly publishing by Eve Gray, publishing consultant and Open Access advocate in South Africa: (in English)

- BOA: Blog on Open Access by Justyna Hofmokl, sociologist and coordinator of Creative Commons Polska: (in Polish)

-Cybermon's blog for your access to knowledge by L.Gantulga, System Administrator, Mongolian Academy of Sciences: (in Mongolian) ...

ULg launches an IR

The Université de Liège launched ORBi (Open Repository and Bibliography) in June 2008.  (Thanks to the Driver Newsletter.)

Khazar U launches the first IR in Azerbaijan

Khazar University has launched the Khazar University Institutional Repository (KUIR).  Thanks to for the alert and this additional info:

KUIR is the fist institutional repository in Azerbaijan....

Materials in the repository are selected by the university’s research faculty. Pre- and post prints of scholarly articles from the Azerbaijan Archeology, Journal of Azerbaijani Studies and Khazar Journal of Mathematics are the first records in the academic journals collection as well as presentations and conference materials....

The repository managers received training and advice during the study visit of repository managers from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan to Ukraine hosted by Informatio Consortium and National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” and organized by on June 18-21, 2008....

Google introduces a spoken-word search engine

Google has introduced an experimental search engine for spoken words in YouTube videos.  At the moment it only indexes videos of political speeches. 

Nice features:  When you search for a term or phrase, you can choose among the hits by reading short (10-12 word) transcripts of the passages which include your search terms.  When you pull up an individual video, you can search further within it.  Not so nice:  unlike vanilla Google, individual searches don't have individual URLs.

For more detail, see Google's FAQ on Audio Indexing.

PS:  Also see the spoken-word search engine announced at MIT in November 2007.

An OA mandate from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Germany's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft adopted an OA mandate in July 2008.  (Thanks to the Informationsplattform Open Access.) 

Unfortunately, both the German and English versions of the policy are locked PDFs which block cutting/pasting (why?) and I don't have time to rekey the important passages. 

But here are a few highlights:

  • The policy follows the Berlin Declaration definition of OA.
  • FG "makes every effort" to provide OA to the full-text articles by its employees.
  • When FG employees publish in TA journals, copies "shall" be deposited in the FG repository, Fraunhofer ePrints.  If the publisher insists, FG will respect an embargo of up to one year.
  • When FG employees publish articles, they are "expressly required to demand" the "right to further use of their own works."
  • FG "wholeheartedly supports" publishing in peer-reviewed OA journals.
  • FG managers are "urged to take a proactive stance" to help FG researchers make use of green and gold OA.
  • FG "is committed to providing the necessary financial, organization and non-material support" to implement its policy.
  • FG is "committed to lobbying for official recognition" of OA "on a national and European scale" and "for the drafting of appropriate legislation."


  • In its basics, the FG policy resembles the NIH policy:  researchers must reserve the right to authorize OA, deposit in the repository is required, and embargoes may be up to one year.  But the NIH policy requires deposit immediately upon acceptance and the FG policy is silent on the timing of deposits.  I hope FG will follow the growing practice of depositing immediately upon acceptance, switching access from closed to open when the embargo runs, and making metadata OA from the start.
  • I can't tell from FG's strong support for OA journals, and its commitment to provide the financial means to implement its policy, whether it will pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  If it can afford to so so, I hope it will. 
  • The month before FG adopted this policy, it joined the Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen (June 11, 2008), a new alliance of German research organizations committed to OA.  See my blog post about it.  Does this mean that other alliance members without OA policies are now adopting them?
  • Kudos to all involved at FG.  But please unlock the PDF.  (What were you thinking?)


50+ institutions planning for OA Day

More than 50 institutions are already planning events for October 14, 2008, Open Access Day.  (Thanks to the OA Day Blog.)  Is your institution among them?

Update on plans for the Canadian PMC

Kumiko Vezina, PubMed Central Canada (PMC Canada) initiative, OA Librarian, September 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

Over the summer, NRC-CISTI and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) finalized the first step in the partnership for the PubMed Central Canada agreement process, a national digital repository of peer-reviewed health science research. With CIHR funding now in place, CISTI plans to contribute its technological expertise to build & host the infrastructure and manage & develop the e-repository.

Before this can go forward, however, the second and final step of the agreement process must be completed. That would be for CISTI and CIHR to jointly approach the US National Library Medicine to co-sponsor the service, as a mirror site to PubMed Central therefore obtaining a 3-way agreement between CISTI, CIHR and the US National Library of Medicine to ‘officially’ enter into the PubMed Central International (PMCI) network. Once the final agreement is in place, development will begin on the first phase of PMC Canada thus enabling CIHR researchers to deposit their publications into PubMed Central.

As the process unfolds, the initiative’s progress and latest developments will be published on CISTI’s Partnership Development Office website and in CISTI News....

PS:  For background, see our previous post (June 2007) on the Canadian PMC project.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Public Resource wants to open GPO databases

Public.Resource.Org's Carl Malamud has posted a letter to the Government Printing Office dated September 17, 2008:
I am writing to you today ... [t]o propose that you work with Public.Resource.Org to open source the remainder of your bulk electronic products ...

In addition to the Code of Federal Regulations, GPO has several other key databases that are made available in bulk. These include the Congressional Directory, Congressional Record, Daily Bills Digest, Daily Bills, Federal Register, Federal Register Index, List of Federal Regulations Affected, the United States Code, the U.S. Government Manual, and the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. ...

It is our proposal to you that GPO make all of these products available to Public.Resource.Org, which will in turn make the products available without restriction ...

Stanford Engineering offers open courses

Stanford School of Engineering Debuts Service Offering Complete Courses Online for Free, press release, September 17, 2008. (Thanks to The Earth Times.)
The Stanford School of Engineering today announced the debut of Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE), the pilot of a free online service that provides Stanford’s popular introduction to computer science and other computer science and electrical engineering courses. Each consists of complete video lectures and materials such as handouts, assignments, exams and transcripts. With SEE, Stanford Engineering is releasing the courses under a Creative Commons license, explicitly encouraging educators and learners around the world to incorporate the video courses and materials into their educational endeavors and to form virtual communities around the classes. ...

SEE is produced by the school’s Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD), which will use its 40 years of distance education expertise to provide an anywhere/anytime open access learning experience. ...

The SEE pilot’s development and launch was funded by Sequoia Captial, a Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm. ...

To facilitate easy downloading, the video presentations are available at the SEE Web site and through iTunes, YouTube, Zune, Bit Torrent and Vyew. ...

Part of the technological infrastructure includes access to course-specific Facebook pages. These pages are meant to be self-sustaining user communities, rather than Stanford-moderated groups.

SEE is the latest effort at Stanford to share information and ideas with the public online. Three years ago the university helped pioneer the use of Apple’s iTunes service by academic institutions. Earlier this year Stanford launched a dedicated channel on YouTube. SEE represents Stanford’s first free site to offer complete video-based courses and materials available anywhere, anytime and on-demand. ...

Open data and software for climate studies

Francis Irving, Clearer Climate Code, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, September 17, 2008.

GISTEMP is a crucial open data set, because it contains the historical global temperature record. ...

Stations that measure temperature naturally do so at specific points in space, and the historical record is additionally contaminated by changes in hardware, urbanisation and other issues. Because of this GISTEMP is made using software that estimates a single global temperature from the measurements using a basic scheme invented by James Hansen in the 1970s.

What is interesting from an open knowledge point of view, is that without this software the GISTEMP data itself is fairly meaningless. ... There have been arguments about the derivation, and to address these the original Fortran software was released into the public domain by NASA in September 2007.

... Nick Barnes (from a company called Ravenbrook) has started a project to rewrite the GISTEMP software in Python, ensuring it produces the same output as the original Fortran.

This is called the Clear Climate Code project. ...

This open approach to the scientific code and data has already found some rewards. The August 11, 2008 GISTEMP update describes a bug in the original Fortran code which the Python rewrite unearthed ...

Strong criticism of flimsy copyright arguments behind Conyers bill

Andrew Albanese, In Blunt Terms, Copyright Lawyers, Researchers, Librarians Blast Anti-NIH Bill, Library Journal, September 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

At last week’s hearing on the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, Ralph Oman, a former Register of Copyrights, raised a number of questions surrounding the current National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy. But Oman’s mere presence raised perhaps the key question of the day: where was the current Register of Copyrights, Marybeth Peters? Peters, who succeeded Oman as Register of Copyrights in 1994, neither testified at the hearing nor submitted written testimony, nor has she offered any public comment about a bill that would seriously affect copyright.

It remains unclear how much Peters’ office was consulted about the bill. But Tanya Sandros, general counsel at the U.S. Copyright Office, confirmed for the LJ Academic Newswire that Peters “was not asked to testify on the bill at this juncture,” and said that the Copyright Office has not currently taken “an official position.” Still, sources in the library community suggested to the LJ Academic Newswire that her absence was not without meaning: the Copyright Office is said not to be persuaded by publishers’ arguments regarding the NIH public access policy, and sees the recently introduced bill as unnecessary.

Critics from various quarters, meanwhile, have continued to slam the proposed legislation. Some 47 copyright experts and professors of law from around the country signed a letter to House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI), defending the legality of the NIH public access proposal, and pointing out “serious misstatements relating to copyright law” submitted to NIH by publishers via a letter from law firm Proskauer Rose. The group asserted that publishers’ international copyright concern is built on an “erroneous premise,” with no “basis in law.”  

In addition, 33 Nobel Prize-winning scientists have also written Congress, stating both their support for the NIH policy and, in blunt terms their opposition to the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act. “The current move by publishers is wrong,” the scientists flatly state. “The legislators who mandated this policy should be applauded and any attempts to weaken or reverse this policy should be halted.”

In perhaps the most blistering comment to surface in the blogosphere, University of Michigan librarian Paul Courant, an economist, called the bill, introduced by Michigan’s own Conyers, “an odious piece of corporate welfare wrapped in a friendly layer of doublespeak.” Courant proclaimed publishers’ copyright argument “hogwash” and said it “would be a travesty if Congress decided that the interests of a few publishers were more important than the research investments of the American public, and that’s exactly what this bill would do.”

Although subcommittee chair Howard Berman (D-CA) told reporters the bill was unlikely to move this year, the bill’s provisions might still be attached to a bill that is moving —such as the PRO IP Act— and could still wind up on the floor before Congress adjourns. Despite nearly universal opposition to the bill outside of some in the publishing community, Association of Research Libraries (ARL) associate executive director Prue Adler told the LJ Academic Newswire that advocates of the NIH policy should remain on point and not underestimate the bill’s chances in this Congress, or the next.

Comment.  Note the final paragraph.  Because the bill's language may attach to another bill before Congress adjourns next week (September 26), it's critical to keep up the pressure on Congress.

Interview with BMC's Matthew Cockerill

Donna Wentworth, Voices from the future of science: Matthew Cockerill of BioMed Central, Science Commons blog, September 18, 2008.
[Q:] BMC has been a pioneer in road-testing models for making OA publishing sustainable, including introducing an institutional membership program. Can you tell us about some of the milestones you’ve reached? What’s driving your growth?

We’re super happy with how things are going right now — both submissions and access rates are on the rise. We’re now seeing 4 million article downloads per month, and it will be more than 50 million for the year. That’s a lot of access to research. Submissions are currently at about 1,800 per month, up from 1,500 at the same time last year. And it’s worth noting that in terms of submission rates, we expect the next year to be an even bigger growth period. ...

We now have a sustainable business model. Revenue has roughly doubled in the last 12 months — in part because we’re publishing more articles, and in part because we’ve structured our institutional membership fees so they’re proportionate to the value of the articles published, as well as realistic for covering the costs of publishing on a large scale. ...

Another important trend that’s going to drive submissions growth over the next year is existing journals switching across to open access with BioMed Central. Quite a few have done so already, coming from Taylor & Francis and other traditional publishers. And the pipeline for such transfers is growing rapidly, now that OA has proven itself as a viable model with many benefits for society publishers. ...

New book on open ed., related topics

Toru Iiyoshi and M. S. Vijay Kumar, eds., Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge, released September 2008 by MIT Press. An OA edition is available in PDF or iPaper. Section III especially deals with topics beyond education.

Keep the pressure on Congress to support the NIH policy

It's not over yet.  The Alliance for Taxpayer Action is calling on US citizens to keep the pressure on Congress to support the NIH policy and defeat the Conyers bill.  From today's call to action:

...Please contact your Representative and Senators no later than September 24, 2008 to express your support for public access to taxpayer-funded research and ask that he or she OPPOSE HR6845. Especially important are members of the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee. (Draft text and contact details are included below).

HR6845 is designed to do the following:

1.    Amend current copyright law (Title 17).

2.    Prohibit all U.S. federal agencies from conditioning funding agreements to require that works resulting from federal support be made publicly available if those works meet either of two conditions:

a.    They are funded in part by sources other than a U.S. agency, or

b.    The results from "meaningful added value" to the work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.

3.    Prohibit U.S. federal agencies being able to obtain a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by -- for example -- putting it on the Internet.

4.    Makes broad policy by stifling public access to a wide range of federally funded works, and effectively overturns the crucially important current NIH Public Access Policy.

5.    Because it is so broadly framed, the proposed bill would require an overhaul of well-established procurement rules in effect for all federal agencies, and could disrupt day-to-day procurement practices across the federal government, including in critical areas such as research to support national defense and homeland security.

6.    In particular, the bill would repeal the longstanding "federal purpose" doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work must reserve a "royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work" for any federal purpose. This will severely limit the ability of U.S. federal agencies to use works that they have funded to support and fulfill agency missions and to communicate with and educate the public.

7.    The bill is a blunt instrument that uses extremely broad language to override existing procurement law, and as such has serious implications for the entire U.S. federal government far beyond articles resulting from research funding.

8.    Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information from the NIH’s PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 4,000 new crucial biomedical articles were deposited in the last month alone. This proposed bill would prohibit the deposit of these articles, and as a result, researchers, physicians, health care professionals, families and individuals will find it much harder to get access to this critical health-related information.

Constituents across the country are asked to contact Congress and let them know you support public access to federally funded research and OPPOSE HR6845. Again, the proposed resolution would effectively reverse the NIH Public Access Policy, as well as make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place.

Thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting this policy. You know the difference constituent voices can make on Capitol Hill.

As always, please let me know what actions you’re able to take, by email to jennifer [at] arl [dot] org.

[PS:  Here omitting the sample text to mail to your Senator or Representative, and a list of the relevant committee members and their phone numbers.]

Comment.  Although we have heard reports that the bill has been shelved for this year, the language could move forward without the bill.  For example, even if the sponsors plan no further action on the bill in this session, they could insert the language into another piece of legislation moving toward a vote.  We must keep the pressure on between and now and the scheduled adjournment, on September 26, to discourage any last-minute movement.


OA + POD in the UMichigan library

The University Michigan has installed an Espresso POD machine in its library to make instant print editions of its many OA and nearly-OA ebooks.  From today's announcement:

With the installation of a state-of-the-art book-printing machine at one of its libraries, the University of Michigan stands at the new frontier of 21st-century publishing, offering printed and bound reprints of out-of-copyright books from its digitized collection of nearly 2 million books, as well as thousands of books from the Open Content Alliance and other digital sources.

U-M is the first university library to install the book-printing machine. The Espresso Book Machine, from On Demand Books of New York, produces perfect-bound, high-quality paperback books on demand. A Time Magazine "Best Invention of 2007," the Espresso Book Machine has been called "the ATM of books." It was purchased with donations to U-M libraries....

At a cost of about $10 per book, the service is available to researchers, students and the public.

The printing process begins with a reader selecting a digitized book from U-M's pre-1923 collection or from another online source, such as the Open Content Alliance. Most books printed prior to the early 1920s can be reprinted without seeking the permission from whomever holds the copyright. Then the file is downloaded to the Espresso Book Machine, where it is formatted, printed and perfect bound with a four-color cover.

A finished printed book takes 5-7 minutes, depending on the number of pages.

Since 1996, U-M Libraries have digitized nearly 2 million books. The University was the first participant in the Google Book Search program, which digitizes books in libraries throughout the world....

Journal cuts its OA embargo period in half

The Journal of Nuclear Medicine has shortened its OA embargo from 12 months to six.  From today's announcement:

SNM recently announced that all content in its flagship publication The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (JNM) is now free and open to the public six months after publication. Previously, non-subscribers waited 12 months before being able to freely access journal articles. The journal's editorial board and the society's board of directors approved expediting open access in order to help disseminate new research --helping increase understanding and sound practice of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging throughout the medical community and with the public.

The monthly, peer-reviewed JNM was recently ranked second among 87 imaging publications by the Thomson Reuters Institute for Scientific Information's (ISI) Journal Citations Report in recognition....

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association will launch on OA Day

The incipient Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association is one step closer to launch.  From today's announcement:

This spring Gunter Eysenbach and I [David Solomon] proposed forming a professional organization for open access publishers. At about the same time a number of the major professional open access publishers had also begun working towards this goal.  We have been working together to develop a set of bylaws and a plan for the organization over the summer.  I wanted to update you on our progress in forming what we are calling the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)....

I am pleased to say that we have made a great deal of progress and intend to announce the launch of OASPA on SPARC Open Access Day, October 14, 2008. We hope to have the web site in operation and begin the process of accepting applications for membership at that point.

We are tentatively planning of organizing a membership meeting next spring where a permanent board of directors can be elected and a set of bylaws formally adopted by the membership.

The draft bylaws are currently being revised but should be available with the launch of the organization. Voting memberships will be open to organizations that publish open access journals including professional publishers, individual or groups of scholar/researchers who publish OA journals without full-time professionals, academic/research libraries, university presses and other organizations that publish OA journals. Membership will be contingent on adhering to a code of conduct that we intend to ensure a high level of integrity in the operation of OA journals published by the member organizations.

Voting membership and representation on the board of directors will also be available to organizations such as SPARC that are not publishers but provide key support and services to open access publishing.

I also want to thank the group of colleagues who have worked on developing the plan for OASPA:

  • Lars Björnshauge (SPARC Europe)
  • Matthew Cockerill (BMC)
  • Gunther Eysenbach (Journal of Medical Internet Research)
  • Ahmed Hindawi (Hindawi)
  • Kevin Haggerty (Canadian Journal of Sociology)
  • Mark Patterson (PLOS)
  • Paul Peters (Hindawi)
  • Martin Rasmussen (Copernicus)
  • Bas Savenije (SPARC Europe)

I particularly like to thank Caroline Sutton from Co-Action Publishing who worked closely with me to keep the process moving and  David Prosser of SPARC Europe who not only provided valuable input in the discussion but through SPARC Europe has provided support that is making it possible to launch OASPA.

David Solomon (Medical Education Online)

PS:  For background, see our past posts on the OASPA.

New funding and enhancements for UKPMC

Leading research institutions to further develop free global online access to findings of UK life sciences, a press release from the British Library, undated but apparently September 16, 2008.  (Thanks to Robert Kiley.)  Excerpt:

Eight leading biomedical research funding organisations, including Government bodies, Research Councils and Charities, have approved funding to further develop the UK PubMed Central website over the next three years.

The development will be carried out by the British Library, the University of Manchester and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), in close consultation with the UK’s biomedical and health researchers.

Since being launched in January 2007, UKPubMed Central has expanded to offer 1.3 million full-text, peer-reviewed research papers through its online digital archive. The new and improved features will include:

  • Direct links to the 18 million records currently available on the US version of PubMed as part of the European Bioinformatics Institute’s CiteXplore bibliographic tool
  • New ways to extract biological information from research papers using text analysis and data-mining tools
  • Access to content not included in traditional journal literature - clinical guidelines, technical reports and conference proceedings
  • An easy-to-use, intuitive interface ...

More on open textbooks

Jane Park, Back to School: Open Textbooks Gaining in Popularity, Creative Commons blog, September 16, 2008.

There’s been a whole lot of press on open textbooks lately, in addition to my own posts on the Flexbook and the Student PIRGs’ recent report encouraging open source textbooks ...

The New York Times article, “Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free,” features an interview with Cal Tech professor, R. Preston McAfee, who offers his “Introduction to Economic Analysis” online for free. Another article by the LA Times reports best-selling co-author Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics calling McAfee brilliant. ...

Wired also quotes a long-timer in the traditional textbook industry, Eric Frank, who is getting with the changing times: "The nice thing about open content is it gives faculty full control ... and it give students a lot more control over how they want to consume it and how much they want to pay" ...

A long-existing and solid promoter of the open textbook is Connexions ...

According to the NY Times, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a staunch supporter of the open educational resources (OER) movement, has granted $6 million to Connexions alone. ...

Institutions vs. networks, and OA

This week's edition of the the BBC World Service program The Forum features guests Manuel Castells, John Barrow, and Madhavi Sunder. For the OA connection, see the comments by the JISC Information Environment Team:
... It was an interesting discussion, touching on Castells’ view of the emerging network organisation and society, and Professor Barrow’s observations on scientific practice in that context. Castells sees ICT as affording advantage to organisational arrangements that are horizontal (rather than bureaucratic), featuring loosely coupled units of highly skilled professionals, using project-oriented relationships with other such units to get work done. It is a picture that many academics will find familiar of course. Professor Barrow cited arXiv as an example of researchers working in this way, contrasting it with the more traditional “institution” of accessing the literature via journals. ...

Notes from iSummit research workshop

Giorgos Cheliotis, Draft report from Free Culture 2008, Commons-research mailing list, September 17, 2008. Notes on the First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture (Sapporo, July 30-August 1, 2008).

Update. See also the wiki version of the notes.

Spanish blog notes on researchers & OA conference

Paola Bongiovani, Conferencia Europea sobre Investigadores y Acceso Abierto, Repositorios Dinámicos, Septiembre 15, 2008. Blog notes on Researchers and Open Access: the 2nd European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (Oslo, September 4-6, 2008). Read it in the original Spanish or Google's English. (Thanks to Carolina De Volder.)

Interview on open notebook science

Katherine Sanderson, Data on display, Nature, September 15, 2008. (Thanks to Ricardo Vidal.)
Risking being scooped and having patents refused, some scientists are posting their data online as they produce them. Organic chemist Jean-Claude Bradley of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and biochemist Cameron Neylon of the University of Southampton, UK, describe this 'open notebook' approach. ...
Update. See also Cameron Neylon's comments on the article, clarifying his statements.

"The most open department"

Heather Piwowar, BHAG for Openness, Research Remix, September 16, 2008.

... I’d like to propose an idea for a [Big Hairy Audacious Goal].  I suggest that we “become the most open department of biomedical informatics.”  By that, I mean we embrace open access, open source, open notebook/process science, open teaching...  the whole shebang. ...

Admittedly, we will encounter obstacles with IRBs, university legal and IP departments, protective researchers, AMIA establishment, and the like.  There are indeed real concerns about trying to do open biomedical research, but I believe that all the issues can be addressed appropriately while striving to be as open as possible, given the real constraints.

To make the idea concrete, here are a few steps which I think would get us a long way down the leadership path:

  • strongly encourage our researchers to self-archive all of their non-open access papers in a global or institutional repository
  • strongly encourage our researchers to make their posters and preprints available on Nature Precedings, or similar
  • provide department funding for publishing in author-pays open access journals
  • strongly encourage our researchers to publish in open access journals ...
  • strongly encourage our researchers to make all data (as appropriate given privacy concerns) publicly available when they publish their papers ...
  • take a leadership role within JAMIA to encourage an author-pays open-access option
  • take a leadership role within AMIA to ensure that proceedings are available open access ASAP
  • encourage students and faculty to experiment with Open Notebook Science ...
  • put our course documents available on the open web
  • put all of our theses available on the open web ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Harold Varmus advises Barack Obama on science policy

Brandom Keim, Obama Campaign Reveals Science Advisors, Wired Science, September 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Obama announced his science platform earlier this month in response to questions posed by ScienceDebate2008, a nonpartisan political education group. When asked by Wired Science, the campaign identified five people who had helped draft Obama's statement: Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate and former head of the National Institutes of Health; Gilbert Ommen, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Peter Agre, a Nobel laureate and civil rights advocate; NASA researcher Donald Lamb; and Stanford University plant biologist Sharon Long.

Republican candidate John McCain responded to the ScienceDebate2008 questions on Monday, but his campaign ignored multiple requests for the identity of its science advisors....

Harold Varmus: President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He won a Nobel Prize in 1989 for breakthroughs in cancer genetics. Under Clinton, he directed the National Institutes of Health....A champion of open-access research, Varmus co-founded the Public Library of Science. He chairs the scientific board of Grand Challenges in Global Health, launched by the Gates Foundation and NIH to improve health in the developing world. Varmus was an advisor to the now-defunct Campaign to Defend the Constitution, launched to combat the political influence of the religious right. His political contributions are here....

Comments.  Obama hasn't yet directly endorsed OA, but this comes very close and may lead to a direct endorsement. 

In fact, both candidates have already shown that they lean more toward OA than against.

More on Australia's commitment to OA

Zoë Corbyn, Australia ups the ante on global access to research, Times Higher Education Supplement, September 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

A pioneering move by the Australian Government to allow open access to all of the nation's publicly funded research could "set all the dominoes falling worldwide", it was predicted this week [by Stevan Harnad].

Kim Carr, the Australian Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said he intended to implement reforms aimed at "unlocking public information and content, including the results of publicly funded research", following a review of the country's innovation.

The review says that scientific knowledge produced in Australia should be "placed in machine-searchable repositories" developed and implemented using universities and public funding agencies.

"To the maximum extent practicable, information, research and content funded by the Australian governments ... should be made freely available over the internet as part of the global public commons," it says. "This should be done while the Australian Government encourages other countries to reciprocate by making their own contributions to the global digital public commons."

Giving a speech on the report, Mr Carr said that Australia - which produces 3 per cent of the world's research papers - "is and will remain" a net importer of knowledge. As a result, he said, it was in the country's interest to "promote the freest possible flow of information domestically and globally".

"The arguments for stepping out first on open access are the same as the arguments for stepping out first on emissions trading - the more willing we are to show leadership on this, the more chance we have of persuading other countries to reciprocate," he said....

UK funder policies on open data

The UK Research Data Service Feasibility Study, an interim report from UKRDS, Version: v0.1a.030708, July 7, 2008.  (Thanks to Clifford Lynch.) 

Among other things, the report summarizes the data sharing policies of the major UK research funding agencies (Table 2, pp. 10-13).

John Willinsky at the Perimeter Institute

John Willinsky, Open Access Is Public Access, a public presentation at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Ontario, September 8, 2008).  (Thanks to Chad Orzel.)  The talk is available in many formats, including text, audio, and video.

Abstract:   This talk will review the public impact of developments in open access to research on education, professional practice, and public policy, with consideration given to legal, economic, and academic freedom issues, as well as to the very design of scholarly communication systems. The Public Knowledge Project has been conducting research on public interests in the new openness of research for a nearly a decade, and as a result, continues to explore how the creation of new reading environments for the online publication of journals and books can provide a wider range of readers with what might otherwise be the missing context for the work they are now able to discover online.

Turkish atomic energy agency joins SCOAP3

More comments on the Conyers bill

Here are some more comments on the Conyers bill from around the blogosphere.  (Also see our first collection of comments, three days ago.)

From The Aust Gate:

...The only people who “benefit” from [the Conyers bill] in the short term are the publishing companies who appear to be heading down the MPAA/RIAA route of trying to make increasingly short term profits....[The bill] is clearly a knee jerk reaction to the way that knowledge and its ease of transfer takes place. Publishers should be looking at changing their business models to adapt rather than trying to hold on to something that is slowly dying. Especially if the research and publication costs are being borne by the public....

From Paul Courant at Au Courant:

...Think of [the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act] as the Clear Skies Act for copyright; an odious piece of corporate welfare wrapped in a friendly layer of doublespeak....It would make it illegal for U.S. government agencies to seek any rights at all in the research that they fund. This is anything but fair. Indeed, it is manifestly unfair to the taxpayers who ultimately pay for the research, and on whose behalf the research is conducted.

Publishers have pushed for this bill because they fear that open access mandates will reduce their profits....

Instead of baldly admitting that what they seek is protection for their dying business model, publishers argue that the NIH Public Access policy violates their copyrights. The assertion is hogwash....[T]he fact that they have traditionally signed over all of their rights to publishers without compensation does not mean they should continue doing so....

Allan Adler, VP of the Association of American Publishers, had the gall to say during his testimony that “Government does not fund peer-reviewed journal articles —publishers do.”  That’s just not true....The referees’ salaries are paid by universities and research institutes, not by publishers....

The people of the United States pay good money to learn about the world. It would be a travesty if Congress decided that the interests of a few publishers were more important than the research investments of the American public, and that’s exactly what this bill would do.

From Bonnie Klein on SOAF and LibLicense:

...In the 70s, publishers made similar dooms-day arguments about the effects of NIH photocopying and interlibrary loan on the publishing industry.  None of their dire predictions have come to pass.  The industry is stronger than ever, but in need of a new business model as author's and funding organizations assert their rights to control their works.

Note that it is not the authors, academic or research institutions or the Government seeking a change to the copyright law, but an industry that is slow to adapt.

From John Timmer at Ars Technica:

...Last week, the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property held a hearing on the proposed legislation. If anyone was thinking that policies related to publicly funded scientific research were free of politicking and rampant self-interest so frequently involved in the copyright and intellectual property battles, the hearings would have erased them....

[M]any of the representatives were clearly in need of a primer in academic publishing. Different members of the Subcommittee expressed surprise at various aspects of the current system, such as the fact that peer reviewers perform the function free (although, as noted, the process of arranging for peer review can be expensive). Also eliciting surprise was the revelation that authors are not paid by publishers for the transfer of copyright.

In fact, many publishers charge money for the publication of scientific research, even those that obtain copyright to the work in the process. Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the NIH, shocked Berman when he mentioned that the NIH hands out $100 million a year to grant recipients specifically to cover the cost of publishing their results. It would certainly have been possible for those testifying in favor of the open access policy to argue that the public pays part of the cost of nearly every stage of the publishing process, and might expect to have some access to the end product.

Also see the Slashdot thread on the Conyers bill.

Letter from nine organizations in support of the NIH policy

Nine library, publishing, and public-interest organizations have released their September 5 letter to the House Judiciary Committee, supporting the NIH policy and opposing the Conyers bill.  Excerpt:

...The U.S. government funds research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries from the research will propel science, stimulate the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans. Public support for science is enhanced when the public directly sees the benefits from our nation's investment in scientific research.

Scientific research is advanced by broad dissemination of knowledge, and the subsequent building upon the work of others. To this end, the NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the results of our nation's $29 billion annual investment in research reach the broadest possible audience....

The Policy achieves several notable goals: First, it ensures broad public access to the results of NIH's publicly funded research, allowing scientists and researchers throughout the country – indeed the world – to collaborate and engage in cutting-edge research. Such availability acts as a “leveler,” expanding the potential user base, allowing for greater sharing of information and the spurring of medical advances and innovations.

Second, the Policy ensures that the U.S. government has a long-term permanent archive of the research results that we have collectively funded....Finally, it provides welcome accountability and transparency to the government, and assists the NIH in better managing our investments in its research portfolio....

At the direction of Congress, the NIH Public Access Policy was recently revised to require that NIH grantees deposit their manuscripts in lieu of doing so voluntarily. Congress’ leadership on this Policy has been validated. Since the Policy became mandatory in early April, the deposit rate has increased from 10% to almost 60%. This change ensures that the more than 80,000 articles resulting from NIH funding each year will, for the first time, be available to any researcher, physician, faculty member, student or member of the public who wants access.

Some in Washington have expressed concerns about the rights of authors under the NIH Public Access Policy. As library organizations we fully respect copyright law and the protection it affords content creators, content owners, and content users. NIH-funded research is copyrightable and copyright belongs to the author. The NIH Policy requires only the grant of a non-exclusive license to NIH, fully consistent with federal policies such as Circular A-110 and Circular A-102. This policy leaves the author free to transfer some or all of the exclusive rights under copyright to a journal publisher or to assign these anywhere they so choose. Attached please find an issue brief detailing how the NIH Public Access Policy does not affect copyright law....

The letter is signed by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Greater Western Library Alliance, Public Knowledge, Public Library of Science, SPARC (Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition), and the Special Libraries Association.

PS:  Note that the Judiciary Committee has suspended action on the Conyers bill until at least 2009.

33 Nobel laureates write to Congress in support of the NIH policy

Thirty-three US Nobel laureates in science have written an open letter to Congress defending the NIH policy against the Conyers bill (September 9, 2008).  Excerpt:

As scientists and Nobel Laureates we are writing today to support the NIH Public Access Policy that was instituted earlier this year as a Congressional mandate. This is one of the most important public access initiatives ever undertaken. Finally, scientists, physicians, health care workers, libraries, students, researchers and thousands of academic institutions and companies will have access to the published work of scientists who have been supported by NIH.

For scientists working at the cutting edge of knowledge, it is essential that they have unhindered access to the world's scientific literature. Increasingly, scientists and researchers at all but the most well-financed universities are finding it difficult to pay the escalating costs of subscriptions to the journals that provide their life blood. A major result of the NIH public access initiative is that increasing amounts of scientific knowledge are being made freely available to those who need to use it and through the internet the dissemination of that knowledge is now facile.

The clientele for this knowledge are not just an esoteric group of university scientists and researchers who are pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge....

The scientific literature is our communal heritage. It has been assembled by the painstaking work of hundreds of thousands of research scientists and the results are essential to the pursuit of science. The research breakthroughs that can lead to new treatments for disease, to better diagnostics or to innovative industrial applications depend completely on access not just to specialized literature, but rather to the complete published literature. A small finding in one field combined with a second finding in some completely unrelated field often triggers that "Eureka" moment that leads to a groundbreaking scientific advance. Public access makes this possible.

The current move by the publishers is wrong. The NIH came through with an enlightened policy that serves the best interest of science, the scientists who practice it, the students who read about it and the taxpayers who pay for it. The legislators who mandated this policy should be applauded and any attempts to weaken or reverse this policy should be halted....

[PS:  Omitting the 33 signatures.]

Comment.  This is the third time that US Nobel laureates in science have written to Congress in support of the NIH policy.  Also see the first letter (25 signatures, August 26, 2004) and the second letter (26 signatures, July 8, 2007).


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Australia, reporting annual research data directly from IRs

Bernard Lane, Access remains an open secret, The Australian, September 17, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Every year, every [Australian] institution must report a mass of research data - the grant income earned by academics, for example, and the papers they publish - to the federal Government. It's a big deal with a fancy title: the Higher Education Research Data Collection. HERDC information helps decide how much the universities will receive in federal funds....

Earlier this year, UQ [University of Queensland] duly filed its HERDC report, but it did so through [its OA] eSpace repository.

"I think we're probably the first university to do that," says former eSpace manager Belinda Weaver, who is now with UQ International. It's a coup because it brings more efficiency when there's plenty of pressure to pull together data for attempts to measure and compare research performance....Other universities are interested in it. We've had quite a few visitors come to see how it's done."

One reason for the interest is a hint dropped in February by Leanne Harvey, then a senior staff member in [Australia's Ministry of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research], that all universities may be required to follow UQ's example....

[After Queensland University of Technology adopted its OA mandate in 2004, other OA mandates were adopted at Charles Sturt University, University of Tasmania, and Macquarie University.]

The HES hears that the University of Tasmania is well advanced with open access. This led to a spirited email exchange with Arthur Sale, emeritus professor of computer science at UTas and open access zealot....

By his account, things were going swimmingly under the guidance of the university library when a new pro vice-chancellor for research, Jo Laybourn-Parry, decided to integrate open access and HERDC reporting with in-house software [as opposed to the existing repository software].

[Said Sale:]  "I can only speculate as to what is happening. I predict a disaster as home-grown and inadequate software fails to meet the needs of the university. UTas will go from one of the leaders in open access to the very bottom of the pile."

Laybourn-Parry says Sale has got it wrong....[T]he attempt to integrate HERDC and open access data - "so, effectively, academics will only have to give us information once" - in expert hands and well advanced....

New OA journal of dental biomechanics

SAGE-Hindawi launch Journal of Dental Biomechanics, press release, September 16, 2008.

SAGE-Hindawi today announced the launch of The Journal of Dental Biomechanics (JDB), the second open access title to be launched in the joint collaboration between SAGE and the Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

The Journal of Dental Biomechanics will provide the first peer-reviewed forum dedicated to the study of biomechanics as it relates to dentistry. ...

The article processing charge is £700. Authors retain the copyrights of their papers, and articles are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

NYT on open textbooks

Noam Cohen, Don't Buy That Textbook, Download It Free, New York Times, September 14, 2008.
... [I]n the words of R. Preston McAfee, an economics professor at Cal Tech, ... both textbook publishers and drug makers benefit from the problem of “moral hazards” — that is, the doctor who prescribes medication and the professor who requires a textbook don’t have to bear the cost and thus usually don’t think twice about it.

“The person who pays for the book, the parent or the student, doesn’t choose it,” he said. “There is this sort of creep. It’s always O.K. to add $5.”

In protest of what he says are textbooks’ intolerably high prices ... Professor McAfee has put his introductory economics textbook online free. He says he most likely could have earned a $100,000 advance on the book had he gone the traditional publishing route, and it would have had a list price approaching $200. ...

Smithsonian to digitize full collection

Brett Zongker, Smithsonian to put its 137 million-object collection online, The Associated Press, September 16, 2008. (Thanks to Perry Willett.)
The Smithsonian Institution will work to digitize its collections to make science, history and cultural artifacts accessible online ..., the museum complex's new chief said Monday.

"I worry about museums becoming less relevant to society," said Secretary G. Wayne Clough in his first interviews since taking the Smithsonian's helm in July. ...

Smithsonian officials do not know how long it will take or how much it will cost to digitize the full 137 million-object collection and will do it as money becomes available. A team will prioritize which artifacts are digitized first. ...

[Clough] replaced a Smithsonian chief who was criticized for pursuing questionable commercial ventures, including a television deal with Showtime ...

Museum leaders also are increasingly focused on digitizing their online collections, despite its expense, he said.
Comment. Digitization and OA are not necessarily synonymous. It's not completely clear from the article that the digitized collections will be OA; but if they won't, that's news, too. It seems like this announcement is more intention than plan; let's hope that when the Smithsonian fills in the details, that OA is part of the picture.

See also our past posts on the Smithsonian, and particularly on the Smithsonian/Showtime deal.

Conyers bill on ice until at least 2009

After Hearing, Sweeping Anti-NIH Bill To Be Shelved —for Now, Library Journal Academic Newswire, September 16, 2008.

Within hours of last week’s hearing on the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, a sweeping, publisher-supported bill that would ban public access measures similar to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH), lawmakers all but ruled out action on the bill in 2008. With Congress set to adjourn on September 26, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who chairs the subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, which sponsored last week’s hearing, said the bill would be held until at least next year.

In comments after the hearing, however, John Conyers (D-MI), lashed out at the House Appropriations Committee, which passed the public access mandate as part of an omnibus spending bill in 2007. Conyers told CongressDaily that he was frustrated by the Appropriations’ Committee’s refusal to engage repeated questions from the House Judiciary Committee, which Conyers chairs, about the copyright and intellectual property implications associated with the NIH mandate. Conyers fumed that appropriators acted “summarily, unilaterally and probably incorrectly” in enacting the mandate, and suggested the mandate was at the center of a Congressional turf war....

Notably, however, when asked for a comment on the bill just hours before its introduction last week, a Conyers’ staffer told the LJ Academic Newswire the legislation was likely coming out of Berman’s office, suggesting Conyers’ post-hearing remarks may represent more bluster than any deep commitment to seeing through the bill he introduced last week. Not only did the bill not come out of Berman’s office, Berman declined to publicly support the bill, saying he needed to “learn more about the issues.”

The bill itself, meanwhile, a broadly-written measure, was criticized by copyright experts. “The bill is an odd duck because it would do far more than simply end public access to NIH-funded research,” noted Villanova law professor Michael Carroll on his blog. Carroll said that if passed, the sweeping bill could “impliedly amend” other provisions by which taxpayers procure services—and suggested there was a good reason why Appropriations didn’t consult Conyers before passing the mandate: because “assertions that the policy somehow diminishes copyrights lacks any basis in law.”

The bill’s supporters in the publishing community, meanwhile, all praised the measure....The rhetoric was far more charged, however, in a release from publisher-supported advocacy group the Copyright Alliance. “The mere fact that a scientist accepts as part of her funding a federal grant should not enable the federal government to commandeer the resulting research paper and treat it as a public domain work,” noted executive director Patrick Ross. “Authors and publishers don’t need the feds playing Rumpelstiltskin by returning after a year to take their children away.”

Open Access blogger Peter Suber, who has commented extensively on the NIH efforts blasted that rhetoric as flatly false, inaccurate, and dishonest. “First, the NIH policy regulates grantees, not publishers,” he observed. “Second, the policy…doesn’t archive the published versions of the articles, let alone deprive publishers of them or nullify any of the rights in them that authors may have transferred to publishers. When NIH grantees transfer rights to publishers, publishers may hold and exercise those rights in full.”


September/October 2008 issue of D-Lib

The September/October 2008 issue of D-Lib Magazine is now online. OA-related articles: Update. See also this reader survey, with the aim of helping D-Lib remain OA.

Update. See also Dorothea Salo's comments on the Maness article.

Museums as OA leaders

Leslie Johnston, open access to museum collections, Digital Eccentric, September 15, 2008.

Last Friday there was a post on Open Access News that Wake Forest University's Anthropology Museum had issued a press release about the launch of its online collections, supported by an IMLS grant. ...

What made me sit down to think about this for a few days was the passing description of this an an Open Access project.

I worked for many years in the museum community, and every museum that I ever worked for or consulted for wanted to make its collections available in one digital form or another. ... Museums were among the earliest institutions to share their collections online in the mid 1990s. ...

Sure, there have been lengthy discourses about levels of access to the digital media surrogates and questions of rights and control of those new media assets ... but no museum wants to limit discovery of their collections -- they want to facilitate their collections' use in research and teaching.

I've just not heard it described as "open access" before. ...

Then it hit me -- for the past 15 years museums have been major players in the open access movement without necessarily always knowing it. ...

New OA journal of medieval art

Different Visions: A Journal of New Perspectives on Medieval Art is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal published by the University at Albany Art Department. Authors retain copyright to their work. The inaugural issue is now available. (Thanks to Matthew Gabriele.)

CRKN releases its plan for OA

The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) has released a Statement on Alternative Publishing Models & Open Access.  It was approved by the CRKN Board of Directors on September 9, 2008, and will be presented to the Annual General Meeting on September 23, 2008, for discussion and ratification.  (Thanks to Leslie Chan.)  Excerpt:


CRKN affirms that broad and enduring access to the materials and outputs of scholarly research is an integral component of Canada’s research infrastructure, and vital to the progress of science, civil society and global well?being.

CRKN is committed to securing the broadest access to the world’s knowledge for the benefit of its member universities and the communities they serve – researchers, students, staff and the public.

CRKN is committed to working within a framework that includes new models of scholarly publishing as well as content licensing, viewing these as complementary strategies that both contribute to the overarching goals of lowering barriers and maximizing access to the materials and outputs of research....


1. Focus on Canadian research outputs and Canadian content

1.1.  CRKN will open formal channels of discussion with Canadian publishers, content providers and research funders to explore how CRKN may be an active partner in helping transition to an open access environment.

Deliverables: development of a business plan in 2009 for pilot project(s)

1.2. CRKN will take an active role in maximizing access to Canadian research outputs and implementing granting council policies, by redoubling our efforts with publishers to ensure author rights to archive their peer-reviewed manuscripts in institutional or open access repositories.

Deliverable: formal provisions within CRKN procurement contracts, on timeline of license renewals.

2. Focus on roles as a national focal point for international open access initiatives

2.1.  CRKN will act as a national focal point for international open access initiatives, where CRKN is uniquely positioned to play a coordination and/or financial management role on behalf of its members.

Deliverable: Participation in international initiative, 2009-2010.

3. Focus on advancing open access provisions within content licensing program

3.1. CRKN will promulgate model license and contractual agreements that provide for the broadest base of users and most expansive usage for the member community.

3.2. CRKN will negotiate aggressively for reduced licensing fees for content resources that have open choice (i.e. author pay) provisions.

3.3. CRKN will work with the researcher and publisher communities to explore tool development and support usage rights for text mining.

Deliverable: development of pilot project, 2009-2010


  • Kudos to the CRKN board.  This plan would significantly advance OA in Canada, and I hope the members approve it next week.  I especially like the CRKN's willingness to talk to all institutional stakeholders (universities, funders, publishers) and its goal to boost the number of green journals. 
  • CRKN is in a very good position to get member institutions to launch IRs and adopt effective policies to fill them.  This goal isn't mentioned in the plan, but I hope the CRKN will take it up.  Boosting the number of green journals only increases permission for OA.  To increase OA itself, authors and their institutions must take advantage of the opportunity.
  • CRKN has a $50+ million annual budget, focuses on the humanities and social sciences, and represents 72 universities across Canada.

Update.  Here's some related information from Heather Morrison, by email.  (Thanks, Heather.) 

Most CRKN members are also members of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL).  CARL has had an institutional repository program and metadata harvester for years; most libraries either have, or are in the process of developing, repositories.  It is not clear whether smaller members of CRKN would have their own repositories, or whether collaboration makes more sense. More likely the latter; sharing of  infrastructure is quite common.

CRKN does not focus just on the social sciences and humanities,  rather this was the last major initiative.  The initial round of content acquisition was focused very much on the sciences.


More on OA in developing countries

Open access movements in developing countries, a short (1:40 minute) video in which Buhle Mbambo-Thata of UNISA explains why and how developing countries should support OA.  It's not a conference presentation, but was apparently filmed at the Locating the Power of In-between Conference (Pretoria, July 1-2, 2008).  From the blurb:

Dr Buhle Motala, Executive Director from UNISA responds to questions raised at the conference about whether the benefits of open access are limited in developing countries. She stresses the importance of the open access movement for researchers in developing countries and argues that it can support greater access to local research. She talks about how institutions need to change and promote their own researchers work in-country rather than purchasing from elsewhere, and encourage researchers to publish in open access journals.

Monday, September 15, 2008

OA compendium of structural genomics from PSI and Nature

The Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) has re-launched its OA resource, the Structural Genomics Knowledgebase, this time in collaboration with the Nature Publishing Group (NPG).  From today's announcement:

A new window onto the world of protein structure opened today with the launch of the PSI-Nature Structural Genomics Knowledgebase (PSI-SGKB). The PSI-SGKB is a free resource from the Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) and Nature Publishing Group (NPG)....

Hosted by Rutgers University, the PSI-SGKB serves as a continually updated gateway to research data and other resources from the PSI. First established in spring 2008, the PSI-SGKB is now re-launched in collaboration with NPG, with NPG contributing editorial content to help researchers stay informed about developments in structural biology and structural genomics....

The PSI was launched in 2000 by NIH to determine protein structures on a large scale. Over the course of the initiative, PSI-supported research centers have produced more than 3,200 structures, published around 1,000 scientific papers, and developed many techniques now employed in labs around the world.

OA resources in languages other than English

Iryna Kuchma, Approaching eIFL Open Access from different languages perspective, EIFL, September 10, 2008.
We are going to facilitate information and knowledge exchange about Open Access in different languages. As to the tools - as the first step we have just transformed eiflrussian - Russian speaking eIFL community mailing list - into Open Access discussion forum in Russian language ... There is also the first edition of the registry of publications and presentations about Open Access in Russian ... Please send us the links to the materials which are missing.

Another language we are going to approach is French. French speaking colleagues - could you please help us with the links to the most important articles and resources about Open Access in French? Do you need a French language discussion list?

New pro-OA flyer

We support Open Access - new flyer, Open Access Day, September 12, 2008.

We’re excited to present an attractive new flyer called “we support Open Access” that can be printed and displayed at your institution.

This new downloa features photos and quotes from the 6 stars of the upcoming video series that will be released on Open Access Day, October 14, 2008. It captures the individual perspectives of a Funder, Patient Advocate, Librarian, Physician Scientist, Teacher, and a Student about why they are behind the movement. ...

Palestinian university works with Norweigan universities to launch IR

Iryna Kuchma, Open repository in Birzeit university: Palestine-Norway Partnership, EIFL, September 11, 2008.
Birzeit University library in Palestine, Tromsø University library and Telemark University College library in Norway have decided to work together in order to promote the development and establishment of an Open research archive for scientific publications and master and PhD theses from Birzeit University. ...

The partners will meet in Tromsø in Norway 28th until 31st of October 2008 in order to discuss the plans and a major application to the Norwegian Government for funding the common project. ...

OA blogs from eIFL countries

Iryna Kuchma has posted a list of Blogs about OA from eIFL countries, including South Africa, Poland, Mongolia, and Serbia.

See also the OAD list of Blogs about OA.

Repository in a Box: bundle for quick-starting an IR

Mark Leggott, RIB - Repository in a Box, LoomWare, September 14, 2008.

I have been meaning to post on [the University of Prince Edward Island]'s approach to building an institutional repository for a number of months, but like so many things it always seemed to go on the back burner. I thought I would take the opportunity of a cloudy day to provide a brief description of our Repository in a Box project (RIB), which we will be launching this Fall.

RIB is built using UPEI's evolving Drupal/Fedora framework, which is also the basis of our VRE project. RIB is based on a series of workflows on top of the repository backbone ...

The end result will be an IR that launches with an almost complete collection of scholarly output for the institution. All the faculty member has to do is log in and the system will display their publications (this is the final piece we are currently working on before we launch) and all associated data.

By viewing the detailed record, the user can view and edit metadata, look for the online version and add datastreams.

The individual can click the "Get-It @ UPEI" button to retrieve the final version, if desired, read the publisher open access policy (including a link to the full policy) and add the appropriate version of the pre-post-final print.

With a minimum of training our hope is that the presentation of a 90% complete IR record will encourage faculty to complete the process. Some future enhancements will include parsing the Sherpa-Romeo record to automatically grab the publisher version where appropriate and implement disseminators to convert word-processing formats. ...

Update. See also Dorothea Salo's comments on the project.

Update. See also the comments by Richard Akerman and Lorcan Dempsey.

An application of Open Economics

Rufus Pollock, Some Agricultural History via Open Economics, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, September 15, 2008.

One of the active Open Knowledge Foundation projects is Open Economics. A substantial part of that effort ends up being data acquisition and ‘cleaning’: getting hold of economic data, parsing it into (computer) usable form and adding it to the Store. ...

Once this job is done, the data is there in a nice clean state for others to use — plus we can draw some nice graphs (as we will see below). As an illustration of this process, we’ll look at one particular dataset acquired earlier this year when, motivated by the large increases in commodity prices and the concerns expressed regarding their impact, I decided to see what data I could dig up on food prices (starting with Wheat).

As usual, it was US government material that was most easily available (in a decent format) and I decided to start off with historical information on wheat to be found in the Wheat Yearbook, in particular [this].

While the data was available (and open — since US Govt provided) it was in a format that was not immediately computer usable (lots of blank lines etc). Thus, the first step was to parse this into standard csv file format (see script here) and then upload this to Open Economics. The result.

Not only do we now have nice clean data but, thanks to plotkit, Open Economics has javascript graphing so without any more effort we can automatically have graphs of the resulting material. ...

Blog notes on bias against openness

David Weinberger, [ae] James Boyle, Joho the Blog, September 6, 2008. Blog notes on a presentation by James Boyle at A New Cultural Economy (Linz, September 5-6, 2008).

... We have patterns of behavior that economic theory does not predict. We are risk averse. For example, it makes no sense to buy a warranty; we buy them out of an absurd sense that buying the warranty affects the device’s outcome. There is another kind of bias that we wouldn’t predict from economic theory: A systematic bias against openness. We don’t expect openness and collaboration to generate what they do. We overestimate the risks. We underestimate the risks of closed systems and overestimate closed systems’ benefits.

Suppose in 1990 I came to you with two proposals: Build an open system. Or, build something like Minitel, Compuserv or AOL; it’s controlled and permission-based. Which would you pick? If you pick the first, you’ll have piracy, spam, massive amounts of crap, flame wars, massive violations of IP, use for immoral purposes. “I think you’d pick network #2? because those risks are foreseeable, but you couldn’t imagine wikis, blogs, Google maps, etc. It’s hard for us to imagine the benefits of open systems. It’s not intuitive.

Again, in 1990 you are asked to assemble the greatest encyclopedia, in most languages, updated in real time, adopt a neutral point of view. In 1990, you’d say that you need maybe a billion dollars, a hierarchical corporation, lots of editors, vet the writers you’re hiring, peer reviewers, copyright it all to recoup the money we’ve invested, trademark it. And someone else says, “We’ll have a web site, and people will like put stuff up and people will edit it.” How many of us would have picked #2. We don’t understand openness. ...

What conclusions should we draw? Some people are raised in places where they learn how to drive in snow and ice. They learn to turn into the skid, contrary to our impulses. We can train ourselves to overcome our biases. ...

He talks about Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” that talks about the loss of civil organizations in America. But, Putnam noticed that in the early 1900s American intellectuals noticed that the move to cities fragmented the old ties. But they didn’t say that history will just automatically correct itself. Instead, they ... invented institutions to make up for a problem they saw. Eventually, those institutions worked.

... [I]t’s beholden on us to create the institutions of civil society that enable us to get past our biases. Creative Commons is one such. It provides an infrastructure for sharing our work.

Science Commons is another such group. ...

UK petition for taxpayer OA

Sean Smith has started a petition for OA to taxpayer-funded research in the UK:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that scientific research which has been funded through taxation, is published open access.
  • The petition is hosted on the E-Petitions section of the Prime Minister's site. For the avoidance of doubt, this doesn't imply the endorsement of the government; but presumably the government pays more attention to petitions hosted on its own site than somewhere else. Signatures are limited to UK citizens and residents.
  • The petition seems to argue for a holistic, government-wide policy on public access. Several UK funding agencies have already adopted mandatory OA policies for grantees.

Elsevier offers to provide no-fee OA for early LHC results

Elsevier will provide no-fee OA for initial results from CERN's Large Hadron Collider published in Physics Letters B or Nuclear Physics B.  From the announcement (undated but apparently within the last week):

Elsevier has agreed to sponsor any articles accepted for publication that report the initial experimental results from CERN’s LHC project.

Initial experimental results submitted to Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B by the LHC experiments will be made available through Elsevier’s sponsored access option at no cost to the experiments. This will ensure that these papers are open to all potential readers with no subscription or other payments required....

On the occasion of these ground-breaking first results, Elsevier has chosen to meet the costs of sponsored access itself because of the scale of the effort and to reflect our long-standing involvement in the field by sharing the experimental results through accredited, peer-reviewed journals....


  • I commend Elsevier for this step, even while I recognize its self-interest.  The early papers from LHC will be very widely read and cited.  The self-interest does not detract from the service to research.
  • Is Elsevier willing to make the same kind of exception for other work of great scientific importance?  Is it committing itself to the principle that all work of great scientific importance should be OA from birth, and that it is willing to sponsor it (through any combination of service to research and self-interest)? 
  • For a similar case, see Nature's decision in December 2007 to provide no-fee OA for papers reporting full genome sequences.  Also see my blog comments on the Nature decision (which are very similar to these comments on the Elsevier decision).
  • Is this also an early sign that Elsevier will join SCOAP3 --the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics organized by CERN?

Update.  A reader wondered whether "no-fee OA" here refers to gratis OA or libre OA.  I'm happy to clarify in case others had the same question.  It refers to neither.  It refers to the absence of author-side publication fees.  Elsevier normally charges a publication fee when an author selects the OA option at one of its hybrid OA journals.  But in this case it's waiving the fees.  No-fee OA in this sense can be gratis or libre.

When an OA journal charges publication fees, I call it a fee-based OA journal.  When it doesn't charge publication fees, I call it a no-fee OA journal.  The same terms can apply to hybrid OA journals, though most OA journals are no-fee and most hybrid journals are fee-based.

Update (9/17/08).  Also see SymmetryBreaking.

Update (9/24/08). Also see Kent Anderson's comments.

Update (9/24/08).  Also see Chris Leonard's comments.  Excerpt:

...I would suggest that any author, or group of authors, willing to take up this offer should answer these questions to their own satisfaction first.

Is your copyright being signed over to the publisher, or are you encouraged to retain it?

Will the free access be permanent? Is this article to be archived in a third-party repository in case the publisher one day decides that the free period is over?

Is the full-text available not only as pdf, but also in machine-readable format for data-mining (e.g. XML & MathML)?

Can you and others reuse, host and modify the data and article, in whole or in part, freely?

Some others are questioning what sponsored article status means - certainly Elsevier make a point of not referring to it as open access, maybe we all should too?

Duke Law School's OA journals and repository

Nicholas MacGowan von Holstein, Duke Law Journals Lead with Open Access to Scholarship, EducationLoad, September 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

Duke Law School’s seven student-edited journals were prominently featured in the June 6th unveiling of the Open Access Law Program, an initiative of Creative Commons and its Science Commons Publishing Project. The announcement of the Open Access Law Program was notable not only for the encouragement and support the Program will provide for increasing free access to scholarly literature in law, but for its acknowledgment of Duke Law School’s longstanding commitment to making legal scholarship freely available on the World Wide Web to international and interdisciplinary audiences, as well as to legal scholars.

Unlike most other law reviews, Duke’s journals all explicitly allow authors to post articles published in the journals without restriction on freely-accessible third party web sites, as well as on Internet sites under their own control....

Professor of Law James Boyle sees strong institutional benefits from the policy: “The promise that their works will be accessible world wide to anyone with an Internet connection clearly attracts excellent authors to our journals. At the same time, Duke Law satisfies part of our public service obligation to make our research available as widely as possible, without regard to the income of the potential reader. It’s a win-win situation.”

The seven Duke journals are included among the initial 22 journals listed as providing open access to their works. Since 1996-97, all issues of Duke’s student-edited journals have been published in freely available electronic versions on the Law School Web site. Six Duke Law journals also appear in print versions; one, the Duke Law & Technology Review is all electronic. The new Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy will begin publication later this year. At present, of the 36 open access legal journals listed in Lund University’s international Directory of Open Access Journals, seven are published at Duke Law....

Duke Law School Information Services has created a comprehensive open repository of current and retrospective Duke Law faculty scholarship....The Law School also currently sponsors a legal studies working papers series on the heavily used Social Sciences Research Network and is developing a new SSRN series that will focus on works on science, technology, and innovation....

Professor Boyle credits Richard Danner, Senior Associate Dean for Information Services and Archibald C. and Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law with having inspired Duke’s commitment: “Thanks to Dick’s leadership, our journals have all been freely available online since 1996-97. In Internet years, that is an almost geological length of time.”

Preview of 5.0 is offering a preview of version 5.0, which is about to launch (ResourceShelf says this week).  Excerpt:

Version 5.0 searches 200 million pages - the amount of authoritative information quadruples! ... 5.0 introduces:

  • Seven additional deep web databases
  • Clustering – your results are grouped by subtopics or dates to help you find just the science information you need
  • Updated Alerts service 5.0 enables you to:

  • Email selected results to friends and colleagues
  • Download result records into personal research files or citation software
  • Get the latest Wikipedia info on your search terms
  • Read the latest Eureka News related to your search terms

PS:  See our past posts on

Update (9/16/08).  Version 5.0 has now launched.  For details, see today's article in the Times of the Internet.

Oslo ECSP2 presentations

The presentations from the 2nd European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine & Medicine - Researchers and Open Access (Oslo, September, 4-6, 2008), are now online.  (Thanks to Yvonne Hultman Özek.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

EPA faces lawsuit for suppressing pesticide data

EPA Withholds Pesticide Information While Bees Die, a press release from OMB Watch, September 9, 2008.  Excerpt:

A conservation organization has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to release information about a pesticide linked to dramatic declines in honeybee populations. The pesticide was approved on the condition that the manufacturer study the effects of the chemical on the bee species. The EPA has received the studies but refuses to release them to the public, even though a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was filed....

This is not the first time that NRDC has had to seek legal intervention to extract pesticide information from EPA. NRDC claims that EPA's pesticide program has repeatedly refused to disclose information in response to FOIA requests until months or even years after the deadline. Several times, federal judges have rebuked the Office of Pesticide Programs in cases NRDC was forced to litigate regarding the EPA's lack of transparency. The group reports that over the last seven years, NRDC has filed several FOIA requests per year for EPA pesticide information, and the agency has not responded on time to any of the requests.


  • Kudos to the NRDC for going to court to open these data.  Congress should stop second-guessing the NIH OA mandate and adopt an OA mandate for the EPA.
  • Also see the similar case reported in the OMB Watch press release from August 5, 2008, and my blog post on it.

Do law librarians guide users to OA sources of law?

There are now several OA alternatives to LexisNexis and Westlaw.  But how many law librarians teach them to patrons?  Law Librarian Blog is running a poll to find out.

If the Conyers bill passes

Stevan Harnad, Plan B for NIH Public Access Mandate: A Deposit Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, September 13, 2008.  Excerpt:

Let us hope that the Conyers Bill, resulting from the publisher lobby's attempt to overturn the NIH Public Access Mandate, will not succeed.

But in case it does, I would like to recommend making a small but far-reaching modification in the NIH mandate and its implementation that will effectively immunize it against any further publisher attempts to overturn it on legal grounds. And this Plan B will actually help hasten universal OA more effectively than the current NIH mandate:

(1) NIH should mandate deposit of the refereed final draft of all NIH-funded research, immediately upon acceptance for publication.

(2) But access to that deposited draft need only be made Open Access when there is no publisher embargo on making it Open Access; otherwise it may be made Closed Access....

(4) Closed Access means that the full text of the deposited draft is visible and accessible only to the depositor and the depositor's employer and funder, for internal record-keeping and grant-fulfillment purposes. (Publishers have no say whatsoever in institutional and funder internal record-keeping.)

(5) For all deposits, however, both Open Access and Closed Access, the deposited article's metadata (author, title, journal, date. etc.) are Open Access, hence visible and accessible to anyone, webwide.

(6) Now the essence of this strategy:  NIH should also implement the "Email Eprint Request" Button, so that any would-be user, webwide, who reaches a link to a Closed Access article, can insert their email address in a box, indicate that a single copy of the postprint is being requested for research or health purposes, and click....

(8) This [email access] is not Open Access (OA). But functionally, it is almost-OA....

(9) Many journals (63%) already endorse immediate OA.

(10) Closed Access plus the Button will further provide almost-OA for the remaining 37%....

(12) In addition, an NIH Deposit Mandate will encourage universities in the US and worldwide to adopt Deposit Mandates too, for all of their research article output, not just NIH-funded biomedical research output....

The fact is (and everyone will see this clearly in hindsight) that, all along, the online medium itself has made OA a foregone conclusion for research publications. There is no way to stop it legally....


  • I agree that this would be a good fallback in the (unlikely) event that the Conyers bill passes.  But I can't agree that it would "hasten universal OA more effectively than the current NIH mandate" or that "there is no way to stop it legally".  The NIH mandate provides (or will soon provide) OA to 100% of NIH-funded research, not OA to 63% and almost-OA to 37%, and if Congress wanted to, it could block closed-access deposits too. 
  • However, I would like to see the NIH add the email request button even if the Conyers bill goes down in flames.  Then the policy would provide embargoed OA to 100% of NIH-funded research, and almost-OA during the embargo period.

Update (9/15/08).  Also see Stevan's reply:

...There are three issues here, not one!

(1) Replacing the current NIH mandate with a DM [deposit mandate] if the current mandate is defeated.

(2) Adding DM to the current NIH mandate even if it is not defeated.

(3) And the question of what would have been the effect of adopting DM in the first place....

Update (9/15/08).  Klaus Graf argues that the email request button would be illegal under German law.  Read his post in German or Google's English.

Update (9/17/08).  Also see Stevan's elaboration:

Fred Friend (JISC) wrote:

"Under your Plan B, what would stop publishers increasing the Closed Access embargo period to two years?"

The question is a good one, a natural one, and a pertinent one:

(1) "Plan B" is a contingency plan, in case the Conyers Bill should defeat the current NIH OA Policy (i.e., "Plan A").
(2) If the Conyers Bill were to pass, not only Plan A but all protection from publisher embargoes would be dead in the water.
(3) Plan B is hence designed to free the NIH Mandate from any dependence at all on publishers to decide when research (postprints) may be deposited....
(6) Universal Deposit mandates, plus the resulting enormous growth in usage and impact via OA and Almost-OA, will make it harder and harder for publishers to justify embargoes, while at the same time making embargoes virtually ineffectual:
(7) Hence embargoes will die their natural and well-deserved deaths once universal Deposit (Plan B) is mandated, by all research institutions and funders, worldwide, paving the way for full, immediate OA....
(9) Even with the Button, Delayed-Post-Embargo Mandates cannot provide immediate almost-OA. (NIH requires immediate "submission" but it is deposited -- in PubMed Central -- only after the embargo.)
(10) Hence it is in fact Plan A that locks in publisher embargoes, not Plan B!

Abstract on measuring the growth of open science

Heather Piwowar, Measuring the adoption of Open Science, abstract for a presentation at the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (Hawaii, January 5-9, 2009).

Why measure the adoption of Open Science?

As we seek to embrace and encourage participation in open science, understanding patterns of adoption will allow us to make informed decisions about tools, policies, and best practices. Measuring adoption over time will allow us to note progress and identify opportunities to learn and improve. It is also just plain interesting to see where we are, where we aren’t, and where we might go!

What can we measure?

Many attributes of open science can be studied, including open access publications, open source code, open protocols, open proposals, open peer-review, open notebook science, open preprints, open licenses, open data, and the publishing of negative results. This presentation will focus on measuring the prevalence with which investigators share their research datasets.

What measurements have been done? How? What have we learned?

Various methods have been used to assess adoption of open science: reviews of policies and mandates, case studies of experiences, surveys of investigators, and analyses of demonstrated data sharing behavior. We’ll briefly summarize key results.

Future research?

The presentation will conclude by highlighting future research areas for enhancing and applying our understanding of open data adoption.

Blog notes on OA in the Caribbean and Central America

OA between Caribbean hurricanes, Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, September 11, 2008.

An InterAcademy Panel workshop on ‘Open Access to Scientific Literature and other Digital Scientific Information Resources in Central America and the Caribbean: Focus on Education and Health for Sustainable Development’ was organized by the Cuban Academy of Science ... The programme is available, and further information will be posted on the site in due course ...

My impression is that many of the Caribbean participants are well informed about OA and very anxious to become part of the OA exchange of research information, but are struggling to organize how to manage this within their own research structures. Who will do it? Inter-departmental communication is not always well established yet – not only in Cuba, but also in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries. Participants sometimes knew more about international OA developments than about what is taking place across town. Incoming speakers and participants from more OA-advanced countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Chile were able to provide a lot of relevant information and contacts, which it is hoped will accelerate progress.

There were presentations on how the Creative Commons License works, how institutional repositories work, how the InterAcademy works, what is underway in the different Cuban ministries. The research networks infrastructure progress was described and OA policy developments in Brazil, as well as progress in the SciELO e-publishing service. Outside the formal programme there were short presentations on the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook, an OSI-supported initiative to bring together in a single resource ‘everything you will ever want to know about OA’, with new and existing initiatives being contributed by experts around the world. Watch for developments over the coming months. Additionally a short presentation was made on the EU’s next DRIVER programme (called OverDriver) which is aimed at exporting the DRIVER institutional repository services beyond the EU to enable exchange of research information between the EU and researchers in other regions of the world.

The IAP will be working on projects to support OA developments, following a final discussion on needs and opportunities. ...

OAS joins World Digital Library

OAS joins with Library of Congress on World Digital Library endeavor, press release, September 12, 2008. (Thanks to Caribbean Net News.)
The Organization of American States (OAS) has agreed to join with the Library of Congress in developing the World Digital Library, which will open to the public at its formal launch in Paris next year.

Secretary General José Miguel Insulza signed the “Contributor Agreement” with Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, at an OAS headquarters ceremony Thursday.

Under the agreement, the OAS’ Columbus Memorial Library will collaborate on the global library project ...

The OAS Library was created in April 1890 by the First International Conference of American States ...

“The Columbus Memorial Library is the repository of the institutional memory of the OAS and its predecessor, the Pan American Union,” Insulza explained. “It serves as a modern information and documentation center, providing essential information to the OAS General Secretariat, the Permanent Missions, the diplomatic community, and the general public interested in the organizations’ work and the history of the inter-American system.” ...

“Working with the OAS sends an important signal to cultural institutions in all the countries of the Western Hemisphere about cooperation in this project,” the Librarian of Congress added ...'s Brewster Kahle's TED Talk

Brewster Kahle, A digital library, free to the world, TED Talks, presented December 2007, posted online September 2008.
Brewster Kahle is building a truly huge digital library -- every book ever published, every movie ever released, all the strata of web history ... It's all free to the public -- unless someone else gets to it first.

Libraries in the A2K movement

Teresa Hackett of eIFL-IP is presenting this year's Mortenson Distinguished Lecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Abstract:
Access to knowledge (A2K) is essential for the functioning of open and democratic societies, economic development and innovation, culture and creativity. As the mission of libraries is to provide access to the world's cultural and scientific knowledge for current and future generations, libraries are natural partners in the global A2K movement. With comparisons drawn with the beginnings of the environmental movement more than fifty years ago, A2K is an umbrella that has brought together diverse groups, including consumer and disability organisations, the free software community, public health activists, as well as libraries, united by the common desire for fair access to knowledge and knowledge-based goods in the digital age. The lecture will examine the role of libraries, especially from the global south, in this nascent movement.

Blog notes on OA in theology

David Weinberger, [ae] AKMA, Joho the Blog, September 6, 2008. Blog notes on a presentation by A. K. M. Adam at A New Cultural Economy (Linz, September 5-6, 2008).
... Jacques Paul Migne discovered in the 19th century the most efficient means of editing a paper: outright plagiarism. He’d copy an entire article, while introducing it by noting where it was first published. “He scraped newsfeeds and republished them.” Migne owned five steam presses in 1861. He published a “universal theological library” comprising 25 vols of Biblical commentary, 25 vol encyc, 18 vol of Christian apologetics, 13 vols in praise of the blessed Virgin Mary, and many more. While most relied on public domain sources, he sometimes republished volumes still within copyright. It was a “theological literature Pirates Bay.” Charles Sheldon’s “In His Steps” (”What would Jesus do?”) had a technically flawed copyright notice, so it was republished without permission.

So, situate all of this in the transition to digital media, AKMA suggests. Theological might serve as a useful “fishbowl” for technological innovators. There are online libraries of theological works, but “no organization has broken through to offer open access digital works” in comfortable, readable formats. “The conditions for publishing will go through some sort of convulsive change.” It will not replace books. But it will enable a “vastly more open exchange of digital literature.” We need “shareable, searchable, downloadable, disposable” texts, as well as durable, ownable printed texts. We need an open, standard format with a direct correlation to print copies (because print will survive and will generate cash flow). This will provide users wioth the “tools and the incentive to particiapte in the production of knowledge.” ...

How (not) to support IRs

Dorothea Salo, Contrast, Caveat Lector, September 11, 2008.

I’m pretty open in my belief that Europe in general and the UK in particular are a goodly distance ahead of the US in taking repositories (and repository-rats) seriously and moving them forward. Two things that came across the transom today confirmed that impression.

The first was the JISC-sponsored Rights and Repositories workshop. I want to go to something like this. I’ve always had to deal with rights issues (beyond the ordinary rote stuff) ad-hoc and mostly unsupported. With ad-hoc problems, that mostly works, but I feel as though I’m tiptoeing through minefields. Just the validation would be nice! Note also that half the morning speakers are real repository-rats dealing with real problems in real repositories, and that the entire afternoon was repository-rats talking amongst themselves rather than Talking Heads (or worse, Big Thinkers) talking at them.

The second thing was the announcement of the SPARC IR meeting program. I will be going to this, because I can’t very well not, but I must confess I haven’t been entirely enthusiastic about it… and I’m still not. Except for “oh, hey, they got a speaker from DRIVER!” DRIVER, of course, is a European initiative. ...

Filling, managing, and staffing IRs

Dorothea Salo, What do we want from IRs, and what are we doing to repository rats?, Caveat Lector, September 10, 2008.

Earlier this year I predicted that we would see an institutional repository shut down this year, or change so much as to be unrecognizable. It hasn’t happened, to the best of my knowledge, and on the whole, I think it won’t; not this year, at any rate. Harvard has a lot to do with that, of course, but that’s not the whole story either.

One thing I’ve seen—anecdotally, but enough anecdotes as to at least suggest data—is small, non-research-focused institutions talking seriously about starting IRs. When I inquire about content recruitment, I find that the people in charge of planning the IR have drunk the self-archiving Kool-Aid. They want their faculty’s peer-reviewed literature and they’re quite convinced, despite all the evidence (not to mention my blunt warnings; one such institution had Roach Motel shoved under their noses, and is apparently still going ahead), that faculty are going to flock to this thing to give it to them. ...

These anecdotes point to the real set of questions every single institution with an IR needs to be asking itself: What content do I want from this initiative, and what am I willing to do to get it? Spoiler for this post: if the full answer to the second question is “I’m willing to run and market an IR!” please don’t start one, because that is not enough to get whatever it is that you want, and you will waste precious library resources, your people not least. ...

Impact of mass digitization on copyright

Georgia K. Harper, Mass Digitization and Copyright Law, Policy and Practice, presented at Monopoly: Playing the Innovation Game (Adelphi, Md., May 28-30, 2008).
... Today I am going to focus on the fact that the [copyright] landscape will change, but not because Congress will have implemented a different public policy by then. Rather, Congress has already become sidelined and will likely stay that way, by its own modus operandi: “negotiations among the stakeholders” are a sham. We can no longer pretend that locking the powerless in a room with the powerful will produce a compromise in the public interest. And when the powerful are locked in a room with each other, the result is no better. There are moneyed interests on both sides of the policy debate surrounding the scope and length of copyright protection, and neither of them has a clear advantage anymore. Something else has got to become the tie-breaker. ...

In short, the copyright industries’ inability to implement their visions of copyright policy in an environment where polarized forces nullify nearly every effort since the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act], has created a legislative vacuum that the industries themselves are filling by practical adaptation to the realities of the digital networked environment. They didn’t come to this strategy willingly. They have been resisting it for more than a decade. They will be, in the end, forced by consumer resistance, mass digitization projects and the sheer enormity of the mass of freely available online content, to come to grips with their futures. ...

More on the bill to overturn the NIH policy

Here are some comments on the Conyers bill from around the blogosphere.

From the Bioinformationista:

...Are you kidding me?!  I know that it is a cumbersome process to have to deposit your work, but how can you really tell me that the publisher’s interest are more important than scientific process?  *SOAPBOX WARNING* If you are AT ALL interested in NLP [natural language processing] or in the fact that you pay taxes so that this research can be conducted, then I would recommend contacting your representative to oppose this bill....And the publishers’ arguments on PEER REVIEW?  Please.  Ask any of the PLoS journals if the peer-review process has been destroyed.  I’m appalled....

From Michael Eisen at It Is Not Junk :

...I googled [Ralph Oman, one of the witnesses at the September 11 hearing]. And here's the top hit. A list of campaign contributions he's made. These lists are fascinating. Oman is clearly no Democrat. He gave money to Bill Frist, Henry Hyde and even Katherine Harris when she ran for Congress!! So it's curious that he also gave $500 to John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee who is holding this hearing. Hmm. I wonder why he was invited.... Are our representatives really this cheap? ...

From T.K. Kenyon on Gather:

...[The NIH OA policy] is crucial for [researchers,] journalists and for citizen scientists who want to read the primary literature and judge results on their merit rather than relying on brief abstracts. Most researchers have little access outside of their narrow field....The free access of information, especially information based on research funded by taxpayer money, is essential to research and to society. I hope Congress does not stymie the NIH's gallant attempt to spread knowledge....

From Meredith Wadman at The Great Beyond (from Nature):

There’s nothing like having old friends in high places. And Pat Schroeder, the former congresswoman who has been president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for the last eleven years, certainly has such a friend in John Conyers. Conyers is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; he and she were sitting side by side as the committee’s two most senior Democrats when she left Congress after 24 years in 1996.

Which may go some way toward explaining why Conyers, a liberal Democrat whom one might expect to be on the other side of this issue, is taking harsh aim at [the NIH OA] policy....

PS.  I've blogged many comments on the bill myself.  Here's a quick recap to date:

  • On September 5, in response to the first public news of the hearing and bill reported by Andrew Albanese at Library Journal Academic Newswire
  • On September 11, in response to (1) a joint letter to the House sponsors of the bill from the DC Principles Coalition and the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers, and (2) a public statement from the Copyright Alliance
  • On September 12, in response to publisher arguments as quoted by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education
  • On September 12, in response to the American Chemical Society
  • On September 12, in response publisher arguments as quoted by Jocelyn Kaiser in Science
  • On September 12, in response to the American Association of University Presses
  • On September 12, in response to new information published by Andrew Noyes in Government Executive
  • On September 12, in response to new information published by Greg Piper in Washington Internet Daily
  • On September 12, in response to Mike Carroll's analysis that the bill goes much further than the publishers or Judiciary Committee probably intended

Norwegian universities launch OA working group to advise the government

In June 2008, Norway's Ministry of Education and Research (Kunnskapsdepartemente or KD) asked the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (Universitets- og høgskolerådet or UHR) for advice on how to provide OA to the nation's research output.  For background, see my blog post from July 3, 2008.

Now in response to the KD's request, the UHR has launched an Open Access Working Group.  (Thanks to  Read the working group home page in Norwegian or Google's English.

The KD has asked for UHR's advice, and advice from the Norwegian Research Council, by December 1, 2008.

Blackwell's hybrid program raises its publication fee

Blackwell's Online Open hybrid journal program increased its publication fee to $3,000 for 2008.  The 2007 fee was $2,600.  The fee does not include VAT or page and color charges.

Another patient advocacy group joins the campaign for OA

The Chordoma Foundation has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.  Chordoma is a type of bone cancer occurring in the head and spine.