Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Open Access Day room on FriendFeed

Graham Steel has started an room on FriendFeed for Open Access Day. See also Steel's blog post about it.

Breifing paper on IR steering groups

Repository Steering Groups, briefing paper by the Repository Support Project, dated July 2008 but apparently released October 3, 2008. Overview:
A well-chosen, well-informed and committed Steering Group can make an important contribution to the sustained success of a repository. This Briefing Paper highlights some of the issues for consideration when planning the role, remit and composition of a repository Steering Group.

RePEc September update

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in September 2008, The RePEc blog, October 3, 2008.

The big news for this monthly feature is that we have now topped a quarter million working papers listed in RePEc. In terms of traffic, we have recorded 675,205 file downloads and 2,704,001 abstract views on the reporting RePEc services. Note that these numbers are, as always, the results of heavy adjustments in order to count legitimate human readers.

New contributors to RePEc for the month are: Queen’s University (II), Universität Giessen, World Bank (II), Bangladesh Development Research Center, Nottingham Trent University, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER), Emerald Insight, Universidad de Antioquia, Watson Wyatt Worldwide. ...

OER issue of eLearning Papers

The September issue of eLearning Papers is devoted to Open Educational Resources.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Update on Sparky Awards

Sparky Awards link up with Campus MovieFest; judges panel to include new media luminaries, press release, October 2, 2008.

Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival, is a new sponsor of the 2008 Sparky Awards, a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on the value of sharing information. The competition promotes discussion of free and open access to information by inviting students to consider the issues and creatively express their views. ...

As a sponsor, Campus MovieFest (CMF) will draw the attention of tens of thousands of student filmmakers to the Sparky Awards. The winner of the 2008 Sparky Awards will be screened at the CMF Southern Grand Finale in Spring 2009.

SPARC has also announced that 2008 contest judges will include noted media experts:

  • Michael Wesch, the anthropologist whose innovative video explaining Web 2.0 has been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube;
  • Media scholar and filmmaker Kembrew McLeod, whose book and documentary film entitled Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property have received broad critical acclaim; and
  • University of Pennsylvania cinema studies professor Peter Decherney, author of Hollywood and the Culture Elite: How the Movies Became American and leader of the 2006 petition for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for media professors to use clips in teaching.

The 2008 Sparky judges panel also includes:

  • Nicole Allen, director of The Student PIRGs’ “Make Textbooks Affordable” campaign
  • Barbara DeFelice, Digital Resources Program Director, Dartmouth College, representing ACRL
  • Rick Johnson, SPARC’s founding Executive Director and senior advisor
  • Rich Jones, leader of the Students for Free Culture Boston Chapter
  • Jennifer McLennan, Director of Communications at SPARC
  • Jessica Reynoso of Campus MovieFest
  • Crit Stuart, Director of Research, Teaching, and Learning at ARL
  • Anu Vedantham, Director of the Weigle Information Commons at Penn Libraries ...
See also our past posts on the Sparky Awards.

Article on Wilbanks talk at Brisbane conference

Anna Salleh, 'Old-boys club' holding back innovation, ABC, October 3, 2008.

John Wilbanks, of Science Commons - a project of Creative Commons - says the plethora of machine-generated data, that characterises today's scientific activity, needs the power of open networks to make sense of it properly.

"The value of any individual piece of knowledge is about the value of any individual piece of lego," Wilbanks said in a keynote address to the Open Access and Research Conference [Brisbane, September 24-25, 2008] ...

"It's not that much until you put it together with other legos." ...

See also our past posts on the conference.

See also this report on the talk from ANI.

LIBER Quarterly converts to OA

Inge Angevaare, European Research Library Quarterly available in open access, diglib list, October 2, 2008.
As the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) is a staunch supporter of open access publishing (see, e.g., the niitiatives within the Access Division), the LIBER Executive Board has decided that LIBER Quarterly should become an entirely open access publication, freely available online to the worldwide research library community, with paid printing-on-demand services to be offered upon completion of each volume (expected in January 2009 for the 2008 volume). ...

Ginsparg's guide to the pre-history of OA

Paul Ginsparg, The global-village pioneers, PhysicsWorld, October 1, 2008.  A very enjoyable reminiscence over an important career, including the launch of arXiv.  Excerpt:

...For purely practical reasons, authors at the time [1980s] used to post photocopies of their newly minted articles to only a small number of people. Those lower in the food chain relied on the beneficence of those on the A-list, and aspiring researchers at non-elite institutions were frequently out of the privileged loop entirely. This was a problematic situation, because, in principle, researchers prefer that their progress depends on working harder or on having some key insight, rather than on privileged access to essential materials....

At the Aspen Center for Physics, in Colorado, in the summer of 1991, a stray comment from a physicist, concerned about e-mailed articles overrunning his disk allocation while travelling, suggested to me the creation of a centralized automated repository and alerting system, which would send full texts only on demand. That solution would also democratize the exchange of information, levelling the aforementioned research playing field, both internally within institutions and globally for all with network access.  Thus was born, initially an e-mail/FTP server....

Not everyone appreciated just how rapidly things were progressing. In early 1994 I happened to serve on a committee advising the APS about putting Physical Review Letters online. I suggested that a Web interface along the lines of the prototype might be a good way for the APS to disseminate its documents. A response came back from another committee member: “Installing and learning to use a World Wide Web browser is a complicated and difficult task — we can’t possibly expect this of the average physicist.” So the APS went with a different (and short-lived) platform....

In the direction of less-than-anticipated change, a decade and a half ago I certainly would not have expected the current metastable state in physics publications, of preprint servers happily coexisting with conventional online publications, the two playing different roles....

Update (3/17/09).  A non-OA version of this article appeared in the April 2009 issue of Learned Publishing.

Milestone for arXiv

arXiv has passed the milestone of 500,000 deposits.  From today's announcement:

Reinforcing its place in the scientific community, the arXiv repository at Cornell University Library reached a new milestone in October 2008. Half a million e-print postings --research articles published online-- now reside in arXiv, which is free and available to the public....

More than 200,000 articles are downloaded from arXiv each week by about 400,000 users, and its 118,000 registered submitters live in nearly 200 countries...Fifteen countries host mirrors of the main site....

[Paul] Ginsparg developed arXiv in 1991, when he was working for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. When Ginsparg came to Cornell as a faculty member in 2001, the repository came with him and is now a collaboration between Cornell University Library and Cornell's Information Science Program. The Library maintains the repository; information science handles research and development....

Which is the better hook, access or preservation?

One of the bloggers for the JISC Information Environment Team blog has posted some notes on the Fifth International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects.  Excerpt:

Headline message from the conference - Don't mention the ‘Preservation’ word! (it's confusing and people worry about it) … it's all about enabling future ACCESS to spectacular resources.

Comment.  I like the way this flips the conventional wisdom at many institutional repositories:  "Don't mention open access (people don't know what it is or they will make up things to worry about); get faculty to deposit their manuscripts by talking about PRESERVATION."  Now who's right?

How conservative is the NIH policy?

The American Physiological Society has released a September 18 supplement to Martin Frank's written and oral testimony at the September 11 hearing on the Conyers bill.  Excerpt:

...During the course of the hearing, several issues were raised that I thought needed clarification and comment....

Setting the Record Straight on Public Access Policies in Other Countries

Some have suggested that the NIH public access policy requiring that manuscripts of scientific articles be made available for free access on the Internet is more conservative than similar policies in other countries. This is not the case. While public access policies in Canada, Australia and France have a 6-month embargo period, they are conditional policies that do not require authors to deposit their manuscripts.

The Canadian Institute of Health Research policy specifically states publications must be made freely accessible “where allowable and in accordance with publisher policies.” Australia’s public access policy “encourages researchers to consider the benefits of depositing their data and any publications,” rather than requiring deposit, making this policy voluntary....

Proponents of the NIH public access policy also argue that the NIH policy is more conservative than the policies adopted by private funding bodies that require authors to deposit their articles within six months of publication. It is important to note, however, that these private funding bodies such as Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, British Heart Foundation, and Arthritis Research Campaign provide either the authors or publishers funding of between $1,000 and $5,000 per article to help offset the cost of peer review and other publishing costs and make the articles free for public access. The NIH has made no such arrangements with publishers. It allows the grantee to use a portion of their grant funds to defray the publisher fees, but leaves the author paying from his or her own pocket when the grant period is over or when grant funds are used up for research....


  • Frank is right that some funder OA policies, even some using mandatory language, leave loopholes for publishers whose copyright policies do not allow OA on the funder's terms.  But he leaves the false impression that no funders anywhere, except the NIH, close that loophole.  In the article I published yesterday on the Conyers bill, I say more about the these two kinds of funder OA mandates (see the third bullet section) and list eight funders in the second category:  the Arthritis Research Campaign (UK), Cancer Research UK, Department of Health (UK), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (US), Joint Information Systems Committee (UK), Medical Research Council (UK), Wellcome Trust (UK), and --for now-- by the National Institutes of Health (US).
  • He also confuses things by mixing together policies which merely request or encourage OA with policies that use mandatory language but allow exceptions or opt-outs.  I admit that we don't have good vocabulary for all these variations on the theme and that the word "mandate" doesn't cover them all very well.  But it goes without saying that the "request" policies are weaker than the "require" policies, and that there are many "request" policies.  If the question is whether any funders outside the US have policies as strong or stronger than the NIH policy, then we should look past the "request" policies and focus on the "require" policies.
  • Frank acknowledges that some funder OA mandates use six month embargoes while the NIH allows a 12 month embargo.  But he seems to think that only private funders fall into this category, or at least he only lists examples of private funders.  However, the private funders in this category are outnumbered by the public funders and public-private partnerships:  the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, European Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department, Department of Health (UK), Fund to Promote Scientific Research (Austria), Genome Canada, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Joint Information Systems Committee (UK), and the National Cancer Institute of Canada. 
  • Nor does he mention that the NIH is the only medical research funder with an OA mandate, public or private, in any country, using an embargo longer than six months.
  • Frank acknowledges that the NIH allows grantees to use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  But he doesn't mention that it allows the grant funds to cover publication costs at both OA or TA journals.  Nor does he mention that the NIH pays out $100 million/year for this purpose.

Looking for better ways to digitize public-domain works

Richard K. Johnson, Free Our Libraries!  Why We Need A New Approach to Putting Library Collections Online, Boston Library Consortium, September 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[A] momentous, ill-considered shift is now afoot that threatens to limit the public rights in the collections assembled and maintained, often at public expense, in libraries around the globe.

Today Google and other businesses are scanning millions of books from the world’s great libraries and offering access to them on the Web. This conjures up the vision of a vast, free, Internet public library of accumulated knowledge. It seems like a marriage made in heaven—the union of corporate capital and enormous library collections, carrying knowledge into virtually every home and workplace.  Unfortunately, it’s not....

Barriers to use of digital texts are popping up almost as fast as books are being scanned. The rights that readers enjoyed in the print world are being eroded as books are electronically transformed. In the process, we’re at risk of losing some of the rights we enjoyed under copyright....

Before the Internet, there was little argument over what people could do with public domain works. They could do anything. But technology makes it possible to impose new technical and contractual protections that can be applied willy-nilly to in-copyright and public domain works alike....

For example, companies that are scanning library collections have required users to gain online access to books solely via proprietary search engines. They also have prohibited users from employing third-party computing tools such as screen readers for the visually impaired or scholarly text analysis tools. In effect, they are securing and enforcing a monopoly on the digital texts of works that are in the public domain. Of course, other businesses might also scan a library’s collections, but this is a substantial undertaking and, as a practical matter, isn’t apt to happen anytime soon....

From a commercial perspective, it seems pretty simple. If a company pays to scan works, shouldn’t they get to decide who can see them and under what conditions?  No, they shouldn’t be allowed to make such a decision. The works they’re exploiting are available as a result of public funding or the tax advantages afforded non-profit institutions, so the public’s interest should take precedence....

Update. For more on the event where Johnson delivered this paper, see the report we posted yesterday.

Harvesting the DOAJ for customized reading lists

According to Eric Lease Morgan, Notre Dame is using OAI harvesting through MyLibrary to create Reading Lists from the DOAJ.  He says the method can add "specific subjects or specific journals" to a user's reading list.

See our past posts on MyLibrary.

Wanted: Tagline for OA publisher

An unnamed publisher of OA books and journals is looking for a tagline.  Any thoughts?

Incentives for data sharing

Alma Swan, Doing things with data, OptimalScholarship, October 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Research funders...are acting swiftly to help sharing [as the norm]. Numerous funders, national and international research councils as well as private charities and sponsors, are already requiring the open dissemination of datasets once a research project is complete. This complements the growing number of similar requirements that research articles are made available for sharing through Open Access once ready for publication. Interestingly, the practice in many communities is that the data-sharing happens long before project completion, and sometimes in real-time as the data are generated.

We looked in some detail at data practices in eight different disciplinary areas and the findings were published in a report for the Research Information Network earlier this year. Amongst other findings were two things that relate to much of the current discussion about data....

But back to data, and how data dissemination can be rewarded. No-one has the answer yet, but the issue is being talked about a lot. If researchers are to produce and share datasets, they should see some sort of real reward for this. Those who already share told us that they do so for two reasons. First, in their discipline it is seen as A Good Thing and they want the 'warm, fuzzy feeling' of being a good guy in their peer community. Second, if they make their data available to all then in many disciplines they are likely to be included as an author on any research articles arising from the re-use of those data by others. This is how things are working out in practice at the moment. That doesn't mean that such practices will carry effectively across other disciplines, nor that they will persist optimally even in disciplines where they are common. A better system for assessing and rewarding data outputs themselves, and the dissemination behaviour of the data creators, is needed. The bodies that can influence that most positively and properly are the research funders and universities, by developing the means to explicitly reward data dissemination in a manner analogous to the way they have always rewarded the publication of articles....

Warsaw School of Economics becomes first Polish member of Nereus

The Warsaw School of Economics joined Nereus, the mostly-OA repository of economic research harvesting from the IRs of major European research universities.  The Warsaw School is the first Polish member of Nereus.

For background, see our past posts on Nereus.

Report on OA to agricultural research

Hubert Schlieber, Der freie (kostenlose) Zugang zu Publikationen aus Wissenschaft und Bildung im Internet über Open Access (OA) :  Schwerpunkt Landwirtschaft, Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft, August 2008.  A review of many OA resources, with comments on their coverage of agricultural research.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

International OER update

Jane Park, International OER Community Update, Creative Commons blog, October 1, 2008. Discusses the UNESCO OER Community and the Open Educational Resources issue of eLearning Papers.

Report from digital library summit

Speakers at Universal Access Digital Library Summit Call for Action to Protect the Public Domain, press release, September 30, 2008. (Thanks to The Charleston Adviser.)

At a gathering organized by the Boston Library Consortium, Inc. (BLC) in cooperation with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, leaders from the academic and research communities voiced concerns about restrictions on use of public domain works that are being scanned for commercial purposes from library collections. The Universal Access Digital Library Summit, held on September 24 and 25 at the Boston Public Library, was framed as a call for new approaches to the digitization of library collections that will unleash their full potential and turn back erosion of the public’s rights.

[The summit co-conveners] ... challenged their fellow university and library administrators, educators, and public interest advocates to join with the nonprofit world, the government, and business partners to ensure that the fruits of human knowledge and human culture are freely available to people everywhere.

Issues that have emerged as library scanning has scaled up in recent years are laid out in “Free Our Libraries! Why We Need a New Approach to Putting Library Collections Online,” a white paper by Richard K. Johnson, senior advisor to the Association of Research Libraries, that was commissioned by BLC for the summit. Johnson challenges libraries to devise new funding strategies, coordinate their action, and adopt forward-looking principles to guide their digitization. ...

The BLC, the first large-scale library consortium to self-fund digitization of its member’s collections, announced that it has pledged an additional million dollars to the project, bringing the total BLC funding to two million dollars since it began in 2007.

A groundbreaking partnership between two BLC members, the State Library of Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Healy Library, was also announced at the summit. The two libraries will scan and electronically preserve 250,000 pages of Massachusetts state laws from 1620 to the present, making it easier for students, legislators, historians, genealogists, policy researchers, and interested citizens to have access to the vast wealth contained in these volumes. ...

Blog notes on open textbook virtual meeting

Jonathan Gray, After the open textbook virtual meeting, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, October 2, 2008. Blog notes on Open textbook virtual meeting (online, September 29, 2008).
... A transcript of the meeting is up on the wiki page. There is also a brief writeup on Wikibooks News. ...

Wellcome renews Imperial College London's OA grant

Katie Stone, Wellcome Trust Open Access grant renewed, Physics and Maths info @ Imperial College London Library, October 2, 2008.
Wellcome have provided the College with a third open access grant to pay for the open access publication fees of its researchers. Wellcome will be contacting researchers in the next few weeks to remind them about open access. ...

More on Bloomsbury's OA monograph imprint

Jennifer Howard, 2 New Digital Models Promise Academic Publishing for Profit, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 2008.

Scholarly publishers are well aware that more and more readers and libraries want to get hold of monographs in electronic form. The trick has been how to deliver content digitally without going out of business. Two new models—one with an open-access component, one without—should help publishers test out ways to adapt and, maybe, thrive.

Late last month, Bloomsbury Publishing announced that it was expanding into the scholarly realm with a new imprint, Bloomsbury Academic. Bloomsbury is J.K. Rowling's British publisher, and its pursuit of more cerebral fare could be read as a vote of confidence in academic publishing's prospects.

What makes Bloomsbury Academic really intriguing, though, is what the publisher calls its "radically new model." The imprint will make all its titles immediately available online, downloadable and free of charge, using Creative Commons licenses. It will also sell them as print-on-demand books.

"What I believe—and this is what we're putting to the test—is that as you're putting something online free of charge, you may lose a few sales, but you'll gain other sales because more people will know about it," said Frances Pinter, Bloomsbury Academic's publisher. ...

See also our past posts on Bloomsbury Academic.

NIH responses to public comments on its OA policy

The NIH has released its Analysis of Comments and Implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy, 2008.  The document doesn't include a month and date, but it was apparently released in the last day or two.  Excerpt:

...The current Public Access Policy is the culmination of years of effort and community interaction. Prior to passage of Section 218 [of the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2008], NIH undertook extraordinary public outreach concerning the issue of public access to the published results of NIH-funded research. These outreach efforts included a review of over six thousand public comments and the establishment of an independent advisory group to review NIH’s implementation of a voluntary Public Access Policy. Additionally, as part of the process to implement Section 218 in a transparent and participatory manner, NIH formally sought public input through an open meeting and a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public comment. This open meeting occurred on March 20, 2008 and was designed to ensure that a discussion of stakeholder issues could occur. The feedback from the open meeting helped define questions for an RFI, which was published on the NIH web site on March 28, 2008 and in the Federal Register on March 31, 2008. The RFI was designed to seek input on the NIH Public Access Policy, as it was revised to incorporate Section 218, and the responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning it. The RFI was open for sixty days following publication in the Federal Register, from March 28 to May 31, 2008.


In response to the open meeting and RFI, NIH received 613 unduplicated comments from a broad cross-section of the public....

Most comments offered broad support for the policy as written. Many comments requested a reduction in the delay period before papers can be made publicly available on PubMed Central. In some cases, commenters expressed concern about the Policy, others asked for clarification, and still others suggested alternatives to NIH’s implementation....

NIH also received comments describing implementation efforts by numerous awardee institutions and publishers....


NIH carefully considered the views expressed by publishers, patient advocates, scientists, university administrators and others in the comments submitted. Throughout the course of its analysis, NIH undertook various efforts to respond to concerns as it identified them....In May, July, and September of 2008 NIH updated the Public Access website to clarify the applicability, goals and anticipated impact of the policy, the available methods to submit papers, and planned methods to document compliance. In June 2008, NIH updated the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS)....In August, the National Library of Medicine issued a new web tool to help the scientific community obtain PubMed Central Identifiers in bulk. In September 2008, NIH issued a Guide Notice (NOT-OD-08-119) reminding awardees about the compliance process and providing details concerning NIH’s monitoring plan for Fiscal Year 2008.

These efforts appear to be working. NIH estimates approximately 80,000 papers arise from NIH funds each year, and this total serves as the as the target for the Public Access Policy. During the voluntary policy, from May 2005 to December 2007, NIH was able to collect a total of 19% of targeted papers, from all sources (see Page 27 current status, in conclusion section for more details). Under the first five months of the Section 218 requirement (April to August 2008), this rate jumped to an estimated 56% of papers per month....

However, work still remains, as over 40% applicable papers per month remain un-submitted....

The body of the report summarizes the individual comments, including objections to the policy (without attribution), along with the NIH's responses.  For example:

...Many comments touched on potential financial impacts of this Policy on publishers. Some claimed that the Policy would be harmful. A subset of these commenters further argued that if Journals are adversely impacted by the Policy, it would harm peer review as a whole. No data demonstrating harm to journals or peer review was submitted.

Some commenters claimed the Policy would not be harmful to publishers. A few publishers described their experience making papers publicly available at 12 months or less, both on or off PubMed Central, without adverse financial impact....

PS:  For background, see our blog post on the NIH's March 2008 meeting and call for comments, our post on the subsequent RFI, a 2 hour 40 minute video of the March meeting, the full-text comments received by the NIH (with attribution), and various slide presentations from the NIH on the comments, including a preliminary version of the new document.

Update.  The document is still undated, but the NIH had added a date to the link on the comments page, September 30, 2008.


New OA journal of ovarian research

The Journal of Ovarian Research is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by BioMed Central. See the October 1 announcement. The article-processing charge is £850 (€1070, $1565), subject to discounts and waivers. Authors retain copyright to their work, and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution License. The inaugural editorial is now available.

October SOAN

I just mailed the October issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the bill to overturn the NIH public access policy, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 6845), and the publishing lobby's arguments in support of it.  The round-up section briefly notes 149 OA developments from September.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No OA for German geodata

Klaus Graf reports that Germany's new cabinet-level regulation to implement the EU's INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) does not provide OA.  Read his post in German or Google's English.

Klaus adds by email that most geodata will be gratis, but only for sampling, to let users decide whether to pay for it.  Weather data will not even be gratis for sampling.  Apparently no data will be libre OA, and will not even allow printing.

Essay on open science

Cameron Neylon, A personal view of Open Science - Part I, Science in the open, September 30, 2008.
Openness is arguably the great strength of the scientific method. At its core is the principle that claims and the data that support them are placed before the community for examination and critique. Through open examination and critical analysis models can be refined, improved, or rejected. ... It is an open approach that drives science towards an understanding which, while never perfect, nevertheless enables the development of sophisticated technologies with practical applications.

The Internet and the World Wide Web provide the technical ability to share a much wider range of both the evidence and the argument and conclusions that drive modern research. Data, methodology, and interpretation can also be made available online at lower costs and with lower barriers to access than has traditionally been the case. Along with the ability to share and distribute traditional scientific literature, these new technologies also offer the potential for new approaches. ...

The potential of online tools to revolutionise scientific communication and their ability to open up the details of the scientific enterprise so that a wider range of people can participate is clear. In practice, however, the reality has fallen far behind the potential. ... The prevailing culture of academic scientific research is one of possession - where control over data, methodological secrets, and exploitation of results are paramount. The tradition of Mertonian Science has receded, in some cases, so far that principled attempts to reframe an ethical view of modern science can seem charmingly naive.

It is in the context of these challenges that the movement advocating more openness in science must be seen. ... Nonetheless there is a growing community interested in adopting more open practices in their research, and increasingly this community is developing as a strong voice in discussions of science policy, funding, and publication. ...
Update. See also part 2 of the essay.

Update. See also part 3 of the essay.
... There are both benefits and risks associated with open practice in research. Often the discussion with researchers is focussed on the disadvantages and risks. In an inherently conservative pursuit it is perfectly valid to ask whether changes of the type and magnitude offer any benefits given the potential risks they pose. These are not concerns that should be dismissed or ridiculed, but ones that should be taken seriously, and considered. Radical change never comes without casualties, and while some concerns may be misplaced, or overblown, there are many that have real potential consequences. In a competitive field people will necessarily make diverse decisions on the best way forward for them. What is important is providing as good information to them as is possible to help them balance the risks and benefits of any approach they choose to take.
Update. See also part 4 of the essay.
... There are two broad approaches to standards that are currently being discussed. The first of these is aimed at mainstream acceptance and uptake and can be described as ‘The fully supported paper’. This is a concept that is simple on the surface but very complex to implement in practice. In essence it is the idea that the claims made in a peer reviewed paper in the conventional literature should be fully supported by a publically accessible record of all the background data, methodology, and data analysis procedures that contribute to those claims. ...

While the fully supported paper would be a massive social and technical step forward it in many ways is no more open than the current system. It does not deal with the problem of unpublished or unsuccessful studies that may never find a home in a traditional peer reviewed paper. ...

More blog notes on Southampton open science workshop

Cameron Neylon, The Southampton Open Science Workshop - a brief report, Science in the open, October 1, 2008. Blog notes on the Southampton Open science workshop (Southampton, August 31-September 1, 2008).
... Overall there was much enthusiasm for things Open and a sense that many elements of the puzzle are falling into place. What is missing is effective coordinated action, communication across the whole community of interested and sympathetic scientsts, and critically the high profile success stories that will start to shift opinion. These ought to, in my opinion, be the targets for the next 6-12 months.
See also our previous post on the workshop.

How librarians can support the future of research

Carol Goble, The Future of Research, a slide presentation at the British Library Board Awayday, September 23, 2008.  Goble discusses open science, open data, and open access, among other topics.  (Thanks to Richard Akerman.)

IUPUI's four repositories

Erika D. Smith, IUPUI leads way in library digital repositories, Indianapolis Star, September 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis] has four [OA repositories], which is more than most universities. Two that launched recently also store content from outside organizations, a step beyond what most universities do.

The school's PolicyArchive is the nation's first comprehensive archive of public policy research. Its FOLIO is an archive of foundation-sponsored research on philanthropic activity. Both are free to use....

Most [repositories] are run by university libraries to archive their own content, such as theses and reports written by grad students and professors. The University of Maryland's library system, for example, has 9,000 items in its five-year-old repository DRUM....

"Eventually, what we're all aiming for is you can do a single search and search across all those archives," said Charles Watkinson, director of publications for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in Greece.

Right now, there's Google Scholar for that.

The niche search engine indexes scholarly literature across several disciplines and sources, but it doesn't store everything forever, said Michelle Kimpton, executive director of the DSpace Foundation in Cambridge, Mass. Eventually details such as annotated sources and notes may come up missing. That won't happen with a digital repository.

The American School, which specializes in the advanced study of Greek culture, is developing its digital repository right now....

IUPUI is somewhat unusual for a university, as it not only has repositories for content from its professors and grad students but two other repositories for outside content.

"I'd say they're ahead of the curve," Kimpton said.

PolicyArchive and FOLIO are both joint ventures with outside groups, including the Los Angeles-based Center of Governmental Studies and the New York-based Foundation Center.

The projects aren't so much costly as time-consuming. IUPUI has dedicated the equivalent of 1 1/2 employees to building and maintaining the repositories for about two years. Daniels-Howell says it's worth it, though, because it increases the university's visibility....

OA medical research for lay researchers

John Schwartz, Logging On for a Second (or Third) Opinion, The New York Times, September 29, 2008.
... At least three-quarters of all Internet users look for health information online, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project; of those with a high-speed connection, 1 in 9 do health research on a typical day. And 75 percent of online patients with a chronic problem told the researchers that “their last health search affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition,” according to a Pew Report released last month, “The Engaged E-Patient Population.” ...

There are so many sites today and the landscape is changing so rapidly that it would take an encyclopedia rather than a newspaper to list them. But they can be grouped into five broad, often overlapping, categories: ...

MEDICAL RESEARCH SITES offer access to the published work of scientists, studies and a window into continuing research. Examples include PubMed from the National Library of Medicine;, which tracks federally financed studies; psycinfo, with its trove of psychological literature; and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the government’s registry on alternative medicine research. ...

Dr. Talmadge E. King Jr., chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says doctors are coming around to seeing the value of a patient who has gone online for information.

Patients in his pulmonary practice, he said, sometimes come into his office holding medical journal articles he has written “and quiz me.” The better-educated patient might stump the doctor, he went on, but these days “it’s much easier for me to look them straight in the eye and say, ‘I don’t know’ ” and promise to get back to them. “Patients know you’re not all-knowing,” he said. “They’re not upset by that.” ...

Free knowledge and justice

The anonymous blogger at World of Warcraft has blogged some notes on the OA session --Freies Wissen vs. Digital Divide-- of Momentum 08: Gerechtigkeit (Hallstatt , September 25-28, 2008).  Read the post in German or Google's English.

Latest figures on OA growth

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access September 30, 2008, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, September 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues! This quarter, more than 3 million publications were added to Scientific Commons, 1 million records to OAIster; the DOAJ stands at 3,668 titles, and has added 822 titles (net) in the past year, for an average daily addition of 2.25 titles. The percentage of the world's scholarly literature that is freely available appears to be close to 20%. PubMedCentral includes 2.4 million free items; 375 journals provide immediate free access to contents, and addition of 20 in the past quarter, and 257 journals provide immediate open access. There are 53 open access mandates in the world, with more to come; and more than 15,000 blogposts on Open Access News! ...

Directory of Open Access Journals
Number of Journals: 3,668
Journals Added in the Last Year: 822
Average daily added titles: 2.25

Scientific Commons
# Publications: 22.6 million
# Publications Added Last Year: 6.4 million
# Publications Added this Quarter: 3 million

# Records: 17.9 million
# Records Added this Past Year: 4.5 million
# Records Added this Past Quarter: 1 million

# Repositories: 1,254
Repositories Added this Year: 304

# journals with immediate free access: 375
added this quarter: 20
# journals with immediate open access: 257
# free items from PubMed: 2.4 million
% of literature indexed in PubMed freely available: 18%

Total Mandates: 53 ...

Dramatic Growth Open Data - For Web Viewing
Dataverse (for downloading data) ....

The NIH policy and an early precursor

Jonathan Miller, “Publishers did not take the bait”: A Forgotten Precursor to the NIH Public Access Policy, a preprint forthcoming in the Spring 2009 issue of College & Research Libraries

Abstract:   This article compares the recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy (2005-07) with the United States Office of Education policy on copyright in funded research (1965-70). The two policies and the differing technological and political contexts of the periods are compared and contrasted. The author concludes that a more nuanced approach to copyright, the digital information environment, and the support of an energized user community auger well for the success of the NIH policy, but that it is still too soon to tell.

NCIC adopts an OA mandate

The National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Jim Till.)  Excerpt:

Effective July 2009, all researchers supported in whole or in part through the NCIC are required to make their published results of NCIC supported work publicly available. Researchers are encouraged to make their work publicly available as soon as possible, but must do so no later than six months after the final publication date.

Archives such as PubMed Central, researchers’ host institution websites, and/or open access journals are all acceptable ways to make research findings publicly available....

NCIC believes strongly, however, that unrestricted public access to research findings is a crucial part of upholding the values and responsibilities of the NCIC as a granting agency and of the NCIC’s funders, the Canadian Cancer Society and The Terry Fox Foundation, both of whom are supported in turn by donations from the public. Major funding bodies around the world have progressively adopted open access as a means of increasing the public availability and transparency of the research they fund. Open access allows for broader dissemination of knowledge and ultimately promotes research advancement, crucial to the NCIC’s mission to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer.

As part of this policy, the NCIC will provide support for any charges levied by publishers that are required to comply with this open access process. Such charges may be included as legitimate research expenses (fully justified as with all other expenses) in the budget of a research grant submission....

Also see the NCIC's Open Access FAQs.  Excerpt:

8. Will I need to make my previously published, NCIC-supported papers available?

This policy comes into effect in July 2009, for all new grants and awards commencing July 1, 2009. However, the NCIC encourages all continuing grantees to find ways to make their research findings publicly accessible. Any NCIC supported publications over 12-months-old have likely been made fully accessible by publishers.

9. What if a journal is compliant with open access, but does not allow the paper to be made freely available until 12 months after publication?

Researchers are able to submit their work to a journal that does not support public availability within six months of the publication date. The NCIC does not wish to compromise the ability of researchers to publish in high-impact journals. However, researchers must inform the NCIC of this limitation and the paper must be made freely available as soon as possible. Please email when this issue arises for monitoring purposes. Like other agencies, the NCIC is applying pressure to non-compliant journals to allow for public availability within six months.


  • I applaud the mandatory language, the six month cap on embargoes (with some exceptions), and the flexibility to use different OA repositories or even OA journals to satisfy the policy. 
  • The policy doesn't distinguish the timing of deposit from the timing of OA release, though it should.  I hope that the NCIC require immediate deposit even if it allows delayed release.  For details, see what I call the dual/deposit strategy or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access.
  • The policy leaves a loophole for resisting publishers.  When a given publisher does not allow OA on the funder's terms, the NCIC does not require grantees to look for another publisher, as the Wellcome Trust and NIH (and a handful of others) do.  But it does want to use its policy to apply "pressure to non-compliant journals to allow for public availability within six months."  I'm not sure it can work both ways.  Publishers will not feel the intended pressure if they have an easy opt-out.  If experience confirms this suspicion, I hope NCIC will adopt the WT-NIH model and close the loophole.
  • The NCIC should say more about the scope of its willingness to pay fees to make OA possible.  If it's willing to pay for gold OA, I applaud that.  If it's willing to pay publishers to permit or provide green OA, then I don't, and I hope the NCIC will reconsider.
  • Both the policy and FAQ pages are dated August 1, 2008. 


Impact of the NIH policy abroad

Open Access Strikes Turbulence in US with Possible Australian Repercussions, The Funneled Web, September 19, 2008. Discusses the recent government report recommending OA in Australia and the implications of the NIH public access policy (its transition from voluntary to mandatory and the pushback by some publishers). (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

Analysis of citations from OA papers

Kayvan Kousha, Characteristics of Open Access Web Citation Network: A Multidisciplinary Study, presented at COLLNET 2008 (Berlin, July 28-August 1, 2008). Abstract:
More knowledge about Open Access (OA) scholarly publishing on the web would be helpful for citation data mining and the development of Web-based citation indexes. In the current study, five characteristics of 545 OA citing sources targeting OA research articles in four science and four social science disciplines were manually identified, including file format, hyperlinking, Internet domain, language, and publication year. About 60% of the OA citing sources targeting research papers were in PDF format, 30% were from academic domains ending in edu and ac and 70% of the citations were not hyperlinked. Moreover, 16% of the OA citing sources targeting studied papers in the eight selected disciplines were in non-English languages. Additional analyses revealed significant disciplinary differences across science and the social sciences. Overall, the OA Web citation network was dominated by PDF format files and non-hyperlinked citations. This knowledge of some characteristics shaping the OA citation network gives a better understanding about their potential uses.

Another profile of Carl Malamud and Public.Resource.Org

Noam Cohen, Who Owns the Law? Arguments May Ensue, The New York Times, September 28, 2008.

... As of Labor Day, he had put, he estimates, more than 50 percent of the nation’s 11 public safety codes online, including rules for fire prevention. “We have material from all 50 states, but we don’t have all 11 codes for all 50 states,” he said.

His financing comes from open-information advocates like the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s foundation and Google, but his goal is to get $10 million over a three-year period to :solve the problem" of uploading the overwhelming bulk of the country’s legal material. ...
Comment. At this rate, I'm not sure how Malamud has any time to do the work of PRO in between all the interviews. Keep it up!

See also our many past posts about Malamud and PRO.

Update. See also this profile from Network World.

New OA journal of thyroid research

Thyroid Research is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Polish Society of Thyroidology and BioMed Central. See the September 30 announcement. The article-processing charge is £850 (€1070, $1565), subject to discounts and waivers. Authors retain copyright to their work and articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution License. The inaugural editorial is now available.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

OA, epidemiology, and language barriers

The September issue of Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, a theme issue on "Beyond English: Accessing the global epidemiological literature", is now online. At least two articles discuss OA:

OA and the research landscape

Nicholas Joint, Current research information systems, open access repositories and libraries: ANTAEUS, Library Review 57(8), 2008. Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of larger developments in the international research information environment, and to outline their impact on the open access movement within libraries.

Design/methodology/approach – A narrative account of recent historical developments such as national current research information systems (CRIS), and their local campus equivalents, together with an analysis of the relationship of these systems with national research policies, and particularly their relationship with research evaluation policy.

Findings – Developments in the research landscape have important effects on grass-roots LIS practice, and have given a great boost to open access repositories while preserving the traditional role of commercial journal publications. This complementary relationship was completely unexpected at the outset of the open access movement, which was specifically intended to reduce the importance of commercial journal publications.

Research limitations/implications – This is an exploration of the relationship between open access and current research information environments. This relationship is of enormous significance and will need to be analysed and better understood in future. The analysis in this paper is thus an initial attempt to increase this understanding, and further, extended investigation is recommended.

Practical implications – Practitioner librarians must come to grips with the role of repositories within the CRIS environment, as well as the relationship of repositories to the local campus research information system.

Originality/value – This paper investigates trends in the broader research information environment which will be unfamiliar to many LIS practitioners, and puts them in the context of everyday professional practice.

New wiki for math theorems

vdash is a forthcoming wiki for formal mathematical theorems. (Thanks to Slashdot.)

New OA journal of computer science

Algorithms is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of computer science published by Molecular Diversity Preservation International. The inaugural issue is now available. Article processing charges are 800 Swiss francs. Authors retain copyright and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Iranian participation in E-LIS

AmirReza Asnafi, et al., A survey on amount of scientific publications of Iranian scientists and their collaboration in E-Print database, presented at COLLNET 2008 (Berlin, July 28-August 1, 2008). Abstract:
Information like blood flows in the vessel of society, so its production is a major indicator for development in countries. It can be utilized in various fields and domains. In current era, scientific and research indicators determine status and rank of countries around the world. Countries that increase their researches and scientific productions will have high scientific rank. This will lead to growth and development in each country. E-LIS§ is an open access database of published and in-press technical and scientific documents in Library and Information Science field that authors can submit their articles to this database voluntary. Current research will study the amount of scientific publications of Iranian scientists and their collaboration in E-LIS (Electronic library and Information Science) database in comparison with other Asian countries and will determine rank of Iran in scientific collaboration among these countries in this database. Also, current research will study web transaction logs of produced papers by Iranian scientists that is presented in this database, in order to determine Amount of usability of these papers by various users. Also this research will study significant relationship among Iranian scientists' collaboration in scientific publications and amount of downloads of their articles by users.

DOAJ call for memberships

The Directory of Open Access Journals has posted an appeal for supporters to join its membership program, launched last year. From the announcement:
Since the launch in 2003 DOAJ has steadily gained importance as the only comprehensive quality controlled resource for open access journals. We are now asking you to help us maintain this service by becoming a member. Membership fees for 2008 (for new members) paid after October 1st will also cover membership for 2009! ...

The membership program was launched in 2007 to ensure the continued operation and development of DOAJ. We are very grateful to all those that have already chosen to become members, but we need more support to be able to sustain a high quality service. ...

New OA journal of Asian family medicine

Asia Pacific Family Medicine is a new OA peer-reviewed journal published by the Asia Pacific Region of Wonca and BioMed Central. See the September 29 announcement. The article-processing charge is £800 (€1010, US$1470), subject to waivers and discounts. Authors retain copyright to their article, and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

DRIVER and eIFL to collaborate

DRIVER and signed Memorandum of Understanding, press release, September 29, 2008.
DRIVER and – Electronic Information for Libraries – have identified demand for cooperation in order to progress and enhance the provision, visibility and application of European research outputs through digital repositories. ...

Rima Kupryte, Director of, said ‘ and DRIVER share the vision that research institutions should contribute actively and cooperatively to a global, interoperable, trusted and long-term data and service infrastructure based on Open Access digital repositories. This agreement includes joint approaches to consolidation of national communities for the European repository network and active joint dissemination of best practices of Open Access scholarly communication in countries and regions without such formal policy.’ ...

Law professors defend NIH policy against copyright objections

Forty-six law professors and specialists in copyright law wrote to the House Judiciary Committee on September 8 to show that the publishing lobby's objections to the NIH policy misrepresent US copyright law.  The Committee had the letter in hand when it convened the September 11 hearing on the Conyers bill.  The letter is now online.  Excerpt:

... We write to respond to serious misstatements relating to copyright law contained in a recent submission [from the AAP] to the National Institutes of Health with respect to the relationship between the NIH Final Policy on Public Access and certain aspects of U.S. and international copyright law.  The letter (hereafter "the Proskauer Letter") was written by Jon A. Baumgarten of Proskauer Rose LLP, dated May 30, 2008....

The Proskauer Letter alleges that the NIH Policy may constitute an involuntary transfer of copyright in violation of Section 201(e) of the Copyright Act.  Contrary to the Proskauer Letter's assertions, the Policy does not create an involuntary transfer, a compulsory license, or a taking of the publishers' or investigators' copyright....[I]f the investigator chooses not to receive NIH funding, the investigator has no obligation to provide the article to PMC or a copyright license to NIH.  But if the investigator elects to receive NIH funding, he or she accepts the terms of the grant agreement, which include the requirement to deposit the article with PMC so that the article can be made publicly accessible within one year after publication.  Because the investigator has this basic choice, the policy does not constitute an involuntary transfer.

Furthermore, because the author makes this choice long before the publisher enters into the picture, the policy does not take any intellectual property away from the publisher.  When the investigator transfers copyright to the publisher, as most publishers require as a condition of publication, the copyright is already subject to the non-exclusive license granted by the investigator to NIH.   Thus, the policy does not change the scope of the publisher's copyright after the publisher has acquired it....

Building on the erroneous premise that the Policy is an involuntary transfer of copyright or a compulsory license, the Proskauer Letter then suggests that the NIH Policy might violate U.S. obligations under the Article 9 of the Berne Convention or Article 13 of the TRIPS agreement.  This argument lacks any basis in law.  As discussed above, the NIH Policy governs the terms of contracts, not exceptions to copyright law.  As such, the Policy in no way implicates Article 13 of TRIPS or Article 9 of the Berne Convention, which address permissible copyright exceptions.  These treaty provisions are completely silent on the issue of the terms a licensee can require of a copyright owner in exchange for valuable consideration....

Congress frequently imposes conditions on recipients of this federal funding. While one might question the wisdom of a particular condition, Congress without doubt has the authority to impose them.  Similarly, Congress has the authority to require NIH grantees to deposit their manuscripts with PMC and to grant a license to make these publicly accessible over the Internet within a year of publication.  Such a requirement conflicts neither with the Copyright Act nor with international treaty obligations....

[PS:  Omitting the 46 signatures.]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Transition to DRIVER II

The folks at DRIVER updated the project home page to reflect the new goals of DRIVER II.  Excerpt:

The objectives of DRIVER-II are manifold:

From the new page on OA (last link above):

DRIVER caters for researchers and the general public by offering a common platform for Open Access output, which implies no access barriers to the full-text, image or other data of the publication. The whole DRIVER community actively participates in the Open Access movement and advocates that digital repositories as the principal location for research materials to be deposited in.

Open Access repositories have revolutionised access to research materials. Open Access offers significant advantages for individual authors, for researchers, for institutions and for the process of research generally by freeing up the process of dissemination. By making research material Open Access it means that number of readers increases and thereby citations to the article increase - in some fields increasing citations by 300%. Open Access repositories can hold digital duplicates of published articles and make them freely available. The development of digital repositories across Europe has gathered momentum in recent years and continues.

For more information about Open Access and digital repositories visit [this page] and on developments in Europe visit [this page] on the DRIVER Support pages.

Another call for OA to Australian research

Colin Steele, Open Access to Australia's research, Canberra Times, September 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

Last week I spoke at the major Open Access conference in Brisbane at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, which attracted over 200 attendees from Australia and overseas....

While the previous Howard government [in Australia] had an Information Accessibility statement relatively little effort was made to implement it, compared to technological infrastuctures, yet the costs of the former in cultural change practice were/are relatively low.

The establishment of an "Australian Information Commons" through Open Access to research will provide immeasurable benefit not only for Australian society but also for the dissemination of Australian research globally. It is also clear from the Cutler Innovation and other reports,such as the Productivity Commission report in 2007, that freeing Australian knowledge is a greater aid to productivity returns than locking it away knowledge in patents and IP protection.  Carr's statement, plus the whole of government approach on public funding, public good, public access should provide the final impetus for change.

The conference concluded that a major step forward would be for all of Australia's universities to make their annual research publications available in open access in full text, wherever possible.

Proliferation of OA events

I spent some time this morning adding new events to the OAD list of Conferences and workshops related to OA.  Two quick thoughts:

  1. If you measure the success of the OA movement by the number of people and institutions pouring energy into it, then you'll find strong evidence of our success on the OAD Events pages.  For example, look at 2008, or even at October 2008.  The proliferation of events worldwide is inspiring.
  2. Remember that OAD is a wiki and welcomes your contributions.  One of its premises is that a list, like the big list of worldwide OA events, can be more comprehensive, accurate, and up to date when maintained by the whole OA community than when maintained by an individual.  When you hear about a new OA event, please add it to the OAD and make sure that everyone knows about it.

Systematically gathering and disseminating repository usage data

Christine Merk and Nils K. Windisch, Usage Statistics Review: Final report, JISC, September 24, 2008.  (Thanks to the JISC Information Environment Team.)  Excerpt:

The JISC Usage Statistics Review Project is aimed at formulating a fundamental scheme for repository log files and at proposing a standard for their aggregation to provide meaningful and comparable item-level usage statistics for electronic documents like e.g. research papers and scientific resources....

[U]sage events should be exchanged in the form of OpenURL Context Objects using OAI....

With the JISC-funded Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (PIRUS) project and the DFG-funded Open-Access-Statistics there are two projects which will formulate standards for usage statistics and work on their implementation in the future. To reach broad comparability, national efforts should be bundled together. A central authority – which could for example be the Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research (DRIVER) – should aggregate the usage data....

Policies on statistics should be formulated for the repository community as well as the publishing community. Information about statistics policies should be available on services like OpenDOAR and RoMEO....

It was discussed whether usage statistics should be open access and if yes to what extent. There was a common understanding that the raw data should not be publicly available as privacy might easily be breached. Only strictly regulated access for research should be possible.

Less consent was reached about the status of the usage statistics. Many repositories are on the one hand part of the Open Access movement and therefore do not want to contradict its ideals. On the other hand, the infrastructure for the services has to be financed. Usage statistics would be a valuable service. They can be used for research evaluation and they are the precondition for the introduction of recommender systems. A third option besides a freely available or a fee-based service is a partially publicly available service. Basic measures can be made open access while the access to more sophisticated measures and recommender systems can be restricted....

OA is desirable apart from the savings, but there are savings too

Timothy Burke, Planning for Contraction, Inside Higher Ed, September 29, 2008.  Excerpt:

...So, the party’s over. However, I’m not hearing a lot of preparation for what higher education will look like if growth is over....

Here are some of the shifts in thinking needed....

3) Where higher education is exposed to cost increases which are potentially within its control, universities and colleges need to band together comprehensively as buyers and dictate terms to their own advantage. There’s not much that can be done about energy costs or insurance: any big employer is exposed to those at an equal base, and then to whatever extent they consume those above and beyond that base. On the other hand, libraries and information services are areas of unique exposure. There are reasons for academia to completely rethink its production and consumption of publication and knowledge that have nothing to do with cost. Open access publication is a good idea that enhances the mission of academia, regardless of its financial implications. However, it’s also insane to be exposed to escalating costs when we potentially have such massive collective leverage over the sellers. We are not only the main buyers of many forms of publication and information, we are also the main producers, and we typically give away what we produce for free and then buy it back from the people we gave it to....

Thanks to our readers

Sometime on Friday Open Access News passed the milestone of 15,000 posts. 

Gavin and I thank you all for reading, subscribing, forwarding, suggesting, and linking.

More blog notes on Brisbane conference

Kylie Pappalardo has posted a series of notes on Open Access and Research Conference 2008 (Brisbane, September 24-25, 2008): See also our past posts on the conference.

Presentation on OA and Web 2.0

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More on OA for images

Matthias Spielkamp has blogged some notes (in German) on the panel, Kunst und ihre technische Reproduktion, at the Kreative Arbeit und Urheberrecht conference (Dortmund, September 26-28, 2008).  The last section of his notes is devoted to the problem of OA for images.  Read his post in German or Google's English.

Stand up for an OA mandate at your university

John Willinsky, How To Institute an Open Access Policy? Stand Up,, September 28, 2008.  Excerpt:

On June 10th, my colleagues in the Stanford University School of Education listened patiently as I stood before them explaining how the Harvard Law School had passed an “open access” motion which was going to lead to free online access to all of the scholarly articles that they published. We were on a faculty retreat, at a hotel by the ocean near Monterey, California, with the waves rolling in not far from where we were sitting. An opening had appeared in the program, and I jumped in, asking for the time to explain what such a policy could mean for the work of a school or department....

[The faculty] wondered about the copyright. I explained how the term “nonexclusive” was key....The author as the original copyright holder grants a non-exclusive right to post this particular copy prior to transferring the remaining rights to the publisher.

They wondered, as well, why in the world publishers would accept this. And I explained that the publishers already had, at least in principle. The majority of publishers grant authors, in exchange for the author turning over copyright to their work, the right to post their work in just such an archive, sometimes some months after publication....

We talked briefly about what this access might mean for who reads law school scholarship and all the more so, in the case of an education school, which...saw itself having a responsibility for the professionalism of teachers and for addressing public interests in education.

However, before we had been at it for half-an-hour, people were saying let’s just do it. Let’s pass an open access motion for the School of Education, and let’s do it right here and right now. I was taken aback by the ease with which this idea garnered nods and shrugs of assent.

Before the hour was up, we had passed an open access motion that committed the School to sharing what it knew or at least what it had discovered and submitted for publication....

The times may be a changing. It had been very hard, only a few years ago, to get researchers to look up from their work long enough to explain access issues. Putting an article in a journal, as they saw it, made things public enough. No more. No longer. Greater openness, greater accessibility of knowledge has become part of culture. Now is the time to make it standard practice and a common policy within universities.

To help other departments, schools and faculties take this step of making open access a policy, I put together a webpage on the Open Access Policy....

Take advantage of the times, my fellow scholars and researchers. It could prove dead easy for you, too, to stand up and reposition your institution within this larger world of public knowledge.

PS:  For background, also see our past blog posts on the Stanford OA mandate, and the recent post about it by Bret Waters, a member of the Advisory Council for the Stanford School of Education. 

Consumer access to clinical drug trial data

Shari Roan, Did the study work? Consumers can find out, Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2008.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

Many of the most promising new medical treatments are just beyond the grasp of consumers simply because they don't know about them. But that's about to change. Beginning tomorrow, the nation's database for clinical trials,, will begin adding the results of trials of drugs, medical devices and biologic products (such as vaccines) conducted in the United States. was launched in 2000 to provide people with easy access to information about clinical trials. But until now, consumers who went to the website could find only details about the trial's launch, such as the study's design and who is eligible to enroll. Under the new rule, researchers sponsoring the trial must go back and post their results (except for very early-stage experiments, which are called Phase 1 trials) online within one year of the study's conclusion or within 30 days of approval of a product by the Food and Drug Administration. The database will carry results of trials that were underway as of Sept. 27, 2007. However, researchers of previously completed trials have been encouraged to post their results, too.

The rule is a result of a law passed last year to demand more transparency in clinical trials. Consumer health advocates hope the requirement will make it harder for study sponsors to hide unexpected or harmful reactions to drugs or devices....


  • ClinicalTrials.COM is new, but ClinicalTrials.GOV is not.  When Roan said that the .com version was launched in 2000, she must have meant the .gov version.  Despite the plan to launch the .com version on September 27, it's still not open.
  • For more background on the new federal law requiring OA for clinical drug trial data, see our past posts on the FDA Amendments Act (FDAAA).

Update (9/29/08).  Also see this September 26 announcement from the NLM, which describes an expansion of but doesn't mention  The expansion will provide OA to results, or trial data themselves, not just to information about the trials.