Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 14

Here's (probably the final) sampling of what people were writing about Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Roddy MacLeod, October 14th is Open Access Day, spineless?, October 14, 2008.
... I’ve mentioned Open Access a few times in this blog in the past, for example in this post about the Open Studens initiative, also here and here in blog roundups, in this post about the Depot, in a post entitled Open Access - some pointers, and in a follow-up post on Open Access - more updates. So, it’s nice to welcome today as Open Access Day. ...
Chris Mikkelson, Happy Open Access Day !, CxLxMxRx, October 14, 2008.
... I've decided to direct some attention to the issue of open access in nursing. ...

... Nursing research is also useless when not accessible, but timliness and particularity are less important [for biomedical research]. So, the researcher-to-researcher sharing that can come from open access and confer advantages in biomedicine is less relevant to nursing. Instead, open access relates to nursing mostly vis-a-vis three other avenues: (1) integrated self-care, (2) information access in the clinical milieu, and (3) education. ...

... [F]or the most part, nursing needs to be lead and is most comfortable when it has a institution impetous for change. The current model for this observation is Keeping Patients Safe. Rather than a grass-roots effort at improving conditions in individual hospitals, this is a top-down program from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

So, what about open access? Open access publishing is currently flying under the radar in nursing. ...

The time is right for nursing leaders to make a push to create a culture of open access for nursing as well. ...
Kylie Pappalardo, Open Access Day, OctaviaNet, October 15, 2008.
Today I attended an OA Day event in the [Queensland University of Technology] Library ...

First, we watched the “Voices of Open Access” video ... and the QUT Library Secretariat “Shout Out” for OA video.

We then had some presentations and discussions, moderated by Elizabeth Stark.

Peter Jerram, CEO of PLoS, gave a short introduction. ...

Dr Phil Bourne, Editor in Chief of PLoS Computational Biology, who was presenting from University of California San Diego, gave the keynote presentation. ...
Kevin Smith, OA @ Duke — why it matters very much!, Scholarly Communications @ Duke, October 17, 2008.

As part of our Open Access Day celebration at Duke, we held a keynote and panel event on Tuesday, Oct. 14th featuring Duke faculty and a student talking about why open access is important to them and important to Duke.  About 50 staff and faculty members attended, and following is a brief summary of the very exciting talks we heard.

Prof. James Boyle of the Duke Law School and the board of Creative Commons began the afternoon with an entertaining and inspiring talk on why Open Access matters. ...

Boyle offered a vision for open access based on three stages. At “Open Access 1.0,” scientific research and information will be exposed to many more human eyeballs. At the stage of Open Access 2.0, computers will have access to a depth of scientific information that will permit text mining for new and serendipitous discovery. Finally, with Open Access 3.0 computers and humans will work together to create a map of knowledge within in a given field and amongst fields where relationships were previously not discoverable.

Law School Assistant Dean for Library Services Melanie Dunshee followed Boyle with some interesting information about Duke Law’s ten-year-old experiment with open access to legal scholarship. ...

Next up was Dr. Ricardo Pietrobon from the Medical School, where he chairs the group that is doing “Research on Research.”  His presentation really built on Boyle’s call by suggesting that we need to move beyond text mining and data mining (once we get there) to consider what he called “scientific archeology.”  Only at that point, when open access encourages not just access but replicability, accountability and transparency, will the promise of the Internet for scientific learning be fulfilled.

The climax of the afternoon, and what made the need for open access very real to our audience, was the remarks by Josh Sommer, a Duke student who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain tumor during his freshman year. ... Josh has co-founded the Chordoma Foundation and has himself become actively involved in research to understand and treat this disease.  His story of how the privileged access he has as a Duke student has helped significantly in his research is only part of the story.  He also tells of previously unknown connections between other forms of cancer research and the effort to treat chordoma that have been discovered using open access medical literature.  Finally, Josh talked about his young friend Justin who died from chordoma earlier this year; a young man who did not have the advantages that have given Josh the ability to fight his grim prognosis (see the link above for more on Justin’s short life).  As Josh puts it, there is no reason that the knowledge that could have saved Justin’s life is walled off behind access barriers. ...

Edward M. Corrado, Open Access Day Program,, October 16, 2008.

On October 14, I attended the Open Access Day Web cast at Binghamton University Libraries. While we had a decent showing of librarians, I was disappointed by the lack of faculty and students. ...

The presentation started with videos of interviews of researchers, librarians, graduate students, and other interested parties talking about why Open Access is important and how Open Access impacts their ability to locate and access information that they need. ...

I found the Web cast worthwhile. If you missed it, the Web cast will be available online for people who missed [it] to view at their leisure. ...

When asked what students can do to promote open access, Sir Richard Roberts, a joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1993 for discovering split genes and RNA splicing said (paraphrasing) “One of your principle jobs while in college is to rebel. If you are going to have new ideas they are not going to come from the establishment”. Of course to be a rebel with a cause, you need to do something besides just rebel. ...

Update on the public domain calculator project

The Open Knowledge Foundation has created a wiki and mailing list for its project on public domain calculators (algorithms for determining when a work is in the public domain in a given jurisdiction).

PS:  For background, see our past posts on the OKF public domain calculator project.

New OA journal on social movements

Interface: a journal for and about social movements is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.  (Thanks to Open Anthropology.)

Brazilian portal of OA journals of communication

On Open Access Day, Brazil's Centro de Estudos em "Design de Sistemas Virtuais Centrado no Usuário" (CEDUS) launched, a portal of OA journals in the field of communications. 

Univerciencia supports navigation in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Italian, and when it launched offered access to 121 issues of 17 Brazilian and Portuguese journals, representing 1813 documents and 1597 authors.  Also see the announcement.

Opening IRs to alumni publications

Klaus Graf proposes that institutional repositories accept deposits not only from current faculty but also from alumni.  Read his argument in German or Google's English.

The Wheeler Declaration for an open university

Participants in the Students for Free Culture conference (Berkeley, October 10-13, 2008) have drafted the Wheeler Declaration, named after the building on the Berkeley campus where they met:

An open university is one in which

  1. The research the university produces is open access.
  2. The course materials are open educational resources.
  3. The university embraces free software and open standards.
  4. If the university holds patents, it readily licenses them for free software, essential medicines, and the public good.
  5. The university network reflects the open nature of the internet.

where "university" includes all parts of the community: students, faculty, administration.

Here's some background from Karen Rustad at Little Green River:

...The second day, the spontaneous participant-organized “unconference”, provoked a lot of good conversations and was surprisingly productive --by the end of it, everyone agreed to what people are calling the Wheeler Declaration (after the building we were in): an agenda for Students for Free Culture to focus on for next year. We’re still arguing about what to call it (since Open University is trademarked, apparently), but the idea is to pressure and grade our campuses based on five criteria: opening access to research, creating/using open courseware, embracing free/open-source software and open document formats, using university-held patents for the public good (think cheap drugs for the developing world), and keeping the university network unfiltered and uncensored. We’ll see how SFC executes this plan, but I think it’s an excellent target for the org to have.

Comment.  It appears that this version is just a draft and that SFC is still working on the final form and the plan for implementation.  If anyone has more information on it, please drop me a line or post it to the SPARC Open Access Forum.

Update (10/23/08).  The draft now includes this addendum:

Steps in an Open University Campaign

  1. Define best practices for each criteria
  2. Research universities' statuses
  3. Educate and help universities to move towards openness
  4. Grade universities

Friday, October 17, 2008

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 13

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Lisa Bailey, Happy (belated) open access day, Ingenuity @ Bridge8, October 17, 2008.
... Open Access Day ... happened to coincide with one of the most significant events in Open Access publishing. BioMed central, one of the original pioneers of OA publishing, was recently purchased by the Springer publishing group which was heralded as great news for science in the Guardian. BioMed had shown that Open Access could indeed be profitable, and it awaits to be seen if and when other publishers will follow suit.

It has to happen. Free, transparent and democratic access to (what is often) taxpayer funded research makes so much sense that it almost seems more reasonable to wonder why it’s taken so long in the first place. ...
Alex Golub, Everyday is Open Access Day, Open Access Anthropology, October 16, 2008.
Well the bad news is that the OAA blog totally failed to synch up with Open Access Day. The good news is that every day is open access day here at OAAA. In honor of OAD I’m hoping to turn over a new leaf and add a new feature to this blog — I’ll begin posting links to OA resources on the web here on the blog. That way people will begin to see not only the ethical and political dimensions of OA that are important to us, but it will also demonstrate how useful OA is to you and how many other people are doing it. So… stay tuned!
Mike Haubrich, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Science, Tangled Up in Blue Guy, October 15, 2008.
Information wants to be free, they say, but there is this pesky thing called copyright.  There is also an issue with money.  One of the most interesting developments in science over the last few years has been the movement to provide free and open access to the science journals which publiish peer-reviewed articles.  Brian Switek is preparing a book on Evolution, and in preparation often runs into  study which would help him ensure that the research behind his book; but runs into a “money firewall.”  In order to read the article he would need to be a subscriber (and pay an expensive subscription fee for a single article,) hope that his university has purchased access to the journal, or rely on an acquaintance who may have access.  Bora has collected a series of posts on the expansive opportunities of open-access publication and how it affects research and public understading of science.  Open-Access Day! May the feeling last throughout the year!
Open Access Day: Free access to articles, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library Blog, October 14, 2008.
... Open Access is a publishing model for academic journals. In the currently dominant publishing model, readers pay a fee to access scholarly articles (either individually or by paying for a subscription to a journal) and these fees support the publishing businesses. In an OA model, the authors or their institutions pay fees to support the publishers and the peer review process: after an article is published, any reader anywhere in the world can access the article freely. These different models have different implications for who can access and use the world’s scholarly information. ...
Open Access Day, KnowledgeEconomy, October 14, 2008.
We live in a world of “haves” and “have not’s.” Although it may be an over generalization, one can say that the vast majority of people want to be “haves” and in most cases only a small minority of people want others to be “have nots.” ... But access to information and knowledge, like love, is different. The same knowledge can be gained or “owned” by 2 people or 200 thousand - it is infinitely divisible and yet constantly whole. Everyone can be a “have” and only those few folks who are unwilling to try to access the open resources all around them need be the “have nots” of the world. Open access tells everyone else to jump in to the KnowledgeEconomy - the water is fine!

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 12

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Today is Open Access Day, Rebecca Crown Library, October 14, 2008.
When information is open access (OA), it is, simply, available for free. There are no barriers to you or to anyone accessing it, reading it, downloading it, or printing it. Neither you nor your library needs to pay for access to OA materials. There are thousands of OA journals in many academic disciplines, and well as countless OA materials in subject repositories or institutional repositories. Both authors and researchers benefit from OA publishing. Authors are able to share their research faster, easier and more effectively; researchers are able to access information faster, easier and more effectively. ...

We are planning for an institutional repository, and an education/outreach program to go with it. Faculty, be sure to come to the faculty seminar on Tuesday, Rocktober 28, to learn about how retaining your rights and publishing in OA models can increase the impact of your research. LIS 748 students, see you soon. Let’s jump start conversations at Dominican.
Kirsten, Open Access Day, Into the Stacks, October 14, 2008.

Since many more eloquent and involved people than I will be talking about open access today, I thought I’d just mention one of my favourite open access journals, Oral Tradition. They’ve been OA since 2007 ...

This is just the sort of small, specialized journal to which a lot of smaller libraries would have difficulty maintaining a subscription. But that doesn’t mean none of our patrons wouldn’t be interested in it — just that the use statistics wouldn’t be able to support the money spent. In fact, I found out about the journal while helping a student with a research paper last spring and immediately added it to my reading list. ...

Chris Rusbridge, Open Access Day, Digital Curation Blog, October 14, 2008.
... Why do I care about Open Access? It's always seemed obvious to me since I first heard of the idea. I've never cared what colour it was, nor how it was done. But I've not published in a toll publication since that day, except for a book chapter where I reserved the rights and put it in the repository. It's fair, it's just; you pay my wages, and you should be able to know what you're getting. But it's easy for me; risk is low, career not at stake, and publishing this way is part of my job. I understand why people with more at stake are more cautious. It's a long road to full acceptance, and we're not doing badly. ...
Michael Meadon, Open Access day, Ionian Enchantment, October 14, 2008.
As I've said before, I strongly support open access. I don't want to sound sanctimonious, but I honestly think the fight for the golden road to open access is one of the most important in academia. ...

Support open access. It's important.
Edward M. Corrado, Open Access Day,, October 13, 2008.
... I think Librarians and other supports of Open Access need to help get the word out about what Open Access is and why it is important for faculty to be aware of it and the issues that surround open access. I’m not sure how often Binghamton has held these type of events, but I do hope we get a decent turnout.

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 11

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Molly Keener, Open Access Day, 2008, ZSR | Professional Development, October 14, 2008.
... Here at Wake Forest, the WFU Libraries are working to raise awareness of open access among faculty, students and staff. Both the Z. Smith Reynolds Library and the Coy C. Carpenter Medical Library have resource pages on scholarly communication issues (ZSR, Carpenter) and open access (ZSR, Carpenter). A group of librarians, with input from faculty and research administrators, are working to build an institutional repository for Wake Forest that will enable us to better collect, highlight and disseminate the world-class research conducted at our University. Faculty members from both campuses are already publishing in open access journals and hybrid access journals (traditional journals with article-by-article optional open access), and submitting to subject-based repositories, such as PubMed Central. Through compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy, many faculty researchers are realizing that they are able to retain many of their rights as copyright owners in their works when seeking publication, without forfeiting the opportunity to be published in premiere journals. ...
Celebrate Open Access Day, Bibby Library News & Tips, October 14, 2008.

Have you ever googled the title of an article and found you were able to get the full-text?  Conversely, have you ever googled the title of an article only to find the publisher of the journal asking for your credit card?

Most likely, the free article came from an open-access journal or repository.

Not to be confused with subscription-based journals and databases, open access calls for publicly funded research to be made freely accessible online, immediately after publication. ...

Brian Lamb, Happy open access day!, Abject Learning, October 14, 2008.

As it has for generations, Open Access Day at my house will involve insane travel stresses, endless hours of cooking and dishwashing, dangerously excessive alcohol consumption, the therapeutic airing of familial tensions, grievances and debates on the Creative Commons NC clause in shrieking tones, and falling asleep in front of the television watching an uncompetitive big league sporting match...

Thankfully, more mature people are organizing more wholesome fare at public locations ...

Vika Zafrin, Open Access Day 2008!, words’ end, October 14, 2008.

... Why support open access? Won’t the people who need these resources already be associated with colleges or universities, and so have access to them? Well, first off, no; currently access to many important resources costs more than many institutions can afford. But consider also the full range of uses for open-access materials. Educators at all levels can use it to keep up to speed with their fields, and better teach children of all ages. (”Won’t somebody think of the children?!” actually applies here.) People who are dealing with diseases they know little about, whether it’s them or their relatives who are sick, can use scientific articles to educate themselves and get a better perspective on what’s going on with their bodies. Researchers can get their work done faster and ultimately more cheaply – less need for interlibrary loan! – which again increases equality in access to the knowledge we are so quickly amassing, regardless of a scholar’s or institution’s economic status. ...

Support open access. Talk to librarians about it. Talk to your scientist friends about it. Talk to anyone who’ll listen.

Allyson Mower, Open Access Day, Information Literacy Blog, October 14, 2008.
A haiku for Open Access Day:

Let's create a rule
Information is a tool
Everyone can use!

Strategies for a successful IR

Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Connie Foster, and Glen Wiley, Institutional Repositories: Strategies for the Present and the Future, forthcoming in NASIG 2008 Conference Proceedings, The Serials Librarian (2008).

Abstract:   Institutional repositories are tools to support, disseminate and showcase the scholarly communications and intellectual life of an institution. A successful repository requires planning and a defined focus, as well as an attractive name and design. To achieve success, the IR must serve faculty on faculty’s terms; the librarian’s role is to collaborate with faculty and ensure that the services of the IR meet their needs. Foster, Bankier and Wiley offer strategies for success drawn from their work creating successful institutional repositories.

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 10

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Owen Wiltshire, Open Access Day at Concordia Library, another anthro blog, October 16, 2008.
... We also spoke about self archiving repositories, as a number of teachers I’ve interviewed have expressed a desire to make their work available outside of journals, but they did not know how to go about doing so. As part of my attempts to collaborate and make my research beneficial I’ve offered to help them do this. [Olivier] Charbonneau offered some suggestions as to how to go about making sure one has permission.

Yes, it can be as easy as dropping it into a repository, but my teachers love to stress and they want to make sure they have permission first. This seems to be the stumbling block, along with time, that has prevented the people I’ve interviewed from self-archiving.

I also learned that Concordia Library will soon have its own online repository. I’m sure researchers will make more use of an academy-branded repository. Maybe having the prestige of the institution at stake will start a competition of sorts for making work available. In the meantime I’ll be investigating the various self-archiving repositories and probably use them all. Why limit your article to one?
Sridhar Gutam, Open Access Journals in Agriculture, Open Access, October 15, 2008.
... Again from the day 0f Open Access Day 14th Oct 2008, I have started my blog on open access journals in Agriculture. We the scientists here at NRCMAP are going to launch a Open Access Journal on Medicinal, Aromatic Spice and Dye Plants Agriculture and Biology. We have not yet named the journal or the society which publishes the journal but we are going to do it in this month itself. I hope that all the Open Access Activists and Organisations will support us in this endeavour and contribute articles for the upcoming journal.
Peter Sefton, Happy Open Access day, ptsefton, October 16, 2008.

Chris Rusbridge points out that at the ARROW day on Tuesday week nobody mentioned Open Access Day.

I knew it was Open Access day when I was preparing my talk, and I meant to mention it but I forgot as did everyone else, apparently. So happy Open Access day everyone. ...

Ironically, I had an approach very shortly after I posted my talk, from the publisher of a toll-access publication, asking if I’d like to work up my talk into a paper. My first response was that yes I am interested. But maybe I should only bother with full OA publishers. ...

Eleonora Pantò, Open Acces Day, are you aware of it?, blog.puntopanto, October 14, 2008.
... On Dschola Tv, an Italian school network web tv, we published one of videos that the promoters of the Open Access Day, made for spread their words. Unfortunately it is only in english, and no subtitles at the moment are available, let’s hope they could add subtitles soon. Why open access is so important? For instance, because some students have to choose their exams, also by the costs of the books… anyway, as Gramsci said, “the truth is always revolutionary”, some students tagged scientific publication with their very expensive label cost… in these days of financial cracks, this should have a dramatical impact! ...
Simon Fodden, Open Access Day, Slaw, October 14, 2008.
... Law is one of the areas where free and open access to data is of the highest importance to the health of a society, and fortunately for us here in Canada we have CanLII, which steadily improves in coverage and utility. Now we need law faculties to decide to make their scholarship freely available to all, in the way that Harvard has done. ...

ETH Zürich adopts an OA mandate

Switzerland's ETH Zürich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) has adopted an OA mandate.  Thanks to Stevan Harnad for the alert and these details:

It is the policy of the ETH Zürich to maximise the visibility, usage and impact of their research output by maximising online access to it for all would-be users and researchers worldwide.

Therefore the ETH Zürich:

Requires of staff and postgraduate students to post electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (post-prints), theses and other scientific research output (monographs, reports, proceedings, videos etc.), to be made freely available as soon as possible into the institutional repository “ETH E-Collection”, if there are no legal objections. The ETH Zürich expects authors where possible, to retain their copyright. For detailed information see the rules of the ETH E-Collection.

The policy statement (September 29, 2008) adds that:

  • [The university] encourages their researchers to publish in a suitable Open Access Journal where one exists; the ETH Zürich will cover the publication costs, if any.
  • The ETH library is the contact for all questions regarding Open Access.

The policy FAQ adds that:

The ETH Zurich does not support hybrid journals. This model is criticised for the fact that the library / organization has to pay double, namely, on the one hand, for the journal subscriptions and licences and, on the other, for the Open Access publication fees of the authors.


  • I applaud the mandatory language, the inclusion of theses and dissertations alongside peer-reviewed postprints, the requirement for early deposit, the willingness to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals, and drawing the line at hybrid OA journals using a double-charge business model. 
  • I'd only recommend two refinements:  (1) recognize that some hybrid OA journals don't use the double-charge business model and actually reduce subscription prices in proportion to author uptake of the OA option, as Oxford has done for three years in a row; and (2) before mandating OA for monographs without qualification, consider making an exception for royalty-producing works.  The policy could welcome monographs from authors persuaded either (2a) that the benefits of OA outweigh meager royalties or (2b) that OA will stimulate a net increase in sales of the print edition.


New OA edition of glycobiology textbook

Novel publishing approach puts textbook in more hands, press release, October 16, 2008.
... Essentials of Glycobiology, the largest and most authoritative text in its field, will be freely available online beginning October 15, through collaboration between the Consortium of Glycobiology Editors, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Fittingly, the release of the book follows soon after the October 14th celebration of International Open Access Day, which will highlight prior successes in providing such open access to research journals. ...

The online version of Essentials of Glycobiology is freely available from the NLM/NCBI Bookshelf—a collection of biomedical books and other materials that have been adapted for online use. This version will be fully searchable, and there are plans to provide links to not only current, related resources in PubMed/MEDLINE, the most commonly used biomedical literature database, but also to other relevant Internet sites. The online format will also enable the editors to periodically revise and update the text, in collaboration with the Press and NCBI. ...

The first edition of Essentials of Glycobiology, published in print in 1999, was released online as part of the NCBI Bookshelf in 2003. ...
  • Add this to the growing list of widely-used textbooks that are available OA.
  • Who's backing this is also noteworthy. It's not an author who negotiated the right to self-archive a copy, or an OA startup publisher; it's a scientific press and the National Library of Medicine.
  • The first edition of the book has been OA since 2003. Apparently, the impact on sales of the print copy hasn't been overwhelmingly negative, or it seems unlikely the publisher would support OA to the new edition.

Proposed OA policy for publicly-funded research in Hong Kong

John Bacon-Shone and five co-authors, The Open Access Advantage, a preprint dated October 3, 2008 and self-archived today.  The six authors compose the Hong Kong Open Access Committee and represent four research institutions in the Hong Kong area:  Hong Kong Baptist University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the University of Hong Kong.  Excerpt:

In Hong Kong, the University Grants Commission (UGC) recently asked universities to respond to a letter on how best to assess research quality and impact (UGC, 2008)....Clearly, this will ensure that universities look carefully at how to maximize the measurable impact of their research. One possibility is to encourage open access publication. In addition, UGC is now reviewing how best to measure and increase Knowledge Transfer (KT) in Hong Kong universities. For any reasonable definition of KT, increasing public access to research done inside universities clearly increases KT and should be encouraged, which suggests another reason to encourage open access publication....

While the motivation for [existing OA mandates ] by research funders is often the principle of maximising public access to and public benefit from research findings, open access has broader advantages. There is now good research showing that it increases citations across disciplines....

The key question is how to encourage Hong Kong authors to use OA. All HK universities have now established an open access IR. For example, HKU Library is contacting HKU authors one by one to ask permission for inclusion of their articles. How can we create a system whereby Hong Kong authors will pro-actively self-archive into an IR? Funding agencies, such as those listed above, have mandated that authors deposit into an OA repository. In a policy similar to the one by the Wellcome Trust, the University of Nottingham has set up a Central Open Access Fund to support staff across the university in achieving OA.... Recently...Harvard University’s College of Arts and Sciences announced a decision to place their academic papers online in open access, unless the author opts out....

Specific proposal

As the majority of research in Hong Kong is funded by the RGC/UGC, their policies are critical. We would like to propose the following specific actions for the RGC/UGC’s consideration:

a) State clearly that all researchers funded by an RGC grant should aim to publish their results in the highest quality journals or books so as to maximize the influence and impact of the research outcome and that to achieve this when publishing research findings:

i. Researchers should look for suitable OA journals so that, where there is a choice between non OA and OA journals that are equally influential and high impact, the choice should be to publish the results in an OA journal.

ii. When a comparable OA journal does not exist, they should send the journal the Hong Kong author’s addendum (University of Hong Kong, 2008), which adds the right of placing some version (preprint or postprint) of the paper in their university’s institutional repository (IR). If necessary, seek funds from the RGC to pay open access charges up to an agreed limit....

iii. For books and book chapters that are published without a royalty agreement, send the publisher the Hong Kong author’s addendum to seek the right of placing some version in their university’s IR.

iv. Deposit all published papers in their IR, unless the journal refuses in writing. If the published version is refused, deposit the preprint or postprint, as allowed in number ii above....

b) For existing RGC grant holders, set aside some money to cover the publication of papers in OA according to (a) (ii) above, where necessary.

c) Add a notional element, to a set maximum limit, to all new successful RGC grant applications (similar to the existing conference component of the grant) to cover open access charges.

d) Write to the other major research funders in Hong Kong (e.g., Food and Health Bureau, Commission for Innovation and Technology, Croucher Foundation) to encourage similar strategies.

In the meantime, we also hope that universities in Hong Kong will play their role in encouraging researchers to place all output, not just that funded by RGC, in their local IRs, and also help pay open access charges where appropriate to maximize the output placed in the IR.

Also see the authors' announcement of their paper:

...The HKU [Hong Kong University] URC [University Research Committee] found that there is an Open Access Advantage, and that if policy is adopted in favour of open access it will achieve RGC and HKU stated goals of Knowledge Transfer.  They agreed to endorse the arrangements suggested in this paper under, “Specific Proposal”, for how RGC and the UGC funded institutions can likewise place their research results in open access.

We ask that recipients of this email make this result widely known, with the goal of requiring open access on Hong Kong tax-payer funded research, for Hong Kong citizens, and the world.  We encourage other relevant authorities and committees to likewise consider and make policy to require open access on publicly funded research....


  • This is a strong policy even if it falls short of a mandate:  it tells grantees that they should deposit "all published papers" in their institutional repository "unless the journal refuses in writing" and in that case to use an author addendum and try again.  It says "should" rather than "must", and it gives publishers an opt-out if they want it:  they may still refuse the author addendum.  But it's stronger than typical "request/encourage" policies, and even stronger than mandates weakened by loopholes creating unqualified exceptions for journals with contrary in-house policies.
  • Note in particular (1) that the policy suggests gold OA before green OA, and only calls for green OA when there isn't a suitable, high-impact OA journal in the author's field, (2) that the policy would apply to "published papers" rather than "peer-reviewed manuscripts", (3) that all Hong Kong universities now have IRs, and that the policy would direct deposits to them, (4) that it would provide funds for publication fees at fee-based OA journals, and (5) that while this language is just a proposal to the Research Grants Council / University Grants Committee, it has already been endorsed by the University Research Committee of Hong Kong University.
  • In June 2007, the Hong Kong RGC decided not to adopt an OA mandate for its grantees, but instead to encourage OA and to encourage Hong Kong universities to adopt their own OA policies.  For details, see my blog post at the time. 


Flagship ALA journal converts to OA

American Libraries lifts access restrictions, a press release from the American Library Association, October 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

American Libraries, the flagship magazine of the American Library Association (ALA), celebrated the first Open Access Day, Oct. 14, by opening up its content on the Web and making its companion weekly e-newsletter, American Libraries Direct, available to anyone for the asking.

“Opening up American Libraries’ searchable PDFs [here] is just the first step toward making all future features and columns available on the site in HTML format in 2009,” said Leonard Kniffel, editor in chief. The current issue of the print magazine will be open to all, as will back issues through 2003; they were all formerly accessible only with a member log-in. The revamped AL website will link content to the AL online forum where readers are encouraged to express their opinions about professional issues, news and controversies.

The decision to open up the magazine and the e-newsletter was made after consulting with key ALA member committees during this year’s ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. “We’ve known for a long time that this is the direction in which magazine publishing is going,” said Kniffel, “but we have to be careful to counter the perception that member organizations rely on member-only perks to retain members.” The fact is, he said, “making your content difficult or impossible to find on the Web simply means that your members, especially those who are writing for your organization, get left out of all the conversations occurring online.” ...

More detail at AL Inside Scoop:

...This still isn’t a perfect solution; as I mentioned, you do need to download the ebrary reader in order to view the archives. (And there’s a small incompatibility with Firefox 3, so if you use that browser, there’s an extra workaround you’ll have to do.) So I’m also pleased to be able to say that HTML is coming. January is our target date to start posting new issues in an HTML format.

PS:  Also see our September post on the ALA announcement that this conversion was in the works.  For some of the history on the ALA's move to OA, see Charles Bailey's detailed posts (1, 2, 3, 4).

U of New Hampshire joins the OCA, launches an IR, considers an OA mandate

Jody Record, Dimond Library Going Digital and Creating Its Own Repository, University of New Hampshire Campus Journal, October 8, 2008

...The UNH library is in the process of creating a digital collection to provide patrons ready access to unique material. The library's local digital initiative was expanded through a partnership with the Open Content Alliance and the Boston Library Consortium, of which UNH is one of the19 members.

"We send the items to the Boston Public Library, where the scanning center is set up," says Sherry Vellucci, dean of the Dimond Library. "We send physical copies and they give us digital copies for our online collections and deposit a copy in the Internet Archive, which provides national and international exposure to our digitized materials." ...

At the same time, the UNH library, along with the consortium, is looking at the issue of open access to information in the public domain....The concern is how to ensure, in this age of digitization, that works remain open to everyone and aren't restricted by Internet companies that require the use of their own proprietary search engines, or may charge for access down the road....

"It costs UNH a lot of money to access the research subsidized by UNH and the government [and published in subscription journals]," Vellucci says. "We spend close to $1 million a year on one vendor alone. One journal can be $30,000 a year...."

In February, the faculty at Harvard University adopted a policy mandating that the faculty deposit their scholarly articles in an open-access repository to be made available to the public. Dozens of universities around the country are doing the same. Vellucci is leading the campuswide initiative at UNH.

"We're in the planning stages," Vellucci says. "We're trying to get authors to be savvy enough not to relinquish their rights to publishers. That's part of the reason for an institutional repository."

The repository could be up and running by next year depending on funding. Vellucci is working with the Faculty Senate Library Committee to put together a symposium on open access to be held at UNH next spring....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interview with the HathiTrust executive director

Andrew Albanese, The LJ Academic Newswire Newsmaker Interview: John Wilkin, Library Journal, October 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

In what may be the library community’s most ambitious digital collaboration so far, some two-dozen large research libraries this week announced the launch of a single, shared repository of digital collections, including scanned books, articles, special collections, and a range of “born digital” materials. The venture, called HathiTrust (pronounced HAH-tee), “combines the expertise and resources of some of the nation’s foremost research libraries,” said John Wilkin, associate university librarian of the University of Michigan (UM) and the newly named executive director, and was launched jointly by the12-university Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the 11 university libraries of the University of California (UC) system....The University of Virginia has also announced that it will join the venture....

LJAN: HathiTrust represents something librarians have thought—or, dreamed about—since the digital age began. How did this specific initiative get rolling?

JW: ...[W]e had very specific discussions regarding this notion of a shared digital repository back in 2004, with Michigan and California beginning to articulate some specific notions. Discussions in the CIC were early, as well, and began to flesh out an approach. But as we began to absorb substantial amounts of digitized content from Google, talks become more focused and urgent. It’s worth pointing out that we have had terrific support in this venture from university leadership, as well in the libraries.

You mention Google—it seems you are both its partner and competitor at once. Can you talk about where your missions diverge and dovetail?

That’s a great question—the primary difference will be in our commitment to long-term preservation of this information and Google’s commitment to access. That said, we will provide some minimal levels of access (for public domain works, etc.), and we will work to identify specific scholarly needs that Google is less likely to serve. For example, data mining and large-scale linguistic computation is more likely to be in our bailiwick than Google’s....

HathiTrust has been funded for five years: what happens then—can this major effort be sustained?

We should make a distinction between funding and planning—the participating institutions here have always known they would have to spend money to host their digitized content and, by and large, they have identified funding to support this work for the indefinite future. So, in that sense, the initiative is permanently funded. This specific collaboration, however, is something that has never been done at this scale, and it makes a lot of sense to build in requirements for examination and evaluation of the initiative. Hence, the initial commitment is for five years. Before that deadline, we will surely make changes and we expect that participants will renew and extend their financial commitments.

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 9

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Stevan Harnad, Every day is Open Access Day, Open Access Archivangelism, October 14, 2008.
... OA maximizes research access, uptake, usage, impact, productivity, progress and benefits to humankind.

The best thing you can do for OA is to lobby for Green OA self-archiving mandates. ...

Every day is Open Access Day
Tom Roper, Open Access Day, Tom Roper's Weblog, October 14, 2008.
It's Open Access day today; one of the things that I find strange about working in further education is that the open access debate seems to have passed many of my colleagues by. ...
Brianna Laugher, ? Causes, books and other links for 2008-10-16, All The Modern Things, October 16, 2008.
... The open access movement is something I imagine most Wikimedians would support without hesitation. It is another essential piece in the puzzle of the world we are building with Wikipedia and her sisters. ...
Gavin Baker, Reflecting on Open Access Day, A Journal of Insignificant Inquiry, October 15, 2008.
... I’ve spent much of yesterday and today poring through the many blog posts marking OA Day. They were written by researchers, students, librarians, publishers, technologists, and advocates. They range from cursory to extensive; from scientific in tone to personal and emotionally moving; and they espouse the broad litany of arguments in favor of OA. In a word, the response has been simply inspirational. ...

I offer this personal pledge: as long as I’m able to continue working within the OA movement, I promise to rededicate myself to leveraging and building upon the momentum of OA Day — to spread the word wider; to deepen commitments; to motivate us anew to speak up, to act up, and to live out our principles; to ensure the urgent message of OA echoes in the halls of power and in the hearts of scholars, today’s and tomorrow’s — and, if we are very lucky, to make Open Access Day 2009 even bigger and better than the first one.
See also Klaus Graf's collection of (mostly German-language) commentary on OA Day.

Video, slides on OA to gov. docs

Open education and OA in the Nordic and Baltic countries

The latest ScieCom Info (vol. 4, no. 2, 2008) is a double issue devoted to open education and open access in the Nordic and Baltic countries.  Here are the articles:

Another TA editorial about OA

Crispian Scully, Open Access, Oral Oncology, October  10, 2008.  An editorial.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

New OA database for drug discovery data

According to an announcement yesterday, Collaborative Drug Discovery "now hosts the largest open-access chemical sub-structure and similarity searchable G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR) Ki database." 

It's not as obscure as it sounds.  More from the announcement:

The PDSP Ki database is a unique resource in the public domain which provides information on the abilities of drugs to interact with an expanding number of molecular targets....

The PDSP Ki database joins 12 other publicly available data sources in the CDD system with chemical and biological data for over 40,000 compounds....

[The OA, CDD version of the database was created] in partnership with the NIMH Psychoactive Drug Screening Program (PDSP) directed by Dr. Bryan L. Roth at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill....

PS:  Also see our past posts on Collaborative Drug Discovery.

UPEI releases a Drupal front end for Fedora repositories

The University of Prince Edward Island has released Islandora, an open-source module to create a Drupal front end to a Fedora repository.  For details, see the UPEI page on Islandora or today's announcement.

More on the Springer-BMC deal

Susanne Bjørner, Open Access Moves Into the Mainstream: BioMed Central Purchased by Springer, Information Today, October 16, 2008.

...The [Springer purchase] pertains to 190 journals published by BioMed Central (BMC), including PhysMath Central and Chemistry Central titles. The only exceptions are Journal of Medical Case Reports and Cases, which remain with Science Navigation Group....

Launched in 1999 as part of Science Navigation Group (then called Current Science Group), BioMed Central has been a pioneer in OA publishing....The company reportedly achieved profitability in 2007....Science Navigation Group has a history of supporting early stage companies and then selling them off when they become established and successful....

[T]he move was immediately and widely heralded by OA advocates as a victory. "Proponents of open access should see this as an unambiguously good thing —it puts to rest once and for all the canard that open access is a nice idea but not a viable business model," said Michael Eisen, assistant professor of genetics at University of California–Berkeley and co-founder of the Public Library of Science (PloS)....

Writing in The Guardian, Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal and chief executive of the BMJ Publishing Group, called it "a great day for science" and possibly more important than the current worldwide banking catastrophe. Smith stated that now "fewer than 10% of scientific articles are published open access, but Springer’s acquisition may bring us to the tipping point where open access publishing will be the norm." ...

Rick Johnson, founding executive director and senior advisor to SPARC, expressed mixed feelings about the sale, wondering whether Springer will "put the same energy into the enterprise as the founders, who recognized the need to be advocates for openness as well as business people. I wish them well," he wrote....

The most-voiced fear postacquisition is that BMC’s article publishing charge (APC) will go up....

BMC’s fees have doubled since it began, but the average is still below most competitors....Both Springer and BMC offered assurances that the acquisition would not trigger increases in BMC’s charges but that BMC would continue to adjust its charges over time in relation to various economic factors. Currently, the number of articles paid for by BMC member institutions is roughly the same as the number paid for by authors themselves. Full waivers of the fee account for less than 10% of the total publication....

Springer will keep BMC as "a separate, autonomous unit" and "intends to invest and grow the business," BMC CEO Matthew Cockerill told me. Springer "has committed to an open access future for BMC to the satisfaction of the Central Board of Trustees, and indeed, this was a condition of the sale," Cockerill wrote in an email. In a FAQ for librarians that answers subscription and membership concerns, Springer states unequivocally that BioMed Central’s research content will remain 100% OA.

First Monday podcasts on Openness 2.0

First Monday has released a 35 minute podcast on The State of Openness (October 13, 2008).  This is Part One of a five part series on Openness 2.0.  Also see the transcript.  In Part One,

Sandra Braman, Mary Case and Steve Jones breakdown the current state of Openness in policy, culture and academics.

According to an email announcement (not apparently online),

Episode Two, Openness in Developing Nations, will be released in December 2008. Episode Three, Open Science, is set for February 2009. Episode Four, Open Source, is slated for April 2009. The series culminates in May 2009 with Episode Five, Openness 2.0 Redux -- recorded in Chicago with a live audience featuring Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information.

Notes on ARROW Repository Day

Chris Rusbridge has blogged some notes (1, 2, 3) on ARROW Repository Day (Brisbane, October 14, 2008).  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

An appeal to Canadian medical schools and their faculty

Claire Kendall and Sally Murray, Leaders or followers? It’s time for health faculty to open up, Open Medicine, 2, 4 (2008).  (Thanks to Michael Geist.)  Excerpt:

Canada is home to many of the world’s leading advocates of open access, and much of their work has been initiated from within the library community. In contrast, Canadian leaders in health care research, education, and clinical care have been disappointingly complacent in the movement to broaden the reach of their knowledge....

When the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) introduced a policy in 2007 requiring that CIHR-funded research output be made freely available...there was little celebration among those whom the policies affect....

We believe it is time for our academic health care institutions to step up their commitment to the open access movement....

[W]e call on health science faculties to work toward the following objectives:

1. Establish support funds for faculty and student publication in open access journals. Open access journals maintain the same standards of peer review and editing as their non–open-access counterparts but do not generate income by selling their work through individual or institutional subscriptions or pay-per-view options. As such, many open access journals are looking for new models of financial sustainability, including publication charges to cover review, editorial, and production costs....Although many national-level funders are allowing researchers to include publication charges in their grant applications, institutional support is necessary....

In June 2008, the University of Calgary became the first (and, at this time, only) Canadian institution to establish a substantial fund to cover publication charges for authors to make their work publicly available.

2. Adopt an open access mandate for publications generated from within their universities and provide the necessary tools to enable authors to comply. Faculty members at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Science, Harvard Law School, and the Stanford University School of Education have unanimously embraced strong open access [mandates]....

Athabasca University is the only Canadian University to adopt an open access policy, encouraging (albeit not mandating) its faculty to post copies of their scholarly work in their institutional online repository....

3. Champion open access for learners. Tuition costs continue to soar along with the costs of teaching material such as textbooks, CDs, and course notes....

As we celebrate Open Access Day, we think it is time that those who publish research with applications for human health consider that they have not only the opportunity to decline restrictive copyright provisions that have previously prevented the full dissemination of their work, but also the obligation to do so....

It isn’t time to follow the leader: it’s time to be the leader, and for our academics and institutions to bring Canadian health care publishing into the open.

Harold Varmus at the Frankfurt Book Fair

David Worlock, Dr Varmus, I presume?  Outsell, Thinking Out Loud, October 15, 2008.  (Thanks to Jim Till.)  Excerpt:

...Five years ago, when Harold Varmus gave evidence to a UK Parliamentary enquiry on science publishing, I acted as advisor to the enquiry and tried to frame questions that would draw out the views of the Nobel Laureate and former NIH director on the future of Open Access publishing in the sciences. His total conviction then of the demise of the subscription model in academic journal publishing was striking, so what would he say now, five years on, and after five years of experience of the first journals of the Public Library of Science, which he co-founded and directs, as a primary vehicle in the pursuit of OA?

October 14 was the foundation date for PLoS Biology, as well as the designated Open Access Day, so the 300 STM publishers gathered at the STM Association’s annual meeting on that day at the Frankfurt Book Fair to hear this interview needed no reminder of the significance of Dr Varmus’ work. They may have been surprised, however, when he spoke as a publisher himself and shared some of his five years of experience. Clearly the costs of peer review were greater than PLoS may have anticipated. Despite the donated efforts of some reviewers, organizing editorial boards and review processes was not administratively or financially trivial....

The [PLoS] peer reviewed journals now had high reputations, and rejected some 90% of submissions, but had needed to raise fees beyond his forecast of five years ago to cover costs. While the regular journals were still making losses, and these losses were still being covered by philanthropic foundation support, he was confident that the ongoing growth of PLoS One would see the whole of PLoS cover its costs from its own trading operations next year. And in the five years beyond that, he saw the gradual disappearance of the subscription model, the extension of explicit funding for publication in research grants, and the completion of his original dream of the reversal of scientific publishing business models. Asked about the sale of BioMedCentral to Springer, he welcomed the success of BMC in creating real margins from Open Access publishing at a level that publishers wanted to acquire, and saw this turn of events as supporting his underlying convictions....

[H]e is adamant that the exposure of historical literature in the same context as current research is potentially neglected but has real importance....

[He] was particularly strong on the need...for...other scientists to examine the data from which conclusions had been drawn, and subject it to their own analytical techniques. Above all, as he talked, his audience came to recognize that he was not a scientist with a wrecking ball come to demolish the publishing structure, but someone who was completely in tune with their aspirations, and commercial need, to support and improve the cycle of scholarly communication....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Learning from the mistakes of the music business

Hugh McGuire, What Publishing Can Learn From Music, Huffington Post, October 15, 2008.  This is about book publishers.  How far does it carry over to journal publishers?  Excerpt:

The book publishing business has a great advantage over other big media industries. For various reasons, publishing is late to the digital party. So it can look to all the many mistakes the music business made in the past decade, and decide how to move into the uncertain future. Here is some unsolicited advice to ponder while ignoring the Dow.

Five Lessons Publishing Should Learn from Music

1. An iPod for Books Will Change Everything....

2. Think Beyond DRM....

3. If You Help Us, We Will Buy

The music business and Hollywood made a big mistake by fighting online distribution....

So, to publishers: Make your stuff available online. Make it easy to find. Make it easy to buy. And don't insult us: if a physical book -- with the cost of production, distribution and retail overhead -- is worth $20, a digital book is not. Cut the price accordingly. Take your margin, but don't abuse your customers with outrageous prices for e-books (otherwise, we will find other ways to get our books).

4. Don't Be Afraid of Free

Do you remember how in the olden days, the publishing business lead a massive effort to shut down public libraries, because free was the enemy of the publishing business? How they fought to stop people giving a gift of their favorite books to a friend? Me neither. Libraries help readers, they help publishers, they help books in general....

5. Find Out What Your Customers Want

Then build your business around that....Don't try to shoehorn us into an old business model that doesn't make sense with new technology. Your job is not to force customers to behave the way you want them to. Your job is to find out what your customers want, and then deliver it to them. Times are changing. Find out what we want, what we need, and then help us get it....

OA journals gateway for BC libraries

Heather Morrison, Open Access and Free Journals in OutLook OnLine: Happy International Open Access Day! Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 14, 2008.  Excerpt:

Today, in celebration of the First International Open Access Day,BC Electronic Library Network (ELN), with BC [British Columbia] Public Library Services Branch (PLSB), have officially launched the Open Access and Free Journals in OutLook OnLine. There are over 5,000 titles in all; the majority are scholarly, peer-reviewed journals from the Directory of Open Access Journals, supplemented by other open access and free collections considered of quality and collectible by BC Librarians....

OutLook OnLine is a gateway to the collections of British Columbia's public and post-secondary libraries, 92 libraries in all....

The Open Access and Free Journals collection emerges from the work of the local CUFTS Free! Open Access Collections group, which itself emerged from the enthusiasm of BC librarians for collecting open access materials....This initiative represents a moment when open access has clearly become mainstream....

Public domain v. open licenses

Tom Worthington, EU Project Missing the Point on Open Access to Publications, Net Traveller, October 12, 2008.  Excerpt:

The European Commission has a project looking at the use of public domain content. Those involved in higher education in the EU can take part in a Survey on the Use of public domain works in higher education....However, a flaw in the design of the study by Rightscom may result in it harming open access projects in Europe. The problem seems to be that the EU project assumes that free material is mostly about dusty old books where the copyright has expired. There is a danger this will be a self fulfilling prophecy: the surveys will find little new material because the survey specifically exclude such material and the conclusion will be that open access material is of little value.

One problem I can see with the survey is the definition used: "By public domain we mean material that is not or is no longer protected by intellectual property rights and includes resources which can be freely accessed and used and re-used by all." (from the survey preface). This definition would exclude all creative commons materials and most other open source licences. It would exclude the GNU Free Documentation Licence, of the Wikipedia, and the Wikiversity. It would exclude the training materials I provide free online from my ANU courses, the materials provided now by MIT Open Courseware and Standford University. Also the new research papers from the Australian Computer Society Digital Library and the International Federation for Information Processing Digital Library. All of these provide some form of free use, but are still protected by intellectual property rights....

[B]eing able to access the latest research and educational material through open access licences is likely to be of more value for most areas of research and education. The EU should revise the project definition to place the priority on new work [under open licenses]....

PS:  Also see our past posts on the EU project.

Notes on Free Culture 2008

Here are a couple of sets of blog notes on the Free Culture 2008 conference (Berkeley, October 11-12, 2008):

Update (10/16/08).  Here's another from Kevin Donovan at Blurring Borders.

500 items in UCD IR

UCD Institutional Repository reaches a milestone, OA@UCD, October 14, 2008.

research_online@UCD, the IR at University College Dublin, deposited its 500th item on Open Access Day.

Student op-ed on OA and serials cancellations

William K. Norton, Open Access the solution to scholarly journal costs, subscription cuts, op-ed, The Daily Nebraskan, October 14, 2008.
Scholarly publishing is in a dysfunctional state. Journal costs have risen 40 percent in the last five years. The prices have become so onerous that libraries cannot afford to maintain all the subscriptions that professors and students need. Even while cutting journals, libraries must generate more income from student fees to maintain expensive subscriptions.

[The University of Nebraska-Lincoln] Libraries spend about $5.5 million a year on serials (journals) compared to about $500,000 on monographs (books). Last year the library was forced to cut almost 3,400 serials, in order to save one million dollars. ...

This University needs to adopt a policy to require, at the very least, that faculty deposit their publications ... in an institutional repository where anyone can have access. ... The necessary pieces are already in place; without any official stance on archiving university research, UNL has established the fourth largest university repository in the nation (DigitalCommons@UNL). It is time to take the next step and embrace open access as an institution. ...

Call for partners and editors for OA journal on e-democracy

Open Access eJournal - call for participation!, Pan European e-Participation Network, October 15, 2008.
At the Centre for E-Government, Danube University Krems (we hosted the EDem08, remember us?) we have a couple of ideas we would let to get started on- the first one is to establish an online open access journal alongside the yearly EDem conference. It will address theoretical and applied topics from e-democracy to e-government. ...

The e-journal is asking for your participation as a joint international partner organization or your personal board membership including peer reviewing responsibilities. ...

Update on OA to UK PSI

Michael Cross, Free data faces a tough challenge in the new parliamentary season, The Guardian, October 9, 2008. See also the summary from the Free Our Data blog:

The dust has settled from the ministerial reshuffle of last week, and we’re happy to see that the ministers whose views about access to government data chime with ours - particularly Tom Watson in the Cabinet Office and Michael Wills at the Ministry of Justice - remain in place. ...

In today’s Guardian we note the fact that that hasn’t been shuffled around, and the new challenge that ministers pushing the free data idea face: how do you persuade a government that has just melted down the golden rule in order to quasi-nationalise high street banks at a cost of around £500bn, with what looks like a shrinking economy on the way, that it should forgo hundreds of millions of pounds in tax funding to pay to make data free? ...

More on the OA citation advantage

Charlie Mayor, Gloves off in BMJ debate over open access citation advantage, Information practices in the biomedical sciences, October 13, 2008.
... Regardless of whether the Davis study shows anything at all, one clear result they discuss is that open access articles, by most measures, are certainly read more than their subscription-only counterparts. With newer metrics in the pipeline to measure article popularity and impact, such as article online hits or PDF downloads, citation counts may eventually become subordinate to access and readings counts. ...

2 MIT OCW courses reach 1m visits

MIT's 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics and 18.06 Linear Algebra Reach Million Visit Milestone, press release, October 9, 2008. (Thanks to Creative Commons.)

Two free courses published on MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) site have each received more than one million total visits since publication. The OCW site was launched by MIT in 2002, and the two courses, 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics and 18.06 Linear Algebra, were among the first courses made available.

Both courses have averaged roughly 600 visits per day from learners and educators around the world, making them the most visited courses on the OCW site. Professor Walter Lewin, who teaches 8.01, and Professor Gilbert Strang, who teaches 18.06, have both become web celebrities because of the video lectures and other course materials they have shared through OCW. ...

Winners of OA blogging contest

The winners to Open Access Day's syncho-blogging contest (which we covered previously) have been announced:

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 8

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Greg Laden, A poem for Open Access Day, Greg Laden's Blog, October 14, 2008.
... "they can keep their closed access

and journals galore

but we've a new process

that we'll use ever more. " ...
Why Does Open Access Matter To You?, moneduloides, October 14, 2008.
... Open Access matters to me,

because inviting walls into wide open spaces,

gives information claustrophobia.

And the information I seek,

needs room to breathe. ...
Today is Worldwide Open Access Day, District Dispatch, October 14, 2008.
... Information sharing initiatives such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy have begun to bear fruit, and it remains essential that libraries, in their role in providing access to information and research, participate in these policy conversations. In September 2008 we reported on SPARC Director Heather Joseph’s Congressional testimony on the importance of the Open Access policy. The legislative attack on the Public Access Policy has subsided, and the NIH Policy lives on, ensuring public access to the published results of NIH-funded research in PubMed Central. The American Library Association, SPARC and several other national and regional library, publishing, and advocacy organizations have been long-standing supporters of the NIH Open Access Policy. ...
See also:

Blog notes on OA to gov. docs

Aaron Shaw, Liveblogging Steve Schultze: Access to Government Documents, Aaron Shaw’s weblog, October 14, 2008.

Keeping with the Open Access theme of the day, Steve Schultze is talking about Open Access to Govt docs and the law today at the Berkman Center luncheon series.

At the moment, Steve’s giving us a guided tour of the ironically named PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system that federal and appelate courts use to archive their documents. The site has a search engine that charges you per query (!) and per page.

It’s an absurdity given the fact that these documents are not copyrightable and that the intention of the folks who set this up was to provide legitimate public and open access to court documents. ...

As Steve points out, the courts face a serious challenge of cost recovery (all of this digitization and database archiving costs money), but in trying to resolve that issue with PACER, the judiciary has introduced obtuse barriers to entry and facilitated the rise of de-facto donwstream monopolies (folks re-archive and sell access to PACER documents on the web). ...

Update. See also the blog notes by Persephone Miel.

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 7

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Vernon Totanes, Open Access Day 2008, Filipino Librarian, October 14, 2008.
... It's really encouraging to note that the open access movement has taken off in the Philippines, so that from merely blogging about Filipino journals available-for-free-online-but-not-necessarily-open-access in 2005, I am now able to blog about honest-to-goodness Filipino "Open Access Journals," especially "Philippine Studies," whose archives of full-text, peer-reviewed articles now go back to 1970. ...
Zhiming Wang, Open Access, from form to content, Open Access, Freedom Space, October 14, 2008.

Yes, open access (OA) is about the FORM of scientific delivery, referring to free online availability of digital scientific contents (mainly research journals) for EVERYONE. Do we really mean EVERYONE here? Including the general public? ... Is OA really serious about delivering scientific contents to the widest possible audiences? We’ve heard it, that is EVERYONE!

Communicating science to the public is a new task for scientific journals. It does require an extension of the OA movement from form to content. Hi, we have new audiences here! OA journals shouldn’t simply throw the same scientific content to the new audience; an effort is needed to present the content in a different way. ...

If we are serious about delivering science to the public through OA, we must start somewhere. Therefore, as the Editor-in-Chief of a Springer OA journal, Nanoscale Research Letters, I’m hereby calling for submissions that address public interests in the abstract, introduction or conclusion, especially for a review-type submission. ... To encourage more NRL submissions that addresses the public interests, any submission that specifies “Open Access Day" in the message to NRL editors and meets the standard, the publication fee of $950 per article will be voluntary for submissions received in 2008. ...

Martin Fenner, Open Access - what's in it for me?, Gobbledygook, October 14, 2008.
... The purchase of Biomed Central – the largest Open Access publisher – by Springer announced last week, and the announcement of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (*OASPA*) today are strong signs that Open Access has grown up and is no longer new and experimental. ...
Julie Arendt, Open Access Day, Science Librarian Notes, October 14, 2008.
... While I was in library school, I first heard about Open Access when the library I was working at was going through a journal cancellation project. The university had a large, well-funded library system, so they still were far from canceling important journals, but those journal cuts were came after the system had consolidated departmental libraries and changed its staffing patterns to save money. When I finished library school and came to [Southern Illinois University Carbondale], where the money is tighter, it was not surprise that Morris Library was further along in its consolidation and cancellations and a lot closer to cutting important journals -- if it hadn't done so already. Journal prices have been increasing at a rate much faster than inflation for a couple decades, and library budgets haven't been able to keep up.

If this trend continues, what will happen? ...
Danica Radovanovic, The first international Open Access day, Digital Serendipities, October 14, 2008.

... I have been writing, talking, preaching about open access of e-resources, software, movement, issues  (oh, so many times) on conferences and in practice being as one of the editors of E-LIS/E-prints open access archives, and still believe that OA can make a difference in the publishing world, academia and the freedom of information.

How are you contributing to Open Access, today and every other day during the year?  What do you do to support Open Access?

James Grimmelman on OA law

Nancy Scola, Worldchanging Interview: James Grimmelmann on Open Access Law, WorldChanging, October 13, 2008.  Excerpt:

James Grimmelmann is something of a rare hybrid. As a former Microsoft programmer, he's an accomplished technologist. And as a graduate of Yale Law School and an associate professor at New York Law School, he's an accomplished legal scholar. When he looks at the world of U.S. law though his technology lens, he sees enormous potential for the Internet to break down the walls keeping legal code out of the reach of the general public.

When the state of Oregon filed suit against an online publisher, claiming copyright over the state's laws, Grimmelmann was provoked into action. He issued a white paper called "Copyright, Technology, and Access to the Law: An Opinionated Primer" [PS: blogged here June 19, 2008] ....

In an e-mail interview, James explained why the Open Access Law Project is an idea whose time has come.

What problems in the American legal system does an "open access" approach aim to fix?

Our legal system and our laws are amazingly complex.The last thing we need is to make it even harder by keeping our laws trapped in expensive books with bad indexes....

How has the Internet changed things?

Pre-Internet, publishing and distributing law books was expensive. The executive branch alone puts out over 70,000 pages of law a year. An annual subscription to the Federal Register will run you almost $1,000 -- and they're just covering the raw printing costs. Ordinary citizens can't afford that, which means going to a library if you want to look up a single point of law somewhere in there. With the Internet, the Government Printing Office puts the whole thing online, updated daily, and you can consult it for free in seconds.

Plus, all sorts of great applications and tools are really only feasible online. What if you could click on a legal clause and it would change into a diagram showing you how the words fit together? Jump straight from any law to the most recent court decision on it? Compare the same issue across all 50 states automatically?

That's what happens when you turn loose the raw materials of law and let people combine, remix, and analyze them.

Where does your work fit into the greater (and growing) movement to make institutions from government to academia more transparent?

It's all part of the same set of efforts. Ultimately, the open access drive is the same: take advantage of the Internet to really achieve that potential while answering people's concerns. Open access is a way of looking at the world that just fills you with a sense of infinitely-renewable optimism. And generosity. And wonder.

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 6

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Brian Switek, Happy Open Access Day!, Laelaps, October 14, 2008.
... I cannot speak for anyone else, but as a student, I think open access publishing is extremely important. If I were not currently attending college I probably wouldn't have access to the smattering of journals I can keep up with now. When I do leave college, how am I going to obtain important new papers if all of them require me to shell out exorbitant sums? I won't be able to do it. Indeed, it is strange that for all our talk of wanting the public to better understand science we keep it locked away from them. Not everyone is going to look at and digest scientific papers, but how many interested people are we preventing from cultivating an interest in science by requiring a substantial "entrance fee"?

While I think open access has the potential to enhance communication and discussion between professional scientists, I think it is of even more important to students and people who want to learn more about science independently. I could not have learned all I know now if I didn't have access to scientific papers, and reading them is a major part of my continuing self-education. I don't think I'm alone in this regard, and opening access to students could help foster not only greater interest in science, but help students start writing their own papers. I see no harm in providing anyone who is curious the ability to see for themselves, and I hope that more publications take this point of view.
Heather Morrison, Why Open Access Matters to Me (Open Access Day Synchroblogging), The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 13, 2008.
... The look on the face of a poor student when told that the article they want will cost $48. The student went away without the article. This was not a good day for learning, or for scholarship. Not every library can afford to bridge the access gaps with interlibrary loans, even in a wealthy country like Canada. Pay per view is like a tax on reading.

From an economics perspective, open access is the only model for scholarly electronic resources that makes sense. It costs money to keep people out; money spent preventing learning is worse than wasted. ...
The Landers Family, Open Access Day, NY Adventure Blog, October 14, 2008.
... Open Access publishing also appeals to my sense of justice. Much of the scientific "discovery" occurs as we build on what others have done and is a fruit of the economic investment that we have made in our educational system, prior research, and the infrastructure of research institutions. I always thought there was something odd about the idea of "owning" books, just as there is something strange about the concept of individual ownership of ideas.

As I was writing up the findings from my dissertation, one of my committee members suggested that I look at an Open Access journal for publication. When he said this, I realized that the idea of Open Access publishing has the potential to transform the way we write and report findings from our research. It can give is freedom to educate and debate with a wider circle of scholars. ...
Barbara Kirsop, Open Access Day - remembering an historical event 60 years ago, Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, October 14, 2008.
As everyone is celebrating the first Open Access Day, October 14th 2008, Britain has recently been celebrating the 60th birthday of the establishment of its National Health Service. On July 5th 1948, just 3 years after the end of WWll, when food and clothes rationing were still in place, the fiery Welsh MP for Ebbw Vale, Aneurin Bevan – ex miner, Labour to his boots - fought fierce opposition from the medical establishment to achieve what to many was an unimaginable dream of a free health service for all at the point of delivery. Free and open access to local doctors, hospitals, medicines, maternity care, dental treatment ...

As we watched recent TV programmes on the battle for the NHS, it has been tempting to draw parallels with the drive towards OA. The publishers fear the advent of free global access to publicly funded research findings. They too fear their livelihoods will be damaged. As in 1948, there are misunderstandings, misinformation, technical uncertainties. But both the NHS and OA came into being to meet the needs of disadvantaged communities. When the NHS opened its doors, there was astonishment at the long queues of citizens waiting for free treatment. Similarly, as research articles have become available free to all, usage has rocketed and full text download statistics have amazed OA repository managers and OA publishers, demonstrating without doubt the information deprivation faced by much of the global scientific community. ...

Sixty years hence, on OA Day 2068, the international research community will look back on the old days and wonder how research was ever conducted without the access now becoming available - and if the history of the NHS is a model, there will be no turning back the clock. ...
Open Access Day, Just Browsing, October 14, 2008.
... Although I’m a very small voice in the wilderness, I am attempting to support Open Access by information the students I work with of the availability of information that they likely wouldn’t be able to get to without this movement. As I continue to build relationships with faculty and researchers, I can continue to spread the message and encourage that they consider making their research available through Open Access methods. For those who are also small voices, if enough of us make a noise, we will become a big sound. I will continue to learn more and follow the developments.

Happy Open Access Day!

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 5

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

What Open Access Means to Me, Plausible Accuracy, October 14, 2008.

It is both remarkable and shameful that science, a field concerned with the cutting edge of technology and knowledge, remains largely confined to an archaic framework of information sharing and retrieval.  The foundations behind this framework were built in the days when the only ways to exchange ideas was via intermittent personal contact or by the regular distribution of printed journals.  Over time, the journal publishers have failed to keep pace with both the changing ways in which to produce their product as well as the means by which their customers obtain it.  ... In spite of this movement from paper-bound copies to electronic (presumably a less costly medium), journal subscription fees have continued to rise.  This leads to a reduction in access to the information.

Putting the fruits of scientific investigations behind access barriers of any kind is fundamentally the wrong choice.  There are many reasons for this, both monetary and moral.  In many cases the work is funded by the taxpayer, who must then pay a second time in order to view the data.  Although this is often the main argument used to press for Open Access, it is not the most important in my opinion.  I believe that access to the information should be free regardless of funding source, as a service to the greater good of humanity.  Scientific knowledge cannot be fully utilized unless anyone who desires it has access. ...

Kate, Open Access Day, a k8, a cat, a mission., October 14, 2008.
... Open access would make [scientific] information available to everyone. But it would also open up a whole new population of people who can criticize peer-reviewed research, who can have conversations about it, who can become experts in their own right. Given access to information, every person can be a scholar. Every person can generate hypotheses and test them with the literature; every person can comment on research and its validity. We all have good human minds, and I do not believe that some minds are better than others. It makes sense to make all this information accessible so that we can all learn together.

Dr. Crazy over at Reassigned Time once wrote beautifully about the experiences that led to her becoming a scholar. It made me think about the tug many students feel between choosing a major that will help your vocation, and choosing a major that reflects something you love. Imagine what it would be like not only if students could freely choose either, but could continue scholarly reading, thinking and writing on whatever topics they chose before, beyond, or without college.

I can't tell you the number of times I have had conversations with family members several decades older than me who look at my job -- a job that is a real job, and it is hard, and it is time-consuming and stressful, yes, but a job where I get to think for myself for a good chunk of every day, where I learn new things all the time, where my mind is considered good -- and say, wistfully, "you know, I'm a very curious person." What I suspect they mean is that they are as enthralled with learning as I am, that they are very smart and don't get to use that intelligence as a laborer or lunch lady or stay at home parent that much. But why, because their vocation doesn't have room for it, should their lives be shut from these things as well? My aunts and uncles and cousins are smart, curious humans, and they have as much to contribute to our thinking about the literature as I do. ...
Fiona Bradley, Happy Open Access Day!, Semantic Library, October 14, 2008.

... Libraries have long provided infrastructure for research - subscribing to journals and databases, buying books, and providing computers and buildings for people to work in. The capacity for libraries to do this varies enormously around the world. Libraries in many developing countries can’t afford to provide the same level of access as in other countries. Researchers in developing nations (or even Australia) are affected by the tendency of major journals to be published in the US and Europe. If they want to publish their research, they usually need to have to do so in these journals. The cost of buying journals in which these researchers publish can be prohibitive, effectively restricting access to their own research.

Beyond issues of cost, research should be available to everyone, regardless of affiliation or reason, because making research Open Access enables us all to build upon each other’s work, and to learn new insights. ...

Michael E. Smith, Open Access Day, Publishing Archaeology, October 14, 2008.
... Research that is done by scholars without monetary compensation should be freely available to the research community. This is based on the notions that there are communities of scholars and that research works best when information is freely shared within the relevant communities. The fact that commercial publishers get rich on our research by restricting access to it really steams me. ...
Mike Caulfield, Happy Open Access Day!, OpenCourseWare blog, October 14, 2008.
... You need only to flip through the reading lists of OCW courses to see why OA is a crucial part of the OER ecosystem. When producing courseware, courseware creators have to include in their reading lists many articles that are not freely available. While it may be trivial for a student enrolled at an institution to get these materials via the library, or some firewalled electronic repository, for many users of OpenCourseWare, the lack of access is a show-stopper.

With Open Access, OCW can reach its democratic potential. Just as OCW opens up possibilities for those students without access to the classroom, OA opens up possibilities for those without access to the library. It’s really that simple. ...

Finding collaboration networks within IRs

Les Carr, Repository Benefits - Expertise Finding, Repository Man, October 15, 2008.  Excerpt:

The UK's continuing focus on research assessment has led some repository managers to offer the repository as the key means of gathering evidence of research outputs for their institutions. The experience of those repository managers has been distilled into a set of recommendations for repository management.

A notable consequence of our obsession with research assessment is an enhanced role for research management within the institution. Suddenly all the senior managers want to know how best to capitalize on our existing strengths to make the most of future funding and publishing opportunities. And that means knowing what our strengths are. And that means knowing what our researchers do. And how they work together to do it best. And that's where the repository comes in - capturing our institution's intellectual outputs and providing services over them.

So my boss has asked for our repository to provide an Expertise Finder - for him to be able to find out what groups of people are working together in any particular area.

As it turns out that was quite easy to do as the repository already creates "communities of practice" focused around each person -the screendump [PS: omitted here] is taken from my school publication page. The cloud of names shows all of my co-authors, and the size of each name is related to the number of times they have written a paper with me.

All we had to do was put that functionality into an export plugin so that the authors from any set of papers can be visualised in the same way. That way you can find out who is involved in a specific topic like "Web Science" by doing a search for "Web science" and exporting the results as an "author cloud". You can try it out on our repository....

How IRs embody social goals

Oya Y. Rieger, Opening Up Institutional Repositories: Social Construction of Innovation in Scholarly Communication, Journal of Electronic Publishing, Fall 2008. 

Abstract:   This paper focuses on institutional repositories as a case study to examine the design of a new scholarly communication technology from a social constructivist perspective. Institutional repositories are online databases of scholarly materials such as articles, reports, datasets to enable and foster sharing, discovery, and archiving of scholarly resources produced at a given institution. As a scholarly communication mode, institutional repositories represent a particularly interesting case to examine as they incorporate both normative and ideological agendas and illustrate how technical products embody social goals and power relationships. Although the analysis is based on institutional repositories, the theoretical approach is relevant to various information and communication technology development efforts aiming to introduce new tools in support of scholarly communication. The paper’s discussion draws from the social construction of technology theory, actor-network theory, and the socio-technical interactions networks model. Such a social constructivist framework provides an effective method for uncovering multiple perspectives that frame the design and appropriation of institutional repositories.

Mellon helps nine society publishers study their OA options

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) and eight other society publishers in  the social sciences and humanities have received Mellon grants to explore OA options for their journals.  From the AAA announcement (October 13, 2008):

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is pleased to announce today that it has been awarded a $50,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to conduct preliminary research on the economic issues faced by scholarly society publishers in the humanities and social sciences as consequence of the demand for open access to their peer reviewed journals.

The grant, will provide support for an examination of the publishing programs of nine social science and humanities societies and the development of an information base from which publishing model options might be derived to assure societies of the ability to sustain their publishing programs in an open access environment.

Work on the effort will begin immediately, with a final report expected to be released in the first quarter of 2009.

“This study is another step in AAA’s effort to better understand the conditions under which the future of our journal publishing program must operate, to learn from the experiences of other social science and humanities journal publishers and to carefully examine the issues, opportunities and problems presented by open access,” AAA Executive Director Bill Davis said in a statement released today.

AAA Director of Publishing Oona Schmid commented today, “Current open access models were developed within the Scientific, Technical, and Medical publishing communities. However, scholarly publishing in the social sciences and in the humanities differs in substantial ways. This study is our first step in understanding these differences, in order to locate a model that supports our discipline fully.”

AAA is joined in this effort by the Modern Language Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Historical Association, the American Economic Association, the National Communication Association, the American Statistical Association, the Political Science Association and the American Academy of Religion, under the auspices of the National Humanities Alliance Task Force on Open Access and Scholarly Communication.


  • The grants are a very good idea, and I applaud Mellon for making them.
  • For example, the AAA's most recent step in thinking about OA options for its journals was to adopt a 35 year embargo.  See our many past posts on the AAA and OA.
  • I believe that the National Humanities Alliance Task Force on Open Access and Scholarly Communication was launched in 2006, although it still doesn't have a web site and isn't mentioned on the NHA site.  At the time of launch, its director was William Davis, who is also the Executive Director of the AAA.  Does anyone know more about it? 
  • If I may, I suggest that the grantees take a look at the research Caroline Sutton and I have been doing on society publishers with OA journals.  In late 2007 we found 425 societies publishing 450 full OA journals, and 21 societies publishing 73 hybrid OA journals.  (We've found more since publishing those preliminary results, and will soon update our online list.)  It's true that most of the journals (356) were in the STM fields, but we found 51 in the social sciences, 32 in the humanities, and five in the arts.


Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 4

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Graham Steel, Why I am an OA Advocate, McBlawg, October 13, 2008.
I became involved in patient advocacy in September 2001 just under two years after I lost my brother to a fatal, rare neurodegenerative disease. During the early years of this work, I commenced the process of studying peer reviewed scientific, technical and medical (STM) research.

This namely involved paper copies of Toll Access (TA) articles passed to the support group I was involved with by highly regarded UK researchers in the field. Whilst 'we' were able to share such STM research (with family members of the organisation) by post using "fair use", I knew that Copyright restricted me from sharing any such material with a wider audience - the organisations website.

Despite this restriction, simply by placing as much information online in an open manner wherever possible, in the space of year, traffic had increased by over 4000%. As such, even before I knew what Open Access was, it was abundantly clear that being open was the main key to outreaching. ...
Dave Love, Open Access Day, dave love’s blog, October 15, 2008.
... I am just learning about OA, and its various colors (green, gold, grey, white), but the more I learn the more excited I get. For next manuscript with my name on it, I’ll push for a PLoS journal– probably PLoS ONE. ... Besides the OA and Creative Commons copyright, which are important in their own regard, I also like that there is no print version, which allows for more focus on web-based tools like a comments and questions feature that allows readers and authors to discuss the manuscript online (as a short-circuit to writing damn-awful published responses that seem to just start feuds). I feel like many of my colleagues in Environmental Microbiology don’t know about OA gold journals or PLoS, so I’ll try to (re)educate them as to their amazing benefits over paid access journals. ...
Shirley Wu, Happy Open Access Day!, I was lost but now I live here, October 14, 2008.

... The fact is that collaboration between scientists, the importance of communication between scientists and the lay public, and the responsibility of advancing basic research towards application are all growing. Open Access enhances each of these by making information available more quickly and in full. And as Open Access gains acceptance, it will open doors to other potential improvements, such as increased publication of negative results, increased access to research “as it happens” (see Open Notebook Science), and the implementation of standards for “the fully supported paper”, as described at Science in the Open ...

Essentially - and here is where the biggest significance is for me - Open Access is one important leg of a platform supporting “open science” (the others being Open Data and Open Source; perhaps Open Notebooks/Research), and I believe it should act as a natural integration point for all legs as well. The fact that this isn’t how things were done in the Past is rarely a valid reason not to change, especially if the circumstances are wildly different. Science and research needs to adapt to the changing needs and capabilities of people and technology. Right now, Open Access is the easiest and most logical place to start, and as we address the other aspects we will come back to it full circle. ...

a day for everything, dilettante, October 14, 2008.
... I am fortunate that as an enrolled student that I have access to much scientific literature through the university subscriptions, and many are available online either on campus or through a proxy server from my place of study.

However, Open Access journals are preferred and often found first as I am able to search open archives and repositories without needing to go through various proxies and gateways. The huge benefit is that I am able to share my research with others and link to appropriate articles online. ...
Duncan Hull, Open Access Day: Why It Matters, O’Really? at, October 14, 2008.

... A project I’m working on with lots of other people, (funded by public money from a body called the BBSRC) is building electronic models of metabolism in yeast. This humble organism has helped people to understand fundamental concepts of the way life works, deep down at the biochemical level, and will very probably lead to many new discoveries in the future. A digital model, which describes the thousands of genes and many more reactions in yeast has been recently been published [1] in a high-profile (but unfortunately closed-access) journal called Nature Biotechnology. To make the most of this model, it needs to be fully annotated by deriving detailed descriptions of the primary evidence for each reaction in the model so that humans (and also machines) can better understand the model - both now and in the future. Most of this evidence exists in journals, around 6,000 individual articles in total - but unfortunately only ~1% of this data is publicly available by Open Access (see Table 1 below) - in a public Open Access archive called PubMedCentral. The other ~99% of the data is exclusively available via closed-access subscription-based publishers websites, and this severely restricts the kind of use and data mining that can be done in order to improve and understand the model. I happen to work for a University that pays shed loads of money to scientific publishers for access, but others are not so lucky. Although all the data is available to me, I am unable to use, re-use and share it freely to make derivative scientific works from it.

The fact that people, and perhaps more importantly, machines, have such limited access to this data means that instead of making better models using all of the data, we (and many other scientists like us) are forced to use a tiny subset of the data. The models we build are not as good as they could be, and the tools we make are severely handicapped by lack of full access to the raw data. So Open Access matters to me, because I care about building the best models possible using all of the data available in an unrestricted manner. In short, as a Scientist, I need Open Access so that I can do my job properly. ...

NISCAIR providing OA to its journals through its IR

India's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) has launched an institutional repository.  So far, it contains the full-text articles from two of NISCAIR's 17 journals.  In time it will cover all 17.

Wellcome Trust increases funding for gold OA

Trust’s £1 million commitment to open access, an announcement from the Wellcome Trust, October 14, 2008.  Excerpt:

For 2008-2009, the Trust has committed over £1 million to meet open access fees. Today, on Open Access Day, researchers are reminded that they are required to make any Trust-funded publications available through PubMed Central (PMC) and UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) as soon as possible and, in any event, within six months of the journal publisher’s official date of final publication.

Introduced in October 2006, the Trust’s open access policy ensures that all Trust-funded research is made freely available online. This, in turn, means that the research supported by the Trust is reached, read and built upon as much as possible, fostering a richer research culture.

The Trust will cover open access charges, and encourages its researchers to select the ‘author pays’ option where available. Papers published under this model are automatically deposited in PMC and UKPMC by the publisher - thus removing the burden on the author - and are licensed in a way that facilitates re-use, subject to proper attribution....

Comment.  Wellcome's welcome new funding draws attention to its gold OA policy, which is often overlooked behind the more prominent green OA policy.  The WT is one of the only funders anywhere to require green OA and encourage gold OA, the concise recommendation of the Berlin 3 meeting, and one of the few to go beyond gratis OA and require libre OA when it pays gold OA publication fees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 3

Here's a sampling of what people are writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Walt Crawford, Open access: A quick post, Walt at Random, October 14, 2008.
... The traditional journal system is broken. Too many of the journals cost too much–and strip academic libraries of the flexibility to maintain solid monograph and humanities collections because they’re trying, impossibly, to keep up with those faster-than-inflation price rises. The net result is that fewer people have access to less of the research over time. That’s not good for the fields, it’s not good for people seeking out information. ...
John Dupuis, Open Access Day: OA & me, Confessions of a Science Librarian, October 14, 2008.
... Open Access matters to me because I think it's important for the fruits of scholarship to be as widely accessible as possible. It is only through the widest availability that the state of the art will be examined, tested and pushed further. ...

I believe that publishers and librarians are essentially on the same side in all of this. We both want to get the highest quality materials to scholars. Librarians, publishers and scholars can and should work together to build sustainable business models for scholarly publishing that include the materials being free to all readers. ...
Now let us praise Open Access, Harvard University Press Publicity Blog, October 14, 2008.
... HUP plans to wade into the pool ourselves with the launch this fall of the Journal of Legal Analysis, "a peer-reviewed open access journal sponsored by the Harvard Law School," which will publish, free of charge, superior scholarship in legal analysis from all disciplines. Articles will be faculty-edited and refereed by our fine friends at the Law School, so if you think you've got the goods check out the journal's website for a list of already-accepted articles and contact info for the editorial team. We'll be publishing using the Public Knowledge Project's Open Journal Systems, which will allow us to make the content freely available while preserving all the bits and pieces of the traditional publishing process, including indexing and all that thrilling stuff. ...
Andrea Wiggins, Open Access Day, Social Life of Information, October 14, 2008.
... Open access matters to me because I’m an idealist at heart. There, I said it. ... But my idealism in this regard runs a little deeper than simple bleeding-heart liberalism; as an academic, I’m not in this knowledge production business to hoard ideas and information and knowledge that could potentially make the world a better place. The whole point of scientific research is to address real-world problems. If I wanted to hide my light under a basket, I would have stayed in industry, where my hourly billing rate was pretty astronomical (a good web analytics professional doesn’t come cheap). I want to do science to make the world better, not just to improve the scholarship of privileged institutions. I’m motivated to make an intellectual contribution for its own sake, not to make a buck ...
Open Access: Spotlight on Science Commons, Plausible Accuracy, October 14, 2008.

Convincing scientists to embrace Open Access should fundamentally be an “easy sell”.  I can’t think of many faculty I know who would say that the current predominate “everybody pays” model is the best for them or for the communication of their research.  Because of this, I’m often left wondering why it seems that adoption of OA across the board hasn’t happened already.

There are many contributing factors of course.  It seems to me that the main issues are education and inertia.  The OA community has to inform those who are doing the research about the benefits over a subscription model (which is partly the reason for today’s Open Access Day, as well as a major initiative for many of the organizations involved in the movement).  To me the more difficult task, and in some ways one that must be accomplished sooner, is development of even more of a driving force towards OA.  ... In my mind, education about OA lowers the energy of activation, while development of these new ways to leverage OA content reduce the “energy of the products”.  Both of these are favorable for the “reaction” to take place. ...

Daniel Mietchen, Open Access is an important step on the way towards open science, daniel's blog, October 14, 2008.
... OA, for me, marks a turning point within the scientific cycle, i.e. the iterative process which leads (if sufficiently funded) from a research question or idea to a hypothesis or new method that can be tested and, ultimately, to the results of those tests which then have to be communicated. This communication step is crucial, as it adds to our global knowledge foundation (often described, following Newton, as "the shoulders of giants") for new research questions or ideas that may eventually lead to things like "innovation", "insight" and "progress". If innovators-to-be, however, do not have access to the findings of their forebears (which may indeed be contemporaries), they will have to spend a lot of their time and resources by (re)inventing some aspects of the giants' shoulders before starting to work on their innovations in the first place. ...
Olexandr Isayev, October 14: Open Access Day,, October 14, 2008.
... [P]erhaps [OA] signals a fundamental change in the way that information is flowed from writers to readers and an admission that the traditional publishing process is obsolete in the digital age. We live in a world where people expect instant information in the top 20 hits from a Google and that expectation is transferring the science too. It doesn’t matter how prestigious your journal is. People want information, they want it now! And if you can’t deliver, they are going somewhere else. ...

More on OA to medical research for lay readers

Tara Parker-Pope, You’re Sick. Now What? Knowledge Is Power, New York Times, September 29, 2008.  (Thanks to Jennifer McLennan.)  Excerpt:

...The rise of the Internet, along with thousands of health-oriented Web sites, medical blogs and even doctor-based television and radio programs, means that today’s patients have more opportunities than ever to take charge of their medical care....

[P]atients have more than ever to gain by decoding the latest health news and researching their own medical care.

“I don’t think people have a choice — it’s mandatory,” said Dr. Marisa Weiss, a breast oncologist in Pennsylvania who founded the Web site “The time you have with your doctor is getting progressively shorter, yet there’s so much more to talk about. You have to prepare for this important meeting.” ...

From interviews with doctors and patients, here are the most important steps to take in a search for medical answers....

Others, like Amy Haberland, 50, a breast cancer patient in Arlington, Mass., pore through medical journals, looking not just for answers but also for better questions to ask their doctors....

Dr. Shalom Kalnicki, chairman of Radiation Oncology at the Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center, says he tries to guide his patients, explaining the importance of peer-reviewed information to help them filter out less reliable advice. He also encourages them to call or e-mail him with questions as they “study their own case.”

“We need to help them sort through it, not discourage the use of information,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that patients do this research. It’s important that instead of fighting against it, that we join them and become their coaches in the process.”

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 2

Here's a sampling of what people are writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Indigo, Open Access Day - How are we sharing our knowledge?, stuff, October 14, 2008.
... I studied Biology during the late 90's in the National University of Colombia, my hometown country, and I loved it. Full of endless surprises, so many things about living beings that you could not imagine, from the beautiful molecular structures to the fact that living beings actually evolve.

.. the beautiful molecular structures! ... I wanted to learn more about them. So I started reading. ...

Wanting to learn more about it, I used to ran back to the library with the references in my hand, just to discover -to my disappointment- that THAT particular journal was not available. NEITHER that other one. NOR that one. Getting particular pieces of information about specific research was getting difficult for a college student like me. ...

I was feeling uncomfortable. How were we going to think about Biology, how were we going to create links between apparently unrelated facts, develop more unified theories, deal with the huge amount of newly produced information, tell the people about the beauty of nature, if the information seemed to be kept away from the people willing to think, create, develop, deal with, communicate? Is information still "information" when it is kept locked, not being communicated?

In those days I also learned that I was not the only one feeling uncomfortable with that situation. People around the world was having the same doubts, and I joined them in one of the first initiatives by signing this Open Letter. I did not believe my name was going to make a big difference, me a college student in a small country. But I did sing it anyway because those were the principles I believed in.

Time kept passing by and nowadays I do not think about Open Access as often as I should.

Fortunately, there are days like today, where I can sit down and remember that I still believe that the society, from the academic to the artist to the everyday person, has the right to nurture itself with the scientific knowledge that is being produced. That I still believe that the information that is not shared has less chances to survive, because information needs to be integrated in the wider web of knowledge, a process that may require the interaction of all of us. ...
Glyn Moody, Celebrating Open Access (Day), ComputerworldUK, October 14, 2008.
One very good reason for not just asking for open access but demanding it, is that a great proportion of academic research is funded by the taxpayer, and if we're paying for this stuff, it's not unreasonable to expect to be able to see it. And yet until recently, we not only paid for the research, we had to pay to see it in the form of subscriptions to academic journals. ...

[A]s open access spreads, it carries with it a greater appreciation for the idea of openness and the benefits that accrue by sharing. In this sense, open access can help open source take root in environments where it is currently ignored or poorly understood. ...
ScooterDe, Open Access Day promotes communication, Communicating for development, October 13, 2008.
Few things could promote communications for devlopment more effectively than free and open access to knowledge. ...

Open access is an antidote to the regulatory nightmare of digital rights management, over-zealous copyright legislation and ludicrous patenting terms which turn artists and thinkers - or their employers and publishers - into profiteers, and audiences and collaborators into 'consumers'. ...

Alethea, Open access day - redux, Humans in Science, October 13, 2008.
... I fervently think that the more exchange of knowledge takes place, the more benefit to humanity overall. ... My little brother in high school a quarter way around the globe should be able to read my or my colleagues’ articles should he so desire, since his parents’ tax money paid for it. The public has given many scientists a mandate to make discoveries on their behalf. They are our patrons. They deserve full disclosure of the results of their investment. ...
John Wilbanks, Happy Open Access Day..., Common Knowledge, October 14, 2008.
... It's a day for celebration, and a day to be proud we're all part of an earthchanging movement in scholarly communication. Let's just not forget how long we have been fighting and how far we still have to go. ...
Bill Hooker, Open Access Day 2008, Open Reading Frame, October 14, 2008.
... Next year, I'm going to treat OA Day as a national holiday and take the day off work in celebration. Maybe one day everyone will do the same...

More on OA for clinical drug trial data

Jocelyn Kaiser, Making Clinical Data Widely Available, Science Magazine, October 10, 2008 (accessible only to subscribers).  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Excerpt:

Last Summer, statistician Andrew Vickers e-mailed the lead author of a paper on a large clinical trial to ask for the underlying raw data set. Vickers wanted to explore whether he could predict which patients were at risk for stroke, a side effect of the drug being tested. He got a short reply, one he has heard many times before: The data are not available. “It’s just the knee-jerk refusal to share data,” says Vickers, at Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Vickers wasn’t surprised by the response or the lack of explanation. But he’s become so frustrated by such experiences that he penned an essay in the New York Times in January that called for making data from cancer trials freely available. Clinical researchers should get over their reluctance to share, according to Vickers; he and some others say they should emulate basic researchers who routinely deposit gene sequences in GenBank. “We need an attitude shift,” Vickers says.

Change is happening, in fact, on two fronts. Starting last month, a law enacted in 2007 will require sponsors of all clinical trials of drugs and devices that were subsequently approved in the United States to post summary results in a federal database. The aim is to ensure that all findings see the light of day, including negative results that often get buried. At the same time, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which ramped up its data-sharing efforts with genome data more than a decade ago, has
been advancing these policies into clinical research....

[Vickers] thinks journals should encourage cooperation by requiring that clinical data sets be freely available. Although many biomedical journals have a general data-sharing policy, apparently only one —the Annals of Internal Medicine— has an explicit requirement for technical studies. Since April 2007, it has asked all authors to include a “reproducible research” statement explaining whether they will provide the study protocol, data set, and statistical code....

PS:  For background, see our past posts on OA for clinical drug trail data, and in particular, our past posts on the new federal law mandating it, the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA).

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 1

Here's a sampling of what people are writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Dorothea Salo, My Father the Anthropologist; or, What I Offer Open Access and Why, Caveat Lector, October 14, 2008.

... I have held one-on-one meetings and demo sessions with faculty and librarians. I have designed and produced brochures, flyers, slideshows, posters, web pages, wiki pages, and one mini-movie. I have presented at innumerable campus expos, showcases, lectures, symposia, conferences, and workshops. I have called and written my elected representatives. I have blogged. I have written articles and self-archived them, sometimes after polite and fruitful discussions with publishers. I have run any number of failed efforts toward building a community of practice among repository managers, each new attempt the triumph of hope over experience. I have cold-called librarians, faculty, department chairs, deans, and administrators. I have been to more meetings than ought to fit in the three years I’ve been doing this.

You needn’t be obsessed like my father the anthropologist and me. Believe me, that’s the last thing I’d recommend to anyone. If you cannot find even one thing you can do in the above list, though, I wonder about you. ...

Garret McMahon, What Open Access means to me, DarkRepository, October 14, 2008.
... What if you could make a small contribution to helping close the gap between the information rich and the information poor by developing new services based on a flexible, global networked infrastructure? Imagine a paediatrician in Lilongwe or a social worker in São Paulo accessing Irish research without the impediment of tolled access. What if the institutional library was central to delivering these services...

... I know that scholarly communication's means of production, distribution and exchange is shapeshifiting into something that will facilitate mass collaboration and sharing. I see an enormous opportunity for the library to redefine itself as central to this process. I'm ready to assist. I'm having fun. We are, all of us, doing good work.
Deepak Singh, Open Access and me, bbgm, October 13, 2008.

... Open Access has taken a special meaning for me as I have moved away from science. I come from a heritage where the favorite journals included journals by the [American Chemical Society], an organization that has come to epitomize closed access to me. Back in the day, sitting in universities with free access to papers and journals, that journal access wasn’t democratic never really registered. Then I started working in industry, at a startup, and suddenly you had to be careful about which journals you could subscribe to as a company. As I moved further and further away from hands on science, at the same time becoming even more interested in disparate fields, access to a variety of journals became more important, and more difficult.

That’s when it really dawned on me. Just like the availability of data sets has always been a big deal, the availability of published content and perhaps even more importantly the data contained within was critical for the practice and understanding of science. Anything other than that was not science. ... It’s not even about who pays for it. It is science, and as such belongs to everyone.

Jan Velterop, Open Access Day, The Parachute, October 14, 2008.
... [I]sn't it fitting that this week, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the worldwide publishers' jamboree, the inclusion of open access publishing into the mainstream of science publishing is being presented? I'm referring of course to the take-over of BioMed Central by decidedly mainstream publisher Springer.
Michael Eisen, Happy Birthday PLoS Biology, it is NOT junk, October 13, 2008.

Five years ago today Public Library of Science (PLoS) published the first issue of our first journal - PLoS Biology. It was the first step in our plan to liberate the scientific and medical literature from the needless restrictions on access and use imposed by the subscription based journals.

Our goal, as expressed in the founder’s essay written by me, Pat Brown and Harold Varmus, was to “catalyze a revolution in scientific publishing by providing a compelling demonstration of the value and feasibility of open-access publication.”

Five years on our flagship journals - PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine - are thriving successes. The four community journals that followed (PLoS Genetics, PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Pathogens and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases) are amongst the most respected journals in their fields. Perhaps more importantly, several of the community journals are breaking even, and the others are about to - proving that open access is not just a nice idea - it’s a viable business model. And PLoS One is opening the door to a new approach to publishing - harnessing the power not just of pre-publication reviewers, but of all the people who read articles to make peer review a dynamic and ongoing process.

Honestly, it’s pretty much how we planned it. ...

New OA journal of tissue repair

Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by BioMed Central. See the October 13 announcement. The article-processing charge is £1200 (€1550, US$2125), 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.

OA as a survival strategy for small publishers

Heather Morrison, Competing in the open access environment: will the smalls have the advantage? Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 13, 2008.  Excerpt:

In an Open Access environment, it may be that the small, independent publishers and journals have the advantage - if they take advantage of relatively low costs to compete.

The average cost per article will be the key to assessing the affordability of an open access journal, regardless of business model (subsidies of various kinds, article processing fees, advertising). It is the small, not-for-profit society publishers that have the lowest prices for quality provided; if these publishers embrace open access, the larger publishers may find it hard to compete....

Comment.  Small publishers need no reminder that big publishers (through big deals) tend to soak up library serials budgets.  So there are two kinds of reasons to consider OA a survival strategy:  the opportunity to combine lower costs with higher quality, and the evaporating pool of subscription funds --a pull and a push. 

OA: it's just good science

Cameron Neylon, Where does Open Access stop and 'just doing good science' begin?, Science in the open, October 14, 2008.

I had been getting puzzled for a while as to why I was being characterised as an ‘Open Access’ advocate. ...

This came to a head recently when I was being interviewed for a piece on Open Access. We kept coming round to the question of what it was that motivated me to be ’such a strong’ advocate of open access publication. I must have a very strong motivation to have such strong views surely? And I found myself thinking that I didn’t. I wasn’t that motivated about open access per se. It took some thinking and going back over where I had come from to realise that this was because of where I was coming from. ...

The debate [about OA] has placed, or perhaps re-placed, right at the centre of the discussion of how we should do science, the importance of the quality of communication. It has re-stated the principle of placing the claims that you make, and the evidence that supports them, in the open for criticism by anyone with the expertise to judge, regardless of where they are based or who is funding them. And it has made crystal clear where the deficiencies in that communication process lie and exposed the creeping tendency of publication over the past few decades to become more an exercise in point scoring than communication. There remains much work to be done across a wide range of areas but the fact that we can now look at taking those challenges on is due in no small part to the work of those who have advocated Open Access from its difficult beginnings to today’s success. Open Access Day is a great achievment in its own right and it should be celebration of the the efforts of all those people who have contributed to making it possible as well as an opportunity to build for the future.

High quality communication, as I and others have said, and will continue to say, is Just Good Science. The success of Open Access has shown how one aspect of that communication process can be radically improved. The message to me is a simple one. Without open communication you simply can’t do the best science. Open Access to the published literature is simply one necessary condition of doing the best possible science.

Book on A2K in Brazil released

Yale ISP Celebrates Open Access Day with New Book, press release, October 13, 2008.

In celebration of Open Access Day, October 14, 2008, the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (Yale ISP) will launch a new book, Access to Knowledge in Brazil: New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development. The volume is the first in a new series of research on access to knowledge published by the Yale ISP. ...

The October 14 launch date is timed to coincide with the first ever Open Access Day. ...

Consistent with the values of Open Access, the ISP publication will be made widely available to the public. A digital edition may be accessed for free from and through Google Books. Print-on-demand copies will be available for purchase at cost through the printing service The book will also be available through traditional retail outlets.

The authors, editor and publishers have also made the entire work available under a Creative Commons license. ...

See also our post on the pre-release announcement.

November Cites & Insights

The November issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  This issue contains a length section on Library Access to Scholarship, covering the resurgence of PRISM-style anti-OA lobbying, the Conyers bill to overturn the NIH policy, and the short-lived attempt by the American Psychological Association to charge authors for compliance with the NIH policy.  In the second half of the section, goes back to 2006 to review some older cases of "opposition and extremes".  Excerpt:

...The enemies of open access have large budgets, are well organized, and have shown little reluctance to bend the truth or repeat discredited statements. And they don’t give up.

Enemies? Isn’t that a strong word? Well, what else would you call PRISM, to take one example? And what else would you call the forces behind September’s House hearings on the NIH policy? ...

More on open mapping

Sean Gorman, Creating maps for everyone and network effects for the data driving them, Vodafone Receiver, October 13, 2008.
... Free and open access to public data is often taken for granted in the United States. Many countries in Europe and around the globe are not as fortunate. Governments deem such geographic data to be proprietary and charge the public large sums of money to acquire the data. This was the case in the United Kingdom which led to the creation of one of the most successful open source geographic data projects to date – the OpenStreetMap Project. ...

EU study of the effects of OA archiving

STM has officially announced the launch of Publishing and the Ecology of European Research (PEER), a multi-party study of the effects of OA archiving on journal subscriptions.  From today's press release:

[The PEER study], supported by the European Union, will investigate the effects of the large-scale, systematic depositing of authors' final peer-reviewed manuscripts (so called Green Open Access or stage-two research output) on reader access, author visibility, and journal viability, as well as on the broader ecology of European research.  The project is a collaboration between publishers, repositories and researchers and will last from 2008 to 2011.

Peer-reviewed journals play a key role in scholarly communication and are essential for scientific progress and European competitiveness.  The publishing and research communities share the view that increased access to the results of EU-funded research is necessary to maximise their use and impact.  However, they hold different views on whether mandated deposit in open access repositories will achieve greater use and impact.

There are also differences of opinion as to the most appropriate embargo periods.  No consensus has been reached on a way forward so far.
The lack of consensus on these key issues stems from a lack of clear evidence of what impact the broad and systematic archiving of research outputs in open access repositories might be, but this is about to change.
The aim of PEER is to build a substantial body of evidence, by developing an 'observatory' to monitor the effects of systematic archiving over time.  Participating publishers will collectively contribute 300 journals to the project and supporting research studies will address issues such as:

  • How large-scale archiving will affect journal viability
  • Whether it increases access
  • How it will affect the broader ecology of European research
  • Which factors influence the readiness to deposit in institutional and disciplinary repositories and what the associated costs might be
  • Models to illustrate how traditional publishing systems can coexist with self-archiving.

The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), the European Science Foundation, Gottingen State and University Library, the Max Planck Society and INRIA will collaborate on PEER, supported by the SURF Foundation and University of Bielefeld, which will contribute the expertise of the EU-funded DRIVER project....

Comment.  Even before today's official launch, the publishing lobby has used the prospect of this three-year study as an argument for European governments to delay their adoption of OA policies (1, 2).  For my full argument that the EU already has enough evidence to set policy, see my comments from March 2008.  Fortunately, the EU didn't allow the study to function as a delaying tactic and in August announced its pilot OA project:  an OA mandate for 20% of its 2007-2013 research budget.  Would the EU have committed a larger share of its research budget to the experiment in the absence of this study?  I really don't know.

New OA portal of virtualization research

GoVirtual is a new OA portal and community site for virtualization researchers, sponsored by VMware. The site includes papers and publications, courseware, downloads, as well as conference postings, discussion fora, blogs, and individual profiles. (Thanks to InfoWorld.)

New blog by John Wilbanks

Science Commons' John Wilbanks has started a new blog at ScienceBlogs, entitled Common Knowledge. See his first post at the new blog and the last post at his old blog on Nature Network.

U.S. agencies collaborate on guidelines for digitization

Federal Agencies Collaborate on Guidelines for Digitization, press release, October 9, 2008. (Thanks to Laurie Taylor.)

The Library of Congress, with a dozen federal agencies, has launched an initiative to establish guidelines for digitizing historical materials, including books, manuscripts, maps, photographic prints and negatives, and sound and video recordings. The guidelines are based on collaborative research and combined experience and will address issues related to the complex activities involved in the digitization of cultural heritage items. A new Web site provides a glossary of digitization terms and concepts, as well as pertinent news and events from the participating agencies.

Two working groups, one addressing content that can be captured in still images, the other focusing on sound, video, and motion-picture content, are meeting regularly and updating the Web site. This collaborative effort initially formed under the auspices of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.

Georgetown student's proposal for open courseware

Kevin Donovan, a student at Georgetown University, has posted a proposal written by him arguing for open courseware at Georgetown.

New OA book on digital libraries

Wendy Pradt Lougee and Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, eds., Economics and Usage of Digital Libraries: Byting the Bullet, University of Michigan Library Scholarly Publishing Office, 2008. See the announcement dated October 12, 2008:
... In the late 1990's, researchers and digital library production staff at the University of Michigan collaborated on deploying the Pricing Economic Access to Knowledge project (PEAK), a full-scale production-quality digital access system to enable usage of content from all of Elsevier's (then about 1200) scholarly journals, and at the same time to conduct a field experiment to answer various questions about the interplay between pricing models and usage. The experiment culminated in a lively conference that engaged scholars, library practioners and publishers. This volume captures some of the most interesting and provocative discussions to come out of that conference. PEAK was a ground-breaking effort in its day, and references to the project have continued over time. It raised important questions about the potential for highly functional journal content and new economic models of publishing. In today’s context of socially-enabled systems and open-access publishing, the motivating questions of PEAK remain relevant. ...

As access improves, authors cite more articles

Vincent Lariviere, Yves Gingras, and Eric Archambault, The decline in the concentration of citations, 1900-2007, a preprint self-archived in arXiv on September 30, 2008.  (Thanks to Phil Davis.)

Abstract:   This paper challenges recent research (Evans, 2008) reporting that the concentration of cited scientific literature increases with the online availability of articles and journals. Using Thomson Reuters' Web of Science, the present paper analyses changes in the concentration of citations received (two- and five-year citation windows) by papers published between 1900 and 2005. Three measures of concentration are used: the percentage of papers that received at least one citation (cited papers); the percentage of papers needed to account for 20, 50 and 80 percent of the citations; and, the Herfindahl-Hirschman index. These measures are used for four broad disciplines: natural sciences and engineering, medical fields, social sciences, and the humanities. All these measures converge and show that, contrary to what was reported by Evans, the dispersion of citations is actually increasing.

PS:  Also see our blog post on Evans' article, which includes comments and updates showing the OA connection.

Launch of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) picked Open Access Day for its official launch.  From today's announcement:

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA, announces its official launch today in conjunction with an OA Day celebration hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London.  The mission of OASPA is to support and represent the interests of Open Access (OA) journals publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines through an exchange of information, setting of industry standards, advancing business and publishing models, advocating for gold OA journals publishing, education and the promotion of innovation.

From having first emerged as a new publishing model over a decade ago, OA publishing has become an embedded feature of the scholarly publishing landscape: The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists over 3500 peer-reviewed journals; a growing number of professional organizations offer OA publications; university libraries increasingly support OA publishing services; funding organizations support and encourage OA publishing; and a long tail of independent editorial teams and societies now publish their titles OA.  Professional OA publishers such as BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) have been in business for over five years, while some scientist/scholar publishers (editorial teams operating independently of a professional publisher) have published their OA journals for a decade or more. Moreover, a number of traditional publishing houses are now engaging in Open Access activities, the recent acquisition of BioMed Central by Springer and the SAGE-Hindawi partnership being two cases in point. By bringing together those who share an interest in developing appropriate business models, tools and standards to support OA journals publishing, it is hoped that success in these areas can be achieved more quickly to the benefit of not only OASPA members, but more importantly, for the scholarly community that OA publishers serve.

Membership in OASPA is open to both scholar publishers and professional publishing organizations, including university presses and for profit and non-profit organizations. Members are expected to demonstrate a genuine interest in OA journals publishing by having signed either the Berlin or Budapest Declarations and must publish at least one full OA journal. Other individuals and organizations who support OA journals publishing or who are interested in exploring opportunities are also welcome. Membership criteria and an application form can be found on the OASPA website.

The founding members of OASPA represent a broad spectrum of OA publishers and include: BioMed Central, Co-Action Publishing, Copernicus, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Journal of Medical Internet Research (Gunther Eysenbach), Medical Education Online (David Solomon), the Public Library of Science (PLoS), SAGE, SPARC Europe and Utrecht University Library (Igitur). Representatives from each of these publishers will form an interim board until a first General Meeting is held during 2009.


  • This is a coming-of-age event for gold OA.  It's important for sharing best practices, for public education, for advocacy, for setting ethical standards, and for pulling together a highly diverse coalition of large and small, for-profit and non-profit, pre-BBB and post-BBB publishers.  Congratulations to all the founding members.
  • See the new organization's mission and purpose, board, bylaws, and history.  Also see our past posts on the OASPA.

Update. Also see the blog post by Gunther Eysenbach, one of the OASPA co-founders.


Presentations from Brisbane conference now online

The presentations from the Open Access and Research Conference (Brisbane, September 24-25, 2008) are now online.

See also our past posts on the conference.

Update (12/4/08). Video recordings of the presentations are now online as well.

ALPSP's third scholarly publishing survey

ALPSP has released its third Scholarly Publishing Practice Survey (free to members).  From yesterday's announcement

...The third in a series of ALPSP surveys undertaken to establish current scholarly publishing practices and designed to track changes in policy and practice since 2000, has been published by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishing....The survey, carried out by Laura Cox of Frontline Global Marketing Services and John Cox of John Cox Associates, was conducted of 400 journal publishers, both commercial and not-for-profit, consisting of ALPSP and other major association members. A response rate of over 65% was achieved including the majority of major journal publishers.

Key findings include:

  • Publishers - especially large publishers and commercial publishers are launching new journals at a higher rate than in 2005.
  • The growth trajectory of online availability has been steady since 2003. There is still some difference between the disciplines, with 96.1% of STM and 86.5% of arts, humanities and social science titles accessible online.
  • Pricing models are just as complex and varied as they were in 2005. Most publishers use a variety of means to establish prices. It is notable that fewer publishers are providing online access free with print and instead are offering online-only subscriptions.
  • Open access advocacy has clearly had an effect on publishers' thinking. The proportion of publishers offering optional open access to authors has grown from 9% in 2005 to 30% in 2008. However, the take-up of the author pays open access option is exceedingly low.
  • Licensing terms have become more generous, as publishers have become more comfortable with the use of digital content, including allowing use in Virtual Learning Environments and repurposing to create learning objects.
  • Publishers' practice on authors' rights is changing. Fewer publishers now require authors to transfer copyright to the publisher and will instead accept a licence to publish.
  • The growth of institutional and subject based repositories has prompted a rethink on authors' rights to post their articles on the web. Large publishers have relaxed prohibitions on posting pre-prints, but have imposed embargoes on the final accepted version.
  • Publishers are at different stages of development in their implementation of Web 2.0 technologies, with 20% enabling collaborative tagging and between 10% and 15% implementing forums, blogs and podcasts for a journal. 

The full report...will be invaluable to those who wish to dispel some of the misunderstandings that have been voiced about journal publishing and to show how publishers' policies have changed in response to advocacy groups and funding mandates.

Video interviews released for OA Day

PLoS and SPARC release new "Voices of Open Access" video series, press release, October 14, 2008.

A new video series presents six unique perspectives on the importance of Open Access to research across the higher education community and beyond. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the organizers of the first Open Access Day with Students for Free Culture, today released the series of one-minute videos capturing why teachers, patient advocates, librarians, students, research funders, and physician scientists are committed to Open Access.

The “Voices of Open Access” series defines Open Access as a fundamental component of a new system for exchanging scholarly research results, where: health is transformed; research outputs are maximized to their fullest extent; efficiencies in the research process enable faster discoveries; the best science is made possible; young people are inspired; access transcends the wealth of the institution; cost savings are realized across the research process; and medical research conducted for the public good is made available to everyone who needs it. ...

The series introduces:

  • Barbara Stebbins, science teacher at Black Pine Circle School in Berkeley
  • Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, London, U.K.
  • Sharon Terry, CEO and President of the Genetic Alliance, Washington, DC
  • Ida Sim, Associate Professor and a practicing physician at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Diane Graves, University Librarian for Trinity University, San Antonio
  • Andre Brown, PhD student, University of Pennsylvania

The series was created by filmmakers Karen Rustad and Matt Agnello.

The videos are available for the public to view, download, and repurpose under a CC-BY license at ...

The Voices of Open Access Series is launched in conjunction with the first Open Access Day and the fifth anniversary of the launch of PLoS Biology, the flagship biology journal from the Public Library of Science. ...

New OA database of chemicals and their physical properties

ChemSynthesis is an OA database of chemicals and their physical properties launched by Vladimir Orlov on October 1.  On the day of its launch, the Royal Society of Chemistry recognized it as the Free chemical information resource of the month.

From the ChemSynthesis about page:

There are tens if not hundreds of chemical structure databases around at the moment. Some of them, such as PubChem, ChemExper, ChemSpider, Emolecules etc., are very useful to locate compound suppliers or to find biological/physical properties. But only two databases are currently providing synthesis or synthesis references free of charge: OrgSyn and Heterocycles. These websites are very useful for organic chemists. There is only one disadvantage: the data in these databases is limited to a few journals....

We created a freely accessible database of chemicals with synthesis references that are not limited to a few journals. Along with these synthesis references our database also contains physical properties for the listed substances.

There are currently more than 40 000 compounds and more than 45 000 synthesis references in the database....

[W]e would like to build the biggest database with physical properties available on the internet free of charge....

Very brief intro to OA now in Romanian

In honor of Open Access Day, the Kosson LIS community has translated my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access into Romanian.  (Many thanks to all involved!)

Open Access Day

Today is Open Access Day.  The worldwide response has been overwhelming, even before today.  One consequence is that OAN won't be able to keep pace with it, even with the major developments, and very likely neither will the four relevant lists at the OAD wiki.  (You can help the cause, however, by editing and enlarging those lists yourself.)

To sip at the firehose of today's news, check this Google Blog search throughout the day (and modify the search to cover languages other than English).

To me, the essence of OA Day is spreading the word about OA.  Blog something if you have a blog.  But blog or no blog, online or off, aim for real impact.  Enlighten one colleague about OA.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

Comparing Google Books and the Open Content Alliance

Kalev Leetaru, Mass book digitization:  The deeper story of Google Books and the Open Content Alliance, First Monday, October 2008.  

Abstract:   The Google Books and Open Content Alliance (OCA) initiatives have become the poster children of the access digitization revolution. With their sights firmly set on creating digital copies of millions upon millions of books and making them available to the world for free, the two projects have captured the popular imagination. Yet, such scale comes at a price, and certain sacrifices must be made to achieve this volume. With its greater visibility, most studies have focused on Google Books, addressing limitations of its image and metadata quality. Yet, there has been surprisingly little comparative work of the two endeavors, exploring the relationship between these two peers and their deeper similarities, rather than their obvious surface differences. While the academic community has lauded OCA’s “open” model and condemned the proprietary Google, all is not always as it seems. Upon delving deeper into the underpinnings of both projects, we find Google achieves greater transparency in many regards, while OCA’s operational reality is more proprietary than often thought. Further, significant concerns are raised about the long–term sustainability of the OCA rights model, its metadata management, and its transparency that must be addressed as OCA moves forward.

CFP on OA and the humanities

LIBREAS has issued a call for papers on OA and the humanities.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) 

Australia's NAF endorses OA

Summary of a workshop in response to the Cutler Review of Australia's National Innovation system, a communiqué from Australia's National Academies Forum.  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  Excerpt:

...Cultural change is necessary to promote engagement between industry and research institutions. The National Academies Forum welcomes the emphasis on promoting broad academic collaboration with industry, going well beyond the limited relationship of 'commercialisation of research' to one where industry and the research community participates actively in the full research and innovation cycle.

We endorse open access to research outputs to facilitate academic, industry and community-wide collaboration. The National Academies Forum will continue to act strongly as a vector to promote this access....

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Cutler report.

Reminder from the founders of OA Day

From the OA Day site:

...To help keep us organized tomorrow, the OAD wiki has set up some lists where you can log in and share your resources with the community.

All the OAD lists are open for editing as well as reading.  Please help keep them comprehensive, accurate, and up to date.

More on the consortial repository of Google-scanned books

Jeffrey Young, University Libraries in Google Project to Offer Backup Digital Library, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 13, 2008. Excerpt:

A group of major universities has been quietly working for the past two years to build one of the largest online collections of books ever assembled, by pooling the millions of volumes that Google has scanned in its partnership with university libraries.

One of the most important functions of the project, say its leaders, who plan to unveil the giant library today, is to create a stable backup of the digital books should Google go bankrupt or lose interest in the book-searching business.

The project is called HathiTrust, and so far it consists of the members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of the 11 universities in the Big Ten Conference and the University of Chicago, and the 11 campuses in the University of California system. The University of Virginia is joining the project, it will be announced today, and officials hope to bring in other colleges as well.

All of the member universities participate in Google's ambitious effort to work with major libraries and with publishers to scan all the world's books....[E]ach library gets a digital copy of each of its scanned volumes....

Each university library originally planned to manage the digital copies of the scanned books on its own, but through HathiTrust, library officials are now working together to create a shared online collection....

Already HathiTrust contains the full text of more than two million books scanned by Google.

But there is an important catch. Because most of the millions of books are still under copyright protection, the libraries cannot offer the full text of the books to people off their campuses, though they can reveal details like how many pages of a given volume contain any passage that a user searches for.

Google follows a similar policy for books it scans, allowing only brief sections of copyrighted works to be displayed in search results. Even so, publishing groups have sued Google for making digital copies of books available without their permission....

Only about 16 percent of the books in HathiTrust —or about 327,000 volumes— are out of copyright so that their full text can be delivered to all readers....

[John P. Wilkin, an associate university librarian for the University of Michigan and executive director of HathiTrust] said a search engine will be added to the project's home page soon, and that members are quickly working to "ingest" their digital books into the shared library....

Google has refused to release...details [of which books it has scanned], but HathiTrust publishes online a list, updated daily, of what is in its collection.

The librarians plan to work together to create new services to search and display the digital books that Google might not provide for its copies....

So why call the project "Hathi" (pronounced hah-TEE)—the Hindi word for elephant?  "The name resonated really well because elephants remember, elephants are large, and elephants are strong," said Bradley C. Wheeler, chief information officer at Indiana University system....

PS:  For background, see our past post on the HathiTrust.

Update (10/13/08).  Also see press releases from the HathiTrust, Indiana University, and the University of Michigan.

Update (10/24/08).  Also see Adam Hodgkin's comments.  Excerpt:

...Google Book Search is still the elephant in the library, but the existence of this consortium shows two things. Three years ago major libraries were saying that they could never do the kind of thing which GBS contemplates. Now several of them are collaborating in a much more ambitious project than anybody would have dreamed of in 2002. When we have a universal library in the 'computing cloud' there will be not one, but many literary digital platforms. There will be a whole herd of digital literary elephants kicking around. There will be a lot of platforms to choose from, partly because there is a lot to be done and different ways of doing it. The second and immensely encouraging feature of this new consortium is that it is obviously condoned if not encouraged by Google. The members of the consortium are almost all working with Google and it is to be concluded that Google is keen to see 'collaborator/competitors' in the digital book space that Google has pioneered. Good for Google and good for all of us. The universal library will be open because there will be a herd of elephants. Google may be the dominant male, but not a monopoly.

Berlin Manifesto for Public Services 2.0

Participants in the meeting, Staatliche Verantwortung und Öffentliche Daseinsvorsorge in der Informationsgesellschaft (Berlin, September 4-5, 2008), have released the Berliner Manifest: Öffentliche Dienste 2.0.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read the manifesto in German or Google's English.

The manifesto calls for unrestricted access to the internet, education, and knowledge.  It doesn't use the term "open access" (in English or German) but calls for taking full advantage of new technologies for sharing knowledge.  It calls for open licenses on public goods and for laws that promote rather than hinder the sharing of cultural knowledge.  It calls for public institutions, such as libraries and museums, to share digital versions of their works, without selling them, and for works resulting from public funds to be digital and "largely free of charge" (weitgehend kostenfrei).  Other provisions concern open government, open standards, and privacy.

Can DRM enhance open licenses?

Roberto García González and Rosa Gil, Semantic copyright management for internet-wide knowledge sharing and reuse, Online Information Review, 32, 5 (2008) pp. 585-595.  Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose – To extract the full potential from internet-wide knowledge sharing and reuse, the underlying copyright issues must be taken into account and managed using digital rights management (DRM) tools. The paper aims to focus on the issues involved.

Design/methodology/approach – Traditional DRM and open licensing initiatives lack the required computerised support and flexibility to scale to internet-wide copyright management. Our approach is based on a semantic web ontology that conceptualises the copyright domain.

Findings – The Copyright Ontology facilitates interoperation while providing a rich framework that accommodates copyright law and copes with custom licensing schemes.

Research limitations/implications – The ontology is based on the description logic variant of the Web Ontology Language. Despite its scalability, this variant has some limitations on expression that will be overcome with the help of semantic web rules in future versions of the ontology.

Practical implications – The ontology provides the building blocks for flexible machine-understandable licenses and facilitates implementation because existing semantic web tools can be easily reused. Moreover, existing initiatives can be mapped to the ontology to make it an interoperability hub.

Originality/value – The paper contributes a novel approach to DRM, based on semantic web technologies, that takes into account the underlying copyright legal framework. This is possible thanks to the greater expressiveness of semantic web knowledge representation tools.

Comment.  I can see how the semantic web could enhance DRM for non-open licenses.  If the authors are saying that it could also help open licenses deal with exceptions (say, for commercial use or derivative works), then I can see that too, although I'd still want to ask whether the assistance was worth the overhead.  But if they are saying that it could improve upon open licenses at the job of removing access and permission barriers, or that any kind of DRM could improve upon the absence of DRM for that purpose, then I don't see it.  Nor do I see how "open licensing initiatives lack the required computerised support and flexibility to scale to internet-wide copyright management."  But I don't have access and will wait until I can read the text.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More on the opening up of the Galapagos pharma data

Sarah Houlton, Wellcome boost for open-access chemistry, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, October 2008 (free registration required).  Excerpt:

The Wellcome Trust has recently awarded a 5-year, UK£4.7 million grant to transfer well-structured chemogenomics data from the publicly listed company Galapagos to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). The data will be incorporated into the Institute's collection of open-access data resources for biomedical research, and maintained by a team that is now being recruited....

Public databases of chemogenomics data have been established in recent years, the largest of which is PubChem, hosted by the US National Institutes of Health. However, lack of curation of publicly deposited data is a significant limitation to its utility (Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 7, 632–633; 2008). Also, as yet, the nature of the data — particularly data that could be valuable for drug discovery efforts — is not yet comparable with that available in typical pharmaceutical company databases (Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 5, 707–708; 2006).

The Wellcome Trust's acquisition of Galapagos's data is set to change this....

[T]here is growing excitement at the prospect of free access to the EMBL-EBI data for public drug discovery projects in areas such as neglected diseases....

"Another example," continues [Andrew Hopkins, professor of medicinal informatics at the University of Dundee], "is that we can use this large public data set to build large-scale virtual assay banks using machine learning processes that learn from the underlying data to predict new biological activities of compounds." ...

PS:  For background, see our July 2008 post on the opening of the Galapagos data.

Funding for advocacy within UK universities

JISC will fund some "discipline-based advocacy work within UK Higher Education Institutions to assist researchers, teachers and learners in benefiting from changes in the scholarly communications process."  Proposals are due by November 7, 2008.

Liveblog OA Day and win a prize from PLoS

Liz Allen, Synchroblogging competition for Open Access Day - get writing this weekend, PLoS blog, October 10, 2008.

Why does Open Access matter to you? Post a blog on October 14th 2008 and enter our competition – you could win a bag of swag. ...

On October 14, 2008, wherever in the world you live, we want you to tell everyone why Open Access Matters to you in celebration of the first ever Open Access Day. We want the cumulative effect of all these posts to show the blogosphere how Open Access touches the lives of many many people. ...

To enter the competition, all you have to do is blog on this topic on October 14, 2008. We'll use Google News/Technorati to track entries - to make this easier please use the phrase "Open Access Day" in your post. We’ve assembled a small team of judges who will review all these posts and vote on a winner. ...

The winner will also receive a bag of swag that includes: a 1 year print subscription to Seed magazine, a PLoS travel mug, a couple of cool PLoS t-shirts and other items plus their post will be cross posted to the blogs where the judges blog.

Comment. Consider using the tag oaday2008 on your blog posts, photos, videos, tweets, and other online chatter about OA Day -- it'll make it easier to find.

See also our past posts on Open Access Day.

Launch of a peer-reviewed blog

In the Library with the Lead Pipe is peer-reviewed, it's OA, and it's new as of last week.  But is it a journal or a blog?  It deliberately blurs the boundary.  (Thanks to Walt Crawford.)  From the about page:

We are six librarians working in academic, public, and school libraries across the United States. In addition to essays by its founders, In the Library with the Lead Pipe will feature articles by guests representing special libraries and archives, as well as educators, administrators, library support staff, and community members.

In the Library with the Lead Pipe is intended to help improve our communities, our libraries, and our professional organizations. Our goal is to explore new ideas and start conversations; to document our concerns and argue for solutions. Each article is peer-reviewed by at least one external and one internal reviewer....

From the inaugural post (October 7):

...Our current plan is to publish a new post every Wednesday. Each post will be peer-reviewed by at least one external and one internal reader.

If things go well, we may step things up to twice a week, especially if we add new folks to our team or find a lot of guest writers whose work we want to publish....

Another learned society launches an OA journal

The Oman Journal of Ophthalmology is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Oman Ophthalmic Society and published by Medknow.  The inaugural issue (September-December 2008) was released on World Sight Day, October 9.

More on the copyrights of federal research grantees

CENDI, the US Federal STI Managers Group, released another update to its Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright, October 8, 2008.  All of Section 4 is devoted to Works Created under a Federal Contract or Grant.

Here are three examples of the detailed coverage:

4.10  If the grantee assigns his copyright in scientific and technical articles produced under a Government grant to a publisher, what rights does the Government have in the article?

Pursuant to Section 36 of OMB Circular A-110(a), "the Federal awarding agency(ies) reserve a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so." The Government's license rights attach to the articles and later assignment by the grantee to a publisher are subject to these rights.

4.11  If the contractor assigns his copyright in scientific and technical articles produced under a Government contract to a publisher, what rights does the Government [have] in the article?

[PS:  Question 4.10 asked about grantees; 4.11 asks about contractors.]

The Government's license rights attach to "scientific and technical articles based on or containing data first produced in the performance of a contract and published in academic, technical or professional journals, symposia proceedings or similar works" (See FAR Clause 52.227.14 Rights in Data General as prescribed in 27.409(a)). Later assignment by the contractor to a publisher are subject to these rights.

The Contractor grants to the Government, and others acting on its behalf, a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the Government.

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

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

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

Rumors that Google and publishers may settle

Andrew Albanese reports in Library Journal, October 10, 2008, that Google and a group of publishers may be close to settling the publishers' lawsuit against the Google Library Project.  Excerpt:

Nearly three years after its initial filing, it appears a settlement may finally be near in publishers’ lawsuit over Google’s controversial program to scan books from library shelves. Although rumors of a settlement have flared up and died down intermittently over the years, sources wishing to remain anonymous this week told the LJ Academic Newswire and Publishers Weekly that talk of a final agreement has indeed heated up, with one publishing insider confirming that a settlement was “imminent,” although no solid time frame was known....

A settlement has long-been expected, as it would avoid what is setting up to be a messy trial. Industry-watchers have predicted the two parties eventually would reach some kind of blanket license agreement, noting that avoiding a court decision involving murky copyright and fair use boundaries is the logical, least risky—and least costly—option for both parties.

From the start, publishers have maintained that the wholesale scanning of copyrighted books from libraries is an unreasonable expansion of fair use, and that Google is creating a valuable asset without compensating rightsholders. Google has countered that its plan, which makes only “snippets” of copyright-protected books viewable online, is fair use, and that publishers, can also “opt out” of having their books scanned....

[T]he AAP suit, filed in October 2005 on behalf of McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, the Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley & Sons, does not seek damages. It seeks an injunction that would essentially declare that Google’s scanning of an entire book still under copyright without permission is infringement....

PS:  For background see our many past posts on this lawsuit and my 2005 article, Does Google Library violate copyright?

Spinger-BMC deal could be tipping point for OA

Richard Smith, A great day for science, The Guardian, October 11, 2008.  Smith is a member of PLoS Board of Directors and the former editor of BMJ.  Excerpt:

Earlier this week, overshadowed by the collapsing of banks and largely unnoticed, something happened that is very important for the future of science. Ten years from now, that unnoticed event may prove to be more important than the banking catastrophe.

The event was that a major scientific publisher, Springer Science+Business Media, acquired BioMed Central, one of the first and most important "open access publishers"....

Once all of science is open access – as it surely will be eventually – then the value of our scientific deposits may be greatly increased: the totality has a value that exceeds the sum of the parts.

BioMed Central has shown that open access publishing can be profitable, and its acquisition by a major publisher means that open access publishing is becoming mainstream. At the moment, fewer than 10% of scientific articles are published open access, but Springer's acquisition may bring us to the tipping point where open access publishing will be the norm.

Other major publishers may have to follow Springer in promoting open access publishing. Eventually the traditional model – whereby publishers make money by restricting access to scientific research – will surely wither....

Most research is publicly funded, and when the internet appeared it made no sense for research funders to allow publishers to profit from restricting access to their research – because the value added by publishers is minimal.

Indeed, publishers arguably subtract value by Balkanising the research. Scientific research is fundamentally different from a thing, a car or a banana, in that ideas can be exchanged and increase exponentially without anybody losing. The more people have access to scientific ideas, the more new ideas....

The Public Library of Science (where I'm now on the board) started as an advocacy organisation but soon became an open access publisher and has been able in a very short time to publish major open access journals that rival the traditional elite of Nature, Science, Cell, and the like. Following hard on the heels of BioMed Central, PLoS will soon be profitable....

Progress has been slow because traditional scientific publishers have resisted. This is unsurprising because publishing science has been enormously profitable, with gross margins of over 50%. The publishers came to own immensely valuable information without having to spend anything on generating the value. Robert Maxwell got rich through publishing science, not newspapers....