Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bioline's new funding model

Robin Peek, Bioline International Spreads Its Wings, a preprint of a column forthcoming in the January issue of Information Today.  Excerpt:

Bioline International (Bioline) is one of the Open Access (OA) success stories. The main goal of the project is the “global exchange of essential research information published in developing countries,” research that its founders argue is little known and under-used. Specifically, the goal has been to improve the “South to North and South to South flow of information.” Bioline has long been considered one of the OA pioneers and a model of how scholarly publishing could be changed. Thus it came as a surprise when the University of Toronto (U of T) announced that it was going to cut its funding for Bioline, given that the need for it services was growing. More significantly, the money that was pledged until 2011 was meant to allow Bioline time to develop a new business plan that would allow it to expand its coverage....

Bioline is not a publisher, but an aggregator that offers a free platform for 70 journals from 16 countries....Last year, an additional 70 new journals applied to join Bioline.....

To make possible the incorporation of other journals waiting to become part of the system, Bioline is implementing a new business plan that will use a Membership and Sponsorship drive as its backbone. According to [Leslie Chan, Program Supervisor for the Joint Program in New Media Studies and the International Studies program at the U of T at Scarborough, and Associate Director of Bioline], from 2002-06, 80% of the budget came from U of T. “As of next fiscal year, the Dean has promised only $10K out of the $100K we budgeted, so we have to raise the 90K externally. We are about half way there already, so the membership drive is crucial.” ...

Like other open access initiatives, Bioline faces the challenge of overcoming the common misunderstanding that open access means “cost free....The frustration is that librarians will often say that they support open access, forgetting that to produce the content and continue the service someone has to pay," Chan notes. “The librarians that ’get it’ are still in the minority....”

Update (12/7/08).  Also see Heather Morrison's review of Bioline and its new funding model.

Presentation on recent developments in OA

Matthew Cockerill, Latest Developments in Open Access, presented at Online Information (London, December 2-4, 2008).

JCB launches new database and visualization tool

JCB DataViewer is a new tool to supplement the Journal of Cell Biology. (Thanks to Science Commons.) From the December 3 JCB editorial:

... The JCB DataViewer provides our authors with the option to present the original image data associated with their articles, and enables our readers to view and interact with these data. It is the first browser-based system for viewing and analyzing multi-dimensional microscope image data. ... Access to original data provides full transparency in data presentation and heralds a completely new scope of analysis and discussion within scientific articles. ...

Such transparency enhances the value of the science presented, as readers have all of the information necessary to evaluate authors' interpretations. A further benefit to the author is the creation of an archive of all of the primary data that accompany an article.

Data submitted to the JCB DataViewer will become part of a searchable database, which we provide as a resource for the community. Authors are encouraged to input legends with details beyond those provided in the article itself, such as precise methodology or acquisition information ...

While a manuscript is under review, uploaded data will only be visible to a paper's authors and reviewers. Once a paper is published, the associated original data will be made available to all readers, whether or not they have a subscription to the JCB. As with all material submitted to the JCB, the copyright to the submitted data remains with the author. At this time, uploaded data files will not be available for others to download; viewers will only have access to the rendered JPEG images.

... Although we don't require our authors to submit their original data to the JCB DataViewer, we encourage it, as providing them ensures complete transparency. We are not just asking to see a larger section of a microscope field or a larger piece of a blot, but the actual data files acquired by authors (that have not had a whiff of Photoshop!). ...

As of December 1, 2008, all submitting authors have the option to upload their data to the JCB DataViewer. ... These data will be peer reviewed alongside the article.

In addition, over the past few weeks, we have invited authors who recently published in the JCB to upload the original data corresponding to their articles. All such retrospectively uploaded data have not been peer reviewed. ... If you published a paper in the JCB that was submitted before December 1, 2008 and would like to upload your original data, please contact us. ...

Liu Chuang receives CODATA Prize

See this recent announcement from CODATA, the Committee on Data for Science and Technology:

Dr. LIU Chuang, from the Institute of Geography and Natural Resources in Beijing, was the 2008 recipient of the CODATA Prize. ...

Thanks to her belief and commitment that China should encourage open access as the national strategy in managing scientific data, this approach was accepted by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST) for the Mid-Long Term Plan of Science and Technology of China. She was also recognized for her dedication to improved data access and capacity building for the developing world as a whole, not only as co-chair of the CODATA Task Group on Preservation and Access to Scientific and Technological Data in Developing Countries, but also as the leader in development of the Global Alliance for Enhancing Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID). ...

arXiv launches quantitative finance section

arXiv launched a new section on quantitative finance on December 1; see the announcement.

In the past decade, an increasing number of researchers from mathematics and physical sciences have been contributing together with their peers from economics and social sciences to the rapidly growing field of quantitative finance. ...

If you and your colleagues have active interest in quantitative finance, we urge you to subscribe to the archive and submit (p)reprints to it. Both theoretical contributions and those related to practical applications are welcome, and subscription is freely accessible ...

The q-fin archive has grown out of a well-established series of e-print archives accessible at The number of finance-related submissions to these archives has risen steadily over the last several years. Unfortunately, these submissions are currently scattered across a number of sub-archives ... At the same time, well-established electronic repositories within the social sciences field, such as SSRN, RepEc/IDEAS and others, while containing a wealth of articles on quantitative finance, do not generally offer as detailed a coverage and classification to this field as its practical prominence and throughput of new papers would suggest. ...

Many colleagues have expressed the desire to have a centralized archive with clear and concise content classification to share their latest results, and to learn about related findings by others in this field. We believe that both the organizational structure of, as well as its functional flexibility and robustness, make it a natural fit for the improved and extended repository of quantitative finance papers ...

A large number of finance-related submissions to the e-Print archives during the past decade have already been identified and re-classified according to the above scheme. ...

To further improve the flow of information within the quantitative finance community, the preprints posted in the q-fin archive will be eligible for direct online submission for publication in the following print journals: [Note: omitting list of 9 journals.] ...

OA proposal still climbing at Obama CTO

Yesterday the proposal to require OA for publicly-funded research ranked 16th on Obama CTO, the unofficial web site collecting recommendations for the Obama administration.  Today it ranks 14th. 

The idea was posted to the site on November 15, and broke into the top 25 on December 4.

Keep spreading the word.  The ranks are determined by user votes.

German archive uploading 100,000 images to Wikimedia Commons

Two days ago the Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive) started uploading 100,000 images to Wikimedia Commons.  Each will stand under a CC-BY-SA license.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  From a WC article on the project:

...To our knowledge the donation of 100,000 images is single largest one to Wikimedia Commons so far and we are very hopeful that this is only the start of a long lasting relationship that might serve as an example to other archives and image databases....

ALPSP comment on the EU green paper

The ALPSP has released its comment its on the EU green paper, Copyright in the Knowledge Economy.  Excerpt:

...ALPSP notes that there are already many activities and initiatives underway utilizing new technology to facilitate greater and easier access which are being strongly supported by all stakeholders, including rightsholders, libraries and universities. Many of these are in the early stages of development and we believe that it is therefore somewhat premature to be considering the introduction of expanded or new exceptions to the copyright legislation at a time when the technological landscape – and the consumer and market response to it – is changing very rapidly....

Is OA anti-publishing?

Kent Anderson, Are Publishers Anti-Publishing? Scholarly Kitchen, December 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Investment and change are tough. For STM publishers, it’s just as difficult to avoid the anti-publishing trends (devaluing content, missing the message from users/subscribers). The Open Access movement is implicitly anti-publishing — essentially, the value proposition is that content is so worthless that you have to pay to have it published, and you can’t charge for it even then. That’s anti-publishing, treating content as less than a commodity....Institutional repositories are anti-publishing, not trying to reach a broader audience but trying to showcase their institution’s “intellectual property” for a purpose that is implicitly anti-publishing.

Where are the cool features users are willing to pay for? Or are they willing to pay, and we’re just not willing to believe it? ...

See Kevin Smith's reply, What is “value” in publishing? Scholarly Communications @ Duke, December 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Which brings me to where Anderson really goes wrong — his comments about how open access and institutional repositories are “anti-publishing.”  To get to this claim one must define publishing very narrowly, based on a traditional, “the way we have done it in the past,” standard....On-line, open access distribution IS publishing, of course, as the many peer-reviewed open access journals clearly prove.  What is most astonishing about Anderson’s discussion of these “anti-publishing” trends, however, is his claim that open access “devalues” scholarly content by “treating it as less than a commodity.”  How can one make such a claim about scholarly content when authors have been expected to give their writings away for free to publishers for many years?  Scholarly authors are used to thinking about the value of their work in terms other than economic, and those terms have been dictated, in part, by the business model of traditional scholarly publishing.

The value of scholarly work, for scholars, has never been based on the money it could earn, since they never saw a penny of that money and were, in fact, expected to pay for access to their own writings.  Often they were even expected to pay “page charges,” which makes the author-side fees now charged by many publishers for open access seem very familiar.  The point is that access and use, not economic gain, define the value of scholarly writing because they serve the scholarly authors’ need for recognition and impact; the cost of the wrapper in which the work was contained (the commodity) has never been a marker for value in the academic world, and it has lately become an impediment....

Taking full advantage of the internet

Virginia Heffernan, Content and Its Discontents, New York Times Magazine, December 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[T]he content that thrives in the new distribution-and-display systems is suspiciously different from the American popular culture we used to love even 10 years ago. Thrillers, it seems, don’t flourish on Hulu. No one is reading a six-part investigative series about mayoral malfeasance on Twitter....

[This] argument says we [in traditional media] have to change. We have to develop content that metamorphoses in sync with new ways of experiencing it, disseminating it and monetizing it....[W]e have to invent new forms. All of the fascinating, particular, sometimes beautiful and already quaint ways of organizing words and images that evolved in the previous centuries — music reviews, fashion spreads, page-one news reports, action movies, late-night talk shows — are designed for a world that no longer exists. They fail to address existing desires, while conscientiously responding to desires people no longer have....

Does anyone still believe that the forms of movies, television, magazines and newspapers might exist independently of their rapidly changing modes of distribution? The thought has become unsustainable....

The fact that articles live in digital form and no longer, primarily, on paper, frees them from certain constraints that seem absolutely normal to old-media people and archaic if not just stupid to everyone else....


  • Heffernan is writing about news and popular culture, but how far do her conclusions carry over to research literature?  Some online journal articles are little more than digital editions of printed text.  Their only concessions to the new medium are links, searchability, and cut/pasteable text --and sometimes not even cut/pasteable text.  By contrast, other online journal articles embrace features impossible in print, starting with links, searchability, and cut/pasteable text, but extending to audio, video, manipulable graphics, queryable databases, executable code, integrated data sets, associated downloads, subsequent updates, reader comments, and freedom from restrictive limitations on length.  Many online journals are moving from the former to the latter, some slowly and some quickly.  But when we compare the two types --the print relics and the net natives-- do we find what Heffernan found?  To control key variables, we'd have to compare articles (or journals) that are roughly equal in quality, and all OA or all TA.  But if we did, would we find that slow evolvers are being punished in the market?  Is there a correlation between readership/viewership/usage and taking advantage of the new medium?
  • I'm fascinated by the question and will keep thinking about it.  But my first take is that the answer is no.  Slow evolvers are helped along by user conservatism and practices like bundling.  Only non-academics will be surprised to hear that academics might be conservative about anything, let alone more conservative than consumers of news, or that academic publishing might be more distorted by monopolistic practices than news publishing.  But that only shows the peculiarity of our circumstances.  Other things being equal, innovations that are good for users and communication would also be good for traffic, downloads, readership, usage, impact, and (in the case of TA journals) revenue.  Taking advantage of the new medium is good for users and communication, but other things are not equal.
  • Two other variables, quickly:  (1) Cost.  Adding features impossible in print can be more expensive than sticking to digital text.  I know this firsthand as the author of a newsletter that does almost nothing to take advantage of the  new medium --beyond OA itself.  (2) Disciplinary differences.  In some fields, there is little to display visually and no data to offer, chart, or integrate.  My field (philosophy) is one of those.  But even in fields where audio, video, and data, are more to the point, one needn't be conservative to rank the opportunities offered by the new medium and reaffirm the primacy of text.

Max Planck comment on the EU green paper

The Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law has publicly released its comment on the EU green paper, Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

See esp. Section 2.3.1 (Creating a Common Level Playing Field for Publication Models), Section 2.3.2 (Protecting the Public Domain for Scientific Information and Knowledge), and the answer to OA-related Question 19 on p. 21.

Here's an email summary from the MPI's Sebastian Krujatz, one of the comment co-authors:

(1)  At the end-user level, [copyright] limitations most relevant to scientific research should be mandatory, immune towards contractual agreements and technological protection measures, and should be construed as providing a bottom line, which national legislation should not fall below. In return, original rightholders should receive adequate compensation.

(2)  At the level of intermediaries, if certain negative effects of copyright protection on the wide dissemination and accessibility cannot be mitigated otherwise, additional legal measures need to be considered. One maybe favorable option could be to restrain the exercise of exclusive rights, subject to negotiations between the primary publisher and further intermediaries. Such negotiations would provide further intermediaries with a license for parallel dissemination under adequate, competition-oriented terms and conditions and would make any mandates redundant. This would both provide for market-oriented compensation for the primary publisher and would prevent single-source situations and excessive pricing for journal articles, securing a wide dissemination and accessibility of scientific information and knowledge in the EU.

The main idea behind this approach may be that the current problems within the scholarly publication follow not only from the distinct, impact-driven publishing system inseparably linked to the reputation of scientific author, but also from the fact that usually there is no truly viable substitute for an individual scholarly work. In many cases, this secures publishers a monopolistic position not only with regards to the scholarly work but also to the actual information contained therein. Although copyright does not provide a monopolistic position by itself, copyright reform can be a tool to mitigate the effects of such a monopolistic position of publishers.

Google changes its help language on downloadable books

In the past couple of days, the Google Book Search FAQ changed its answer to the question, How can I find books that I can download?

The old answer:

Visit [Google Book Search]. Search for downloadable books by clicking on the “Full view books” radio button before entering your search terms. Once you select a book from your results, you'll see a “Download” button on the right side of the page if the book is out of copyright. Click the button to download a PDF of the book to your computer. Once the book is downloaded, you can print it and read it at your own pace.

The new answer:

While there is no way to restrict search results to downloadable books only, you can limit your results to books that are fully viewable by using the Advanced Search feature of Google Book Search. Just select the “Full view only” option, enter your search terms and click “Google Search.” Although not all books that are fully viewable are also downloadable as PDF files, this will help narrow your search results closer to books that are downloadable.


  • After some initial uncertainty, I've decided that this is just a change of language, not a change of functionality.  Google always distinguished downloadable books from "full view" books, and always allowed users to limit searches to full-view books.  It hasn't made it harder to find either kind of book.  When full-view books are also downloadable, the "download" button still appears on the book's page (example).  However, the new answer no longer tells users about the download button. 
  • The suspicious might complain that Google has made it slightly harder for new users to understand that some of the books are actually downloadable.  But even the new language acknowledges that some books are downloadable, and another question in the FAQ still talks about the download button explicitly.
  • Note that Google only makes public-domain books available for downloading and the recent settlement only affects copyrighted books.  Or, to be more precise, Google only makes a subset of PD books available for downloading (namely, those that it is sure are PD, erring on the side of caution), and the settlement only affects a subset of copyrighted books (namely, those that are out of print or no longer "commercially available").  Hence, at least for now, I'm not thinking that the change of language is a side-effect of the settlement.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New IR at Université de Liège

The Université de Liège in June launched a pilot of ORBi, its new IR. See also the blog post by ULg rector Bernard Rentier. The IR went into general use recently; see the post by Rentier or by INIST.

JISC funding for IR projects

JISC has announced a call for proposals for funding various types of repository projects. Bids are due February 11, 2009.

Interview with authors of an OA textbook

Jane Park, Collaborative Statistics — An Open Textbook Model, Creative Commons blog, December 3, 2008. Interview with Susan Dean and Barbara Illowsky, authors of Collaborative Statistics.

Blog notes on data sharing conference

Stéphane Goldstein, Radicalism and data, Research Information Network blog, undated but recent.

Greetings from Edinburgh, where I'm attenting the 4th International Digital Curation Conference [December 1-3, 2008]. ... I was struck in particular by a number of presentations around the broad theme of radical data sharing as a means of transforming science.

This is ambitious stuff, and examples were set out to describe environments and/or tools geared to encouraging and promoting the imaginative sharing and curating of research data, in plant biology (iPlant Collaborative), neurophysiology (CARMEN project) and open notebook science. Cameron Neylon, in his persuasive case for open notebook science, stressed how he felt such services could ultimately promote innovation by curating the relationships between digital objects (and not just the objects themselves), and hence drive citation levels. The challenge, of course, is to persuade researchers that there is much to gain from taking advantage of these developing opportunities. Appealing to their self-interest is one way of doing it, but - as highlighted later in the day by John Willbanks, from Science Commons, there are well-entrenched control mechanisms (legal, cultural, financial) that work against change. I might add that the competitive nature of the research funding process, which contributes to the fostering of protective and posessive attitudes to data outputs, doesn't necessarily help. Would it be controversial to suggest an investigation of the relationship between research competition and reluctance to share? ...

My feeling is that the key to more effective data sharing and curation is to demonstrate, as far as possible, that it yields benefits (and not least economic benefits) to researchers, their funders and their employers. To build on Cameron's contention, it would be nice to show the extent to which openness does indeed encourage innovation. Another area to investigate perhaps? ...

On open projects at India's IGNOU

Stian Håklev, World’s largest university opens almost ALL its materials!, Random Stuff that Matters, December 5, 2008.

... Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is the national distance learning university in India, and has 1.8 million students, served through over 1804 Study Centres coordinated by 58 Regional Centres. On their website they state that they are the largest university in the world. ...

Just this summer, IGNOU has launched two different portals, whose richness of material I believe to be unparalleled in the OER world! Similar to the [Indian Institutes of Technology], it has archived its videos on Youtube. With one channel for each “school” within the university (for example School of education, School of social sciences, etc), more than thousand half an hour/hour long videos have been posted. (And some channels only have an introductory video, so it can be surmised that perhaps as much as double the amount will eventually be posted). These videos are from TV programs that have earlier been produced for dissemination through satellite channels and by VHS, and sometimes the quality is a bit poor, but the breadth is spectacular. ...

Most of the videos are in English, which is the common language of higher education in India, but there are also substantial collections in Hindi, especially in the humanities. ...

Not only has IGNOU released a huge slew of very interesting filmed lectures, but they have digitalized and made open access almost all of their teaching materials! We are not talking about curriculum lists and some course PDFs, this is the entire teaching material that a student would encounter, all modules written by IGNOU staff.

They are employing a T-Space repository, and offer over 16,000 documents, most from 10-50 pages long. ...

Most of these documents are scanned PDFs that have been OCRed (you can do full-text search on them, and you can copy and paste text). ...

However, all the material is copyrighted. ...

I am not sure if it’s under Copyright because IGNOU hasn’t considered the options, or whether they made a conscious decision to Copyright it. I would love to find out, and I hope that Creative Commons India could play a role here. ...

See also our past post on eGyanKosh, IGNOU's teaching document repository.

Presentation on OA in Italian

Maria Cassella, Facciamo il punto su ... Open Access e i nuovi modelli della comunicazione scientifica, presentation to the Associazione italiana biblioteche, Campania section (Salerno, November 27, 2008). English abstract:
Scholarly communication is fast changing in digital age. Some issues must be addressed to try to fight the inefficiency of the traditional channels scholars use to communicate. Open Access might be an answer to the the serials pricing crisis, the traditional single-blind peer-review system, to find an alterative to the Journal Impact Factor, to increase the impact of the research in Medicine and in Humanities. The presentation focuses on new scholarly communication channels and on the two main strategies to accomplish Open Access goals: the so called Green Road and Gold Road.

OA vs. hierarchy

David Bollier, Not Just Peak Oil, But “Peak Hierarchy,” Too?,, December 4, 2008.

Most of us have heard about the impending arrival of “peak oil,” after which oil supplies will inexorably dwindle, causing all sorts of havoc as societies try to cope and remake themselves. But my friend Michel Bauwens of the Peer to Peer Foundation, recently suggested that we may be approaching another inflection point of equal or greater significance, if we have not already – the arrival of “peak hierarchy.” By this, he meant the time at which distributed organizations become stronger and more versatile than centralized hierarchies. ...

What is new about our times – the age of the Internet – is that you can now functionally coordinate small groups of people on a global scale. Social trust doesn’t need to be organized by hierarchical organizations; it can arise from the bottom up and self-organize into small groups that share common values and purposes. Such distributed networks have given us GNU Linux and open source software, Wikipedia, social networking, the Public Library of Science and other open-access journals, and countless other online commons. ...

OA collection of essays on digital text

Scroll: Essays on the Design of Electronic Text is a class project of students at the University of Toronto, published with Open Journal Systems. See, e.g., Klara Maidenberg, The Race to Create a Digital Library: Google Books vs. the Open Content Alliance. (Thanks to the Public Knowledge Project.)

PHP implementation of SWORD

Stuart Lewis, SWORD PHP library, Stuart Lewis’ Blog, November 30, 2008.

As part of the JISC funded SWORD2 project, I have now written a PHP library for SWORD which is now available for download ...

There are many web applications that could deposit into repositories using SWORD, and many of these are written in PHP. Examples might include open source Content Management Systems, Blogs or Wikis. By using this library you can easily retrieve service documents and make deposits by using the API provided. There are two simple method calls (one to retrieve a service document and one to deposit a file). In addition there is a packager included that can package a file and metadata together into a package format supported by both DSpace and EPrints. This is the same code which is used to power the Facebook SWORD deposit tool.

The code is currently an early release - version 0.4. It has now been tested again DSpace, EPrints, Fedora and Intralibrary. This means that the Facebook application will now successfully deposit to all four of these ...

More on the OA proposal to the Obama administration

Yesterday I reported that the proposal to require OA for publicly-funded research broke into the top 25 on Obama CTO, which put it on the front page where it would receive more attention and votes.  That new attention, plus some helpful plugs from SPARC and the ATA, more than doubled the number of votes for the proposal overnight (from 300+ to 700+).  It now ranks 16th and is no danger of being bumped off the front page.  I don't expect it will surpass proposals for fair elections or network neutrality, but there's still room for growth.  Thanks for your support and please keep spreading the word.

The Obama CTO site is unofficial.  But Obama's transition team is well plugged in, and is surely monitoring the proposals on the list.

More on BioMed Central

Dick Kaser, BioMedCentral — The Case in Point for Open Access, Infotoday Blog, December 4, 2008.

If there is a poster child for Open Access publishing, it would appear to be BioMedCentral (BMC) ...

When I met with [BMC's] Bryan Vickery and Marianne Haska in their stand yesterday, they told me there were now nearly 200 journals in the BMC collection (expected to grow 10% this coming year), all being provided under a model which involves "Article Processing Charges" ...

While noting that in addition to "biomed" central, BMC also has launched PhysMath Central (now with 3 titles) and Chemistry Central (with 1 title), Vickery observed that the acceptance of Open Access publishing by authors varies by discipline and is not evenly accepted yet in all fields. ...

"All staff at BMC," said Vickery, "view the acquisition [of BMC by Springer] as a proof of concept, that Open Access is a viable, stable publishing model."

Since its launch BMC has published 35,000 research articles, the number which is expected to grow to 50,000 by the end of 2009, according to Vickery. ...

SCOAP3 funding report

SCOAP3: Funding status report for ICOLC Munich October 2008, a press release from the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), November 2008.  Excerpt:

The Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) aims to redirect the subscriptions funds used for the core journals in the field of High-Energy Physics (HEP) to make them Open Access. This initiative is much more than a one-discipline-only solution to the nested issues of Open Access and subscriptions, it aims to prove that libraries can regain a central role in scholarly communication, aggressively promoting and achieving Open Access, in a cost-neutral fashion with the potential to generate medium and long term savings.

SCOAP3 is now collecting Expressions of Interest from partners worldwide to join the consortium....[T]hese are financial pledges to back the consortium if it will be able to deliver following a call for tender to publisher[s] for the Open Access price tag of their journals....Once it will have reached a critical mass, and thus demonstrated its legitimacy and credibility, SCOAP3 will be formally established, and its governance put in place. SCOAP3 will then issue its call for tender to publishers, assess the exact cost of the operation, and then move forward with negotiating and placing contracts with publishers....

In less than one year and a half, SCOAP3 has received pledges for 49.5% of its budget....Most European countries have joined the consortium: Austria, Belgium, CERN, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom (JISC), with the remaining European partners poised to do so in the near future....The United States, which are the largest SCOAP3 partner with a projected contribution of about 1/4 of the SCOAP3 budget envelope, have already pledged about 1/2 of this contribution....Beyond Europe and North America, Turkey, Israel and Australia have also joined the consortium.

Negotiations are in progress for several countries in Asia, North and South America to join the consortium. These partners would represent an aggregated contribution of about 1/4 of the SCOAP3 budget envelope.

Formal discussion with the publishers have not officially started, as the tendering process cannot be launched before a larger fraction of the SCOAP3 budget is pledged. However, all major publishers show a pro-active attitude of great support to Open Access in HEP: Springer's European Physical Journal C offers Open Access free of charges for all articles in experimental HEP; Elsevier's Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B will publish Open Access without any author fees the first articles describing the HEP results of the LHC accelerators being commissioned at CERN; EPS' Europhysics Letters will publish Open Access free of charge all HEP articles while waiting for the SCOAP3 initiative to be operative. Other Open Access options in HEP are those of SISSA/IOPP, ...APS, ...and full Open Access journals such as the New Journal of Physics and PhysMath Central Physics A, supported by author fees....

To succeed, SCOAP3 needs pledges from more institutes in the U.S. who are interested in re-directing their subscription funds towards the initiative, and partners in other countries who are willing to take part in a countrywide re-organization of subscriptions to HEP journals for their re-direction towards the consortium....

OA as a threat to conventional STM publishers

Wendy Warr, STM on the advance, Information World Review, December 5, 2008.  Excerpt:

...[The pharmaceutical industry and STM publishing] both have a history of high profit margins and double-digit growth. Both are now under threat....[P]ublishers are threatened by the explosion in free internet services and open access.

When times get hard, there are two key strategies: cost cutting and investing in innovation....Alas, it is often cost cutting that wins, rather than the alternative, courageous option....

A more surprising move by CAS is its announcement that it will work with Wikipedia to help provide accurate CAS registry numbers for current substances listed in the Wikiprojects-Chemicals section of the Wikipedia Chemistry Portal that are “of widespread general public interest”. It would be nice to see CAS being even more open about CAS registry numbers, or even (a pipe dream, I fear) to show interest in the IUPAC International Chemical Identifier, InChI....

Clearly some publishers are responding vigorously to market forces, but the steady growth of free information resources is a real threat to them. My colleague and ICIC organiser Harry Collier has coined the expression “global information warming” for the phenomenon of the slow melting of the icebergs that are the business bases of the traditional information companies....

[PS: Here omitting summaries of the NIH, HHMI, and Harvard OA mandates.]

These are just a few of this year’s open access announcements. Hurriedly, publishers have started to offer to deposit articles to PubMed Central on behalf of authors.

Meanwhile the British Library and its collaborators have ambitious plans for online digital archive UK PubMed Central over the next three years. New and improved features will include direct links to the 18 million records currently available on the US version of PubMed, as part of the European Bioinformatics Institute’s CiteXplore bibliographic tool, new ways to extract biological information from research papers using text analysis and data-mining tools, and access to content not included in traditional journal literature, such as clinical guidelines, technical reports and conference proceedings, all with an easy-to-use interface....

On the commercial front (it is worth remembering that open access organisations can be commercial entities) Springer has acquired BioMed Central. Chemistry Central, part of BioMed Central, is about to accept the first submissions for the Journal of Cheminformatics, a new, peer-reviewed, open access journal. The publishers say that they will also strive to respond to emerging electronic technologies to enhance the display of scientific data.

Other web initiatives include ChemSpider, a structure-centric community for chemists. It provides free access to an online database and is also a collaboration tool....

Microsoft is to fund a two-year eChemistry pilot to demonstrate the benefits to chemists of online, open access data. Eight organisations are collaborating in the project, which seeks to merge chemistry and the Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange Project (OAI-ORE). The aim is to develop standardised, interoperable, and machine-readable mechanisms to express information about compound information objects on the web. OAI-ORE foresees a large number of interoperating repositories rather than monolithic databases, allowing search engines to gather data from a wide range of disparate machine-readable sources. The results of eChemistry will be hosted by PubChem and other repositories....

Comment.  I understand the claim that OA threatens TA publishers.  But if it's not carefully elaborated, it overlooks the sense in which OA and TA coexist now and might coexist for a long time.  I like Warr's point that threatened industries respond with cost-cutting or innovation.  But while she discusses some publisher responses to OA, many of her examples are from OA publishers rather than TA publishers.  I'd like to hear her elaborate on the threat to TA publishers and evaluate whether their responses are sufficiently innovative.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

OA collection of Schopenhauer manuscripts

SchopenhauerSource is a new OA collection of digitized manuscripts by philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) See this article from

... The website is being curated by a group of German and Italian researchers coordinated by Sandro Barbera from the Linguistics Department at the University of Pisa. The site was set up thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Manuscripts Section at Berlin’s State Library, the Schopenhauer Archives, the Library of the University of Frankfurt Meno, the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris and the company Net7. The initiative was carried out as part of the European project called ‘Discovery’ and COST (‘Open Scholarly Communities on the Web’) belonging to the European Community.

The site’s objective is to provide scholars with digital reproductions of Arthur Schopenhauer’s entire manuscript, which is made up of more than 10,000 pages. ... The books belonging to his personal library contain notes that he wrote in the margins ... Some editions of his works, and in particular his personal texts, are accompanied with notes. On occasion, full pages of hand-written text alternate with printed pages. Schopenhaur had his works bound in this way. Much of the writing transcribed in these samples has yet to be published.

At present, the site contains approximately half of his manuscript, which is also catalogued. By 2009, the text will be completely inserted, in addition to the first group of volumes noted from Schopenhauer’s personal library. Soon, other texts will also be part of the site including the notes that Schopenhauer took while he was a student at the University of Gottinga and Berlin.

Serials prices still going up: 6% increase over 2008

A survey released in October 2008 by Swets, Serials Price Increases 2009, shows an average 6% price increase over 2008 prices for the 70,000+ serials surveyed. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

OA publications on Near East studies

The Institut français du Proche-Orient has launched Collections électroniques de l'Ifpo to provide OA to some books published by the institute. The site was developed with the support of the Centre pour l’édition électronique ouverte. (Thanks to CLEO.)

Three books are currently available on the site, with a fourth forthcoming:

Surveying the IR community on perceived trends

Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Perceptions of Developing Trends in Repositories, report, undated but recent. See also the December 4 announcement. Abstract:

We [bepress] asked [SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting (Baltimore, November 17-18, 2008)] attendees to respond to a dozen questions that explored IR trends through the lens of the SPARC conference themes: New Horizons, Campus Publishing, Developing Value-Added Services and Policy Environment. To provide context, we provided links to real life examples that best represented each trend.

We are delighted to report that over 110 SPARC meeting attendees responded to this survey. ...

From the announcement:

... Here are three results we particularly wanted to call out:

  • Respondents on all platforms are thinking creatively about the role of an IR. Responses indicate that a wide variety of content has a home in the repository, including student research, campus business, and research from outside the institution.
  • Respondents saw electronic theses & dissertations and conferences, symposia and colloquia as the most likely kinds of material to be top trends in 2009.
  • Most respondents would consider their IR to be a solid success. Over 58% rated their IR as a 6 or higher on a 1-10 scale of success.

New OA journal on educational design

Educational Designer is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the International Society for Design and Development in Education.  The inaugural issue (September 2008) is now online.  (Thanks to John Reidelbach.)

OA as an alternative to infringement

Jonas Svensson and Stefan Arvidsson, Kampen mot kopiering dömd att misslyckas, Sveriges universitetslärar-förbund [Swedish Association of University Teachers], 19-08.  Undated.  (Thanks to UPC Blogg.)

The authors, both professors of religion (at Halmstad and Växjö respectively), argue that illegal copying of books by groups like Student Bay cannot be stopped, and that OA is a solution which will benefit students and taxpayers.  Read their piece in Swedish or Google's English.

Another comment on the EU green paper

Søren Sandfeld Jakobsen and four co-authors, Comments on the Commission's Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, self-archived December 2, 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  The authors are members of the Research Group on ICT & Innovation, Law Department, Copenhagen Business School.

Abstract:   This paper is a reaction to the Commission's Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy. It discusses issues concerning the three step test model licenses, digitization and orphan works, disability discrimination and access to digital content, dissemination for teaching and research, dissemination through libraries and user created content.

Seizing every opportunity for progress

Stevan Harnad, Weak and Strong OA Mandates: Don't Let the Best Be the Enemy of the Good, Open Access Archivangelism, December 3, 2008. 

Summary.  The reason the much stronger author licensing mandate has a far higher consensus/compliance hurdle to surmount is that it raises the problem of authors' free choice of journals and author risk of journal non-acceptance.

In contrast, the weaker author deposit mandate (ID/OA) faces only author inertia about doing the few extra keystrokes required. Author surveys and outcome studies on actual practice show that the vast majority of authors will comply with a deposit mandate, willingly.

Hence it makes no sense at all to delay still further the certainty of immediately providing at least 63% OA + 37% almost-OA (by mandating immediate-deposit), to keep on waiting instead for a much stronger mandate (mandatory author licensing) for which achieving consensus on adoption is far more difficult and author willingness is far less certain. There can be (and are) stronger deposit mandates than ID/OA, but ID/OA is the default option, the mandate for which consensus on adoption is most easily achieved because -- unlike the stronger mandates -- it effectively moots all copyright concerns.

If success can be achieved on adopting a stronger mandate, then by all means adopt the stronger mandate (such as Immediate-Deposit/Immediate-OA, or Immediate-Deposit plus a 6-month cap on embargoes, or Immediate-Deposit [without Opt-Out] plus Author Licensing with Opt-Out).

But on no account delay the adoption of the weaker, certain mandate that is already within immediate reach, in order to hold out for a stronger, uncertain mandate that is not! It is fine to prefer to have a stronger benefit rather than a weaker one if both are within reach and you have a choice; but it is certainly not fine to fail to grasp a weaker benefit that is already fully within reach in order to hold out for a stronger but much less certain benefit that is not yet within reach. They are not mutually exclusive: Weaker will lead to Stronger.

OA recommendation for Obama's CTO now in top 25

Today the proposal to require OA for publicly-funded research broke into the top 25 on Obama CTO, the unofficial web site collecting recommendations for the Obama administration.  It now appears on the front page, where it should attract even more attention and votes.  If you haven't yet voted or spread the word, please do.  Thanks for your support. 

Another TA editorial on OA

Kurt H. Albertine and three co-authors, Open Access: AR is Fully Compliant with Mandates from NIH and Other Funding Agencies, Anatomical Record, December 2008.  An editorial.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

RePEc November update

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in November 2008, The RePEc Blog, December 2, 2008.

We have just experienced a tremendous month. First, about 25,000 works were added, second we have seen traffic like never before. ...

The push in new material was partly due to additions from Agecon Search, as well as from a lot of activity from many other archives and finally from 13 new archives, more than usual: ADRES, Universität Wuppertal, CORE, INRA, University of Ottawa, University of Osijek, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Pion Ltd, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Indonesia, Asociación Española de Profesores Universitarios de Contabilidad, University of Lancaster (II), Bilgesel Yayincilik.

In terms of traffic, we counted 860,187 file downloads and 3,292,711 abstract views on Econpapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet. These are easily new records. ...

New stem cell journal may be OA

The International Journal of Stem Cells launched in November 2008. The inaugural issue's articles are OA. The site doesn't mention plans for either OA or subscriptions. Jim Till notes that, via email, the editor-in-chief says "We will provide PDF version of articles with no charge for a while".

Bill Hooker on Science 2.0

Bill Hooker, Science 2.0, presentation at Pacific University, September 9, 2008. See the blog post, slides or video.

Japanese and European repository groups will work together

Japan's Digital Repository Federation signed a Memorandum of Agreement with DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research).  From today's announcement:

As part of the SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting 2008 held in Baltimore Maryland from 17-18 November 2008, DRF (Japan) and DRIVER have agreed to work closely together on promoting federated repository infrastructures....

DRIVER is a joint initiative of European stakeholders, co-financed by the European Commission, setting up a technical infrastructure for digital repositories and facilitating the building of an umbrella organisation for digital repositories. DRIVER relies on research libraries for the sustainable operation of repositories and provision of high quality content through digital repositories.

Digital Repository Federation (DRF) is a federation consisting of 86 universities and research institutes which aims to promote Open Access and Institutional Repository development in Japan. Under the auspices of the National Institute of Informatics (NII), Tokyo, DRF is a collaborative program for institutional repositories, based on one of the research and development projects of the national framework of Cyber Science Infrastructure (CSI).

DRF and DRIVER share the vision that the Open Access movement in Europe and in Japan contribute to better scholarly communication in the world; and that each should contribute actively and cooperatively to a global, interoperable, trusted and long-term data and service infrastructure based on Open Access digital repositories.

Collaboration between DRF (Japan) and DRIVER is framed by their joint support for an Open Access model for repositories in research and higher education institutions. They present a common strategy to enable research libraries - pressed to improve scholarly communication by establishing digital repositories - to expose institutional research outputs to the world. Networks of individual repositories and overarching information services for aggregation, retrieval, share and re-use are being built on the basis of institutional, national and regional location, or by subject areas....


New OA collection of UK parliamentary papers

The Cabinet Papers, 1915-1977 is a new OA collection of minutes and memoranda of the UK government. The project was funded under the JISC Digitization Program. See the December 2 announcement.

BMC joins Health Information For All

BioMed Central has joined HIFA2015 (Health Information For All by 2015) as a supporting organization. HIFA2015's goal statement is, "By 2015, every person worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider."

5 million articles in HighWire

5 Million Articles Online at HighWire, press release, posted to SPARC-OAForum, December 2, 2008.

HighWire Press, the world's premier scholarly online hosting service, reached a significant milestone this week with the posting of the five millionth article on its e-Publishing platform. ...

By individual publisher policy, over 2 million of those 5 million articles are available online to readers without subscription barriers. ...

"OA is simply good business"

Dick Kaser, Hindawi - Where Open Access Is Simply Good Business, InfoToday blog, December 2, 2008.  Excerpt:

"Open Access," says Ahmed Hindawi – the Egyptian journal publisher who, over a 10-year period, has built an entire line of journals on the author pays model – "is simply good business."

As of Feb. 21, 2007, a date he says he will always remember, the once conventional publisher completely converted his company to a new economic model; and himself, to a new way of operating a journal publishing business....

[W]hen he launched his Hindawi journal publishing business in 1997 he meant to operate as a classic publisher, offering initially a line of 30 titles in print and on a subscription basis.

He learned quickly, however, that "the market did not favor a small start-up."  Hindawi experimented with a single Open Access journal – offered on the author pays model–in 2003 and found the uptake "encouraging."   Over the ensuing years he says he saw the barriers disappear.

"When the author (or the author’s institution) pays up-front for a peer-reviewed paper to be published, "the journal is profitable from day 1," he noted, and no subscriptions need to be sold....

In the Hindawi approach, the publisher makes a living, and the user–any user–gets access to the corpus for free.

Sounds like a perfect world, doesn’t it? ...

More on the Springer acquisition of BMC

Tim Buckley Owen, A new beginning for open access publishing?  Information World Review, December 3, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Springer already operates its own [hybrid] open access option, called Springer Open Choice....Springer’s positive experience with Open Choice since 2004 seems to have been a key factor in its decision to purchase BMC. According Derk Haank, Springer’s chief executive officer, “This acquisition reinforces the fact that we see open access publishing as a sustainable part of STM publishing and not an ideological crusade.” ...

“It’s clear from Derk Haank’s statement that Springer wants BMC because it’s OA, not despite it,” read one comment on the Open Access News blog. [PS: That's me.] ...

If some elements of the conventional publishing community really have been fighting tooth and nail to overturn open access, then BMC may be forgiven for its previous uncompromising line about the benefits of OA over the conventional publishing model. But following the acquisition, Cockerill has adopted a more measured tone.

“From a commercial point of view, open access is just another business model for covering the costs of publishing research articles,” he told IWR. “Neither model is inherently more or less commercial than the other.”

Open access is a new and growing model, he continued, because it makes good use of the economics of information on the internet, where additional copies can be distributed online at negligible cost. “Open access takes advantage of that economic reality to widen the dissemination of research results,” Cockerill added.

As an autonomous operating unit within Springer, BMC will continue to set its own article processing charges, and has made clear that there are no plans to raise charges as a result of the acquisition. Nor, according to Cockerill, is there any likelihood of BMC merging with Springer Open Choice and one of the brands being lost as a result.

Reductions in BMC staff numbers are not on the cards, either, Cockerill confirmed. In fact, the company is actively hiring additional staff, and the two businesses see opportunities to make use of Springer’s global infrastructure and resources to extend BMC’s service to more authors across an increasing range of disciplines....

“Journals in niche areas that are loss-making under the traditional model may be profitable under an open access model, and an increasing number of traditional journals are now switching to open access with BioMed Central,” Cockerill said....

“It does seem to legitimise the OA publishing model,” said Frank Norman of the National Institute for Medical Research. “As the first wholly OA publisher, BMC came in for a lot of criticism from traditional publishers in its early years. Seeing it incorporated into a mainstream publisher makes it harder to claim that OA journals are antithetical to successful publishing....”

Official support for OA from German archivists

Two committees of Germany's Archivreferentenkonferenz des Bundes und der Länder (ARK) released a report in March, Digitalisierung von Archivgut im Kontext der Bestandserhaltung [Digitization of archival documents in the context of conservation], highlighting the value of OA for archival content.  ARK coordinates all state archives in Germany.

Klaus Graf excerpts the key passage.  Read it in German or Google's English.  He adds in a separate email, "This is the first 'official' statement of the archival community in Germany about OA."

Adding KnewCo connections to OA articles in repositories

Jan Velterop, Repositioning repositories, The Parachute, December 2, 2008.  Jan is the CEO of KnewCo.  Excerpt:

...[M]any repositories have fairly basic functionality. Some don't mind, and see repositories as a way merely to provide open access or to archive the institution's output. This is a pity. Repositioning them, making repositories attractive places to come to for researchers – and to come back to – would greatly help in their potential success. Many are already on that track....

It's easy enough. Have a look at the functionality that can soon be added to any repository (or blog, or personal site, for that matter) and click the 'button' on the upper right hand side of this page that gives you the opportunity to discover more knowledge [PS: referring to the KnewCo ConceptWeb Linker Button on his blog]. Within weeks we hope to make the code for that button publicly and freely available, for anybody to use on any site (watch this space!)....For now, this technology allows you especially to discover knowledge in the main 'domain of its experience', the biomedical areas....

[Clicking the button turns words on the same page into links, which pull up menus to KnewCo-organized knowledge.]  The first thing you can do is search further. The search will automatically include synonyms. Even something simple as skinis, when used to search further, automatically expanded into the search argument: "Skin" OR "Integument" OR "cutaneous tissue" OR "skin system" OR "Integumental system".

But you can also see authors and publications that are specifically related to the concept you're looking at. And you can see what all the other concepts are that are connected to this concept, and how they are connected. All connections are explained, and these explanations have links to the original source from which the connections were 'mined'....

How OA mandates can help society publishers

Dana L. Roth, FRPAA and NIH Mandate A Blessing in Disguise for Scientific Society Publishers? Science & Technology Libraries, September 15, 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Only this abstract is OA at the journal site:

Abstract:   Society publishers are encouraged to view recent “Open Access” proposals as opportunities to expand access and balance subscription pricing with author contributions. This approach would hopefully avoid the difficulties inherent in the deposition and use of pre-publication manuscripts. Examples of reasonably priced society journals are presented along with comparison pricing of society and commercial journals. These examples suggest that society journals should be immune to cancellations, in contrast with the vulnerability of commercial journals.

But see the OA full-text, self-archived at Caltech.  From the conclusion:

Instead of following the example of the [American Chemical Society's] alignment with commercial publishers, as evidenced by recent revelations of questionable public-relation efforts, society publishers will hopefully see the FRPAA & NIH Directive as an opportunity to develop a new business model. Namely, one that includes appropriate 'open-access' for archival material, balanced pricing between authors and readers, and expanded outreach to underserved research communities, thus insuring the long-term survival of their publications.

OA in geography, or not

Jenny Pickerill, Open Access Publishing: Hypocrisy and Confusion in Geography, Antipode, October 17, 2008.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.

Reuse of European PSI is still too difficult

The EU has released the results of its public consultation (May 16, 2008 - September 15, 2008) on the PSI Directive.  Excerpt:

...[D]iverging views exist between public sector bodies (the supply side) and reusers (the demand side) on the PSI current reuse environment. While the former group considers it satisfactory and working well, reusers are more critical and consider that the implementation of the Directive has been much too slow....A majority of respondents consider that important barriers remain that would need to be addressed to fully exploit the PSI re-use potential in the EU. The problems that have been frequently signaled are lack of awareness of the potential of PSI reuse and of the Directive amongst public sector bodies, especially at regional and local level, little effort from public bodies for facilitating and promoting reuse, lack of knowledge or mechanisms to identify what information is available for re-use, the non mandatory requirement for PSI re-use, strict licensing conditions imposed by public sector content holders, the limits of the public task when public bodies commercially compete with private firms, unfair competition practices by public sector bodies, very limited transparency on public bodies reuse policies and notably on the way charges are calculated and, the absence of efficient means of redress in most countries.

As regards the impact of the Directive on the charging policies practised by the public sector, the overwhelming majority believes that the implementation has hardly had any impact on the pricing of PSI, although some laudable exceptions have been signalled.

A significant group of stakeholders expressed their support for extending the scope of the Directive to cultural, research and broadcasting institutions, as it conceived that it will have an impact in developing the content market in Europe....

Also see the submitted comments themselves.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

DEFF signs the Berlin Declaration

Denmark's publicly-funded digital research library, Danmarks Elektroniske Fag- og Forskningsbibliotek (DEFF), signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge on November 17. (Thanks to Anja Lengenfelder.)

Also see our past posts on DEFF.

New magazine on crime prevention seems to be OA

Freedom from Fear is a new magazine of applied research on crime prevention from the Max Planck Institute and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Research Institute (UNICRI).  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

The inaugural issue is now online, awkwardly.  Clicking the link doesn't display the PDF or even download the PDF.  It downloads a zip file which unzips into a PDF.  (Why?)

It appears to be OA.  The inaugural issue is gratis OA.  But it doesn't say that it's free or OA.  Nor does it mention subscription prices.  I downloaded and unzipped the inaugural issue and couldn't find any licensing information.

Three principles for open information and open government

Lawrence Lessig and others have drafted three Principles for an Open Transition for the Obama administration.  Excerpt:

...[W]e offer three “open transition principles” to guide the transition in its use of the Internet to produce the very best in open government.

  1. No Legal Barrier to Sharing

    Content made publicly available in the course of this transition — such as President-elect Obama’s videos, or policy statements posted on the website — should be freely licensed so that citizens can share, excerpt, remix or otherwise redistribute this content without unnecessary complexity imposed by the law.

    Both Senator McCain and President-elect Obama endorsed this principle in the context of presidential debate video rights. The same principle should apply to the transition. now respects this principle. By default, content on that site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license...

  2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing

    A merely legal freedom to share and remix, however, can be thwarted by technological constraints. Content made publicly available should also be freely accessible, not blocked by technological barriers. Citizens should be able to download transition-related content in a way that makes it simple to share, excerpt, remix, or redistribute....

  3. Free Competition

    Governments should remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas. Transition-generated content should thus not be made publicly available in a way that unfairly benefits one commercial entity over another, or commercial entities over noncommercial entities.

    For example, if video of a press conference is made available in real time to television networks, it should at the same time be made accessible in a standard, universal format for download and sharing. The transition team’s decision to make press conference video available on its website is a step in the right direction....

The site is also collecting signatures in support of the principles.

PS:  If you're inclined to sign these principles, then you should also vote for the proposal that Obama administration should require OA to publicly-funded research.

More from the IR trenches

Dorothea Salo, IRs in 2009: the failure legacy, Caveat Lector, December 1, 2008.  Excerpt:

An unexpected characteristic (at least to me) of SPARC Digital Repositories was the representation of quite a few institutional repositories that were either brand-new or still in the planning stages....

“This is a great time to be starting an IR!” enthused one SPARC-DR speaker. “You get to learn from those who have gone before you.” And avoid their mistakes, understood.  Believe it or not, this marks progress....I only heard “build it and they will come” in scare quotes, accompanied by polite derision.

So new repositories, those that manage to get themselves going in a budget environment where new services are a tough sell, will start on firmer ideological footing than the generation before them. That’s good....

What are existing repositories supposed to do, then?  I asked this question at SPARC-DR....The answer I got was pretty mealy-mouthed: “Go find allies.” Um. Yes. What exactly do you think I have been trying to do for the last three years? ...

Given that my crystal ball cracked up in a big way last year, I’m a little hesitant to make the dire forecasts my gut is telling me are warranted… but only a little. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if last year’s prediction about a repository closure was correct, just premature.

What is clear to me at this juncture is that the repository world is split in two as regards the appropriate response to faculty apathy about deposit. One chunk of the world is gamely gearing up to take on mediated deposit of the peer-reviewed literature. The other chunk of the world is using the repository for lower-hanging fruit (ETDs, undergraduate research, collapsing it with the local digital library, whatever) and doing a fan-dance around its lack of commitment to green open access. All right, there’s a third chunk, too: those that are doing both.

However, it’s the second chunk that are the problem....Bluntly, these institutions love green open access —until it costs them resources beyond the mere provisioning of a repository. Since they are now uncomfortably aware that green open access costs more than that, they are sidling away from it in as delicate and face-maintaining a way as possible. The question for open access is how to keep its agenda alive in libraries that are no longer able or willing to dedicate specific resources to the green road.

There are options. One is to push harder on the gold road....

Another is to bypass outreach to libraries and work harder on faculty, in hopes of additional Harvards and Stanfords....

A third is to ’fess up about the real costs of green OA and provide libraries and struggling repositories with a realistic roadmap to achieving it....

More on what institutions should do to promote OA

Stevan Harnad, What Institutions Can Do To Facilitate the Transition to Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, December 1, 2008. 

SummaryLeo Waaijers recommends (1) that authors should retain copyright, (2) that institutions should use metrics richer than just the journal impact factor to assess their researchers, and (3) and that "supra-institutional organisations" (such as the European University Association) should "take the necessary initiative" for "[s]witching to Open Access" [OA] from the "traditional subscription model."

It is good for authors to retain copyright whenever they can, but it is not necessary -- and hence gratuitously raises the bar -- if stipulated as a precondition for providing or mandating OA: The only thing necessary for providing or mandating OA is that authors should deposit in their Institutional Repositories (IRs) (and that their institutions and funders should mandate that they deposit) the final drafts of their peer-reviewed journal articles, which 63% of journals already formally endorse making OA immediately upon acceptance. (The remaining 37% can be provisionally deposited in Closed Access, likewiseimmediately upon acceptance, with the IR's semi-automatic "email eprint request" button tiding over all user needs during any publisher embargo, during which the author can also try to negotiate copyright retention with the publisher, if he wishes. But on no account should copyright retention be required as a precondition, either for depositing or for adopting an institutional mandate to deposit.)

It is good to use richer metrics, but these will not generate OA; rather, OA will generate richer metrics.

Institutions can mandate deposit in IRs, and deposits can be made OA, but this is Green OA self-archiving of articles published in "traditional subscription model" journals; it is not Gold OA journal publishing. Institutions and funders cannot mandate that publishers switch to Gold OA publishing, nor should they try to mandate that authors switch to Gold OA journals just for the sake of providing OA, since OA can already be provided by mandating Green OA self-archiving, without constraining authors' choice of journal.

Podcast interview on access barriers to research

In a 4:50 minute podcast interview, Nick Sheppard talks about OA and how price barriers interfere with his research.  Shepperd is the Repository Development Officer at Leeds Metropolitan University. 

He describes the interview briefly on his blog, but doesn't tell us who the interviewer is, the occasion, or the date.  The version at the link above cuts out at minute 4:50 in the middle of a sentence.

OAD list of interviews and profiles

The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened a section of Interviews and profiles within the larger Bibliography of open access.

Remember that OAD is a wiki and counts on users to keep its lists comprehensive, accurate, and up to date.

OA-related photos and videos wanted for BMC Facebook page

BioMed Central is running a contest for its Facebook page:

We are offering a £50 Amazon voucher to the BioMed Central Facebook fan who uploads the most interesting/unusual/entertaining open access-related photo or video to the page.

Sing a song…write a poem…. take your photo in a BioMed Central shirt -it's up to you! The more creative the better.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your entry to the page before December 15.

December SOAN

I just mailed the December issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  In this issue I offer my predictions for the coming year, focusing on what to expect from the Obama administration and the worldwide recession.  The round-up section briefly notes 137 OA developments from November.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Health info theme issue on OA

The Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries's November 2008 issue is a theme issue on "Open Access: today and tomorrow". See these articles on OA:
  • P. Morgan, Open Data: the elephant in the room
  • N. Pinhas, Open Access for health and medicine in France
  • P. De Castro, et al., The open access policy of the Italian National Institute of Health: steps forward to innovative publishing habits
  • Yvonne Hultman Özek, Report from the Second European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (ECSP), 2008, Oslo, Norway

Mentor service for European repository managers

The DRIVER project has launched a mentor service; see also the announcement.
... The purpose of this service is to introduce developers and managers of institutional repositories to their peers on a one-to-one basis in the belief that the sharing of experiences can assist those that follow. ...

Digital humanities at Miami University

Laura Mandell, Digital Humanities, Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies, October 14, 2008.

... Miami’s Digital Humanities Program is accomplishing a few firsts in 2009:

  1. We are among the first universities to grant promotion on the basis of a digital archive ...
  2. In 2009, we will be the first English Department to approve as a dissertation a digital edition that will be published by Rice University Press, print-on-demand. ...
  3. In 2009, we will be the first to publish Open Source software for use in the Digital Humanities, NA-P developed by student Holly Connor and [Computer Science and Systems Analysis] Professor Gerald Gannod. “Na Pwon Dyon Gay” means “we learn together” in the Miami language; this suite of tools will revolutionize the creation of digital archives.
  4. In 2009, we will be the first university to partner to host a digital resource for a university press, a database that can be upgraded by scholars.
  5. In 2009, we will be the first university to make high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship available on Facebook. ...

More comments on the Google settlement

Here are some more comments from the press and blogosphere on the Google-Publisher settlement.  This is my fifth collection and will be the last, at least until there's a new development.  Also see collections 1, 2, 3, and 4.

From Andrew Albanese in Library Journal:

...One of the big questions [about how the settlement will affect libraries]: the deal’s allowance for free access at a designated terminal within public libraries. On one hand, getting every library a free access terminal for patrons to use the full Google Book Search database is a win for libraries —certainly neither Google nor publishers were obligated to consider libraries needs in their deal. On the other hand, critics note, mandating a “single terminal” is a  counterintuitive restriction in the digital age, and unfairly lumps all libraries, large and small, well-funded or not, into a single, geographic point of access.

“I strongly object to at least one aspect of the proposed Google Book Search settlement, which lets libraries offer just one terminal per library building for access to various books,” blogged Teleread’s David Rothman. “How backwards —not just the one terminal limit, but also the whole notion of linking access to your presence inside a library!” 

Digital Library Federation president Peter Brantley called the restriction “irksome” and hinted that a one-size-fits-all provision was inadequate in the face of a lingering digital divide. “I do not know where program management at Google wakes up every morning; I do not know what pretty suburbs publishing executives wake up in every morning,” Brantley blogged. “But in Richmond, CA, [Brantley’s home city] and in many cities around the country, it is heinous to suppose that one public terminal given free reign to the corpus of the world’s literature is an adequate set aside against the promise of the opportunity that Google, publishers, and authors have made possible.” ...

Of course, as public libraries are not parties to the suits, or members of the classes involved in the suit, it will be largely incumbent upon others to fight for such changes —and Brantley urged those others to revisit the issue. “This is not an economic matter, it is a social foundation,” he wrote. “A library is a refuge; you can provide solace in that refuge, and a promise for a different and better kind of future. It is morally incumbent upon you to do so.” 

From Nate Anderson in Ars Technica:

Readers who have reached a certain age —in this case, 30— might remember what it was like to hunt down an out-of-print book in the bad old days....

One area covered by the important new Google Book Search settlement is that of out-of-print books, which are now on a path to a page or screen near you. The agreement gives Google broad opportunities to sell display or print-on-demand access to out-of-print titles, potentially providing easy access to nearly the whole of human thought and knowledge when the scanning project is complete....

We've heard talk for years of POD fantasies —walking into a bookstore, selecting any book ever printed, leaving the store with a printed copy. But this sort of talk always ignored the tough question of how to get all that material into digital form....Google solved the problem by throwing cash at it....

But most of the twentieth century's work remains out-of-print but in copyright, and Google's settlement agreement may soon make it easily accessible. That might not matter to most, but even small victories in the long war for knowledge are worth heralding....

From Jonathan Band and the ARL in A Guide for the Perplexed:  Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement:

...This paper does not explore the policy issues raised by the settlement. Rather, it outlines the settlement’s provisions, with special emphasis on the provisions that apply directly to libraries....

From Karen Coyle at Coyle's InFormation:

...Beyond the (undoubtedly hard-won by library representatives) single terminal access in each public library in the US, libraries will be asked to subscribe to the Google Book service in order to give their users access to the text of the books (not just the search capability). This is one of the more painful aspects of the agreement because it seems to ignore the public costs that went in to the purchase, organization, and storage of those works by libraries....The parallels with the OCLC mess are ironic: libraries paying for access to their own materials. So, couldn't the libraries just refuse to subscribe? Not really. Publicly funded libraries have a mission to provide access to the world's intellectual output in a way that best serves their users. When something new comes along -- films on DVD, music on CD, the Internet -- libraries must do what they can to make sure that their users are not informationally underprivileged. Google now has the largest body of digitized full text, and there will be a kind of "information arms race" as institutions work to make sure that their users can compete using these new resources....

I can't imagine that anyone thought that libraries and Google were digitizing books primarily so that people could read what are essentially photographs of book pages on a computer screen. Google initially stated that they were only interested in searching the full text of books. While interesting in itself, keyword searching of rather poor OCR text is not a killer app. What we gain by having a large number of digitized books is a large corpus on which we can do computational research. We can experiment with ideas like: can we follow the flow of knowledge through these texts? Can we create topic maps of fields of study? Can we identify the seminal works in some area? The ability to do this research is included in the agreement (section 7.2(d), The Research Corpus). There will be two copies of this corpus allowed under the agreement, although I don't see any detail as to what the "corpus" will consist of. Will it just be a huge file of digitized books and OCR? Will it be a set of services? ...

Research will NOT be limited to participants; others can request access. What I haven't yet found is anything relating to pricing for the use of the research collection, nor if being a participating library grants less expensive access for your institution. If the latter is the case, then one motivation for libraries to agree to allow Google to scan their books (at some continuing cost to the library) will be that it favors the institution's researchers in this new and exciting area....

From L. Gordon Crovitz in the Wall Street Journal:

...[C]ontent owners are finally realizing they're better off helping their customers use digital media than trying to stop the march of technology....

The most fascinating truce in the copyright wars is this month's settlement of litigation between book publishers and authors on one side and Google on the other -- at $125 million, the biggest book deal ever. Google has digitized some seven million books. Of these, one million were already covered by an agreement with publishers to allow "preview" selections of books. Another one million books are old enough that they're no longer covered by copyright.

The settlement focused on the remaining five million books, which are still under copyright but no longer in print. This sounds like a perfect application of the Web -- letting people find digital versions of books not otherwise available. But it was unclear what "fair use" meant to determine how much of a book Google could display before having to pay publishers and authors. The settlement agrees that 20% of a book can be previewed without payment. So while fair use is still undefined for other situations, this is an important precedent that benefits both consumers and content owners. It also, of course, benefits the Google colossus by letting it display for free significant excerpts of books it's already digitized....

The market solution means Google will now offer millions of books for sale, sharing the proceeds with publishers and authors. Books long out of print will be searchable and available for a fee....

This shift by Google led Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs books, to wonder if the book settlement could have lessons for other owners of content. "Google has now conceded, with a very large payment, that information is not free," Mr. Osnos wrote for the Century Foundation. "This leads to an obvious, critical question: Why aren't newspapers and news magazines demanding payment for use of their stories on Google and other search engines?..."

From James Grimmelmann at The Laboratorium:

Summary of principles and recommendations (hyperlinks take you back to the section of the document that discusses them)

  • P0: The settlement should be approved
    • R0: Approve the settlement.
  • P1: The Registry poses an antitrust problem
    • R1: Put library and reader representatives on the Registry’s board.
    • R2: Require the Registry to sign an antitrust consent decree.
    • R3: Give future authors and publishers the same deal as current ones.
  • P2 If it didn’t already, Google poses an antitrust problem
    • R4: Strike the most-favored-nations clause.
    • R5: Allow Google’s competitors to offer the same services the settlement allows Google to offer, with the same obligations.
    • R6: Authorize the Registry to negotiate on copyright owners’ behalf with Google’s competitors.
  • P3: Enforce reasonable consumer-protection standards
    • R7: Prohibit Google from price discriminating in individual book sales.
    • R8: Insert strict guarantees of reader privacy.
    • R9: Protect readers from being asked to waive their rights as a condition of access.
  • P4: Make the public goods generated by the project truly public
    • R10: Require that Google’s database of in-print/out-of-print information be made public.
    • R11: Require that the Registry’s database of copyright owner information be made public.
    • R12: Require the use of standard APIs, open data formats, and (for metadata) unrestricted access.
  • P5: Require accountability and transparency
    • R13: Require that Google inform the public when it excludes a book for editorial reasons.
    • R14: Tighten up the definition of “non-editorial reasons” for excluding a book.
    • R15: Allow any institution ready, willing, and able to participate in scanning books to do so.

[Update, 2/11/09: Grimmelmann has expanded upon his blog post for a law review article. Here's the preprint.]

[Update, 3/25/09: Grimmelmann's article was published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Internet Law.]

From Georgia Harper at @collectanea:

...[One point from] the Google Book Search a very big deal from my perspective and it doesn't appear to be getting even so much as a mention from...most observers. It's the part about pricing, specifically, the settlement controlled price and the testing that Google is entitled to do to demonstrate that more (or less) openness yields greater returns for copyright owners. These terms are contained in sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the deal respectively.

So, the deal gives Google "bins" to put books in for settlement controlled pricing. Copyright owners can opt out and set their own prices. But for those who don't opt out and who "settle" for settlement pricing, and that would include all orphan works since by definition, there's no one there to opt out, Google sets the price at a level that gives the optimal revenue. Google can adjust the price in a number of ways, but the goal is to maximize or optimize revenue.

Add to this the right Google has retained to conduct tests on books to see how much openness yields optimal revenue. Wow! Cool move. Finally, a right to test out the theories, to demonstrate for different types of books whether openness sells more or less. Wow again. Gentlemen, gentleladies, place your bets...

I my opinion about it, these two provisions can really accelerate a push to zero pricing for digital view. But how, you might wonder, could zero price for digital view return optimal revenue? I'm assuming owners sell added value, not digital view. What can added value be? Who knows. But I'm betting that, again, the stage is set to find out. Let's see, print on demand, print at all, sophisticated digital functionality, networked interactivity, right to commercially exploit, right to build services on top of, oh, gee, what else might someone who actually has the potential to make some money off these ideas come up with? We *will* see....

From Adam Hodgkin at Exact Editions:

...[The] Books Rights Registry...doesnt wait for the judge. It is already whirling into action and authors and publishers are addressing it. This agency is something that the books world needs....That Google is doing this is in many ways a good thing -- what an appaling prospect if the publishers were to try and build such a system! But there are dangers and ironies in a situation where Google as the commercial fox, the first and prime exploiter of the distribution opportunities flowing from the settlement, is also designing the chicken wire and building the coop in which the hens will be housed. It is a bit odd for a commercial operator to building its own regulator. Yes, I know that the 8 directors of the Registry are all appointed by the publishers and the authors (4 each). But directors decide the issues that haven't already been decided, its the architect and the plumbers who get the building to function. Odd, but possibly unavoidable in these strange circumstances....

[The judge who must evaluate this settlement] should really be looking very carefully at the API which the Rights system will incorporate and the principles which underline the API....These are matters of principle and public good, barely touched on in the public documents about the settlement, where we need judicial oversight. Perhaps she will spend some of her time looking at the Android constitution and I hope she will require that the commercial exploitation of literary rights is as open and at least as un-Google biased as Google has promised to make the Android playing field. Some of the Android slogans work rather well for our vision of digital books: 'Books without borders', 'Books can easily embed the web', 'Books are created equal', 'Books can run in parallel'. Digital books should do all of that....

From David Lammy in the Times Online (Lammy is the UK Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property):

...Every now and then...there is a game-changing event [in copyright law]. The recent agreement in the US between Google, the search giant, and American publishers may be just that....

The effect of this agreement will in the most part be limited to the US. And yet the announcement is of interest to users of the copyright system worldwide. Why? Because this is an agreement that, if it works as it should, will strike a middle ground between the need for public access to works and the right of authors and publishers to control and be paid for the use of their creations.

The result, if it works, will be an evolution in the way copyright licensing for printed works is administered and a revolution in the freedom of access to harder-to-find works — all within a system that will remunerate rights holders fairly and give them control over the use of their works....

From Graeme Neill at

The UK Booksellers Association has slammed Google's provisional deal with US publishers to allow users to browse and buy millions of books online. The trade body warned that the arrangement could create "a de facto monopoly" and "have a hugely damaging effect on the publishing and bookselling industry" if adopted in the UK.

The deal received a favourable response from publishers, with many in the UK believing that it was only a matter of time before a similar deal was introduced here. However, the Booksellers Association has become the first book trade body to heavily criticise the deal, claiming it a "bridge too far". "As such a dominant player in the online world, Google will now occupy a unique gateway position that, if abused, could easily create a de facto monopoly," the statement said. "A situation where competition is removed from the market place by placing the keys in the hands of one company cannot, ultimately, be good for the consumer. This is a bridge too far. Monopolies = reduced choice and higher prices."

The BA added that in the long term any deal would deny the customer a choice of retail channels and as well as the interactive experience of shopping, which can help break little known authors. "This recent agreement, if ever adopted in the UK and Ireland, would have a hugely damaging effect on the publishing and bookselling industry and, consequently, for authors and the public as well," it stated.

Last week, the Federation of European Publishers also said that books should be distributed through the widest number of channels as possible....

From Graham Reynolds at The Lawyers Weekly:

...In many ways, this settlement agreement can be seen as providing significant benefits for all of the parties involved. The U.S. public will benefit from increased access to books, particularly those that are out of print but still in copyright. Following the settlement, U.S. users will be able to preview up to 20 percent of books  currently under copyright.

Libraries benefit from the ability to provide a service to the public that they might otherwise be unable to afford to offer. Google will benefit financially from the ability to retain 37 percent of the revenue received from GBS. Authors and publishers benefit from new or expanded markets for their works. They also retain the ability to opt out of the database or limit their participation in the database.

A variety of concerns, however, may be raised with respect to the agreement, ranging from the implications of the settlement for the fair use doctrine to anti-trust concerns stemming from the creation of the book rights registry. A third concern involves the cost of purchasing institutional subscriptions to the electronic database. The lack of any assurance in the settlement that the prices charged for access would be reasonable led the Harvard University Library to decline to participate in the project....

From Eric Sherman at Technology Industry:

...Depending on the very specifics of that agreement between publishers, Google, and the Authors Guild, all three have walked into a veritable quicksand of upcoming woe, argument, and potential law suits, all because they’re forgetting a basic legal issue in most publishing....

Under [the out-of-print clause], which appears in a great many [book publishing] contracts, once a book is officially declared out of print by the publisher, all rights return to the author....You can now see where this is going. Publishers and an organization of authors...have told Google that it can create e-books for out-of-print titles. But if the titles are out-of-print, then the publishers by and large have no rights to the book at all. Only the individual author can make such a deal....

From Kevin Smith at Scholarly Communications @ Duke:

...One of the trickiest aspects of understanding this document is the definition of “books” that it uses.  Careful reading indicates that that term encompasses only works that are in copyright protection and registered with the Copyright Office as of the settlement date.  That means that this agreement deals only with works already published; it does not seem to tell us anything about how or if Google will deal with books (in the non-technical sense) published in the future.  The obvious conclusion is that publishers will be able to opt-in to all or some of the “display use” (snippets, preview, sales of institutional subscriptions or individual titles).  I wonder if such new publications will be subject to non-display uses (text mining, i.e.) when and if Google scans those works, or if those too will be opt-in only.  I also wonder what will happen when works published after the settlement go out of print.  Will publishers have to opt them out of display uses at that point, or will the original opt-in still control? ...

From Fred von Lohmann at the EFF:

For most of the decade, Silicon Valley technology startups have assumed that Google would pay their legal bills. Not literally, mind you, but rather by taking on the big, high-profile cases about fair use, interoperability, and other digital intellectual property issues that would set precedents that all disruptive innovators could rely on.

Well, Google just put the Valley on notice that the free ride is over....

Google, assisted by its expensive, top-drawer legal team, has a track record of winning these precedent-setting Internet cases. And by winning, Google sets a precedent that other innovators can rely on, as well. In essence, Google's legal investments have paid dividends for the entire Internet innovation economy.

Until now. By settling rather than taking the case all the way (many copyright experts thought Google had a good chance of winning), Google has solved its own copyright problem — but not anyone else's. Without a legal precedent about the copyright status of book scanning, future innovators are left to defend their own copyright lawsuits. In essence, Google has left its former copyright adversaries to maul any competitors that want to follow its lead....

But when innovators like Google cut individual deals, it weakens the Silicon Valley innovation ecology for everyone, because it leaves the smaller companies to carry on the fight against well-endowed opponents. Those kinds of cases threaten to yield bad legal precedents that tilt the rules against disruptive innovation generally....

Also see my own comments.

Access to information as a human right

Kay Mathiesen, Access to Information as a Human Right, working paper, September 7, 2008. (Thanks to Legal Research Plus.) Abstract:
Information rights include rights to create and communicate information (e.g., freedom of expression, freedom of association), to control others' access to information (e.g., privacy and intellectual property), and rights to access information (e.g., freedom of thought, the right to read). This paper focuses on those rights related to free access to information and argues that access to information is indeed a fundamental human right. It is further argued that the right to access is not merely a liberty right, but also a welfare right. That is, individuals' information rights place duties on governments to provide access to information.

Launch of "world's largest database of freely-licensed library records" is a recently-launched service by LibLime, billed as "the world's largest database of freely-licensed library records". (Thanks to Jacob Glenn.)
... Through the ‡ network, you can share your record creations with the rest of the ‡ community, under the terms of the Open Data Commons, which ensures that anyone may freely use, modify and share your records. ...

Two more comments on the EU green paper

The public comment period on the EU green paper, Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, expired yesterday.  I've posted a series of comments already (1, 2, 3, 4).  Here are two more:

Gold OA in physics

Michael Banks, The Price of Free Papers, Physics World, December 2008.  Not even an abstract is free online, at least so far.  The journal provides no deep link to the article, so I'm linking to the TOC.  Excerpt:

...But to cover the costs of producing, peer reviewing and maintaining a digital archive of papers, publishers [of OA journals] charge authors a fee....

[A]t least in some cases, [OA] be a viable alternative to subscriptions (see box opposite). Perhaps the most notable OA journal in physics is New Journal of Physics (NJP), which was launched 10 years ago this month by the German Physical Society and the Institute of Physics (IOP), which also publishes Physics World....

Although there is an argument that OA journals are more likely to accept poor-quality submissions – why, after all, would a journal turn away a paper when publishing it would net several hundred pounds – that does not seem to have been the case for NJP....Although NJP has broken even this year, it has been subsidized by the IOP for all of its 10 years....


  • With one exception, this is a good survey of gold OA in physics.  The exception is that Banks believes that all OA journals charge publication fees when in fact most do not.  He even uses the erroneous premise to ground a tired objection ("OA journals are more likely to accept poor-quality submissions – why, after all, would a journal turn away a paper when publishing it would net several hundred pounds"), apparently unaware that a higher percentage of TA journals than OA journals charge author-side publication fees.  As I argued in a June 2006 article,

    Now we know that insofar as charging fees for accepted papers is an incentive to lower standards, many more subscription journals are guilty than OA journals.  We know this even before we take into account that OA journals with many excellent submissions can...accept more papers without lowering standards (because they have no size limits) and OA journals with a dearth of excellent submissions can accept fewer papers without shortchanging subscribers (because they have no subscribers).  We know it before we take into account that OA journal fees are much closer to "subsistence-level" compensation than typical subscription fees.  We know it before we take into account that subscription journals justify price increases by pointing to the growing volume of published articles.  We know it before we take into account that fee-charging OA journals have firewalls between their financial and editorial sides.  We know it before we take into account that subscription journals with lower standards and lower rejection rates have higher profit margins (because they perform peer review fewer times per published paper).

    For other arguments that the business models of OA journals are less likely to decrease quality than to increase it, see my article from October 2006.

  • Note the important disclosure which I haven't seen elsewhere:  the OA New Journal of Physics broke even this year.
  • The same issue of Physics World contains the published edition of John Harnad's article, Free For All, which differs somewhat from the OA preprint we blogged last month.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

National Film Board of Canada opens its vault

In July, Canada's National Film Board opened a beta site with video from NFB-funded films, many in full length. (Thanks to Blogue du GTA.)

Update (1/26/08). It's now out of beta and part of the main NFB site; see this CBC story. See also NFB's YouTube channel.

OA and digital history

Interchange: The Promise of Digital History, Journal of American History, September 2008. Interview with a group of historians. (Thanks to Mills Kelly.)

... [Daniel J. Cohen:] The debate about openness on the Internet has generally focused on ethical values such as sharing and liberty—openness as “the right thing to do” or appropriate to the nature of education and academia. These are worthy and important values, and ones I believe in. With the exception of one of my books, I have given away everything I’ve written. And for nearly fifteen years at [the Center for History and New Media], it has been a core value that we provide open and free access to all of our archives, publications, Web sites, and software.

But now that we have seen the true nature and impact of the Web, the debate over openness can also be framed in pragmatic terms; often to the surprise of the provider of the open scholarship or primary resource, openness benefits the provider as much as the reader or user of a resource.

Let’s begin with secondary sources, historical scholarship. In a world where we have instantaneous access to billions of documents online, why would you want the precious article or book you spent so much time on to exist only on paper, or behind a pay wall? This is a sure path to invisibility in the digital age. ...

It is time we historians recognize that we are far behind the curve on open access to our scholarship ...

On open access to primary sources, many of the same arguments hold true. Also important is what Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information has called “computational access.” Open access to historical scholarship is about human audiences; open access to primary sources is about machine audiences. Unless we can have machines scan, sort, and apply digital techniques to the full texts of documents, we can’t do sophisticated digital scholarship. This is why truly free and open projects such as the Open Content Alliance are more important than Google Books, and why we should lobby hard for this more expansive kind of access to digital resources. ...

Art as a commons

Rachel Breen, Towards a Collective Understanding of Art As a Commons, On The Commons, November 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

This is the first in a series of essays about art and the commons based on interviews and research in 2007-2008. Watch for more from Rachel Breen in the near future. Editors

How is art a commons? In many conversations with artists and cultural workers from around the country, I had the opportunity to discuss how we might give more shape to the notion that art is a commons. A commons-based society could help increase the ways art provides meaning and value to all of our lives. The current status of the art market – the buying and selling of art at exorbitant prices and an increasingly privatized and exclusive sphere where art is out of reach, literally and figuratively, hurts us all. While most would agree that art is worth so much more than what it can be bought and sold for, (if it can be sold at all) the relentless expansion of the market into the world of art calls us to protect access to making and participating in art. While preventing further encroachment of the market into the commons of art and culture can help insure that people can enjoy and partake of art in the broadest sense, it will also protect artists’ ability to more freely draw from material, ideas and ways of working in order to create anew. This article, the first in a series, seeks to initiate a dialogue about art as a commons and how a common understanding of this notion might help us to sustain and promote creativity and access to the arts....

Presentations from OA Days in Berlin

The presentations, audio, and video from Open-Access-Tage Berlin (Berlin, October 9-10, 2008) are now online.

Presentations from African e-publishing conference

The presentations from Putting African Journals On Line: Opportunities, Implications and Limits (Dakar, October 6-7, 2008) are now online. Several discuss OA. (Thanks to eIFL.)

For TA publishers, allowing author self-archiving is all we can ask

Stevan Harnad, Elsevier Again Confirms Its Position on the Side of the Green OA Angels, Open Access Archivangelism, November 29, 2008.

Summary:  A publisher that has a Green policy on OA self-archiving (by the author) is removing the single biggest obstacle to Green OA (hence to OA), as well as to Green OA Mandates by authors' institutions and funders, namely, the author's worry that to self-archive would be to violate copyright and/or to risk not being published by his journal of choice. No one is asking non-OA publishers to support OA -- just not to oppose it. What will ensure that not only a small fraction of authors but all authors provide Green OA is Green OA mandates. Green OA mandates are facilitated by publishers with Green policies on OA self-archiving. That does not, however, require that publishers agree to allow 3rd parties to download their proprietary files automatically (simply because authors themselves cannot be bothered to do the requisite keystrokes), for that would be tantamount to asking publishers to become Gold OA publishers.

PS:  Stevan's support for Elsevier's green OA policy encountered some opposition in the AmSci OA Forum.  In his full post (of which this is just the summary) he reprints the opposing arguments and replies to them.

No-fee OA journal receives grant funding

Ethics & Global Politics, an OA journal by Co-Action Publishing, has received grant funding from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research and the Swedish Research Council. The grants will cover article-processing charges for 2009. (Thanks to Jim Till.)

New version of ticTOCs

A new version of ticTOCs, an OA index and subscription service of journal tables of contents, has been released. From the announcement:
  • Find over 11,000 scholarly journal TOCs from over 400 publishers by title, subject or publisher,
  • View the latest TOC for each journal,
  • Link to the full text of around 250,000 articles (where institutional or personal subscription allows),
  • Export TOC feeds to popular feedreaders,
  • Select and save (by ticking them) journal titles in order to view future TOCs ...

New OA book on intellectual commons by James Boyle

James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, released November 17, 2008 by Yale University Press. Boyle is a professor at Duke Law School and chairman of Creative Commons. The book is also available OA as a CC-licensed download.

... Boyle argues that just as every informed citizen needs to know at least something about the environment or civil rights, every citizen should also understand intellectual property law. Why? Because intellectual property rights mark out the ground rules of the information society, and today’s policies are unbalanced, unsupported by evidence, and often detrimental to cultural access, free speech, digital creativity, and scientific innovation./p>

Boyle identifies as a major problem the widespread failure to understand the importance of the public domain—the realm of material that everyone is free to use and share without permission or fee. The public domain is as vital to innovation and culture as the realm of material protected by intellectual property rights, he asserts, and he calls for a movement akin to the environmental movement to preserve it. ...

See also our past posts on James Boyle.

CiteSeerX software released

The CiteSeerX project has released SeerSuite, a tool kit of software for digital libraries and academic search engines; see the announcement. SeerSuite is available gratis under the free and open source Apache License.

See also our past posts on CiteSeerX (and its predecessor, CiteSeer) and ChemXSeer.

Update. See also this article from Information Today.

Hindawi announces first institutional members

Hindawi has announced the first members of its institutional membership program, announced in August of this year. Authors from member institutions won't pay any article processing charges for Hindawi's OA journals. The initial members are: See also our post announcing Hindawi's institutional membership program.

On OA journals in developing countries

Laura Wimberley, Open Access Journals in the Developing World, apparently a pre-print, self-archived November 27, 2008. Abstract:
This paper examines the use of open access journals by academic libraries in the developing world: are open source journals a good choice for universities in the developing world, and to what extent are they currently being used? So far, the developing world has been held back from participating in that flow by three blockages: the costs of purchasing journals to read, the costs of publishing researching in journals, and censorship. I argue that truly open access requires removing all three blocks, for the sake of human development.