Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Text of seminar on open knowledge

New issue of IFLA-IT newsletter

A new issue of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions' Information Technology Section is now available. News topics include ETDs in Nigeria, the Database of African Theses and Dissertations, open bibliographic data, and digital libraries. (Thanks to Olivier Charbonneau.)

Progress on free movement of knowledge in the EU

Council of the European Union, Conclusions on the definition of a "2020 Vision for the European Research Area", report, adopted at the Competitiveness Council meeting (Brussels, December 1-2, 2008). (Thanks to INIST and Fabrizio Tinti.)

Background: The EU is considering adopting a "fifth freedom", the free movement of knowledge within the EU's internal market. (The first four freedoms are the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor.) There's been discussion over what exactly that would mean, including potential implications for OA.

[Vision statement:] By 2020, all actors fully benefit from the “Fifth Freedom” across the [European Research Area]: free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology. ...

The ERA provides for open circulation of knowledge across national borders. ...

Actors are able to access, manage and share knowledge (including via open access) across the ERA using interoperable high performance information systems. ...

See also our past posts on the fifth freedom.

OA to working papers and the democratization of research

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc and the democratization of research, The RePEc Blog, December 9, 2008.

... The main goal of RePEc is precisely the democratization of research. Given publication delays in Economics, if one wants to stay abreast of developments at the frontier of research, one needs to read working papers. Before the Internet, the only way to get hold of them was either if you were already at a top ranked Economics department, or if you were somehow within a club of well connected researchers. Just being aware of the most current research was a challenge for anybody outside these circles. This is what motivated Thomas Krichel, as a research assistant in 1991, to find ways to learn about new working papers, and share what he found. This initiative evolved into RePEc in 1997. ...

Project on human rights and health info

New York Law School and HIFA2105 launch project on health information and human rights, press release, December 10, 2008.

To mark the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the New York Law School and Healthcare Information For All by 2015 would like to announce the launch of the NYLS/HIFA2015 Project on Health Information and Human Rights. Born from the HIFA2015 discussion thread on Human Rights and Healthcare Information, we have put together a project dedicated to exploring the use of a human rights model to approach the problem of access to healthcare information. ...

[W]e have decided to survey international legal authority and draft a memorandum establishing a baseline of international law on access to healthcare information as a human right. As soon as we complete the research and memorandum we hope to make it available for use in your advocacy work as well as begin to develop models for implementation of this vital right. ...

Profile of Malamud and PACER

Ryan Singel, Online Rebel Publishes Millions of Dollars in U.S. Court Records for Free, Wired, December 12, 2008. A profile of Public.Resource.Org's Carl Malamud and the Public Access to Court Electronic Records program.

See also our past posts on PRO and on PACER.

Presentation on chemistry resources, quality, and OA

Antony Williams, Qualifying Online Information Resources for Chemists, presented at Making the Web Work for Science: The Impact of e-Science and the Cyber-Infrastructure (Washington, DC, December 8, 2008). See also Williams' blog post:

... I provided an overview of how access to information has changed over the past 20 years for me. I talked about the challenges for publishers serving the chemistry community and how their business models are being challenged and how I empathize with the struggle to figure out how to deal with it. I talked about quality and how care must be taken when using information online. We are all challenged with errors - whether you consider PubChem, ChemSpider, Wikipedia or any of the other online databases they all have errors - how do you find them? ...

I publicly blessed the efforts of publishers such as the [Royal Society of Chemistry] and Nature Publishing group for the efforts they are making to support InChI and improve the quality of document presentation online. I blessed [Chemical Abstracts Service] as a treasure trove of information and the gold standard of curated chemistry. We need them all to be successful for the sake of our science. The challenge is how to fit into the ongoing proliferation of free access to information without modifying the business models. ...

500 DSpace installations worldwide

DSpace announced on December 9 that there are now more than 500 DSpace-based repositories worldwide, from 60 different countries.
... DSpace continues to be the most popular repository solution, with over a third of the known institutional repositories using the DSpace software. Each month there are between 10-15 new instances of DSpace. ...

Draft report on the global info commons

Andrew Garton, Growing the Global Information Commons, report for the Association for Progressive Communications. A draft in progress. From the introduction:

Growing the Global Information Commons is a scoping paper promoting understanding of the importance of an information and knowledge commons and work towards further nurturing and expansion of it as a strategic priority for the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). ...

This scoping paper describes the contribution the APC has made to the global information commons and how its ongoing engagement, within the broader program towards a commons-based society, how this relates to APC's overall mission, concerns and issues for developing countries and civil society, policy trends and spaces, key actors, and an overview of current advocacy and campaigns, resource requirements and where relevant, gender concerns. ...

Comment. The draft is on a wiki, and is undergoing recent editing, but I'm not sure if it's open for others to contribute.

See also our past posts on the Association for Progressive Communications.

Obama's Energy nominee and OA

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama this week announced his selection for Secretary of Energy, physicist Steven Chu. Being a physicist, it might come as little surprise that Chu has a number of publications OA in arXiv -- 11, to be specific. (I haven't looked at all the publications naming "Steven Chu" as an author, but most seem to be from the same Chu.)

But arXiv isn't Chu's only connection to OA. PubMedCentral also has 14 OA articles with Chu as an author. (See my disclaimer above about possible confusion with names.)

Chu has also published in the OA journal Nucleic Acids Research and chosen the OA option in the hybrid PNAS.

Finally, Chu's lab at Berkeley has a list of almost 50 publications by the group -- each with a link to an OA copy.

On the other hand:

  • Chu wasn't the submitter or an endorser on any of the arXiv papers bearing his name.
  • I also found examples when Chu didn't choose an available OA option, such as this publication in RNA. (The article is now OA, as are all RNA articles, after a 6 month embargo.)
  • Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, wasn't a signatory to the three Nobelist letters on public access I reviewed (1, 2, 3) -- although all the signatories to those letters were in chemistry or physiology/medicine, not in physics.

Comment. It's hard to draw the conclusion from this data that Chu is a die-hard OA supporter; for instance, I didn't find a single public statement by Chu in favor of OA. But the pattern suggests Chu has an intimate familiarity, as an author, with OA.

In his November newsletter, Peter called for energy research to become the next priority for a federal OA funder mandate. Chu's background might mean OA advocates will have a sympathetic ear at the top of the Department of Energy.

See also our past posts on the U.S. Department of Energy.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Greenstone receives Mellon award

The Greenstone digital library software has received a $50,000 prize from the Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration.

See also our past posts on Greenstone.

Australian govt. blogging on OA to PSI

Australia's Department of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy has launched a Digital Economy Future Directions blog which is discussing, among other topics, OA to public sector information.

Anne Fitzgerald notes by email that

... I believe that this is the first time this issue has been specifically raised for public consultation by the federal government, although the Victorian Parliament has an ongoing inquiry into access to PSI ....

New OA journal of chemistry

Antony Williams, Announcing the ChemSpider Journal of Chemistry, ChemSpider Blog, December 12, 2008.

The ChemSpider Journal of Chemistry is an experiment. We intend to demonstrate how modern web technologies can be used to dramatically enhance the type of information that can be communicated using web-based tools over standard online publishing approaches. ...

We invite manuscripts from anybody interested in exposing their work in the field of chemistry and intersecting fields. ... We encourage submitters to challenge us to host your manuscripts in a manner which most clearly communicates your science. This may include hosting various forms of data made available to the public as Open Data, providing visualization tools for the display of molecules, spectra, images and videos. We intend to not be constrained and to make full use of web-based tools available today and coming online tomorrow. ...

IRs and institutional strategy

Stijn Hoorens, et al., Embracing the future: Embedding digital repositories in the University of London, report for the SHERPA-LEAP Consortium, 2008. See also the shorter companion paper. (Thanks to Martin Moyle.) Abstract:

Digital repositories can help Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to develop coherent and coordinated approaches to capture, identify, store and retrieve intellectual assets such as datasets, course material and research papers. With the advances of technology, an increasing number of Higher Education Institutions are implementing digital repositories. The leadership of these institutions, however, has been concerned about the awareness of and commitment to repositories, and their sustainability in the future.

This study informs a consortium of thirteen London institutions with an assessment of current awareness and attitudes of stakeholders regarding digital repositories in three case study institutions. The report identifies drivers for, and barriers to, the embedding of digital repositories in institutional strategy. The findings therefore should be of use to decision-makers involved in the development of digital repositories. Our approach was entirely based on consultations with specific groups of stakeholders in three institutions through interviews with specific individuals.

Influence of research assessment on publication practices

The Research Information Network has commissioned a team to study the influence of research assessment on researchers' publication and dissemination practices. (Thanks to LiquidPub.)
... The results of this work will be published in summer 2009 and will help to inform those participating in the development of the [Research Excellence Framework] about its potential impact on researchers’ behaviour and on the development and take-up of new modes of scholarly communications and of research information services. ...

Podcast of Rich Roberts on OA

Scientific American has posted a new edition of its Science Talk podcast, featuring (among other guests and topics) Nobel laureate Rich Roberts discussing OA.

See also our past posts on Roberts.

David Bollier's new book on the information commons

David Bollier, Viral Spiral:  How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own, The New Press, Fall 2008.  A new book now available for ordering.  From the blurb:

From free and open-source software, Creative Commons licenses, Wikipedia, remix music and video mashups, peer production, open science, open education, and open business, the world of digital media has spawned a new “sharing economy” that increasingly competes with entrenched media giants.

Reporting from the heart of this “free culture” movement, journalist and activist David Bollier provides the first comprehensive history of the attempt by a global brigade of techies, lawyers, artists, musicians, scientists, businesspeople, innovators, and geeks of all stripes to create a digital republic committed to freedom and innovation. Viral Spiral —the term Bollier coins to describe the almost-magical process by which Internet users can come together to build online commons and tools—brilliantly interweaves the disparate strands of this eclectic movement. The story describes major technological developments and pivotal legal struggles, as well as fascinating profiles of hacker Richard Stallman, copyright scholar Lawrence Lessig, and other colorful figures....

PS:  See our past posts on David Bollier.

Nature OA supplement on quantitative genetics

Nature has launched an OA supplement on Quantitative genetics.

Forthcoming OA repository for veterinary medicine

The Utrecht University Library is planning to launch an OA repository for Veterinary Sciences and Medicine.  (Thanks to the Igitur Newsletter.) 

Update.  Although the project uses the word "repository", it will not apparently accept deposits.  It will harvest metadata from veterinary content on deposit in other repositories.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

OA and IRs for remaking scholarly publishing

Mary Anne Kennan, Reassembling scholarly publishing: open access, institutional repositories and the process of change, a PhD dissertation recently approved by the University of New South Wales, 2008.  (Thanks to Colin Steele and congratulations to Mary Anne.) 

Abstract:   Open access (OA) to scholarly publishing is encouraged and enabled by new technologies such as the Internet, the World Wide Web, their standards and protocols, and search engines. Institutional repositories (IR) as the most recent technological incarnations of OA enable researchers and their institutions to make accessible the outputs of research. While many OA repositories are being implemented, researchers are surprisingly slow in adopting them. While activists promote OA as emanating from the ideals of scholarship, others revile OA as undermining of scholarly publishing’s economic base and therefore undermining quality control and peer review. Change is occurring but there are contested views and actions. This research seeks to increase understanding of the issues by addressing the research questions: “How and why is open access reassembling scholarly publishing?” and “What role does introducing an open access institutional repository to researchers play in this reassembly?”

This thesis contributes to answering these questions by investigating two IR implementations and the research communities they serve. The research was conducted as an Actor-Network Theory (ANT) field study, where the actors were followed and their relations and controversies explored in action as their landscape was being contested. The research found that central to our understanding of the reassembling of scholarly publishing is the agency emerging from the sociomaterial relations of the OA vision, IR technology and researchers. Being congruent with the aims of scholarship, and also being flexible and mutable, the OA vision enrols researchers to enact it through OA IR, thus transforming scholarly communications. This is counteracted by publishers aligned with the academic reward network within traditional publishing networks. In this delicate choreography the OA IR, its developers, researchers, university administrators and policy makers are merging as critical actors with their more or less congruent vision of OA enacted in their network. The comparative ANT account of the two IR life stories shows how such enactment depends on the degree to which different OA visions could converge, enrol and mobilise other actors, in particular institutional actors, such as a mandate, in transforming researchers’ publishing behaviour.

This thesis contributes to a novel and in-depth understanding of OA and IR and their roles in reassembling scholarly publishing. It also contributes to the use of ANT in information systems research by advancing a sociomaterial ontology which recognises the intertwining of human and material agency.

Update (1/16/09). An article based on this dissertation is now OA as well.

Interview with the SURF community manager on OA

In the Spotlight: Annemiek van der Kuil, SURF community manager, Igitur Newsletter, December 2008.  Excerpt:

The SURFfoundation is an organization for ICT in higher education. What is the connection to Open Access (OA) and what part does it play in SURF’s mission?

... Through the SURFshare-programme, SURFfoundation wishes to establish a joint infrastructure that advances the accessibility as well as the exchange of scientific information. A central point in this programme is that results of publicly financed research should be publicly accessible (open access).

OA has come a long way in the Netherlands over the past few years and SURF has been instrumental in the growth of this movement. Can you tell us about some of the milestones you've reached?

With the DARE programme, a Dutch network of institutional repositories based on international standards was realized. All institutional repositories in the Netherlands can be accessed through a single national web portal NARCIS (formerly DAREnet). Material within repositories is also being harvested by major search engines like Google and Google Scholar. The full text of more than 160.000 scholarly articles is now available and is linked to many international sources. This system prevents knowledge from being locked up in commercial databases.

Together with all the universities SURF has also realised Cream of Science, which is now a component of NARCIS. It is the Netherlands’ national research showcase on the Internet, featuring more than 50,000 publications by more than 200 top Dutch scientists and scholars. Several other European countries are busy following this good practice.

Another milestone was Promise of Science, otherwise referred to as the national dissertation site. The site makes it easy to find and consult tens of thousands of dissertations by Dutch PhDs. Such transparent access to dissertations complements the Cream of Science collection; not only does NARCIS feature established researchers, but it also turns the spotlight on talented up-and-coming scientists and scholars

The SURF programme SURFshare has named 2009 Open Access Year. Why now? What do you hope to accomplish in 2009?

In addition to the developments within the Netherlands in the past years, there have also been important developments happening in other countries and within various groups of ‘stakeholders’. For example, the recent recommendation of the European Universities Association (EUA), policy changes at universities such as Harvard University and the University of Southampton and the pilot being undertaken by the European Commission.... In the Netherlands, the time has also come to focus on policy and practice in order to give a strong impulse to opening access to the results of publicly funded research.

The focus in 2009 will be on:

  1. The realization of a collective Open Access policy in line with the Berlin Declaration;
  2. Implementation of the Berlin Declaration in policy and practice (local and national);
  3. Implementation of a legal framework by using three kinds of licences already developed by SURF (Licence to Publish; Licence to Deposit; Licence to Use)
  4. Increasing the awareness, involvement and commitment of the primary stakeholders, such as policy makers, researchers, research financiers, etc.
  5. Particular focus on the stakeholders in the Netherlands’ Hoger Beroepsonderwijs (HBO) (universities of applied sciences)....

TA publishers allow free online access for the RAE

Deal streamlines article access for research assessors, Research Information, December 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

Assessors in the UK's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) have had fee-waived access to 150,000 journal articles, thanks to a deal agreed with the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS).

The idea behind the agreement was to simplify the process - instead of participating institutions being required to submit print copies of their papers they could simply submit the Digital Object Identifier (DOIs) of selected journal articles to the RAE team.

The RAE team could then use the CrossRef database to link to the journal article on the publisher site and a specially-created Athens account handled authentication. PLS, which represents publishers’ collective licensing interests, brokered a deal to allow fee-waivers and direct access to publisher content. PLS also co-ordinated the project on behalf of around 2000 publishers.

Ed Hughes, RAE manager, said: ‘We would like to thank publishers for not only agreeing to a licence solution for the RAE, but also for allowing our expert review panels direct access to their content.  We wanted to make it easier for submitting HEIs to provide material to the panel electronically and we needed to simplify access for our 1100 panel members.  These arrangements have allowed us to accomplish the RAE in a more efficient way, and has eased the burden on both submitting institutions and panels.  I’m delighted that publishers and HEFCE were able to collaborate effectively on this vital project.’

Comment.  If it works, OK.  But a simpler, cheaper, and more useful solution would be OA for each of the papers in question.  The free online access would cover every user and every purpose, it wouldn't require negotiating with 2,000 publishers, and it would develop habits of OA archiving that would accelerate research in every field.  The PLS system may be a simplification compared to the mass submission of hardcopy articles.  But it's very complex compared to the submission of URLs to OA copies on deposit in institutional repositories. 

December issue of BC ELN

The December issue of BC ELN Connect is now online.  (BC ELN = British Columbia Electronic Library Network.)  Here are the OA-related stories:

ASIS&T survey of authors who have published in OA journals

Margeaux Johnson and Nancy K. Roderer, ASIS&T Scholarly Communication Survey: Open Access Authors, ASIS&T Bulletin, October/November 2008.  Excerpt:

...In 2008 the Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (JASIST) became a green-road open access journal. Under this policy authors publishing in JASIST may post preprints to their own websites or their institution’s repositories with links to the final article and to the online journal.

Prior to this decision the ASIS&T Board of Directors developed a survey to explore how this new policy would affect readership, submissions and subscriptions. The survey was targeted toward ASIS&T members, JASIST authors and researchers publishing in the field of information science (seen as potential JASIST authors)....For a detailed description of the survey and overall survey results, please refer to the ASIS&T Scholarly Communication Survey. For a look at the survey results as they apply to ASIS&T members specifically, please see the ASIS&T Membership Survey 2008: Responses from ASIS&T Members.

Among survey respondents, there was an overwhelmingly high level of awareness of open access (OA). Almost all (95.7% of participants) knew about open access journals and 60.4% indicated that they knew “a lot” or “quite a lot.” Among ASIS&T members there was even a higher level of awareness, with 96.3% responding that they knew about OA. Despite the high level of awareness, only 26% of ASIS&T members reported having ever published in an open access journal. This figure was slightly higher, 29.4%, among all respondents. This paper will examine the survey responses of the 29.4% (N=171) authors who have published in OA journals....


Who are the authors participating in open access?
Authors who have published in OA journals differ from the larger survey population in three ways – geographically they are more international, professionally they are more likely to work for a college or university and they are more likely to have more years of research experience.

What are the greater publication trends among open access authors?
OA authors have higher publication rates than the larger survey population and a higher number of publications in their careers. Nearly 93% submit articles to peer-reviewed journals. However, when considering which journals to submit manuscripts to, OA authors have similar preferences to the general survey respondents. They also tend to consider the same factors in deciding where to submit.

What level of access do open access authors have to journal literature?
Overall, there is “good” or “excellent” access to journals among the group we surveyed. There is a noted preference for electronic access to journals among OA authors.

Do their attitudes toward open access differ from general survey respondents or ASIST members?
No. Overall there is a relatively positive attitude toward the concept of open access, particularly green road open access. Authors indicated an interest in archiving their scholarly works in institutional repositories.

NISC adopts a hybrid OA policy

According to the December 2008 issue of NISC News (not online), South Africa's NISC has adopted a hybrid OA policy for its 10 TA journals.  (Thanks to Barbara Kirsop.) 

Comment.  The policy scores well on my criteria for hybrid journal programs.  It allows participating authors to retain copyright, it promises to reduce subscription prices in proportion to author uptake, and it puts no restrictions whatsoever on the author's distribution of the published article.


What open libraries can learn from open source

Thomas Krichel, From Open Source to Open Libraries, ASIS&T Bulletin, December 2008 / January 2009.  Excerpt:

...This contribution...outlines a number of direct correlations between the functions of libraries and the characteristics of OSS [open source software], and by extension, how the principles of OSS can be applied to the distribution of “open libraries” as a future direction for librarianship....I want to look at what can be learned from the OSS software to understand the changing nature of libraries....


Libraries traditionally have been working with non-free information. They have argued that resources should be pooled to purchase access to such information for community members. Their promotion of free information has been hypocritical. They have advocated free access to information as long as it requires paying libraries to provide it.

The most important trend libraries are facing is the increase of free access information resources. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the web. More and more serious information is being made available for free on websites....

Generally, we see societies moving from an economy of information to an economy of attention. In the economy of information, information is rare and attention is plentiful. In the economy of attention, it is the opposite....So far the library sector is stuck in the economy-of-information track. It will wither if it does not get out of there.

Libraries have the opportunity to participate in the creation of open libraries that provide structured information on behalf of community members for free reuse by others, which can be a value-added business model for them. Building open libraries requires technical skill current librarians generally don’t have. It requires a business sense they have problems perceiving. And it requires a change in purpose that they are slow to accept. Therefore, I am not optimistic about the future of the formal library sector. But, of course, open libraries that are modeled after the open source movement are here to stay.

Update (1/29/09). Krichel has made another OA copy of this article with improved HTML coding.

SWORD plugin for OJS

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New no-fee OA journal of infectious diseases

The Journal of Global Infectious Diseases is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by Medknow and the International Infectiologists Network. See the announcement from Medknow. The journal does not charge author-processing charges. Reuse for any "reasonable non-commercial purpose" is permitted.

The OA mandate at Napier University

Napier University adopted an OA mandate in April 2008 to take effect in January 2009.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

A - Material which represents the total publicly available research and scholarly output of the University is to be located and deposited as fulltext in the digital Repository@Napier. It is University policy to maximise the visibility, usage and impact of its research output by enabling central online access to that corpus of work for all potential users and for researchers throughout the world.

B - In contrast, exceptionally, mandatory deposit of descriptive metadata for open access and identification of intellectual output will apply, where academic outputs are deemed suitable for commercial exploitation, where individual or institutional, royalties or revenues legally accrue from such outputs, or where ownership of output is complex as in the film industry.

C All research output is to be self-deposited, so that the repository forms the official record of the University’s research publications; all publication lists required for administration or promotion will be generated from this source.

D The comprehensive, online, University repository will be used in future to respond to bibliometric research assessments with reduced input and effort from staff.

EAcademic staff, research associates, research assistants, research students and other members of University staff are entitled and required to deposit digital copies of refereed and accepted research documents, or material which has been displayed, performed or publicly shown, to the extent that such documents or materials constitute work carried out by you during the course of your employment and which relates or is capable of relating to the business of the University.

  • Journal articles or conference papers may be submitted as accepted drafts not yet refereed (preprints) but it is mandatory that the refereed, final, submitted, accepted, version (postprint) is later entered into the repository as the last university owned version of the document. If publishers prohibit deposit in that form then the preprint plus corrigenda should be submitted instead....
  • Post graduate students are required to deposit a digital copy of their thesis, but may apply for a two year embargo on access as laid down in University regulations for submission of theses.
  • Staff and students in the School of Creative Industries are required to make and deposit a representative, descriptive, record of their intellectual output. Images, films, exhibition catalogues, sound or visual recordings of performances or events are acceptable, although fuller records of work may be supplied at their discretion....

Approved by Academic Board, 25th April 2008.


  • Kudos to Napier for this strong, clear policy.  I particularly applaud one feature seen in almost no other university policies to date:  "all publication lists required for...promotion will be generated from" the institutional repository.  This is a crucial incentive for authors and administrative convenience for the P&T committee. 
  • I also like the way the policy deals with works that cannot be made OA because of copyright holder objections or risks to author royalties.  First, it requires OA metadata at the very least.  Second, for research articles, it requires OA for the preprint and corrigenda (differences between the preprint and the peer-reviewed postprint).  This is much better than simply creating an exception for such works and letting publisher interests overrule university interests. 
  • One more tweak could improve the policy.  For research articles, it could require deposit of peer-reviewed postprints immediately upon acceptance, require immediate OA release of the metadata, and allow delayed OA release of the full text, for example to respect a publisher's embargo.  (The policy could still require immediate OA release of the preprint+corrigenda.)  This is what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access and what I call the dual deposit/release strategy.


The OCA on the costs of the Google settlement for libraries

A Raw Deal for Libraries, Open Content Alliance blog, December 6, 2008.  Excerpt:

One of the most surprising, even shocking, features of the Google-AAP-Authors Guild Settlement is how hard it is on libraries. Given that Google Book Search could not have gotten off the ground without the cooperation of various university libraries, it is particularly disheartening that the proposed settlement treats them with such an iron fist at the same time as it expects them to foot much of the bill through subscriptions. It will be interesting to see how many libraries continue as partners, given Google’s bait-and-switch.

Take for example the digital copy that Google gives to a library in exchange for scanning its copy of a book. Previously, all library partners were given digital copies. According to the proposed settlement, however, only “fully participating libraries” will continue to receive copies from Google. These are libraries that (1) continue to provide in-copyright books for scanning and that (2) enter into a new agreement with the Book Rights Registry releasing them from liability for copyright infringement in relation to the Google scanning project. All other categories of libraries will no longer receive copies in exchange and, to make matters worse, they will have to destroy the digital copies of in-copyright books they already possess or otherwise expose themselves to the implied threat of a lawsuit from authors and publishers over copyright infringement.

Yet even these “fully participating” libraries are granted only a few permissible uses of their copies (e.g., services for the disabled, replacement copies, five-page access) while other uses that are arguably fair use (interlibrary loan, use in e-reserves and course management systems) are strictly forbidden. Compare this to the former agreements. In Google’s 2006 agreement with the University of California, available here, the university was allowed to use the digital copy to provide (unspecified) services to its library patrons (section 4.10). UC was also allowed to “add value” to the copy and possibly charge a fee for its use  (see section 4.9, “Use of University Digital Copy”)....Fully participating libraries must now give up such benefits and, if that wasn’t sacrifice enough, they must also guarantee the security of their digital copies as laid out in a 17-page “security standard,” under the threat of fees up to $7.5 million for security breaches.

Libraries have made huge investments in the books that Google is digitizing. Not only did they purchase, process, shelve and care for the books, over many years, but they continue to carry significant overhead costs for their continued use (including Google’s use!). Much of this investment has been made with taxpayer dollars. And yet libraries receive 0% in this proposed settlement while Google gets 37%. What kind of partnership is this? Taxpayers should be alarmed that their money has gone to provide a service that Google is exploiting on its own terms, in its own interests, with no monetary and little other return to the libraries.

By dangling the threat of future lawsuits, the settlement seems to be manipulating libraries into new legal agreements that 1) renege on the benefits of former agreements; 2) eliminate the digital copy for many libraries; 3) impose excessive restrictions on how remaining digital copies are exchanged; 4)  impose harshly punitive security obligations; and 4) offer no revenue sharing or compensation for the libraries’ investments....

More on FOSS and OA

Stevan Harnad, The Giveaway/NonGiveaway Distinction at the Free Software Free Society Meeting in Kerala, Open Access Archivangelism, December 10, 2008. 

SummaryFree/Open Software (notably the first Free Software for creating OAI-compliant Open Access Institutional Repositories, EPrints, created in 2000, distributed under the GNU license, and now used worldwide) has been central to the growth of the Open Access Movement. However, there are also crucial distinctions that need to be made and understood, among the movements for (1) Free/Open source software, (2) Open Access (to peer-reviewed research), (3) Open Data, (4) Creative Commons licensing, and (5) Wikipedia-style collective writing. Open Access (OA) is focussed primarily on refereed research articles. The crucial distinctions revolve mostly around (a) the fundamental difference between author giveaway vs. non-giveaway work and (b) the functional differences between the re-use needs for peer-reviewed research article texts on the one hand, and data, software and other kinds of digital content on the other. (PPT)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Public Resource's recommendations to the transition

Google Book Search now includes digitized magazines

Magazines are now included in the results on Google Book Search; see the announcement.

Update. See also the coverage in Information Today.

Electronic access to European law

The European Legal e-Access Conference (Paris, December 10-12, 2008) is now underway. Many of the presentations are now online, including several that discuss OA. (Thanks to Alain Pierrot.)

Wilbanks presentation from CNI meeting

John Wilbanks has posted his presentation, E-Research, Data Integration, from the Coalition for Networked Information fall meeting (Washington, DC, December 8-9, 2008).

Search Google-digitized books from Madrid university

The Universidad Complutense de Madrid has launched a portal to search OA public domain books from its library digitized by Google. According to the page, UCM is the first non-Anglo university to launch a partnership with Google Book Search. (Thanks to BusalBlog.)

Anecdote on the citation advantage

Emma Nelms, QUT ePrints : Citation rate boost, Library-f-IT, December 10, 2008.

In early 2005 Professor Ray Frost began uploading postprint versions of his journal articles to QUT ePrints. When he saw how frequently they were being accessed, he uploaded some of his older publications (from 2000-2004) and now has over 350 of his publications in the repository. Professor Frost says he has found that it actually saves him time as it only takes him around 5 minutes to upload each paper and he now has far fewer emails requesting free copies of his work.

However, the best return on his investment (of time) has been the phenomenal growth in his citation rate since 2005 (as indicated in Web of Science). Ray Frost is convinced that the dramatic increase in his citation rate is due to the open access copies of his papers that now supplement the journal versions. Since 2005, the postprint versions of his articles have been downloaded over 174,000 times; including 115,866 downloads in the last 12 months. ...

See also our earlier anecdote on Frost.

New OA journal of social research

New Social Inquiry is a new peer-reviewed OA journal edited by graduate students at Carleton University. The deadline for submissions to the first issue is January 19, 2009. (Thanks to Sam Ladner.)

OA database of IP litigation

The Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse is a new OA database by the Law, Science & Technology Program at Stanford Law School. (Thanks to Bernie Sloan.) From the press release:

... This publicly available, online research tool will enable scholars, policymakers, lawyers, judges, and journalists to review real-time data about IP legal disputes that have been filed across the country, and ultimately to analyze the efficacy of the system that regulates patents, copyrights, trademarks, antitrust, and trade secrets.

The Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse database includes real-time data summaries, industry indices, and trend analysis together with a full-text search engine, providing detailed and timely information that cannot be found elsewhere in the public domain. Stanford Law School, along with its partner organizations that funded the development and provided industry insight, are releasing the IPLC in phased modules, and today’s release, the Patent Litigation Module, includes more than 23,000 cases filed in U.S. district courts since 2000—raw data for every district court patent case and all results (outcomes and opinions). ...

New version of Google Book Search Bibliography

Charles Bailey has released a new version of his Google Book Search Bibliography.
This bibliography presents selected English-language articles and other works that are useful in understanding Google Book Search. It primarily focuses on the evolution of Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. ...

PEER announces upcoming calls for tender

The PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research) project has announced its upcoming calls for tender on research about OA. From the announcement:
Three strands of research will be tendered:
  1. Behavioural Research: Authors and Users vis-a-vis Journals and Repositories (Call mid-December 2008, Deadline mid-February 2009). The objectives will be to:
    • Track trends and explain patterns of author and user behaviour in the context of so called Green Open Access.
    • Understand the role repositories play for authors in the context of journal publishing.
    • Understand the role repositories play for users in context of accessing journal articles.
  2. Usage Research: Journals and Repositories (Call mid-December 2008, Deadline mid-February 2009). The objectives will be to:
    • Determine usage trends at publishers and repositories;
    • Understand source and nature of use of deposited manuscripts in repositories;
    • Track trends, develop indicators and explain patterns of usage for repositories and journals.
  3. Economic research: The deposit of journal manuscripts in repositories (Summer 2009). The objectives will be to:
    • Compare the efficiency and cost effectiveness of methods of deposit, e.g. publisher-assisted vs. author self-archiving;
    • Compare the efficiency and cost effectiveness of access, e.g. repositories vs. publisher systems. ...
See also our past posts on PEER.

OJS for government documents

Open Government Records is a new application of Open Journal Systems to provide OA to freedom of information requests and responses in Canada. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

More on when publishers accept author addenda

Dorothea Salo, Addenda and power relations, Caveat Lector, December 9, 2008.  Excerpt:

I’ve got an article coming out next year in Cataloging and Classification Quarterly..., published by Taylor and Francis. Their copyright transfer agreement is a pretty typical “we own your firstborn child in perpetuity” deal; the author can use her article herself, and can make it available at her institution, but that’s it.

I got an email from the issue editors yesterday morning, from which I will quote...:

Some of you expressed concerns about the inconsistencies between the copyright transfer form and the T&F statements on author rights. Several of you attached an author addendum to the publication agreement – a practice T&F ordinarily does not allow.

I’ve heard quite a bit about publishers turning down addenda. I read a blog post last week...about the usual excuse being that publishers don’t have time or energy to run every single addendum past their lawyers, so they don’t accept any at all. The post I read last week pointed out rather acerbically that libraries have to deal with bizarre and inconsistent licensing deals from publishers, which is utterly true....The response from publishers was “well, we don’t have the resources to spend on lawyers.” The blogger’s response? “Well, if we didn’t have to deal with your licenses, we could spend more money on your materials!” ...

What I’m interested in here is the power relations. Publishers can shove ridiculous licensing terms at libraries because the negotiation there is anything but a libertarian’s egalitarian ideal. Publishers have the upper hand and they know it, because they have what patrons are demanding that librarians can’t get anywhere else.

A slightly later bit of the email from the issue editors read thusly:

Taylor and Francis will accept the SPARC author addendum for all authors
of papers in this special issue of CCQ.

Well, now. Isn’t that interesting, from a power-relations point of view. Faced with the worst-case possibility of yanked articles (open-access types are bulldogs) and a dead-in-the-water special issue, not to mention browned-off editors and authors, Taylor and Francis folded....

[I]t’s worth noting that author addenda put publishers in the uneasy position of saying “no” to authors, even refusing to publish an article, over something that is palpably unrelated to the article’s quality. Given publishers’ highminded avowals of existing purely for the furtherance of quality scholarship, I think the cognitive dissonance created in authors’ minds by addendum refusal is probably a good and useful thing… even though addenda themselves have proven to be weak sauce in the rubber-meets-road sense of literature hitting the Web. One more evidence of shifting power relations…

OA proposal for the Obama administration still climbing

The proposal to require OA for publicly-funded research is now ranked 13th on Obama CTO, the unofficial web site collecting recommendations for the Obama administration, up one rank from Saturday

It just passed the proposal to make voting machines and their software publicly-owned and transparent, an idea with a wider constituency than OA. 

The OA idea was posted to the site on November 15, and broke into the top 25 on December 4.  Ranks are determined by user votes.

Hannover IR now DINI-certified

DINI (Deutsche Initiative für Netzwerkinformation) has certified SerWisS, the institutional repository at Fachhochschule Hannover. Read the announcement in German or Google's English.

Society publishers' attitudes toward OA

SAGE has released Meeting the challenges: societies and scholarly communication (November 2008), the results of a survey it launched in September.

See esp. Section 3.2.6 on Open Access:

As financial return from publishing services is critical to many of the societies in enabling them to deliver their objectives, it was again not surprising that “changing journals sales models” was ranked by 44% as a major challenge, and open access (OA) as a major challenge by 42%.

While it was expected that such a significant result would mean the majority of respondents would be negative towards OA, open responses show a fairly evenly split, but slightly more optimistic outlook, with replies highlighting the ability to broaden readership, despite the possible impact on revenue (chart h)....

[PS:  Chart h shows that more respondents regarded OA as an opportunity than as a threat, but it does not provide numbers.]

As shown on chart i, the primary concern for respondents was the impact of OA on subscriptions (42%). Also highly ranked was the impact on submissions (35%) which is an area currently unexplored in the literature.  Author copyright was also highly ranked (35%). A surprising result was the lower ranking of the depositing of information (ranked as most important by 21%)....

The responses viewing OA as an opportunity were evenly split among disciplines, which was a surprising result. Given the small numbers of respondents involved, it may not be fully indicative of the different situations faced by societies in different research areas.

However, for respondents in this survey, it was particularly interesting to see both HSS and STM responses fairly evenly split on OA as an opportunity or a threat.

Responses viewing OA as an opportunity highlighted the ability to broaden access. The negative responses related to revenue, copyright, and the lack of funds within certain disciplines to support the model....

The evenly split results pro- and anti- OA across the disciplines in this study is surprising and suggests there may be a greater level in favour of free access to research than anticipated....

Comment.  The report does not indicate what percentage of the responding societies publish OA journals.  Hence, it's hard to tell how well the respondents represent the range of societies on OA issues.  Last year, for example, Caroline Sutton and I found 425 societies publishing 450 full OA journals, and 21 societies publishing 73 hybrid OA journals.  (We'll soon release updated numbers which are considerably higher.)  However, the survey was online and open to any society that wanted to fill it out.  For the 118 societies filling out the survey, the OA positives were higher than the OA negatives.  But I wish I knew whether a wider sample would have pushed the numbers higher or lower.

Update (1/13/09). Also see Andrew Albanese's article on this survey for Library Journal.

The state of an OA journal

Maurilio De Felice and four co-authors, The scientific impact of microbial cell factories, Microbial Cell Factories, December 1, 2008 (provisional PDF).  An editorial.  The journal version has no abstract, but here's the abstract from PubMed:

Microbial Cell Factories was launched in 2002 under an Open Access policy, to cover a gap in the current offer of the scientific literature in Biotechnology and Applied Microbiology areas. The microbial cell factory concept, although present as a side topic within the scope of many journals in the field, deserves a specific attention as a particular, well defined issue in the microbial production and transformation of biotechnologically relevant substances. Intriguingly, the Cell Factory concept stresses the relevance of host cell genetics and metabolism in the context of the production process, and focus on the physiological aspects of the productive event. Since 2002, the journal has published more than 170 relevant manuscripts in form of Research articles, Technical notes, Reviews and Commentaries, highlighting the role of the hosting cell from both biological and technological sides.

OA boosts a journal's impact factor

Alnawaz Rehemtulla, Neoplasia: The Second Decade, Neoplasia, December 2008.  An editorial.

Abstract:  This issue marks the end of the 10-year anniversary of Neoplasia where we have seen exciting growth in both number of submitted and published articles in Neoplasia. Neoplasia was first published in 1999. During the past 10 years, Neoplasia has dynamically adapted to the needs of the cancer research community as technologies have advanced. Neoplasia is currently providing access to articles through PubMed Central to continue to facilitate rapid broad-based dissemination of published findings to the scientific community through an Open Access model. This has in part helped Neoplasia to achieve an improved impact factor this past year, demonstrating that the manuscripts published by Neoplasia are of great interest to the overall cancer research community. This past year, Neoplasia received a record number of articles for review and has had a 21% increase in the number of published articles.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New RSP briefing papers on SWORD, repository planning

The Repositories Support Project has released two new briefing papers, on SWORD and repository requirements.

Presentations from PALINET conference

The presentations from the PALINET 2008 Conference (Philadelphia, October 27-28, 2008) are now online. (Thanks to Jason Kucsma.) See especially:
  • Roy Tenant, Libraries, Archives + Museums (LAMs) Wide Open: Cultural Heritage Institutions in a Networked World
  • Laurie Gemmill, Building a Regional Collaborative Digitization Program
  • Grace Agnew and Mary Beth Weber, Building a Digital Cyberinfrastructure for NJ Education
  • Tom Clareson, Communities of Digitization

U. de Huelva launches its IR

Arias Montano is the new IR at the Universidad de Huelva. (Thanks to BusalBlog.)

See also the repository's blog, launched in June but mostly inactive since then.)

New issue of Learned Publishing

Manage CERN's study of OA publishing

If you recall, last month CERN opened a plum job on its SOAP (Study of Open Access Publishing) project for someone knowledgeable about OA and scientific publishing and willing to supervise a major research project.  CERN has extended the application deadline until January 12, 2009, and created a new web page of details.

This is important work and valuable experience with good pay and perks.  Please pass the word to qualified people who might be interested.

Bollier on Wirtén on the public domain

David Bollier, The Public Domain as a “Jungle”, On the commons, October 28, 2008.  A book review of Eva Wirtén's Terms of Use:  Negotiating the Jungle of the Intellectual Commons, University of Toronto Press, September 2008.  Excerpt:

...In her new book, Terms of Use: Negotiating the Jungle of the Intellectual Commons, Eva Hemmungs Wirtén offers up an internationally minded, interdisciplinary meditation on the “intellectual commons.” Wirtén, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, is developing a sophisticated new frontier of public domain scholarship.

Not only does she explore the value of the public domain in history, and especially the tensions between industrialized and developing nations; she is comfortable discussing the commons as something distinct from the public domain and is conversant with the subtle, complicated political dilemmas posed by the commons.

Wirtén’s special interest in Terms of Use is the non-western, “undeveloped” world....

This raid of the South by the North has reached the point today, writes Wirtén, that plant genetic material from the less developed regions of the world provide “the base for fully 95.7 percent of the global food crop production.” Yet in 2002, Europe, the U.S. and Japan owned nearly 90 percent of all biotechnology patents filed at the European Patent Office....

Wirtén usefully explores the neglected underside of “openness” and “freedom” that American progressives champion. She points out, for example, that expansions of the public domain have been highly useful to multinational corporations as they seek to appropriate the genes, ethnobotanical knowledge and cultural works of indigenous cultures. If such resources must be “open” and in the public domain, then the most powerful, resourceful players will be free to appropriate and privatize them as they strive to develop commercial products. This theme has been powerfully explained by Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder in a notable 2004 law review article, “The Romance of the Public Domain,” which is recommended reading for anyone interested in this issue....

[P]aradoxes abound. Even though public universities have been in the forefront of patenting scientific research, they are also leading new efforts to establish new types of “science commons” for data, journal articles and research.

Similarly, even though large drug companies are aggressively patenting biological knowledge, they are also in the forefront of establishing new research commons in order to share data. The companies increasingly realize the dangers of the so-called “tragedy of the anti-commons,” in which fragmented and dispersed property rights make it difficult to share and collaborate, and therefore to innovate....

More on the Google settlement

Adam Corson-Finnerty, Seven Questions About the GBS Deal, Musings of Mine, December 8, 2008.  Excerpt:

I believe that, broadly speaking, the Google Book Settlement is a good thing.  However, I have some very specific questions that I have not seen addressed by the Library community.

1. The Book Rights Registry is a non-profit entity that plays a critical role in administering the agreement. The BRR is controlled by four author representatives and four publisher representatives, with five votes needed for decisions. Why aren’t there any library representatives on this board? Or “public” representatives.

2. This question is made more important by my reading of what happens if Google decides that the book-scanning business is a money sinkhole. We saw Microsoft bail out of the LiveSearch business, so this is not moot. If Google bails, then the BRR takes over the whole operation. All the more reason to have some “public” directors.

3....Allowing your book to be in the GBS is non-exclusive. Therefore, authors could also give publication rights to a non-profit entity, perhaps their university library, perhaps to a coalition of libraries. Authors could sign a “creative commons” license for their out-of-print titles, thus adding immeasurably to the Open Access corpus. Shouldn’t we get organized and go after this opportunity?

4. I am really freaked by what is said about “mining” the GBS database. Only “non-consumptive” research will be permitted. That appears to mean that you can count words and analyze patterns, but you cannot see the words or phrases in context. This seems so outrageous that I hope that I am mis-interpreting. A simple example will suffice: Suppose you wanted to study how widely the term “fulsome praise” has transmuted from having a negative connotation to having a positive one. You would have to see the phrase in context. Google will allow the establishment of three research bases, all of which are restricted to “non-consumptive” research. OK, but will the “institutional subscription” then allow datamining *with* context? If not, this is a scandal and academic librarians should be shouting from the rooftops....

7. Finally, the Google Agreement is between the company and authors and publishers. Artists, photographers, and illustrators are not included. I have heard that this will mean the images in an in-copyright book will be blanked out. Is this true? Has anyone heard of Google pursuing a “deal” will these groups?

Temple requires OA for all dissertations, from August 2008 onward

Temple University has decided to require OA to all its doctoral dissertations, starting with those completed August 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From the announcement (December 4, 2008):

The Temple University Libraries, in partnership with the Temple University Graduate School, is pleased to announce that all doctoral dissertations completed at Temple University will be freely available online through the University Libraries newly launched Digital Collections website. All dissertations completed at Temple, beginning August 2008, are added to this digital repository....

As part of this shift to all-digital dissertations the Libraries will no longer add paper copies of Temple dissertations to the Library stacks nor will it collect dissertations on microfilm....

All Temple Dissertations will continue to be indexed by the authoritative international database Digital Dissertations (formerly known as Dissertation Abstracts) to which Temple and many other universities subscribe, but now they will also be directly accessible to any Web user free of charge. Many other leading research universities have created similar “open-access” electronic dissertation repositories and have found that cutting-edge doctoral research is more frequently read and cited as a result of making dissertations globally available in an open-access repository. For example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently reported their open-access dissertations are downloaded sixty times more frequently than are restricted versions offered through the institutional subscription to Digital Dissertations....

Comment.  Kudos to Temple.  I hope that all universities will consider an OA mandate for ETDs and that Temple will now consider an OA mandate for peer-reviewed journal articles by faculty, for example, like the Harvard policy.


Open Milton

The Open Knowledge Foundation has launched Open Milton.  From the site:

The 9th of December 2008 is John Milton's 400th birthday. To celebrate this life-long advocate of liberty we've officially launched 'Open Milton' – an open set of Milton's works, together with ancillary information and tools, in a form designed for reuse.

Here you can find the Open Milton web interface. This site provides access to many, but by no means all, of the facilities of the Open Milton package. For example you can:

More information about the Open Milton project can be found on the about page.

Why Open Milton

If you type 'Milton' into Google you find thousands of websites why do we need another? First off, unlike most other sites, everything you find here is open – that is you're free to use, reuse, and redistribute it without any need to seek permission.

However, more importantly, this website is only a small part of what we're about. It serves to demonstrate what you can do with the Open Milton package – a set of material and tools for exploring Milton's life and work. The website demonstrates a few of the ways in which the Open Milton package can be used. We actively encourage you to take and modify it to do things we haven't yet done – or even thought of! ...


  • "Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do ingloriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple: who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?"  Milton, Areopagitica, lines 1418-1422.
  • Also see the OKF's Open Shakespeare project.

Using OA repositories for university assessment

Chuck Thomas and Robert H. McDonald, In Search Of A Standardized Model for Institutional Repository Assessment or How Can We Compare Institutional Repositories?  A presentation at the Library Assessment Conference 2008, Seattle, August 4-7, 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Abstract:   Assessing universities and faculty is a continuous struggle. Academic administrators must labor year after year to gather meaningful statistics for assessment exercises such as periodic institutional accreditations, program reviews, and annual funding requests. It is hard to overstate the difficulty and complexity of compiling such data. The professional literature of higher education administration contains frequent calls over the past several decades, for better ways to measure performance in colleges and universities. One way to accomplish this is through the work of research libraries and their use of institutional repositories. Developing a standardized way to assess a university's output through the use of digital repository metrics is one such method to assess and compare separate institutions. This paper looks at several models that could be of use in this process.

Med student editorial against the Conyers bill

Sujal Parikh and John Prensner, Proposal to impose fees on research articles should be rejected, The Ann Arbor News, December 8, 2008.  An editorial.  Parikh and Prensner are students at the University of Michigan Medical School and members of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.  Excerpt:

...[T]he Fair Copyright in Research Works Act [HR 6845]...seeks to reverse a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy that requires research articles funded by taxpayer dollars to be made publicly available online within one year of their publication.

Before this policy, the public had to pay for government-sponsored research through taxes, and then paid again when they wanted to obtain an article.... It was a colossal frustration for researchers and an injustice for taxpayers who paid unregulated prices for research they themselves funded....

Since the new NIH policy to require published manuscripts, submissions [to PMC] have increased from 19 percent of all peer-reviewed publications in 2007 to an estimated 56 percent for 2008.

H.R. 6845 would delay this process and make the deposition of these articles more difficult....In addition, arguments by supporters of H.R. 6845 that submissions to the NIH hurt journal subscriptions are suspect. Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of NIH, has stated that he sees "no evidence that this has been harmful" to publishers....

Should Conyers' bill become law, the research community - and the innovation it spurs - will also be impeded. Knowledge-based economies, such as those driven by scientific inquiry, are fueled by the rapid dissemination of information. Efforts that derail the flow of scientific communication will only hurt the U.S. by delaying the economic benefits of shared knowledge, weakening our ability to pursue further scientific advances, and setting a precedent of protectionism. Ultimately, this will serve to hurt our health care status and economic standing.

In recent weeks, we've seen what can happen when large corporations riding on public money go unregulated. Doing the same thing to medical research is dangerous not only to our wallets, but also to our health care. Rep. Conyers should put the needs of public citizens above those of corporate publishing houses and reject H.R. 6845.

PS:  For background, see my analysis of the bill and the deceptive rhetoric the publishing lobby is using to support it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Profile of an OA textbook

OA to historical English law

CommonLII has added a database of English Reports from 1220-1873. See blog posts at or by Michel-Adrien Sheppard (1, 2).

Presentation on OA in engineering

Roddy MacLeod, Keeping current: What's new in engineering information?, presented at Online Information 2008 (London, December 2-4, 2008).
The presentation reviews a selection of news sources, and then looks at new services, new eBooks, new journals, open access developments, social networking developments and RSS.

Australian census adopts CC licenses

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has adopted the Creative Commons Attribution license for its Web site. (Thanks to Creative Commons.)

OA to public domain music

Musopen is a project to provide OA to public domain sheet music and to produce OA recordings. (Thanks to the Open Knowledge Foundation.)

See also our previous post on Musopen's call for contributors to an OA music theory textbook.

OA to U.S. court decisions

Open Jurist is an apparently new site providing OA to published U.S. court decisions.
We currently have over 600,000 opinions from the United States Supreme Court and United States Courts of Appeals from the First, Second and Third edition of The Federal Reports. ...

OAK Law project model publishing agreement

The Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law project (OAK Law) at Queensland University of Technology has released a Draft Sample Publishing Agreement.  It welcomes comments on the draft.

The agreement, designed to be construed under Australian law, grants the publisher the exclusive right of first publication and otherwise grants only non-exclusive rights.

PS:  For comparison, see the OA-friendly model publication agreements from JISC/SURF (October 2006, link currently dead) and from Open Access Law Canada (April 2007).  Also see the OAD list of author addenda.

Update (12/11/08).  The link for the JISC/SURF model license is now alive again.  Here's a more direct link.

More on Bloomsbury Academic

John Murphy, New entry tries new publishing model, Research Information, December 2008 / January 2009.  Excerpt:

...Bloomsbury Academic...has opted for an open-access business model....

Bloomsbury Academic’s idea is to publish books that can be freely downloaded from the internet under a Creative Commons licence, for non-commercial use. Separately, the same titles will be sold, using publish-on-demand (POD) technology to create small print runs. Income will also be generated from royalties on commercial usage, such as in ‘student packs’.

The thinking behind this model is that free academic and student usage will promote the title, reaching an audience which would otherwise not have access to it. This in turn will generate enough actual book sales and royalties from commercial usage to finance the project. Although the books will still have to cover their editorial costs, they will not have to cover the costs of a full print run that will sit in the inventory for many years....

Bloomsbury Academic will be run by publishing director Frances Pinter. She wants to build a list of 50 titles by the end of 2009, concentrating on the humanities. Pinter said: ‘My thesis is simple; you may lose a few sales because you are publishing free online, but then you gain sales because more people have heard of the book as they can read the content online. Most librarians know that when an academic wants to read the whole book, printing out 300 A4 pages, taking them to their office, reading them and then putting them on their shelf to never look at again is not a very economic or eco-friendly way of distributing knowledge. The most reasonably-priced vessel of the content is the [printed] book....’

‘We think that there will be a lot of goodwill towards the model and it will attract some really good authors who are writing material of interest globally,’ predicted Pinter....Academics do not make a lot of money from publishing monographs. Mostly what they are interested in is the dissemination of their research, and that is what we are offering.’ ....

Bloomsbury is also offering the CC+ service to make it easier to buy commercial rights. Pinter said....

Pinter said that she had expected some hostility from sections of the publishing industry that feel threatened by new business models, but in fact the feedback she has received so far has been overwhelmingly positive. She said: ‘Most publishers know that the models have got to change....Most people are wishing me well because it shows the way for new models....’

PS:  For background, see our past posts on Bloomsbury Academic.

More on OA to corporate research

Open Access in Swedish Private Sector R&D, a project (in English) report from, December 1, 2008.  (Thanks to Jan Hagerlid.) 

Abstract:  Open Access (OA) is defined as the free, online, immediate, permanent access to scientific and scholarly material in full-text. Open Access practices have reached the universities and now nearly all university researchers report knowledge of OA. Statistics Sweden (SCB) has estimated that 75% of all money invested in research activities in Sweden is done by private companies. In spite of this, the private sector has been relatively absent from the Open Access discussion and development, in contrast to the universities.

The goal of this project was to study the advance of OA practices in the private sector. The method was to visit a number of Swedish companies and present the OA concept. After the presentations web-based surveys were distributed to measure previous knowledge of OA, publishing and readership practices, and views of the matter.

There is less knowledge and awareness of Open Access within companies than at universities, although it seems to increase with publishing practices and higher educational degree. The publishing practices, and to a lesser extent the reading practices, of scientific articles are less frequent within companies, which could lead to a skewed funding situation for a future Open Access-economy based on an “author-pays” model. When discussing how companies might pay for Open Access we therefore suggest that the flow of information is guarded so that access to scientific data does not become limited for companies and industry in a new way, as is already seen by some Open Access journals. How publications may be used differs depending on whether you work at a company or at a university. The researchers’ access to information should be the same irrespective of where you work.

OA and the disintermediation of libraries and museums

Stephen Arnold, "Giochi di Open Access e altre nuove tecnologie di communicazione: la tentazione disintermediazion," in Paolo Galluzzi and Pietro A. Valentino (eds.), Galassia Web: La Cultura nella Rete, Civita, November 2008.

The text isn't online.  But here's Arnold's English-language summary of his article:

The main point of my contribution hinges on Disintermediation. Institutions such as museums and libraries want to provide an online catalog and some type of access to the information under their stewardship. But large companies such as Google are slowly aggregating a broad range of content. For now, commercial enterprises have not shown a desire to create an aggregated service that includes indexes, images, music, and other information public institutions have created. The risk is that unless groups of institutions take the lead in aggregation, the commercial service may by default become the library or the museum for Internet users. In short, the disintermediation that ravaged commercial online services and corporate libraries may now have an impact on the information now in the control of universities, public agencies, privately-endowed institutions, and governmental entities. I don’t have a timeline but I make the point that acting in a parochial way may waste time. Action can provide a countermeasure for the forces of disintermediation.

Video profile of Science Commons

Jesse Dylan has made a two-minute OA video about Science Commons.  From today's announcement:

Today, we are proud to announce the release of Science Commons’ first informational video. The video was directed by renowned director Jesse Dylan, the director of the Emmy-award winning “Yes We Can” Barack Obama campaign video with musical artist from the Black Eyed Peas....

“I believe Science Commons represents the true aspiration of the web, and I wanted to tell their story,” Dylan said. “They’ve changed the way we think about exploration and discovery; the important and innovative ideas need to be shared.  I believe it’s vital to revolutionizing science in the future.  I hope this is just the beginning of our collaboration.”

This video is launched in conjunction with a letter of support from Richard Bookman, the Vice Provost for Research and Executive Dean for Research and Research Training at the University of Miami....In his letter, Bookman writes:

“We need to find ways to make sharing research results and tools easy, trackable, and useable by scientists on a day-to-day basis. Science Commons is working on these problems in a way that few other projects contemplate....

I support SC/CC because I think it’s the right approach at the right time. It’s vital that we as a community support the organization - the  interstitial nature of what gets done at CC makes it harder than many might think to raise money, which can leave the most important work dying for lack of funds....”

...For more information about the campaign, or to show your support, visit Help Build the Commons. Every little bit counts....

Sunday, December 07, 2008

More on IDCC data sharing conference

More from the 4th International Digital Curation Conference (Edinburgh, December 1-3, 2008): See also our previous post on the conference.

Platform for digital New Zealand content

Digital NZ is a new project led by the National Library of New Zealand. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

Digital New Zealand aims to make New Zealand content easy to find, share and use. This includes content from government departments, publicly funded organisations, the private sector, and community groups.

DigitalNZ will test new ways to create digital content, collect and share existing digital content; and build smart, freely available, search and discovery tools. ...

OA and Russian libraries

Cody Yantis, Open Access Initiatives: Emblems of the Present and Future of Russian Libraries, apparently a pre-print, December 4, 2008.
... This paper aims to discuss open access initiatives in Russian libraries, arguing that the significance, problems, and potential that open access initiatives posses are emblematic of the present state of Russian libraries, as a whole. ...

Societies: how to provide OA and preserve membership

Heather Morrison, Scholarly society memberships: a cost-free way to support scholarly societies AND open access, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, December 6, 2008.

One of the dilemmas for scholarly societies in moving to open access is that for many, traditionally free or discounted subscriptions have been seen as one of the benefits of membership.

Happily, there is at least one cost-free alternative to ensuring ongoing membership in an open access environment that could work for many scholarly societies: credit for the service component of academic review for tenure and promotion.

That is to say, in addition to publishing, scholars are expected to contribute service as well. If membership in a scholarly society is considered important to tenure and promotion committees, then scholarly societies are likely to have very healthy memberships, without having to rely on withholding scholarly information from non-members (i.e., subscriptions). ...

3 digital humanities projects get high-power assist

Three digital humanities projects have been awarded grants through the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities/Department of Energy Humanities High Performance Computing program. The grants provide computer time on DOE's high performance machines, along with training and support. See the announcement by NEH's Brett Bobley. (Thanks to Gabriel Bodard.) The grantees are:

  • The Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University, for "Large-Scale Learning and the Automatic Analysis of Historical Texts"
  • The University of California, San Diego, for "Visualizing Patterns in Databases of Cultural Images and Video"
  • The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, for "High Performance Computing for Processing and Analysis of Digitized 3-D Models of Cultural Heritage"

At least Perseus is OA; see our past posts. I can't find much else about the other two.

Five variations on green OA mandates

Stevan Harnad, Which Green OA Mandate Is Optimal? Open Access Archivangelism, December 7, 2008. 

Summary:  Which Green OA Mandate should an institution adopt?

ID/OA. The Immediate Deposit, Optional Access-setting (ID/OA) mandate immediately guarantees at least 63% OA plus 37% Almost-OA, moots all objections on copyright grounds, and does not put the author's choice of journal at risk by requiring individual licensing negotiations by the would-be author with the publisher (with no guarantee of a successful outcome). The alternative candidate mandates are:

ID/IA. There is the stronger Immediate Deposit/Immediate Access (ID/IA) mandate. But how can such a mandate manage to reach consensus on adoption as long as 37% of journals don't endorse immediate OA self-archiving? (Invariably this has meant having to allow an author opt-out for such cases, in which case the policy is no longer a mandate at all -- hence weaker than ID/OA. Not one of the existing 58 mandates is ID/IA.)

ID/DA.  The usual compromise, therefore, is to allow embargoes, with or without a cap on the maximal allowable length. But such an Immediate Deposit/Delayed Access (ID/DA) mandate, with no cap on the allowable delay (embargo) is simplyidentical to ID/OA! Adding a cap on the maximal allowable embargo delay is splendid, but that's just ID/OA with an embargo cap. (So if an institution can reach successful consenus on this stronger mandate (capped ID/DA), they should by all means adopt it; but if not, they should just go ahead and adopt ID/OA.)

DD/DA. Then there is Delayed Deposit/Delayed Access (DD/DA), in which the deposit itself is delayed until the embargo elapses, instead of being done immediately upon acceptance for publication, as in ID/OA. But with or without an embargo cap, that is in fact weaker than ID/OA, because it loses the 37% Almost-OA accessible via the button, until the date at which each embargo elapses.

Author Licensing Mandate. Last, and almost as strong as the (nonexistent) ID/IA mandate (4a) is a negotiated author licensing mandate. But how can such a mandate reach consensus on adoption with authors who are concerned that it would put their papers at risk of not being accepted by their journal of choice whenever the licensing negotiation fails? As a consequence, there exist no ID/IA mandates either, only ID/IA with an optional author-opt-out (as in Harvard's mandate) -- which again loses the 37% Almost-OA during any embargo or opt-out, and is hence weaker than ID/OA (if a mandate with an opt-out is indeed a mandate at all!).

It is because of this logic and these pragmatics that ID/OA is the default baseline mandate: Anything weaker than ID/OA is gratuitously weaker than necessary (and generates less OA than ID/OA). Anything stronger (such as ID/IA without opt-out, or mandatory licensing without opt-out) is more than welcome, if an institution can successfully reach consensus and compliance -- but no institution (or funder) has yet managed that, hence holding out for an over-strong mandate leads to the adoption of no mandate at all.

Presentations on trends in scholarly communication

The presentations from the CULIS 2008 meeting, Trends in Scholarly Communication (Copenhagen, December 1, 2008), are now online.

OA viral-discovery center coming to UCSF

Carrie Peyton Dahlberg, Virus hunter looks to make more medical breakthroughs at UCSF, Sacramento Bee, December 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

Joe DeRisi sometimes pays a peculiar price for fame.  The man who invented the virus-seeking "ViroChip," who helped identify the cause of SARS and who won a MacArthur "genius" award in pursuit of the secrets of infection has become a magnet for medical mysteries.

Every month or so, someone gets past security, up the gleaming stairways of UC San Francisco's Genetech Hall, and into DeRisi's lab with the same distraught demand: Test me.  DeRisi gently sends them away. He runs a research lab, not a clinic....

That could change early next year, when UCSF launches a center for viral diagnosis and discovery. Its ambition is to hunt down more causes of pneumonia, encephalitis and other lethal and disabling conditions whose origins too often baffle doctors, even as their patients are slipping away.

"Our plan is: Make it open to everybody," from doctors with a single troubling case to large research efforts such as the state-run California Enchephalitis Project, said Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious disease specialist who'll head the center....

While immersed in malaria [research], DeRisi also has written software, built robots and created devices that have made possible broader virus testing, including his 2003 detection of the virus responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Often, he posts methods and findings on his Web site or publishes in open-access journals that don't demand costly subscription fees.

"He's incredibly generous," said Chiu, "a very big fan of open-source publishing, making scientific data available to researchers everywhere."

Chiu hopes the same spirit of openness will be a key part of the viral discovery and diagnosis center that will rely on DeRisi's ViroChip, and other detective techniques, to hunt new causes of age-old ills....

PS:  Also see our past posts on DeRisi's OA work.

OA to BC laws

Michael Lines reports that British Columbia will provide OA to its current legislation starting on January 1, 2009.

OA alongside the Google settlement

Georgia Harper, Shouted in the marketplace: “Options for publishers, we got options, options, fresh options”, The Scholar’s Space, December 4, 2008.

... [Y]esterday, on a list I subscribe to, Michael Carroll raised an interesting question for the publishers on the list that brought together Boyle’s book’s CC license, the Google/Publisher/Author settlement agreement and OA generally. ...

[Carroll:] I’d be interested in … reactions to the question of whether academic authors and publishers might not do better tha[n] the Google settlement route by taking the open access route for scholarly monographs.

Case in point. James Boyle’s new book has just been released under a Creative Commons license by Yale University Press. ...