Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, December 26, 2008

New portal of digital collections

LUNA Commons is a new portal of OA digital collections built with LUNA's Insight Software. There are more than 150,000 items among them. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

LOC pulls plug on OA bibliographic service

The Library of Congress has asked Ed Summers to take down his OA Library of Congress Subject Headings linked data service. See Summers' blog post, or comments by Richard Wallis or Andy Powell. In his post, Summers hints that the LOC is still considering offering a similar service in the future.

More on populating repositories

Sally Rumsey, Towards a Knowledge Lifecycle: Populating Repositories “Upstream”, HatCheck Newsletter, December 16, 2008. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

... It is a reasonable assumption that institutions want to retain copies of their own research assets for a number of purposes. Many potential users have no objection to the concept of an institutional repository. The problem lies in translating that latent interest into actively contributing to populating a resource. It is common for repository managers to find that they can ‘lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink.’ Even with clear guidelines and easy-to-use online facilities potential contributors have not yet incorporated regular repository deposit into their scholarly workflows. ...

To encourage deposit in a repository users, both active and potential, need to be aware of, and value its benefits. Such benefits vary according to the audience: a contract researcher will value services that a senior manager will not. To address this, a repository needs to have a clearly stated purpose and provide features, functions and services to attract a variety of users. Value-added services such as automated creation of publication lists, links between related items, export for data in a specific format, usage statistics and reporting are all examples of useful scholarly functionality. ...

Institutions have the option of using the carrot or stick approach to deposit. Enticements include benefits to users, both depositors and end users. Some institutions have opted for sticks by adopting a mandate requiring authors to deposit a copy of their articles in the repository. ...

Mediated deposit has been adopted by many institutions as a means to encourage deposit, particularly of legacy items, to mitigate difficulties and kick-start the repository. However, this method of filling repositories is often not scaleable, particularly in large institutions. The aim is often to encourage self-deposit, where the author submits his or her items on completion. Such a method needs to be much easier than it is currently: the expectation that every academic will complete a deposit form dutifully for every eligible item is not realistic. ...

New journals on

The CLEO blog has a list of 22 journals recently accepted to the platform. Another 16 journals are listed as "coming soon" on Most, if not all, will offer either immediate or delayed OA. Some journals may have previously been available online, while others were not.

New IR for U. de Zaragoza

Zaguán is the IR for the University of Zaragoza, launched in 2008. (Thanks to UZ's science library blog.)

New OA journal of educational technology

@tic is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Universitat de València. Submissions are accepted in Catalan, Spanish, and English. The journal is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license. The inaugural issue is now available. See also the journal's blog. (Thanks to Literatúrame!.)

OA and evidence-based nursing

Barbara A. Epstein, Open Access: Implications for Evidence-based Practice, Journal of Emergency Nursing, December 2008. Only this outline is OA, at least so far:
  • Economic Models: Who Pays the Bills?
  • U.S. National Institutes of Health: Public Access Policy
  • References
  • Vitae

More on the barriers to the use of images in scholarly publications

The International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA) adopted a Resolution on Copyright on November 8, 2008.  Excerpt:

...RIHA, the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art, is concerned that recent developments in technology, legislation and practice have meant that the various copyright exemptions that exist to promote the advance of creative and scholarly work are not being applied to achieve their intended effect. RIHA strongly believes that neither copyright nor licensing rules should inhibit the development and diffusion of original scholarly research, regardless of the way in which it is published or otherwise disseminated.

RIHA calls upon copyright holders and other stakeholders including publishers, galleries, museums, and collecting societies, when dealing with scholarly research, to:

Subscribe to the definition of scholarly research as stated in section 2 of this document ["A type of non-commercial research whose principal objective is public benefit rather than private profit"]

Apply the existing copyright exemptions in keeping with their intended purpose

Refrain from demanding or refusing unnecessary permissions, or granting these permissions on unreasonable terms.

RIHA further calls upon collecting societies and monopoly copyright holders, when charging for the use and reproduction of images in scholarly publications, to charge solely the marginal cost to the institution of making the specific reproduction for delivery to the researcher, rather than the costs of creating and maintaining a collection of images or of making provision for a profit margin on transactions....

Thanks to Klaus Graf for the alert and for collecting together links to similar statements and links more generally to the "art history image permission crisis".  Also see our own past posts on permission barriers in art history.  Because RIHA generally adopts the recommendations of the British academy, also see our past posts on the BA recommendations (1, 2).

Obstacles to online publishing in French law

André Gunthert, La Publication Scientifique en Ligne Face aux Lacunes du Droit Français, Revue de Synthèse, September 27, 2008.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  In French with this English-language abstract:

While Internet seemed to be able to open new capacities to scientific publishing, the legislative hardening in favour of protecting the copyright complicated the use of multimedia documents. By excluding the application of any fair use in scientific or pedagogic publishing, the French law appears henceforth as an abnormality in an international context of reproduction of the on-line resources. As a symptom of the failure of the current regulation, wild practices multiply to remedy unsuitable conditions.

Free KnewCo discovery button now available

Jan Velterop, The discovery of more knowledge (in repositories, research web sites, blogs, and the like), The Parachute, December 23, 2008.  Jan is the CEO of KnewCo.  Excerpt:

In my previous post I was announcing the knowledge discovery 'button' that could be used to enhance any repository, science blog, or any researcher's, scientific society's, or publisher's site for that matter. Well, it is here now. Available to all. Incorporation of a small bit of code will equip any site who wants it with the knowledge discovery 'button' as you have it on this [Jan's] blog in the upper right hand side (the orange one that says "discover more...")....

It really is a small bit of code that needs to be incorporated, and the fact that I managed to do it myself in this blog should give confidence to even the least HTML-savvy person that it really is easy....

Just cut and paste it in the code of your repository, web site or blog and enhance its ability to serve up relevant additional knowledge to its readers....

PS:  See Jan's previous post on this button or our excerpt from it.  I haven't included his example in the current post because it works best on his site where you can click the button and test the resulting links.  Click through and give it a try. 

LCA comment on the EU green paper

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

...Libraries routinely enter into licensing arrangements that enable online access to content. These licenses can make access more convenient to patrons. But this convenience comes at a significant cost. First, there is the economic cost. Largely because of consolidation, particularly in the science, technology, and medical publishing market, the price of journal subscriptions has increased dramatically over the past twenty years. The long-term solution to this problem involves the authors of these articles – typically university professors -- exerting more control over their copyrights, rather than just assigning them away to publishers. The Commission should work assiduously to educate authors on how to exercise better control over their copyrights, and to promote the development of alternative distribution channels, such as open access publishers.

The second cost of licensing is the diminution of users’ privileges with respect to the content. Publishers routinely include in their licenses prohibitions on reproductions and distributions that the fair use doctrine or other exceptions under the U.S. Copyright Act would otherwise permit. LCA has long taken the position that the Copyright Act and the U.S. Constitution’s Intellectual Property and Supremacy Clauses preempt such prohibitions in non-negotiated licenses....There is precedent in the European Union for invalidating contractual terms that run contrary to intellectual property policy objectives....The EU should similarly invalidate non-negotiated licenses that diminish the effectiveness of exceptions to copyright protection....

New OA journal of materials science

Materials is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from MDPI.  (Thanks to Dietrich Rordorf.)  From Andreas Taubert's editorial in the inaugural issue (December 2008):

...While in biology and physics, there is already a certain “tradition” of Open Access publishing, chemistry has been rather slow in picking up the concept. This is interesting, because Open Access does have several advantages: free access for anyone interested, color figures can easily be included at no cost (because the journals are published on the web anyway), publication is rapid, and, as the journals can be read by many scientists, including those that do not have access to the expensive subscriber journals, the long term impact is expected to be high.

As a result, the new Open Access journal Materials should be of interest to anyone working in the general area of materials synthesis, characterization, and application....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Gavin and I are slowing down for Christmas and will start to catch up on Friday. Happy holidays to all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

PEER issues calls for tender

The PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research) project has released its calls for tender on research about OA. Calls for the Behavioural Research and Usage Research strands were released on December 22, and tenders are due by February 17, 2009.

See also the pre-release announcement, which notes a third strand of research (economic) to be undertaken in 2009.

OA publications in malacology

Aydin Örstan, Some open access malacological publications, Snail's Tales, December 22, 2008. A list with links.

ARROW project winds down; ARCHER software relased

David Groenewegen, Conclusion of the ARROW Project, posted to SPARC-OAForum, December 22, 2008.

After five years the ARROW project is drawing to an end. We want to share our achievements, and to thank those who have played a role in it. ...

In the middle of 2008 ARROW negotiated an arrangement with [the Council of Australian University Librarians] to fund them to establish a new service, to be known as CAIRSS (the CAUL Australian Institutional Repository Support Service). CAIRSS will provide support to all Australian university repositories, regardless of the software being used. This will ensure that the Community is supported for at least another two or three years ...

David Groenewegen, ARCHER software release, posted to SPARC-OAForum, December 22, 2008.

The ARCHER Project ... wishes to announce that software developed by the project is available for download. ...

[ARCHER is] a suite of independently tested, documented, open-source, production-ready generic e-Research infrastructure components to provide better management of research data ...

[The tools] are available for download under a GPL3 licence ...

See also our past posts on ARROW or ARCHER (1, 2, 3).

Forthcoming OA journal of photonics

SPIE Reviews is a forthcoming OA journal published by the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. There are no article-processing fees or page charges. The first issue is scheduled for release in 2009. See also the December 12 press release. (Thanks to the University of Alberta Engineering Librarians.)

See also our past post about SPIE.

Updated with the correct release date for the inaugural issue.

Rare books and manuscripts from Yale on Flickr

Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library has posted nearly 500 images on Flickr, digitized from its collections. See e.g. the Paleographical Commons set. The project, however, is not a participant in Flickr Commons, and the images are tagged as "all rights reserved". See also the blog post from the library.

See also our recent post on Flickr Commons.

New "platform for open source health research"

CureTogether, launched earlier this year, describes itself as a "platform for open source health research". (Thanks to Michel Bauwens.)
CureTogether is a place where patients and researchers work together, doing open research to find cures. Patients can start feeling better today by connecting, sharing resources, and tracking their health. It’s as private as you want it to be, it’s free, and the aggregate data is open so researchers around the world can collaborate on it. ...
See also: See also our past posts about PatientsLikeMe, a similar site.

Presentations from e-science workshop

Year in review from JISC

JISC has posted its 2008 annual review. (Thanks to Open Education News.) See especially the section on its Information Environment program.

Another TA editorial on OA

S . Della Sala, New open access policy, Cortex, December 2008.  An  editorial.  Not even an abstract is accessible to non-subscribers, at least so far.

Update (12/24/08).  Jim Till has posted an excerpt from the text.

Forthcoming repository for genetic, environmental, and health data

Kaiser ‘biobank’ lands $8.6M grant, San Francisco Business Times, December 17, 2008.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Excerpt:

Kaiser Permanente won an $8.6 million award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop a biobank of genetic, environmental and health data that could be used to study genetic and environmental factors in heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more.

The repository will house as many as 500,000 DNA samples by 2012....

The foundation said the database will have enough “statistical power to identify even subtle effects of environmental and genetic factors in less common health conditions such as mental health disorders or autoimmune disease.” ...

Two of the first projects coming out of the biobank — starting in 2009 — will be a study of genetic and non-genetic contributors that increase the risk of prostate cancer in African-American men as well as a study of genetics’ involvement in bipolar disorder.

“The unequaled size and power of this biorepository will drive research that can dramatically improve the health and healthcare of millions of Americans,” said foundation CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey.

PS:  It appears that this biobank will at least be gratis OA.  If anyone has more detail on its access policy, please drop me a line or post a note to SOAF.

Repositories in developing countries up 51% in three months

Barbara Kirsop, Recording three month's progress for OA, EPT blog, December 23, 2008.  Excerpt:

In early September this year I was giving a couple of presentations on OA and its impact on developing countries (the Inter Academy Panel workshop in Cuba, and the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival of Science in Liverpool, UK) [here and here, respectively] and in the course of preparation of figures for my Power Point presentations I collected information showing the level of OA-development in the developing and emerging countries, particularly with regard to the numbers of Institutional Repositories that had been set up. Now, I have revisited those figures to see what has changed. And it’s good news.

In early September, the total number of IRs (as shown by the Registry of Open Access Repositories) was 1122. Of these, 173 had been set up in developing countries (15.5%). I rechecked these figures on December 16th and found that the total number of IRs had risen by 112 to 1234, of which the number in developing countries was now 262 (21%).  [PS:  That's a 51% rise in the number of listed repositories in developing countries.] ...

Furthermore, as reported elsewhere on this blog, usage of these OA resources was quite spectacular, demonstrating the real need that exists for this research information currently inaccessible to many. And, as we also learn daily (see Peter Suber’s OAN), with the arrival of Open Access a whole raft of associated developments are being funded and coming on line – new applications, search/support/networking improvements, IR workshops, software development workshops, open data workshops, policy meetings and conferences . . . As, following the invention of the motor car, so roads, garages, driving licenses, parking arrangements, car salesmen, maps and associated engineering services all emerged, so we now see a vibrant hum of OA activities around the world....

Bahrain's first OA journal

The Bahrain Medical Bulletin has converted to OA, becoming Bahrain's first OA journal.  It will use CC-BY licenses.  From today's announcement, in English and Arabic:

...Starting with the December 2008 issue, all BMB articles are freely available online and deposited in a public archive immediately upon publication. Anyone is free to copy, distribute, and reuse BMB content as long as he or she credits the original author and source.

Dr. Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, a Senior Editor at the BMB, said “Open access publishing brings the same revolution to the publishing of scientific information that open source software brought to the creation of software”. Dr. Al-Ubaydli led the conversion of BMB to an open access journal. He is author of the book Free Software for Busy People, which discusses the use of open source software in health care.

This conversion is funded by grants from the Kuwait Finance House and the Ministry of Health. H.E. Dr. Faisal Al Hamar, Minister of Health, said “We supported this work because of its importance to medical research in the region”. Mr A. Al Khayat, from Kuwait Finance House, said “As an Islamic Bank we are delighted to provide funding for work that will ultimately improve patient care”.

Although some journals in the region already allow readers free access to their journal website, BMB is the first to allow readers to reuse the content in other ways through the open access license.

Such reuse has many powerful applications.  For example, anyone will be free to distribute any article in BMB, make translations, put the articles into course packs in universities, and make derivative educational works.  If a minister of health reads an important study in BMB, they are now free to send a copy to every health professional in the country....

NIH policy one of Top 8 science policy stories of 2008

Rick Weiss, The Top Eight Science Policy News Stories of 2008, Science Progress, December 22, 2008.  Actually there are two OA stories in Weiss' Top 8:  the NIH policy at #5 and Obama's science team at #1.  Excerpt:

5: Passage of legislation requiring “open access” publishing for all research reports resulting from work funded by the National Institutes of Health.

After years of heated debate inside and outside of Congress, the NIH implemented the nation’s first open access law in April. As a result, all 80,000 or so research papers published each year that describe the results of NIH-funded studies must now be made available on a free, publicly accessible database within 12 months after publication in a journal. No longer will people who want to read the results of NIH research —paid for with their tax dollars— have to subscribe to expensive scientific journals or pay page charges to the publishers, as has long been the case. The advance will also make it easier for scientists to access each other’s work and for researchers to combine data sets from multiple published reports to perform meta-analyses —a cost-saving means of leveraging scientific data that has been difficult to implement until now....

1: The appointment of a new team of scientific advisers for the next administration

What can we say? President-elect Barack Obama has created nothing less than a dream team when it comes to putting people with real scientific expertise in all the key slots that will need to make evidence-based decisions over the next four years —including his decision, released over the weekend, to post Nobel-prize-winning cancer researcher Harold Varmus and genomics whiz kid Eric Lander to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

The actual evidence that all these Obama-appointed scientists are going to hew to, of course, is largely dispiriting. Climate change, energy needs, food insecurity, and economic chaos —all are threatening global peace and undermining the human quest for justice. But progress is not possible without a square look at the facts. I for one am ready to swallow hard, face the unalloyed truth, and support the plans that have the best hope of getting this listing ship of state on an even keel again.

PS:  For the OA connection with Obama's science team, see Gavin's recent posts on Harold Varmus, Eric Lander, Jane Lubchenco, and Steven Chu.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cloaked OA

CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) created a page on OA, behind a password. 

Thanks to Tom Roper for the alert and this comment:

[The CILIP] briefing page on open access [is] basic but quite useful, including links to some librarianship OA titles.  I'd congratulate whoever did it, if they hadn't spoilt the effect by putting it in the members only area of the site.

Open Knowledge Definition in Icelandic

The Open Knowledge Definition has been translated into Icelandic.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Varmus to lead Obama's science advisory council

Harold Varmus, co-founder of the Public Library of Science and former director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (Thanks to Heather Joseph.)

The other co-chair will be Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute. Lander was also a lead researcher in the Human Genome Project.

Coverage here:

Comment. This puts a strong voice for OA inside the Executive Office of the President. Varmus is one of the most high-profile advocates of OA, including of the role of government in providing OA, notably as a signatory on the Nobelist letters supporting the NIH policy. Both the Human Genome Project and the Broad Institute are practitioners of open data.

See also our past posts:

See also:


More on journal prices and the case for OA

Bill Hooker, The serials crisis has a name, and it's Reed Elsevier, Open Reading Frame, December 20, 2008.  Excerpt:

It's notoriously difficult to get good numbers on publisher income, expense and profit -- even nonprofits like PLoS only publish what they have to -- and so I'm always on the lookout for more data....[F]or now I rely on articles like this one (via OAN) from McGuigan and Russell at Penn State:

The Business of Academic Publishing: A Strategic Analysis of the Academic Journal Publishing Industry and its Impact on the Future of Scholarly Publishing

...I just want to publicize this table of profit margins, comparing Elsevier S&M with the broader STM industry....

[PS:  Here omitting table showing profit margins from 1998-2000 for Elsevier Science and Medical (avg. = 35.9%), for all Elsevier journals (avg. = 23.4%), and for all periodical publishers (avg. = 4.6%).]

...The 2007 LJ Periodicals Price Survey says that commercial STM publishers' profit margins were "around 25 percent on average" for that year, so the figures for "all periodical publishers" would seem to include a variety of non-STM publishers.  Even so, Elsevier's science and medical division has a clear and commanding lead in the price-gouging stakes.

They also have a clear lead in market share....[PS:  Here omitting another table.]  the 2008 Library Journal Periodicals Price Survey estimated that

the top ten STM publishers pulled in 53 percent of the revenue in the $16.1 billion periodicals market in 2006....

Mind you, I don't mean to imply that we should launch another boycott; reigning in Elsevier's profit margins and/or market share would do little to offset the serials crisis. The only answer to that, in the long term, is Open Access, because it scales where Toll access doesn't....