Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 03, 2009

OA high-resolution satellite images of earth

Unearthed Outdoors has released an OA, CC Attribution-licensed version of its dataset of earth satellite imagery. (Thanks to Boing Boing.)

Example flowchart on NIH policy compliance

The Bernard Becker Medical Library at the Washington University School of Medicine has posted a flowchart on How to Demonstrate Compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. The process is specific to WU but could serve as an example for other institutions. (Thanks to Jim Till.)

Collating author names in IRs

Dorothea Salo, Name authority control in institutional repositories, Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, forthcoming in April 2009; self-deposited January 2, 2009. Abstract:
Neither the standards nor the software underlying institutional repositories anticipated performing name authority control on widely disparate metadata from highly unreliable sources. Without it, though, both machines and humans are stymied in their efforts to access and aggregate information by author. Many organizations are awakening to the problems and possibilities of name authority control, but without better coordination, their efforts will only confuse matters further. Local heuristics-based name-disambiguation software may help those repository managers who can implement it. For the time being, however, most repository managers can only control their own name lists as best they can after deposit while they advocate for better systems and services.

Diary of a Project Gutenberg contributor

Nicholas Tomaiuolo, U-Content: Project Gutenberg, Me, and You, Searcher, January 2009. A first-person tale of preparing submissions for Project Gutenberg and an interview with PG founder Michael Hart.

U of Liege OA mandate moves past its experimental phase

Université de Liège has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)   Bernard Rentier, the Rector at Liège, has posted an English translation of his November memo to the Liège faculty on the AmSci OA Forum.  Excerpt:

...Here below is the English translation of the message I have sent to the whole University Community on November 26, 2008. I believe that, rather than a lengthy explanation of how the Liège mandate works, this message tells it all much better. It can perhaps be useful as well for those who wish to find a way to obtain compliance within their universities. It demonstrates also that the Liège Mandate is indeed IDOA/DDR (Immediate-Deposit/Optional- Access -- Dual Deposit/Release), to use the latest definitions coined in this forum.

Happy New Year to all !

Bernard Rentier


"Madame, Monsieur, Cher(e) Collègue,

The increase in international visibility of the ULg [Université de Liège] and its researchers, mainly through their publications, as well as the support for the worldwide development of an open and free access to scientific works (Open Access) are two essential objectives at the heart of my action, as you probably know.

At my request, the Institutional Repository "ORBi" (Open Repository & Bibliography) has been set up at the ULg by the Libraries Network to meet these objectives.

[1] The experimental encoding phase based on volunteerism being now successfully completed, we can step forward and enter the "production phase" this Wednesday November 26th, 2008. I take this opportunity to thank all the professors and researchers who have already filed in ORBi hundreds of their references, 70% of them with the full text. Thanks to their patience, ORBi's fine tuning could be achieved. From today on, it is incumbent upon each ULg member to feed ORBi with his/her own references. In this respect, the Administrative Board of the University has decided to make it mandatory for all ULg members:

  • to deposit the bibliographic references of ALL their publications since 2002;
  • to deposit the integral text of ALL their articles published in periodicals since 2002. Access to these full texts will only be granted with the author's consent and according to the rules applicable to author's rights and copyrights. The University is indeed very keen on respecting the rights of all stakeholders.

[2] For future publications, deposit in ORBi will be mandatory as soon as the article is accepted by the editor.

[3] I wish to remind you that, as announced a year in March 2007, starting October 1st, 2009 only those references introduced in ORBi will be taken into consideration as the official list of publications accompanying any curriculum vitæ in all evaluation procedures 'in house' (designations, promotions, grant applications, etc.)....


  • This is an excellent policy.  I applaud the mandatory language, the dual deposit/release strategy (or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access), the decision to apply it retroactively to 2002 (but for the immediate deposit rule, of course), and the much-needed and still-too-rare provision that only articles on deposit in the IR will be used for the purposes of promotion and other internal evaluations.  Kudos to Rentier and all others involved in this decision at Liège.
  • The November 2008 announcement is the latest step in a process that started with a mandate announcement in March 2007.  See Rentier's blog post about the evolving policy at the time, in French or Google's English.  One reason why Liège didn't start implementing the policy in March 2007 was that it still had to launch its IR, which happened in June 2008.
  • Also see our past posts on Bernard Rentier and the University of Liège.

Update.  Also see the license (in French or Google's English) that Liege will use for articles on deposit in the IR.

  • Klaus Graf has raised some objections to the license and the practices surrounding its use.  Read them in German or Google's English, or read his own English summary.  Here's my paraphrase of two of them:  First, during an embargo period when Liege doesn't provide OA to the world, it does provide access to users at Liege.  Klaus believes this is illegal.  Second, the license quotes the BOAI on the importance of removing permission barriers, and then makes two exceptions:  it blocks commercial use and derivative works without the author's permission.  Klaus objects that the bar to commercial use is not consistent with the BOAI. 
  • I have no opinion on his first objection.  On his second:  he's right that the bar to commercial use is not consistent with the BOAI.  But although I'm a strong supporter of the BOAI (and its chief drafter), I'm not troubled by what Liege has done.  First, as it read the license, it quotes the BOAI and then makes exceptions.  It doesn't assert that the exceptions are contained in the BOAI itself.  Second and more importantly, most IRs provide gratis, not libre OA.  They don't remove any permission barriers at all.  Indeed, there are good reasons why most green OA is gratis and not libre, and because I understand those reasons I applaud any institution, like Liege, which goes beyond gratis OA to any degree and removes even some permission barriers.  One of the important reasons to distinguish gratis and libre OA was to recognize the OA movement's many gratis OA success stories, such as the vast majority of IRs which remove no permission barriers, without disparaging them for falling short of libre OA.  But if we value gratis OA, without disparaging it for falling short of libre OA, then (a fortiori) we should value libre OA, without disparaging it for falling short of BBB OA. Of course this is consistent with valuing BBB OA most of all.


Changes at the NSDL

Jeffrey Mervis, NSF Rethinks Its Digital Library, Science Magazine, January 2, 2009.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Accessible only to subscribers.  Excerpt:

...[The] NSF’s National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL) program...was launched in 2000 to help scientists and science educators tap into the rapidly expanding online world. Since then, the foundation has spent about $175 million “to provide organized access to high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels.” In practice, that has meant three things: creating and maintaining a Web site with a vast assortment of peer-reviewed materials, including lesson plans, videos, lectures, examples, and teacher guides; providing support for more than a dozen disciplinary and sector-based portals, called Pathways, that offer suitable content to NSDL; and funding individual research projects...that are aimed at helping researchers and educators make better use of online learning....

Because NSDL serves several different purposes, the payoff from NSF’s investment, which has averaged almost $18 million a year...has been hard to quantify. Its biggest advocates admit that relatively few educators and researchers have even heard of NSDL, much less visited the Web site or contributed material....

Although NSF officials insist that NSDL has been a success, the agency is in the process of reducing its support for digital libraries. Last year, the initialism NSDL was redefined as the National Science Distributed Learning program and subsumed under a new, broader cyberlearning initiative for which digital libraries are only a small component. In September, NSF cut its support to the organizations that manage NSDL by more than half and described the new round of funding as a “rampdown … toward self-sufficiency.” The consortia operating the various Pathway portals say they don’t expect to get another bite of the apple. In 2007, NSF ended its funding of DLESE, a digital library for earth system education that is separate from NSDL but serves as an informal pathway for the earth sciences community....

Friday, January 02, 2009

OA datasets from Spanish public pollster

Spain's Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, a public opinion pollster and division of the executive branch, on January 1 made available the datasets from its 2007-8 surveys. Earlier datasets will be made available later. See the announcement. (Thanks to El rey de la baraja.)

RePEc December update and year in review

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in December 2008, and what we have done over the year 2008, The RePEc Blog, January 2, 2009.

... [In 2008, on RePEc:] 10,000 bibliographic items were added every month, including from 700 new series and journals and 126 new participating archives, 3,500 authors joined, we recorded 31,000,000 abstract views and 8,000,000 document downloads and 4,000 NEP reports announcing new working papers were sent.

In terms of new features, we added RSS feeds for the NEP reports, introduced the RePEc Input Service to facilitate data entry in some cases, and IDEAS moved to a new server ...

[In December 2008] we witnessed 704,217 file downloads and 2,619,953 abstract views, and added content from the following 12 new archives: Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Petru Maior University, Universidad de Murcia, University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Journal of Economic Education, Central Bank of Cyprus, University of Oradea, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Tulane University, Romanian Academy of Economic Sciences, Ave Maria University. ...

January SOAN: OA in 2008

I just mailed the January issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue reviews the notable OA developments from 2008.  The round-up section briefly notes 143 OA developments from December. 


Flickr Commons project lead laid off

Ryan Singel, With Flickr Layoffs, Whither 'The Commons'?, Epicenter, December 30, 2008.

In a round of layoffs at Flickr parent company Yahoo, one of the project leaders for the OA Flickr Commons project has been laid off, prompting fears about the future of the project. The story at Wired's Epicenter blog also discusses some of the backstory behind the Flickr Commons project and implications for projects for OA to government documents and cultural heritage collections.

See also our past posts on Flickr Commons.

Jan. 1 is Public Domain Day

January 1 is the date when works of the appropriate age pass out of copyright and into the public domain. See this post at the Creative Commons blog for more information and links.

Update. See also this post about Public Domain Day in Poland.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Time's up for authors of works published in Germany before 1995

If you recall (1, 2, 3), Germany's new copyright law took effect one year ago today.  Under its terms, electronic rights to works published in Germany before 1995 would vest in publishers unless authors expressly told their publishers during 2008 that they wished to hold those rights themselves.  Of course, if authors regained the electronic rights to these works, they could use them to authorize OA. 

Klaus Graf has compiled a comprehensive bibliography of this aspect of the new law.

More on the Google settlement

Chris Castle, Is Google's culture grab unstoppable? The Register, December 31, 2008.  Excerpt:

Google dealt itself a powerful piece of the future in the proposed settlement of the "Google Books" case his year.

The plaintiffs, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, permitted Google pay itself to build a proprietary technology infrastructure for a "Book Rights Registry". This effectively creates a single purpose author's society, but one that grants licenses to one user - Google. While nominally "non exclusive", there's little incentive for competitors - a formidable position. Let's have a look at how Google is set to own the Digital Book....

The $125m buys Google - and only Google - permission not just to scan books for indexing purposes, but also to expand Book Search further. As the EFF noted, "if Google can strike a settlement with a large slice of the aggrieved copyright owners, then it solves the copyright problem for itself, while leaving it as a barrier to entry for [Google’s] competitors."

The British Booksellers Association...agreed....

If a competitor tried building a competing book registry by negotiating licenses for in-copyright works, that competitor would have to bear the startup costs—and the cost of licensing. If the competitor is rewarded for respecting authors’ rights by obtaining favorable terms, that advantage can be taken away by Google. Why? Because one of Google’s goodies from its dominant position in the settlement negotiation is “most favored nations” price protection.

The registry is contractually required to offer Google any better terms it would give to anyone using any data or resources that Google provides the registry, or that is of the type that Google provides....

[PS:  Here omitting a discussion of the potential but ineffective Google competitors:  Microsoft, Open Content Alliance, and Europeana.]

So what might a better policy look like?

The plaintiffs got it half right - our business needs a registry. But that registry ought to be independent, and opt-in. If the Google class action settlement is approved, US courts will essentially create the opposite - an opt-out registry controlled by a dominant player with "most favoured nation" price protection....

Update on 2008 growth numbers

Heather Morrison, 2008 December 31 Dramatic Growth of Open Access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, December 31, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Full analysis and growth charts will be published early in the New Year. In the interim, here are a few tidbits of information and observation:

Since Dec. 11, 2008 [when Heather computed the early version of her year-end growth numbers]....There are two more institutional mandates, more journals in DOAJ, all the major international open access harvesting services have added more repositories and more items, there are more journals participating in PMC, more providing immediate free access in PMC, and more providing full open access to all articles!

A few quick figures to start off the New Year (some rounded):  As of December 31, 2008:

  • DOAJ - 3,812 journals (up 800 titles in the past year; adding 2 titles per day)
  • OAIster - 19.4 million items - up 5 million in the past year
  • Scientific Commons - 24.4 million publications - up 5 million in the past year

Declining pound aggravates access crisis in the UK

Zoë Corbyn, Journal subscriptions at risk as weak pound hits library budgets, Times Higher Education Supplement, January 1, 2009. Excerpt:

The fall in the value of the pound is having a "crippling effect" on the budgets of UK university libraries, major bodies within the sector have warned.

Costs of subscriptions to overseas research journals from the US and Europe have increased because of changes in the exchange rate that have seen the pound fall by about 25 per cent in value against the dollar and the euro since July 2008....

"The danger is that libraries will be forced to start cancelling journals," said Mark Brown, chair of RLUK and head of the library at the University of Southampton.

Tony Kidd, assistant director of Glasgow University Library, another RLUK member, explained that journals priced in US dollars, which used to account for about 25 per cent of the library's journals budget, were now costing it 37 per cent more than a year ago. Journals priced in euros, which accounted for about 40 per cent, now cost an additional 19 per cent....

The RIN is currently conducting an emergency study to build up a fuller picture of the exchange-rate problem.  Director Michael Jubb said that because "well over half" of libraries' subscriptions to journals were in euros or dollars, the impact on the subscription budget was "very large indeed"....

Open-access journals, which do not require library subscriptions, could ameliorate the situation, but Dr Brown said they still had a long way to go.  "We are still fundamentally in a commercial environment for research journals," he said.

Comment.  As I wrote in SOAN last month:

University endowments have already lost about 25% of their value in the current fiscal year....It will be harder than ever for libraries to renew all their current subscriptions....Libraries will cancel larger percentages of their serials subscriptions than they have in decades.  That will reduce access to the TA literature, which will strengthen the case for OA among researchers, librarians, and administrators....

[Universities] could wake up to their power as buyers --virtually the only buyers-- of scholarly journals and demand transformations that better serve the interests of the research community.  They could move the percentage of TA publishers who allow postprint self-archiving from 63% to 100%.  They could follow the example of Harvard and 23 other universities by mandating OA for new research articles published by faculty.  They could offer to make future payments to publishers conditional upon friendlier access policies, and initiate a transition from reader-pays TA to institutionally-subsidized OA.  They could, but will they? ...

The financial crisis is not a reason for governments to retract their OA policies, or even to slow down in their adoption of new ones.  On the contrary, as I argued in my open letter to Obama and McCain..., if the crisis leads to cuts in research budgets, then it will be more important than ever to maximize at least the *return* on the national investment in research.  For this reason, the crisis is a reason to adopt OA policies and extend existing policies....

Nor will it be easy to help people look past the *problem* of declining subscriptions to the *opportunity* of declining subscriptions:  the opportunity to invest the savings from TA journal cancellations in a superior OA alternative that widens distribution, lowers costs, facilitates use and re-use, and stops betting against the internet....

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2 newspaper digitization projects: Australia and Switzerland

  • The Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program is a project by the National Library of Australia to digitize out-of-copyright newspapers. The Australian Newspapers beta was launched in July 2008. Digitization is still underway.
  • The digitized archives of the Journal de Genève, in print 1826-1998, recently went OA online. The project was led by Swiss newspaper Le Temps, with funding from the Swiss National Library and other public and private sources. Two other newspapers, La Gazette de Lausanne and Le Nouveau Quotidien, are also being digitized. See the report in English from GenevaLunch or in French from Le Temps (behind a paywall).

Debate on access to data on bird flu drugs

Sangeeta Shashikant, North-South fight on IP, Benefit Sharing issues in influenza talks, SUNS, December 19, 2008. (Thanks to Glyn Moody.) Report on the World Health Organization's Intergovernmental Meeting on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness.

... Brazil proposed language that "Member States should make available through WHO Secretariat in a timely manner publicly available information related to health regulatory approval of H5N1 and other influenza viruses with human pandemic potential vaccines diagnostics and pharmaceutical products ... WHO Secretariat should examine the feasibility of creating a database of such information."

[The proposal] was resisted by France on behalf of the EU and the US, as they could not accept language that required the sharing of regulatory data even when these are publicly available.

On one occasion during discussion on sharing of regulatory data, [Jane] Halton, the Chair of the IGM, on hearing Brazil's proposal questioned Brazil whether it was seeking information that would violate commercial confidence (i.e IP laws).

A legal expert familiar with US laws privately noted that the if WHO member states are speaking of pandemic preparedness, the EU, US, Japan and Australia should be asked to share on a mandatory basis not only regulatory data that is publicly available but also data that is confidential because such data is critical for obtaining regulatory approval at the national level for treatments and vaccines used in the pre-pandemic and pandemic stages.

The expert said that Article 39.3 of the TRIPS Agreement requires countries to protect such data against disclosure, except where necessary to protect the public. ...

Comment. From what I've read, it's not clear to me whether there are any proposals for OA to the regulatory data, or just that the data be shared among regulators. If you have any information, please let me know.

See also our past posts on OA to avian flu data.

CC, EULAs, and OA

Niva Elkin-Koren, Governing Access to Users-Generated-Content: The Changing Nature of Private Ordering in Digital Networks, forthcoming in Governance, Regulations and Powers on the Internet; self-archived December 29, 2008. Abstract:
This paper analyzes the rise of private ordering as a dominant strategy for governing creative works in the digital environment. It explores the changing nature of private ordering in the Web 2.0 environment, where it is used for governing User-Generated Content (UGC). Private ordering is playing an ever greater role in governing the terms of access to creative works. Rightholders often use End-User License Agreements (EULA) to expand the scope of protection provided under copyright law, by limiting the rights of users under legal doctrines such as 'fair use' and 'first sale'. At the same time, private ordering has also been employed in recent years by Open Access initiatives, to promote access to creative works and facilitate interaction, exchange and sharing of creative materials. ...

APS allows authors to post derivative works to wikis

Gene D. Sprouse, APS now leaves copyright with authors for derivative works, Reviews of Modern Physics, October 1, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

When you submit an article to an APS [American Physical Society] journal, we ask you to sign our copyright form. It transfers copyright for the article to APS, but keeps certain rights for you, the author. We have recently changed the form to add the right to make ‘‘derivative works’’ that reuse parts of the article in a new work. The importance of this change is discussed below....

[T]he APS has been very generous, by the standards of journal publishers, in giving rights to its authors to use their articles as they wish. The APS has allowed authors the right to publish the APS-prepared, ?nal, and de?nitive version of the article on their web site or on the authors’ institution’s web site, immediately upon publication. The author’s ?nal version could also be put onto e-print servers such as the arXiv. Authors and their institutions could make copies of their articles for classroom use, and others could copy the article for noncommercial use. As authors expect additional rights of use, we will consider adding them.

Recently, some of our authors have asked for a new set of rights in regard to the reuse of material from an article in a new work. If substantial material from the original article appears in the new one, the new article is a ‘‘derivative work.’’ Under the ‘‘fair use’’ provisions of copyright law, most scienti?c, technical, and medical publishers allow reuse in other publications of up to 3 ?gures and 800 words of text from an article, without permission from the publisher, but with proper attribution. APS has been at least this generous for noncommercial reuse. Most of our authors reuse ?gures and equations from their articles in conference proceedings and in lectures posted on the web, and we encourage these forms of communication. However, a problem has arisen when our authors write articles for web resources such as Quantiki or Wikipedia. For understandable concerns of their own, these sites are very strict about permissions and require that authors hold copyright to material that they post. When authors write new material for the broader audience that use these sites but make substantial use of equations and ?gures from their articles, they put themselves in danger of creating a ‘‘derivative work’’ to which they cannot hold rights under the system we have had in place.

We have thus changed our copyright agreement to correct this situation. In the new agreement, copyright rests with the author for derivative works that contain at least 10% new material and not more than 50% of their article that is published in an APS journal. We believe that this will allow authors suf?cient freedom to reuse material from their articles in APS journals when writing for a new audience, while protecting the APS from wholesale copying of our content. We recommend that if authors wish to post a complete article from an APS journal, they instead provide a link to our site, or to a free copy of the article on their personal web sites....

The new copyright form is available [here].

Comment.  For detail on the APS author requests for additional rights, and their desire to repost chunks of their APS articles on wikis, see my post from March 2008.  The author requests were very reasonable and I commend APS for acceding to them.

OA and the digital public domain

Michael Carroll, The Digital Public Domain, Carrollogos, December 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

Whatever one thinks about the rest of the Google Book business, I think it's important to focus on the digitization of public domain books by both Google and the Open Content Alliance and to use these efforts as the basis for conceiving of the Digital Public Domain as a more robust version of the traditional public domain.

Here's the gist of the argument:

1. Copyright and the Encouragement of Learning.

...The purpose of copyright law has been to promote learning and the progress of knowledge. Two features of copyright law should provide the guide for how to respond to access concerns. First, copyright is an author's right. This is definitional....

Second,...copyright is a time-limited right. Copyright expires so that the public may ultimately gain unlimited access and use rights. This also is definitional....

Therefore, by design, all copyrighted works are destined for the public domain....

2. The Digital Public Domain

In the age of the Internet, we need to reconceive the public domain as the Digital Public Domain. In the Digital Public Domain, it is not enough that a work is free from copyright restrictions. A positive commitment to universal access to the public domain requires first that public domain works be digitized or at least be subject to a protocol that enables digitization when cost effective.

Second, works free from copyright restrictions should be made accessible over the Internet. Mass digitization of the public domain promotes the goals of universal access, improved learning, and the progress of science.

Third, works free from copyright restrictions should not be subject to technological measures or contractual restrictions or "terms of use" that in any way inhibit members of the public from exercising their usage rights in public domain works.

Fourth, access and the absence of legal restrictions alone are insufficient. Those who search the Internet for information often do so for active purposes. It is not sufficient to find information that is topically relevant. The information also must be useful for the researcher's purposes. Marking and tagging works with their use rights enables computers to search for information that is both topically relevant and useful. I've argued more extensively about use relevance here.

From this principle follows the corollary that the digital public domain should be tagged and marked as such....

Consequently, those public and private bodies that laudably have been investing in efforts to digitize public domain works should increase the returns on their investment by marking and tagging public domain works as such. Creative Commons provides a metadata standard for digitally marking works with their use rights, the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language (ccREL). Specifically, Creative Commons provides a means of marking a public domain work as such. Creative Commons requires support to implement plans to update this protocol to provide more robust information about public domain works.

3. The Open Access Connection

...Faculty authors and other professional researchers have a responsibility to manage their copyrights in a way that ensures public access to the scholarly record well before copyright expires in these works. Why? Because the standard justification for granting author's rights does not neatly apply to these scholarly authors. They are motivated by the desire to be read and are not remunerated by journal publishers for publishing their work.

When authors have no need to limit access to their work for purposes of remuneration, they should make their work freely available to promote the progress of science. When researchers have been funded by the government or by private charities, it is inexcusable not to ensure reasonable and timely free public access to the fruits of this research consistent with copyright....

4. The Role of Universities

...Mandates work. Requests do not....

This post is derived from my presentation at the Boston Library Consortium's Universal Access Digital Library Summit in September with the aim of showing connections between book digitization projects and the open access movement.

An honor for Wendy Hall

Wendy Hall has been appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) for her work in computer science, which includes important work on OA.  Stevan Harnad, her colleague in the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science, summarizes the OA connection:

An invaluable friend to Open Access, University of Southampton's Professor Wendy Hall, as Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science from 2002 to 2007, not only presided over the adoption and implementation of the world's first Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate, but she quietly went on to help get Green (ID/OA) Mandates adopted at the European level, as a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council as well as President of the British Computer Society (BCS) and member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. It is no small thanks to Wendy's support that the UK in particular and Europe in general are leading the world in its inexorable progress toward the optimal and inevitable outcome for scientific and scholarly research, at long last. And this is but one part of what Wendy has done for computer science, and science in general....

PS:  Congratulations to Dame Wendy.  Also see our past posts on her OA work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More on the kinds of OA, and the ways of delivering it

Gideon Burton, The Coming Change in Humanities Publishing (6): Open Access, Gideon Burton's Blog, December 12, 2008.  Excerpt:

...Open Access means that a digital work is available for free and without those licensing or copyright restrictions that would limit its reuse. If you are unfamiliar with Open Access, there are many sources for getting up to speed--especially Peter Suber's Open Access site.  Or see my detailed PowerPoint on Open Access (via Slideshare)....

Conventional publishing is a restricted-access paradigm based on the limits of print publishing. To recoup the costs of print publishing, a payment by the interested reader (to a publisher for a book or to a journal for a subscription) has been required to get to the information. Open Access eliminates the cost for access altogether and shifts the costs for preparing publications from the point of distribution to the point of production.

So here's how it works. Instead of individuals or institutions forking out $25 for an article or up to $20,000/year for a journal subscription (not kidding), readers pay nothing to read the publication in question. Instead, the individual author (or his/her granting agency or host institution) pays an Open Access fee in order to get his/her work published. The fee could be $300 or $3000 (depending on the discipline, subventions, etc.)....[PS:  Most of the time it is zero, since the majority of OA journals charge no fees.]

There are two ways to publish your work as Open Access. The first is to publish in a traditional journal that offers authors the opportunity to publish their work as Open Access (for a fee)....The second way to publish humanities scholarship as Open Access is to submit work directly to an Open Access journal....In the next two posts I will look at the role of repositories as a publishing outlet (not simply an archive)....

Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

(1) Two Kinds of OA: Gratis and Libre: There are two kinds of Open Access (OA) -- "gratis" (free online access) and "libre" (free online access plus certain re-use rights) -- but Gideon Burton seems to be writing about OA as if there were only one kind ("libre"). (See: "Open Access: 'Gratis' and 'Libre'")

The gratis/libre distinction matters a lot, because it is critical to the strategy for successfully achieving OA (of either kind) at all. There is still very little OA today, but most of what OA there is is gratis, not libre. The fastest and surest way to achieve 100% OA is for universities and funders to mandate OA, and they are at last beginning to do so. But universities and funders can (and hence should) only mandate gratis OA, not libre OA....

(2) Two Ways to Reach 100% OA: The Golden Road and the Green Road: There are two roads to 100% OA, the "golden road" of authors publishing in OA journals and the "green road" of authors publishing in conventional journals but also self-archiving their articles in their own Institutional Repositories (IRs) to make them OA....

The green/gold distinction matters even more than the gratis/libre distinction, because Green OA can be mandated by universities and funders, whereas gold OA cannot. Moreover, most journals already have a green (63%) or pale-green (32%) policy on author OA self-archiving, whereas only about 15% of journals are gold OA journals, and the rest cannot be mandated by universities and funders to convert....

PS:  Also see my own discussion of the gratis/libre distinction and the differences between the gratis/libre and green/gold distinctions.

Review of academic social networking sites

Kim Leeder, Social networking with a brain: a critical review of academic sites, In the Library with the Lead Pipe, December 10, 2008. Includes a discussion of the "networking-repository hybrid model". (Thanks to Marlène Delhaye.)

See also:

New issue of NBII newsletter

The Fall 2008 issue of Access, the National Biological Information Infrastructure newsletter, is now online. See these articles: See also our past posts on Sustainability or on NBII.

Open data needed for earthquake predictions

Globalizing quake information, Nature Geoscience, December 2008.  The journal has made this editorial TA at its own site, but authorized an OA copy at the site of the Global Earthquake Model.  Excerpt from the latter:

The Global Earthquake Model is an open-source initiative aimed at creating the definitive instrument for the calculation and communication of earthquake risks. It is a promising attempt to pool regional knowledge to create one reliable global resource and to facilitate the communication of the results to policy makers and the public.

The Global Earthquake Model is an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), set to launch in early 2009. But work on a technology demonstrator version, GEM1, has already begun. When fully functional, it will be possible to calculate the probability that an earthquake will strike a particular region during a user-specified timeframe, and also the expected ground motion. This capability will be founded on an extensive database of geological and geophysical data, such as the locations of active faults, historical earthquakes, and the nature of soils. The model will be constantly refined as new information becomes available and the estimation of probabilities will be dynamic rather than static.

When combined with data on population density and the quality of buildings, the system will allow the estimation of the likely damage to life and property....

Rich geological and geophysical data sets are available for some regions of the world such as the United States, but the same is not true for less wealthy and developed regions....Encouraging the involvement of governments of developing nations in the Global Earthquake Model project may be one way of creating greater awareness and a culture of preparedness....

The project is still in its infancy, and it is difficult to gauge its likely impact, let alone evaluate it critically. But it seems to be based on sound foundations: making the tools freely accessible is just, and seeking genuine cooperation of various stakeholders is democratic. The success of the Global Earthquake Model is in everyone’s interest; the whole-hearted support of scientists, governments, and the private sector should help it to live up to its promise.

Comment.  GEM seems to depend on the openness of data, not just the accuracy and comprehensiveness of data.  If the input data are not open, but the model produces open outputs, then specialists could infer the broad contours of the input data.  Hence, regions unwilling to make their data public would likely be unwilling to participate in the project even with closed data.  If so, then, this is not just a call to governments to support the project with relevant data, but to support it with open data. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Open science chapter to a major neuroscience case story

H.M., a widely-studied patient on the topic of amnesia and memory, passed away in December 2008 and donated his brain to further study. The Brain Observatory at the University of California, San Diego will lead the research. Jacopo Annese, the Observatory's director, has announced that it will take an open approach to the research, including a blog for the project and Webcasts of the procedures. See the story from Science Friday. (Thanks to Bora Zivkovic.)

Interview with director of Google Books Spain

Pablo Lara and Antonia Ferrer, Luis Collado, responsable de Búsqueda de Libros de Google, El profesional de la información, July-August 2008; self-archived December 21, 2008. English abstract:
Luis Collado answers some questions about the program Google Book Search. He describes what it is and what it is not. His words reveal Google’s philosophy of universal access to information.

Blog notes on Spanish OA conference

María Jesús del Olmo García, Stuart Shieber cuenta, desde Harvard, su punto de vista sobre Open Access y el sistema de publicación académica, SEDICblog, December 23, 2008. Blog notes on Jornadas sobre Open Acces y E-prints (Madrid, December 10-12, 2008).

OA to research proposals

Gavin Baker, Opening research proposals; thoughts on virtual collaboration, A Journal of Insignificant Inquiry, December 23, 2008.
... Opening research proposals: This seems to be an aspect of research which is relatively secretive. Few funding bodies seem to post the proposals for projects they fund, let alone proposals they rejected. But wouldn’t researchers (and students) benefit from seeing the methods proposed by other researchers? Wouldn’t the full details of a project, not just a summary, improve current awareness and reduce unnecessary duplication? Wouldn’t better access to proposals increase the transparency both of funders (so anyone can see the details of what was funded as well as what was turned down) and of researchers (so anyone can compare the methodology of the published results to the methodology proposed earlier)? There may be some cases where researchers want to keep their methodology secret until they’re done working on it, but those should be the exception rather than the rule. We can start working on the low-hanging fruit now, while thinking about how to deal with the cases where researchers don’t want disclosure: there’s no reason in principle that we shouldn’t campaign for open access to research proposals alongside research data and published results. ...

Global reach of RePEc

Christian Zimmermann, The worldwide reach of RePEc, The RePEc Blog, December 26, 2008.
... [RePEc's] 18,500 [authors] are distributed over 118 countries (and all US states). Then, the 960+ RePEc archives, which each contribute bibliographic data to the project, are dispersed in 64 countries. But some of those archives collect data from several institutions. Thus, we actually have publications from 70 countries (and all but five US states ...) ...

OA portal of journals of Indian folklore, many new

India's National Folklore Support Centre has opened a portal of OA Indian folklore journals, apparently launched in 2008. (Thanks to Jason Baird Jackson.) The portal hosts 14 OA journals, several of them new:

New OA law journal in French

Jurisdoctoria is a new OA journal published by the schools of comparative law and public & fiscal law at Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne. The inaugural issue was released in October 2008. The journal is dedicated to work by young researchers. The journal is published in French with English abstracts. Jurisdoctoria will publish two issues a year, each themed. (Thanks to Georges-Hubert Delporte.)

Broken links to Google-scanned books

The UK Book Academy is discovering broken links to Google-scanned books.  Is Google moving them?  Taking them offline?  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Call for OA to raw microarray datasets

Maxine Clarke, Call for authors to deposit microarrays in public databases, Nautilus, December 8, 2008.  Excerpt:

In a Correspondence to Nature Methods (5, 991; December 2008) responding to an Editorial in the March 2008 issue of the journal (Nat. Meth. 5, 209; 2008), Scott A Ochsner, David L Steffen, Christian J Stoeckert, Jr and Neil J McKenna report a study showing that researchers are not routinely depositing supporting raw microarray datasets into a public database.

The Correspondence authors surveyed papers from the 2007 issues of 20 journals, searching the text for reference to deposition of a microarray dataset. They find that the rate of deposition of datasets was less than 50 per cent. The authors note the effort required by authors to deposit these complex data in public microarray repositories, even though repositories are simplifying submissions while encouraging compliance with MIAME (minimum information about a microarray experiment) standards. They write: "Although microarray datasets are most useful to bioinformaticians in their raw, unnormalized forms, which facilitate cross-comparison with other datasets, processed datasets are more useful to the bench scientist. Moreover, unless a description of the experimental details is available, neither form of the data are biologically interpretable." They urge repositories to require deposition by authors and propose journals require a statement in the manuscript identifying a repository and accession number at the time of submission, with the record embargoed until acceptance of the paper. (Of the 16 Nature journal papers that were part of the survey, such accession numbers were provided in 15 cases.) They conclude: "Seven years after the elaboration of the MIAME principles, the emerging discipline of microarray meta-analysis, exemplified by the cancer gene expression resource Oncomine, continues to be hobbled by the mundane, time-consuming and often fruitless exercise of tracking down annotated full datasets. We call for a renewed collective effort from researchers, publishers and funding organizations to redress this situation and secure these data-rich research resources for posterity."

The full text of the Nature Methods Correspondence, with supporting data, is here.

Policy note: the Nature journals have for some years required authors to submit MIAME-compliant microarray data to the GEO or Arrayexpress public repository. Details of the journals' polices can be found here.

PS:  Thanks to Heather Piwowar for the alert, and thanks to Maxine Clarke, the Publishing Executive Editor of Nature, for excerpting this TA correspondence to Nature's OA blog.

Evolving book on academic evolution

Gideon Burton has started a blog which he hopes will become a book on new media in academic publishing.  From a recent post (apparently yesterday):

This blog is intended to become Academic Evolution, the book....I am beta testing my ideas, developing them in keeping with the principle of transparency and with the goal of inviting public review and collaboration....[H]ere's the working table of contents for the book. Obviously I will be making each of these proposed chapters the subject of my various blog posts. Let's figure this out together! I welcome your suggestions....

Table of Contents for Academic Evolution (version 12-27-08)

Preface: Urbino's Pride

During the early days of printed books, Frederick, Duke of Urbino, bragged that his magnificent library did not contain a single printed book. In fact, he had printed books recopied onto manuscript pages so his peers would see them as legitimate. Meanwhile, the cheap editions of classical works printed by Aldus Manutius were reaching a generation who cared less about illuminations and more about being illuminated. Each media revolution embarrasses the status quo, and properly so. Academia, it's time to own your shame.

  1. Academia is Not the Creative Commons
    In fighting to preserve traditional publishing, teaching, and credentialing, academic institutions are betraying their core educational missions, working against the goals of scholarship, retarding the creative growth of students and faculty, and effectively squandering their best assets. 
  2. Stuck in Print
    A print-based paradigm has structured academic knowledge, publishing, and teaching; it is based on restriction, elitism, and control. The digital paradigm now supplanting it is based on principles of openness, the democratization of knowledge, and collaboration. The question is not which paradigm will win, but how costly academic institutions will make the transition.
  3. Academic Publishing is Old School
    Traditional academic publishing is a $7 billion business that quarantines knowledge, exploits faculty and students, biases research, and intentionally restricts the influence of scholarship. Traditional publishing once made scholarly communication possible; now, it impedes it.
  4. Academic Review Reviewed ...
  5. The Web is My Classroom ...
  6. Miswired: Academia's Poor Technology Investments ...
  7. Digital Scholars and Scholarship
    The value of knowledge in the digital age correlates to its dynamic design and use, not as much to a publication venue and certainly not to a one-time, limited peer evaluation of content. Digital knowledge also tends to be collaborative and perpetually in "beta." This makes some of the most important digital work invisible to those trained only to recognize knowledge within the controls and genres of academia's print paradigm. By holding to the old paradigm within hiring, promotion, and tenure, academia will sacrifice the very people it needs to retool for the future.
  8. The Library Saves the World
    As toll access knowledge becomes even less viable and open access becomes the norm, the library will sustain the long tail of academia through institutional repositories, creative metadata, and collaborative digital publishing with scholars and students. The librarian can be reborn as a concierge, broker, or midwife to research, teaching, and learning. The library will be the university's press and publishing platform, dedicated as much to archiving/publishing student work, teaching media, and in-process scholarly assets as it is to preserving traditionally vetted scholarly works.
  9. Serious Play: New Tools in the Old School ...
  10. Waking the Sleeping Giant: Academic Activism ...
  11. The Digital Scholar's Manifesto
    "WHEREAS, the print paradigm is restricting the productive creation and distribution of knowledge, negatively impacting teaching, learning, and research today, I claim my privilege as a citizen of the digital age to produce, share, collaborate, and publish unfettered by the artificial and outdated systems of publishing and review that academia continues to insist upon to its own detriment..."

Active IRs in India

Suresh K. Chauhan, Institutional Repositories in India, Key 2 Information, December 28, 2008.  Excerpt:

Nowadays, it is a trend of Institutional repositories all around. Many of the institutions have their repositories which they have built on various open source software. The saddest part of this is that various institutes had created these digital repositories for testing or trial purpose only and could not maintain the pace to streamline those. Many of them are closed and are not being updated regularly. DSpace at INFLIBNET, an institutional repository of the Centre, which is responsible for creating the vibration in the use of open software software for digital library, and for many other important issues, is also not able to host its own institutional repository on regular basis. Following is the list of institutional repositories from India which are currently active on the Internet....

PS:  Chauhan lists 21 repositories with a paragraph of annotation on each one.

Debating the TA policy of a library journal

Tom Roper, Health Information And Libraries Journal's Silver Jubilee, Tom Roper's Weblog, Novemer 27, 2008.  Excerpt:

Health Information and Libraries Journal, or HILJ, 25 years old. The journal has marked its birthday with a splendid celebratory issue....

Something is missing though; the development of the open access movement, probably one of the most significant things to happen in scientific communication in the recent period, is barely mentioned. Martin Tilly, of the journal's publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, mentions briefly that content three years old or more is freely available, though by no means all, as I discovered when searching for an article from 1998....

The reason for this silence may be that HILJ's position on open access, in contrast to our North American colleagues' Journal of the Medical Library Association, is not well developed. A three year embargo, when one takes into account the length of time it takes for research to be written up, submitted, reviewed, revised, resubmitted, published and printed, means that it will be more like five years before research results are freely available to the community. Worse, this three year embargo is coupled with the imposition on authors of a six-month post-publication embargo on self-archiving, though pre-prints may be freely self-archived. This journals is, as it should be, owned by the profession and an urgent task for HILJ, and for the Health Libraries Group [HLG], whose journals it is, is to make sure access is improved long before the next big birthday.

Graham Walton, editor of HILJ, responded to Roper's post in the comment section:

Thank you for giving the 25th anniversary issue of HILJ prominence on your blog. Just a few points: ...

2) HLG engages in a wide range of activities and services for its members because of the strong financial position it has through the HILJ publishing model. If this was to change, HLG would have to significantly draw back from the current levels of support

3) HILJ was warded an impact factor this year which can be attributed in many ways to the strong partnership between HLG and its commercial publisher.
The issue of open access and HILJ is discussed at least annually but care must be taken to ensure HILJ’s current strong position is not threatened. I am sure you were delighted that the 25th anniversary issue at least has been published on the open access model and is free to the world.

Ben Toth responded to Walton's comment briefly on Roper's blog and at greater length on his own blog.  From the latter: 

...Tom [Roper] believes, as I do, that librarians should be promoting open access, and that consequently the closed access publication model of HILJ is to be regretted. Graham's argument against open access is in 3 parts, which are, in summary: 1. You know the position so why are you raising the issue? 2. The arrangement enables HLG to deliver valuable services to users. 3. Wiley's support has given HILJ an impact factor.  Let's look at the arguments in turn.

HILJ does indeed have a journal impact factor, placing it 31st out of the 56 journals in the library and information science category. This is a very modest performance after 25 years. But the point is - could this have been achieved without publisher support? The evidence suggests that it might. There are higher ranking journals in the category, which are open access, such as Information Research. And evidence from other fields suggests that open access journals can have very good impact factors....

The arrangement with HILJ does produce an income for HLG. But does the income benefit HLG members, who pay a stiff fee to CILIP or a £25 per annum fee direct to HLG? Looking at the HLG accounts and list of recent activities it appears that the largest expense borne by HLG is its conference, which takes place every 2 years. The second largest expense is that of the committee itself, not surprising given the large number of committee members. Beyond the conference, and using the HLG website as a guide, its is hard to detect many educational and professional development activities arranged by HLG....Perhaps there are events organised by HLG, but they don't appear as a significant cost on the HLG balance sheet....

The third argument can be paraphrased 'that's just the way it is'. This argument might carry more weight if the income from HILJ was used to obvious benefit and if the publisher was making the journal a leader in its field. Neither of these appears to be true, so maybe it's time for a drains-up look at the relationship between HLG and HILJ, especially in a year when HLG agreed a 9% increase in the price of the journal (that's about x3 the rate of inflation, more likely around x8 inflation by the mid 2009)....