Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Another OA class journal

The students in Basic Biotechnology at Michigan State University publish their papers in an OA course journal. In fact, Open Journal Systems is used for the entire course site, including syllabus, links to readings, etc. The course received a university award for its use of OJS. (Thanks to the Public Knowledge Project.)

See also our past posts on OA class journals at San Jose State University and the University of British Columbia.

A reader's perspective on improving OJS

Gavin Baker, How to improve OJS: a reader’s perspective, A Journal of Insignificant Inquiry, December 31, 2008.

... [Open Journal Systems] generally very usable, although there are a few areas, mostly related to current awareness, where some simple tweaks to the defaults would make things easier.

  • Make subscribing easier and more obvious. When you visit an OJS using a standard theme, there’s no big button that says “subscribe” or a similar term. Instead, there are two options that lead down that path: “Register” and “For Readers”.

    The “For Readers” page, by default, directs readers to register to receive the table of contents of new issues via email. The “Register” page, by default, requires you to create a username and password, fill out a captcha, and give your full name in addition to your email address. ... That’s a lot of effort just to get an email when new issues are released. ...

    A journal should make a prominent pitch for visitors to subscribe before they navigate away from the page and forget about the journal. More subscribers leads to more readers, which leads to more authors and referees and commentary. ...

  • RSS feeds by default. OJS includes a plugin to produce RSS feeds, but it doesn’t appear to be on by default; many OJS journals don’t offer RSS feeds. See above comments about the importance of turning visitors into subscribers.
  • OpenID support. With 2,000 OJS journals floating around, it seems a bit silly to have to create an account at each one, doesn’t it? OpenID would give users a single login not only across other OJS journals, but any site supporting OpenID. Good news, though: OpenID support is in the OJS roadmap. ...

OA metadata repository of Swedish academic publications

SwePub is a forthcoming OA harvester of "metadata for all Swedish scientific publications from the publication databases of all Higher Education institutions". One of the strategic aims is to "increase the share of Swedish scientific publications that is Open Access". (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

Investigating the usage of open archives

Fernanda Peset, et al., Indicadores de rendimiento para acciones de acceso abierto, presented at La proyección de los repositorios institucionales (December 10-12, 2008, Madrid); self-archived January 9, 2009. English abstract, lightly edited:
Study of the situation of the providers of information in order to evaluate the performance of the investments effected in initiatives [using] OAI-PMH. [S]tatistical information is presented on distribution of contents and the situation and growth of the projects from 2006, year in which we begin to compile the information, and compare[d] with reports of other places.

More on HathiTrust

Call for OA to PSI

Tom Steinberg, Top 5 Internet Priorities for the Next Government (any next Government), mySociety blog, January 7, 2009. (Thanks to the Sunlight Foundation.)

... This is a list of the top 5 major things any government of any developed nation should be doing in relation to the Internet ...

2. Free your data, especially maps and other geographic information, plus the non-personal data that drives the police, health and social services, for starters. Introduce a ‘presumption of innovation’ – if someone has asked for something costly to free up, give them what they want: it’s probably a sign that they understand the value of your data when you don’t. ...

More OA audio books from Open Culture

Open Culture added to its collection of free audio books on January 9.

Video on OA in medicine

Rick Kulkarni, Open-Access Medical Knowledge: Where Are We Currently and Where Should We Be Going?, Medscape Journal of Medicine, January 9, 2009. A video editorial. (Free registration required.)
... Most publishers of medical journals have stuck to a 400-year-old model of fee-based publication. Such fees are downright prohibitive to much of the world. Why is this tolerated by medicine and the general public? ...

Dissertation on the OA impact advantage wins Emerald prize

Doctoral thesis highly commended, News from DIS (the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University), January 9, 2009.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

The Emerald Group Publishing Limited have informed the Department that Dr. Michael Norris has been named as a Highly Commended Award winner of the 2008 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the Information Science category for his doctoral thesis ‘The citation advantage of open access articles’.   These prestigious awards have now been running for four years and attract submissions of an exceptionally high quality from across the globe in all subject areas.

Michael was awarded his Ph.D. in the autumn of 2008 and is continuing to work on a research project in DIS.  Charles Oppenheim, Head of Department commented: “This recognition of Dr. Norris’ research is richly deserved. His outstanding research explored the topical and contentious issue of whether Open Access journal articles receive more citations than toll access journals, and if so, why. His work demonstrated that the reasons for the increase of citations are complex and cannot be explained away in a simplistic fashion, as some have tried to do.”

PS:  Congratulations, Michael!  Also see the published article based on the dissertation:  Michael Norris, Charles Oppenheim, and Fytton Rowland, The citation advantage of open-access articles, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, July 9, 2008.  Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, neither the article nor the dissertation is yet OA. 

Update (1/13/09).  Two articles based on this dissertation have now been self-archived:

Update (1/15/09). The dissertation itself has now been self-archived as well.

STM briefing on university OA mandates

STM has written a members-only briefing document on university OA mandates.  Unless you're a member, it's all secret except for this blurb:

On 9 January 2009, STM issued a briefing for STM member Heads of House and Senior Executives on the issues that surround the increasing tendency of institutions to mandate the use of their repositories. This note provides an overview of the current scene and poses some closely connected publishing policy considerations.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Presentation on E-LIS

Fernanda Peset and Antonia Ferrer-Sapena, E-LIS : Central repository on Library and Information Science, presented at Online Information 2008 (London, December 2-4, 2008); self-archived January 8, 2008. Abstract:
E-LIS is an international open archive for the Library and Information Science fields, established in 2003. With over 8,600 documents as of November is an international open archive for the Library and Information Science fields, established in 2003. With over 8,600 documents as of November 2008, E-LIS is the world’s largest archive for LIS. Over half the documents in E-LIS are peer-reviewed. With support for 22 languages and a volunteer editorial team from over 40 countries, E-LIS is an outstanding example of global cooperation, which is reflected in one of the strengths of LIS. Over half the documents in E-LIS are peer-reviewed. With support for 22 languages and a volunteer editorial team from over 40 countries, E-LIS is an outstanding example of global cooperation, which is reflected in one of the strengths of E-LIS, the diversity of its content.

OA and self-archiving in Quebec

Kumiko Vézina, Libre Accès à la recherche scientifique (Open Access) et dépôts institutionnels : contexte et enjeux, presentation to the Association pour l'avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation, section santé, September 19, 2008; self-archived January 8, 2009. English abstract:
This presentation defines Open Access and gives an overview of the academic (teaching faculty) perspective on open access publishing and self-archiving and what it all means in the real-world university (library) environment. Some strategies are mentioned that could help the self-archiving movement.
The presentation includes data from a survey of professors in life sciences at 6 Quebec universities:
  • 57% of respondents knew the concept of OA
  • The most popular sources of information about OA, in order:
    1. Browsing the Web
    2. Colleague
    3. Article
    4. Other means
    5. Library
  • 31% were familiar with the concept of self-archiving
  • 12% reported previously self-archiving, but only 2% in an open archive (the others on a personal or lab site)
  • 86% did not know if their university had an IR
  • 51% believe that self-archiving in an open archive won't increase the impact of an article
  • 83% would self-archive if their employer or funder required it
Update. See also our previous post on Vézina's survey. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)

Book on scientific publishing in French

Joachim Schöpfel, ed., La publication scientifique: analyses et perspectives, published by Hermès, November 2008. (Thanks to Odile Contat.) Only a book description and table of contents is OA, at least so far. See especially these chapters:
  • 5. A. Jacquesson and J.-Ph. Schmitt, Les grands éditeurs face au mouvement open access
  • 8. L. Endrizzi, Wikipédia : un nouveau modèle éditorial ?

More on the Google Books deal

Rick Johnson, Free (or Fee) to All?, Library Journal, December 23, 2008.

In 2004, when five libraries inked the first book-scanning agreements with Google, it seemed like the company was offering a public service. Google’s plan to digitize the great libraries of the world conjured images of a vast, freely accessible Internet public library ...

While public libraries’ doors are open and their collections “free to all,” as the Boston Public Library inscription famously proclaims, the Google Book Search settlement is a stark reminder that businesses are sustained by very different motivations than libraries. Control over library collections, once guided by the values of learning and research, is now a commercial matter. Goodbye free, hello fee.

It’s now clear that books will be a lucrative business for Google, bringing revenue not just from advertising but also from sales and licensing of out-of-print books. The proposed deal not only solidifies Google’s dominant position in Internet search, it gives the franchise a virtual monopoly on the long-tailed out-of-print book market. ...

According to the terms of the settlement, public libraries in the United States would be eligible for a license providing free online viewing but only at a single terminal and only for on-site library users. So much for the promise of the digital age. This sounds more like the age of the CD-ROM.

For access at additional terminals, libraries would have to pay a subscription fee. If users want to print, a per-page fee will be assessed. ...

At least works that are in the public domain, such as those published before 1923 or U.S. government documents, will be free of restrictions in digital form, right? Not exactly. You see, Google insists on being the gatekeeper, requiring users to gain online access to these works via its proprietary search engine. ...

[I]t is not fair to place restrictions on public domain works. After all, they belong to the public. These collections are only available to Google because of the public funding afforded to the nonprofit institutions that developed them. ...

As we consider where to go from here, I urge libraries to insist that Google withdraw all restrictions on uses of scanned public domain works. ... Just as timber companies don’t get a free pass to use federal lands, protections for the public domain should be part of commercial arrangements to exploit the public’s library collections. ...

In the short term, one bright spot is that libraries that open their collections to Google are entitled to copies of scanned works. Even with contractual restrictions, these scans can help fuel innovative ventures, like the HathiTrust, to build a digital library that embraces and carries forward core library values. Over the long haul, the proposed Google settlement and promising ventures like the HathiTrust remind us that libraries must support the development of a real Internet public library. This will require new funding strategies, coordinated library action, and public-oriented principles to guide us.

See also Johnson's longer piece on better models for digitization.

More on J. Biomed. Sci.'s conversion to OA

Michael M. C. Lai, Journal of Biomedical Science, marking a new epoch: moving to open access in 2009, Journal of Biomedical Science, January 8, 2009. An editorial. See also the post on the BioMed Central blog.

Welcome to the new Journal of Biomedical Science (JBS), which is published by BioMed Central in partnership with the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC). This volume marks the transition of the journal from a subscription journal to an “open access” journal. ...

With the development of the internet, the way to conduct and share scientific research has been changing dramatically. Though still challenged by commercial journal publishers, open access publishing has become a growing trend for the possibility of expanding the circulation of scientific work and maximizing the research. Accumulating evidence has shown that open access articles are cited more quickly and more frequently than non-open access article published in the same journal. That probably explains the increasing interest from traditional journals in adopting open access as their new way of publishing.

Sponsored by the NSC, JBS aims to serve as an international forum for encouraging interdisciplinary discussions and contributing to the advancement of biomedical science, rather than as a periodical for commercial gain. ... We are well aware that access to an article, by itself, is not sufficient for citation. But access to it, by any path, is still a necessary pre-condition for citation. More and more journals are now turning to the open access publishing model. Therefore, to accelerate the dissemination of research information and provide maximum access to scholarly communication, the journal’s Editors and the NSC have decided to adopt the open access model ...

Previous articles published before 2009 are also freely available online (in final PDF version) to readers in the journal’s local repository. ...

Undeniably, open access also raises the issue of increasing financial burdens on authors because the publication cost is traditionally borne by the authors. Thanks to support from the NSC, authors will not be required to pay any article processing charges ...

See also our previous post on the Journal of Biomedical Science.

A German publisher lashes out

Vittorio Klostermann, Die große Allianz gegen das Buch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 8, 2009 (accessible only to subscribers).  Klostermann, who founded the German publishing house, Vittorio Klostermann Verlag, objects to the new Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen (Alliance of German Science Organizations) and its plans for OA in Germany.  His objections assume that the Allianz wants to abolish copyright, that a green OA mandate would undermine publisher revenues, that it would undermine author revenues (apparently thinking of books, not journal articles), and that it would undermine quality.

Thanks to Klaus Graf for the alert and for his comments, which you can read in German or Google's English.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Allianz and its commitment to OA.  As far as I can tell, the Allianz still doesn't have a web site.

TA debate about OA

The January issue of Physics World contains two letters to the editor under the title, Debating open access and arXiv.  Neither letter is OA, at least so far, and PW doesn't even link to them from the TOC.  But thanks to John Glen for blogging citations and summaries (1, 2):

  • Fairlie D. Debating open access and arXiv. Physics World 2009;22(1):20
    Letter suggesting that the enormous numbers of papers posted on arXiv indicates that too many papers are being published and that there is at present little motive for authors to publish their material in peer reviewed journals; arXiv should be regarded as more like a daily newspaper, not a place for final publication.
  • Prentice, J. Debating open access and arXiv. Physics World 2009;22(1):20
    Letter pointing out that transferring the cost of publishing to the author may make whether to publish a management decision rather than a scientific one.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Case study of journal economics

Heather Morrison, Molecular Biology of the Cell, or, Why Open Access by Article Processing Fee Sometimes Just Makes Sense, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, January 7, 2009.

Re-analysis of data from the American Society for Cell Biology, publishers of the subscription-based Molecular Biology of the Cell, in MBC and the Economics of Scientific Publishing, illustrates how sometimes an article processing fee approach to open access, combined with dropping the print edition to focus on online, can be just a very natural fit. ...

Currently at Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBC):

  • article processing fees constitute 61% of the journal's revenue (colour charges 35%, page charges 26%).
  • print costs (printing, binding, paper, mailing) are 32% of expenses

In other words, if MBC were to drop the print edition, then article processing fees are already covering all but 7% of the costs. ... Assuming that the 5% cost for reprints and some of the 6% costs for "other" are print-related, such as tracking subscriptions or managing authentication, then it is quite possible that article processing fees are already covering the full costs of an online-only open access version of MBC.

MBC readers and authors currently do enjoy some of the benefits of freee access through participation in PubMedCentral after a brief 2-month delay. A full shift to OA would mean the full benefits of immediate OA ...

There is another benefit that would address a concern expressed by authors in the MBC survey. That is, authors are concerned about the cost of page and colour charges. Because of the print version, it is very likely that authors sometimes forego including valuable material for economic reasons. In an online-only environment, adding more pages, colour figures - even audiovisuals and research datasets - does not add costs as it does in the print environment. If MBC were to drop the print edition and switch to OA / online-only, it could immediately begin to do more for authors and for readers.

According to the Association's data, only a small percentage of readers really prefer and read the print. For these few readers, there are now print on demand services. As of 2007, it was still perceived as important to publish in a journal produced in print. ... One of the concerns members had about dropping print was archiving; it might be timely to raise awareness among members of the role of PubMedCentral in which MBC participates, as an archive of the world's medical literature, carrying on the tradition of the U.S. National Library of Medicine in the online environment. ...

Nature launches OA educational site

Nature Publishing Group, Nature Education launches free education website fit for Generation Y, press release, January 7, 2008.

Nature Education today launches Scitable, a free, online educational resource for undergraduate biology students and educators. Currently focused on genetics, Scitable combines authoritative scientific information with social media functionality. Scitable is the first product launch from Nature Education, a division of Nature Publishing Group formed in January 2007 to develop innovative education resources and tools for college science students and educators. ...

Scitable provides students with free online access to more than 180 overviews of key genetics concepts. The overviews are evidence-based and have been vetted by Nature Publishing Group staff. By connecting with other Scitable users via groups, chat functionality and other social media features, students can collaborate online with classmates, or with a wider community of experts, researchers and fellow students.

Scitable is also intended as a teaching tool for faculty. Educators can set up public or private groups for their students, providing reading lists, course-packs of Scitable articles and group discussions. Scitable is flexible and easy to use, and can be incorporated into courseware services such as Blackboard. ...

Nature Education plan to expand the service to other subject areas in future.

Presentations, etc. from open science workshop

Materials from the Open Science workshop at the 2009 Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (Big Island of Hawai’i, January 5, 2009) are now available:

New OA journal of philosophy and economics

The Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics is a new OA journal published by graduate students at the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics of Erasmus University Rotterdam. The inaugural issue was released in autumn 2008. (Thanks to History of Economics Playground.)

Project Gutenberg year in review

Mike Cook, The 2008 Project Gutenberg Year In Review, Project Gutenberg News, January 7, 2009. Contents:
  • The Complete “CIA World Factbooks”
  • Project Gutenberg Is Now A Firefox Plugin
  • Chinese Moves Into Our Top 5 List
  • Project Gutenberg Books Equal The Average Library
  • The 2008 Statistical Year in Review

Collaboration in e-research

Brian Fitzgerald and Anthony Austin, eds., Legal Strategies for Streamlining Collaboration in an e-Research World, report, December 2008; self-archived January 7, 2008. At least two chapters are related to OA:
  • Chapter 2, Anne Fitzgerald, et al., Understanding the Legal Implications of Data Sharing, Access and Reuse in the Australian Research Landscape
  • Chapter 3, John Wilbanks, The Science Commons, Data Sharing and Collaboration

Chance reading of a TA warning against TA

Andrew Maynard, Scientific knowledge, and the “pay to play” culture, 2020 Science, January 7, 2009.  Excerpt:

...Since leaving the lab nearly four years ago, my empathy with those without ready access to the scientific literature has grown.  With the exception of a pitifully small handful of publications I subscribe to, I now have to beg copies of interesting-looking papers from better-connected colleagues.  And I’m not alone in this...

I manage —I have enough friends who can get hold of relevant papers.  And could always work something out with a willing research institution if the going got really tough.  But what about others who want a first-hand account of what is going on in science and technology —from the curious citizen to the budding scientist?  There’s this ideal that scientific knowledge should be available to everyone —a “Scientific Commons.”  Yet most people are forced to rely on second hand accounts of breakthroughs, filtered through institutional press offices and journalists....

At this point you may be wondering what lit my fuse and led to this tirade....What really set me off though was this passage in the paper [by Barbara Harthorn et al., which is TA in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research]:

‘These initial results [of the nanotoxicology literature survey] have significant implications for toxicologists, regulators and social scientists studying nanotechnology and society.  The diffuseness of the scholarly literature may challenge the abilities of the public and civil society to stay informed about the toxicological implications of nanomaterials, as keeping up to date with the literature requires subscriptions to a proprietary database, and not just access to a single or a few journals.” (Emphasis added)

How ironic that most people will not have direct access to a paper that flags this as a problem!

Fortunately, things are changing.  The number of open access journals is increasing....

Change will not be easy.  The established scientific publishers have supported peer review science for decades —centuries even in some cases— so as well as a mountain of institutional inertia to overcome, there is also something of a debt of gratitude within the academic community that comes into play.  Yet old-style publishing where the reader pays for the privilege of access is becoming increasingly untenable.  There is a growing non-academic population clamoring for access to new information.  And at the same time paradigm-shifting changes in information technology are undermining conventional publishing practices at an alarming rate.  The combination of the two suggests that scientific publishers will eventually need to re-invent themselves if they want to survive....

But in the meantime, there are an awful lot of people out there who are still denied access to scientific information.  And at a time when science and technology are increasingly important for a smooth running society, that cannot be good.

A partnership of open standards and open source for geospatial research

OGC and OSGeo Sign Memorandum of Understanding, a press release from the Open Geospatial Consortium and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, January 7, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[T]he Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) [and] the OGC and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate in advancing open geospatial standards (OGC's mission) and open source geospatial software and data (OSGeo's mission).

Mark Reichardt, CEO and President of the OGC, explained that, "Openness benefits markets. Vendors of proprietary software have found that today's more open and complex "business ecosystem," which includes both open source software and open standards, is good for their businesses. It's also good for technology users. It makes sense for the OGC to work with the OSGeo." ...

Boost for an open chemical identifier

Rebecca Trager, Web chemistry progresses InChI by InChI, Chemistry World, January 6, 2009.  Excerpt:

In an effort to make the internet's mass of chemical data easier to search through, the RSC [Royal Society of Chemistry] and US-based company ChemZoo are developing tools to help chemists label their own compounds with a standard computer-readable tag.

The collaborative project, announced in December 2008, aims to help researchers share information on chemical structures and data for free online, and may impact on closed subscription databases such as those offered by the American Chemical Society (ACS)....

In the hope of provoking more enthusiasm for the [new, international, open InChI] format, the RSC and ChemZoo are working to provide a free 'resolver' to turn any InChI into a shorter 25-letter code (the 'InChI key'), also developed by Iupac and NIST, which is friendlier to search engines....

There is disagreement over what impact the collaboration could have on current gold standards in managing chemical information, such as the ACS's subscription-only chemical abstracts service (CAS) which allots compounds a CAS number and catalogues them using its own proprietary informatics platform....But the [CAS] information is not openly accessible - indeed, it is a major revenue generator for ACS, reportedly producing some $250 million in 2007.

[Antony Williams of ChemSpider] thinks that InChIs could eventually disrupt CAS by allowing public online searching of compounds by structure or substructure (rather than by typing in chemical names) - something that only the CAS registry and other proprietary services such as Elsevier's Beilstein database offer at the moment....

'It's not intended to replace in any way the high-quality curated service that CAS offers,' says [Richard Kidd, informatics manager at RSCS]. 'But the lack of an open chemical identifier and service to use it is a real barrier to the development of shared chemical resources across the Web'....

PS:  See our past posts (1, 2) on the use of proprietary CAS Registry numbers for OA chemical research.

DFG funding repository projects

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) has launched a funding program on OA repositories and is now soliciting applications.  The program description is a PDF, so I can't link to a machine translation.  But you can read the summary from Informationsplattform Open Access in German or Google's English.

Climate change makes the case for OA

William Calvin, Climate Will Change Everything, Edge, January 7, 2009.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

Climate will change our worldview....

Climate may well force on us a major change in how science is distilled into major findings. There are many examples of the ponderous nature of big organizations and big projects. While I think that the IPCC deserves every bit of its hemi-Nobel, the emphasis on "certainty" and the time required for a thousand scientists and a hundred countries to reach unanimous agreement probably added up to a considerable delay in public awareness and political action.

Climate will change our ways of doing science, making some areas more like medicine with its combination of science and interventional activism, where delay to resolve uncertainties is often not an option. Few scientists are trained to think this way — and certainly not climate scientists, who are having to improvise as the window of interventional opportunity shrinks.

Climate will, at times, force a hiatus on doing science as usual, much like what happened during World War II when many academics laid aside their usual teaching and research interests to intensively focus on the war effort....

Comment.  We can wait until climate change forces us to change the way we do science, and then make more work OA and remove obstacles to new research.  Or we can decide that we've already waited long enough and expand the scope of OA, now, with all deliberate speed, in order to save the chance that the impact of new research will be large enough, soon enough.  I made an argument to this effect in my open letter to Obama and McCain last November:

...[S]ignificant advances in green energy will require significant research, and a significant part of that research...will have to be funded by the federal government.

Here's where OA comes in:  OA will accelerate that research, make it more useful, and bring it within reach of everyone who can apply it or build on it.  As the primary funder of green research, the federal government will be in a unique position to amplify its impact by making it OA.  OA is the fourth step in a coordinated strategy of identifying research priorities, funding the research, undertaking the research, and disseminating the results....

A national interest in green research is inseparable from a national interest in access to that research.

We can't afford to waste even part of our investment in new knowledge by locking that knowledge behind a price wall, any more than we can afford to ship food to a disaster zone and lock it in a warehouse near the tarmac....

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

UNC researchers talk about their libraries

K.T.L. Vaughan, Bradley Hemminger, and Meredith Pulley, Scientists Comment on Their Libraries: Successes, Shortcomings, and Dreams for the Future, apparently a preprint.  Self-archived January 7, 2009.

Abstract:   A survey was conducted of 969 science researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This long survey concluded with three questions requesting users’ perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the campus libraries, and what single improvement the libraries could make to support scientific research and education. While the scope of these questions was more limited than large-scale surveys such as LibQUAL+TM, the results largely confirmed information from a local implementation of that survey. In addition, an interactive visualization tool was developed to help with analysis of the resulting comments. A summary of the major findings, recommendations for library improvements, and overall conclusions is given.

From the body of the paper:

...Negative comments cluster around issues of access to materials and fees for services and overdue materials....

There is a tension in the wish responses between researchers who clearly want to be able to do their research any time and any place – and on their own – and those who want to “have someone else retrieve and search for me and locate relevant sources and information.” The vast majority of people belong in the first camp, and requested “ALL scientific literature (back to the invention of printing)… online, searchable, and accessible cheaply or free.” ...

Alienation of the author from his work

Björn Brembs, Closed access is when you can't read your own article,, January 7, 2009. (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)
... First, we get invited to submit articles to the Journal of Neurogenetics for a special issue for the retirement of my thesis advisor Martin Heisenberg. Then so many people want to write in his honor, that it totally blows their budget so they ask for a US$60 page charge. And when the articles finally appear, I don't even get access to my own article! Can someone help me out here? ...

New portal of OA journals from Chile

eQuipu is a portal of OA journals from Chile published with Open Journal Systems, launched last year. All of the 13 current journals were previously OA, but it looks like they're moving to OJS as their publishing platform. See also the project's blog. (Thanks to Public Knowledge Project.)

More on OA to facilitate reproducible research

Victoria Stodden, The Legal Framework for Reproducible Scientific Research: Licensing and Copyright, Computing in Science & Engineering, January 2009.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  The journal version of this article is not OA, but I'll soon be able post a link to an OA postprint. 

Abstract:   As computational researchers increasingly make their results available in a reproducible way, and often outside the traditional journal publishing mechanism, questions naturally arise with regard to copyright, subsequent use and citation, and ownership rights in general. The growing number of scientists who release their research publicly face a gap in the current licensing and copyright structure, particularly on the Internet. Scientific research produces more than the final paper: The code, data structures, experimental design and parameters, documentation, and figures are all important for scholarship communication and result replication. The author proposes the reproducible research standard for scientific researchers to use for all components of their scholarship that should encourage reproducible scientific investigation through attribution, facilitate greater collaboration, and promote engagement of the larger community in scientific learning and discovery.

PS:  If you can't tell from the abstract, Stodden's standard for reproducible research depends on OA.

Update (1/9/08). An OA edition of an earlier version of the article is now online.

Digital libraries and bibliographic tools

Duncan Hull, et al., Defrosting the Digital Library: Bibliographic Tools for the Next Generation Web, PLoS Computational Biology, October 31, 2008. Abstract:
Many scientists now manage the bulk of their bibliographic information electronically, thereby organizing their publications and citation material from digital libraries. However, a library has been described as “thought in cold storage,” and unfortunately many digital libraries can be cold, impersonal, isolated, and inaccessible places. In this Review, we discuss the current chilly state of digital libraries for the computational biologist, including PubMed, IEEE Xplore, the ACM digital library, ISI Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Citeseer, arXiv, DBLP, and Google Scholar. We illustrate the current process of using these libraries with a typical workflow, and highlight problems with managing data and metadata using URIs. We then examine a range of new applications such as Zotero, Mendeley, Mekentosj Papers, MyNCBI, CiteULike, Connotea, and HubMed that exploit the Web to make these digital libraries more personal, sociable, integrated, and accessible places. We conclude with how these applications may begin to help achieve a digital defrost, and discuss some of the issues that will help or hinder this in terms of making libraries on the Web warmer places in the future, becoming resources that are considerably more useful to both humans and machines.


This afternoon Open Access News passed the milestone of 16,000 posts.  Thanks for reading what we're writing.

Publishing lobby appeals to Obama transition team to stop NIH policy

Allan Adler for the Association of American Publishers and Martin Frank for the DC Principles Coalition have released their December 22 letter to the Obama transition team, asking it to oppose the NIH policy and support the Conyers bill.  Excerpt:

...In seeking to work with the new Administration, we would like to make you aware of our continuing concerns regarding the Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health, which effectively allows the NIH to unfairly compete directly with private-sector journal publishers in the distribution of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that are authored by NIH-funded researchers....The NIH mandate...severely diminishes both the market and copyright protection for these copyrighted works to which not-for-profit and commercial publishers have made significant value-added contributions, and makes the NIH a free, alternative source of access to these materials in competition with the journal publishers’ subscription or other distribution models....

In addition to the negative implications for domestic copyright policy, this incursion upon intellectual property rights in the United States will make it difficult for the Federal Government to continue its active promotion of effective copyright protection and enforcement policies with our international trading partners and will adversely impact a $7-8 billion industry that contributes significantly to U.S. exports, jobs and economic growth....

Just three months ago, in response to these concerns, Chairman Conyers introduced the bipartisan Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 6845) and scheduled a House subcommittee hearing to begin to explore the copyright implications of the new mandatory NIH policy. This legislation, which we expect to be reintroduced in the new Congress, would ensure that federal agencies do not utilize research funding agreements to diminish copyright protections for journal articles to which private-sector publishers have made significant value-added contributions through peer review and other publishing quality assurance practices. We firmly support this legislation and look forward to its re-introduction.

We certainly do not oppose reasonable efforts by the Federal Government to make the results of publicly-funded research as widely available as possible in the United States....[W]e firmly believe that government mandates requiring the free dissemination of private-sector journal articles by federal agencies will undermine the existing system of scientific and scholarly publishing, which helps to ensure the validity and integrity of published articles that explain the results of publicly-funded research....

Ensuring that the Federal government does not diminish copyright protections for journal articles to which the private-sector has made significant value-added contributions is key to this effort, complemented by an America COMPETES approach to public access....

The letter is also signed by 36 publishers and accompanied by a petition from 400 scientists.  Excerpt from the petition:

We, the undersigned, believe that our society supports the broad and timely dissemination of research findings through their journals while providing the financial resources needed to support the training and development of the next generation of scientists....

My society reinvests the revenue from their journals in the support of science worldwide, including scholarships, scientific meetings, grants, educational outreach, advocacy for research funding, free dissemination of information for the public, and improvements in scientific publishing....

For these reasons, we the undersigned do not support Congressional efforts to mandate when journal access must be provided and thus undermine my society’s efforts to promote the development of the next generation of scientists and sustain innovative publishing.


  • Here we go again.  The publishing lobby is returning to the specious copyright and peer-review objections, which have been answered again and again.  See my detailed critique of the copyright objection (that the NIH policy "diminishes the copyright protection" of journal articles) and my detailed critique of the peer-review objection (that the NIH policy undermines peer review).
  • This time it's addressing the Obama transition team, which is getting excellent advice on OA from Harold Varmus and Eric Lander, co-chairs of the new President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
  • The petition from scientists is a new twist.  Note that it raises neither the copyright argument nor the peer-review argument.  It simply expresses fear about the consequences for society publishers.  It doesn't actually spell out the grounds for that fear, or the supposed threat to society publishers from the NIH policy, but then the publishers never spell it out either.  The petition simply says, in effect, that my society does good things with its money and therefore the NIH policy is bad.  This kind of non sequitur is now commonplace from the publishing lobby, but I expected better from scientists.  (In my critique of the peer-review objection, I spell out the objection as well as I can --the NIH policy will cause cancellations, which will kill subscription-based journals, which will kill peer review-- and show the false assumptions in every step.)
  • BTW, compare the 30 society publishers who signed this letter with the 425 societies who publish 450 OA journals, which Caroline Sutton and I identified in a 2007 study.  (Our latest numbers are even higher and will be released soon.)  Also compare the scientists who signed this petition with the 33 Nobel laureates in science who supported the NIH policy and opposed the Conyers bill in an open letter last September.
  • Note to researchers:  Do you belong to one of societies signing this letter?  If so, let your leaders know internally and online that they are not speaking for the members and that they are putting the society's interests as a revenue-producing publisher ahead of its interests as a non-profit scholarly society dedicated to research.  Make your views known in blogs, discussion lists, emails to colleagues, society meetings, and society publications.  At the same time, send copies of your message to the same people addressed by the publishers in their letter (John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett, Co-Chairs Obama-Biden Transition Project, 451 6th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20270).  Start organizing to elect society leaders who will speak for interests of researchers, who will consult the members on important policy questions, and who will stop spending the society's money and good name opposing the public interest in public access to publicly-funded research.  You might also vote for the proposal to require OA for publicly-funded research at Obama CTO, the unofficial site collecting public recommendations for the new administration.  The OA proposal is currently ranked 12th.

New issue of DSpace newsletter

A new issue of NewSpace, the DSpace newsletter, is available. Contents:
  • DSpace Sponsorship Program Update
  • DSpace/Fedora Collaboration
  • Maintenance Support Services
  • Jira - Issue/Feature Tracker
  • Update on 1.5.2
  • Update on 2.0
  • DSpace Reaches 500 Instances
  • DSpace Global Outreach Committee
  • DSpace Repository Manager Meeting
  • Conferences and Events
  • Upcoming Training
See especially the update on DuraSpace:
DSpace Foundation and Fedora Commons have been working closely together over the last month to kick off plans to develop DuraSpace. DuraSpace is a potential service that would provide trusted and reliable asset management in the cloud. The organizations received a joint planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore the concept over the next six months. Both teams have been meeting jointly with service providers, members of our community, and other interested parties that are managing cultural heritage material to analyze the need, business model, technical feasability and use cases. There will be a joint web cast on DuraSpace in the early part of next year. For more information on ongoing efforts and projects please visit the collaboration's wiki.

Presentations from American Astronomical Society meeting

Abstracts from the American Astronomical Society meeting (Long Beach, Calif., January 4-8, 2009) are online from the Astronomy Abstract Service. At least two mention open data:

Rank of authors in OA journals

Elaine A. Nowick, Academic Rank of Authors Publishing in Open Access Journals, Agricultural Information Worldwide 1(2), 2008. Not even an abstract is OA, but Gerard McKiernan has posted one:
When deciding where to publish their research results, faculty take into consideration factors such as the prestige and readership of journals. The weight a journal article will carry is particularly a concern for pre-tenured faculty members. Previous research has indicated that some faculty members may have some concerns about publishing in Open Access journals because of a perceived lack of rigor and reputation of Open Access titles. In this study, the academic rank of authors publishing in Open Access and commercial scholarly journals was compared. Most authors in both Open Access and for-fee journals were full professors. There was no indication that pre-tenured faculty avoided Open Access titles. In fact, there was a slight but significant trend for pre-tenured faculty to publish in Open Access journals.

Collaborate with RSP

Repositories Support Project, RSP and the JISC Repository Projects Call, Repositories Support Project, January 7, 2009.

Are you thinking of putting in a project proposal for the latest JISC call? If so, the RSP can help you. ...

We can disseminate ideas and practical results that come from your work to the rest of the repository community. ...

JISC has funded us to work in this way and encourages projects to play a full collaborative part in this dissemination and support work. ...

New OA journal of game studies

The International Journal of Role-Playing is a new peer-reviewed OA journal. The inaugural issue was released on December 30. (Thanks to Frans Mäyrä.)

Heather Joseph defends the NIH policy against the Conyers bill, continued

Heather Joseph, the Executive Director or SPARC, has released her December 1 letter to Howard Berman, answering five of his follow-up questions and supplementing her testimony at the September 2008 hearing on OA, the NIH policy, and the Conyers bill ("Fair Copyright in Research Works Act").  Berman is the last chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, which held the hearing.  John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has since abolished the subcommittee.

Comment.  At the time of the hearing, Berman was said to have some doubts about the bill, which would overturn the NIH policy and forbid other federal agencies from adopting similar policies.  While his subcommittee is now gone, shifting power to Conyers, the bill's sponsor, Berman remains an influential member of the Judiciary Committee.  It's a good sign that he asked for these five follow-up questions and a good sign that he now has these five strong answers.

Update.  Berman also had follow-up questions for Martin Frank, one of the publisher representatives who opposes the NIH policy and supports the Conyers bill.  Frank has also released his December 1 answers to Berman.  Last October, Frank submitted another written supplement to his oral testimony, and I commented on it at the time.


Unlocking the precursors to knowledge

John Wilbanks, Beliefs, Knowledge, Articles, Databases, Common Knowledge, January 5, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[O]n the web, we have these things that are kind-of-knowledge. Databases. Journal articles. Web pages. Ontologies.

Taken together, these things are somewhere in the epistemological chain. But the act of digitizing them does some strange things...they start to form an observable, computable network, a knowledge web of sorts. And in a knowledge web, we have to understand a important conceptual transformation that knowledge itself needs to be treated as something similar to software, something upon which computing happens and depends - and the implications of that transformation....

But knowledge is different, as the vast majority of the canon is already embedded in creative works protected by copyrights. Thus, we have to unlock some content if we're going to reformat it into something that can in turn be treated as an interim step along the way to knowledge, and then used as cyberinfrastructure. This is why Open Access is so crucial. Whatever knowledge is, a lot of it is locked behind paywalls, copyright licenses, or trapped in lousy formats from a machine perspective.

But - if we have access - if we can take the individual facts described in papers and turn them into modelable knowledge, or at least precursors to knowledge, we convert those facts into infrastructure for construction into something bigger, for composition into structures that software can use.

This transformation is already under way in the life sciences. Most of the valuable CI [cyberinfrastructure] data in the life sciences has been hand-curated out of journal articles into more structured sources like the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, or the Human Protein Reference Database, or the Information Hyperlinked Over Proteins, and on and on.

This needs to be accelerated and industrialized, as the human-readable paper is the least valuable format of knowledge from a cyberinfrastructure/CI perspective....

But this requires an understanding of access to the knowledge canon as a fundamental lever of CI construction in a knowledge web. Unfortunately most of these databases tend to have copyright or contractual restrictions that make it impossible to build on them as infrastructure (particularly non-commercial restrictions or restrictions on redistribution in federated or integrated knowledgebases). That's why open access to databases is essential as well.

We are lucky to have vast amounts of public domain databases that are, from a CI perspective, un-networked. The scientist needs to open a dozen or more tabs in a browser and use her own mind to integrate the results. That's lousy. But it's a natural outcome of the web not integrating databases the way it integrates documents, and at least the legal terms let us start to integrate....

Bush FDA reduces access to drug trial information

Jonathan Kimmelman, Charles Weijer, and Eric M. Meslin, Helsinki discords: FDA, ethics, and international drug trials, The Lancet, January 3, 2009.  Accessible to subscribers only. 

John Daly has blogged a summary, bringing out the OA connection:

An article in The Lancet states that for many years the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required that foreign clinical studies supporting applications for drug licensure comply with the Declaration of Helsinki. However, on Oct 27, 2008, the FDA formally discontinued its reliance on the Declaration and substituted the International Conference on Harmonization's Guideline for Good Clinical Practice (GCP). According to The Lancet article:

Requirements in latest revision of Declaration of Helsinki but absent in GCP:

  • Investigators to disclose funding, sponsors, and other potential conflicts of interest to both research ethics committees and study participants

  • Study design to be disclosed publicly (eg, in clinical trial registries)

  • Research, notably that in developing countries, to benefit and be responsive to health needs of populations in which it is done.

  • Restricted use of placebo controls in approval process for new drugs and in research done in developing countrie

  • Post-trial access to treatment

  • Authors to report results accurately, and publish or make public negative findings

The article calls for an immediate return to the old rule while the matter be reconsidered.

[Daly's comment:]  I agree with the authors that the new rule should be suspended until the Obama administration can reconsider the matter. The change, made by a Bush administration more interested in pandering to its (industrial) constituencies than in protecting the public, creates undue risks for people in developing nations. It will also result in foreign policy problems for the United States.

arXiv has implemented SWORD

Dorothea Salo wrote on Monday:

...SWORD is not a harvesting protocol; it is a deposit protocol. The party that initiates a SWORD deposit is the party with the material in hand. SWORD offers no way for a repository that wants material from another repository to request it, much less do so in an “automatic” fashion....

(If PubMedCentral or arXiv or RePEc or SSRN were to implement SWORD, it would be a gigantic step forward. Please, will someone in the know suggest it to them?)...

Paul Ginsparg replied by email (posted with permission):

arXiv has implemented the SWORD protocol for ingests (in collaboration with Microsoft) -- it's currently used for the direct upload from the Microsoft Word plug-in and is also being tested for upload from CS conference software (which manages only up to the point of the conference, so needed some way to pipe output to archival holder of proceedings).

In principle, IRs would be able to "push" content to arXiv if they were set up to export via SWORD, and were able to map to the arXiv metadata format via atom extension elements (vanilla SWORD doesn't mention metadata mapping). Though according to the Xia article the holdings in some of those IRs may currently be problematic (spotty metadata, broken links to full text). Current self-archiving authors could perhaps be spared some duplicate effort via this route, but they'd likely want to see some natural functional advantage to it, rather than viewing it as a requirement.

Anyway we agree this is all in the noise, and the real issue is the current 85% non-self-archivers. Ultimately they shouldn't need to be required to deposit open access content any more than people needed to be forced to deposit to youtube ...

Update.  Here's a follow-up from arXiv's Simeon Warner (posted with permission):

I think that SWORD can significantly reduce duplicate effort. I think the most logical direction is for IRs to have the facility to assist with push to arXiv. Of course there is some arXiv specific stuff that is likely not normally present in the IR so there will be some additional effort, however quite a bit could be reduced to the "push to arXiv" button. This way one can use local effort/expertise (perhaps even with advantage of local language) to help with submission to centralized facilities such as arXiv.

You might also want to add a link to arXiv's SWORD documentation.

Update (1/8/09).  Also see Dorothea's response.


Compliance audit for the Wellcome Trust's OA mandate

The Wellcome Trust is taking steps to increase the compliance rate with its OA mandate.  From the January issue of its Grantholders Newsletter:

Open access: compliance audit

Early in 2009 the Trust will be undertaking an audit to assess the level of compliance with its open access (OA) mandate. In cases where we find that papers have not been made available through PMC/UKPMC, in line with our mandate, we will be contacting grantholders (and their institutions) and asking them to explain why this grant condition has not been adhered to.

Grantholders are reminded that it is a condition of grant funding to ensure that all research papers funded in whole or in part by the Wellcome Trust must be made freely accessible through PubMed Central (PMC) and UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of publication. Further information can be found in the authors’ guide and FAQ....

The Trust has produced a list of the journals frequently used by Wellcome Trust grantholders, along with advice - at the journal title level - on how to comply with the Trust’s open access (OA) requirements in a way that also meets the journals’ publishing policy....


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Presentations from Australian PKP workshop

The presentations from Open Access Publishing: A two-day Public Knowledge Project Workshop (Sydney, December 4-5, 2008) are now online. (Thanks to PKP.)

See also our past post on the workshop.

New OA journal of education in French

2 new CKAN packages of library data

The Open Knowledge Foundation has added two library-related datasets to its Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network; see yesterday's announcement. The packages:

New version of Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

Charles Bailey has released Version 74 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. See this blog post for information on what's been updated.

Cell transplantation journal converts to OA

Cell Transplantation - The Regenerative Medicine Journal converted to OA, according to an announcement today by the journal's editors. (Neither the journal's site at the publisher nor at IngentaConnect reflects the fact yet.) From the announcement:

Cell Transplantation - The Regenerative Medicine Journal, the number two journal ranked by impact factor in the field of transplantation, has become an "open access" journal from the 1st January 2009, starting with volume 18, making it available on the World Wide Web without subscription to researchers and clinicians as well the public and members of the media. The journal's new open access policy aligns it with the policies of a growing number of funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Foundation, said journal coeditor-in-chief Dr. Paul Sanberg, Distinguished Professor at University of South Florida Health.

"Making important research easily accessible to the public creates a win-win situation for citizens and for researchers," said Sanberg. "The advantage for our authors is that fellow researchers and students will be able to download, reference and cite the latest research. Also, members of the public, who may have interests or concerns about the progress of the science of cell transplantation, can be better informed about groundbreaking research." ...

According to Cell Transplantation co-editor-in-chief Dr. Camillo Ricordi, Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, accessibility also means greater impact on the science community when more researchers are able to access, read and cite a greater number of studies.

"Science can move more quickly when access to the latest research is unhindered," said Dr. Ricordi.

Contributors to Cell Transplantation have applauded the move. ...

Top 10 academic library stories of 2008

Andrew Albanese, Top Ten Academic Library Stories of 2008, Library Journal Academic Newswire, January 6, 2009.  Seven of the 10 have an OA connection have been covered here in OAN, some briefly, some extensively.

  1. Georgia State University Sued by Publishers over E-Reserves...
  2. Harvard's OA Mandate...
  3. The Google Book Search Settlement...
  4. The Launch of the HathiTrust...
  5. NIH Public Access Policy Enacted, Challenged...
  6. The Move Toward Open Source [library software]...
  7. The Section 108 Report [on the copyright exception for libraries]...
  8. The EPA Libraries Reopen...
  9. South Caroline Slashes PASCAL [Partnership Among South Carolina Libraries]...
  10. The Sad Story of Orphan Works...

More on peer review at PLoS ONE

In my SOAN article last week, Open access in 2008, I mischaracterized the nature of peer review at PLoS ONE.  I'm happy to post this correction from the managing editor, Peter Binfield.  I'll also run it as an erratum in the next issue of SOAN.

I noticed that your 2008 roundup contained the statement "[The success of] PLoS ONE may give no comfort to publishers who perform more extensive and expensive forms of pre-publication review.  (PLoS ONE combines in-house pre-publication review, limited to technical soundness, with open, communal, retroactive review on all other issues, including the paper's significance.)"

It is correct that peer review in PLoS ONE concentrates on technical (methodological and scientific) soundness, but it is incorrect to say that the peer review is conducted in-house. PLoS ONE has full, traditional, external, rigorous, Peer Review on its content prior to acceptance and as in the vast majority of journals, the peer review process in PLoS ONE is managed by the academic editorial board – currently around 750 practicing researchers who are experts in their fields - in consultation with external expert reviewers.  Since launch we have used well over 9,000 external peer reviewers, and on average every published paper has been peer reviewed by 1.6 external reviewers (in addition to one of our Academic Editors, who are themselves experts in their fields). Publicly availably data for this can be found [here] and [here] as well as in several blog posts (for example: one, two, and three, etc.) where we have been interviewing authors and Academic Editors about their experiences of our peer review process.

Another issue is the statement that PLoS ONE incorporates post-publication peer review. Although the tools for adding notes, comments, ratings and questions to the articles do allow for post-publication assessment and criticism, typical activity on an article is in no way comparable to the rigorous peer review that PLoS ONE articles receive prior to acceptance.

Friends of Frontiers

The Frontiers Research Foundation has launched an "open access research publishing community" called Friends of Frontiers.  From today's announcement:

This new website stands for the Foundation's endeavour to build up a unique community platform and network in order to spread and reinforce the promotion of the Open Access research publishing movement and initiatives worldwide....

Please visit us...and find out more about the Foundation and choose your way to support us:

  • By giving us your feedback ...
  • By registering to our site and joining our mailing list
  • By donating ...

From the FoF site:

Friends of Frontiers is a non profit membership organization that is part of the Frontiers Research Foundation.

Friends is an attempt of building up a community network around the concept of Equal Opportunity Research Publishing also based on the Open Access Initiatives movement : The Budapest Open Access Initiative , the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Also see the FoF page on Current Problems in Research Publishing:

...The world spends over $2 trillion of tax-payer money on research & development according to the OECD. This public funding results in over 2.5 million scholarly publications....90% of this knowledge is however captured, owned and locked up by subscription-based publishing models. Even researchers must buy access to read their own articles. Researchers are forbidden from disseminating their research discoveries because they no longer own the copy rights to their articles (and hence the access to the results)....

With over 2.5 million articles p.a. locked up in over 24'000 journals, there is no University in the world that can afford the $10's of millions in annual subscription fees. What fraction can a university in a developing country subscribe to? What access do you, as a layperson (that paid for this research), have? ...

Frontiers believes that sharing knowledge is an obligation.

Comment.  In the fall of 2007, the Frontiers Research Foundation launched an OA journal, Frontiers in Neuroscience.   At the time it was definitely OA and today it's less clear.  All the articles I tested in the current issue are gratis OA.  But the journal charges subscriptions, which cost €149 for individuals and €199 for institutions.  If the full text is OA and the subscriptions are only for a print edition, then the subscription page doesn't say so.  For more background on the journal and its OA policy at the time of launch, see my blog post from October 2007.

Can IRs duplicate the functionality of arXiv?

Stevan Harnad, A Physicist's Challenge to Duplicate Arxiv's Functionality Over Distributed Institutional Repositories, Open Access Archivangelism, January 5, 2009.

Summary:  The answer to the question of whether longstanding Arxiv self-archivers need either change their locus of deposit or do double the keystrokes if they are to deposit their papers in both Arxiv and their own Institutional Repositories (IRs) is that this can now be accomplished automatically, depositing only once, thanks to the IR software's SWORD import/export functionality. A second question is whether central harvesters of distributed IRs can provide (at least) the same functionality as direct-deposit central repositories (or even better). The provisional reply is that they can, for example, by building the functionality on top of the Celestial OAI-PMH harvester. It is now important and timely to demonstrate this capability technically, in the service of OA's fundamental objective: Getting the OA IRs filled. The demonstration that central harvesting of distributed IR deposits can not only duplicate but surpass the functionality of direct central deposit should help encourage funders to adopt the convergent IR deposit mandates that facilitate the adoption of complementary mandates by the universal provider of research output: the worldwide network of institutions (OA's "sleeping giant") -- rather than divergent mandates that fail to encourage (or even discourage) institutional mandates.

PS:  Also see Dorothea Salo's comments on one of Stevan's earlier posts on SWORD.

...SWORD is not a harvesting protocol; it is a deposit protocol. The party that initiates a SWORD deposit is the party with the material in hand. SWORD offers no way for a repository that wants material from another repository to request it....

Putting OJS on ICE?

Peter Sefton, Potential projects: #2 Integrating ICE with the Open Journal Systems, ptsefton, January 6, 2009.  Excerpt:

Back in December I was at the Open Access Publishing meeting in Sydney, where I got to meet MJ Suhonos and John Willinsky from PKP. I talked about how ICE complemented software from PKP.

Coincidentally, while I was writing up what I said at the meeting I got an email from Chris Rusbridge wondering about whether ICE could help with a conference/journal workflow. Papers from the International Digital Curation Conference (like ours) flow through to the International Journal of Digital Curation (IJDC). The IJDC people are apparently thinking about trying to make the journal available in (X)HTML as well as PDF and to accept a broader range of submissions than just Microsoft Word documents.

I think, but don’t actually know that ICE technologies could help with this....

PS:  Also see our past posts on ICE.

Monday, January 05, 2009

NSF advisory committee recommends OA

At its December 16-17 meeting, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure (ACCI) adopted this statement, drafted in its previous meeting:

In order to help catalyze and facilitate the growth of advanced CI [cyberinfrastructure], a critical component is the adoption of open access policy for data, publications and software.

(Thanks to Tony Hey.)

Comment.  The NSF should be the next agency after the NIH to adopt an OA mandate.  This important recommendation carries special weight because it comes from the ACCI.  Kudos to all the ACCI members

Also see our past posts on the NSF's cyberinfrastructure policy deliberations.


Two new OA journals

In-Tech, the Austrian OA publisher, has launched two new peer-reviewed OA journals:

In both cases, the inaugural issues are still forthcoming.  In-Tech first announced the journals about two months ago, when it launched its new web site  (Thanks to Aleksandar Lazinica.)

Obama's Solicitor General nominee and OA

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama today named Elena Kagan as his nominee for Solicitor General. See the announcement.

Kagan currently serves as dean of Harvard Law School. She presided over the adoption of the school's OA mandate last year, the first such policy for a law school. See e.g. her positive comments on the policy here.

Kagan also presided over the successful efforts to lure Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig back to Harvard. See e.g. her warm comments on Lessig and CC from this December 2008 event.

Comment. The Solicitor General represents the federal government in the Supreme Court, files amicus briefs in cases at the appellate level, and decides whether to appeal cases found adversely to the government. Having a friend of OA as Solicitor General is a welcome development, especially if publishers follow through on their threat to file suit against the NIH policy or a future public access policy.

See also our past posts on Obama's nominees for Secretary of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator, and President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology co-chairs.

Call for OA to null results

Doctor Spurt, Proposal: The Journal of Null Results, Effortless Incitement, January 5, 2009.

... [T]here's a lot of research that in some sense fails to find anything. More specifically, what is found isn't far from the 'null hypothesis' that there is no interesting relationship between the variables measured, or no effect of the experimental manipulation.

Journals mostly have a strong preference for articles that do find something, which means something other than an outcome consistent with the null hypothesis. That is, they prefer 'positive' results. ...

There should be a web-based Open Access Journal of Null Results. ...

Comment. For examples, see the OA Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine, Journal of Negative Results (ecology and evolutionary biology), and Journal of Interesting Negative Results in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.

Openness in agriculture

International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists, How accessible is your agricultural information?, AgInfo News from IAALD, January 2, 2009.

... Despite the best efforts of the open access movement, digging deeper for specific research information, for example, reveals many reports and articles to be much less accessible than we would hope ...

It's up to each of us and our organizations to examine how truly available, accessible and applicable our own information, data and knowledge really are ... and to work with others to ensure that agricultural knowledge does not remain on the shelf, in our heads, or stuck on an intranet! ...

New resource on data sharing

The UK Data Archive released a suite of Web pages on data sharing and management on December 23, 2008. (Thanks to DataShare Blog.) From the announcement:

... The pages aim to provide data creators, data managers and data curators with best practice strategies and methods for creating, preparing and storing shareable datasets.

Advice has been divided into a number of key areas or modules providing detailed information on each topic. These are:

  • Sharing data - why and how?
  • Consent, confidentiality and ethics
  • Copyright
  • Data documentation and metadata
  • Data formats and software
  • Data storage, back-up, and security ...

Forthcoming OA journal of insect science

The International Journal of Insect Science is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal published by Libertas Academica. See the January 5, 2009 announcement. Article processing charges are $1395, subject to discount or waiver.

Francis Collins rumored to be Obama's pick for NIH Director

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Francis S. Collins May Be in Line to Head the NIH.  Excerpt:

Francis S. Collins, a former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, may be in line to head the National Institutes of Health in the Obama administration.

A report in Science magazine’s ScienceInsider blog cites Alan O. Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, in San Francisco, as saying he has heard repeated mention of Dr. Collins for the post of NIH director.

Dr. Collins, asked about the matter at a meeting last week of an Obama transition team, said, “No comment,” ScienceInsider reported.

Dr. Collins led NIH participation in the Human Genome Project before resigning last August to explore other professional opportunities....

Comment.  This would be a superb appointment.  Collins has the respect of researchers in the field and he's a strong supporter of OA.  He's the person most responsible for OA to the results of the human genome project, as well as a defender of PubChem against the ACS.  As he told the Baltimore Sun (April 7, 2005) when Celera made its own genome data OA:

"This data just wants to be public," said a pleased Collins, who is also director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "It's the kind of fundamental information that has no direct connection to a product, it's information that everybody wants, and it will find its way into the public."

See our past posts on Collins' OA-related work.

OA on Obama's Open for Questions

Open for Questions is a feature of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's transition Web site. Open for Questions is a Digg-style, user-submitted press conference, where users submit questions and vote them up or down, and the most popular questions in each round are answered by the transition team. The current round was opened December 29. A question about OA is presently ranked in the top 40 Science & Technology questions:

"The NIH has taken the lead in ensuring all recipients of their research grants publish their results in open access journals. This has proven to be a revolutionary move that has greatly enhanced research. Will other agencies be following suit?"
Ryan, Fairfax, VA

Comment. The confusion of OA journals and archives in the question is regrettable. However, interested citizens can still create an account and vote up the question. It's a bit late in this round, but it seems that questions carried over from the previous round; if it's not answered this time, the votes may count for the next round. There's no deep link to the question, but you can find it in the Science & Technology category or by searching for "open access".

See also our past posts on Obama CTO, a similar site.

Another legal impediment to book scanning

Peter Hirtle, When is a published work not a publication? Library Law Blog, January 4, 2009.  Excerpt:

...As I discuss in footnote 12 of the copyright duration chart...a ruling in the Twin Books v Walt Disney case in the 9th Circuit (covering the western states) contradicts what everyone else assumes.  In Twin Books, the court concluded that if a foreign work did not follow the requirements to secure copyright protection in the US, the work did not therefore enter the public domain in the US, but instead remained in effect unpublished for the purposes of US copyright law....

[A recent case, Societe Civile Succession Richard Guino v Renoir, criticized Twin Books without overturning it.]

The decision makes it much, much harder to determine whether a book published abroad is in the public domain....

eMJA retreats from OA

eMJA, the online edition of the TA Medical Journal of Australia, is retreating from OA.  From the announcement:

Commencing from the first issue in January 2009, access to general content excluding research papers will become limited to subscribed users only. Research papers will be open to access for 14 days following publication then closed for subscriber only access until 12 months after publication....

From Martin B. Van Der Weyden's editorial in the January 2009 issue:

The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) available on subscription and is included as part of the membership package of the [Australian Medical Association (AMA)]. Since 2001, [the Australasian Medical Publishing Company (AMPCo)] has published an Internet version of the MJA (eMJA) to which readers have enjoyed free open access since its inception.

The eMJA now contains 6350 pages of valuable information, which, while formidable, unfortunately comes with increasing production and maintenance costs. Because of these essential costs, the Board of AMPCo has decided that, commencing with the first MJA issue in 2009, access to certain content in the eMJA will require a subscription. In this move, the MJA will follow the steps taken by other prestigious medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Annals of Internal Medicine (the journal of the American College of Physicians), the BMJ and The Lancet.

Much information, including all previously published articles, current editions of In This Issue, plus guidelines, position statements and supplements, will remain on open access. Research articles will be freely accessible online for 2 weeks following publication, after which a subscription will be required. Twelve months after publication, all articles will revert to open access. This policy will be continually reviewed. Naturally, open access will be provided for any articles we consider to be of urgent public health importance....

Thanks to David More for the alert and this comment:

First if the MJA thinks it is of similar prestige to the Annals, JAMA, the BMJ or Lancet it is smoking a very strong brew of something which I suspect is not legal.

Second we now find Australia lacks an open professional platform for discussion of Health Policy – with the possible exception of the site run by John Menadue’s Centre for Policy Development (CPD)....

Third closing a professional health publications is a retrograde step in an era when we are working to improve information flows in health.

Last we will now find the Journal will become a journal for members, by members and its quality and relevance will inevitably decline I believe.

Given how rich and well funded the AMA is – a bit sad really....

PS:  SHERPA has no info on whether MJA or eMJA has a green policy on OA archiving.  The MJA instructions for authors page suggests not:  "All authors are asked to transfer copyright to AMPCo before publication. Accepted manuscripts may not be published elsewhere, in whole or in part, without written permission from the Australasian Medical Publishing Company (AMPCo) Ltd."

JCom adopts CC-NC-ND license

The Journal of Science Communication has adopted the CC-NC-ND license, starting with the December 2008 issue.  Previously, the journal was OA but didn't use an open license.  (Thanks to Alessandro Delfanti.)

More on harvesting between central and institutional repositories

Stevan Harnad, Comparing Physicists' Central and Institutional Self-archiving Practices at Southampton, Open Access Archivangelism, January 5, 2009. 

Summary:  An Indiana University study (on the Institutional Repository of the University of Southampton) by Xia (2008) has tested the hypothesis that physicists who already habitually self-archive in an Open Access (OA) Central Repository (Arxiv) would be more likely to self-archive in their own institution's OA Institutional Repository (IR). The outcome of the study was that the hypothesis is incorrect: If anything, veteran Arxiv self-archivers are more resistant to IR deposit than ordinary nonarchivers, because they neither wish to change their longstanding locus of deposit, nor do they wish to double-deposit.

This outcome is quite natural and to be expected. The solution for this relatively small population of seasoned self-archivers is for their institution-external deposits to be automatically imported back into their IRs using the SWORD protocol (which can also be used to export automatically from IRs to central repositories). There is no need for veteran self-archivers to change their practices or to double-deposit.

It is not the 15% of authors who already self-archive (whether institution-externally or on their own institutional websites) that are the problem for OA: The problem is the 85% who do not yet self-archive. It is in order to set the keystrokes of those nonarchivers in motion at long last -- for their own benefit and that of their employing institutions as well as the tax-paying public that funds their research -- that Green OA self-archiving mandates are now being adopted by their institutions and funders....

Update (1/6/08).  Also see Dorothea Salo's comments:

...SWORD is not a harvesting protocol; it is a deposit protocol. The party that initiates a SWORD deposit is the party with the material in hand. SWORD offers no way for a repository that wants material from another repository to request it, much less do so in an “automatic” fashion.

For the SWORD-based dual-deposit system Dr. Harnad describes to work, the disciplinary repository would have to arrange for SWORD deposit into every single IR represented by the faculty who deposit there. It would also have to track faculty affiliations, to send deposited materials to the correct IR(s)....

I think there are better ways to solve the problem. Let me suggest a couple.

One is to turn the problem around; let IRs do SWORD deposit to disciplinary repositories, snagging a copy for themselves in passing. IRs and their repo-rats do have incentive to build this, as we create bonus visibility for our faculty thereby, and we can (at least potentially) help with funder mandates, too. All the target repositories have to do is implement SWORD and hook that into whatever safeguards they need to ensure that IRs aren’t feeding them stuff they don’t want.

(If PubMedCentral or arXiv or RePEc or SSRN were to implement SWORD, it would be a gigantic step forward. Please, will someone in the know suggest it to them?) ...

Another potential solution is to look more closely at OAI-ORE instead of SWORD....

I wholeheartedly agree that repositories of all sorts need to talk to each other better....

More on SCOAP3

Catherine Saez, Project Underway To Convert High Energy Physics Literature To Open Access, Intellectual Property Watch, January 5, 2009.  Excerpt:

...The [high-energy physics (HEP)] community pioneered open access through “repositories” containing collections of pre-prints freely accessible on the internet....

However, peer-review, which verifies the quality of an article submitted for publication, is not performed in repositories....

High-quality HEP journals are essential for the community, because the journals provide the peer-review service....

A new model for open access publishing has emerged, aiming to convert the entire body of HEP literature to open access. The publisher’s subscription income from multiple institutions would be replaced by income from a single financial partner: the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3)....

According to the model, partners from all countries contributing to HEP literature would become members of the consortium....

At this time, most European countries have agreed to participate, so did 44 US partners. Turkey, Israel and Australia have also joined the consortium. Discussions are in progress with several countries in Asia, such as India, China and Japan, said Vigen. While about 50 percent of the funds have been pledged, the consortium will not start approaching the publishers officially yet. “We need to have important players on board, like Japan and China, before going to the publishers,” he said.

Although formal discussions with the publishers have not officially started, the consortium indicates that publishers show a pro-active attitude of support to open access in HEP. Publishers would benefit from a more sustainable model and researchers will have a broad access to peer-reviewed articles, according to the SCOAP3 working party....

Once the process of securing the budget and negotiations are achieved, the consortium will establish governance and become active. It will be run by CERN. According to Vigen, “CERN management has offered that CERN runs the consortium as an in-kind contribution to the consortium, no charges will be carried by members.”

The consortium is expecting an impending launch. “The timeframe for launching the consortium is linked to the negotiations with potential partners, mainly in Asia, in order to have a global distribution of partners, but hopefully it will be launched in 2009,” said Vigen.

Once it reaches critical mass, SCOAP3 will be formally established and its governance put in place. SCOAP3 will then issue its call for tender to publishers, in order to assess the exact cost of its operation, and then move forward with negotiating and placing contracts with publishers....

If the SCOAP3 project is successful, all articles published within the SCOAP3 framework will be copied and stored in [the] INSPIRE [OA repository], which then will store both pre-prints and peer-reviewed articles.

Update (1/7/09). Also see Stefan Krempl's overview of SCOAP3 in the January 6 Heise Online, in German or Google's English.

Update on publishers who allow OA archiving of published versions

SHERPA has made two changes to its list of publishers "allow[ing] authors to deposit the publisher version or PDF of their article in an Institutional Repository, without fee or an embargo."