Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I'll be on the road Sunday and Monday, and perhaps Tuesday, with few opportunities for blogging or email.  But Gavin will be on the job and I'll start to catch up myself on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Comments on the Conyers bill #3

Here are some more comments from the press and blogosphere on the re-introduction of the Conyers bill (a.k.a. Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, HR 801), which would overturn the OA policy at the NIH.  Also see our past collections (1, 2).

From The Bioinformationista:

For all of you who believe you have the right to the information that your tax dollars are paying for, please write to your representative....I’ve written to my representative (again…although a different one this go-around).

I can’t believe we’ve had to revisit this topic.  Come on already.  Life’s too short.

From Molly Kleinman:

I was disappointed to learn...that Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) reintroduced the “Fair Copyright in Research Works” Act despite the fact that it is neither fair nor supportive of research. As Paul Courant put it in his blog post about it the first time around, “the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act is a lot of things, but fair ain’t one of them.” ...

[The bill] contravenes everything President Obama has said about increasing openness in government, not to mention improving access to information, strengthening our education system, and “restor[ing] science to its rightful place and wield[ing] technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” American citizens pay a lot of money for research; this bill would ensure that the vast majority of us will never see the results of that research.

This is not nearly as big or headline-worthy as the colossal banking bailout, but the spirit is the same: Use taxpayer money to save a private industry from its own failings. The big STM publishers are clinging to a dying business model, and nothing Congress does will save them if they don’t get with the program and stop fearing the giant copy machine that is the Internet....

From Mike Masnick at TechDirt:

Last year, Congress finally got fed up with the fact that publicly funded research was being locked up in various scientific journals. The whole journal business is something of a scam. Unlike other publications, the folks who write the papers for journals pay the journals to get their content published. On top of that, the "peers" who review the works aren't paid for their work either. In other words, these journals get a ton of free labor... and sometimes that labor pays them. And, then, on top of that, they charge ridiculously high prices for anyone to subscribe, claim the copyright on all submitted works, and are incredibly aggressive in enforcing that copyright. An academic I knew, at one point had to consider doing an experiment a second time just to get the same results, because mentioning the earlier results of his own study might violate the copyright of the journal. And, remember, much of this is happening with research that was funded by taxpayers.

So, Congress decided that any research that was funded by NIH (which funds about $30 billion in research each year) had to also be openly published one-year after it was published in the journal. It's hard to see how this damages the journals at all. They still retain a significant monopoly right on the works -- and have a year's head start. Yet, the journal publishers have been screaming bloody murder, and even trying to force academics to pay thousands of dollars to cover the "cost" of republishing the article in an open archiving database.

And, of course, those publishers have been complaining like crazy to Congress. Last year, Rep. Conyers (who also recently introduced the RIAA's preferred legislation, and was heavily backed by the American Intellectual Property Law Association in his most recent election) introduced some legislation to repeal this requirement, though the legislation went nowhere fast. However, he's wasted very little time introducing identical legislation this year.

What People Think About The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act ...

Vote on this Bill

... Public Knowledge and The Alliance for Taxpayer Access are both asking people to write their elected representatives to oppose this attempt to once again lock up the very research that we all funded as taxpayers.

From Corey Williams at the ALA District Dispatch:

...In response to the bill, the American Library Association (ALA) joined the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalitions (SPARC) and several other national and regional library and advocacy organization to send a letter to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee expressing our long-standing and strong support for the NIH Open Access Policy. In addition, the letter addressed the misconception that the policy affects the rights of authors, specifically copyright. Included, as an attachment to the letter, was the SPARC-sponsored analysis that outlines why the NIH Public Access policy does not affect copyright law.

As champions for open access, we are indeed experiencing déjà vu over the reintroduction of a bill that seeks to amend copyright code and create a new category of copyrighted work. And as soon the economic stimulus bill is finalized, we’ll focus our attention to advocating against this egregious bill....

Finally, Slashdot now has a thread on the bill.

The BOAI is seven

The Budapest Open Access Initiative is seven years old today. 

It hasn't been forgotten and hasn't even gotten stale.  For me, it's as fresh and vibrant as ever, and grows in importance as the underlying idea spreads and takes root.

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment....The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it....

The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which scholars give to the world without expectation of payment....

There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited....

Released on February 14, 2002, the BOAI "statement of principle,...statement of strategy, and...statement of commitment" was the first to offer a public definition of OA, the first to use the term "open access", the first to call for OA journals and OA repositories as complementary strategies, the first to call for OA in all disciplines and countries, and the first to be accompanied by significant funding.  A good number of OA projects were already under way, but the BOAI helped to catalyze the OA movement and give it energy, unity, and identity.

(Disclosure:  I helped draft the BOAI and receive support from the Open Society Institute, which funded the BOAI.)

Happy birthday, BOAI, and many happy returns. 

And to all who are working for OA worldwide, Happy Valentines Day.

Pharma giant moves toward sharing

Sarah Boseley, Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline pledges cheap medicine for world's poor, The Guardian, February 13, 2009.

The world's second biggest pharmaceutical company is to radically shift its attitude to providing cheap drugs to millions of people in the developing world.

In a major change of strategy, the new head of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, has told the Guardian he will slash prices on all medicines in the poorest countries, give back profits to be spent on hospitals and clinics and – most ground-breaking of all – share knowledge about potential drugs that are currently protected by patents. ...

He said that GSK will: ...

  • Put any chemicals or processes over which it has intellectual property rights that are relevant to finding drugs for neglected diseases into a "patent pool", so they can be explored by other researchers. ...

The extent of the changes Witty is setting in train is likely to stun drug company critics and other pharmaceutical companies ...

Comment. The changes are stunning. It's a remarkable about-face from an industry that has been perhaps the most outspoken advocate of the sanctity of patents. In the news so far, there's no word of any information that will become OA (in our sense) that wasn't previously, but it may be an indicator of a willingness to experiment with sharing, even in fields that were previously most resistant.

Update. See also this follow-up from The Guardian (thanks to Thiru Balasubramaniam):

... Transparency is a major issue. Witty has pledged to publish all clinical trial data, whether positive or negative - and be open about GSK's payments to doctors. ...

New OA journals by e-Century Publishing

The OA American Journal of Translational Research has released its first issue. The International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology has released pre-press articles for its first issue. Both are published by e-Century Publishing Corporation. The publishing fee is $100/page, subject to discount and waiver. Authors retain copyright and articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution License. (Thanks to Giorgio Bertin.)

See also our past post on e-Century.

Notification starts for Google Book settlement

Official Notification of Authors and Publishers About Google Book Search Copyright Settlement in Progress, press release, February 11, 2009.

The Court-ordered process of officially notifying authors, publishers, and other copyright-holders about the landmark Google Book Search class-action settlement is underway.

Authors and publishers throughout the world are receiving detailed information about their legal rights and options by email and postal mail. A Summary Notice is being published in 218 countries and 72 languages, which complements the mailed notice program. Class members should visit [the settlement site] for complete information, including the Notice of Class Action Settlement, and key dates. ...

Class members' rights may be affected by the settlement even if they do not act. Those who wish to opt out of or object to the settlement must do so by May 5, 2009. Claims for cash payments for Books and Inserts scanned by May 5, 2009 must be filed by January 5, 2010. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will consider whether to grant final approval of the settlement at a hearing on June 11, 2009. ...

See also our past posts on the settlement.

Effects of ebook piracy on book sales

Cory Doctorow, Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales -- slides from O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing panel, Boing Boing, February 12, 2009.

One of the absolute highlights of the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York this week was Brian O’Leary (Magellan Media), Mac Slocum (O'Reilly), and Chelsea Vaughn (Random House) presenting a panel called Challenging Notions of "Free", which presented a long-term, quantitative study of the effects of ebook piracy on book sales. There's a lot of hot air bandied about by people who argue that free ebooks generate or cannibalize sales, and it's a hard problem to study, but here at last are some good, crunchy stats and analysis to add to the argument.

The authors have generously given me permission to upload their slide-deck to the Internet Archive under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerial-ShareAlike license, and they've set up a form for anyone who wants to sign up to get the full report for free when they publish it in a few weeks.

Three more OA journal funds at Dutch universities

Last summer Tilburg University launched an Open Access Publishing Fund as a one-year experiment, set to expire at the end of August 2009.  The fund helps faculty pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.  Delft University of Technology launched a fund in April 2008 and the Wageningen University and Research Center launched a fund in 2006.  (Thanks to Marijke van der Ploeg.)

The University of Amsterdam launched a fund in January 2007, but I've already blogged that here. 

Comment.  Kudos to Tilburg, Delft, and Wageningen for their willingness to support gold OA.  There are now more than a dozen universities with similar funds.  On the other hand, any university willing to pay these fees should also be willing to adopt a strong policy to ensure green OA for its research output (or for the research that isn't already gold OA).  The green and gold strategies are compatible and complementary.  But a green OA policy costs less and covers all the peer-reviewed articles published by faculty, regardless of the journals in which they choose to publish. 

On the campaign to open U.S. court records

John Schwartz, An Effort to Upgrade a Court Archive System to Free and Easy, New York Times, February 12, 2009. (Thanks to LISNews.)

Americans have grown accustomed to finding just about anything they want online fast, and free. But for those searching for federal court decisions, briefs and other legal papers, there is no Google.

Instead, there is Pacer, the government-run Public Access to Court Electronic Records system designed in the bygone days of screechy telephone modems. Cumbersome, arcane and not free, it is everything that Google is not.

Recently, however, a small group of dedicated open-government activists teamed up to push the court records system into the 21st century — by simply grabbing enormous chunks of the database and giving the documents away, to the great annoyance of the government. ...

[Carl] Malamud [of] said, Pacer takes information that he believes should be free — government-produced documents are not covered by copyright — and charges 8 cents a page. ... [E]ven the seemingly cheap cost of Pacer adds up, when court records can run to thousands of pages. Fees get plowed back to the courts to finance technology, but the system runs a budget surplus of some $150 million, according to recent court reports.

To Mr. Malamud, putting the nation’s legal system behind a wall of cash and kludge separates the people from what he calls the “operating system for democracy.” So, using $600,000 in contributions in 2008, he bought a 50-year archive of papers from the federal appellate courts and placed them online. By this year, he was ready to take on the larger database of district courts.

Those courts, with the help of the Government Printing Office, had opened a free trial of Pacer at 17 libraries around the country. Mr. Malamud urged fellow activists to go to those libraries, download as many court documents as they could, and send them to him for republication on the Web, where Google could get to them.

Aaron Swartz, a 22-year-old Stanford dropout and entrepreneur who read Mr. Malamud’s appeal, managed to download an estimated 20 percent of the entire database: 19,856,160 pages of text.

Then on Sept. 29, all of the free servers stopped serving. The government, it turns out, was not pleased.

A notice went out from the Government Printing Office that the free Pacer pilot program was suspended, “pending an evaluation.” A couple of weeks later, a Government Printing Office official, Richard G. Davis, told librarians that “the security of the Pacer service was compromised. The F.B.I. is conducting an investigation.”

Lawyers for Mr. Malamud and Mr. Swartz told them that they appeared to have broken no laws ...

At the administrative office of the courts, a spokeswoman, Karen Redmond, said she could not comment on the fate of the free trial of Pacer, or whether there had been a criminal investigation into the mass download.

The free program “is not terminated,” Ms. Redmond said. “We’ll just have to see what happens after the evaluation.” ...

See also the related post from the Times' Lede blog.

See also our past posts on PACER.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A proposed OA mandate for Spain

Spain's Ministry of Science and Innovation is proposing a draft law of science and technology which includes an OA mandate, February 11, 2009.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)

Here is Article 33 (pp. 28-29) of the draft law, translated by Eloy Rodrigues and Alicia Lopez Medina:

  1. The agents of the Spanish System of Science and Technology will promote the development of institutional or aggregated repositories to allow open access to the publications of their researchers
  2. The researchers, whose research had been granted with public funds shall make publicly available a digital version of their own final draft (peer-reviewed and accepted for publication) as soon as possible, but not later than 6 months after the official date of the publication of this final draft.
  3. This final version will be made publicly available in open access repositories, disciplinary or institutional.
  4. The public digital version deposited in the repositories can be used in the evaluation processes by Public Administrations.

Comment.  Kudos to all involved.  I applaud the mandatory language, the maximum six month embargo, the choice of repositories for researchers, and the public support for the launch of new repositories.

Also see our past post anticipating the new draft law.


Columbia joins NEEO

Columbia University Joins European Economics Consortium, press release, February 12, 2009.

Columbia University became the first U.S. institution to join the Network of European Economists Online (NEEO), an international economics research project. Led by the Nereus Consortium of European economics research libraries, NEEO is building Economists Online—a repository bringing together premier institutions’ economic research into a single portal. ...

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) is leading activities to share items from the University’s research repository, Academic Commons. CDRS, in a joint effort with the Libraries Digital Programs Division, has prepared an existing set of working papers, the full text of which will be provided to Economists Online. CDRS is also working to secure new content, including citations from current Columbia economics faculty work from the past ten years. ...

See also our past post on Columbia joining Nereus.

Confirmation hearings for Obama nominees

U.S. President Barack Obama's nominees to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco, received a confirmation hearing from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation yesterday. Obama's nominee for Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, received a confirmation hearing from the Judiciary Committee on February 10. The Senate has yet to vote on their confirmations. Reports suggest both hearings went favorably to the nominees.

We previously wrote about Lubchenco's and Kagan's connections with OA. Holdren, who would become Obama's de facto science advisor, could have significant influence on OA policy, but we were not previously able to find any references to his views on or familiarity with OA. His opening remarks at the committee hearing suggest a general outlook, but with few specifics:

... Information technology has been a key driver of our productivity growth in recent decades and has fundamentally changed the way people worldwide communicate and work. But we have just seen the beginning of what can be achieved. Information technology has vast potential to improve health care, increase energy efficiency, monitor climate and other environmental conditions, and manage the immense amounts of data from scientific efforts from the Human Genome Project to the Large Hadron Collider. ...

Comment. We previously noted the confirmation of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, another Obama nominee with OA connections.

YouTube testing CC licenses

Eric Steuer, YouTube Tests Download and Creative Commons License Options, Creative Commons, February 12, 2009.

YouTube just made an incredibly exciting announcement: it’s testing an option that gives video owners the ability to allow downloads and share their work under Creative Commons licenses. The test is being launched with a handful of partners, including Stanford, Duke, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCTV. ...

[I]f you’re are a partner who wants to participate, fill out the YouTube Downloads - Partner Interest form.

Increasing information on toxic pollution

Congress Again Sets Sights on Toxics Right to Know, OMB Watch, February 10, 2009.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) recently reintroduced the Toxic Right-to-Know Protection Act (H.R. 776), which would restore the thresholds for reporting of toxic pollution under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. A 2006 rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the thresholds significantly. ...

Since 1986, TRI has provided the public with data on releases and transfers of toxic waste at thousands of facilities nationwide. The list of reportable chemicals, as well as the covered industries, has grown over the life of the program. The 2006 TRI rule promulgated by the Bush administration was seen by numerous public health and environmental advocates as a major setback ...

See also our past posts on the EPA TRI program.

Podcast interview with Stevan Harnad

Stephen Michael Kellat, Interview on Open Access with Dr. Stevan Harnad, February 13, 2009. Abstract:
In light of the recent Conyers bill that would remove the NIH mandate on Open Access, LISTen ( talked to Dr. Harnad about Open Access so that librarians may learn more about it.

Would open data have prevented the financial collapse?

I don't know either, but it's a good question.  From Gil Kalai:

Imagine if in the last ten years before the collapse, the huge failed financial and insurance institutions had had independent research units devoted to doing basic, open, and critical research on matters of relevance to the business, ethics, and future of these institutions. Might it have made a small difference for the better regarding the fate of these institutions?

UK funders may use IRs for at least part of grantee reporting

Stevan Harnad, Universities and their IRs Can Help Monitor Compliance With Funder Mandates, Open Access Archivangelism, February 9, 2009. 

Summary:  There just might be some hope that UK's Research Funding Councils -- all seven of which now mandate Green OA self-archiving, as recommended by the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology in 2004 -- could go on and take the initiative to stipulate that each fundee's Institutional Repository (IR) is to be the default locus-of-deposit (with DEPOT as the interim back-up). If adopted by the UK Funding Councils, this small change in implementational detail has a good chance of motivating all UK universities and research institutions to adopt Green OA self-archiving mandates too, for the rest of their research output. This UK model will then undoubtedly propagate globally, to bring the planet universal OA at long last!

From the body of the post, quoting Gerry Lawson of NERC:

[The Research Councils UK] have reduced their final reporting requirements on the expectation that it will be possible to collect outputs information (not just publications) electronically from grantholders.  RCUK is assessing options for doing this - either pushing/pulling from Institutional Repostories or from HEI CRIS systems, or both.  Whatever is decided its certain that that we'd be assisted by inclusion in IRs of metadata fields for a) "Funder" (perhaps using a dropdown list of funders URIs); and b) "GrantReference"....

Comparing deposit rates at disciplinary and institutional repositories

Stevan Harnad, OA Mandates: Location, Location, Location, Open Access Archivangelism, February 9, 2009.  

SummaryImre Simon asks:
Why are Institutional Repositories (IRs) near empty unless mandated, whereas Central Repositories (CRs) like ArXiv and  CiteSeerX appear to be full without a mandate?
    Here is the answer:
    (1) Authors deposit papers directly in Arxiv, whereas CiteseerX (like Google Scholar) is harvested from authors' websites.
    (2) The crucial factor is central vs. institutional locus-of-deposit.Search is always at the CR level.
    (3) These CRs (Arxiv for physics, Citeseerx for computer science) are fuller than IRs because: (3a) An entire discipline is bigger than an institution. (3b) The global unmandated deposit rate is about 15% of OA's total target: all annual journal articles, across all disciplines and institutions. (3c) But deposit rate is the ratio of deposits to total output, which is much bigger for an entire discipline than a single institution. Physics and Computer Science have been depositing, one centrally, one institutionally, unmandated, for years, but OA's problem is all the disciplines that are not.
    (4) Locus-of-deposit and mandates are closely related issues.
    (5) Deposit mandates can be either funder or institutional mandates.
    (6) Funder mandates only cover funded research, and not all research is funded. 
    (7) But all research output is institutional.
    (8) So if all institutions mandated OA, that would generate universal OA.
    (9) So what is most needed is universal institutional OA mandates.
    (10) Funder mandates would help far more if they could facilitate the deposit not only of the research they fund, but all research.
    (11) To do this, funder mandates need only change one small detail. This would lose none of their funded content, but could help gain the rest of the output of each of its fundees' institutions.
    (12) Funders need to stipulate the fundee's own IR as the preferred locus-of-deposit for complying with the funder's deposit mandate.
    (13) The fundees' deposits can be harvested to CRs from IRs.
    (14) The issue of search and functionality at the harvester level is a red herring. 
    (15) The special features of the few disciplines that began spontaneously self-archiving long ago, unmandated, have nothing to do with the IR vs CR deposit-locus issue; hence unmandated CRs do not offer a viable alternative to universal IR mandates.

Notes on academic publishing conference

Mark Long, Publishing Conferences: The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age 2009, TSTC Publishing’s Book Business Blog, February 12, 2009. Notes on The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication In the Digital Age (College Station, Texas, February 11-13, 2009), on these sessions:
  • Scholarly Authority in the Age of Abundance: Retaining Algorithmic Relevance in the New Landscape
  • The Harvard Open Access Project
  • Intellectual Property Rights and the Open Access Movement
  • The Future of University Presses and Other Institutional Publishers
  • Impacts on the Academy of Improved Access to Scholarly Research
Update. See also Robin Anne Reid's notes.

Notes on managing free e-resource collections

Jamene Brooks-Kieffer, ER&L 2009: Managing free e-resource collections, Conference Reports, February 12, 2009. Notes on Electronic Resources & Libraries (Los Angeles, February 9-12, 2009), on the session "Managing freely available e-resource collections with today's vendor provided OpenURL knowledgebases: A challenge in quality control".

Feasbility of repositories for health sciences in Valencia

María-Francisca Abad-Garcí, et al., Viabilidad de repositorios de biomedicina y ciencias de la salud en la Comunidad Valenciana, El Profesional de la Informacion, March-April 2008; self-archived February 12, 2009. English abstract:
Self-archiving was studied in 3,495 papers in 109 core journals that published 50% of Valencia's scientific production in biomedical and health sciences included in the 2000-2004 ISI databases. The effectiveness of self-archiving is analyzed with respect to the feasibility of launching open access institutional and subject-specific repositories. Data were obtained from the Sherpa/Romeo database. Self-archiving is favourable for the implementation of institutional repositories because 56.8% of papers could be immediately deposited, a percentage that increases to 72% after a period of embargo and to 87% when papers published in full text journals are included. The feasibility of establishing biomedical and health science repositories for the Valencian Community is questionable, due to the fact that most publishers will not grant permission for inclusion in a repository unless mandated by the research funding agency, a practice lacking in our country at present.

Snapshot of IRs in Australia

Mary Anne Kennan and Danny Kingsley, The state of the nation: A snapshot of Australian institutional repositories, First Monday, February 2, 2009. Abstract:
This paper provides the first full description of the status of Australian institutional repositories. Australia presents an interesting case because of the government’s support of institutional repositories and open access. A survey of all 39 Australian universities conducted in September 2008 shows that 32 institutions have active repositories and by end of 2009, 37 should have repositories. The total number of open access items has risen dramatically since January 2006. Five institutions reported they have an institution–wide open access mandate, and eight are planning to implement one. Only 20 universities have funding for their repository staff and 24 universities have funding for their repository platform, either as ongoing recurrent budgeting or absorbed into their institutions’ budgets. The remaining are still project funded. The platform most frequently used for Australian repositories is Fedora with Vital. Most of the remaining sites use EPrints or DSpace.

OA to backfiles of French psychoanalysis journal

The backfiles of the Revue française de psychanalyse, from 1927 to 2000, were recently made OA on Gallica2. More recent issues are available on Cairn, OA after a 5 year embargo. (Thanks to Olivier Jarreton.)

Repositories vs. the Web

Andy Powell has a series of posts critiquing repository usability and Web-friendliness (embrace of Web standards, search engine optimization, etc.): Quoting from the second:

... Most university Web site managers would get shot for turning out this kind of rubbish HTML. ...

... [R]epository jump-off pages are potentially some of the most important Web pages exposed by universities (this is core research business after all) yet they are nearly always some of the worst examples of HTML to be found on the academic Web. ...

Update. See also this response from Herbert Van de Sompel (thanks to Fabrizio Tinti):
... The purpose of the write-up is to try and alleviate some of Andy's pain regarding the status quo of scholarly repositories: while the current situation may indeed not be perfect, a possible solution may not be too hard to establish. ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New OA search tool for economics

Economics Search Engine is Google custom search engine of 23,000 economics Web sites, including from RePEc. (Thanks to the RePEc blog.)

DRIVER seeking feedback on search interface

Sophia Jones, On behalf of DRIVER: "Your Opinion Matters!", posted to SPARC-OAForum, February 12, 2009.

DRIVER invites all European researchers to comment on the DRIVER Search service. ...

Tell us what you think of our ideas by completing the short online questionnaire.

All completed questionnaires will be entered in a prize draw for Amazon vouchers. ...

The benefits of open data and the costs of closed data

Paul C. Boutros, et al., Prognostic gene signatures for non-small-cell lung cancer, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 4, 2009. (Thanks to Jim Till.)
... We have validated our 6-gene signature in 8 of 11 recent NSCLC microarray studies ... This extensive validation was only possible because of the public availability of a large number of previous studies, highlighting the benefit of earlier work in the field. ...
David Braue, Vic Govt limited Google's bushfire map, ZDNet Australia, February 12, 2009.

The Victorian Government's refusal to provide data for Google's bushfire map mashup limited its scope and highlighted glaring problems with Crown copyright provisions, the search giant's top Australian engineer said yesterday.

With over 1 million page views since Sunday, the Google Map overlay showing Victoria's bushfires has been invaluable for tracking the extent of the disaster.

Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble told the Broadband and Beyond conference in Melbourne yesterday that he became involved with the bushfire mapping effort after Google engineers woke in shock Sunday morning to read about the horrific fires unfolding east of Melbourne, which have claimed nearly 200 lives.

Noticing the Commonwealth Fire Authority website was already struggling to keep up with demand for its online list of bushfire updates, Noble's team had the idea of overlaying the data onto Google Maps to produce a real-time map of the fires' locations and intensities. The CFA, which manages fires on private lands and has therefore remained at the front line of the devastating fires, consented — and within four hours, the new map was live.

The search giant's search for data to plot fires on public lands — which are managed by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment — produced an entirely different result. With no public feed of the fires' location and an explicit denial of permission to access its own internal data, the engineers were ultimately unable to plot that data on the map as well.

The culprit, according to Noble: legally established Crown copyright provisions, which assign copyright over all government-produced information to the government and prevent its use without explicit consent. ...

The bushfire situation wasn't the first time Google has crossed swords with Crown copyright. The company had similar problems recently when it asked the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging for access to the data in the National Public Toilet Map, which it sought to offer as an overlay to Google Maps.

However, Google Loo was not to be: citing protection of the data under Crown copyright, the government refused to provide that information. ...

In a formal submission to the Victorian Government last year, Google Australia argued that "there are considerable benefits that would flow to the Victorian Government and the wider Victorian community from the unfettered availability of publicly funded, non-confidential government information ..."

Updates on ticTOCs

A few recent updates on ticTOCs, the OA index of journal table of contents:

Terry Bucknell, Opening the box: we’ve exposed the ticTOCs data, News from ticTOCs, February 11, 2009.

We’ve answered the call of developers like the Robot Librarian by providing a simple tab-delimited text file that contains all of the titles, ISSNs and feed URIs. in the ticTOCs directory of TOC feeds. Just go to [here]. We’re still developing more flexible APIs, but this is what we’ve been asked to provide in the interim so that is what we have provided! ...

Roddy MacLeod, Improvements to ticTOCs, the Journal Tables of Contents Service, News from ticTOCs, February 11, 2009.

We’ve made a few cosmetic improvements to the ticTOCs website. [Note: omitting list of changes] ...

Roddy MacLeod, Six ways to use ticTOCs, the free journal tables of contents service, News from ticTOCs, February 12, 2009.

There’s a number of different ways that you can use ticTOCs - the journal tables of contents service. These are my top six: [Note: omitting list] ...

See also our past posts on ticTOCs.

Notes from library meeting on Google Books settlement

ALA, ARL, ACRL Host Meeting of Experts to Discuss Google Book Search Settlement, District Dispatch, February 12, 2009.

Members of library community discussed the implications of the Google Book Search settlement in a meeting hosted on February 9, 2009 in Washington, D.C. by the American Library Association Washington Office, the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of College & Research Libraries. ...

Although this is a private settlement, the result has very real implications for public policy and the way libraries of all types will operate. ...

Issues raised at the meeting that members believe are of key concern to libraries include:

  • Access. What will the settlement mean for protecting the public’s ability to access and use digital resources from the nation’s libraries? Since the Book Rights Registry established as a condition of the settlement will represent the interests of the authors and publishers, who will represent the interests of libraries and the public? What are the financial implications of participation? Could the settlement create a monopoly that threatens the mission of libraries by raising the prices to an unreasonable level that limits public access?
  • Privacy. What will reader privacy look like in a Google subscription-based world? ...
  • Intellectual freedom. Are there academic freedom issues to consider? What are the implications of Google’s ability to remove works at its discretion? Will there be notification of their removal? What are the issues regarding possible access and use restrictions on the Research Corpus?
  • Equitable treatment. Since not all libraries are addressed in the settlement, what impact will it have on the diverse landscape of libraries? ...
  • >Terms of use. Under the terms of the agreement, will library users continue to enjoy the same rights to information under copyright and other laws? Will the settlement impact the legal discussions and interpretations of library exceptions that allow for library lending, limited copying and preservation?

Next, the executive boards and other leadership bodies of the library associations will consider a number of options available to them to have their voices heard in this debate. ...

More on the proposed "open source dividend"

Kaitlin Mara, Proponents Explore Designs For Prizes To Aid Neglected Disease Research, Intellectual Property Watch, February 12, 2009.

The World Health Organization global strategy on public health, innovation and intellectual property calls for the exploration of alternative mechanisms to incentivise research and development, including the use of prize funds. A diverse group of nongovernmental agencies, government and pharmaceutical industry representatives recently looked at prize funds in detail, to determine different possible approaches and where they might best be applied to medical innovations. ...

[One] idea is to use open licensing, said Judit Rius Sanjuan of [Knowledge Ecology International]. A prize fund might be divided such that ninety percent goes to the group that developed the medical product, and ten percent goes to those that shared data that helped in the development of a medical product. This “open source dividend” might encourage companies to share work that might otherwise have gone unused. ...

See also our past post on the open source dividend.

3 new no-fee OA journals from Medknow

Three new no-fee OA journals were announced by Medknow in January, which are not yet online:

More than 500 publishers listed in RoMEO

RoMEO has reached 500 publishers, press release, February 12, 2009.
SHERPA is delighted to announce that its service RoMEO now lists over 500 publisher policies on self-archiving. ...

Veterinary journal goes libre OA

Starting with the first issue of 2009, Revista Electrónica de Veterinaria is published under the Creative Commons Attribution License and incorporated the SPARC Europe seal.

More honors for Ray English

Ray English has won the 2009 Hugh C. Atkinson Award from the American Library Association.  See the ALA press release or the press release from Oberlin College, where Ray is the Director of Libraries.  From the latter:

Ray English, the Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries at Oberlin College, is being recognized by his peers for more than two decades of dedication and hard work. English has been named the 2006 Association of College and Research Libraries' (ACRL) Academic/Research Librarian of the Year.

A division of the American Library Association, the ACRL represents 13,000 academic and research librarians. The annual award recognizes an outstanding member of the library profession who has made a significant national or international contribution to academic/research librarianship and library development....

English's advocacy for open access to the results of scholarly research impressed the selection committee, as did his leadership role in information policy-setting arenas. English has been an influential member of the ACRL scholarly communications program and an expert contributor to national policy on public access to federally funded research, including the recent National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy....

PS:  See our many past posts on Ray, his OA work, and even his past awards.  Also see the 2006 article he and I co-wrote on federal OA policy.  Congratulations, Ray!

Breast Cancer Network of Strength joins the ATA

The Breast Cancer Network of Strength has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

PS:  If you appreciated the ATA's recent call to action to save the NIH policy and oppose the Conyers bill, think about having your organizing join as well.

Heather Joseph on the Conyers bill

Elie Dolgin, Heather Joseph: Q&A, The Scientist, February 9, 2009.  Heather Joseph is the executive director of SPARC, and one of the four witnesses testifying at last September's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the NIH policy and the Conyers bill.  Excerpt:

...Joseph spoke with The Scientist today (Feb. 9) about why she continues to oppose the bill....

TS: What was your reaction to the bill's reintroduction?

HJ: It was disappointing to see it reintroduced with the same old arguments that we've been hearing for five years, especially after last year's hearing where there were so many points made against taking this type of a stance.

TS: What new changes are being proposed?

HJ: If US copyright code is amended, any work that falls under this new definition -- which basically they've defined as anything where a third party has added value in some way -- would be covered. It would now be owned by the publisher, not the author. What's not clear to me under this law is if I submit to a journal and my article is peer reviewed, does that mean that the publisher can claim copyright of my article just because of that? That's what it looks like.

TS: Why does your organization, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, oppose this bill?

HJ: The NIH policy is crucial for ensuring that the results of publicly funded research reach the public in a timely and useful manner. So, first and foremost, 'turning back the clock' on the NIH policy is of course something we're going to oppose. The second reason that we oppose the bill is that it would create a new category of protected work that actually takes away authors rights. Amending copyright seems like an awfully blunt tool to use to just simply change an existing policy at one agency that the publishing community doesn't like.

TS: Do you agree with the criticism that the NIH policy conflicts with existing copyright law?

HJ: No. If you have to write a bill that amends copyright, then there was no problem with the copyright code in the first place. Moreover, choosing the amendment of copyright as the instrument doesn't just affect the NIH policy -- it's going to affect all other agencies and it's going to affect a lot of other government output. It's a very broadly written bill and this is something that people need to think long and hard about.

TS: How does the proposed legislation gel with Obama's pledge for openness in government?

HJ: Given the fact that [Obama] issued that 120-day openness and transparency memo, saying to agencies, "I want you to outline how you're going to ensure that your operations are transparent and that the public has access to the material that you're producing," it really floored me to see that someone can introduce a bill saying, "No, we're going to clamp down; we're going to go in the opposite direction of what the new administration is clearly laying out as their policy directions." That really surprised me.

TS: Last September, you testified to Congress alongside Elias Zerhouni, then-director of the NIH, who was one of the main proponents of the NIH mandate. Do you think we'll see as much resistance to this bill from the agency now that Zerhouni is gone?

HJ: It's difficult when the [NIH] doesn't have a full appointed director, but the NIH fully supports this policy. As an agency, they fought tooth and nail for this thing for years and I hardly think they're going to say, "Oh geez, this thing was reintroduced so we're going to give up."

TS: What will SPARC be doing as the bill moves forward?

HJ: We'll continue to rally grassroots and grass tops, and do all the kinds of education and communications campaigns that we would normally do. One of the things that's good about this -- if there is a silver lining -- is that any chance to talk about the positive effects and the success of the NIH policy is a good opportunity.

Publisher views of the Conyers bill at the AAP/PSP meeting

Jennifer Howard, At Publishers' Conference, the Digital Future Is (Almost) Now, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2009 (accessible only to subscribers).  Excerpt:

The people who gathered here last week for the Association of American PublishersProfessional and Scholarly Publishing Division's annual conference did not waste a lot of time worrying whether print is going the way of the dodo. As Matthew Nauman, director of publisher relations at Blackwell’s, put it, “A book sale is a book sale, and we don’t care what the format is.” ...

The conference did devote one session to copyright and public-access policies, like the one in place at the National Institutes of Health requiring that agency-supported research be made publicly available within 12 months of publication. That’s a red flag to many publishers. Last week, Rep. John Conyers Jr., a Democrat of Michigan, reintroduced the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, which would undo such policies. The Association of American Publishers supports that legislation, but some at the conference said that Congress had more pressing matters —the economy, for instance— on its mind and that not much was likely to happen with the bill soon....

Calling on universities to maximize the dissemination of research

Four US non-profit organizations supporting research universities have released The University’s Role in the Dissemination of Research and Scholarship — A Call to Action, February 2009.  The four organizations the Association of American Universities, Association of Research Libraries, Coalition for Networked Information, and National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.  Excerpt:

A Vision Statement for the University’s Role in Dissemination

The creation of new knowledge lies at the heart of the research university and results from tremendous investments of resources by universities, federal and state governments, industry, foundations, and others. The products of that enterprise are created to benefit society....Reflecting its investments, the academy has a responsibility to ensure the broadest possible access to the fruits of its work both in the short and long term by publics both local and global.

Faculty research and scholarship represent invaluable intellectual capital, but the value of that capital lies in its effective dissemination to present and future audiences. Dissemination strategies that restrict access are fundamentally at odds with the dissemination imperative inherent in the university mission....

Principles and Practices for University Engagement in Disseminating the Work of its Faculty

  • Dissemination of knowledge is as important to the university mission as its production.
  • Recognizing the value of the intellectual capital created by the members of the university community, universities should develop strategies for ensuring maximum distribution of the full range of unique and uniquely valuable content produced by the university community.
  • Past norms and practical requirements for dissemination have led to practices of transferring control of access to and use of faculty work outside the academy, limiting the university’s and faculty members’ ability to ensure broad dissemination and wide use. Where the academy has relinquished the ability to manage its intellectual capital to best serve its needs and priorities, it should act to regain this capability.
  • Key functions of traditional publishing must persist. Particularly, valuation and rewarding of high quality faculty work must remain central features of dissemination....

This is the moment to take action

Decades of investment and development in information technologies and networked information resources have created an unprecedented opportunity for scholars to express, document, organize, and transmit knowledge with extraordinary flexibility, depth, and power; these same developments have made it possible for this knowledge to be accessible throughout our society and globally at manageable costs. Yet ,these opportunities are constrained by publishing, tenure, and promotion policies based on historic practices....

[Research investments from public and private sources] are made based on an expectation that research findings will be broadly available for use in advancing research, teaching, and in advancing the public good. Dissemination of research is a key value of the academy. Indeed, academic freedom encompasses the rights of faculty members and researchers to communicate freely and broadly the conclusions of their scholarly endeavors.

Traditional dissemination practices have largely relied on outsourcing production of print artifacts paid for by transfer of copyright to publishers. The assumption has been that broad dissemination required the total concession of copyrights in return for the substantial and unique investments publishers made in producing publications. Yet, there is an inherent difficulty with relying on market forces alone to maximize dissemination. In the emerging electronic environment, there are new opportunities to increase access to new knowledge and far less need to rely on models that demand exclusive distribution rights. Traditional publishing and distribution routes can and will adapt as they are supplemented by new forms of university-based dissemination. For an appropriate transition to occur, however, universities must retain the ability to ensure broad distribution of research and scholarship.

Another key value of the academy is preservation of access to research and scholarship over time. We must retain the rights to preserve products of faculty work within the academy or decisions about what will be saved and who will be able to use it again will reside outside the academy.

To realize the benefits of this changing landscape, promotion and tenure criteria need to continue their evolution beyond their basis in historic practices that often tied faculty rewards exclusively to publication in the traditional journal and monograph vehicles. While the identification of high quality scholarship is integral to the academy’s work, basing rewards on use of the historic, print-based distribution system retards the development of new models and also strengthens the ability of actors outside the academy to control future dissemination of new knowledge....

[U]niversities...should supplement traditional publishing models with more effective models over time....Assistance in these tasks should be solicited from scholarly societies and university presses....

A variety of capabilities for disseminating content already exist on campuses, often under the management of libraries or information technology units. With appropriate rights management strategies, these can be effectively harnessed to substantially enhance dissemination of research and scholarship in the present and into the future.

Recommendations to Campus Leaders

Primary Recommendation: Campuses should initiate discussions involving administration and faculty about modifying current practices and/or its intellectual property policies such that the university retains a set of rights sufficient to ensure that broad dissemination of the research and scholarly work produced by its faculty occurs....

Some specific institutional strategies include:

  • Initiate a process to develop an institutional dissemination plan by explicitly evaluating existing dissemination activities, policies relating to promotion and tenure, and policies regarding faculty copyrights. For instance, charge a campus blue ribbon task force to advise the provost on key issues raised by the emergence of new forms of scholarly publishing and the gains that might be had by utilizing more effective ways of sharing the high quality results of the processes of scholarly and creative endeavor.
  • With this foundation, develop priorities for supporting new dissemination strategies that enhance the value of the multifaceted investments in faculty research and scholarship by promoting the broadest possible access to it.
  • Engage departments on campus in developing fresh articulations of the criteria that are appropriate for judging the quality of contributions to their discipline, criteria that embrace emerging forms of scholarly work, where those possess the same attributes of quality and contribution to new knowledge, and do not rely solely on traditional publications and historic practices.
  • Develop institutional policies that enable the university to disseminate the full range of its community’s products now and in the future.
  • Where local dissemination infrastructure exists (such as institutional repositories), promote its use and expand its capabilities as required. Where needed, build new infrastructure that supports documentation of the products of faculty work, both for grant management and compliance and for more general purposes....
  • Encourage faculty authors to modify contracts with publishers so that their contracts permit immediate open access or delayed public access to peer reviewed work in a manner that does not threaten the viability of the journals or monographs.
  • Develop policies or strategies that redirect resources from high cost /low value dissemination practices to development of dissemination mechanisms residing inside the academy....

Collective Action Through Associations Serving Research Institutions or University Consortia

Opportunities for collective action by consortia or university collaborations: ...

  • Improve access to dissemination infrastructure through partnerships with scholarly societies to offer alternatives to commercial publishers.
  • For all disciplines, initiate a broad re-articulation of the hallmarks of high quality research and scholarship that emphasize its substance independent of publication or distribution form.
  • Develop new norms for sharing copyrights among universities, authors, and providers of publishing services in order to facilitate low-cost use of the copyrighted work in teaching and research....

Also see today's press release.

...The statement is an outgrowth of a roundtable discussion hosted by the four organizations that engaged provosts, chief research officers, chief information officers, senior faculty, and library and university press directors. Those leaders identified a set of actions that should be taken to expand the dissemination of the full range of products of the university community’s research and scholarship....


  • This is big.  The document only mentions OA explicitly once ("Encourage faculty authors to modify contracts with publishers so that their contracts permit immediate open access..."), but it repeatedly calls for the "broadest possible access" to research and "maximizing dissemination" of research.  It also identifies two impediments that universities have been reluctant to acknowledge:  (1) the routine transfer of exclusive rights to publishers who limit access and create artificial scarcity, and (2) the incentives created by promotion and tenure criteria, pressuring faculty to publish in traditional venues and shun new ones. 
  • It's also big because the AAU has signed on to it.  The other three organizations behind the statement (ARL, CNI, and NASULGC) are long-time friends of OA.  But AAU has been reluctant to come on board.   It has enormous influence over its members --the 60+ leading research universities in North America-- and enormous influence in Congress on copyright issues that affect research and higher education.  It's fair to say that, in the past, the AAU was waiting for its members to take the lead on OA issues.  Perhaps that condition has now been met with the OA mandates at Harvard and Stanford, and the mandate discussions at a handful of other major institutions.  But it's also clear that AAU is now willing to lead as well.  Its leadership will be very welcome at North American research institutions and also in Congress, where the AAU could join the coalition to defeat the Conyers bill.
  • The statement is also important for speaking plainly about the mission of universities, how that mission bears on access to knowledge, and how it differs from the mission of corporations with which universities do business.  The mission of a university is not to create intellectual property or lock up knowledge.  Instead:  "Dissemination strategies that restrict access are fundamentally at odds with the dissemination imperative inherent in the university mission." ... "Dissemination of knowledge is as important to the university mission as its production." ... "[T]here is an inherent difficulty with relying on market forces alone to maximize dissemination."
  • If I have a criticism, it's that the statement is needlessly vague on a key recommendation.  Instead of saying that universities should require OA for their research output, it says merely that they should "develop institutional policies that enable the university to disseminate the full range of its community’s products now and in the future."  The advice is sound as far as it goes.  But we have a notable body of experience on what sorts of policies enable that kind of full dissemination and what kinds do not.

Update. The ARL has released some Talking Points for ARL Library Directors, to accompany the new call to action.


ENCES presentations

Digitization on demand for PD books in the Penn libraries

Penn Libraries and Kirtas Technologies team up to make more than 200,000 books available for research and purchase, a press release from Kirtas, February 12, 2009.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

Today, Kirtas announces a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries to make over 200,000 titles available to the public in a unique way.

Using existing information drawn from Penn's catalog records, Kirtas is able to offer out-of-copyright books for sale through its own retail site. What makes this initiative unique is that the books can be offered for sale before they are ever digitized, so there is no up-front printing, production or storage cost....

"This partnership allows us to gauge reader interest in on-demand digitization and printing services," said Carton Rogers, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries at the University of Pennsylvania. "That frees us from difficult selection decisions and lets the digital collection grow in response to user demand. The model is efficient and minimizes the risk as we develop new ways of addressing information needs."

Through, customers will be able to search for a desired title, and when found, place a "digitize for me" request. The desired book will be pulled from Penn's shelves, digitized, processed by Kirtas for optimal reading and printing, and a newly-printed copy will be shipped to the initiator. Or, the customer can purchase access to an online-only version of the book. Once the book has been digitized, it is returned undamaged to the library shelf.

Comment.  I talked to Todd Whiting at Kirtas about this program and have his permission to post what I learned.  (Thanks, Todd.)  When Kirtas digitizes a book at a user's request, it will offer to sell both digital and POD editions of the book.  The "content partner" --in this case, the University of Pennsylvania-- determines the price of the digital edition and the DRM restrictions, if any.  If Penn chooses, the digital editions could be distributed free of charge and free of DRM.  Kirtas will cover its costs through sales of the POD editions.  In any case, Penn will get its own digital edition, free of charge and free of DRM.

Also see our past posts on Kirtas book-digitization projects.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Advocates to U.S. govt.: Show Us the Data

Show Us the Data is a new campaign by the Center for Democracy & Technology and Open the Government inviting the public to identify the "most wanted government documents, reports or data sets that should be on the Web" but aren't. Nominations and votes are being accepted through March 9, 2009. See the CDT blog post or press release, or the post at the Sunlight Foundation blog.

Profile of David Lipman of NCBI

Federal Player of the Week, Washington Post, February 9, 2009.

David Lipman of the National Institutes of Health is an Internet pioneer who has worked for more than a decade to make critical medical and scientific information available online for scientists, researchers and the general public. ...

Lipman envisioned, helped create and now oversees more than 40 publicly available online medical and scientific databases within NIH, although he gives much of the credit to his team. ...

They include PubMed, an online service that allows the public to search abstracts from approximately 4,600 of the world's leading biomedical journals; PubMed Central, an archive of 1.7 million full-text journal articles from biomedical journals; GenBank, the world's largest genetic sequence data repository; and PubChem, a resource that connects chemical information with biological studies. ...

See also our past posts on Lipman.

Americans: Contact your Representative

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a call to action to defend the NIH policy against the Conyers bill.  Excerpt:

Last week, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) re-introduced a bill that would reverse the NIH Public Access Policy and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place. The legislation is H.R. 801: the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act”.

All supporters of public access – researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, and others – are asked to please contact your Representative no later than February 28, 2009 to express your support for public access to taxpayer-funded research and ask that he or she oppose H.R.801. Draft letter text is included below. As always, it’s important to let us know what action you’re able to take, via [this web form].

H.R. 801 is designed to amend current copyright law and create a new category of copyrighted works (Section 201, Title 17). In effect, it would:

1. Prohibit all U.S. federal agencies from conditioning funding agreements to require that works resulting from federal support be made publicly available if those works are either: a) funded in part by sources other than a U.S. agency, or b) the result of "meaningful added value" to the work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.

2. Prohibit U.S. agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet.

3. Stifle access to a broad range of federally funded works, overturning the crucially important NIH Public Access Policy and preventing other agencies from implementing similar policies.

4. Because it is so broadly framed, the proposed bill would require an overhaul of the well-established procurement rules in effect for all federal agencies, and could disrupt day-to-day procurement practices across the federal government.

5. Repeal the longstanding "federal purpose" doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work reserve the "royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work" for any federal purpose. This will severely limit the ability of U.S. federal agencies to use works that they have funded to support and fulfill agency missions and to communicate with and educate the public.

Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information through the PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R.801 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.

All supporters of public access -- researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, and others -- are asked to contact their Representatives to let them know you support public access to federally funded research and oppose H.R. 801. Again, the proposed legislation would effectively reverse the NIH Public Access Policy, as well as make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place.

Thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting this policy. You know the difference constituent voices can make on Capitol Hill....

From the draft letter:

Dear Representative;

On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 801, “the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” introduced to the House Judiciary Committee on February 3, 2009. This bill would amend the U.S. Copyright Code, prohibiting federal agencies from requiring as a condition of funding agreements public access to the products of the research they fund. This will significantly inhibit our ability to advance scientific discovery and to stimulate innovation in all scientific disciplines.

Most critically, H.R. 810 would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing the results of the crucial biomedical research funded by their taxpayer dollars, and stifle critical advancements in life-saving research and scientific discovery.

Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information from the NIH’s PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R.801 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.

H.R. 801 affects not only the results of biomedical research produced by the NIH, but also scientific research coming from all other federal agencies. Access to critical information on energy, the environment, climate change, and hundreds of other areas that directly impact the lives and well being of the public would be unfairly limited by this proposed legislation....


  • If you're a US citizen, please write to your representative.  The NIH policy is the most important OA policy in the US today and affects a larger body of research than any other OA policy in the world.  If we can't save it, we won't have OA to the 80,000 peer-reviewed articles per year arising from NIH-funded research, and we won't get a strong OA policy at any other federal agency. 
  • For maximum impact, write your own letter or customize the ATA draft letter before sending it.  Explain why the OA to publicly-funded research, especially medical research, matters to you.
  • For more ideas or language, see
  • You can also help the cause by copying the new graphic from the OAN sidebar and adding it to your own blog or web site.  Don't forget to link from the image to the ATA call to action.
  • Please spread the word.


Combining open access and open review

Many journals combine open access and open review, but some are finding that open review is not working as well as they wanted. 

Nikolaus Kriegeskorte is thinking about how to make open review work better.  See his full-length elaboration of the idea, Open post-publication peer review, his abridged version, and his FAQ.  Excerpt from the full-length elaboration:

...Beyond open access, which is generally considered desirable, the essential drawbacks of the current system of scientific publishing are all connected to the particular way that peer review is used to evaluate papers. In particular, the current system suffers from a lack of quality and transparency of the peer review process, a lack of availability of evaluative information about papers to the public, and excessive costs incurred by a system, in which private publishers are the administrators of peer review. These problems can all be addressed by open post-publication peer review.

Open: Any scientist can instantly publish a peer review on any published paper. The scientist will submit the review to a public repository. Reviews can include written text, figures, and numerical quality ratings. The repository will link each paper to all its reviews, such that that readers are automatically presented with the evaluative meta-information. In addition, the repository allows anyone to rank papers according to a personal objective function computed on the basis of the public reviews and their numerical quality ratings. Peer review is open in both directions: (1) Any scientist can freely submit a review on any paper. (2) Anyone can freely access any review.

Post-publication: Reviews are submitted after publication, because the paper needs to be publicly accessible in order for any scientist to be able to review it. Post-publication reviews can add evaluative information to papers published in the current system (which have already been secretly reviewed before publication). For example, a highly controversial paper appearing in Science may motivate a number of supportive and critical post-publication reviews. The overall evaluation from these public reviews will affect the attention given to the paper by potential readers. The actual text of the reviews may help readers understand and judge the details of the paper....

Note...that public post-publication reviews differ in two crucial respects:

(1) They do not decide about publication – as the papers reviewed are already published.

(2) They are public communications to the community at large, not secret communications to editors and authors.

This makes the peer reviews the equivalent of getting up to comment on a talk presented at a conference. Because these reviews do not decide about publication, they are less affected by politics. Because they are communications to the community, their power depends on how compelling their arguments are to the community....

Signed or anonymous: The open peer reviews can be signed or anonymous. In analyzing the review information to rank papers, signed reviews can be given greater weight if there is evidence that they are more reliable.

Digitally authenticated: Reviewers can digitally sign their reviews by public-key cryptography. The idea of digitally signed public reviews has been developed [at GPeerReview]....

Paper selection by arbitrary evaluation functions: The necessary selection of papers for reading can be based on the reviews and their associated numerical judgments. Any reader can define a paper selection function based on content and quality criteria and will automatically be informed about papers best conforming to his or her criteria. The evaluative function could for example, exclude anonymous reviews, exclude certain reviewers, weight evidence for central claims over potential impact of the results etc.

Webportals as entry points to literature: Webportals can define such evaluation functions for subcommunities – for scientists too busy (or too lazy) to define their own. Such webportals would provide a generalized access to the literature that transcends all journals. A webportal can be established cheaply by individuals or larger organizations that share a common set of criteria for paper prioritization.


  • I've often maintained that achieving OA and reforming peer review are independent projects, and that OA is compatible with every kind of peer review, from the most conservative to the most innovative.  I still believe that.  But I want to see open review work.  It's the most promising way to shift peer review from a pre-publication task to a post-publication task, removing both a cause of delay and a financial incentive for publishers to resist OA.  It's also the most promising way to create a useful plurality of evaluations of the primary literature.  As I argued in 2002:

    The beauty of second-order tools using first-order scholarship as data [basically, retroactive peer-review judgments about research articles] is that there can never be too many of them.  If proliferating first-order judgments creates information overload, then proliferating second-order judgments creates competition, and this competition will be beneficial for users and self-limiting.  Second-order judgments are valuable even when they conflict, because different users have different needs, interests, projects, standards, and approaches.  You should have a choice among services competing to help you decide what deserves your time and attention.  Of those services that know what you want, some will be faster, cheaper, or friendlier in providing it.  Of those that are fast, cheap, and friendly, some will know better what you want.  If putting priced paper literature online free of charge accelerates research, then a robust market of sophisticated, competing second-order tools will accelerate it again.

  • If I have a new thought on how to make open review work, it's this:  editors should solicit and assign retroactive reviews as they now solicit and assign prospective reviews.  Scholars should be just as willing to write retroactive reviews as prospective reviews, and their work will give editors and readers the help they do not always receive from spontaneous user comments.  Retroactive reviews need not supplant spontaneous user comments and can supplement them.  They can be anonymous or attributed, according to local practice.  By referring to "editors" I don't mean to presuppose the continuing existence of "journals" which yoke together certification and distribution.  Editors and editorial boards could be free-floating, limit themselves to certification, and leave distribution to the network of OA repositories.

German jeremiad against OA

Roland Reuß, Eine heimliche technokratische Machtergreifung, Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, February 11, 2009.  (Thanks to Eric Steinhauer via Klaus Graf.) 

A jeremiad against OA, calling it "immoral and reprehensible" (unsittlich und verwerflich). 

Comments on the article are growing fast.

For translations, see the article, the comments, and the blog posts by Steinhauer and Graf, in Google's English.

Update (2/18/09).  Gudrun Gersmann has written a rebuttal, Wer hat Angst vor Open Access? Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, February 18, 2009.  Read it in German or Google's English.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Toward a knowledge web

Carolina Rossini, The Need for a "Knowledge Web" for Scholarship, The Publius Project, February 5, 2009.  Excerpt:

...The beneficial potential for open networks and scholarship has been widely noted for years.

However, for all this potential to be realized, the Web has to be seen as a content management system – a knowledge web – and not simply a vast forest of web pages and hyperlinks....

A knowledge web needs to be capable of much more than linking and searching. It asks for more power in the individual link, and requires different balances between fragility and durability, allowing, for example, content “genealogy” – who had an idea first, and where? It also asks for new writing methodologies.  How do we replicate the writing methodology we observe in Wikipedia in order to connect a huge diversity of scientific information and, by doing that, generate knowledge? E-writing is very different than traditional scholarly writing, and scholars need to utilize these new writing methodologies as well as emerging infrastructures such as the semantic web or features such as annotations....

We also need to contextualize the incentives of scholars in the knowledge web....Thus, new impact factors also need to be developed if we want to see the full potential of the knowledge web realized*. Some help on this discussion is coming from the Open Access movement, which recommends, for example, requiring links to scholars’ online publications as a new field in the road for tenure....

One of the main elements of transfer of scholarly knowledge – peer reviewed papers - represents the biggest failure to make the leap to the web. While journals have migrated to the Web, they are just digitized version of paper. They are not “becoming digital”. The PDF versions of “papers’ are amorphous objects that promote cross-platform human readability but restrict machine readability such as text mining, semantic indexing, hyper-linking and direct integration with databases.

As noted by John Wilbanks: “… the human-readable paper is the least valuable format of knowledge from a cyberinfrastructure perspective.” To be integrated in the generative 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.” ...

More on locus of deposit

Stevan Harnad, Napoleon, the Hexagon, and the Question of Where to Mandate Deposit, Open Access Archivangelism, February 9, 2009.
SUMMARY: What France -- exactly like every other country -- needs is both funder and institutional Open Access (OA) mandates, requiring the self-archiving of all refereed research output immediately upon acceptance for publication, and all converging on single-locus deposit in the researcher's own Institutional Repository (IR). (It is completely irrelevant to this whether or not the IR happens to be hosted by HAL, France's national Central Repository [CR], which is designed so as to be able in principle to give every university or institution in France its own "virtual IR" if the institution so wishes.) But if funder mandates leave locus-of-deposit open, or insist on generic deposit in some CR or other, then OA's slumbering giant -- the universities and institutions that are the providers of all research output, funded and unfunded, in all fields, virtually none of which yet mandate the deposit of their institutional research output in their IRs -- will just keep hibernating: Institutional (and departmental, laboratory) mandates will not be adopted, most researchers (85%) will not self-archive anywhere (in either an IR or a CR), and what IRs there are will continue to lie fallow. Apart from the funder-mandated research -- and the few fields (such as computer science, economics and physics) where researchers have already been self-archiving spontaneously for years worldwide -- the CRs will of course be in exactly the same state as the IRs.
Jenny Delasalle, Duplication of deposit requirements, WRAP repository blog, February 10, 2009.

Some authors are affiliated to more than one institution, so their articles are relevant to more than one repository. From an Open Access (OA) point of view, it only matters that they deposit once, to one repository, but from a University administrative point of view, the article might need to be duplicated in different institutional repositories.

In theory, the author ought to be able to choose which repository to deposit to, and the other(s) can harvest from there. ...

I wonder if, in the future, we might end up maintaining lists of our authors who have informed us that they deposit elsewhere, and then running yearly processes to harvest records and items from those repositories. ... (This is pretty much what our medical authors already expect us to do with their content that is available on OA in PubMed - yes, it would be better if the content went round the loop the other way, but in practice, we don't have the resources to format their work appropriately for PubMed anyway. I don't know of any IR that does this - yet.)

There are two other ways around such a process: 1) insist that authors deposit multiple times in multiple repositories; 2) all repositories enable authors to specify other repositories for their content to be sent to, upon deposit. ...

Asking for multiple deposits is nothing to do with OA and our authors will be aware of it and resistant to it. The best reason I can give to authors is that having lots of copies of their work available in OA repositories will help the chances of their work being preserved in the long term. ...

2008 edition of Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

Charles Bailey has released the 2008 Annual Edition of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. See his blog post for information on what's been updated.

Trinity University to consider an OA mandate

Trinity University has formed a working group to consider adopting an OA mandate.

... Several universities have adopted something called an “Open Access Directive” which means that faculty agree to retain non-exclusive copyright to their own publications, sharing it with their home institutuions. ...

Under the terms of the directive, which is automatic, scholar/authors will deposit a copy of the publication in an open access database, which will ensure that the publication is available to all, regardless of location or ability to pay. Such repositories are proliferating at institutions across the country and Trinity is no exception. Trinity and a group of other institutions of our type have created the Liberal Arts Scholarly Repository to house the scholarly products of our student and faculty researchers.

In order to explore the possibility of establishing such a policy at Trinity, Michael Fischer and Chuck White ask you to serve on a working group to explore this idea and to make a recommendation to us regarding this possibility. We expect that open meetings would be held for faculty to learn about the implications and possibilities for such a policy, to ask questions and make suggestions. Communication with other colleges regarding this might also be a part of the process. (Oberlin College is a likely collaborator). We have asked Jorge Gonzalez to chair this group and he has agreed to do so. ...


CC launches project to re-build the patent research exemption

Creative Commons has launched GreenXchange, a project aimed at re-creating the eviscerated (Madey v. Duke) research exemption to patents through voluntary licensing.

See also our past posts on Madey v. Duke.

Inventing boats and learning to love the sea

Jan Velterop, Deploring or exploring? The Parachute, February 10, 2009.  Excerpt:

...Water is one of the most abundant resources on earth, but if you're just using it to drink, you don't quite get much of its potential out of it. When people invented rafts, and developed boats – probably in the form of dug-out logs – a whole new world, literally, opened up to them. They all of a sudden didn’t have to see expanses of water as impediments to getting to the other side, and once navigation was thus discovered, waterways and seas became the most important transportation routes upon eventually empires were built. The rest is history, to use a cliché.

There is something similar going on with the way we use information. The image that I have in mind is that there are virtually oceans of information available to humans, but that the only use we make of that information is ‘by the drink’ – by reading articles or bits of articles....

We have to develop ways of extracting knowledge out of large amounts of information. Thousands of papers, and thousands of database entries. Or hundreds of thousands. We can’t read those. We have to invent the equivalents of rafts and boats to navigate information. And still read, but manageable amounts (after all, we still drink, too).

In whatever information navigation we already do, we stay very close to the coast, and only to the coasts we know....

Some people deplore the fact that more and more information becomes available. They talk of information overload or overabundance. And if the only thing you can imagine doing with it is read (‘drink’), then you may have reason to be negative about it. If you think like this you may seek solutions in selection, in limiting access, in having the choices made for you. But if you can imagine truly navigating the ever growing seas of information, you will not deplore the abundance, but instead, start exploring it.

Comment.  This is a brilliant analogy.  I've often argued for conclusions close to those Jan is drawing here.  But without the benefit of his simple, vivid, beautiful analogy, or any other analogy, these conclusions can sound dry and abstract:  that OA facilitates machine processing and not just human reading; that "information overload" is an opportunity for superior discovery tools, not a burden; that OA scales to meet the opportunity and TA doesn't; that TA fears abundance and enforces artificial scarcity; and that text mining is an incentive to make work OA.  Next time I'll borrow this analogy.

Comments on the Conyers bill #2

Here are some more comments from the press and blogosphere on the re-introduction of the Conyers bill (a.k.a. Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, HR 801), which would overturn the OA policy at the NIH.  Also see our first collection of comments.

From Michael Eisen at It is NOT Junk:

...What is particularly galling is that Conyers held hearings on this bill last year, in which a LOT of important issues were raised about the bill, and there were many on the committee who were skeptical about it. So, what does Conyers do with all that useful feedback? He ignores it, and introduces exactly the same bill in the new Congress. One hopes such an ill-conceived piece of public policy would have no hope when Congress has many more important things on its hands, but one never knows. Let’s hope it dies in committee. But just to be safe, let the members know how you feel.

It’s hard to know why Conyers is doing this. He receives some modest contributions from Elsevier and some others in the publishing industry - but it’s hard to imagine $4,000 buys a piece of legislation.  Conyers has recently reorganized the House Judiciary Committee in order to take control of intellectual property cases, so maybe this is part of a more broadly orchestrated “defense” of copyright....

From Stevan Harnad at Open Access Archivangelism:

The publisher lobby is trying to undo one of the most positive things Congress has done for science: the NIH Public Access Act, which requires NIH-funded research to be made freely accessible to the public that funded it. Tendentiously misnamed the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act" the Conyers Bill proposes to "protect" publicly funded research in exactly the same way it protects proprietary Disney cartoons or How-To bestsellers, sold for author royalty income.

It is time for OA advocates and the general public (US and worldwide, because US OA policy has vast global implications) to make their voices heard in favor of the NIH Public Access Policy and against the Conyers Bill's Caricature of Copyright. Please consult the Alliance for Taxpayer Access on how you can help and also express your support for mandating more OA rather than less, to President Obama.

This is also a good time to shore up the NIH Mandate with a small change that will not only increase its reach and make it a far better model for emulation worldwide, but  strengthen it against attempts like the Conyers Bill to undermine it: Specify that the research is to be deposited in the fundee's own Institutional Repository....

From Greg Laden at his Greg Laden's Blog:

The publishing industry is dangerous. Why? Because it is big and rich, but it is also in danger. The publishing industry, like the music industry, and like the commercial proprietary software industry, faces structural reorganization of the markets served and uncertainty in the flow of cash into coffers. So we should not be surprised when we see the industry buying off members of congress to get legislation passed that protects the industry from change that is coming. Change the industry does not want to see....

No comment

The new Kindle ebook reader from Amazon includes a feature to read the text aloud. 

Geoffrey Fowler and Jeffrey Trachtenberg report the reaction of the Authors Guild in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

"They don't have the right to read a book out loud," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. "That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."

PS:  See our past posts on the Authors Guild.

Update (2/28/09).  Amazon blinked.  See its press release and Lawrence Lessig's comment, which speaks my mind.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

OAD adds timeline of the OA movement

I just moved my Timeline of the Open Access Movement to the Open Access Directory (OAD) for community editing. 

Starting now, it's no longer just my work, but the work of all who contribute.  I plan to continue as a contributor.

I've enjoyed working on this timeline, and I'm proud of it.  But I can no longer do it justice.  For example, until this year I'd always been able to bring it up to date before publishing my year-end review of OA.  But this year I just couldn't find the time.

It's respectably thorough from the first stirrings of the OA movement through the end of 2007.  But it needs a lot of work for 2008 and 2009.  If you want to help, you can find the raw material by searching or browsing the OAN archive or in the monthly round-up section of SOAN.

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

I thank Nancy Pontika for the difficult job of converting the HTML edition to wiki format.


OA for CRS Reports

Wikileaks has succeeded in its plan to create OA for thousands of CRS Reports.  From the site:

Wikileaks has released nearly a billion dollars worth of quasi-secret reports commissioned by the United States Congress....

The 6,780 reports, current as of this month, comprise over 127,000 pages of material on some of the most contentious issues in the nation, from the U.S. relationship with Israel to the financial collapse. Nearly 2,300 of the reports were updated in the last 12 months, while the oldest report goes back to 1990. The release represents the total output of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) electronically available to Congressional offices. The CRS is Congress's analytical agency and has a budget in excess of $100M per year.

Open government lawmakers such as Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont) have fought for years to make the reports public, with bills being introduced --and rejected-- almost every year since 1998. The CRS, as a branch of Congress, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

CRS reports are highly regarded as non-partisan, in-depth, and timely. The reports top the list of the "10 Most-Wanted Government Documents" compiled by the Washington based Center for Democracy and Technology. The Federation of American Scientists, in pushing for the reports to be made public, stated that the "CRS is Congress' Brain and it's useful for the public to be plugged into it." While Wired magazine called their concealment "The biggest Congressional scandal of the digital age".

Although all CRS reports are legally in the public domain, they are quasi-secret because the CRS, as a matter of policy, makes the reports available only to members of Congress, Congressional committees and select sister agencies such as the GAO.

Members of Congress are free to selectively release CRS reports to the public but are only motivated to do so when they feel the results would assist them politically. Universally embarrassing reports are kept quiet....

However that hasn't stopped a grey market forming around the documents. Opportunists smuggle out nearly all reports and sell them to cashed up special interests--lobbyists, law firms, multi-nationals, and presumably, foreign governments. Congress has turned a blind eye to special interest access, while continuing to vote down public access....

Free from meaningful public oversight of its work, the CRS, as "Congress's brain", is able to influence Congressional outcomes, even when its reports contain errors. Arguably, its institutional power over congress is second only to the parties themselves. Public oversight would reduce its ability to exercise that influence without criticism. That is why it opposes such oversight, and that is why such oversight must be established immediately.

In 1913 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a forceful proponent for open government, stated "Sunlight is the best disinfectant; electric light the most efficient policeman". Those wise words are still true today.

Welcome, Congress, to our generation's electric sun.

Thanks to Brock Meeks of CDT for the alert and these comments:

...It also seems that Wikileaks now has found a source to get all new and updated reports.

For years CDT has run the OpenCRS project as a way to provide access to CRS reports. OpenCRS has aggregated the non-classified, non-confidential reports posted by our partners, including the Federation of American Scientists and the National Council for Science and the Environment, as well as those submitted directly to OpenCRS. Through these means, we estimate that OpenCRS has been getting about 80% of new reports. Thanks to Wikileaks, which provided OpenCRS with a full download of all the reports they collected, the project now houses the most up-to-date and historical record of these reports....

Now that Wikileaks has put these documents up, we see little reason for Congress to keep up its façade that artificially restricts public access to these critically informative reports despite the fact that pay services have had all of these reports available to those with the money for years. Perhaps now Members will move quickly to pass legislation to provide quick and easy access to these reports and bring a halt the ridiculous cloak-and-dagger atmosphere that to-date has surrounded their release.

PS:  Kudos to all involved.  See our past posts on the many efforts to break through the secrecy and toll access to share these useful reports with the public.

Update (2/11/09).  Also see Brian Krebs' article in today's Washington Post:

Open government groups scored a small but potentially decisive victory this week in a long-running battle to win publication of thousands of secret reports that Congress uses to fashion new laws.

Each year, with the help of more than $100 million in funding from Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) produces thousands of reports on legislative policy issues ranging from farm subsidies to weapons sales. While the reports are neither copyrighted nor classified, their release has been solely at the discretion of lawmakers.

But on Monday,, an online clearinghouse for leaked documents, published thousands of previously unreleased CRS reports. At the same time, the group says it is on track to receive a steady stream of new reports, which it plans to feed to open government groups and directly to consumers via its Web site....

The Wikileaks Web site was temporarily unavailable for several hours on Monday as nearly five million visitors tried to download the massive 2 GB archive. Schmitt called the public response unprecedented....

In years past, several lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to garner support for making the CRS reports directly available to citizens online. One such proponent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-Conn.), praised the action by Wikileaks, saying he hopes to work with the Senate Rules Committee "to create a comprehensive and officially-sanctions system for releasing CRS reports to the public."

"I have long argued that CRS reports should be made more widely available to the public, in part because they are produced at public expense and because broad dissemination supports the goal of greater government transparency," Lieberman said. "Wikileaks's recent action demonstrates the futility of any effort to limit distribution of those reports."

The secrecy of the reports has created a bootleg market for the documents. Gallery Watch, owned by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, has sold the CRS reports for years. Gallery Watch declined to comment for this story....


Twidox enters its public beta

Twidox has moved into its public beta.  From today's announcement:

...Twidox is a free, user generated online library of ‘quality’ documents that allows individuals and organisations to easily publish, share and search for them.

Documents on twidox are accessible to everyone online and will allow people to share their knowledge and help others with their work, learning, teaching and research.

The focus of the website is on:

  • professional and industry specific documents
  • research material
  • academic papers and articles
  • coursework and dissertations and;
  • data and statistics

The site archives and indexes every published text and makes it searchable to other users, free of charge....

Organisations can create a branded page on twidox, include contact information and an introduction, and create different folders for their documents. They can also include multiple moderators of the organisation page. The likes of the United Nations and Sun Microsystems are already using it, and we will concentrate on getting more organizations (particularly universities) on twidox over the coming weeks....

So far we have around 30.000 documents and are in the process of uploading 60.000 more documents from our partners.  The next few weeks we will also carry on testing twidox, asses the user’s feedback and then slowly start the PR machine....

Also see the FAQ and our past posts on Twidox.

Notes on Researcher 2.0 workshop

Various materials on the Researcher 2.0 workshop (Milton Keynes, February 10, 2009):

Blocking bogus patents with OA to prior art

India's OA Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is making good on its plan to share its contents with patent offices around the world in order to establish prior art and invalidate bogus patents.  See yesterday's press release from the Indian government:

India through an Access Agreement with European Patent Office, has established a mechanism to protect India’s traditional medicinal knowledge from bio-piracy. The maiden Indian effort in creating ‘Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) database would now be available to the Patent Examiners at European Patent Office (EPO having 34 member states) for establishing prior art, in case of patent applications based on Indian systems of medicine. The accessibility of data base has come into operation from February 2, 2009....

This first such agreement would provide cover against infringement of country’s rich traditional medicinal heritage having huge economic potential, of the kind that was witnessed during the last decade, including grant of wrong patents on wound healing properties of turmeric (1995) at the United States Patent & Trade Mark Office (USPTO) and on anti-fungal properties of Neem granted at European Patent Office (EPO)....

The grant of these patents in United States and Europe were the cause of great national distress, since, every Indian felt that the knowledge that belonged to India were wrongfully taken away from India. Further, the patents would have conferred exclusive rights on the use of technology to the applicant of the patent in the country in which it has been granted....

The TKDL expert group estimated that about 2000 number of wrong patents concerning Indian systems of medicine were being granted every year at international level, mainly due to the fact that, India’s traditional medicine knowledge exists in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. and was neither accessible nor understood by patent examiners at the international patent offices due to language and format barriers.

The TKDL breaks these barriers and has been able to scientifically convert and structure the information available in languages like Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Tamil, in open domain text books into five international languages, namely, English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish, with information contents in 30 million A4 size pages, with the help of Information Technology tools and a novel classification system - Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC)....

On an average it takes five to seven years for opposing a granted patent at international level, which may cost Rs one to three crores (0.2-0.6 million US$). Therefore, the cost of protecting two lakh (0.2 million US$) medicinal formulations, in the absence of TKDL, would be staggering and completely unaffordable....

PS:  Also see our past posts on the TKDL.

New OA journal of French studies

Carnets is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Associação Portuguesa de Estudos Franceses. The inaugural issue is now available, with articles in French and Portuguese. Future issues will be released annually; each issue will have a theme. (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon.)

Text of Asturias OA policy available

The text of the OA policy adopted by the Spanish principality of Asturias, which we previously posted, is now available. The policy is dated January 12. The host repository, Repositorio Institucional de Asturias (RIA), is also now open. (Thanks to Raquel Lavandera Fernández.)

Comment. The text of the policy appears to be as previously reported: requiring deposit in RIA and allowing up to a 6 month embargo. The policy also includes a requirement that (if I understand correctly) employment and bid contracts for research conducted on behalf of the government include a clause assigning IP rights to the government, with a share of any royalties accruing to the author, and that the government will deposit these works in RIA as appropriate. I'm not a lawyer, let alone a Spanish lawyer, but the structure of the policy suggests (to me) that this latter condition is not intended to apply to scientific grantees.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Recent news on OA to PSI

Some recent news items on OA to public sector information:
  • A state appeals court ruled that a California county must release geodata in response to a public records request. See EFF's summary.
  • Several sources (e.g. 1, 2, 3) are reporting that Vivek Kundra will be named the new e-government administrator at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Kundra is noted as an advocate for opening access to PSI. (Thanks to techPresident.)
  • Jonathan Gray posted his notes on UKGovWeb 2009 (London, January 31, 2009), including discussions on open government data.
  • Daniel Castro and Robert Atkinson published an op-ed in StateTech calling for government data "to be not only accessible but also reusable".
  • Jennifer Bell, Government Transparency via Open Data and Open Source, Open Source Business Resource, February 2009. (Thanks to Heather Morrison and Robin Millette.) Bell is the executive director of, whose I Believe In Open campaign we've previously covered.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it "is identifying [Freedom of Information Act] requests that have a common theme and plans to use a Web site to provide that information to anyone who wants to view" the information.
  • The OECD's Information Technology Outlook 2008 surveys OECD countries' policies and practices on PSI, and notes that PSI has risen into the "top 10 ICT policy priorities of OECD governments".
  • CNET News discussed the calls for OA to data about the economic stimulus package winding its way through the U.S. Congress. (Thanks to Jonathan Gray.)
  • Ellen Miller again called for OA to Congressional Research Service reports.
  • An editorial in Columbia Journalism Review called for the Obama administration to develop "systems that proactively release government information, and build databases so they can be accessed and adapted by innovators outside government."
  • Ed Felten posted his advice for the Obama administration, including this note:
    ... One key is to ensure that data is published in ways that foster reuse, to support an active marketplace of ideas in which companies, nonprofits, and individuals can find the best ways to analyze, visualize, and "mash up" government information. ...
  • In a CNN op-ed, Jimmy Wales and Andrea Weckerle also called for OA to raw government data.
  • The Center for Democracy & Technology released its memo to the Obama transition team calling for rules "to proactively provide more information to the public online and in easily useable and searchable formats".
  • In The Guardian, Charles Arthur predicted that 2009 will be the year that the UK government will "acknowledge that it must make a significant part of Ordnance Survey's data available for free unfettered reuse – and will do it."
  • A coalition of groups convened by OMB Watch released Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda: Recommendations to President-elect Obama and Congress, including recommendations that government "should have an affirmative legal obligation to disclose information to the public in a timely manner" and "should create incentives to convert government documents to no-fee, electronic, publicly available documents".
  • The American Association of Law Libraries released its recommendations to the Obama transition team, including a "public domain citation system for legal information" and "version control to identify changes that have been made to a particular [electronic government] document". (Thanks to Slaw.)
  • On the backlash front, the New York Times reports on a Web site mapping donors to campaign groups supporting the controversial Proposition 8, using a mashup of government data with Google Maps, which is provoking claims of intimidation. (Thanks to techPresident.)

5 journals join

Five journals were accepted to in January. As with other titles, the journals will be either immediate or delayed OA. See the February 6 announcement in the original French or in Google's English. The titles:
  • Bulletin d’Études Orientales
  • Cahiers d’Asie Centrale
  • La Révolution française. Cahiers de l’Institut d’Histoire de la Révolution française
  • Revue de recherche en civilisation américaine
  • Revue de Primatologie

10,000 Yiddish texts go OA at the Internet Archive

Brewster Kahle, Yiddish literature goes online, Internet Archive, February 7, 2009.
Over ten thousand Yiddish texts, estimated as over 1/2 of all the published works in Yiddish, are now online based on the work of the National Yiddish Book Center, volunteers, and the Internet Archive. ...
See also the press release or the New York Times story.

Update (3/16/09).  On the downside (for OA, not for Yiddish), 10k turns out to be much less than half the number of published books in Yiddish.  On the upside (for Yiddish and perhaps one day for OA as well) over 1.5 million Yiddish books have been saved from oblivion.  (Thanks to The BookCalendar.)

India's CSIR asks its labs to adopt OA mandates

India's Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has recommended that each of its 40+ laboratories adopt an OA mandate. 

From the memorandum of Naresh Kumar, Head of CSIR's R&D Planning Division, to the directors of all CSIR labs (and others), February 6, 2009:

CSIR is pleased to approve the implementation of the following recommendations of the "Group for Open Access to Science Publications (GOASP) of CSIR":

  1. All research papers published from all CSIR laboratories be made open access either by depositing the full-text and the metadata of each paper in an institutional repository or by publishing the papers in an open access journal in the first place.
  2. All the CSIR published journals to be made open access.
  3. Each laboratory sets up its own interoperable institutional open access repository.
  4. CSIR / lab sets up one or more centre(s) which would harvest the full-text and metadata of these papers.
  5. Each laboratory sets up Electronic Thesis and Dissertations Repository.
  6. To hold a conference for creating awareness on Open Access.
  7. To hold in house Training programmes on Open Access.
  8. Sensitize CSIR researchers. 

It is requested that the above Open Access activities are implemented at the earliest.

Comment.  This is not an OA mandate, but a request or recommendation that individual labs adopt their own mandates.  But it should carry weight, and it's unusually comprehensive:  not only that the labs launch IRs and mandate OA (green or gold), but that CSIR itself convert all its journals to OA.  Kudos to the members of GOASP for making a strong case, and kudos to the CSIR leadership for taking it up. 


Update on research funding in the US

Here are three recent developments on US research funding.  The OA connection is indirect:  where we have OA mandates in place, such as the NIH, then higher funding translates into new OA literature and lower funding reminds us of the need to maximize at least the return on our national investment in research.  Where we don't have OA mandates in place, both the rise and fall of funding remind us of the lost opportunity to make publicly-funded research more useful to all those who depend on it.

  1. The NSF has released its annual figures on federal funding for research.  They show steady and significant Bush-era declines in real spending on science.  Excerpt:
    The most recent data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) show a $3.5 billion decline —from $116.7 billion in FY 2007 to $113.2 billion in FY 2008— in federal funds obligated for research and development and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment). Adjusted for inflation, the data reflect a 4.8% decrease in R&D and R&D plant obligations. The expected FY 2008 total is 7.3% lower, in constant dollars, than that recorded in FY 2005. In contrast, during the 4 preceding years (FY 2001–05) total obligations rose 22.2% in real terms

  2. Science Debate 2008 reports that the Senate version of the economic stimulus package initially included large increases for science funding.  The Democratic attempt to compromise with Republicans on the size of the package first led to large cuts in the proposed increases, and then to a middle position with smaller cuts.

  3. Patrick Swayze in yesterday's Washington Post has an opinion about this:  I'm Battling Cancer. How About Some Help, Congress?  Excerpt:

    For me, fighting cancer is personal. Ever since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008, I've been waging an intense, often hellacious battle. It's me (with a lot of love and medical support) against my disease. 

    But I'm not alone. More than 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year....

    Our individual battles should also be national ones. With Congress about to decide how much money to include for medical research as part of the economic stimulus package, the time has come to take my personal fight to a larger stage. My message to our senators and representatives is simple: Vote for the maximum funding to let the National Institutes of Health fight cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. It's not only good for our nation's health; it's also good for our economic well-being....

    And lest we forget: Medical research will also extend and save lives, expand treatment options and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans....

Update (2/11/09).  If you're interested in how the House and Senate stimulus bills affect particular agency budgets, ProPublica has a breakdown.  (Thanks to Jack Balkin.)

Close the OA policy loopholes

Heather Morrison, Canada, let's fix the open access policy loophole BEFORE we harmonize, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, February 8, 2009.  Excerpt:

...Jim Till...has some interesting comments on...harmonization. Canada's research funding agencies all want their open access policies to be in harmony with each other, to avoid duplication and to facilitate compliance for researchers.

There is much to be said for harmonization - except when it involves copying a bad model for policy. Before harmonizing, Canada, let's fix the loophole.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research' Policy on Access to Research Outputs is ALMOST a model policy - the maximum 6-month embargo, beautiful language on the value of open access, support for open access publishing and open data, and a call to review the embargo with a view to shortening it.
Alas, this policy falls very, very short of a being a model, as it is known around the world as the LOOPHOLE MODEL. As stated in the CIHR policy: Publications must be freely accessible within six months of publication, where allowable and in accordance with publisher policies. Or, as a researcher at UBC recently expressed it: CIHR says you gotta make your work open access. Unless you don't.

This sentence should be changed to:
Publications must be freely accessible within six months of publication. Period. Full stop. The contract between the researcher, CIHR, and ultimately, the Canadian taxpayer, comes prior to any agreement with a publisher....

Comment.  Hear, hear.  See my original criticism of the loophole in the CIHR policy (September 2007).  Also see my subsequent criticism of OA policy loopholes, most recently in point #10 of my article in the February SOAN published last week:

...There are two basic ways for you to secure the needed permissions for OA and steer clear of copyright infringement. 

First, you could get the permissions from publishers, after authors transfer their rights.  In practice, mandates of this type require OA to a certain version on a certain timetable except when the grantee's publisher won't allow it.  The funder policy defers to publisher policies.  For example, the UK Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) requires OA "where this is permitted by publishers' licensing or copyright arrangements".  The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) requires OA "where allowable and in accordance with publisher policies".

Second, you could close this loophole and get the permissions from authors before authors transfer any rights to publishers.  Mandates of this type take advantage of the fact that funders are upstream from publishers and their funding contracts bind researchers long before those researchers sign copyright transfer agreements with publishers.  Your funding contract can require grantees to retain the right to authorize OA on your terms.  When a given publisher will not allow OA on your terms, you can require the grantee to look for another publisher.  This approach was pioneered by the Wellcome Trust in 2004 and subsequently adopted by the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC, UK), Cancer Research UK (CR-UK), Department of Health (UK), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI, US), Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC, UK), Medical Research Council (MRC, UK), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH, US).

The first method removes all the teeth from the mandate and puts publisher interests ahead of funder interests.... The second method mandates OA to all the funder's research, not just a subset of it, and replaces contingent publisher permission with assured author permission....

Recommendation:  If you're serious about wanting OA for the research you fund, close the loophole and adopt the second strategy....

Publishing with the Integrated Content Environment

Peter Sefton, Scholarly Publishing using the Integrated Content Environment, ptsefton, December 11, 2008.

Abstract: The Integrated Content Environment (ICE) is an open source software application and service-platform for word processor based academic authoring, originally built to support the University of Southern Queensland’s flexible-delivery courseware but now expanding into more general scholarly publishing.

We will show a myriad of ways that ICE can be used in the academy. Starting from document creation, ICE uses generic word processing templates which capture the structure and semantics of scholarly documents. The system manages collaborative works in progress using a distributed version-controlled repository, and can publish works to HTML, PDF and domain-specific XML schemas. It has been integrated with several other systems, including the Moodle Learning Management System and DSpace, ePrints and Fedora repositories.

Specific examples will include an journal which uses the ICE publishing system, demonstrations of semantic-web publishing for theses (an outcome of the JISC-TheOREM ICE project) and institutional repository integration.

See also our past posts on the ICE.

Harvard UP's first OA journal launches

Harvard University Press' first OA journal, the Journal of Legal Analysis, has released its inaugural issue. See the February 3 announcement.

See also our past posts on the journal.

Podcast interview on OA and IRs

Gideon Burton, Podcast #004: Open Access and the Institutional Repository, Academic Evolution, February 7, 2009.

In this interview with [Brigham Young University] Scholarly Communications Librarian Jeff Belliston, we discuss how Open Access can bring broader impact and exposure for scholarship--especially if scholars will preserve copyright so they can deposit their work in an institutional repository ...

Impact of an OA start-up journal

Ulf-Dietrich Reips and Uwe Matzat, High Impact of a Start-Up Journal - Surprisingly so?, International Journal of Internet Science 3(1), 2008. An editorial.

[The International Journal of Internet Science released its first issue in March 2006.]

... Compared with other, long-standing, journals in our field, the International Journal of Internet Science achieved a surprisingly high impact. ...

[O]pen access journals tend to receive more citations than those limited in access. ...

An IR for the U of Texas at Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas has launched an IR, Treasures @ UT Dallas, as part of the consortial Texas Digital Library.  For more details, see last week's announcement.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) 

The new OA repository for US federal govt info

The FDsys (Federal Digital System) of the US Government Printing Office (GPO) has entered its public beta.  From the site:

GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) is an advanced digital system that will enable GPO to manage Government information in a digital form. FDsys will enable GPO to manage information from all three branches of the U.S. Government. As a state-of-the-art digital content management system, FDsys will contain information gathered through three methods:

  • Files submitted by Congress and Federal agencies;
  • Information gathered from Federal agencies’ web sites (often referred to as “harvesting” information);
  • Digital files created by scanning previously printed publications....

For more detail, see Joab Jackson's article about it in Government Computer News, February 5, 2009.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

The Government Printing Office has flipped the "on" switch for its next-generation digital repository for publicly accessible government documents. The Federal Digital System (FDsys) now offers the public access documents from all three branches of government through a single portal....

FDsys will replace GPO's current digital document repository, GPOAccess. The full switchover should happen by the middle of this year....

For users, FDsys will offer a greater nuance in search capability. For instance, visitors can search by congressional committee or member of Congress, refining the results by keyword and date. New features and services will also be added over the next few years.

One new service that has already been added is a new daily online publication covering the president's orders, statements and remarks, the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents, contributed by the Office of the Federal Register, which uses material taken from the White House Press Office....

Particular attention was paid to document formats. The system uses Iso's Reference Model for Open Archival Information Systems framework, which establishes a procedure for moving documents to next-generation formats, should the ones then being used fall into disfavor. Each document will have an archival information package, offering instructions on preparing the material for a new format....

Another key attribute will be authentication. FDsys provides a way for agencies and Congress to submit documents using digital signatures. GPO will maintain a chain of custody for these documents, so that later users of the documents can be assured that the document hasn't been "altered or corrupted in any way," [GPO Chief Information Officer Mike Wash] said.


Report on Bangalore OA symposium

Poornima Narayana, National Symposium on Open Access and Building Institutional Repositories, National Aerospace Laboratories.  A report on the conference of the same name (Bangalore, January 21-23, 2009).  Excerpt:

The unprecedented escalation in the journal subscription price, together with increased number of scholarly communications resulting in more number of new journals have lead even well-endowed institutions in developed countries to reduce number of renewals of journals ever year. This journal crisis and the developments in Internet technologies paved the way for Open Access Movement (OAM) world over. The open access literature plays a vital role; both in terms of research communication and access, provided, of course, the benefits in terms of economic and social recognitions are assured by this system. With this critical situation facing the scholarly community, the Information Center for Aerospace S &T (ICAST) had organized a three day National Symposium on ‘Open Access and Building Institutional Repositories (NSOABIR)” during 21st to 23rd January 2009 as a part of NAL’s Golden Jubilee celebrations at NAL premises. Nearly 60 delegates from academic, R&D and Corporate sectors participated in this meet. 

The inaugural session started with an invocation followed by a welcome address by Dr. I R N Goudar, Head ICAST and Chairman of the symposium. He introduced the chief guest and mentioned that CSIR has taken an initiative in promoting Open Access by way of constituting a ‘Group on Open Access for Science Publications (GOASP)’ with a mandate to come out with CSIR policy on OA,  steps to be taken to build Institutional Repositories at all CSIR laboratories to negotiate with publishers in the matter concerned to copyright and IPR issues....

Prof. Subbaiah Arunachalam delivered a keynote address on ‘“Why do we need open access to science? A developing country perspective” and gave a comparative scenario about the Open Access movement in the world, Asia and especially in India. He called upon the scientists, researchers and academicians to make their publications open for increasing visibility, usage and impact factor while overcoming the fear factors such as the copyright problems etc.  He brought to the notice of audience that National Knowledge Commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Sam Pitroda has already recommended implementation of  OA in the country, setting up of Institutional Repositories by every institution which is the most effective open access channel. In his Presidential remarks, Dr. A R Upadhya , Director NAL mentioned the importance of open access in the current situation stressed that information has to reach the grass root level for the less privileged in the country by making the scholarly communication open as OA provides easy and low cost access....

The highlight of the symposium was a two hour panel discussion on the topic “Impact of Open Access on Science Communication” on the last day which was addressed mainly to scholars and researchers in an attempt to inform them about the impact of open access on new forms of scholarly/scientific communication. While open access is gaining strength and popularity as a new model for dissemination of information, there are still many issues yet to be addressed such as pricing models, peer reviewing, indexing and impact factors, archiving and the stability of this new publishing model for scientific literature. The discussion turned out to be  a ‘real brain storming session’. The panelists were chosen from scientific/academic community, the information seekers and information managers....

Two recommendations were made in matters like archiving and funding for publication activity as a part of R&D budget....

Why some forms of OA have grown faster than others in legal scholarship

Stephanie L. Plotin, Legal Scholarship, Electronic Publishing, and Open Access:  Transformation or Steadfast Stagnation?  Law Library Journal, Winter 2009.  (Thanks to Michel-Adrien Sheppard.)  Excerpt:

This article uses a social shaping of technology perspective, which studies the complex interactions between technology and the culture of a discipline, to investigate the evolution of legal scholarship in the digital age, and to determine how the open access movement has influenced various forms of legal scholarship, particularly law reviews, their online companions, and legal blogs....

[Paragraph 70] Both during the early days of the Internet, and now in the age of the open-access movement, a sociotechnical systems view explains the resiliency of law reviews, and the reasons why they have not been replaced with open-access journals or become open-access publications themselves. Instead, new technologies have resulted in open access-forums that have created a parallel system to law reviews. These new forums include the law reviews’ online “companions,” and online repositories such as SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network and bepress’s Legal Repository....

More on open data licensing

Rufus Pollock, Comments on the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Blog, February 9, 2009.

Here I briefly comment on the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data as the protocol strongly advocates a position of ["public domain"]-only. As will be apparent from the earlier essay on Open Data: Openness and Licensing I do not entirely share this view.

The Protocol gives 3 basic reasons for preferring the ‘PD’ approach in a section entitled ‘Issues in Database Licensing’. I excerpt and comment on these in turn. As will be clear from the comments below I am not really convinced by any of these points that attribution or share-alike provisions should not be included in open data licenses. ...

See also:

Podcast interview with Clifford Lynch

Paul Miller, Cliff Lynch talks about the role of universities in disseminating and preserving scholarship, Xiphos, February 5, 2009. A 50-minute interview with Cliff Lynch.
... We discuss Cliff’s views on the roles that institutions could - and should - play in ensuring widespread dissemination of the results of their scholarship, their rather different obligations with respect to stewardship of the scholarly resource, and the role that technology plays in both. ...

Data access v. data ownership

Eric Lease Morgan, Top Tech Trends for ALA Mid-Winter, 2009, LITA Blog, February 9, 2009.  Excerpt:

This is a list of “top technology trends” written for ALA Mid-Winter, 2009. They are presented in no particular order....

The pendulum of data ownership is swinging - I believe it was Francis Bacon who said, “Knowledge is power”. In my epistemological cosmology, knowledge is based on information, and information is based on data. (Going the other way, knowledge leads to wisdom, but that is another essay.) Therefore, he who owns or has access to the data will ultimately have more power. Google increasingly has more data than just about anybody. They have a lot of power. OCLC increasingly “owns” the bibliographic data created by its membership. Ironically, this data — in both the case of Google and OCLC — is not freely available, even when the data was created for the benefit of the wider whole. I see this movement akin to the movement of a pendulum swinging one way and then the other. On my more pessimistic days I view it as a battle. On my calmer days I see it as a natural tendency, a give and take. Many librarians I know are in the profession, not for the money, but to support some sort of cause. Intellectual freedom. The right to read. Diversity. Preservation of the historical record. If I have a cause it then is about the free and equal access to information. This is why I advocate open access publishing, open source software, and Net Neutrality. When data and information is “owned” and “sold” an environment of information have’s and have not’s manifests itself. Ultimately, this leads to individual gain but not necessarily the improvement of the human condition as a whole....

Google launches Book Search for mobile phones

Viresh Ratnakar, Guillaume Poncin, Brandon Badger, and Frances Haugen, 1.5 million books in your pocket, Inside Google Book Search, February 5, 2009.

... Today we are excited to announce the launch of a mobile version of Google Book Search, opening up over 1.5 million mobile public domain books in the US (and over half a million outside the US) for you to browse while buying your postage.

While these books were already available on Google Book Search, these new mobile editions are optimized to be read on a small screen. To try it out and start reading, open up your web browser in your iPhone or Android phone and go to [link]. ...

OA in philosophy

Germany's Open Access Informationsplattform has summarized the state of OA in philosophy.  Read it in German or Google's English.

PS:  One important resource missing from the summary is PhilPapers, which entered its public beta on January 28, 2009.  A project of David Chalmers and David Bourget, PhilPapers is an OA repository open to papers on all topics in the field. 

More on OCLC, OAIster, and HathiTrust

Barbara Quint, OCLC and Open Access: Riding to the Rescue or Rustling the Herd?, Information Today, February 5, 2009.

In the midst of a firestorm about its proposed new WorldCat records policy, OCLC has announced a partnership that would ultimately transfer an open access icon, the University of Michigan Library’s OAIster service, to OCLC. While some concern has already been expressed about how OCLC’s revenue generation and content control issues might affect OAIster’s future, I have absolute—almost vehement—assurances from Chip Nilges, vice president of business development at OCLC, and John Wilkin, associate university librarian at the University of Michigan, that OAIster will remain a permanently free, open access service. ... OCLC has also announced an arrangement to assist the new HathiTrust in developing comprehensive bibliographic metadata for the digitized documents of member libraries. ...

Free and open access to the OAIster data will continue permanently. Nilges states, "We are absolutely committed to free and public access. We will run parallel tracks through 2009, while integrating OAIster into [OCLC’s free service]." Wilkin confirmed that commitment. In fact, the issue of maintaining free open access is included in a clause in OCLC’s contract with the University of Michigan. ...

Under the new agreement with OCLC, the millions of books and archived documents hosted in a single repository by HathiTrust and made available for reading online will become more visible and accessible with the creation of WorldCat records for content. OCLC will also link to the collections in its Open Web service as well as its WorldCat Local service. ...

OCLC review board begins work

OCLC Board of Trustees, Members Council name Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship, press release, February 6, 2009.

The OCLC Board of Trustees and Members Council have named a Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship to represent the membership and inform OCLC on the principles and best practices for sharing library data. The group will discuss the Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records with the OCLC membership and the global library community.

Members of the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship are: [Note: omitting list.] ...

Another member from a European national library is expected to be appointed to the Review Board.

Dr. [Jennifer] Younger, who is also an OCLC Members Council delegate, will chair the Review Board. Karen Calhoun, Vice President, OCLC WorldCat and Metadata Services, will serve as liaison between the Review Board and OCLC. ...

The Review Board began its work with a meeting on February 4, and is already putting in place the means for Members Council delegates and other constituencies to offer input and comments. The Review Board will ultimately provide findings to the President of Members Council, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and the OCLC President and CEO.

Implementation of the Record Use Policy had been set for February 2009, but implementation has been delayed and the Policy will be under further review by the Board of Trustees and Members Council into the third quarter of 2009.

Questions or comments can be directed to the Review Board at

Trends for and against OA, mostly for

Charles Lowry (ed.), Transformational Times:  An Environmental Scan Prepared for the ARL Strategic Plan Review Task Force, ARL, February 2009.  Excerpt:

...To support the work of [its] Strategic Planning Task Force, ARL senior staff have initiated an environmental scanning exercise to identify trends that are likely to affect research libraries and the work of the Association. The report considers not only challenges, but also opportunities....

Common Themes ...

  • Content industries inevitably seek to extend control over the copyright regime and over content, in general, while libraries, authors, and research institutions endeavor to provide more access to and active management of the intellectual assets produced by the academy....

The impetus to bring dissemination back under the auspices and control of the academy is strengthening but scholars face some conflicting incentives.

  • Preferences for maximizing access and dissemination continue to strengthen among both researchers and research institutions.
  • Momentum is growing at the campus and national levels to create new norms for author rights management where authors maintain a greater share of rights to allow use of their work and to grant limited rights to their home institution to assume dissemination responsibilities.
  • Strategies, such as institutional policies and institution/publisher contracts, will be adopted to ensure that institutions can disseminate work.
  • A growing imbalance between the numbers of aspiring faculty and tenure positions could lead to rising standards for numbers of publications generally and for publishing in what are perceived as the most prestigious outlets.
  • Requirements for accountability may increase the emphasis on publishing venues with long track records of success as determined using long-standing quantitative measures of performance, e.g., Journal Impact Factor.
  • New quantitative measures of impact may emerge that draw on projects like Google Books to expose the citation content in book literature.
  • Yet, research institutions are building a variety of dissemination services, often in conjunction with the development of related cyberinfrastructure.
  • New kinds of valuable content are proliferating, providing the opportunity for research institutions to develop different strategies and norms for dissemination that retain the right to make decisions about present and future access and use within the research community....

Continued advances in technology will enhance search and access. The combination of focus on technology, innovation, and a renewed emphasis on science and technology issues may bring into even greater focus the benefits of public access policies....This may

  • lead to new government services/initiatives/policies such as the NIH Public Access Policy particularly as access to federally funded resources is seen as advancing innovation and addressing pressing national and international issues;
  • lead to new policies promoting open data;
  • exacerbate tensions with the private sector concerning the appropriate government role (traditional content) and potentially concerning how the government collaborates with some industries to promote government initiatives (search); and
  • spur greater use of large scale data text and data mining tools by government that will increase the tension with some private sector publishers/content producers while at the same time lead to new collaborative relationships between the government and other sectors....

From the section by CARL on Canadian trends:

[The decline of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar will reduce Canadian acquisitions.]  On the other hand, the economic situation could be favourable to the further development of open access publishing in Canada....

Open Access publication mandates may well be adopted by the funding councils, of which one, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has a mandate now. Data preservation will also likely be more widely mandated. Systematic enforcement of the mandates will depend on the development of appropriate repositories, whether disciplinary or institutional. A Canadian PubMed Central is currently in development to which CIHR-funded research reports or articles will have to be contributed.

Forthcoming OA journal of economics

The Econometric Society announced on February 4 that it would begin publishing a new OA journal, Quantitative Economics, starting in 2010. It will also adopt the OA journal Theoretical Economics, currently published by the Society for Economic Theory. (Thanks to Brendan Rapple.)
... Each new journal will initially publish three issues per year. In addition to electronic publication, they will also be printed, with printing and postage costs covered by an extra charge to print subscribers of the new journals. Composition and editorial costs will be financed by a combination of submission fees, general Society funds, and a modest increase in general membership and subscription rates. ...

Special issue of Systems & Services on OA

The new issue of OCLC Systems & Services is part 3 in its series of special issues on "open access and scholarly communication". See especially: