Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama nominates Sebelius to be Secretary of HHS

President Obama has nominated Kathleen Sebelius to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Sebelius is the Democratic governor of Kansas.

Comment.  What's the OA connection?  As far as I can tell, Sebelius has no public track record for or against OA to research, although she does have a good record on open government and OA to PSI.  The important OA connection is that HHS is the home of the NIH.  We haven't had an NIH Director since Elias Zerhouni stepped down last October, and we haven't had a Secretary of HHS since the regime change in January 2009.  Obama initially nominated Tom Daschle to be Secretary of HHS, but Dashle withdrew when the public learned that he failed to pay $140,000 in personal income taxes until after his nomination.  We have a leadership vacuum at NIH and HHS, and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is taking advantage of it by pushing early and hard for his Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (a.k.a. the Conyers bill, HR 801).  The Secretary of HHS and Director of NIH both require Senate confirmation, and in practice the HHS position must be filled before the NIH position.  So this is the first of a series of steps needed to restore leadership to the department (HHS) and agency (NIH) responsible for the country's strongest funder OA policy, at a time when the policy is under aggressive attack from the publishing lobby.  Sebelius is a good person and her nomination is a good development.  Friends of OA have been working hard to protect the NIH policy and oppose the Conyers bill, but there's no doubt that the Daschle fiasco gave the publishers a month-long advantage in this session of Congress.  That advantage will soon end.

New project to promote OA to health info

NECOBELAC (NEtwork of COllaboration Between Europe and Latin American Caribbean) is a new project for collaboration between Europe and Latin American and Caribbean countries to develop capacity in health-care information, including promoting OA. The project is now conducting a questionnaire to identify "terms and concepts related to those issues to determine their weight within different audience[s]".

OA textbook series on writing

Writing Space: Readings on Writing is a new OA, Creative Commons-licensed book series of educational essays on writing. (Thanks to Charlie Lowe.)

Notes on Google Book event

Kevin Donovan, Notes from Georgetown Symposium on Google Book Search Settlement, Blurring Borders, February 27, 2009. Notes on Google and the Future of Higher Education (Washington, D.C., February 27, 2009).

James Grimmelmann:

  • ... “Google may become the only game in town for serious online access to many of these works.” ...
  • Settlement makes almost no provision for the privacy of readers ...
  • All copyright owners are bound by this because of its class-action nature ...
  • “This is not the way these types of things should be done in a democracy. We have public institutions to solve gigantic issues, not the courtroom. The courtroom’s adversarial approach is the wrong way to determine the future of information.”
  • But the settlement is still a net positive

Siva Vaidytanathan

  • ... Libraries should have done this, especially because they have special rights under copyright ...
  • Google needs to still care about this project in ten years.
  • “Why are we betting everything on what may be a fly-by company in the scale of history.” We are sacrificing better options for expediency. ...
  • Deeply troubled by lack of user confidentiality ...
  • Not convinced we’ve missed the opportunity
    • Outlining the Human Knowledge Project (like Human Genome Project where scientists rejected Venter’s Solera – a private project. The two databases complement each other)
    • Pool resources globally – to preserve and extend the record of human knowledge ...

Update. See also Timothy Vollmer's notes.

Senator questions PACER practices

Heather West, Senator Wants to Scratch a Seven Year Itch, PolicyBeta, February 27, 2009.

Senator [Joe] Lieberman has written a letter to the Judicial Conference asking why the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) online system is still charging a “per page” fee, when the goal of putting these records online in the first place was to make them “freely available to the greatest extent possible.” That was seven years ago.

PACER doesn’t seem to have made any progress since then. Apparently the public (still) agrees–PACER is one of the top vote getters at our Show Us the Data project. In addition, the barrier to accessing court records has inspired citizens to try to free the information in PACER.

PACER was instructed to charge access fees “only to the extent necessary,” ...

According to Stephen Schultze and Shubham Mukherjee PACER fees amount to almost double the cost of actually running the system, if not more. ...

See also our past pasts on: Update. See also this story from the National Law Journal.

Varmus: PLoS self-sufficient by 2010

Danny Ash, Experts Seek Intellectual Property Reform, Columbia Spectator, February 25, 2009. See especially this quote:
... “The Public Library of Science, by 2010, will be fiscally self-sustaining,” [PLoS Chairman of the Board Harold] Varmus said.
See also our past posts on PLoS or Harold Varmus.

Friday, February 27, 2009

SURF video on OA

Open Access: Just Publish is a new 4-minute video from SURF on Open Access Year, in Dutch with English subtitles.

See also our past posts on SURF's author rights video or Dutch Open Access Year.

Update. See also the video description here.

Open data from ecology project

Ker Than, "Eco Hubble" to Bring Nature Data to the Public, National Geographic News, February 26, 2009.

A network of ecological "satellites" set to monitor environmental change could do for ecology what the Hubble Space Telescope has done for astronomy, researchers say.

Since 1991 raw data from Hubble have been made publicly available for use by professional researchers, educators, and citizen scientists via an online catalog.

"The public can access [the data] and do their own research," said Hubble spokesperson Ray Villard. "They paid for it. They deserve it."

A similar open-access model is key to the National Ecological Network Observatory, or NEON, a new program set to be up and running by 2016.

NEON will link together already existing field stations across the U.S. that are using planes and orbiters, ground-level sensors, and human-run labs to monitor activity in the wild. ...

With funding from the National Science Foundation, NEON program managers plan to collect and archive data online for at least 30 years. ...

NEON will also create opportunities for the public to aid scientists in conducting field research, said senior team member Carol Brewer, a biologist at the University of Montana. ...

Update. The project's name is actually "National Ecological Observatory Network"; the typo is in the source quoted. (Thanks to Alvin Hutchinson.)

U of St. Gallen adopts an OA mandate

Switzerland's University of St. Gallen has adopted an OA policy.  See yesterday's announcement in German or Google's English.  (Thanks to the Open Access Informationsplattform.)

I can't yet find the text of the policy and the announcement does not provide details.  But the goal of the new policy is "to ensure" (gewährleisten) OA for as many articles as possible through Alexandria, the St. Gallen repository.

I've written to St. Gallen and hope to have more soon.

Update (3/3/09).  The St. Gallen policy has now been entered in ROARMAP.  Excerpt:

The new 'Reglement zur Open Access Policy' (signed December 15th, 2008 by the Senate, the academic governing body of the university) contains rules for the researchers at the University of St. Gallen. These rules go beyond the former 'Open Access Policy' (signed November 12th, 2007 also by the Senate). The new regulations are mandatory....

General statement: The results of the research at the University of St. Gallen should be open to public access.

Obligations: The researchers are obliged to retain the necessary rights for self-archiving under OA (Open Access) prior to publication. If this is only possible with a temporally limited embargo, they have to fix this period in the contract. If there is a possibility to publish the post-print version under OA instead of the pre-print one the researchers have to choose the former.

There is, however, a phrase in the regulations "soweit möglich", meaning "where possible", because the university is aware of the situation that there are publishers who do not allow self-archiving under OA.

The full text (post-print or pre-print) has to be published in the institutional repository of the research platform of the University of St. Gallen ( at the moment of acceptance by a publisher. Further, the university encourages the researchers to publish in OA-journals....


Open data from Merck

John Wilbanks, Sage - Open Access Data from Merck, Common Knowledge, February 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

Big news today at the CHI Medicine Tri-ConferenceMerck has pledged to donate a remarkable resource to the commons - a vast database of highly consistent data about the biology of disease, as well as software tools and other resources to use it. The resources come out of work done at the Rosetta branch of Merck....In use inside Rosetta/Merck last year alone it led directly to a ton of publications.

This is all going to happen through the establishment of a non-profit organization called Sage to serve as the guardian of the resources. It's not about making a quick data dump onto the web, however. Sage is going to take a while during an "incubation period of three to five which new project data are generated, critical tools for building and mining disease models are developed and governing rules for sharing, accessing, and contributing to the platform are established."

This is complex content and it's going to take some ongoing work to expose everything in a usable way. But the resources are headed for the public domain, and will be a remarkable capacity builder for those who currently work without the best tools and data as a base for their science. Sage means that we are now on the path to a world in which scientists working on HIV in Brazilian non-profit research institutes (like my mother-in-law) will be able to use the same powerful computational disease biology tools as those inside Merck. I'm very much looking forward to living in that world.

I am proud to serve on the founding Board of Directors for Sage. I hope to play a role in making sure that the Open Access part of Sage's mission comes to life in a way that not only keeps the content and resources available to all, but serves as a key for future growth and applications. The law isn't the big story here - the science is - but if we can get the law right, it can catalyze the emergence of a robust public domain in disease biology for us all to benefit from.

This is an incredibly significant step on the road to open biology - time will tell if it's as earthshaking as IBM's embrace of GNU/Linux - and I can't wait to see where it all goes. Congratulations to the team that built this platform and then had the vision to take it into the commons.



More comments on the Conyers bill, #6

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, 3, 4, 5).

From James Boyle in the Financial Times (blogged separately but I wanted to include an excerpt in this collection as well):

It is hard for politicians to do anything that would shock me but I have to say that John Conyers, a US Congressman, has done it. In the process, he has taught us a lot about how far we have to go, all over the world, before we get our science policy right. Since science and technology are major engines of growth, that is a point of pressing interest for governments everywhere.

Rep. Conyers has introduced a bill, misleadingly called the ”Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” that would eviscerate public access to taxpayer funded research. The bill is so badly drafted that it would also wreak havoc on federal information policy more generally. It is supported by the commercial science publishers, but opposed by a remarkable set of groups -- ranging from the American Research Libraries, to 33 Nobel Prize Winners, to a coalition of patients’ rights organizations. (One of its many negative effects would be effectively to forbid the the US National Institutes of Health from allowing the taxpayers who have paid for medical research actually to read the results for free, hurting not only the progress of science, but informed medical decisions by patients and their families.)

As a copyright professor, I have to say the bill is a nightmare....[I]ts limitations on Federal agencies are completely unworkable. And as a scholar who writes about innovation, I have to say that it flies in the face of decades of research which shows the extraordinary multiplier effect of free access to information on the speed of scientific development. But speaking as a human being, I just have to wonder what could be going through a politician’s head at a moment like this....

From in Kevin Donovan in The Hoya (the student newspaper at Georgetown University):

[Publicly-funded research] is traditionally published in scholarly journals that can cost tens of thousands of dollars per subscription. Because access to this knowledge is essential to academic research, university libraries spend millions of dollars every year paying for access to these journals.

That cost is passed on to students, meaning that we are paying twice for access to this information. And, given the current economic crisis, those journals will be prohibitively expensive, meaning that taxpayers will not have access to the research they fund. It’s like being forced to pay the toll but not being allowed to drive on the road....

Take the story of Josh Sommer, an undergraduate student at Duke University who suffered from a rare form of cancer. Because he had access to Duke’s extensive library system, he was able to research his condition in hundreds of journal articles and ultimately start the Chordoma Foundation to advance research of his disease. The current NIH policy gives millions of other similarly curious and driven minds the ability to do what Sommer did — educate oneself and enact change.

Conyers’ bill seeks to stop that. (The great irony is that when Sommers was a freshman in high school, Conyers asked him to speak at a press conference introducing the U.S. Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act, a bill designed to prevent the sort of mold poisoning that caused Sommers’ cancer.) ...

Access to critical scientific information is vital to confronting the pressing questions of climate change, disease and hundreds of other areas integral to the betterment of the human condition. As members of the Georgetown community, we are dependent upon the unrestricted flow of knowledge. As American citizens we deserve access to the products of our tax dollars. As both concerned students and citizens, we should demand continued open access to taxpayer-funded research.

From Richard Esguerra at the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

...This [NIH] "open access" policy not only promotes free scientific communication and innovation, it strikes many as fundamentally fair....

With all this operating in favor of open access, we were disappointed to see Rep. Conyers reintroduce H.R. 801, the poorly named Fair Copyright in Research Works Act. The bill's provisions -- written to benefit publishers who view this as an attack on their traditional effective monopolies over scientific expression -- would foreclose on all the benefits mentioned above and seeks to prevent the government from expanding the open access approach to research funded by other agencies. That's why the bill is being opposed by EFF and numerous groups that fight to preserve patient rights and the public interest: Alliance for Taxpayer Access, the American Library Association, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalitions (SPARC), 33 US Nobel laureates in science, and more.

Open access to research benefits scientists and citizens alike. Shutting it down only helps a few publishers squeeze a few drops of additional revenue from the research that our tax dollars paid for. Our representatives in Washington should straighten out their priorities, put their constituents first, and reject this dangerous bill.

From Esther Wojcicki at Huffington Post:

It looks like Congressman John Conyers needs to do his homework on the impact of science policy on the health care for the average American. Turns out that he introduced a bill that would effectively forbid the US National Institutes of Health from allowing taxpayers (you and me) from reading the results of medical research that we have paid for with our tax dollars.

He introduced a bill called "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act" that is anything but fair. It is opposed by 33 Nobel Prize winners, a coalition of patients' rights organizations, and American Research Libraries among others. It should also be opposed by anyone who thinks someday they might get sick and need the latest medical research -- which means all of us.

"This bill would forbid us from building the World Wide Web for science, even for the research that taxpayers have funded. And that is truly a tragedy", according to James Boyle professor of law at Duke and co-founder of Science Commons. "We cannot create such a web until scientific articles come out from behind the publishers' firewalls." ...

How to protest? Send a letter to your congressman and tell him how you feel about locking up medical research behind financial walls. Tell him/her we need to open up science research to improve everyone's access to important medical data. Alert him that even his doctor may not have access to important medical information that may impact his life.

One TA journal's deliberations about OA

Jonas Nordin, Historisk tidskrift i nutid och framtid: Några reflektioner över läsarsynpunkter, bibliometri och Open Access, Historisk tidskrift, 128, 4 (2008). 

Thanks to Martin Rundkvist for the alert and for this English summary of the Swedish:

Historisk tidskrift, present and future:  Reflections on readers' reactions, bibliometrics and Open Access

In this article the author recounts his experiences as editor of Historisk tidskrift. The starting point is a poll of the journal's readers presented at the triannual meeting of the Swedish Historical Association in Lund in April 2008. Readers told that they read Historisk tidskrift primarily in order to be up to date on Swedish historical research. The journal reflects fairly well the research interests of Swedish historians. However, concerns for the need to internationalise research and to improve one's qualifications increasingly govern how Swedish historians publish. This affects the attitude to Historisk tidskrift, which is regarded as too provincial. These and other issues are discussed by the author.

The second part of the article discusses two partly intertwined issues of significance to the journal's future: Bibliometrics and Open Access. The author is sceptical about bibliometric analyses and points to methodological difficulties in applying such measures to the humanities. Nevertheless, Historisk tidskrift will have to take bibliometrics into account. The author is favourably disposed towards Open Access. However, several problems need to be solved before Historisk tidskrift can become a full Open Access journal. If the journal loses its subscribers, alternative sources of funds has to be found to pay for editorial work. Before this is done, the present form of publication has to be retained.

Background on the ISS repository

Elisabetta Poltronieri, Controllo Semantico all'Istituto Superiore della Sanita, video of a presentation (in Italian) at Pervasive IA (Forli, February 20-21, 2009) on the OA repository at Italy's Istituto Superiore di Sanità.  (Thanks to Samuel Zarbock.)

3 new members of Flickr Commons

More on the Evans/Reimer study

Stevan Harnad has expanded upon his original comments (February 19) on the Evans and Reimer study in Science Magazine.  (For other early comments, see my own February 19 post.)

From February 24, The Evans & Reimer OA Impact Study: A Welter of Misunderstandings

(Re: Paul Basken [in the Chronicle of Higher Education]) No, the Evans & Reimer (E & R) study in Science does not show that
"researchers may find a wider audience if they make their findings available through a fee-based Web site rather than make their work freely available on the Internet."

This is complete nonsense, since the "fee-based Web site" is immediately and fully accessible -- to all those who can and do pay for access in any case. (It is simply the online version of the journal; for immediate permanent access to it, an individual or institution pays a subscription or license fee.) The free version is extra: a supplement to that fee-based online version, not an alternative to it: it is provided for those would-be users who cannot afford the access-fee. In E & R's study, the free access is provided -- after an access-embargo of up to a year or more -- by the journal itself. In studies by others, the free access is provided by the author, depositing the final refereed draft of the article on his own website, free for all (usually immediately, with no prior embargo). E & R did not examine the latter form of free online access at all. (Paul Basken has confused (1) the size of the benefits of fee-based online access over fee-based print-access alone with (2) the size of the benefits of free online access over fee-based online-access alone. The fault is partly E & R's for describing their findings in such an equivocal way.)

(Re: Phil Davis) No, E & R do not show that

"the effect of OA on citations may be much smaller than originally reported."

E & R show that the effect of free access on citations after an access-embargo (fee-based access only) of up to a year or longer is much smaller than the effect of the more immediate OA that has been widely reported.

(Re: Phil Davis) No, E & R do not show that

"the vast majority of freely-accessible scientific articles are not published in OA journals, but are made freely available by non-profit scientific societies using a subscription model."

E & R did not even look at the vast majority of current freely-accessible articles (per year), which are the ones self-archived by their authors. E & R looked only at journals that make their entire contents free after an access-embargo of up to a year or more....

From February 25, Perils of Press-Release Journalism: NSF, U. Chicago, and Chronicle of Higher Education:

...[Basken's post was based on] a press release from the University of Chicago, E & R's home institution). Here is the NSF/Chicago Press Release, enhanced with my comments....

NSF/U.CHICAGO:  "If you offer something of value to people for free while someone else charges a hefty sum of money for the same type of product, one would logically assume that most people would choose the free option. According to new research in today's edition of the journal Science, if the product in question is access to scholarly papers and research, that logic might just be wrong. These findings provide new insight into the nature of scholarly discourse and the future of the open source publication movement [sic, emphasis added]."
(1) If you offer something valuable for free, people will choose the free option unless they've already paid for the paid option (especially if they needed -- and could afford -- it earlier).
(2) Free access after an embargo of a year or more is not the same "something" as immediate free access. Its "value" for a potential user is lower. (That's one of the reasons institutions keep paying for subscription/license access to journals.)
(3) Hence it is not in the least surprising that immediate (paid) print-on-paper access + online access (IP + IO) generates more citations than immediate (paid) print-on-paper access (IP) alone.
(4) Nor is it surprising that immediate (paid) print-on-paper access + online access + delayed free online access (IP +IO + DF) generates more citations than just immediate (paid) print-on-paper + online access (IP + IO) alone -- even if the free access is provided a year or longer after the paid access.
(5) Why on earth would anyone conclude that the fact that the increase in citations from IP to IP + IO is 12% and the increase in citations from IP + IO to IP + IO + DF is a further 8% implies anything whatsoever about people's preference for paid access over free access? Especially when the free access is not even immediate (IF) but delayed (DF) and the 8% is an underestimate based on averaging in ancient articles: see E & R's supplemental Figure S1(c), right (with thanks to Mike Eisen for spotting this one!)....
NSF/U.CHICAGO:  "To test this theory, James A. Evans, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, and Jacob Reimer, a student of neurobiology also at the University of Chicago, analyzed millions of articles available online, including those from open source publications and those that required payment to access."
No,...E & R only analyzed articles from subscription access journals before and after the journals made them accessible online (to paid subscribers only) (i.e., IP vs IP + IO) as well as before and after the journals made the online version accessible free for all (after a paid-access-only embargo of up to a year or more: i.e., IP +IO vs IP + IO + DF). E & R's methodology was based on comparing citation counts for articles within the same journals before and after being made free online (by the journal) following delays of various lengths....
NSF/U.CHICAGO:  "'Across the scientific community,' Evans said in an interview, 'it turns out that open access does have a positive impact on the attention that's given to the journal articles, but it's a small impact.'"
We already knew that OA increased citations, as the many prior published studies have shown.  Most of those studies, however, were based on immediate OA (i.e., IF), not embargoed OA. What E & R do show, interestingly, is that even delaying OA for a year or more still increases citations, though (unsurprisingly) not as much as immediate OA (IF) does.
NSF/U.CHICAGO:  "Yet Evans and Reimer's research also points to one very positive impact of the open source movement that is sometimes overlooked in the debate about scholarly publications. Researchers in the developing world, where research funding and libraries are not as robust as they are in wealthier countries, were far more likely to read and cite open source articles."
A large portion of the citation increase from (delayed) OA turns out to come from Developing Countries (refuting Frandsen's recent report to the contrary). This is a new and useful finding (though hardly a surprising one...)....
NSF/U.CHICAGO:  "So while some scientists and scholars may chose to pay for scientific publications even when free publications are available, their colleagues in other parts of the world may find that going with open source works is the only choice they have."
It would be interesting to hear the authors of this NSF/Chicago press release -- or E & R, for that matter -- explain how this paradoxical "preference" for paid access over free access was tested during the access embargo period...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mellon report on DuraSpace project

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Program in Research in Information Technology, DuraSpace -- a joint service developed by DSpace Foundation and Fedora Commons, project report, February 13, 2009. (Thanks to Les Carr and Charles Bailey.)
... Over the next six months funding from the planning grant will allow the organizations to jointly specify and design "DuraSpace," a new web-based service that will allow institutions to easily distribute content to multiple storage providers, both "cloud-based" and institution-based. The idea behind DuraSpace is to provide a trusted, value-added service layer to augment the capabilities of generic storage providers by making stored digital content more durable, manageable, accessible and sharable. ...
See also our past posts on DuraSpace.

O'Reilly on open publishing

Notes on repositories workshop

Anne Donnelly, A Repository is not a Bookshelf!, DataShare Blog, February 25, 2009. Notes on SUETr Embedding Repositories Event (Lincoln, England, February 10, 2009).

... Julian Beckton’s presentation of the Lincoln Repository of Learning Materials (LIROLEM), highlighted the importance of ease of use, specifically through appropriate key wording/tagging of records. He acknowledged the necessity of persuading academic colleagues of the benefits and value of repositories by means, for example, of departmental ‘champions’. Institutions also needed to ensure that they maintained a high profile for their repositories.

UKOLN’s Stephanie Taylor spoke about the need formally to establish repositories both within mainstream scholarly communication and institutional policies.

Sally Rumsey, Project Manager of the Oxford University Research Archive, also highlighted the importance of the visibility and accessibility of repositories, advocacy to ensure their use in the first place and good statistics gathering as to how they are being used thereafter.

Lucy Keating, E-repositories Project Officer at the University of Newcastle, led an enthusiastic and inspirational afternoon session. She advocated a single access point for all research-related information, such as the My Impact Research Information Service currently being developed at Newcastle. She also emphasised the importance of forming links with the Research Excellence Framework, highlighting the institutional value of repositories and persuading academics that their research outputs are of much greater use in a repository than on their PCs! We learned of a ‘carrot’ at one institution whereby the annual research report is generated by its repository; if one’s research is not in it, it is, quite simply, not reported!

SHERPA’s European Development Officer, Mary Robinson, looked at the IR on the international stage and we learned that there are currently 1330 repositories in 1013 countries, most of which are in Europe. She introduced us to the DRIVER Project which aims to facilitate and support worldwide repository development. While Mary echoed the earlier themes of strong advocacy and visibility, she also drew our attention to SHERPA’s guide on how not to do it! ...

Notes on Suber presentation

John Palfrey, Peter Suber at Harvard University on the Future of Open Access, John Palfrey, February 26, 2009. Notes on What is the future of open access? (Cambridge, Mass., February 26, 2009).
... Peter [Suber] mentioned, in passing, that the OA movement has no equivalent to the Free Software Foundation in the context of free/libre/open source software. This comment gives rise to a series of interesting side-issues. Who are the members of the OA movement? How are they (we?) organized? What is the trajectory of the movement? Is there anything that the OA movement’s leadership or followership could learn from other similar movements as to effective modes of advocacy? ...

Notes and video from open science workshop

Notes on Open Science: Good for Research, Good for Researchers? (New York, February 19, 2009):
  • Arikia Millikan, Open Science: Good for Research and Researchers [Bora Zivkovic's Presentation at Columbia], Page 3.14, February 22, 2009.
    ... According to Bora [Zivkovic], every revolution in technology expands the proportion of information that becomes sharable. And though scientific journals once served a great purpose, they now effectively limit shared knowledge because they depend on costly resources to produce. With the Internet, ideas about science and research can be shared through every step of the scientific process in a way that is cheap and accessible. ...
  • Caryn Shechtman, Open Science: Is it the Future of Research?, New York blog, February 20, 2009.
    ... In brief, the concepts underlying open access science are pretty straightforward: (1) All data is free and public. (2) Findings and methods can be portrayed in a variety of web-based mediums. While simple in theory, some consider this risky business. However, the consensus amongst the panel was that open science has many more advantages than fallbacks. For example, outlets like open notebook science allow individuals to depict every detail of their work on a daily basis. This can help other scientists reproduce data and master new techniques more effectively. It can even help scientists in less developed countries gain access to information they could not obtain otherwise. Additionally, preprinting work on sites like Nature Precedings allows researchers to get feedback on their ideas and findings, ultimately subjecting their work to a peer-review process before publication. ...
Update. See also the event video.

Survey of OA journals in library science

Izabella Taler, LIS Open Access E-Journal – where are you?, Webology, December 2008. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Abstract:
Access to published information is of interest to many users. Library and information science (LIS) professionals are especially interested in gaining access and guiding users to all available information. Though they are often dependent on traditional subscription-based library resources, moving away from the costly ones and replacing them with usage of available open access sources, presents practitioners with a significant budget consideration in today’s shrinking economy. This paper examines the availability of current LIS open access e-journals; their presence in well- and less-well known abstracting and indexing sources, their inclusion in standard library bibliographic tools as well as coverage by Google Scholar, a computer generated search engine.

Medical journal backs away from OA

Philip Davis, End of Free Access, The Scholarly Kitchen, February 26, 2009.

... The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), a prestigious title in continuous publication since 1924, implemented a subscription model beginning with its January 2009 issue. Original articles, however, continue to be freely available.

JCI began providing free access to all online content in 1996. ...

JCI has an impact factor of 16.9, and is the most highly-cited journal within its category of Medicine, Research and Experimental, according to ISI’s 2007 Journal Citation Reports. Its editors reject 9 out of every 10 manuscript submissions.

The journal receives several sources of income from its authors. JCI charges for submission ($70 US), pages charges ($0.22 per word), plus additional fees for each figure ($100), table ($50), supplemental data ($300) and color ($1000). Apparently, these author charges are not sufficient to cover publication costs for a high-quality journal.

Between 1996 and 2003, JCI lost 40% of its institutional subscribers, according to John Hawley, Executive Director of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Responding to my email on his decision to institute online subscriptions, Hawley responded in practical terms:

The decision to institute access control was not a strained one; there are costs to be met, and this was the one route available to determine if they could be met. ...

JCI is primarily a research journal, publishing 15-30 articles per issue with little non-research material. Responding to a question I posted on MEDLIB-L, a listserv for medical librarians, Peter Cole, director of the Aquinas Medical Library in New Jersey responded:

there isn’t enough non-research content in JCI to justify purchasing a subscription

Other librarians responded that they reinstated their institutional subscription, some begrudgingly. At a time when many librarians are attempting to make radical cuts in their budget, this news did not come at a welcome time. Leslie Czechowski, Assistant Director of Collections & Technical Services at the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library responded:

we canceled [our subscription] because of free online access. Another year we might have resubscribed, but in times of declining budgets, it will be a more difficult decision ...

More on OA to law

Katie Fortney, Towards an Open Source Legal Operating System, working paper, February 20, 2009. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) Abstract:
An informed democratic society needs open access to the law, but states' attempts to protect copyright interests in their laws are a major roadblock. This article urges broader access, analyzes the implications and legal arguments for and against copyright in the law, and considers strategies for access advocacy.

On the Open Access Directory

Athanasia Pontika, Introducing the Open Access Directory, a wiki resource about Open Access, Open Students, February 25, 2009.

... Almost four years ago, I experienced a pleasant shock, when for the first time I read about the costless distribution of scholarly communication and the benefits for students and scholars. Currently, I am a second year doctoral student in the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, focusing on open access. My involvement with the [Open Access Directory] started almost a year and a half ago, where I was serving as a project manager and after its launch I have been the Assistant Editor. All this time, I have built from scratch some of the lists and I have assisted other users to compose other lists. Since the nature of my studies demand that I become informed about both the past and current issues on the movement, I don’t know how I could have made it so far if the OAD did not exist. When I want to study a subject area I always consult the lists, where I can find organized and trustworthy information. When I want to investigate an issue that is not developed yet in the OAD, I propose the new list and I volunteer to build it, either by myself or by cooperating with other users. Personally speaking, the most unique and challenging experience is to build a list from scratch. This procedure demands investigation in several online resources and allows me to apply critical thinking and personal judgment to decide whether the information is relevant and important to be included in the list. Sometimes building a concise list can take a couple of months, but at the end I have learned all I wanted about the subject and it is an ethical reward when other users consult it and find it as useful as I do. ...

See also our past posts on the OAD.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sustaining a low-budget OA journal

Piero Cavaleri, et al., Publishing an E-journal on a shoe string: Is it a sustainaible project?, working paper, February 2009. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) Abstract:
The aim of this article is to report on an experiment in publishing an open access journal and learn from it about the larger field of open access publishing. The experiment is the launch of the European Journal of Comparative Economics (EJCE), an on-line refereed and open access journal, founded in 2004 by the European Association for Comparative Economic Studies and LIUC University in Italy. They embarked upon this project in part to respond to the rising concentration in the market for scientific publishing and the resulting use of market power to raise subscription prices and restrict access to scientific output. We had hoped that open access journals could provide some countervailing power and increase competition in the field. Our experience running a poorly endowed journal has shown that entry to the field may be easy, yet that making it a sustainable enterprise is not straightforward.

Carl Malamud launches campaign to head GPO

Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org has launched a campaign to be named Obama's Public Printer of the United States.

... If I were given the honor to be nominated by the President and the further honor to be confirmed by the Senate, my platform for revitalizing the [Government Printing Office] and rebooting .gov is spelled out in in a detailed series of policy papers submitted to the Presidential Transition Team.

Please allow me to highlight a few of the items that I think we all need to pay attention to, and I invite you to contact me so we can continue to talk about these issues. Publication is a two-way street, and I hope this is the beginning of a long-term dialogue about the public domain and how the United States of America presents itself to the world ...

For over 20 years, I have been publishing government information on the Internet. In 2008, Public.Resource.Org published over 32.4 million pages of primary legal materials, as well as thousands of hours of video and thousands of photographs. In the 1990s, I fought to place the databases of the United States on the Internet. In the 1980s, I fought to make the standards that govern our global Internet open standards available to all. Should I be honored to be nominated and confirmed, I would continue to work to preserve and extend our public domain, and would place special attention to our relationship with our customers, especially the United States Congress.

Access to information is a human right and the United States of America is the world's leading producer of information. As the publisher of the United States, GPO plays a vital role in promoting useful knowledge, promoting the progress of science and useful arts, and promoting and preserving the public domain. ...

See also James Love's comments or Malamud's podcast interview with Tim O'Brien.

See also our post on a recent New York Times story on Malamud, which alluded to his aspirations (although our excerpt omits it), or our many post posts on Malamud and Public.Resource.Org.

Update. See also comments by Ellen Miller and David Bollier.

Update. See also EFF's comments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I'll be on the road Wednesday and Thursday, with few opportunities for blogging or email.  But Gavin will be on the job and I'll start to catch up on Friday.

OA and the humanities in 2008

Lisa Spiro, Digital Humanities in 2008, II: Scholarly Communication & Open Access, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, February 24, 2009.
... This year saw some positive developments in open access and scholarly communications, such as the implementation of the NIH mandate, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Science’s decision to go open access (followed by Harvard Law), and the launch of the Open Humanities Press. But there were also some worrisome developments (the Conyers Bill’s attempt to rescind the NIH mandate, EndNote’s lawsuit against Zotero) and some confusing ones (the Google Books settlement). In the second part of my summary on the year in digital humanities, I’ll look broadly at the scholarly communication landscape, discussing open access to educational materials, new publication models, the Google Books settlement, and cultural obstacles to digital publication. ...

More on the NRC OA mandate

The Norwegian Research Council has released an English-language announcement of the OA mandate it adopted on January 28, 2009.  (Thanks to Jan Erik Frantsvåg.)  Excerpt:

Research must be made accessible - this is a main task of the Research Council, and it applies to research results in general as well as to research funded by the Research Council in particular. As part of this effort, the Research Council Executive Board recently adopted a set of principles for open access to scientific publications.

Ensuring free online access, usually called open access, to published research results of publicly funded research is an increasingly important research policy objective....

The principles establish that scientific journal articles based on R&D projects funded by the Research Council must be stored in open digital archives, making them available to all interested parties. The Research Council emphasises, however, that this type of archiving must not infringe on the rights of authors or publishers.

There are two main ways to ensure access: self-archiving and open access journals.

  • Self-archiving usually involves saving postprint versions of peer reviewed articles in open digital archives. The archives may pertain to institutions or specific subject areas. 
  • Open access journals are electronic journals that are freely available on the Internet. The journals are quality assured in the usual way through peer review, but the publishing costs are covered by the authors themselves rather than through subscriptions.

In the view of the Research Council, self-archiving is currently the best way to ensure public access to scientific publications.

In the coming months the Research Council will prepare a framework for implementing the principles for open access to scientific publications in R&D contracts and routines for project follow-up. The Research Council was also commissioned by the Ministry of Research and Education to carry out an assessment of measures that could be used to promote self-archiving and other open access publishing.


  • Again, kudos to all at the NRC. 
  • "The Research Council emphasises, however, that this type of archiving must not infringe on the rights of authors or publishers."  So far, so good.  However, there are two very different ways for a funder OA policy to avoid infringing anyone's copyrights.  It could require grantees to retain a key right and use it to authorize OA.  Or it could wait for the grantee-author to transfer rights to a publisher and then hope that the publisher will allow OA on the funder's terms.  In this case, the NRC is taking the second approach, leaving a large loophole for resisting publishers.  It's important to remember that the first method avoids infringement just as effectively but also closes the loophole and ensures OA permission for 100% of the funded research.  As the policy moves toward implementation, I hope the NRC can close this loophole as the Wellcome Trust, NIH, UK MRC, and other funders have done.  (For more details on the two methods of avoiding infringement, and how to close the loophole, see #10 in my article from this month's SOAN.)
  • I support the NRC decision to focus its OA mandate on green OA (through repositories) rather than gold OA (through journals).  See #2 from the same article.  However, the NRC is incorrect to say that "the publishing costs [of OA journals] are covered by the authors themselves."  Some OA journals, including some of the best, use this business model.  But most OA journals charge no author-side fees at all. 

Nominees for 2009 Franklin Award for OA in the life sciences has announced the nominees for the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences.  From today's announcement:

...The winner will be presented with the award and deliver a lecture at the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo, on Tuesday, April 28....

The six finalists for the 2009 award are:

Philip E. Bourne (Co-Director, Protein Data Bank, University of California San Diego)—Bourne is the founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Computational Biology, and co-director of the Protein Data Bank. He continues to develop widely used software tools including SciVee, a free scientific video delivery site.

Warren DeLano (DeLano Scientific)—DeLano developed the PyMol molecular viewer application. His company aggregates resources for open source software development, efficiently channels those resources to create and share innovative tools, and provides subscription services that maximize utility for end users.

Jonathan Eisen (University of California, Davis)—Eisen writes a phylogenomics blog and he has been instrumental in pushing for the early and open release of genomic and metagenomic datasets, including the JCVI Global Oceans data.

Don Gilbert (Indiana University)—Gilbert developed the READSEQ program, euGenes database, and the Bio-Mirror project. Each project is part of the IUBio Archive of biology software and data, which he established.

Heng Li (Welcome Trust Sanger Institute)—Li was the chief developer of Maq, an open source program mapping short reads to reference sequences, and TreeSoft and TreeFam, open source softwares and a database of phylogenetic trees of animal genes.

Steven Salzberg (University of Maryland)—Salzberg produced several popular open source bioinformatics tools (MUMmer, glimmer, TransTerm, Jigsaw, etc.), and helped start the Influenza Genome Sequencing project.

PS:  See our past posts on Philip Bourne, Jonathan Eisen, Don Gilbert, and Steven Salzberg.  Also note that Jonathan Eisen's brother and PLoS co-founder, Mike Eisen, won the Franklin award in 2002.

The Conyers bill shows how far we have to go

James Boyle, Misunderestimating open science, Financial Times, February 24, 2009.  Excerpt:

It is hard for politicians to do anything that would shock me but I have to say that John Conyers, a US Congressman, has done it. In the process, he has taught us a lot about how far we have to go, all over the world, before we get our science policy right. Since science and technology are major engines of growth, that is a point of pressing interest for governments everywhere.

Rep. Conyers has introduced a bill, misleadingly called the ”Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” that would eviscerate public access to taxpayer funded research. The bill is so badly drafted that it would also wreak havoc on federal information policy more generally. It is supported by the commercial science publishers, but opposed by a remarkable set of groups -- ranging from the American Research Libraries, to 33 Nobel Prize Winners, to a coalition of patients’ rights organizations. (One of its many negative effects would be effectively to forbid the the US National Institutes of Health from allowing the taxpayers who have paid for medical research actually to read the results for free, hurting not only the progress of science, but informed medical decisions by patients and their families.)

As a copyright professor, I have to say the bill is a nightmare. For reasons I won’t bore you with, its limitations on Federal agencies are completely unworkable. And as a scholar who writes about innovation, I have to say that it flies in the face of decades of research which shows the extraordinary multiplier effect of free access to information on the speed of scientific development. But speaking as a human being, I just have to wonder what could be going through a politician’s head at a moment like this. How did the dialogue go?

Staff: ”Hey. Here is a Bill that 33 Nobel prize winners say will dramatically harm science. The current and former heads of NIH agree.”

Representative: ”What do they know about science! Let’s endorse it.”

Staff: ”A group of legal scholars says that it will mess up copyright law and undercut a central tenet of Federal information policy.”

Representative: ”Pshaw. We got our copyright opinion directly from the commercial publishers. They say it will be great! Why would they lie?”

Staff: ”And the patients’ rights groups say it will tragically limit patients’ access to medical studies that their own tax dollars have funded, and slow down research that could provide a cure more quickly.”

Representative: ”Whiners. Since when have sick people had anything useful to teach us about medical research?”

Staff: ”There is empirical evidence that requiring open access after a reasonable delay has not in fact resulted in cancellation of subscriptions to commercial journals. In fact in some cases, circulation has increased.”

Representative: ”Look, I am a politician. I can’t be expected to look at actual evidence....We’re done here. I can’t worry about this penny ante stuff. I need to be thinking about how to revitalize the American economy....”

Staff: ”But science and technology is one of our single biggest hopes for growth and this is going to really hurt science....”

Even if this bill dies the death it so richly deserves, the very fact we are arguing about it indicates how far we have to go in our debates over science policy....

Effects of openness on research

Fiona Murray, et al., Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation, working paper, October 10, 2008. (Thanks to Rufus Pollock.) Abstract:
Scientific freedom and openness are hallmarks of academia: relative to their counterparts in industry, academics maintain discretion over their research agenda and allow others to build on their discoveries. This paper examines the relationship between openness and freedom, building on recent models emphasizing that, from an economic perspective, freedom is the granting of control rights to researchers. Within this framework, openness of upstream research does not simply encourage higher levels of downstream exploitation. It also raises the incentives for additional upstream research by encouraging the establishment of entirely new research directions. In other words, within academia, restrictions on scientific openness (such as those created by formal intellectual property (IP)) may limit the diversity and experimentation of basic research itself. We test this hypothesis by examining a “natural experiment” in openness within the academic community: NIH agreements during the late 1990s that circumscribed IP [patent] restrictions for academics regarding certain genetically engineered mice. Using a sample of engineered mice that are linked to specific scientific papers (some affected by the NIH agreements and some not), we implement a differences-in-differences estimator to evaluate how the level and type of follow-on research using these mice changes after the NIH-induced increase in openness. We find a significant increase in the level of follow-on research. Moreover, this increase is driven by a substantial increase in the rate of exploration of more diverse research paths. Overall, our findings highlight a neglected cost of IP: reductions in the diversity of experimentation that follows from a single idea.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 is Open Access Year in the Netherlands

On February 10, SURF announced the Kick Off (in Dutch) of the Dutch Open Access Year.  (For some reason, Google Translate doesn't accept the page, but here's the link to the English translation in case the problem is merely temporary.)

Last November 28, the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam hosted a mini-symposium to anticipate OA Year.  The presentations are now online.  (Again, Google Translate doesn't accept the page, but here's the link to the English translation just in case.)

Also see Trix Bakker's article about OA Year and the Amsterdam symposium, in Dutch or Google's English.

Update.  Also see SURF's official announcement from February 26:

The Dutch higher education sector has declared 2009 to be 'Open Access Year'. The aim is to boost Open Access to the results of scientific/scholarly and practice-based research. Efforts will be made throughout the year to formulate and implement an Open Access policy, develop and improve the knowledge infrastructure, establish a clear legal framework, and create awareness with all stakeholders. The parties involved are the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Dutch higher education sector, and research institutions. SURF will act as the coordinator....

Dr Sijbolt Noorda, chairman of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), says that "It's in the interests of scientists and scholars for their publications to be digitally available for anyone in the world. It's in the interest of the general public too. Material that's been paid for out of our taxes can then be accessed and used by everyone." ...

Apart from Dr Noorda, various other administrators, university professors, and university deans have given their views on Open Access in a short film commissioned by SURF. The film can be viewed on a number of websites and on YouTube.

Forthcoming OA journal of plant science

Open Access Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Association of India. Authors retain copyright and articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution No Derivative License. The article-processing charge ("publication donation") is 500 Indian rupees or $25 U.S. for authors who are not society members. (Thanks to Gutam Sridhar.)

Spanish article on Science 2.0 and open data

Álvaro Cabezas-Clavijo, et al., Ciencia 2.0: catálogo de herramientas e implicaciones para la actividad investigadora, El Profesional de la Informacion, January-February 2009. See also the OA preprint. English abstract:
The concept of Science 2.0 is introduced and analysed based on its principal characteristics: user participation and collaboration, as well as free information exchange by means of web applications. A categorisation of tools for main web 2.0 functionalities for scientists is detailed: blog networks, journals with 2.0 tools, online reference managers and social tagging, open data and information reutilisation, social networks, and audio and video-science. Main factors influencing the use of these tools are presented. Finally, the consequences for scientific activity of general adoption of these services and applications are discussed.
See also the comments in Spanish by Luis Javier Martínez Rodríguez.

More on cloud storage and repositories

Leslie Carr, The Cloud, the Researcher and the Repository, RepositoryMan, February 21, 2009.

There's currently a lot of buzz about DuraSpace, the DSpace and Fedora project to incorporate cloud storage into repositories. ... [I]t sounds like a very positive agenda for repositories in general to adopt. I hope this is a good opportunity to make a few remarks about the work that EPrints is doing that also might make cloud services accessible to repositories and users of repositories. ...

The EPrints team have been working on projects that might help researchers looking to take advantage of the cloud's benefits, without being put off by its lack of home comforts.

We've previously announced that Dave Tarrant has extended EPrints to use cloud storage services as part of JISC's PRESERV2 project. The new EPrints storage controller (debuting in EPrints v3.2) allows the repository to offload the storage of its files to any external service - cloud storage, local storage area networks or even national archiving services. The repository can mix and match these services according to the characteristics of each deposited object - even storing each item in several places for redundancy or performance improvement.

That tackles the technical part of the problem - how to join up repositories with the cloud, but it doesn't have much to say about how to better engage data-rich-users with the cloud (or with the repository come to that). As part of the JISC KULTUR project, Tim Brody has been looking at the problem of user deposit for lots of large media files. Not petabyte large, but gigabyte large. Even at that scale, the normal web infrastructure fails to deliver a reliable service ...

The solution that Tim has come up with is to allow the researcher's desktop environment to directly use EPrints as a file system - you can 'mount' the repository as a network drive on your Windows/Mac/Linux desktop using services like WebDAV or FTP. As far as the user is concerned, they can just drag and drop a whole bunch of files from their documents folders, home directories or DVD-ROMs onto the repository disk, and EPrints will automatically deposit them into a new entry or entries. Of course, you can also do the reverse - copy documents from the repository back onto your desktop, open them directly in applications, or attach them to an email. ...

Now perhaps if you put the desktop front-end together with the cloud back-end, the repository might be able to offer institutional researchers a realistic path to cloud storage. ... Not naked cloud storage, but storage that is mediated, managed and moderated on the researcher's behalf by the institution ... In other words, a cloud you can depend on! ...

Desktop services have already been built on top of cloud storage - JungleDisk for example is a desktop backup and archiving service, but it still requires the user to have their own cloud account. Hopefully, a repository can take away all the necessity for special accounts, passwords and storage management from the user and provide them with a whole host of extra, valuable services. ...

Update. See also the comments by Wally Grotophorst and Dorothea Salo.

Council of Editors blogging on journal principles

The Council of Editors of Learned Journals has launched a blog on principles for the future of scholarly journals. See, e.g., from the proposed second principle:
... Web 2.0 journals that take their primary responsibility as curatorial have no need for official publication from the university press system. They are not dependent on the income model of the university press, and they have no reason to collect subscriptions: their purpose is disciplinary service and public access. There is no reason for the articles published in this format to be made private, or to require elaborate fee-charging mechanisms. ...

Freebase approaching 5 million entries

New OA journal of international law

The Göttingen Journal of International Law is a new peer-reviewed, student-edited OA journal published in English by the University of Göttingen. The inaugural issue is now available. (Thanks to Legal Research Plus.) From the inaugural editorial:
... As an e-journal, published exclusively in English, the GoJIL can be accessed free of charge – the best way for reaching the broadest possible audience. We are also of the opinion that open access to academic research is essential for the future of legal scholarship. ...

Welsh project will put an IR in each Welsh university

The Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) has launched the Welsh Repository Network.  From Friday's announcement:

Searching for published research by academic staff at Welsh Higher Education Institutions is set to become significantly easier following the launch of a new on-line service – the Welsh Repository Network.

Developed under the auspices of the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF), the Welsh Repository Network is made up of 12 individual university research repositories that have been created to showcase cutting-edge, peer-reviewed research in the arts, humanities and sciences.

The network was formally launched during a one day conference held by the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum at the National Library of Wales on Thursday 19 February.

The 12 Higher Education Institutions involved are Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Glyndwr University, The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Swansea University, Swansea Metropolitan University, Trinity College Carmarthen, University of Glamorgan, University of Wales Lampeter, University of Wales Newport, and the University of Wales Institute Cardiff.

Speaking at the launch Mr Andrew Green, Librarian of the National Library of Wales, described the development as a “mini revolution”. Dr Andrew Prescott, Manager of Library Services at the University of Wales Lampeter, referred to the network as one of the most significant developments for universities since the introduction of University printing presses in the 16th century.

With the advent of the Welsh Repository Network, Wales becomes the first country in the UK where all Higher Education Institutions have established on-line repositories.

The development of the Network was led by Dr Michael Hopkins and Stuart Lewis at Aberystwyth University and funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

Dr Michael Hopkins, Director of Information Services at Aberystwyth University said;
“The repositories allow universities to archive and protect the intellectual output of their institutions, but also make available cutting edge research to the world, enabling more open dissemination of the ground breaking and world leading research undertaken across Wales through the Open Access movement.” ...

The full list of repositories is:

Today the project released the Repository Hardware Case Studies, released today.  "This document contains a case study for each of the repositories, detailing the repository hardware purchased, and the reasons behind the purchasing decisions made."

For background, also see Stuart Lewis and Hannah Payne, How the West was won: Providing repositories across the principality of Wales, ALISS Quarterly, January 2009.

Abstract:   Within Wales there exists a close-knit community of twelve higher education institutions. We have our own funding body, the Higher Funding Council for Wales, our own library and IT forums: Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) and Higher Education Wales Information Technology (HEWIT), and our own National Library. Like the rest of the UK though, three years ago the number of institutions with repositories was very low, and those that existed contained very little in the way of content. In contrast, today there is full coverage, with each of the institutions running a repository. Some are maturing, some are still just starting out, but the essential building blocks of repositories are in place. With the assistance of the dedicated Welsh arm of the JISC-funded Repositories Support Project (RSP) the repositories are now in place and growing.


  • Kudos to all involved at WHELF, HEWIT, JISC, RSP, and the 12 universities.  When all the Welsh repositories are launched, next month, the crucial follow-up step will be for each university to adopt an effective policy to ensure that its research output is actually deposited in the new IR. 
  • Soon we'll have to start a list of all the countries in which all universities (or at least all public universities) have IRs.  I suspect that the Netherlands and Germany belong on the list and that Ireland is close.  Can anyone help me shape and confirm this list?

Texas A&M considers an OA policy

Texas A&M University is considering an OA policy.  For details, see this report on its recent symposium, The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication In the Digital Age (College Station, Texas, February 11-13, 2009).  Excerpt:

...While leaders of major educational associations were issuing a national call for universities to broaden access to scholarly works last week  faculty and administrators of Texas A&M University — one of the nation’s largest institutions of higher education — were actively discussing ways that Texas A&M could advance the use of digital technologies to publish and disseminate the results of their scholarship....

In his welcoming introduction, Jeffrey S. Vitter, A&M’s provost and executive vice president for academics, ...applauded the development of “the new and exciting options for digital publication of the artifacts of scholarship at earlier stages, in a fuller and more comprehensive manner, while maintaining and assuring quality standards.” ...

David Shulenburger, vice president for academic affairs of the Association of Colleges and Land-Grant Universities, Michael Jensen, director of strategic web communications for the National Academies, and Stuart Shieber, director of the office of scholarly communication at Harvard University — one of the first institutions of higher learning to adopt a formal open access policy — also headlined the event....

The final day’s well-attended roundtable discussions focused on how new technologies and mandates affect opportunities and standards for the publication and evaluation of scholarship in all fields at Texas A&M and what steps the university should take to facilitate, enhance and fund its commitment to scholarly communication and the publication of research and ideas. Video of all the presentations and discussions will be available on the symposium Web site beginning next week.

In his closing remarks, interim vice provost Luis Cifuentes said that he envisions Texas A&M’s emergence as a leader among public universities in the effective exploration of technologies and policies that will promote the widest possible dissemination of the data and ideas generated on the Texas A&M campus....

University administrators and scholarly publishing stakeholders are planning to meet in the near future to discuss initiatives and recommendations, based on the symposium presentations and the feedback they received....

PS:  Also see our past posts on the OA activity at Texas A&M.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy birthday, LPP

Library Philosophy and Practice is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a peer-reviewed journal.  After thanking its authors, editors, reviewers, and readers, it adds:

We strongly believe that open access e-journals are a vital part of the future of scholarly communication. We couldn't have done it without all of you.

More on the Springer acquisition of BMC

John Murphy, Acquisition raises profile of open-access publishing, Research Information, February/March 2009.  Excerpt:

Just a few years ago, open-access (OA) publishing was regarded as a fringe activity by the big publishers. Since then, however, companies have slowly started to break ranks and offer something resembling OA. Springer Group’s recent purchase of BioMed Central, however, has thrust it from being a ‘toe in the water’ OA publisher to probably the number-one OA publisher in terms of articles published.

BioMed Central was founded by Science Navigation Group and began publishing in May 2000. It was the first fully-commercial OA publisher at a time when major publishers were saying that they could not see how OA could be commercially sustainable....

BMC now publishes some 196 journals, most of which follow the... ‘author-pays’ model. It claims to have 760,000 registered readers and, in 2007, recorded 25 million page views per month....

[T]he company has said there are no immediate plans to increase BMC charges [even though Springer Open Choice charges are already higher], which have proved a major draw to authors and have resulted in rapid growth for BMC’s titles.

[Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BMC] said that OA journals had now established themselves, and that many titles attain high impact factors and citation rates from Thomson ISI. He said the industry had clearly moved past the complaints of subscription publishers that [fee-based OA journals] would be motivated purely by commercial interests.

‘I have not heard that one for quite a long time now. Journals become successful precisely because they do not publish any old tat. Our editors have no financial interest in choosing articles and the success of our titles shows that the quality is the same,’ said Cockerill.

‘Open-access and subscription publishing are not necessarily in competition,’ he continued. ‘Derk Haank, our CEO, has said that Springer is agnostic when it comes to business model. There will always be an opportunity for publishers to add value to information and to sell that for a subscription.’

Cockerill believes that BMC will be able to grow even faster under Springer’s wing, and its business model may even transfer to other areas of publishing where institutions are prepared to pay processing fees for editorially-driven publication. He said that governments, international NGOs and other organisations may also find they could gain benefit from funding the publication of research in other fields.

‘Springer will give us a lot in terms of infrastructure at the back end and allow us to do what we presently do more efficiently. We have gained a certain amount of expertise in running an electronic publishing process with peer review and there is no reason to suppose that it is limited to publishing biomedical research,’ he concluded.

Perspective on the Google book settlement

The March issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  The whole issue is devoted to the Google book settlement. 

PS:  Walt does an excellent job collecting comments from many quarters.  (Disclosure:  some, but not the best, are mine.)  If you've put off thinking about the settlement, because it's so complex and offers too much to think about, Walt's annotated anthology of perspectives is a very good place to start.

Massive profits for Elsevier, LexisNexis

Reed Elsevier, parent company of TA publisher Elsevier and TA legal information service LexisNexis, has released its preliminary financial numbers for 2008. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.) Some excerpts:
  • Elsevier reported operating profits of £538 million (approx. $814 million USD), an 11% increase over the previous year.
  • LexisNexis reported operating profits of £513 million (approx. $735 million USD), an 18% increase over the previous year.

NYSHEI opposes the Conyers bill

The New York State Higher Education Initiative (NYSHEI) has come out against the Conyers bill.  From its February 13 statement:

The Governing Board of NYSHEI has joined the chorus of opposition to H.R. 801, the “Fair Copyright in Research Works” act introduced in the House of Representatives by John Conyers (D-MI).

Joining groups like the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the Association of Research Libraries, NYSHEI unequivocally opposes this legislation that would 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.

“This is a very bad bill,” said NYSHEI Executive Director Jason Kramer.  “Knowledge and information should be widely available to the public - particularly when the public paid for it.”

“As exemplified by ARIA (Academic Research Information Access), NYSHEI strives to broaden access to all manner of information.  We therefore must strongly object to Mr. Conyers proposal,” said Kramer.

NYSHEI is asking the entire New York Congressional delegation to oppose this legislation and asks all NYSHEI member librarians to similarly voice their opposition.


  • Kudos to NYSHEI.  It's important for other statewide organizations devoted to research, education, libraries, or health care to take a similar stand and communicate with their Congressional delegations. 
  • Universities, which have the same interests and generally support the NIH policy and oppose the Conyers bill, are slow to act.  Other organizations must take up the slack and represent their interests.  Will the AAU do this on a national scale, now that it has endorsed the "broadest possible access" to research?

ARL calls for fresh start for OCLC data policy

Association of Research Libraries, Ad Hoc Task Force to Review the Proposed OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records, Final Report to the ARL Board, January 30, 2009. See also the February 20 press release. From the report's recommendations:

... OCLC needs to develop a new policy regarding the transfer and use of WorldCat records that results from a wide community review of issues; from member library engagement that builds understanding and consensus; and from a careful, widely discussed exploration of how the policy will achieve articulated goals, including whether or how restraints in record sharing may be needed. The currently proposed policy does not meet these criteria. ...

See in particular this concern with the proposed policy, reminiscent of worries about "attribution stacking" for other data licenses/policies (see also our past posts on attribution stacking):

... The task force questions whether any policy that aims to limit the re-use of individual records or portions of bibliographic data within records can be effectively and fairly applied in the modern bibliographic environment. Bibliographic records and data may now pass through many systems in the course of their useful life, and be modified and enhanced many times by different actors. Acknowledging and fairly compensating the contributions of all parties is difficult at best. If each system owner were to assert control over all subsequent uses at a micro level, the exchanges necessary for effective use of bibliographic information would be seriously impeded. ...

See also Peter Brantley's comments on the ARL report.

... There is a danger of over-reaction in this. It is one thing to tell OCLC that the community believes its licensing policy was a mistake, its tone too “unilateral” and not conversational, and its process (essentially) pig-headed. It is another to envelop OCLC’s management in restrictive committee-based decision-making over matters that are vital to its survival ...

See also our past posts on WorldCat or OCLC.

Update. See also coverage in Library Journal.