Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Testimony from last fall's hearing on the Conyers bill

The House Judiciary Committee has released all the testimony submitted to its September 11, 2008 hearing on the Conyers bill.  This includes the oral and written testimony of the four witnesses and all the written comments submitted by the public. 

Unfortunately, the public comments are image scans and not searchable. 

Obama official non-committal on OA

Gavin Baker is at a conference where Kei Koizumi is speaking (not yet clear which conference).  Here are three short micro-blog bursts from Gavin in the past hour:

1.  Kei Koizumi, asst dir for federal R&D at Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy, speaking. I'll ask if he'll support OA.

2.  Asked Koizumi if Obama supports NIH policy, expanding it. A: We don't know yet; good arguments & advocates on both sides.

3.  Koizumi: If OA continues, I'll be a big part of the discussion, since we'll have to find new ways to fund publishing. 

In case there are more coming, don't wait for me to mediate.

Update.  The event is the Science and Technology in Society Conference (Washington DC, March 28-29, 2009).

YouTube creates a section on higher ed

Jeffrey Young, YouTube Creates New Section to Highlight College Content, Wired Campus, March 27, 2009.

More than 100 colleges have set up channels on YouTube, and this week the popular video service unveiled a new section that brings together all of that campus content in one area.

It had been difficult to find college lectures on YouTube, since they are generally far less popular than the site’s humorous and outrageous clips, and so they do not show up in lists of the most viewed videos on the site. Although YouTube has long had an education category, it relies on users who post videos to decide whether to categorize their videos as educational, and as a result the definition of education is very broad. The new YouTube EDU page includes only material submitted by colleges and universities....

The new section makes it possible to find out which college-produced video is most popular. The winner so far is an interview with a University of Minnesota professor discussing the science behind the new movie Watchmen. That video has been viewed about 1.5 million times. The most popular lecture video on YouTube is from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, on the subject of “Advanced Finite Elements Analysis” (which has been viewed about 19,000 times).

Sign of progress

Mary Beard was recently at a conference at which Carl Djerassi defended the idea that young couples should bank their sperm and eggs while young in order to make babies when they are older, and Harold Varmus defended the idea of OA.  Beard writes:

...Varmus's idea was more mainstream....

Inaugural editorial in a new OA journal on OA databases

David Landsman, Robert Gentleman, Janet Kelso, and B. F. Francis Ouellette, DATABASE: A new forum for biological databases and curation, Database, 1, 1 (2009) --the inaugural issue of this new OA journal from Oxford University Press.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Most computational tools for biologists preferably require data in large amounts. The larger the quantity of data, the more rigorous statistical analyses can support the discovery of new hypotheses for testing in a laboratory. A variety of technological developments during the past two decades have accelerated the rate of deposition of data into databases. Currently there are many public databases where data from, for example, DNA and protein sequences or 3D protein structures, and more complex information types, like ontologies, networks and pathways are deposited, maintained, annotated, curated and stored. Indeed, more recent efforts to store, for example, phenotype (in addition to genotypes) and clinical trials signify a new tendency to gather more complex data types. The data collected in these large public repositories represent valuable and significant resources for ongoing knowledge extraction. Mining of this data using computational tools is an increasingly indispensible part of modern research, and the organized storage of the data in databases is obligatory. Indeed such approaches are likely to have serious impact on the reproducibility of results. Resourceful tools for the establishment, interrogation, rearrangement, display and interpretation of new and large databases are frequently minor points in a publication and are relegated to brief statements in methods sections or in figure legends when the final work is published. However, there are often original and creative computational methods which resulted in these discoveries but which are not communicated in the scientific literature because the description of a database and the tools to interact with it are not deemed essential to the communication....

In support of the new open access policies of many funding agencies as well as the open source software movement which started in the 1980s, DATABASE: the Journal of Biological Databases and Curation will be a fully open access journal from launch. In addition, it will be a condition of publication that all databases and software described in DATABASE articles are made publicly available. The journal will be online-only, providing fast access of its full content to scientists worldwide.

PS:  Also see our past post on the journal's pre-launch announcement.

Guidance on paying publication fees

Universities UK and the Research Information Network have released a major report, Paying for open access publication charges, March 2009.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)  From the summary in Annex A:

Higher education institutions

We recommend that: ...

  • HEIs should establish dedicated budgets to which researchers can apply for funds to meet the costs of publication fees.
  • Even if management of the budget is devolved, a consistent and coordinated approach to managing the payment of publication fees is taken across the institution.
  • HEIs should establish clear criteria as to the circumstances in which researchers can apply for funds, including: eligibility for support when articles include authors from other institutions; eligibility for multiple grants in any one year; the priority to be given to researchers whose work is not supported by any external grant; the criteria for judging between competing claims for grants if funds are limited and any requirement to have the institution properly identified, e.g. within the context of the REF.
  • Whatever arrangements institutions adopt to meet publication fees, it is vital that they are communicated effectively to all relevant academic and administrative staff.


We recommend that:

  • Funders should clarify how they will provide support for researchers in meeting their open access policies in general, and the payment of publication fees in particular.
  • RIN should continue to work with funders and UUK to monitor and assess developments in policy and practice, and in the funding environment; to advocate through dialogue coherent approaches to the development of policy; and to promote innovation in scholarly communication that is both cost-effective and in the best interests of research and the research community.


We recommend that the submission process should include:

  • for fully open access journals, a requirement for corresponding authors to confirm that they will pay the fee, or arrange for payment, if the paper is accepted for publication, and
  • for hybrid journals, a requirement for corresponding authors to indicate whether or not they wish to pay a publication fee, and if so to confirm that they will pay it, or arrange for it to be paid, if the paper is accepted for publication....

Authors should be alerted to relevant fee waivers and discounts during the submission process....

Publishers should be as open as possible about their business models, about the income they are receiving in subscription and publication fees respectively, and about how they set their fee levels, and publishers of hybrid journals in particular should adjust their subscription rates to reflect increases in income from open access fees.


We recommend that:

  • Authors should make use of services such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, and consider the options for publishing their results in such journals.
  • Authors should familiarise themselves with their funders’ policies and requirements, with the options and the arrangements available to them in their institutions for meeting the costs of publication in open access and hybrid journals and with the administrative arrangements to apply for such funds.
  • Before they submit articles for open access publication, corresponding authors should ensure that they have access to the funds necessary to meet the publication fee.

Also see RIN's earlier studies and recommendations on publication fees.


  • This is helpful.  To me the three most important recommendations are these (and I support all three): 
    1. Universities should create funds to help pay these fees.
    2. Hybrid OA journals should reduce their subscription prices in proportion to fee revenue.
    3. Universities and funders willing to pay these fees should make that fact very clear to faculty and grantees (to dispel the harmful assumption that publication fees are only paid by authors out of pocket).
  • I'd make at least four additions to the list: 
    1. Under universities:  Before any university creates a fund to pay these fees, or at the same time that it creates such a fund, it should require green OA for its research output (for example, as MIT just did).  A green OA mandate will cover a much larger body of literature than a journal fund, and at a much lower cost.  I'm not saying that a green OA mandate will make gold OA support unnecessary.  Universities should take both steps, but should take the more cost-effective step first.
    2. Under both universities and publishers:  Those who support OA journals and those who publish them should understand that the publication fee is only one of many business models compatible with OA.
    3. Under authors:  Authors should understand that they can make their work OA through a repository (green OA), not only through a journal (gold OA). 
    4. Under authors:  Authors should understand that most OA journals do not charge publication fees.

Update (3/28/09).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

...A university should on no account spend a single penny on Gold OA fees until and unless it has first adopted a Green OA mandate to deposit all of its own refereed journal article output in its own institutional repository....


Refocusing on development, not citations

Eve Gray, Publishing and perishing in Africa – an ethical issue?  Gray Area, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[A]s I have scanned a number of recent publications on the renewal of higher education in Africa, [I've] noted with concern the persistence of the use of counts of journal articles published in ISI journals as the standard and sometimes the only measure for the status of African research in the world. In other words, in a continent in which the goal of public investment in research is explicitly to contribute to national growth and development, the measure of success all too often applied is the production of a lot of journal articles in foreign publications targeted at other scholars in the field. This is hardly a metric that is going to tell us anything about what our scholars are really contributing to the resolution of the considerable problems that challenge the continent....

[T]he World Bank, backtracking from its damaging dismissal of [African] higher education as a funding priority in the 1980s, in 2008 published Accelerating Catch-up: Tertiary Education for Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa[1]....

What is certain is that if African universities were to provide open access for the considerable volume of publications already posted online by development research units and ensure that these are easily accessible, this in itself could boost the contribution of African universities to development goals.

1. I am not including the url to the World Bank publication, by the way, because of its confused approach to its intellectual property rights management. I would have thought that the World Bank would want its African readership, in particular, to read this publication. But, although it exists as an e-book, that version is 'available to subscribers only'. Otherwise you can buy it in print. Does the World Bank really want to make money from African countries by selling its publications, or restrict access to a text that is readily available in PDF format and costs nothing to distribute? The e-book is copyrighted with an 'all rights reserved' licence, that nevertheless states that '[t]he International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank encourages dissemination of its work and will normally grant permission to reproduce portions of the work promptly.'  Which being translated means that you need to apply  to the US Copyright Clearance Centre for permission to photocopy or reprint 'any part of this work'.  You have to either write a letter or telephone – no email address available. Could someone please send an ambassador to the World Bank publisher to explain how Creative Commons licences work?

Growth of the DOAJ over three years

Heather Morrison, Directory of Open Access Journals Growth 2005-2008, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

The following charts [PS: omitted here] illustrate the Dramatic Growth of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) over the past few years. In brief, from December 31, 2005 to December 31, 2008, the number of titles in DOAJ jumped from just under 2,000 to over 3,800 (almost doubled in 3 years). The increase in searchable content is even more remarkable, though! The number of journals searchable at article level more than doubled, from under 500 to over 1,300. The number of articles retrievable through these journals tripled, from about 80,000 to about 240,000....[N]ot only did DOAJ grow dramatically from 2005 - 2008; the growth rate also grew dramatically, by every measure examined...

Bill in Congress would require agency support for OA textbooks

Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) has introduced LOW COST (Learning Opportunities With Creation of Open Source Textbooks, HR 1464), a bill to "require Federal agencies to collaborate in the development of freely-available open source educational materials in college-level physics, chemistry, and math, and for other purposes."  (Thanks to David Wiley.)

What kind of help would agencies have to provide?  From Section 3:

(a) In General- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the head of each agency that expends more than $10,000,000 in a fiscal year on scientific education and outreach shall use at least 2 percent of such funds for the collaboration on the development and implementation of open source materials as an educational outreach effort in accordance with subsection (b).

(b) Requirements- The head of each agency described in subsection (a) shall, under the joint guidance of the Director of the National Science Foundation and the Secretary of Energy, collaborate with the heads of any of the agencies described in such subsection or any federally supported laboratory or university-based research program to develop, implement, and establish procedures for checking the veracity, accuracy, and educational effectiveness of open source materials that--

  1. contain, at minimum, a comprehensive set of textbooks or other educational materials covering topics in college-level physics, chemistry, or math;
  2. are posted on the Federal Open Source Material Website;
  3. are updated prior to each academic year with the latest research and information on the topics covered in the textbooks or other educational materials available on the Federal Open Source Material Website; and
  4. are free of copyright violations.


  • Which is more surprising:  this progressive idea or its sharp contrast with the regressive Conyers bill?  One of these bills could pass and other fail, of course, or both could fail.  But think about the possibility of both passing:  on the one hand, agencies would be required spend 2% or more of their education budgets on OA textbooks, and on the other, the NIH would have to stop requiring OA for medical research already funded by taxpayers, when the extra cost of making it OA costs the agency about 0.01% of its budget ($2-4 million out of $29 billion). 
  • If you're a US citizen and plan to write to your Congressional delegation in support of the Foster bill, please take an extra minute to write in opposition to the Conyers bill as well.


Another novelist finds that an OA edition boosts sales

R.J. Keller describes how an OA edition of her novel has boosted the sales of its priced print and digital editions.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.) 

Friday, March 27, 2009

OAI-ORE for chemistry

Carl Lagoze, The oreChem Project: Integrating Chemistry Scholarship with the Semantic Web, presented at WebSci'09: Society On-Line (Athens, March 18-20, 2009). (Thanks to Peter Murray-Rust.) Abstract:
The oreChem project is a collaboration between chemistry scholars and information scientists to develop and deploy the infrastructure, services, and applications to enable new models for research and dissemination of scholarly materials in the chemistry community. Although the focus of the project is chemistry, the work is being undertaken with an attention to general cyber infrastructure for eScience, thereby enabling the linkages among disciplines that are required to solve today’s key scientific challenges such as global warming. A key aspect of this work, and a core aim of this project, is the design and implementation of an interoperability infrastructure based on semantic Web principles that will allow chemistry scholars to share, reuse, manipulate, and enhance data that are located in repositories, databases, and Web services distributed across the network.

Initial Google scanning at Oxford ends

Ben Bunnell, The Bodleian's treasures, available to all, Inside Google Book Search, March 26, 2009. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

In 2004, Google began a partnership with Oxford University Library to scan mostly 19th century public domain books from its Bodleian library. Five years on, we're delighted to announce the end of this phase of our scanning with Oxford, our first European partner. Together, we have digitized and made available on Google Book Search many hundreds of thousands of public domain books from the Bodleian and other Oxford libraries, representing the bulk of their available public domain content.

From English to German, to Spanish and French, most of the digitized works date from the 19th century and range from classic literature to more scientific volumes in fields including Geography, Philosophy or Anthropology. Among some of the works now available through Book Search, you can find the first English translation of Newton's Mathematical principles of natural philosophy from 1729, the first edition of Jane Austen's Emma, and John Cassell's Illustrated History of England. You can search and read the full text of these works on Google Book Search, and download and print a pdf if you wish to.

So, does this mean we are done?

Far from it! With most of Oxford's 19th century public domain works now digitized and available to users online, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Oxford to digitize more content as it becomes available and work together to bring more books to more people in more languages around the world. ...

ACS now deposits AuthorChoice papers in PMC

Robert Kiley, ACS Open Choice articles - now in PMC and UKPMC, UK PubMed Central Blog, March 24, 2009.

Papers published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) under their [AuthorChoice] option are now available in [PubMedCentral] and UKPMC. ...

All future papers published under this model will be made available through these repositories at the time of publication.

ACS [AuthorChoice] articles are fully open access in the sense that the licence allows users - for non-commercial research and education purposes - to "access, download, copy, display and redistribute articles as well as adapt, translate text and data mine the content...."

This model meets the requirements of the Wellcome Trust - and the other funders in the UKPMC Funders Group.

See also Peter Murray-Rust's comments.

See also Peter Suber's past post.


EU report on cyberinfrastructure

European Commission, ICT Infrastructures for e-Science, report, March 5, 2009. (Thanks to Open Access.)

This Communication highlights the strategic role of ICT infrastructures as a crucial asset underpinning European research and innovation policies, and calls on Member States and the scientific communities, in cooperation with the European Commission, for a reinforced and coordinated effort to foster world-class ICT infrastructures, also known as e-Infrastructures, to pave the way for the scientific discoveries of the 21st century. ...

European and National e-Infrastructures need to address the emerging challenge of data centric science. To achieve this, Europe needs to deploy a coherent and managed eco-system of repositories of scientific information. Europe needs to define consistent policies to enhance access to scientific information (e.g. in line with the indications of ESFRI position paper on scientific data, the Communication on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation and the Open Access pilot in FP7 launched in 2008).

Member States and scientific communities are invited to step up investment in scientific data infrastructures and promote the sharing of best practices.

The Commission will reinforce the catalytic investment under FP7 in scientific data infrastructure, to support accessibility and preservation policies. ...

See also Peter's comments on the Communication on scientific information in the digital age or past posts on FP7.

Presentation on OA in the sciences

Heather Morrison, Open Access in the Sciences, class presentation at McGill University, March 25, 2009. Abstract:
Open Access in the Sciences is an overview presentation designed for a library science class at McGill University, with a focus on open access in the Canadian context. There are more than 3,900 fully open access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals; more than a hundred are published in Canada. Selected examples of open access journals from across the country are presented, published by universities / libraries, societies, and government. Open access archives (disciplinary and institutional) are explored. The author discusses open access archives from an author's perspective. A brief overview of open access policies and author's rights are presented, and emerging trends and new jobs for librarians.

OJS in Norway

James MacGregor, OJS use grows in Norway, Public Knowledge Project, March 26, 2009.

... Karl Henrik Flyum, a lecturer at the University of Oslo who has translated different versions of [Open Journal Systems] into Norwegian, has started a blog for Norwegian OJS users and supporters ...

Karl also notified us that the central computer services at the University of Oslo are now offering OJS as the default software option to all academics who may be contemplating moving (or starting) their journal online. These journals will be hosted at [here]. ...

OA journal publisher closing

Icthes World Care, a UK-based non-profit publisher of OA journals targeted at developing countries, is closing, according to a notice on its Web site dated January 2009:

Icthes World Care is being wound up as a charity and will be closed down in the next few months.

Our final journals will be published shortly ...

Back issues will be available on our Web site until we close.

Update. See also Chris Rusbridge's comments:

...I have checked the Internet Archive, and in case we should be complacent about that as a system of preservation, found only 1 issue out of 18 issues from 4 titles had actually been gathered there.

The Journals are:

I see from Suncat that these titles are variously held by [the British Library], Cambridge, Oxford and [National Library of Scotland], so I guess they are regarded as serious titles. ...

Springer on the block

James Robinson, Academic publishing house Springer put up for sale in teeth of recession, The Guardian, March 26, 2009.  Excerpt:

The owners of Springer Science and Business Media, the academic publisher, are believed to be preparing the business for sale.

The decision to seek a buyer for the company, which turned over €880m (£823m) in 2008, will test the City's appetite for large deals at a time when few are taking place.

Candover and Cinven, the private equity companies that own Springer, are believed to have appointed UBS and Goldman Sachs to sound out potential bidders. Prospective purchasers have until the end of next week to register their interest, according to sources.

If a sale goes ahead, it will be one of the biggest transactions in any sector so far this year. Sources close to the process say Springer could fetch up to £2bn from financial or trade buyers, although the credit crunch could make it difficult for potential bidders to meet that price. Springer is valued at €1.65bn by Candover, according to its website....

Rival private equity groups are regarded as the most likely buyers, although the head of one competing venture capital firm said he thought it was unlikely Springer would attract much interest, given the poor short-term prospects for the global economy.

[U]nlike other media groups, many of which are heavily reliant on advertising, Springer has a relatively secure source of revenue. It publishes more than 6,500 new book titles every year and owns 60 publishing houses in about 20 countries in Europe, Asia and North America....

Several attempts to sell publishing assets have failed in recent months. They include Reed Elsevier's planned disposal of its magazines arm Reed Business Information, which publishes titles including New Scientist. The offer was withdrawn in December after bidders failed to match its asking price.

CommentSpringer is the world's second largest TA journal publisher, after Elsevier.  But since buying BMC last October, it's also the world's largest OA publisher.  The fact that Springer's owners have been private equity companies didn't stop Springer from buying BMC, a profitable company which probably had lower profit margins than the rest of Springer.  That is, profit maximizing didn't squeeze out this form of diversification.  If that's a clue, then Springer could be bought by another private equity firm without adding anti-OA pressure to the new BMC division.  Could.  But while wise management will still want to prepare for an OA future, an area in which Springer now leads the other commercial giants, anyone who buys the company during an economic meltdown might have to think about slashing and divestments.  Springer's current CEO, Derk Haank, said that "open access publishing [is] a sustainable part of STM publishing, and not an ideological crusade."  But the new owner may want a new CEO.

UpdateReuters adds some new detail:

Candover and Cinven are mulling a sale of a 49 percent stake as one of several options to tackle high looming debt repayments the German academic publisher is unable to meet, a senior media banker said....

A tie-up with UK publishing and exhibitions group Informa or asset sales are other options.

The prospective sale is still in early stages, but could attract interest from private equity and trade buyers, two banking sources familiar with the matter said.

Springer approached Informa in 2006, but talks broke down after a few weeks. Analysts have said a tie-up would make sense....

Springer is facing a crunch on its existing 3.08 billion euro leveraged loan, which it is unable to refinance as markets have frozen up, the senior media banker said....

The sale of a stake could give Springer the financial firepower to strike a deal with banks that would allow it to keep its debt financing in place, the banker added.

Springer could offer to pay down some of its debt in return for banks agreeing to allow a new equity investor to step in....

Springer is performing well and the company was taking a proactive approach to its debt with more than two years to go before the repayment crunch, bankers said.

The company's leverage was described as 'not too awful' at 6-times to 7-times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), bankers said....

140 year back file of AJS now OA

Carnegie Mellon librarians recently digitized the backfile of the American Journal of Science for OA.  Thanks to the Scout Report for this summary (via Leslie Chan):

Started in 1818, the American Journal of Science (originally called The American Journal of Science and Arts) is the oldest scientific journal published without interruption in the United States. Today the Journal deals only with geology and related earth science, but for many years it covered a wider range of scientific and artistic endeavors. Recently, staff members at Carnegie Mellon University's library decided to create an online collection, which contains over 140 volumes of the Journal. Visitors can search the entire contents of the collection at their leisure, or they can just browse around for a bit. For historians of science and those with a curiosity about what scientists and others found of importance in the 19th century, this collection will be invaluable. The site is rounded out by a FAQ area and a link to other digital collections created by Carnegie Mellon University.

Richard Poynder interviews Hélène Bosc

Richard Poynder, The Open Access Interviews: Hélène Bosc, Open and Shut? March 27, 2009.  This is another richly textured interview, unearthing details about the early history of OA, OA in France, OA in Europe, and the career of one of Europe's first and most influential OA activists.  It's difficult to excerpt, but here's a little to whet your appetite:  

Former INRA librarian, [convenor for the EuroScience Working Group on Science Publishing,] and passionate champion of Open Access (OA) in France, Hélène Bosc began advocating for OA in 1995, before the term even existed and just one year after Stevan Harnad had posted his seminal Subversive Proposal on an Internet mailing list.

Like other librarians who have embraced OA, Bosc's starting point was the so-called serials crisis....

Also like other librarians Bosc was hard pressed to see any obvious solution to the problem. Moreover, to her growing frustration, INRA appeared to be conspiring in the process: Although it had been publishing a number of its own journals since the 1950s, in 1989 INRA decided to outsource the task to Elsevier, the largest scholarly publisher in the world, and the for-profit company that many believe had played a major role in creating the serials crisis in the first place. Either way, after Elsevier began publishing INRA's journals the cost of subscribing to them began to rise steeply.

In 1995, however, Bosc attended a conference at which French-Canadian academic Jean-Claude Guédon presented a paper on the serials crisis. Rather than simply describe the problem, Guédon proposed a solution: If the research community used the Internet as a publishing platform it could reduce the costs of producing journals, and make the contents freely available. Intriguingly, Guédon's proposal was not just theory; it was based on practical experience. In 1991 he had founded Canada's first electronic journal — Surfaces; a journal that continues to be published today.

Inspired by Guédon, Bosc determined to try and persuade INRA that it should stop being part of the problem, and start working towards a solution. In other words, rather than restricting access to its journals, and stoking the inflationary fires, INRA should make them freely available on the Web so that any scientist in the world could access them without being confronted by a paywall....

RP: So how would you present the case for self-archiving mandates both generally, and within the context of France?

HB: Mandates are necessary to fill up repositories. All the author surveys and outcome studies that have been undertaken worldwide show this to be so, including studies in France: In a study I did, for instance, I showed that by assisting researchers to archive Ifremer has managed to capture 80% of recently published papers in the institution's repository, Archimer. By contrast HAL has captured only 10-15 % of French research output....

RP: How would you describe France's take-up of OA as compared to other Western countries?

HB: As we said, HAL was created over seven years ago, and following the signing of the protocole d'accord in July 2006, all French researchers were supposed to deposit their publications in HAL. That would seem to suggest that we were ahead of other countries, and yet today we are not: In spite of our technical lead, HAL has achieved the global default deposit rate of only 10-15 %....

RP: What is at stake?

HB: What is at stake is that if France wants to be in the research vanguard, it must embrace OA quickly, before all the other countries pull ahead.

My view is that as the first French universities see the deposit rate in their repositories approach 100% they will understand the OA citation advantage, and start to benefit from all the other advantages provided by OA....

Japanese libraries call for OA

JANUL Statement on Open Access:  Pursuing New Scholarly Communication, a public statement from the Japan Association of National University Libraries (JANUL), March 16, 2009.  Excerpt:

Free and public accessibility to the results of scientific research must be an essential component of research promotion and also serves as the foundation for future development of science and society. University libraries recognize that it should be their crucial mission to contribute to scholarly development and social progress....Therefore, we at the Japan Association of National University Libraries (JANUL) appeal strongly to the world in support for the promotion of 'open access.' ...

JANUL makes the following appeal to the stakeholders in all fields to realize 'open access' for sustaining new scholarly communication:

Government and Funding Agencies should:

  1. Implement the policies needed to promote 'open access' to publicly-funded research products.
  2. Accelerate 'open access' to the digital data of cultural heritages and research data.

Researchers should:

  1. Endorse 'open access' and cooperate to make their research results publicly accessible.
  2. Try to self-archive their articles in their institutional repositories.
  3. Try to retain the right of copyright ownership for their articles, i.e. their right to use them for educational, research, or other non-commercial purposes.

Universities and Research Institutions should:

  1. Help affiliated researchers to make their research outputs openly accessible.
  2. Try to develop the functionality needed (institutional repositories) to disseminate the affiliated researchers' scientific results.

Scientific Societies and Associations should:

  1. Endorse 'open access' and cooperate to make their affiliated researchers' research results publicly accessible.
  2. Foster 'open access' with society-published journals, through shortening embargo periods and providing published version of articles to institutional repositories.

Publishers should:

  1. Nurture understanding of and cooperation with other stakeholders to realize 'open access.'
  2. Enhance utilization of research results by respecting author's rights and demanding only the rights necessary for publication.
  3. Advance 'open access' through shortening embargo periods and providing publisher version of articles to institutional repositories.

University Libraries should:

  1. Appeal to library users and other related parties for support and cooperation toward 'open access' and promote it in cooperation with faculty and researchers.
  2. Try to develop institutional repositories as a disseminating source for 'open access' and university-launched research results.

Comment.  A good list.  I'd add that universities, like public funding agencies, should mandate green OA for their research output.  For details and supporting arguments, see my article in last month's SOAN.


OA publishing as an asymmetric game between authors and publishers

Katharina Habermann and Lutz Habermann, An Evolutionary Game-Theoretic Approach to Open Access, a preprint deposited in arXiv yesterday.  (Thanks to arxivmath.)

Abstract:   The paper presents an evolutionary game-theoretic approach to open access publishing as an asymmetric game between scientists and publishers. We show how the ordinary differential equations of the model presented can be written as a system of Hamiltonian partial differential equations. The understanding of the setting as a Hamiltonian system implies some properties reflecting the qualitative behavior of the system.

PS:  Also see our past posts on game-theoretic approaches to OA.

More on how OA differs from FOSS and other kin

Stevan Harnad, On the affinities and disaffinities among free software, peer-to-peer access, and open access to peer-reviewed research, a QuickTime movie of a presentation at Free Software and Beyond: The World of Peer Production (Manchester, March 26, 2009).  From his summary:

Free/Open Software...has been central to the growth of the Open Access Movement.

However, there are also crucial distinctions that need to be made and understood, among the movements for (1) Free/Open source software, (2) Open Access (to peer-reviewed research), (3) P2P file-sharing, (4) Open Data, (5) Creative Commons licensing, and (5) Wikipedia-style collective writing. Open Access (OA) is focussed primarily on refereed research articles.

The crucial distinctions revolve mostly around (a) the fundamental difference between author giveaway vs. non-giveawaywork and (b) the functional differences between the re-use/re-mix/re-publication needs for peer-reviewed research article texts on the one hand, and data, software and other kinds of digital content on the other.

More on the St. Gallen mandate

When Switzerland's University of St. Gallen adopted its OA mandate in December 2008 and announced it last month, the text was initially available only in German.  About a week later an unofficial English version was posted to ROARMAP.  Today the university issued an official English version.  (Thanks to Ruedi Lindegger.)  Excerpt:

Regulations concerning the Open Access Policy

Adopted by the Senate on 15 December 2008...

Art. 1: Open access

Open access to research results generated by the University of St. Gallen and to any concomitant publications shall be guaranteed and supported within the framework of the relevant legal provisions....

[T]he University of St. Gallen...has made the communication and dissemination of knowledge its aim and that the following explanations must be interpreted against the back-ground of that selfsame aim....

Art. 4: Protection of exploitation rights

To the extent to which this is possible, researchers shall be obliged definitely and permanently to reserve in their contracts with publishing houses a non-exclusive exploitation right for the free digital publication of their research results in the institutional archive of the University of St. Gallen.

If an arrangement pursuant to Art. 4(1) is only feasible on condition that blocking periods are observed, such blocking periods shall be agreed with the publishing house.

The reservation of exploitation rights for the protection of open access shall be regularly and explicitly demanded prior to the execution of a contract....

Art. 5: Availability of full texts

Full texts shall be made available in the institutional archive when the post-print manuscript has been accepted for publication by the publishing house and when the publishing house permits the self-archiving of the post-print or the pre-print version.

In principle, full texts shall be made available at the same time as or at the earliest possible point in time after publication by the publishing house.

Publication of book contributions, commentaries and books shall not be subject to this obligation.

Art. 6: Publication in open access journals

The publication of research results in open access journals is welcome and shall be supported by the University of St. Gallen....

Art. 7: Publication pursuant to the principle of open access

The University of St. Gallen shall support its researchers in their publications pursuant to the principle of open access by

  1. providing its researchers with advisory support in negotiations with publishing houses concerning contracts for self-archiving,
  2. supporting publication in an open access journal by providing its researchers with advisory support,
  3. expressing due recognition during the evaluation of its re-searchers’ research results published in open access journals....

Art. 9: Effective date

These Regulations shall take effect on 1 January 2009.


More on the Madrid OA mandate

The Autonomous Community Government of Madrid adopted an OA policy, apparently an OA mandate, in May 2008.  Last month it formalized the mandate in its official research regulations, February 19, 2009.

Acceso abierto a la información científica has posted the relevant excerpt, which makes clear that the new policy is a mandate.  (Thanks to Eloy Rodrigues.)  Read it in Spanish or Google's English.

The policy requires Madrid-funded researchers to deposit the final versions of their articles in their institutional repository.  It permits a delay on deposit (not just on OA) of six months for STM research and 12 months for SSH research.

Updates (3/30/09). 

  • The May 2008 policy might have been limited to certain research projects.  If so, February 2009 policy is the Madrid government's first general OA mandate.  (Thanks to Eloy Rodrigues.)  I'll post more if I learn more.
  • I was wrong to say that the new policy requires deposit in the researcher's IR.  It requires deposit in the researcher's IR and/or the Madrid central repository.  (Thanks to Gavin Baker.)
  • I believe the Madrid policy is just the second mandate anywhere to use different embargo periods for different fields.  The first was the EU-wide pilot project from August 2008.


OA is compatible with the highest quality

Paola Gargiulo, Chi legge non paga, Il Pensiero, March 25, 2009.  Read it in Italian or Google's English.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Knowledge as a commons, in Italian

The Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom collection, Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice (MIT Press, 2006) has been translated into Italian (Mondadori, 2009).

The English versions of all the articles are OA.  The details are in my post on the original English edition.  (Full disclosure:  One of the contributions is my own.)

Abstracts from PSI workshop

The abstracts from Accessing, Using, Reusing Public Sector Content and Data (London, March 26-27, 2009) are now online, with placeholders for other downloads (papers, video, audio, etc.).

Also see the list of proposed policy recommendations from the workshop speakers:

... Recommendation 12 – Tom Steinberg, mySociety. Free your data, especially maps and other geographic information, plus the non-personal data that drives the police, health and social services, for starters. Introduce a ‘presumption of innovation’ – if someone has asked for something costly to free up, give them what they want: it’s probably a sign that they understand the value of your data when you don’t. ...

Linking grants with publications in UKPMC

Alison Henning, UK PubMed Central - enabling easier reporting on the outcomes of grants, UK PubMed Central Blog, March 23, 2009.

Users of the UK PubMed Central Manuscript Submission System (UKMSS) will soon be able to use a new service - 'My UKPMC' - to report on the outcomes of any grant funded by any one of the UKPMC Funders' Group member organisations. Grantholders will be able to export these grant reports not only in standard .csv and xml formats but also as publicly available web pages, which will update dynamically whenever a new publication is added to either PubMed or UK PubMed Central.

In advance of 'My UKPMC' going live - at the end of April 2009 - grantholders are able to use the current grants reporting service on UKMSS to link their publications with any existing grants awarded by UKPMC Funders' Group members. The step-by-step guide below shows how to do this.

Revolution and evolution together

Philip Davis, Access: Revolution or Evolution?  Scholarly Kitchen, March 26, 2009.  Excerpt:

[Is OA changing people's behavior, or is are people simply ready for it?]

...Through the revolutionary lens, open access is a movement started by scientists and librarians who see their purpose as wresting control of scholarly communication away from those who control the publication process and returning it to the people.  The NIH Public Access Policy and self-archiving mandates, most notably Harvard’s and now MIT’s, can be seen as the result of collective public action to right historical inequalities and empower the oppressed.  It’s about the rights of taxpayers, mothers with sick children, and the poor in developing countries.  Revolutions don’t get any better than this.

And yet science has always been about making things public.  In order for new discoveries to become part of the scientific discourse, they must be made public and opened to scrutiny and verification.  And the more public the better, which is why high-circulation print journals were considered the most prestigious places to publish.  Information does not want to be free, it needs to be free in order for it to become part of science.

Informal communication in science reaffirms this point.  Scientists share manuscripts and working papers, travel to conferences, give invited talks, and talk to the press (when asked).   Sharing of information is an ethos of science, because science is, at heart, a public endeavor.  Through this lens, the Xerox machine and the arXiv did what scientists wanted them to do — help share their discoveries.

Through this evolutionary lens, Federal and institutional mandates to improve access could be viewed as the  bureaucratization of the inevitable, and declaring victory over the inevitable is a bit like cheering on continental drift.

Comment.  Phil's final sentence suggests that it makes no sense to cheer for the inevitable.  But I'm not sure why.  First, inevitable things --at least things like OA-- can be sped up or slowed down by human action.  So our support or opposition can actually make a difference, at least for the timing.  Cheering, then, and even hard work, can be justified.  For opponents, jeering and resistance can be equally justified.  Second, something might be inevitable and still be good for our interests or bad for our interests.  Hence, as it unfolds, we might have reason to cheer or lament, even if we can't even affect the timing and have no illusions that our attitudes will affect our fate.  Right now, for example, I'm cheering the signs of spring.

Forthcoming OA journal of gender and tech

The International Journal of Gender Science and Technology is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Open University and sponsored by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering & Technology. The inaugural issue is scheduled for publication in July 2009 and will publish three issues annually. (Thanks to the European Platform of Women Scientists.)

More funding for open textbook publisher

Flat World Knowledge, an open textbook publisher, announced it received another $8 million in venture funding.

See also our past posts on Flat World Knowledge.

WIPO report on dissemination of patent info

World Intellectual Property Organization Secretariat, Dissemination of Patent Information, report to the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (Geneva, March 23-27, 2009). From the executive summary:

... The document describes the features and characteristics of patent information and potential utility of such information by different types of users for different purposes. It then goes on to address the legal framework and contents of patent information, gives some examples of the relevant technical infrastructure and tools, such as databases, and touches upon aspects that relate to the public domain. ...

More and more patent offices have started to publish patent information in electronic form. The electronic publication increases accessibility to the information, facilitates retrieval and analysis of information and solves problems associated with the handling and storage of paper. On the other hand, the electronic publication raises new questions, such as copyright protection of those publications. ...

Although all information that is needed to analyze the technical contents of patents as well as the status of such patents (and patent applications) are held by patent offices, in practical terms, it can be difficult to access such information, particularly from abroad. Digitization of national collections facilitates the access to patent information as well as the statistical/analytical use of such information. Patent information is increasingly accessible via easily-accessible services that are delivered over the Internet. WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE® Search Service provides free access to PCT international applications and is an entry point for all of WIPO’s patent information services. In the context of the WIPO Development Agenda, a study regarding specialized databases is being prepared. Non-patent databases are not always available free of charge and are often only available via subscription. WIPO is currently working on the establishment of a web-based service which will allow search and access to scientific and technical journals, which will correspond to similar services offered by certain UN agencies in their areas of competence. ...

Patent information is a public good available for everybody’s use. It is considered one of the richest technological information sources worldwide. In addition, patent information is an outstanding tool to establish whether specific subject matter is in the public domain. The patent system has a number of “gates” through which an invention eventually falls outside of the scope of patent protection. Third parties can monitor those gates using patent information. Therefore, accessibility to patent information is an important element for a rich and accessible public domain.

See also Sisule F. Musungu, Commentary on WIPO’s Study on Dissemination of Patent Information, Ideas in Development, March 25, 2009.
... Based on the figures provided in the study, in practical terms, accessibility of patent information is quite poor. Full text patent documents in electronic form is only available in a minority of countries. ...

Connecting OA knowledge and making the connections OA

The Concept Web Alliance launched earlier this month.  From its page on the CWA members:

...CWA is meant to provide a collaborative environment for academics from different disciplines, addressing the volume and the complexity of current scientific data and communication. This initiative may eventually be evolving in a public-private partnership supporting a global solution for the information overload currently being prohibitive to efficient innovation and knowledge discovery. The initial focus will be on highly complex biological data....


  • Data sources, particularly those outside the mainstream scientific literature and databases, are often not interoperable.
  • Stored information can most efficiently be turned into human, actionable knowledge when captured in a dynamic, non-redundant and unambiguous ‘ontological’ format, which we broadly refer to as the Concept Web, in which each node is a unique concept.
  • Multiple direct and indirect ‘associations’ between concepts need to be captured and represented between any pair of concepts in the Concept Web, with attributes and values attached, further to be called ‘edges’. A concept-edge-concept combination is a ‘triple’, the smallest building block of the Concept Web.
  • Information silos, including the rapidly developing biobanks, must be made interoperable in order to make optimal use of the knowledge they contain possible....
  • Science management, both in funding institutions and in academic environments, is in need of interoperable tools and data formats to be able to “reason” with all data available in order to have efficient resource allocation....

Specific activities

  • CWA offers solicited advice on Open Source and Open Access issues to its partners
  • CWA will use the state of the art (bio)informatics and semantic tools of its partners to reach its content harmonization aims and for creating the Concept Web
  • In case partners create unique ‘edges’ in the ‘triple index’ of the Concept Web by proprietary (bio)informatics technology, through human curation of informatics output or through laboratory confirmation of associations between concepts such as protein-protein connections, those partners retain the IP (mainly copyright) on the ‘triple collection’ they produce and maintain, but make them available in open access for non-commercial purposes. The Concept Web can be viewed as a large collection and the sum of all so far contributed edges between each pair of concepts....
  • Everyone will have full open access to the common triple index for non-commercial purposes....
  • The final aim is full interoperability of data sources and informatics tools, across natural languages to support the knowledge discovery, description and exchange process in science.

10 major German science organizations defend OA

Yesterday 10 major science organizations issued a joint statement (in German) explaining the rudiments of OA and reaffirming that OA does not violate copyright or interfere with the freedom of publication.  Read it in German or Google's English.

The joint statement is an answer to the objections and misunderstandings of the Heidelberg Appeal, a sign-on petition against Google Books and OA launched earlier this week.  The petition's criticism of OA is based on several mistakes, including the assumption that OA policies apply to royalty-producing works like novels and that OA expropriates the intellectual property of authors or publishers, rather than resting on the consent of authors or publishers.

The 10 science organizations are:

  • Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
  • Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst
  • Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
  • Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren (which organized the joint statement)
  • Hochschulrektorenkonferenz
  • Leibniz-Gemeinschaft
  • Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  • Wissenschaftsrat

Update (3/26/09).  Also see Christian Hauschke's extensive collection of other responses to the Heidelberg Appeal.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read Hauschke's page in German or Google's English.

Update (3/27/09).  Also see the public statement against the Heidelberg Appeal from Rainer Kuhlen and the Aktionsbündnis: Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft (Coalition for Action:  Copyright for Education and Research), March 25, 2009.  Read it in German or Google's English.

Update (3/31/09). The joint statement has now been translated into English. (Thanks to Andreas Hübner.)

Update (4/9/09). German Medical Science issued its own statement in support of OA and against the Heidelberg Appeal.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NASA to add data to Microsoft's OA WorldWide Telescope

NASA and Microsoft to Make Universe of Data Available to the Public, press release, March 24, 2009.

NASA and Microsoft Corp. today announced plans to make planetary images and data available via the Internet under a Space Act Agreement. Through this project, NASA and Microsoft will jointly develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to make the most interesting NASA content — including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon — explorable on WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft’s online virtual telescope for exploring the universe.

“Making NASA’s scientific and astronomical data more accessible to the public is a high priority for NASA, especially given the new administration’s recent emphasis on open government and transparency,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Under the joint agreement, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will process and host more than 100 terabytes, or 20,000 DVDs of data. WorldWide Telescope will incorporate the data later in 2009 and feature imagery from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). ...

Also available will be images from a camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Scheduled to launch this May, LRO will spend at least a year in a low, polar orbit approximately 30 miles above the lunar surface collecting detailed information about the lunar environment. ...

This agreement builds on a prior collaboration with Microsoft that enabled NASA to develop 3-D interactive Microsoft Photosynth collections of the space shuttle launch pad and other facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last year. The images featured on Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope will supplement existing imagery and data available on NASA’s Web site, the Planetary Data System and other sources. ...

To further integrate the planetary data into WorldWide Telescope, Ames is developing a suite of planetary data processing tools. These software tools convert historic and current space imagery data into a variety of formats and images of the moon, Mars and other planetary bodies readily available for easy browsing and use by the general public, enabling the creation of enhanced educational tools for students and teachers. ...

See also this related press release on WorldWide Telescope. WorldWide Telescope is available OA as a Windows download or on the Web with Microsoft's Silverlight software.

Early OA journals

The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened a list of Early OA journals for community editing.  The list covers peer-reviewed OA journals launched in or before 1993. 

Remember that OAD is a wiki. You can help the cause by adding or revising entries to the OAD lists.

Presentations and notes on JISC conference

Lots of online chatter about the JISC annual conference, Opening Digital Doors (Edinburgh, March 24, 2009):

More on the MIT policy

Here are some more comments on MIT's OA mandate from the press and blogosphere.

From Andrew Albanese at Library Journal:

Another week, another new faculty open access mandate....

From Kim Flintoff at Dramatech Space:

In smaller, less confident universities there still seems to be a misguided belief that holding onto new knowledge and metering its release through relatively exclusive, and often overpriced, academic journals somehow lends prestige to the organisation. Moves like this by MIT reveal those others for what they are - petty bureaucracies festering in unhealthy insecurity....

All kudos to MIT and those that forged the way before them for having the confidence, and corporate intelligence to shed the limiting practices of elite publishing and getting new knowledge into circulation more quickly where its relevance can be tested and incorporated in current practice.

I predict that this will also begin to shift expectations about higher degree research.

From Alexis Madrigal at Wired Science:

Scientific publishing might have just reached a tipping point, thanks to a new open access policy at MIT....

Hal Abelson, who spearheaded the effort, said that these agreements went beyond providing a repository for papers, they changed the power dynamics between scientific publishers and researchers.

"What's important here is that it's giving the University a formal role in how publications happen," Abelson said. "Some of the faculty said, 'You're calling this an open access resolution but actually the way to think of it is as a collective bargaining agreement.'" ...

From Marissa Taylor at Digits (a Wall Street Journal blog):

...[Prof. Hal Abelson], who is also a founding director of the copyright nonprofit Creative Commons, says that...[w]hile online databases and journals make it easy and cheap to distribute academic research, those works have also become far more valuable with the ability to link to other works and index selected parts of the data.

“The system has gotten out of balance,” he says. “Journal business models are going to have to stop focusing so much on … this monopoly on the right of distribution, and instead focus on the places where they do provide value.” ...

“What we’re really talking about here is control of the scholarly record,” says Mr. Abelson. “What I really hope is that some other universities will follow suit.”

From John Timmer at Ars Technica:

If there were any doubt that open access publishing was setting off a bit of a power struggle, a decision made last week by the MIT faculty should put it to rest. Although most commercial academic publishers require that the authors of the works they publish sign all copyrights over to the journal, Congress recently mandated that all researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health retain the right to freely distribute their works one year after publication (several foundations have similar requirements). Since then, some publishers started fighting the trend, and a few members of Congress are reconsidering the mandate. Now, in a move that will undoubtedly redraw the battle lines, the faculty of MIT have unanimously voted to make any publications they produce open access....

Although there are some passionate advocates of open access publishing within the community of research faculty, this fight was, to an extent, going on over their heads. After all, faculty are completely reliant on both parties involved: the funding agencies pay for their work, and publishers ensure that it finds an audience. Obviously, this puts the faculty in no position to negotiate.

All of that helps explain the significance of the policy adopted by the MIT faculty....

Ann Wolpert, who directs MIT's libraries, said, "in the quest for higher profits, publishers have lost sight of the values of the academy."

Those are pretty clearly fighting words. The policy itself doesn't seem to involve any attempt to find middle ground with the publishers, as there is no grace period where journals would have exclusive access, in contrast to the NIH policy....

What's the real impact of OA mandates on TA publishers?

Peter Murray-Rust, Would the NIH policy destroy the ACS?, A Scientist and the Web, March 25, 2009. Murray-Rust's response to the following question:

Peter, I know there’s been a lot of back and forth on this, but I’ve seen very little in the way of hard data on the subject. Have you?

For example, since the ACS appears to be one of the main opponents of the NIH policy, where can we find a breakdown of the percentage of papers that would be eligible for the mandatory program currently and retroactively? Is it 10%? 20%? 50%? What if you throw NSF funding in there as well?

How do those figures break down by journal?

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see a very dim future indeed for a subscription-oriented journal in which 75% of its content needs to released for free. ...

Peter Brantley to lead the Internet Archive

Peter Brantley is the new Director of the Internet Archive.  He has been the Executive Director of the Digital Library Federation.

He's also often quoted on this blog.  Congratulations, Peter!

On the Georgetown Free Culture chapter

Molly Redden, Kevin Donovan talks about Students for Free Culture at Georgetown, Vox Populi, March 23, 2009.

Georgetown’s alright, but it’s no MIT or Yale—and I don’t really mean academically. You’ll be hard pressed to find Georgetown’s classes on any of the proliferating websites that stream lectures and we’re still paying out the ass for scholarly journals.

Organized by Kevin Donovan (COL `11), a group of Georgetown students is looking to change the University’s current not-so-free culture. They’re the Georgetown chapter of the international organization Students for Free Culture.

The group, which just secured SAC funding last semester, aims to get Georgetown to adopt measures like open access publishing, potentially to reform its patent processes, and to join OpenCourseWare, where Universities can post course materials to the extent that anyone can virtually attend classes. ...

In his conversation with me, he explained that since the bulk of scholarly journals (in which most professors publish their work) are subscription-only, Universities like Georgetown, if they have already funded their professors’ research, pay twice to hear what America’s brightest minds have to say. That costs Georgetown about $4 million per year, he said. ...

Next-gen cyberinfrastructure for meteorology

Overlay journal infrastructure for Meteorological Sciences was a JISC-funded project which ended February 28. (Thanks to Branwen Hide.)
The main aim is to develop the mechanisms which could support both a new Journal of Meteorological Data and an Open-Access Repository for documents related to the meteorological sciences.
See also the project site and this poster on the project.

Energy research data now offered in XML

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific & Technical Information, View, store, slice, dice research data to suit your science program needs, as OSTI continues expanding access, OSTI News, March 17, 2009. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Government and university research programs as well as other organizations that want to store and manipulate DOE project summary data in their own analysis systems can now do so using the R&D Project XML Service (see the R&D Project XML Service Manual at the DOE R&D Project Summaries database Information page). This service allows research programs and others to specify data in their areas of interest and, using a search query, view, store and use in alternate ways – including data mining – summaries of ongoing or recently completed research projects. Projects are conducted by the DOE laboratories and research facilities in a range of disciplines in energy, science, and technology. This service is the newest feed available, as OSTI continues to offer expanded access and tools for re-use of research and development data. ...

Advocacy resources from AALL

The American Association of Law Libraries has released its Advocacy Toolkit for the 111th Congress (2009-2010). The Conyers bill, H.R. 801, is included in the Bills We’re Tracking section, under the heading "AALL opposes the following bills".

New OA student anthropology journal

Imponderabilia is a new peer-reviewed journal of student work in anthropology funded by the University of Cambridge. The inaugural issue is gratis OA; the journal doesn't mention open or free access, but there's also no subscription information.

Presentations from linked data conference

The presentations from Linked Data on the Web (Madrid, April 20, 2009) are now online. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Our purpose is to spread knowledge, not wealth"

Anders Rydholm and Olle Svensson, New format, Open Access, and online pre-publication, Acta Orthopaedica, February 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

...We need to lower our production costs because of Open Access, which we started in 2005. This means that all our articles are accessible as full text—for everyone, at no cost—via PubMed immediately after the printed version has been published. We do not use the common system of delayed Open Access with articles that first become freely available 6-12 months after publication or are free to subscribers only. This, in turn, means that one important source of income, library subscriptions, will diminish. Furthermore, all articles published since the start in 1930 are free to everyone on Acta's website....

Many journals have introduced page charges for authors to cover the costs. Acta Orthopaedica has decided that Open Access should also be without costs for authors, which means that we have to cut production costs. At present we are breaking even, but in a couple of years, unless we find other sources of income, Acta will perhaps also have to introduce page charges, to compensate for increasing general costs, unchanged subscription fees for members, and the reduced number of library subscriptions that will come in the foreseeable future. A drastic way of cutting costs would be to stop printing Acta on paper. However, we believe that most readers (and all editors) still love the smell and feel of paper and papers....

[W]e [at the Nordic Orthopaedic Federation] are a non-profit organization, owned by the NOF members: our purpose is to spread knowledge —not wealth.

OA repositories in Nigeria

Gideon Emcee Christian, Open Access Institutional Repository in Academic and Research Institutions in Nigeria, a slide presentation from December 2008.  (Thanks to eIFL.)

PLoS ONE launches a blog

EveryONE is a new community blog from PLoS ONE.  (Thanks to Bora Zivkovic.)

Recent open gov. data news

Searching by funder in UKPMC

Robert Kiley, Finding funder attributed papers in UKPMC, UK PubMed Central Blog, March 19, 2009.

Each of the eight funders associated with UKPMC has a Funders Home Page from which you can find all papers in UKPMC which are associated with any of these funding bodies.

In addition to be able to view these full-text articles, the article metadata can be exported in csv or xml. This metadata can also be sorted in various ways (author, title, date) and it is possible to limit the output to author manuscripts or publisher depositions.

As of today (19th March 2009) there are 5725 Wellcome-funded papers in UKPMC, of which 4289 (81%) are publisher, final-version articles. ...

OA vs. "intellectual apartheid"

Gideon Burton, Academia must divest from Intellectual Apartheid, Academic Evolution, March 21, 2009.

Apartheid is alive and well today. I don’t mean South Africa’s social policy that once enforced a harmful racial divide; I mean academia’s policy that enforces an unnecessary and counterproductive intellectual divide. What intellectual divide? It is that gaping chasm between two opposing models of disseminating knowledge: toll access and open access. ...

In disheartening irony, the very stewards of knowledge have become its jailers in the information age, for the ones who sustain Intellectual Apartheid are the academic publishers, research universities, and scholars themselves. Academics and their institutions have sold out to economic interests in the name of preserving the only system trustworthy enough to produce authoritative information. ...

I believe it is fair to label as “apartheid” any artificial social construct that privileges an elite minority to the detriment of a majority. The artificial construct doing that in the world of knowledge is the toll-access system of traditional scholarly communication.

It works like this. If you wish to have access to the most authoritative information–-knowledge vetted by experts-–then you must pay for the privilege. Even research which has been funded for the public good by governments or granting institutions lives mostly quarantined behind commercial barriers that keep it from those it could benefit most. It doesn’t need to be. It shouldn’t be. But the fact of the matter is that most of the world’s most important knowledge remains out of reach of most of the world.

Let me repeat that. Despite all the digitizing and online publishing now extant, despite the proliferation of websites and web users, despite the largely up-to-date technological infrastructure within academia, it is still the case that most of the world’s most important knowledge remains out of reach of most of the world. ...

Many PD books in new e-book format

Mike Cook, EPUB books now available at Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg News, March 20, 2009. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

... Project Guternberg now has most of their titles available in the industry standard EPUB eBook format and free from any DRM (Digital Restrictions Management)!

Although only embraced as an eBook standard within the last 12 months, it has been truly embraced by many big names including; Sony, Google, Penguin, Harper Collins and Adobe, to name but a few. There are also many EPUB readers, both software and hardware, that can read eBooks in this format. ...

It must be stated that at this time, the PG EPUB books should be considered experimental. It is a huge task to convert the entire PG collection, so many may be either buggy or not actually work at all.

The EPUB files are generated automatically from the HTML version, if there is one, otherwise the Plain Text file is used. In this case the conversion program must guess at the structure of the text, so it is more than likely that the EPUB book will contain some formatting errors. These can include verse lines running together or paragraphs being marked as headers. Still, they are very readable. ...

See also Peter's recent post on public domain titles from Google Book Search being made available for the Sony Reader.

Analysis of OA journals in anthropology

Evaluation and analysis of Open Accessed Anthropology Journals (Part 1), Sara Anthro Blog, March 24, 2009. An analysis of the language(s) of anthropology journals listed in the DOAJ.

Thesis on IRs in Germany

Martin Boosen, Institutionelle Repositorien in Deutschland, Master's thesis at Cologne University of Applied Sciences, 2008. English abstract:
The concept of the institutional repository is currently discussed in library science and in practice around the globe. Many universities hope for significant advantages caused by publishing servers collecting the outflow of their scientific institutions as electronic documents and providing them via internet. If nothing else they count on a huge advertising impact for their own institution. For this reason, in recent years, many universities and scientific institutions in Germany as in the rest of the world decided to build their own document server. From the beginning, there has been a close link between this approach and the international open-access movement. Not a few represent the view, both concepts could create a decisive influence on the changing system of scientific publishing. But contrary to the initial optimistic estimates, many operators of this type of archive servers today find themselves confronted with significant difficulties. In this regard primarily the lack of acceptance by the scientific authors proves to be a fundamental problem that may threaten the success of the concept.

2 new DOAJ members

Slides from SCOAP3 forum

The slides from Salvatore Mele's presentation at the SCOAP3 forum at the ACRL 2009 National Conference (Seattle, March 12-15, 2009) are now online.

Inaccurate survey delays OA mandate at Swedish Research Council

At several of its 2008 board meeting, the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet, or VR) considered adopting an OA mandate for VR-funded research.  However, at its December 2008 meeting it decided to postpone the decision on the ground that not enough Swedish universities had institutional repositories.

The VR explained its decision in a press release on December 22, 2008.  Read it in Swedish or Google's English.  The decision was based on an October 2008 survey of Sweden's 42 universities by the Association of Swedish Higher Education (Sveriges universitets- och högskoleförbund, or SUHF), in which only 15 said they had IRs.  A few said they didn't have one and would soon.  Most, apparently, didn't respond. 

In today's issue of ScieComm, Ingegerd Rabow tells the rest of the story.  Excerpt:

...As a matter of fact, all Swedish universities, with the exception of the Karolinska Medical University, have repositories. The University Colleges have repositories (three are planning to set them up), except a couple of small institutions with very few research publications, and seven colleges specialising in music, theatre, art, and dance....As researchers at the Karolinska have the alternative to deposit in the PMC (PubMed Central), their lack of a repository could be solved in this way.  The Lund University Repository - LUP – has offered hosting services for those needing interim help while setting up IRs of their own, and/or for the remaining few, who might not feel the need to set up their own.

According to VR, their postponed decision will be reconsidered later on....

(In the rest of her article, Rabow describes a proposal for an EU-wide PubMed Central, modeled on UKPMC.)


  • This is the first time I've heard of a funding agency backing away from an OA mandate on the ground that not enough universities have IRs.  On the one hand, it shows a strong preference for institutional over central repositories.  But on the other, it exposes several potholes in the road to a policy.  VR could have launched a temporary or permanent central repository.  It could have taken advantage of Lund's willingness to serve as a universal Swedish repository.  It didn't have to trust a survey with such a low response rate.  Or it could have made two dozen phone calls to supplement the survey.  But at least it's willing to reconsider its decision in light of the new information, and it appears to be waiting only for the infrastructure before it adopts a mandate.
  • It also shows that the Depot, a universal repository for UK institutions without their own, could play a valuable European or worldwide role if it could find European or worldwide funding. 
  • Also see our past posts on the OA activities of the Swedish Research Council.

The latest on Nordic OA

The first 2009 issue of ScieComm is now online.  (It's labeled vol. 1, no. 1, but should be vol. 5, no. 1.)  Here are the OA-related articles:

Obama's science advisor, NOAA head confirmed

U.S. President Barack Obama's nominees to head the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco, were confirmed by the Senate on March 19. (Thanks to Science Progress.)

See our past posts on the OA connections for Holdren and Lubchenco.

Reply to Roland Reuss

Matthias Spielkamp, Open Excess: Der Heidelberger Appell, Perlentaucher, March 24, 2009.  An extended reply to Roland Reuß and his polemics against OA (1, 2).  Read it in German or Google's English.

Update (3/25/09). Also see JGE's extensive reply to Reuß (1, 2, 3), in German or Google's English (1, 2, 3).

Update on OA in India

Elie Dolgin, India debates open access, The Scientist, March 24, 2009.  Excerpt:

India's premier publicly-funded research organization is pushing to make all research published at its institutions open access. But its pleas are falling on deaf ears, critics say, as individual laboratories have been slow to take up the charge.

Last month (Feb. 6), the head of research and development planning at India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Naresh Kumar, sent a memo to the directors of CSIR's 42 labs urging that "all research papers published from all CSIR laboratories be made open access," either through online repositories or by publishing in open access journals. Kumar also recommended that the 20-odd journals published by CSIR's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) be made open access.

It is now up to the directors of the various labs to decide whether or not to implement the policy. Subbiah Arunachalam, an information consultant based in Chennai who was involved in formulating the recommendations, said that "whether this will actually happen is anybody's guess."

"The uptake [of open access policies] is rather slow in India," Arunachalam told The Scientist . "[The CSIR directors] will not take it seriously at all. I know these guys. For them, this doesn't look important." The directors don't necessarily see the benefits of open access publishing and claim that the infrastructure is too difficult to implement, he said.

Arunachalam and leading policymakers and academics are meeting today (Mar. 24) at the CSIR offices in New Delhi and again Thursday (Mar. 26) at the Indian Academy of Sciences in Bangalore to discuss the merits of open access publishing and online institutional databases.

Indian scientists who publish their work abroad often can't even access their own papers, said Leslie Chan of the University of Toronto, who directs the online publishing service Bioline International and will be speaking this week at the Indian conferences. "By putting these articles that are published elsewhere in some sort of repository, they become available to scientists in their own countries and elsewhere," he said....

Instead of setting up dozens of individual databases, [John Willinsky of Stanford University and the Public Knowledge Project] suggests moving Indian journals in their entirety online through an open access publishing model akin to the Public Library of Science or BioMed Central.... 

While deliberations take place, Chan thinks that India can take guidance from recent open access efforts in developing countries elsewhere. "If India can learn from these existing projects then they don't need to reinvent the wheel," he said.

Last month (Feb. 19), the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) announced a two-year pilot project to make one of the country's leading journals, the South African Journal of Science, open access with no page charges for any scientists -- not just South African ones -- publishing in the journal....

The Biannual National Research Survey, released by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), provides a searchable online database containing a summary of all research conducted partly or wholly in the country before 2007. The QNRF plans to update the repository every two years....

"A lot of Middle Eastern countries are realizing that open access is a good way of promoting their research and attracting attention," said Chan. Asian countries have been slower to warm up to open access, he notes, but they're starting to come around....

[Zuoyan Zhu, a developmental biologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Wuhan and the former deputy head of the National Science Foundation of China] is currently preparing a report for the CAS to assess the impact and logistics of making some or all of the Science in China journals -- China's premier English-language journal series -- open access. He expects to submit the report before the end of year. Kumar, however, doesn't want India's CSIR to wait that long. "It is requested that the open access activities are implemented at the earliest [possible date]," he wrote at the end of his appeal to the CSIR directors.

PS:  Also see our past posts on OA initiative from India's CSIR.

Update (3/26/09). Also see Amulya Gopalakrishnan's article in Indian Express.

Update (3/29/09). Also see Sreelatha Menon's article in the Business Standard.

TA publishers want to bend Google rank

Nat Ives, Media Giants Want to Top Google Results, Advertising Age, March 23, 2009.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody for the alert and his comments.)  Excerpt:

Major media companies are increasingly lobbying Google to elevate their expensive professional content within [what they consider] the search engine's undifferentiated slush of results.

Many publishers resent the criteria Google uses to pick top results, starting with the original PageRank formula that depended on how many links a page got. But crumbling ad revenue is lending their push more urgency; this is no time to show up on the third page of Google search results. And as publishers renew efforts to sell some content online, moreover, they're newly upset that Google's algorithm penalizes paid content.

"You should not have a system," one content executive said, "where those who are essentially parasites off the true producers of content benefit disproportionately." ...

Publishers said they're not asking for a leg up over amateurs and link-happy bloggers. "This would in no way mean that only professional content publishers would get an advantage," one said. "It really just says that the original source, and the source with real access, should somehow be recognized as the most important in the delivery of results."

Google says it's trying but can't just flip a switch to deliver pro publishers' dreams. "There's absolutely value to original content," a spokesman said. "There's value to derivative content, too...."

Not everyone supports the publishers' push. "It's the plaintive cry of people who have lost their monopoly trying to scrounge a little of it back," said Michael Wolff, Vanity Fair columnist and founder of Newser, which aggregates and links news from around the web. "Sometimes it's true that you'd rather get what The New York Times has to say about something rather than a host of bloggers. But more interestingly it's not always true. And it is in fact less and less true." ...

Publishers are...also beginning to cast around for new leverage. Publishers on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly adopting the Automated Content Access Protocol, which intends to tell search engines what they can use and how. It's focused on copyright, but widespread adoption might give publishers new clout with Google.

Some publishers concede, however, they could help themselves more too. "Google has designed an algorithm," one said. "They don't owe us that we show up a particular way. They do publish a whole lot about how to make your site show up as much as possible. If people haven't taken action on it, that's their own damn fault."


  • Newspaper publishers seem to be leading this cause.  Academic publishers are not as riled, although Jorge Cauz, President of the Encyclopedia Britannica, voiced a similar complaint back in January.  I haven't heard TA journal publishers criticize Google on this ground yet.  But they might start if anyone had evidence that the versions of articles in OA repositories tended to have a higher Google rank than the original versions in TA journals.  Because I suspect that the evidence is ready to grab for anyone who digs for it, here's a present thought on a future complaint.
  • If you wanted to read a TA journal article, and it was equally easy to read the publisher's version in the original journal and the author's peer-reviewed manuscript in an OA repository, you'd probably read the journal version.  I would, unless the journal version were abridged or had frozen the author's data into unprocessable images.  But if you were writing a blog post about the article and wanted to link to it, and had the URLs for both editions, you'd probably link to the OA edition.  Some would link to both (my usual practice at OAN), but most wouldn't bother.  No one should be surprised if the OA edition eventually acquired more incoming links and a higher Google rank than the TA edition.  Publishers inclined to think that this practice sends readers to inferior quality should consider that there is more than one kind of quality.   An EC-commissioned report made precisely this point in early 2006 when it urged researchers and research institutions (in Recommendation A3) to find more comprehensive and nuanced ways to measure journal quality, and in particular to include "quality of dissemination" among their criteria.  For most users, a direct link to full text is far more valuable than a link to a pay-per-view screen. 
  • Moreover, of course, uncorrupted Google rank is very informative and useful.  If publishers only want their TA version to be clustered with the free version(s), Google Scholar already does so.

More on the MIT policy

Jeffrey Young, MIT Professors Approve Campuswide Policy to Publish Scholarly Articles Free Online, Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, March 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for its ambitious effort to give away its course materials online, but now the university is giving away its research too.

Last week MIT’s professors voted unanimously to adopt a policy stating that all faculty members will deposit their scholarly research papers in a free online university repository (in addition to sending them to scholarly journals), in an effort to expand access to the university’s scholarship....

Peter Suber...said the move was a sign of growing momentum for open-access policies. “It’s a strong signal that these measures have faculty support,” he said. “The more momentum there is for open access, the more it looks like a mainstream idea,” he added. “There’s no doubt that it started out as a fringe idea.”

He said that about 30 colleges and universities around the world have adopted similar open-access policies for their research, citing a list of such policies maintained by ePrints....

Humanities journals have mixed feelings about digital

Jennifer Howard, Humanities Journals Confront Identity Crisis, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

Senior scholars, the A-list of academic publishing, seem to submit fewer unsolicited manuscripts to traditional humanities journals than they used to. "The journal has become, with very few exceptions, the place where junior and midlevel scholars are placing their work," according to Bonnie Wheeler, president of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals....

At the Conference of Historical Journals at the American Historical Association's annual meeting in January, Ms. Wheeler, an associate professor of English at Southern Methodist University and editor of the journal Arthuriana,...said journals are caught between the changing habits of readers, who increasingly just want individual pieces of content, and growing pressure to consider their standing in new rankings like the European Reference Index for the Humanities, which critics charge may create a caste system of journals (The Chronicle, October 10, 2008)....

A journal started likely to be online-only and open access. And more and more readers now discover bits and pieces of any journal's content — an article here, a book review there — through electronic databases and aggregators like JStor, Project Muse, and Ebsco.

Editors of well-established humanities journals have mixed feelings about the changes. They are not Luddites. They appreciate how digital access has expanded the audience for much of the work they publish. They see the possibilities that the Web presents for publishing and scholarship. Editors have also learned that the databases that deliver content to more readers can be a robust source of operating revenue because they work on a subscription model — which helps explain why many editors (or their publishers) have not yet embraced open access.

More readers, more dollars: That makes editors happy. But they worry about how to carry the idea of a journal as an organized whole over into the digital world. "The journal itself becomes invisible to the end-user," Ms. Wheeler told her audience. Even as access to its content increases, "the identity of the journal is often lost." ...

On its Web site, the Council of Editors of Learned Journals has set up a blog devoted to how scholarly journals can adapt to a Web 2.0 future. Run by Jo Guldi, a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in digital history at the University of Chicago, the site has begun laying out "tentative principles for rethinking journals by way of sparking conversation." It remains to be seen how ready editors are to have that conversation....

PS:  Note that the CELJ blog endorsed OA in the second principle it articulated for the future of scholarly journals.

Monday, March 23, 2009

John Willinsky on the Conyers bill

John Willinsky, A (Publishing) House Divided: Scholarly Publishers In Support and Opposition to Public Access to Research,, March 18, 2009.  Excerpt:

I wasn’t surprised to learn that the American Association of Publishers had sent a letter [PDF ] to then President-elect Obama in December opposing the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, which requires any NIH-funded researchers to deposit a copy of what they have discovered and published in a publicly accessible archive. The AAP publishers association holds that the NIH Policy infringes on their business rights, insofar as it grants the public a right to this publicly funded work, and in support of their objections, Rep. John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan, has reintroduced into Congress the questionably entitled Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, HR 801which would make it illegal for the federal government to institute such measures as the NIH Public Access Policy. There has been a minor blog-storm objecting to this un-Obama like move. To the welcomed outcry against this regressive legislative proposal, I have but a couple of points to add.

First, one has to appreciate that this National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy already includes considerable concessions to publishers who would use this research to generate a profit margin or sustain a scholarly society. Not only does the NIH Policy ensure that “public access” only takes place 12 months after publication, but that what is made public is only the author’s final draft. That would seem sufficient to protect the value of journal subscriptions, while recognizing the rights of the public to at least second-class access....

What significant contribution to this research [by publishers] warrants 100% ownership over the results, with no allowance for any government and public, and scientific claim to this work? Is this outright ownership of science putting science in its rightful place, as President Obama promised in his inaugural address?

Clearly, one can get worked up about publisher claims, but this tendency to condemn an entire industry is misguided, as it turns out. This brings me to my second modest contribution to the debate over this bill. For what also needs to be made clear is that the scholarly publishing industry is itself divided over this open access thing. The proof lies with the 533 journals in the life sciences — from Advances in Urology to The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine — that currently offer to help authors deposit the published copy (not the final draft) in PubMed Central for the authors, where they are made freely available 12 months after publication. And then there are the 43 journals of the Nature Publishing Group, which will deposit the author’s final draft in PubMed Central for the author, as well as the 28 society and academic journals published by this group....

It is hard for the American Association of Publishers to claim, on behalf of publishers, that the NIH Public Access Policy allows “the NIH to unfairly compete directly with private sector journal publishers,” when so many publishers are helping authors comply with the policy. (Or at least, one cannot claim it unless one cynically suspects publishers are hedging their every bet by lobbying to defeat the policy, while making a show of supporting it to attract and appease authors.)

We need to bring to John Conyers’ attention, well as the Act's other sponsors, that even the special-interest basis for advancing the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act has been seriously undermined by the many publishers who are happy to work with the NIH Public Access Policy. And we need to commend these far-sighted scholarly publishers who find it in their interest to help authors take advantage of the NIH Public Access Policy, thereby restoring science to its open and public place in this democracy, to riff on President Obama’s inaugural address.

Comment.  Exactly.  There are even more forms of publisher accommodation with the NIH policy than John mentions.  Here's my list, with links, from my October 2008 article on the Conyers bill:

...Any systematic study of the harm question would...have to compare the few publishers who have publicly endorsed the Conyers bill with the hundreds who are voluntarily going beyond the terms required by NIH-funded authors:

For more detail on various publisher positions, see the OAD list of publisher policies on NIH-funded authors....

April Cites & Insights

The April issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  This issue contains a special section on Library Access to Scholarship.  It has a bit on OA and a lot on whether journals should evolve into blogs.  Excerpt:

...I was thinking about the requisites for 100% success of either color of open access....Here’s how it seems to me, noting that this may be a terribly naïve view.

* Gold open access (where readers can access refereed article portions of journals, from the publishers in final published form, at no cost) seems, in the long run, to require one success and one transformation: The near-universal success of gold OA journals and transforming author attitudes. As part of that success, by the way, I’m assuming some revolution in understanding actual publishing costs and reforming them. I’m assuming that charging author-side fees equivalent to the asserted “costs” of traditional journal publishing (which somehow seem to equal the total income of the journals) is not going to hack it in the long run. Transforming author attitudes? Because the biggest traditional publishers have managed to corral too many of the highest-”impact” journals, scholars need to look beyond the traditional impact factor when deciding on submissions.

* Green open access (where readers can access some version of articles from repositories at no cost) seems to require a different success and transformation: The universal success of institutional and topical repositories—and a different (and equally difficult) transformation in author attitudes. In this case, scholars need to believe that it’s worth their time to (a) make sure they have the rights to deposit papers in repositories and (b) take steps to do so....

There doesn’t seem much question that IRs are in trouble; that doesn’t bode well for green OA as the only or even the primary answer. And nonsense like the reintroduced Conyers bill threatens to undermine what progress has been made on what should be the low-hanging fruit for repositories: research funded by the Federal government....

Lately, I’ve been trying out FriendFeed —and...wind up seeing more commentary from scientists (on FriendFeed and in linked blogged posts) than I’m used to. Once in a while, it’s truly discouraging —for example, a presumably informed scientist using “open access” (in scare quotes) to mean Wikipedia-style crowdsourcing as opposed to peer review. What does that tell me? That the continuing [publishser] campaign to sell the absolutely false notion that OA journals aren’t peer reviewed is working where it matters most: Among the scientists. (In an earlier FF discussion, a scholar directly said OA journals wouldn’t count until they were peer-reviewed…and wasn’t immediately corrected.) ...

I’m not going to attempt general coverage of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, which has nothing to do with “fair copyright” and everything to do with undermining NIH on behalf of the big international publishers and their society-publishing allies.

What’s the point? Patrick Ross of the Copyright Alliance issued a thoroughly misleading statement speaking of commandeering, treating copyright works as public domain and violating publisher rights. After the hearings on the bill last year —hearings that raised important issues— Conyers reintroduced an unchanged bill, essentially ignoring all input and criticism. James Boyle wrote a charming imaginary dialogue as to how Congresscritters could ignore the combined views of Nobel laureates, most legal scholars, empirical evidence and everything else to favor the special interests of publishers....

U of Michigan Press moves to digital + POD

Two stories on the University of Michigan Press:

(1) Jennifer Howard, U. of Michigan Press Reorganizes as a Unit of the Library, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

The University of Michigan Press will be restructured as an academic unit under the aegis of Paul N. Courant, the university’s dean of libraries. The idea, according to statement released by Michigan on Friday, is to position the press “to become a pioneer” in digital publishing—to make it a more direct collaborator in the central mission of spreading research “as widely and freely as possible." ...

Such sentiments have taken on a higher profile of late. In mid-February the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of American Universities, the Coalition for Networked Information, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges issued a joint "call to action" that exhorted universities to ensure the "broadest possible access" to scholarship....

(2) Nevertheless, the Michigan monographs will not be OA.  For details, see Scott Jaschik, Farewell to the Printed Monograph, Inside Higher Ed, March 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

The University of Michigan Press is announcing today that it will shift its scholarly publishing from being primarily a traditional print operation to one that is primarily digital.

Within two years, press officials expect well over 50 of the 60-plus monographs that the press publishes each year -- currently in book form -- to be released only in digital editions. Readers will still be able to use print-on-demand systems to produce versions that can be held in their hands, but the press will consider the digital monograph the norm. Many university presses are experimenting with digital publishing, but the Michigan announcement may be the most dramatic to date by a major university press....

Michigan officials say that their move reflects a belief that it's time to stop trying to make the old economics of scholarly publishing work. "I have been increasingly convinced that the business model based on printed monograph was not merely failing but broken," said Phil Pochoda, director of the Michigan press. "Why try to fight your way through this? Why try to remain in territory you know is doomed? Scholarly presses will be primarily digital in a decade. Why not seize the opportunity to do it now?"

While Pochoda acknowledged that Michigan risks offending a few authors and readers not ready for the switch, he said there is a huge upside to making the move now.

Because digital publishing is so much less expensive -- with savings both in printing and distribution -- the press expects to be able to publish more books, and to distribute them electronically to a much broader audience. Michigan officials said that they don't plan to cut the budget of the press -- but to devote resources to peer review and other costs of publishing that won't change with the new model. Significantly, they said, the press would no longer have to reject books deemed worthy from a scholarly perspective, but viewed as unable to sell.  "We will certainly be able to publish books that would not have survived economic tests," said Pochoda. "And we'll be able to give all of our books much broader distribution." ...

The shift is not designed to save money, but to make better use of the money being spent on the press, said [Teresa A. Sullivan, Michigan's provost]. No jobs will be eliminated -- although duties will probably shift for some employees....

In terms of pricing, Sullivan said that Michigan planned to develop site licenses so that libraries could gain access to all of the press's books over the course of a year for a flat rate. While details aren't firm, the idea is to be "so reasonable that maybe every public library could acquire it." ...

Other presses are experimenting with making small portions of their lists or individual series available primarily in digital form. Since 2006, the Pennsylvania State University Press has released a few books a year in its romance studies series in digital, open access format. All chapters are provided in PDF format, but half are provided in a format to download and print, and half in read only. Readers may pay for print-on-demand versions....

Thatcher is skeptical of the site license approach for university press books. "How many libraries are going to license a small number of books," and do so in arrangements with many presses? he asked.

Nonetheless, he applauded Michigan for adopting a new model from which others may learn. "We all need experiments," he said.

Update (3/24/09). Also see UM's press release.

Will TA publishers risk cancellations with standard price increases this year?

Jennifer Howard, Publishers Face Pressure From Libraries to Freeze Prices and Cut Deals, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

The publishers' hall at the recent Association of College and Research Libraries conference, held in Seattle in mid-March, was a study in give-and-take: how much publishers such as Elsevier and Oxford University Press will give in this lousy economy, and how much budget-strapped librarians can take.

Libraries are some of the biggest customers for academic and commercial publishers. Salespeople from some bigger vendors — in the supersize category of Ebsco, Elsevier, and ProQuest — did not want to speak on the record, but did say they had heard sob stories from customers. "They're worried," a representative for one of the larger commercial publishers said. "People are hoping publishers are going to freeze our pricing next year."

Will they? That's not the sort of thing publishers shout from the rooftops. At the conference, a wait-and-see attitude prevailed....

Now more than ever, publishers feel they must walk a fine line. "We want to make sure we're not undervaluing our product, but we don't want to be seen as harsh," explained [David A. Price, an accounts manager for network and consortia sales at Oxford University Press]. "We're trying to be mindful of tough times."

He has heard from colleagues in the business that some publishers are likely to hold prices flat in response to the economic downturn, or even lower their prices....

For now, Oxford tries to deal with financially pinched customers case by case. "If somebody comes to me and says, 'This is my situation,' sure, we'll try to accommodate them," Mr. Price said.

Greg Doyle, electronic resources program manager of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, in Portland, Ore., not afraid to use the word "dire" to describe the economic situation that faces his alliance's members. "Right now everybody's budget is terrible," he said. Many don't yet know just how bad the cuts will be. To prepare for the worst, though, they "are actively identifying databases to cut." ...

PS:  Also see the the ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis, released last month, and the ICOLC Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Consortial Licenses, released in January.

Nobelist Richard Roberts slams the Conyers bill

Richard J. Roberts, Protect our access to medical research, Boston Globe, March 23, 2009.  An op-ed.  Roberts won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  Excerpt:

If you think this is the era of e-government and transparency, it's time to think again. Hard as it is to imagine, there's a move afoot in Congress to take away the public's free online access to tax-funded medical research findings.

That would be bad for medical discovery, bad for patients looking for the latest research results, and another rip-off of the American taxpayer.

Today anyone who wants to investigate a medical topic or see the outcomes of the $30 billion annual taxpayer investment in the National Institutes of Health has simply to visit PubMed Central, the agency's popular online archive. It provides free access to the knowledge recorded in 80,000 journal articles published each year as a result of NIH grants, plus many other peer-reviewed, open-access research papers.

Under the current policy, which is similar to practices of other funders worldwide, researchers who accept NIH funds must deposit their resulting peer-reviewed scientific articles in the PubMed Central archive. There the articles are permanently preserved in digital form, made searchable, linked to related information, and offered free to all on the Web. It's a fair deal: Researchers get financial support for their work; taxpayers get a resource that will further advance science and address the public's need to know.

But a group of well-heeled scientific journal publishers is trying to turn back the clock. They've backed legislation to rescind this widely hailed NIH policy. Elsevier , publisher of The Lancet, for example, is part of the Association of American Publishers, which has joined with the so-called DC Principles Coalition to ramrod the bill in Congress.

The giant American Chemical Society is another vocal advocate of the bill.

Not all publishers support the bill, but those who do are among the richest and best connected on Capitol Hill. If the pending legislation passes, public access will take a back seat to publisher self-interest....

PubMed Central is vital for researchers and the public alike. Only through free access can everyone find out where the cutting edge of research lies. With access to the latest studies, patients and their families have a much-needed piece of the puzzle as they consider treatment options and potential outcomes. Educators and students at rich and poor schools alike have an unmatched resource for teaching and learning about the life sciences. Small businesses can put advances in knowledge to work and drive American innovation.

Health advocate Sharon Terry of the Genetic Alliance, whose children have a rare genetic disease, contends that before NIH put its research online, her own search to understand her children's situation ran into a "wall around published scientific research. Information was being held hostage by outmoded publishing practices."

The publishers are pulling out all the stops to overturn the current NIH policy....

It is time that publishers stop trying to rob the public of access to NIH research. Instead of rolling back the current NIH policy, we need to strengthen it. For example, NIH should shorten the present one-year wait for public access, which was implemented in response to publisher pressure. Also, public access requirements should be extended to all federal research grants, not just those of NIH.

Just as big financial firms don't seem to understand that public obligations come with their government bailout funds, some publishers seem clueless about the public's right to public research. NIH and agencies throughout government owe it to taxpayers to share the findings of their research investments as widely as possible.

Handing publishers the right to lock up research isn't a government giveaway taxpayers can afford.

Notes on repository infrastructure workshop

Presentations and notes from repository software workshop

The presentations from Repository Software Day 2009 (Manchester, March 19, 2009) are now online. See also these notes on the workshop.

More on the MIT policy

Dennis Carter, MIT makes research available on the web, eSchool News, March 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

Hal Abelson, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at MIT who formed an open-access committee last summer, said the audience for faculty researchers has shrunk in recent years as fewer people have access to pricey journals.

"It just seems obvious to me that the way you support the progress of scholarship is that you make your works available as widely as possible," said Abelson, an MIT faculty member since 1969.

As the publishing industry has consolidated over the past 20 years, Abelson said, access to critical research papers has been restricted.

"The whole publishing process moves in a direction where it captures things and closes them off," he said....

"I was really happy," Abelson said about the unanimous vote, adding that the open-access mandate has an opt-out clause for faculty. "We don't often get a unanimous vote on anything."

[Peter] Suber, a longtime open-access advocate and author of the blog Open Access News, said making the peer-reviewed literature available on the web would not take money from researchers' pockets, because they typically aren't paid [by journals] to publish their research.

"They write for impact, not for money," he said. "They have an interest in finding the largest possible audience. … There is also the natural desire to take advantage of new technology [to reduce costs and widen distribution at the same time]."

But John Tagler, executive director of the AAP's professional and scholarly publishing division, said the claim that open access is free is misleading. Although readers do not have to pay for the scholarly articles online, Tagler said, publishers still must bear the costs of peer reviewing and publishing the works.

"Open access just means the economic model has shifted," he said. "The costs have to be borne somewhere."

The rising prices of research journals have been exacerbated by the current economic crisis, which has affected campus endowments and operating budgets. Charles B. Lowery, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries, wrote in a 2008 article that faculty have been frustrated by the dwindling supply of research material as libraries are forced to cut back.

"I would observe that there is really only one problem as the camps face off--academic libraries cannot afford to purchase the information that they need to deliver in order to satisfy the appetite of our teaching and research mission," wrote Lowery, a professor at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies....

The open-access battle between researchers and publishers has become contentious, Lowery said, sometimes distracting academia from the goal of making research available to everyone for free....

Suber said there are at least a dozen more American universities considering some form of open-access mandate for campus research, including the University of California.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

German petition against Google Books and OA

The Heidelberg Appeal is a sign-on petition (in German) against Google Books which appeared recently on the web site of Heidelberg's Institut für Textkritik (ITK).  The gist of it is that Google Books violates copyright and the freedom of authors.  But in an aside it criticizes the Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen (Alliance for German Science Organizations) for advocating an unlawful interference with the freedom of authors, apparently by supporting OA.  Read the petition in German or Google's English.

The authors of the petition do not identify themselves.  It may be a coincidence, but ITK is the home institution of Roland Reuß, who triggered an intense controversy with a jeremiad against OA last month in the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung.  He has also condemned Google Books.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen.


Update (3/26/09).  Also see the response from 10 major German science organizations to the Heidelberg Appeal.

Update (3/26/09).  Also see Christian Hauschke's extensive collection of other responses to the Heidelberg Appeal.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Read Hauschke's page in German or Google's English.