Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I'll be on the road April 5-11, with only occasional opportunities for blogging and email.  But Gavin will be on the job and I'll return full-time a week from today.

BMJ requires data-sharing statements

Managing UK research data for future use, BMJ, March 25, 2009.  An editorial.  (The DOI-based URL doesn't work at the moment.)  Excerpt:

For some time the BMJ has been watching other journals’ efforts to encourage authors to make raw research data available. Now we are taking part too, by asking authors to include a data sharing statement at the end of each original research article. The statement will explain which additional data—if any—are available, to whom, and how. Those data could range from additional explanatory material to the complete dataset. People allowed access to the data might range from fellow researchers to everyone. And data might be available only on request, accessible online with a password, or openly accessible to all on the web with a link on

We understand that many authors wish to guard data until they have published all their own papers, and we know that data sharing is hard to do. But we hope that authors will, increasingly, set the data free, perhaps after a set period of personal use.

Data sharing means more than the open access publication of articles and the posting in online registries of study protocols and main results. Sharing allows other researchers—and perhaps scientists, clinicians, and patients—access to raw numbers, analyses, facts, ideas, and images that do not make it into published articles and registries. At its fullest extent, data sharing means free access for everyone. Many people would call this a moral obligation because most research is publicly funded and involves the public as participants. Other potential benefits include quicker scientific discovery and learning, better understanding of research methods and results, more transparency about the quality of research, and greater ability to confirm or refute research through replication.

Such sharing raises important questions about who owns the data, who gives permission to release the data..., where and how the data should be stored..., who should have access and when, and what limits may be needed to prevent misuse and mishandling of data. Yet, despite these and other complexities, the movement to free the world’s vast swathes of untapped research data is gathering speed....

Researchers lack the incentives and the means to analyse all the data that they generate, to manage data after funded projects have ended, and to share data other than informally with certain collaborators. A recent UKRDS study on the logistics and costs of developing and maintaining a national shared digital research data service concluded that such a service is feasible and worth funding, and that it could greatly increase UK universities’ potential for research and innovation and their global competitiveness. Meanwhile, many other countries are already on the case....

Data sharing is hardly a new idea. Physicists, environmentalists, and researchers in the basic biomedical sciences have been doing this for years. Funders such as the UK Medical Research Council, US National Institutes of Health, and Wellcome Trust already mandate sharing of data from research in basic science and genetics. The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has opened up to researchers worldwide its collection of genetic and clinical data from three asthma research networks and the Framingham Heart Study. Even GlaxoSmithKline has opened up its "patent pool" so that data relevant to finding drugs for neglected diseases can be explored by other researchers.

Numerous science journals mandate data sharing too. For example, a condition of publication in a Nature journal is that "authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to others without preconditions....

For most medical journals, however, sharing of clinical research data is a new and difficult concept. Last week the editors of the open access BioMed Central journal Trials spelled out the main ethical and editorial barriers to data sharing in medicine and, partly drawing on discussions with scientists and other editors (including TG), proposed some solutions (box). The maintenance of patient confidentiality is a major challenge....

Since 2007, the Annals of Internal Medicine has been asking authors to make a "reproducible research statement" at the end of each research paper. Authors state whether and within what limits they will share the original study protocol, the dataset used for the analysis, and the computer code used to produce the results. We gladly acknowledge that we are emulating this policy in introducing data sharing statements for BMJ research articles and bringing data sharing to authors’ and readers’ attention. We hope authors and readers will now join us in this debate and will help journals to set data free.

Updates to the pages on the NIH policy

From the NLM Technical Bulletin for March 27, 2009:

NIH awardees have been notified that the NIH Public Access Policy is permanent, per the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. The NIH Pubic Access Policy Web site was updated to reflect this. Additional updates to the Web site based on this information include:

  • The Public Access FAQ B1, "To what papers does the NIH Public Access Policy apply?" has been updated.
  • The training slides have been updated accordingly. These slides are intended to be downloaded and modified to support institutional efforts to train authors and comply with the Policy.
  • Anyone submitting an application, proposal or progress report to the NIH must include the PubMed Central® or NIH Manuscript Submission reference number when citing applicable articles that arise from their NIH-funded research. Instructions on citing papers have been consolidated into a Web page.

PS:  The answer to FAQ B1 formerly said that the policy applies to any grant in "Fiscal Year 2008" and now says "Fiscal Year 2008 or beyond". 

FAQ on the MIT policy

MIT has released a short FAQ to accompany its new OA mandate.  (A longer FAQ is accessible only to users within MIT.)  Excerpt:

Here are some answers to common questions about working with the policy:

  • The policy applies only to scholarly articles completed after the policy was adopted on March 18, 2009.
  • Faculty authors are encouraged to use the MIT addendum for publisher copyright agreements that reflects this policy.
  • Procedures for submission to DSpace under this policy are still under development.  For now, contact Ellen Duranceau if you have a paper you want to submit....

Frequently Asked Questions....

What do I have to do to comply with this policy?

The policy operates automatically to give MIT a license in any scholarly articles faculty members complete after its adoption.  MIT will establish procedures for confirming this license and obtaining copies of articles to post in the repository, as well as for granting waivers of the policy when informed by an author of a decision to opt out.

If you want to be thorough, communicate this policy to your publisher and add to any copyright license or assignment for scholarly articles an addendum stating that the agreement is subject to this prior license. That way, you will avoid agreeing to give the publisher rights that are inconsistent with the prior license to MIT permitting open-access distribution. MIT provides a suitable form of addendum for this purpose.  Whether you use a suitable addendum or not, the license to MIT still will have force.

What if a journal publisher refuses to publish my article because of this prior license?

You have a number of options. One is to try to persuade the publisher that it should accept MIT’s non-exclusive license in order to be able to publish your article. Another is to seek a different publisher. A third is to consult with the Scholarly Publishing & Licensing Consultant (Ellen Duranceau or the Office of General Counsel about taking steps to address the publisher’s specific concerns. A fourth is to obtain a waiver for the article under the policy (see more below under Opting Out.) ...

How and when do I submit a paper to DSpace under this policy?

...Papers should be submitted as of the date of publication....

What kinds of writings does this apply to?

Only scholarly articles. Using terms from the Budapest Open Access Initiative, faculty’s scholarly articles are articles that describe the fruits of their research and that they give to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings.

Many of the written products of faculty effort are not encompassed under this notion of scholarly article: books, popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works. The Open Access Policy is not meant to address these kinds of works.

What version of the paper is submitted under this policy?

The author’s final version of the article; that is, the author’s manuscript with any changes made as a result of the peer-review process, but prior to publisher’s copy-editing or formatting.

Does the policy apply to articles I’ve already written?

No, it doesn’t apply to any articles that were completed before the policy was adopted on March 18, 2009, nor to any articles for which you entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before the policy was adopted. Of course, the policy also does not apply to any articles you write after leaving MIT....

First university-level OA mandate in the Ukraine

Ukraine's Ternopil State Ivan Puluj Technical University has adopted an OA mandate.  From the text in ROARMAP:

The open access policy adopted by Ternopil State Ivan Pul'uj Technical University (TSTU) mandates that all published journal articles and conference papers be deposited in Electronic Archive of TSTU (ELARTU) if there are no legal objections by publishers.

ELARTU also encourages and fully supports self-archiving of other research output produced by scientists and students of the university as well as other members of the scientific community.


  • This is the first university-level OA mandate in the Ukraine.  Kudos to all involved.  I can't tell from this short summary whether the policy requires deposit at the time of acceptance or some later date.  It needn't allow faculty waivers, since (unfortunately) it has a built-in loophole for dissenting publishers.  At the next review, I hope the university can shift the opt-out from publishers to authors, as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have done.
  • Also see our past posts on national-level OA mandate for publicly-funded research in the Ukraine.


Data sharing is practical and valuable now, and will get better

Bill Hooker, Why don't we share data? Not for the reasons Steven Wiley thinks we don't, Open Reading Frame, April 4, 2009.  A response to Wiley's article in The Scientist (blogged here yesterday).  Excerpt:

I disagree with the author, PNNL's Steven Wiley, on a number of points:

Despite the appeal of making all biological data accessible, there are enormous hurdles that currently make it impractical. For one, sharing all data requires that we agree on a set of standards. This is perhaps reasonable for large-scale automated technologies, such as microarrays, but the logistics of converting every western blot, ELISA, and protein assay into a structured and accessible data format would be a nightmare -- and probably not worth the effort.

Wiley is making two mistakes here: setting the perfect against the good, and vastly underestimating human ingenuity.

Standards are inarguably required for automated sharing and essential for the sharing of ALL data, but that doesn't mean that sharing SOME data, with evolving standards or even without any standards, has no utility....

This leads me to the second mistake. It seems odd to me to insist that because standards are difficult to develop and implement, the bulk of such work is futile. The key is the phrase "currently... impractical". The whole concept of the internet was probably considered "currently impractical" by a great many people, until someone went and built it....

Moreover, I am not the only one who disagrees about the value of creating standards for difficult-to-share data. If you think western blots would be a nightmare, how about biodiversity data -- like, say, museum specimens? How about anthropometric data, exchangeable biomaterials, neuroscience data, electron micrographs, magnetic resonance images or microscopy images? The MIBBI project has dozens of other examples, the Open Biomedical Ontologies Foundry is working on dozens more, and might offer a lightweight solution to some of the same problems....

I cannot begin to imagine how to build semantic and exchange standards for those kinds of data, but I'm not about to bet against the people currently trying to do so; nor do I believe that, once built, their systems will prove to have been "not worth the effort"....

Wiley goes on to say:

Unfortunately, most experimental data is obtained ad hoc to answer specific questions and can rarely be used for other purposes.

which is just plain wrong. Much of the rationale for data sharing, the engine of much of its promise, is the simple observation that you cannot know what someone else will do with your data, particularly when they have access to lots of other people's data to go with it....

Long-term openness of European research data

PARSE.Insight has released its Draft Roadmap for Science Data Infrastructure.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From yesterday's announcement:

The draft roadmap provides an overview and initial details of a number of specific components, both technical and non-technical, which would be needed to supplement existing and already planned infrastructures for scientific data. The infra-structure components are aimed at bridging the gaps between islands of functionality, developed for particular purposes, often by other European projects....

The EU-funded project PARSE.Insight is concerned with the preservation of digital information in science. Its aim is to develop a roadmap and recommendations for developing the e-infrastructure in order to maintain the long-term accessibility and usability of scientific digital information in Europe.

PARSE.Insight is closely linked to the Alliance for Permanent Access to the Records of Science. The output from the project is intended to guide the European Commission's strategy about research infrastructure.

From the roadmap itself:

Science Data Infrastructure is taken here to mean those things, technical, organization and financial which are usable across communities to help in the preservation, re-use and (open) access of digital holdings....

Four more US universities join SCOAP3

Four more US universities have joined the CERN SCOAP3 project:

From today's announcement:

The SCOAP3 membership in the US now counts about a hundred libraries who, either directly or through their consortia, have collectively pledged a total of 2.2 Million $/year to this initiative, covering 63% of the expected U.S. contribution.

Before it can move forward, SCOAP3 needs pledges from U.S. partners for additional 1.4 Million $/year....

Worldwide, over 60% of the SCOAP3 budget envelope has been pledged by partners in 21 countries.

Federated search of OA databases

Sol Lederman interviewed Walt Warnick for the OSTI blog.  Warnick is the Director of the US Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), April 3, 2009.  Excerpt:

What do you see as the major challenges of federated search?

...[T]the application of federated search to libraries, while extremely important and powerful if done right, pales in importance to its applications to geographically dispersed open access databases. For example, WorldWideScience (which makes searchable about the same quantity of science as does Google, only WorldWideScience content is deemed authoritative by the national governments who post it and much of that content is non-Googleable) would be a practical impossibility were it not for federated search....My view is that federated search is a wave of the future, not a temporary stepping stone that is useful only until something else comes along that is not yet defined.

Minutes of January CENDI meeting

CENDI, the group of science and technology information managers for US federal agencies, has released the minutes of its Principals and Alternates Meeting from January 6, 2009:

#3 Promote public access (PA) to Government-funded R&D results....

Public access requires an open repository. The PubMed Central repository infrastructure is freely available and is being used internationally. A lighter weight version was just installed in the United Kingdom, and a joint activity is underway with the Canadian Institute of Health Research and CISTI. The Archival DTD for journal articles used in PubMed Central has been endorsed by the LOC and the British Library as an archival standard for journal literature. NAL [National Agricultural Library] has also developed a repository based on DSpace for final published versions of intramural publications.

The value of public access to education, including K-12, is huge. Innovation and advancement come from this public access. The Human Genome Project proved that public access to scientific data produced by both publicly and privately funded research groups fuels scientific discovery and commercial innovation.  There are barriers to sharing within the agencies and some federal libraries are buying back agency materials in journal issues because they can’t get them any other way. Getting the results from grants is actually more difficult than from contractors. However, activities are underway. NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] is doing interim and other project report formats. Environmental conservation data is being included in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is being created through a partnership including the Smithsonian....

#9 Support improved health care and better disaster preparedness and response through the development of an interoperable health information technology infrastructure....

Strategic Planning for Digital Data Policy in the US: IWGDD Status and Recommendations(link to presentation, .pdf) (Dr. Chris Greer, NITRD, and Cita Furlani, NIST – Co-chairs, Interagency Working Group on Digital Data) 

The Interagency Working Group on Digital Data (IWGDD) is one of several working groups under the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). There are 29 members including a number of CENDI members. There has been good participation with some of the very best data people involved.

The charge to the group was to develop a strategic plan and promote its implementation....

There are three core recommendations in the IWGDD’s report. A Standing Subcommittee is essential to continue promotion and implementation of the recommendations. Appropriate departments and agencies should lay the foundation for agency digital scientific data policy and make the policy publicly available. Agency projects should be required to submit data management plans....

It was suggested that the Public Access debates might provide some lessons learned that would be valuable for ensuring data generator compliance....Each proposal should be required to state the broad impact expected by making the data from the research available. The Data Management Plan formalizes these issues....

The European Union is increasingly turning to open data to encourage economic growth. This has always been the US approach....


  • Don't overlook this bit:  "[S]ome federal [agency] libraries are buying back agency materials in journal issues because they can’t get them any other way."  That gives some sense of the value of (1) having an OA repository of agency research output, (2) requiring deposit at the time an article is accepted for publication.
  • Also see our past posts on CENDI and the IWGDD.

Canadian consortium devoted to OA drug development

Megan Ogilvie, Secrecy slowing drug research, The Toronto Star, April 4, 2009.  (Thanks to Leslie Chan.)  Excerpt:

...The 47-year-old [Aled Edwards, biochemist at the University of Toronto] says the current method of creating drugs – one shrouded in secrecy and driven by patents and money-making – has failed. Too few medicines have come to market in the past 30 years, which means too many people still get sick and die from disease.

Edwards believes the only way to get more medicines to patients is for industry and academia to work together – and to post all their findings free on the Internet....

[T]he open access philosophy is catching on, largely due to Edwards....

[Edwards] leads a three-lab conglomerate that is "walking the walk" in open access drug development. The international Structural Genomics Consortium – a not-for-profit organization run out of the Universities of Toronto and Oxford and Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet – is among the world's largest public-private partnerships in basic research....

Its scientists have produced structures for a fifth of all human proteins, do much of the research worldwide into the structural biology of human parasites, and publish about 70 significant scientific papers every year. All its findings are available free to any scientist.

More than 100 laboratories collaborate with the consortium. Three pharmaceutical giants – Merck, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline (a founding member) – also fund and work with the group.

That so-called "big pharma" has funnelled money into the consortium, even during a recession, shows how seriously it is considering the open access philosophy, says Roderick McInnes, scientific director of the Institute of Genetics at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which has funded the Structural Genomics Consortium from the beginning....

PS:  Also see our past posts on Edwards and the Structural Genomics Consortium.

OA one of three breaking points for scholarly journals

William W. Cope and Mary Kalantzis, Signs of epistemic disruption: Transformations in the knowledge system of the academic journal, First Monday, April 2009.

Abstract:   This article is an overview of the current state of scholarly journals, not (just) as an activity to be described in terms if its changing processes, but more fundamentally as a pivotal point in a broader knowledge system. After locating journals in what we term the process of knowledge design, the article goes on to discuss some of the deeply disruptive aspects of the contemporary moment, which not only portend potential transformations in the form of the journal, but possibly also the knowledge systems that the journal in its heritage forms has supported. These disruptive forces are represented by changing technological, economic, distributional, geographic, interdisciplinary and social relations to knowledge. The article goes on to examine three specific breaking points. The first breaking point is in business models—the unsustainable costs and inefficiencies of traditional commercial publishing, the rise of open access and the challenge of developing sustainable publishing models. The second potential breaking point is the credibility of the peer review system: its accountability, its textual practices, the validity of its measures and its exclusionary network effects. The third breaking point is post-publication evaluation, centred primarily around citation or impact analysis. We argue that the prevailing system of impact analysis is deeply flawed. Its validity as a measure of knowledge is questionable, in which citation counts are conflated with the contribution made to knowledge, quantity is valued over quality, popularity is taken as a proxy for intellectual quality, impact is mostly measured on a short timeframe, ‘impact factors’ are aggregated for journals or departments in a way that lessens their validity further, there is a bias for and against certain article types, there are exclusionary network effects and there are accessibility distortions. Add to this reliability defects—the types of citation counted as well as counting failures and distortions—and clearly the citation analysis system is in urgent need of renewal. The article ends with suggestions towards the transformation of the academic journal and the creation of new knowledge systems: sustainable publishing models, frameworks for guardianship of intellectual property, criterion-referenced peer review, greater reflexivity in the review process, incremental knowledge refinement, more widely distributed sites of knowledge production and inclusive knowledge cultures, new types of scholarly text and more reliable use metrics.

EU releases public comments on last year's copyright green paper

The EU has published all the public comments on the July 2008 green paper, Copyright in the Knowledge Economy.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  There are 372 comments in the collection, gathered from mid-July to the end of November 2008. 

One of the questions (Question 19) raised in the paper had a strong OA connection: 

"Should the scientific and research community enter into licensing schemes with publishers in order to increase access to works for teaching or research purposes? Are there examples of successful licensing schemes enabling online use of works for teaching or research purposes?"

Also see our past posts on the green paper, which include many of the public comments from supporters of OA.

Another Nature supplement

Nature has launched a gratis OA supplement on the ubiquitin system.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Powerhouse Museum releases metadata with CC licenses

The Powerhouse Museum announced that its collection document had been released under Creative Commons licenses. Factual data about its collection objects are available under CC BY-SA and museum-specific notes are available under a CC BY-NC. (Thanks to Jessica Coates.)

... Teachers and educators can now do what they want or need to with our collection records and encourage their students to do the same without fear. ...

Secondly it means that anyone, commercial or non-commercial can now copy, scrape or harvest our descriptive, temporal and geospatial data, and object dimensions for a wide range of new uses. This could be building a timeline, a map, or a visualisation of our collection mixed with other data. It could be an online publication, a printed text book, or it could be just to improve Wikipedia articles. It can also now be added to Freebase and other online datastores, and incorporated into data services for mobile devices and so much more. ...

Thirdly, we’ve applied an attribution, non-commercial license to object provenance largely to allow broad educational and non-commercial repurposing but not to sanction commercial exploitation of what is usually quite specific material to our Museum (why we collected it etc). ...

See also our past posts on the Powerhouse Museum.

JoVE retreats from OA

The Journal of Visualized Experiments, an OA video journal, has converted to subscriptions. The journal continues to offer a hybrid OA option. No official announcement has been posted, but the news has been confirmed in comments by JoVE editors Moshe Pritsker here and Nikita Bernstein here.

From Pritsker, CEO and Editor-in-Chief:

... The reason is simple: we have to survive. To cover costs of our operations, to break even, we have to charge $6,000 per video article. This is to cover costs of the video-production and technological infrastructure for video-publication, which are higher than in traditional text-only publishing. Academic labs cannot pay $6,000 per article, and therefore we have to find other sources to cover the costs. ...

From Bernstein, CTO and Web Developer:

... We've been trying to get universities to subscribe to us, but nobody seems to be taking us seriously and, given our situation, being free is just not sustainable. However, we are now discussing how to best provide a good blend of access and subscription. For example, authors definitely should have access to their own articles. ...

The new publication fees are $500 per article for closed access or $2,000 per article for OA. Additional fees apply for production assistance from JoVE. No information about waivers or discounts is available, or any information about reducing subscription prices based on uptake of the OA option.

See also comments by David Crotty and John Wilbanks.

See also our past posts on JoVE.

Update. See also coverage at The Scientist:

... "To continue the [open access] approach, we would have to ask academic labs to pay us $6000 per video to cover our operation costs, and that's simply not possible today," Moshe Pritsker, CEO and editor-in-chief of JoVE, told The Scientist. "We like open access, we just can't survive on it."

JoVE is now selling institutional subscriptions that range from $1,000 per year for small colleges to $2,400 per year for large research universities. Pritsker said that "up to 10" institutions had signed up in the past week, including Harvard University, Wellesley College, and the University of California, Davis. Individuals can also buy $19 daily and $99 monthly subscriptions, as well as obtain free one-day trial access.

Pritsker expects JoVE to have 300 to 400 institutional subscribers within three years, which would represent a "pull even situation," he said. The journal will continue to charge $1,500 in author fees, although researchers can pay an extra $1,500 to make their publications freely and openly available. ...

Update. See also this announcement from UK PubMed Central:

... As a consequence of moving to a subscription service, content from JoVE at PMC and UKPMC is now embargoed for two years.

Conscious that this change in policy means that no researcher funded by any of the UKPMC Funders can seek publication in this journal - the maximum permissible embargo set by these funders is 6 months - the Wellcome Trust has spoken with JoVE's Editor-in-Chief to determine whether any alternative publishing options are available.

Though the details have not yet been fully worked out, it seems likely that JoVE will offer a "Wellcome-compliant" author-pays, open access option. ...

Concordia to launch an IR

Karen Herland, The free distribution of research and knowledge, Concordia Journal, April 2, 2009.

... “The results of publicly funded research should be available to the public,” said Annie Murray, [Concordia University] Librarian for Digital and Special Collections, speaking at a workshop on open access she and her colleague Tomasz Neugebauer, responsible for digital projects and systems development, gave on March 19 as part of the libraries’ series of workshops for researchers.

The session provided an overview of open access concepts and resources available for researchers ...

Finally, an increasing number of institutions are offering the opportunity or researchers to deposit their work within an institutional open access repository. Concordia’s repository is set to open in the fall with retrospective Concordia theses as the bulk of its initial content.

A working group is currently preparing a position paper and will be initiating a dialogue on the topic soon.

Meanwhile, [Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences] 2010 convener Ronald Rudin has identified open access as a key theme of next year’s conference. “We are currently planning several key speakers and panels on the subject. It’s going to be a major focus of congress.”

New issue of ASIS&T Bulletin on IRs

The April/May 2009 issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology has a special section on IRs. Contents:

New OA cardiovascular journal

The Open Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by Libertas Academica. See the April 3 announcement. Authors retain copyright and articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution license. The article-processing fee is $1395, subject to discount or waiver. See also the inaugural editorial:
The journal will be competing head-on with a number of existing subscription-based journals. However, there is clearly a niche for the new journal. The reason for this is because all journal articles will be accessible without any access boundaries to all internet users throughout the world. ...

Another NEH grant prefers OA

The U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities's Preservation and Access Research and Development funding program's latest call for proposals states that it will prefer proposals that provide OA. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

... As a taxpayer-supported federal agency, NEH endeavors to make the products of its grants available to the broadest possible audience. Our goal is for scholars, educators, students, and the American public to have ready and easy access to the wide range of NEH grant products. For the Preservation and Access Research and Development program, such products may include digital tools, software, and Web sites. For projects that lead to the development of such products, all other considerations being equal, NEH gives preference to those that provide free access to the public. ...

Applicants are encouraged to make freely available to the public any software or other products created as a result of the project. ...

World Digital Library to launch

UNESCO, Library of Congress and partners launch World Digital Library, press release, April 1, 2009.

UNESCO and 32 partner institutions will launch the World Digital Library, a web site that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world, at UNESCO Headquarters on 21 April. The site will include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, and prints and photographs. It will provide unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material. ...

[U.S. Librarian of Congress James H.] Billington first proposed the creation of a World Digital Library (WDL) to UNESCO in 2005, remarking that such a project could “have the salutary effect of bringing people together by celebrating the depth and uniqueness of different cultures in a single global undertaking”. In addition to promoting international understanding, the project aims to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars and general audiences, and narrow the digital divide within and between countries by building capacity in partner countries.

The WDL will function in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and will include content in a great many other languages. Browse and search features will facilitate cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration on the site. Descriptions of each item and videos with expert curators speaking about selected items will provide context for users, and are intended to spark curiosity and encourage both students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.

The WDL was developed by a team at the Library of Congress. Technical assistance was provided by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt. Institutions contributing content and expertise to the WDL include national libraries and cultural and educational institutions in Brazil, Egypt, China, France, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. ...

One of UNESCO’s main mandates is to promote the free flow of all forms of knowledge in education, science, culture and communication. The Organization therefore supports initiatives to improve and increase content on the Internet. To this end, it collaborates with a range of partners on the creation of digital and other repositories.

See also our past posts on the World Digital Library.

Update. See also coverage in Library Journal.

Video presentations on OA

Four videos about OA from the Webcast of the Board of Regents [presumably, of the University System of Georgia], dated March 6, 2009:
  • Cliff Lynch, A Changing Society, Changing Scholarly Practices, and the New Landscape of Scholarly Communication
  • Bill Potter and Michael Best, The Current State of Journal Publishing & Open Access Journals 2.0
  • Tyler Walters, Repository Programs: What Can They Do for Faculty
  • Tom Maier, Cyber Infrastructure: Removing Barriers in Research and Scholarly Communications

Guide to in English

The Centre for Open Electronic Publishing has released an English version of its annual guide to, its platform for OA and delayed OA journals in humanities and social sciences.

Update. The guide now also is available in Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Italian.

OA commentator moving to Obama's OSTP

Rick Weiss has been appointed to a position within U.S. President Barack Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy. (It's not immediately clear which position.) Weiss has written about OA many times in his previous positions at Science Progress and the Washington Post.

See also our past posts on Weiss.

IISc Director on green OA for institutes of science

OASIS has posted a 2:38 minute clip from a longer video of Leslie Chan interviewing Padmanabhan Balaram on the importance of OA and institutional repositories, especially for science institutes.  Balaram is the Director of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Editor of Current Science.  The interview was taped on March 30.

More on the mainstreaming of OA

Archana Venkatraman, Open access joins the mainstream, Information World Review, April 3, 2009.  Excerpt:

For over a decade now, open access (OA) publishing has been making inroads into the information industry, especially in the scientific, technical and medical (STM) sector. Even traditional publishers, who once shied away from OA, today embrace it, while OA enthusiasts insist the publishing model is no longer an experiment but a mainstream option for all information sectors....

OA is already the default publishing choice for many researchers within fields from genomics to computational biology.

The March issue of IWR reported on a study funded by JISC, led by professors John Houghton and Charles Oppenheim, which suggested that the OA model could help save costs, which is an even greater concern than usual amid an economic crisis.

And another study, from Germany this time, showed that the number of articles with German authors in BioMed Central (BMC) journals had been steadily rising: from 538 in 2005 to 882 by October 2008. “That is a clear indication that open access is becoming more and more accepted,” says Neil Jacobs, programme manager at JISC. “I’m sure you could do a similar search for authors with other nationalities and get very similar results.” ...

After some initial wariness, many academic societies have realised that OA can offer a secure and sustainable financial model for publishing their journals.

Nature Publishing Group (NPG), a division of Macmillan, introduced OA options on journals more than two years ago. In January this year, it expanded its OA choices for authors, through both self-archiving and author-pays publication routes.

Continuing its support for open access self-archiving on high-impact journals, NPG has extended its manuscript deposition service to a further 43 journals to help authors fulfil funder and institutional mandates for public access. Another 28 society and academic journals published by NPG now offer a manuscript deposition service to authors of original research articles.

Only last month, NPG, along with the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) introduced EJHG Open to give authors from the European Journal of Human Genetics (EJHG) the option of immediate open access on publication. This includes deposition of the final published version in PubMed Central....

David Hoole, head of content licensing at NPG, says: “We have investigated evolving the business models for these journals, including the hybrid subscription/OA model, and a full transition to the OA model based on publication charges, and we are confident that these models are sustainable on these titles.

“Wherever it is possible, NPG thinks it is right to give authors the choice to make their article OA, whether through self-archiving or through OA publication. A business model based on current levels of publication charges still doesn’t work on high-impact, high-circulation journals such as Nature and the Nature-branded titles. In these cases self-archiving provides an alternative solution.”

NPG has been at the forefront of traditional publishers encouraging self-archiving. In 2002, it became one of the first subscription publishers to stop requiring authors to transfer copyright, moving to an exclusive licence to publish.  “We already help hundreds of authors to self-archive in PubMed Central, and we are working to extend this service to other archives,” adds Hoole.

NPG is considering ways of facilitating the reuse of self-archived manuscripts, specifically to support the growing field of text-mining....

At the time [when Springer bought BMC], Derk Haank, Springer’s CEO, said: “This acquisition reinforces the fact that we see open access publishing as a sustainable part of STM publishing.”

The BMC series of journals recently published its 20,000th peer-reviewed article, and receives more than 1,000 article submissions a month. BMC’s publisher Matthew Cockerill says: “I think the acquisition helped to increase awareness in the information industry that open access is no longer just an experiment, it is a real business.”

According to BMC, the most striking trend is the rising number of established journals moving to OA with BMC. “Often these journals already have impact factors, which gives them a real head start, and we have seen such journals go from strength to strength under the OA model,” says Cockerill.

Some libraries are also beginning to consider the option of hosting open access services for authors who insist on it, says Caroline Sutton of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association (OASPA), a body launched last October to represent the interests of OA journals publishers globally....

Researchers, publishers, funders and even taxpayers can all benefit from OA model. Because OA offers easy and broader access to scholarly works, it increases general awareness, offers a rich reference material for researchers and journals, triggers supplementary or follow-up research works and provides a more cost-effective system that makes better use of the taxes.

Cockerill sums it up like this: “Subscription-based models tend to limit the free flow of ideas and data, constraining them in silos, while open access helps to bring the different areas together.”

Hoole adds that the benefits of OA for authors are a wider range of publication options, with multiple routes to compliance with funder and institutional mandates.

“But [the rise of OA] certainly does not mean the end of subscriptions,” says Cockerill. BMC sees an important role for publishers as providers of value-added content to subscribers. It publishes many journals which include additional subscriber-only content (reviews, commentaries, and so on) alongside OA research....

There are concerns about a transition to OA and the practicalities of administering an OA-based system, collecting publication charges economically, ensuring clarity about any relation between publication charges and subscription rates. JISC is keen to work with publishers, universities and others to ensure these practical issues are addressed.

Sutton says OASPA has moved on from focusing on the acceptance of OA to the funding aspect of OA: how to convince institutions of its cost-saving benefits, and so on. She concludes: “Let’s not sensationalise OA, but work on it realistically and see it move beyond the realms of medicine and STM to a vast spectrum of the information industry such as libraries, social sciences and even humanities, which have been a slightly reluctant about it until now.”

Some impediments to open data

Steven Wiley, Why Don't We Share Data? The Scientist, April 2009.  Excerpt:

There are so, so many reasons—and they make a lot of sense.

The most significant issue inhibiting data sharing is biologists' lack of motivation to do it.

We are constantly hearing suggestions to make all data gathered in biology experiments available online. This is an appealing idea because most data that we collect from experiments never sees the light of day. A smattering of our data appears in papers, of course, but we all recognize that this is usually a highly selected subset of all that is collected, intended to support the story that is being touted at the moment. If we could somehow make all of our data available to the community, the idea goes, biological progress would be greatly accelerated.

Despite the appeal of making all biological data accessible, there are enormous hurdles that currently make it impractical. For one, sharing all data requires that we agree on a set of standards. This is perhaps reasonable for large-scale automated technologies, such as microarrays, but the logistics of converting every western blot, ELISA, and protein assay into a structured and accessible data format would be a nightmare—and probably not worth the effort.

This does not mean that some instances of widespread data-sharing are not extraordinarily useful. However, these tend to be independent of a particular experimental context, the obvious example being DNA sequence or protein structure data. Some databases can also be very useful if the context is reasonably constrained. For example, tissue-specific expression profiles have proven useful, as have datasets gathered during different stages of development.

Unfortunately, most experimental data is obtained ad hoc to answer specific questions and can rarely be used for other purposes. Good experimental design usually requires that we change only one variable at a time. There is some hope of controlling experimental conditions within our own labs so that the only significantly changing parameter will be our experimental perturbation. However, at another location, scientists might inadvertently do the same experiment under different conditions, making it difficult if not impossible to compare and integrate the results.

The most significant issue inhibiting data sharing, however, is biologists' lack of motivation to do it. In order to sufficiently control the experimental context to allow reliable data sharing, biologists would be forced to reduce the plethora of cell lines and experimental systems to a handful, and implement a common set of experimental conditions. Getting biologists to agree to such an approach is akin to asking people to agree on a single religion. If you're still not convinced, consider the experience of the Alliance for Cell Signaling (AfCS)....

New service to support small OA publishers

Co-Action Publishing and two partners have launched Open Access Solutions, a new service to support OA publishers.  From yesterday's announcement:

Co-Action Publishing, Datapage and T Marketing are pleased to announce the launch today of, a website dedicated to offering small-scale Open Access scholarly publishers a full range of affordable services from multiple vendors along the publishing chain through a single virtual location. addresses the needs of a growing segment within Open Access scholarly publishing. The Open Access journals market is growing quickly, and currently represents approximately 9% of the refereed journals listed in Ulrich's Periodical Directory. A number of these journals are operated by single editorial teams, societies or university presses. allows these publishers to combine independence with behind-the-scenes professional support on virtually any aspect of journal development and the publishing process.

"We recognize that many scholars and societies wish to remain independent of a publishing house as they transition a current subscription journal to Open Access or launch a new journal," stated Caroline Sutton from Co-Action Publishing, adding "By teaming up with Datapage and T Marketing, we are able to offer these publishers access to the same professional skill and know-how that large publishers take advantage of everyday in a format that is scalable to their needs."

Nisha Rahul, Operations Manager for Datapage, further commented "Datapage has been providing typesetting and pre-press services to publishers worldwide since 1987. Our ultimate aim is to make ourselves "easier to do business with". Through we make publishing easier for small publishers by providing seamless solutions from several vendors, allowing each publisher to create an optimal service package....


de Gruyter adopts a hybrid OA option

Walter de Gruyter has introduced a hybrid OA option.  (Thanks to the Informationsplattform Open Access.)  Excerpt:

...Effective immediately, authors of journal articles and book chapters in collected volumes and series titles have the option of making their accepted articles freely accessible on the service Reference Global.

de Gruyter Open Library will be offered in addition to the subscription or purchase-based publication channels, which remain free of charge to authors.  This will result in a mixture of traditionally published and open access articles within the online version of journals and ebooks.  Open access articles will be clearly indicated on the online's list of contents.  Online, print and combined subscription options will continue to be available to institutions and individuals.

de Gruyter Open Library is only available to authors whose articles have been accepted for publication.  Therefore, all submitted papers will continue to undergo the established, entirely independent peer-review processes.

Price caps

The purpose of de Gruyter Open Library is to allow for research funding agencies to shift budgets from supporting subscription and book acquisitions to funding the publication of articles at the author’s choice. Therefore, de Gruyter guarantees that subscription prices in the case of journals and book prices will be lowered according to the share of open access income compared to the original calculation of the title. If the publisher’s calculation for a specific book was for example a sales line of 10,000 Euro and a minimum of 20% of the income is generated through open access fees, the price of the book will be lowered by 20%.

Authors’ service

In addition to publication on the website, articles included in de Gruyter Open Library will be archived in an open access repository.

Authors who have previously published their work in de Gruyter journals will also be entitled to apply for their papers to be retrospectively included in the de Gruyter open access publishing program.

de Gruyter Open Library Details ...

The authors, or their institutions or funding agencies, are required to pay an access fee.  This fee is 1,750 Euro (currently $2,450)

Copyright and License Agreement

Authors opting for de Gruyter Open Library retain the copyright to their article but are required to sign the de Gruyter Open Library License Agreement, certifying that they are the original authors and warranting the integrity and lawfulness of the article....

Also see the April 2 press release, in German or Google's English.


  • This hybrid policy has five strengths that many others lack. It allows authors who select the OA option to retain copyright.  The articles are published under an open license (equivalent to CC-BY-NC).  Copies are deposited in an OA repository.  de Gruyter promises to reduce subscription prices roughly in proportion to author uptake.  And the option is available retroactively to any previous de Gruyter authors who wish to take advantage of it.  The first four of these are among the most important of the nine criteria I used to assess hybrid programs. 
  • I can't tell whether the OA editions are the same as the published editions (as opposed to abridgments), but they appear to be.  I see that de Gruyter deposits the OA editions in an OA repository, but I can't tell which repository or whether authors may deposit them in repositories independent of the publisher.  I can't tell whether authors under a prior obligation to their funding agency to provide OA to their peer-reviewed manuscripts must pay for de Gruyter's OA option in order to comply.  Finally, I can't tell whether de Gruyter previously allowed postprint archiving (SHERPA doesn't know either) or, if so, whether it has now retreated from it in order to steer authors toward the new fee-based gold OA option.
  • I believe that de Gruyter is the first publisher to extend its hybrid OA policy to book chapters.  Not only can book-chapter authors select the option, but book purchasers will see the book price drop roughly in proportion to author uptake.


Guide to German OA debate

If you are aware that there's a hot debate about OA in Germany right now, but find it hard to follow, the Informationsplattform Open Access has compiled a list of links to the major contributions.  Read it in German or Google's English.

PS:  Also see Christian Hauschke's longer and earlier list from last week (in German or Google's English), and my own (comparatively few) posts on the debate.

Update (4/4/09).  The Open Knowledge Foundation has created a very useful collection of links and texts for English readers.  It links to the German originals of the major contributions, links to English translations when they already existed, and supplies a couple of new English translations.

Indian editorial criticizes Conyers bill

A boost to open access, The Hindu, April 2, 2009.  An editorial.  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)  Excerpt:

In yet another initiative favouring the scientific community, President Barack Obama recently signed into law the 2009 Consolidated Appropriations Bill that includes a provision making the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) public access policy permanent....The rationale is simple: research carried out using government funding should be freely available to everybody and not be locked up in subscription-based journals. It is established that freely accessible papers are read by a larger number of people than online content that is priced....

However, despite its unquestionable benefits, the revised policy faces a challenge. A retrogressive bill — the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act — reintroduced in February 2009 aims at overturning the free access policy. The opposition stems from the fact that commercial publishers would no longer enjoy full rights over a large number of papers submitted to their journals. While the policy does not take away the publisher’s right to assert ownership over the paper’s copyright, it requires researchers to ensure that the copyright transfer agreement they sign with the publisher permits them to submit their papers to the NIH. The hollowness of the special interest opposition is exposed by the fact that the public access policy does not apply to papers already published, and it is within the right of publishers not to entertain papers where the authors would permit the NIH to make the content available in the online archive. The concept of open access is gaining greater acceptance among forward-looking publishers. Many open-access journals exist, and several subscription-based journals make papers freely available after a certain period of time. What needs to be remembered is that it is in the nature and spirit of science to seek open access.


More on the Conyers bill: publisher breaks with publishing lobby

The Boston Globe has published two letters to the editor in response to Richard Roberts' March 23 op-ed piece defending the NIH policy and denouncing the Conyers bill (blogged here the same day).

From Patricia Schroeder, President of the Association of American Publishers, March 30, 2009:

Richard J. Roberts declared that scientific publishers must "stop trying to rob the public" of free access to taxpayer-funded scientific research ("Protect our access to medical research," op-ed, March 23). But research manuscripts are the foundation of the products developed by scientific publishers, and those products are neither free nor government-funded.

Imposing revenue-free business models on scientific publishing is a bad idea for science and society. New England Biolabs, where Dr. Roberts works, derives some products from government-funded research - and succeeds by not giving its products away.

Most publishers, including small nonprofits run by scientific societies, firmly oppose the deceivingly reasonable-sounding new mandate that National Institutes of Health-funded articles be posted openly on the Web after one year. That practice may be harmless for a weekly journal but can be devastating for a monthly or quarterly.

Is public access a problem? Not with Google indexing copies of articles that authors often post on personal or institutional websites. Is patients' access to medical literature a concern? Most publishers will provide free or modestly priced copies of individual studies. And scientific publishers translate the highest- impact articles into understandable lay-language summaries.

From Mike Rossner, Executive director of Rockefeller University Press, April 3, 2009:

Patricia Schroeder declares that the National Institutes of Health public-access mandate "may be harmless for a weekly journal but can be devastating for a monthly or quarterly" ("An unfair formula," Letters, March 30). We at the Rockefeller University Press have proved that this is not true.

We publish three biomedical journals (two of them monthly and one biweekly), and we have released our content to the public six months after publication since January 2001, but our revenues have grown every year since then.

Many biomedical publishers feel an obligation to give something back to the public that has funded the research they publish, and they release their content after a short period under subscription control.

However, a few large, highly profitable publishers have refused to do this, and have thus forced the NIH into the position of mandating public access.

The Rockefeller University Press is a member of the Association of American Publishers, of which Schroeder is chief executive, but she does not speak for us when it comes to the issue of access to the results of publicly funded research.

We strongly oppose any attempts to overturn or weaken the NIH mandate.


Presentations from Russian OA seminar

The presentations from the Ural State University seminar, Scientific knowledge in the digital age: Open Access and Open repositories (Yekaterinburg, Russia, December 1-2, 2008), are now online.  They may have been up for a while, but I just noticed them (thanks to Sybski).  Read the program in Russian or Google's English.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

More on OA textbooks

Declan Butler, The textbook of the future, Nature, April 1, 2009.  Accessible only to subscribers.  Excerpt:

...A more radical idea is to offer textbooks for free, without rights restrictions. A range of free, open textbooks are already available for download at WikiBooks; the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources’ Open Text- Books Project; and Connexions, created in 1999 by electrical engineer Richard Baraniuk of Rice University in Houston Texas. These texts typically take the form of modules written by many expert authors....

Still, perhaps ‘free’ and ‘profitable’ need not be a contradiction in terms. One group of veteran textbook publishing executives is trying to put open textbooks on a solid commercial footing. In 2007 they created Flat World Knowledge, based in Nyack, New York, and in January 2009 rolled out the first of the 21 textbooks they have in development so far. The texts are written by some 40 domain experts who will be paid 20% of royalties. The company also plans to make its content available via Kindle and other e-readers. All its content will be free to reuse for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons licence.

Eric Frank, Flat World’s co-founder, says that the strategy is to attract greater use by giving the e-textbooks away — the initial targets are the high-volume texts for first-year students — and then look for profit from students’ purchase of print-on-demand versions at $29.95 for black and white, and $59.95 for colour. Students can copy and use the electronic content in any way they wish, says Frank. “Cheap prices are the most effective digital-rights management,” he says. “We want to avoid a digital-rights war with students.” The company also hopes to make money by licensing its content to commercial companies, such as distance-learning outfits and course-management software firms. By making its content free for reuse, Flat World Knowledge will allow lecturers to splice and dice its content. “More and more professors want to teach from ‘customized’ textbooks, which are aggregations of various materials, not just what a publisher has aggregated in a single book,” says [Kevin Hegarty, chief financial officer at the University of Texas at Austin].  He says that the UTA has made an electronic tool available for academics to aggregate any licensed library materials, including scientific journals, and ‘publish’ them to their students as their textbook materials. “I think that this is where textbooks are headed.” ...

More on the RIN report on publication fees

Matthew Cockerill, Universities UK/Research Information Network report recommends creation of central instititutional funds to cover open access publication charges, BMC Blog, April 2, 2009.  Excerpt:

A new report released on 27th March 2009 by Universities UK and the Research Information Network, delivers an important set of recommendations aiming to ensure best practice at UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in relation to the payment of open access publication fees. The UUK/RIN working group included representatives from universities, research funders, publishers and research authors, and the report's recommendations identify actions each of these groups can take in order to ensure that the funding of open access publishing is handled in a coordinated way.

A key focus of the report is the need for institutions to take an integrated approach, and to communicate clearly to their employees. The report notes that "the response in the UK to the development of open access journals remains haphazard". It also notes that a 2008 JISC survey of UK biomedical authors found that "only 28% of those employed by HEIs believed that they had received any guidance from their employer on the payment of publication fees" even though 72% of these respondents had published in an open access journals in the last 5 years

To address this lack of clearly communicated policies, the report recommends "HEIs should designate a single person at senior level (for example, a pro or deputy vice chancellor) to coordinate their activities", and furthermore "All funders should clarify how they will provide financial support for researchers in meeting their open access policies in general, and the payment of publication fees in particular."

Noting that the payment of Open Access publication fees as directly-incurred costs (i.e. from grants) is often problematic, the report unambiguously advises institutions to develop central open access funds: "We recommend HEIs establish dedicated budgets to which researchers can apply for funds to meet the costs of publication fees".

The reports relevance extends beyond the UK, especially in the light of recent mandatory open access initiatives in the USA at Harvard and MIT. Central funding for open access publication costs is a natural way to ensure that such open access deposit policies can be sustained long-term, without undermining peer-review and the journal system on which scholarly communication depends. BioMed Central has produced case studies on several institutions which already have such open access funds in operation, and we are forward to collaborating with the many other institutions that are now working to develop similar schemes.

PS:  Also see my own comments on the RIN report.

Awakening information to accelerate research

Michael Nielsen, Information Awakening, Nature Physics, April 2009.  Accessible only to subscribers, at least at least so far.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

...Stepping back, what tools like blogs, open notebooks and their descendants make possible is access to new sources of information, and to new conversation. The net result is a restructuring of expert attention. This is important because expert attention is the ultimate scarce resource in scientific research, and the more efficiently it can be allocated, the faster science can progress.

How many times have you been obstructed in your research, for example, by the need to prove or disprove a small result that is a little outside your core expertise, and so would take you days or weeks, but which you know, with certainty, the right person could resolve in minutes, if only you knew who that person was, and could easily get their attention? This may sound like a fantasy, but this is exactly what happens in open-source software projects: their discussion forums often have a constant flow of messages posing what seem like tough problems, but quite commonly someone with a great comparative advantage quickly posts a clever way to solve the problem....

Galileo could not imagine a world in which it made sense for him to freely share a discovery like the rings of Saturn, rather than hoarding it for himself. Certainly, he couldn’t share the discovery in a journal article — the journal system was not invented until more than 20 years after Galileo died. Even then, journals took decades to establish themselves as a legitimate means of sharing scientific discoveries, and many early scientists looked upon journals with some suspicion.

The parallel to the suspicion many scientists have of online media today is striking....

When historians look back at the early part of the twenty-first century, they will also see several major changes. Many believe that one of those changes will be related to the sustainability of how humans live on this planet. But I think there are at least two other major historical changes. The first is the fact that this is the time in history when the world’s information is being transformed from an inert, passive, widely separated state, and put into a single, unified, active system that can make connections and bring that information alive. The world’s information is waking up. The second of those changes, closely related to the first, is that we are going to change the way scientists work — we are going to change the way scientists share information and how expert attention is allocated, developing new methods for connecting people, for organizing people, for leveraging people’s skills. They will be redirected, organized and amplified. The result will speed up the rate at which discoveries are made, not in one small corner of science, but across all of science.

Update.  Michael blogged an earlier (and OA) version of this article in January.

Subbiah Arunachalam on OA in India

The EPT blog has posted a 6:24 minute video of Leslie Chan interviewing Subbiah Arunachalam on OA in India.  The interview was taped at last week's CSIR Conference on Open Access to Science Publications (New Delhi, March 24, 2009).

More on Springer's plans

Katherine Allen, Springer Is Not for Sale, Says CEO, Information Today NewsBreaks, April 2, 2009.  Excerpt:

Springer Science + Business Media is not for sale, said CEO Derk Haank, speaking at the U.K. Serials Group (UKSG) conference this week in Torquay, U.K. The sale was recently reported in The Guardian and elsewhere. But it was categorically denied by Haank, who did, however, reveal that Springer's private-equity owners Candover and Cinven were in discussion with a third partner in order to provide additional investment.... 

In a less-turbulent climate, Springer would likely be an attractive acquisition target....

However, as the recent failure of the attempted sale of Reed Business Information shows, there is little appetite for big media deals at the moment.

After Springer's acquisition last year of open access publisher BioMed Central, Haank made it clear that, in his view, open access won't go away - but it won't take over either. In his opinion, the volume of articles published as open access is unlikely to increase to more than 10% of the total (compared to 3% at present)....


  • I don't know where Haank's 3% estimate comes from.  But note that it's intended capture gold OA ("articles published as open access"), not green or green + gold OA.  Today, about 16% of peer-reviewed journals are OA.  For this purpose I'm assuming that there are about 4,000 peer-reviewed OA journals (the current tally at the DOAJ) and about 25,000 peer-reviewed journals (a widely-used but perhaps inaccurate rule of thumb).  There's some evidence that the average OA journal publishes fewer articles/year than the average TA journal, but I'd be very surprised if the difference was large enough to make the OA journal total just 3% of the OA+TA journal total.
  • Also see my post on the original rumors that Springer was for sale, and my post on Hank's correction.

Péter Jacsó reviews ticTOCs

Péter Jacsó, ticTOCs, Péter's Digital Reference Shelf, April 2009. A review of the OA ticTOCs current awareness service. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

... There are only a few functionally similar digital alternatives to what ticTOCs offers – and most of them are not free. ...

There are some discipline-specific, free TOC services, such as the one in astronomy and astrophysics from the ADS (Astrophysics Data System). It covers 25 discipline-specific journals, plus Science and Nature. It is an additional free service of the excellent digital pre-print depository.

The closest free service to ticTOCs is the splendid Feed Navigator of the National Library of Health Sciences (Terkko) in Finland, which covers about 4,300 sources. However, it is limited to health sciences – and luckily, to library and information science ...

In spite of some deficiencies, ticTOCs is an excellent free service ...

See also our past posts on ticTOCs.

Wellcome Trust seeks comments on a proposed license

Robert Kiley, Open access licence: researcher opinion sought, UKPMC Blog, April 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

A learned society has offered the Wellcome Trust an open access, author pays option for researchers who seek publication in their journal. However, the licence they wish to attach to these articles is more restrictive than the Trust would normally require when paying an OA fee.

The purpose of this posting is to seek opinion from the research community on whether these restrictions will, in any way, limit a researchers ability to re-use this content.

Summary of relevant licence conditions

The relevant section of the licence is shown below, in italics

PMC or UKPMC mirror site users may access, download, copy, display and redistribute articles, as well as text and data mine content in articles for non-commercial purposes only, subject to the following conditions:

  • In the case of text-mining, User may incorporate individual words, concepts and quotes up to 100 words per matching sentence, whereas longer paragraphs of text and images cannot be used.
  • Users may not create derivative works (as defined in the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §101 et seq.) based upon the documents.
The Wellcome Trust is seeking input from the research community to help determine:

A) Whether such a licence would impact on your ability to re-use and re-purpose this open access content.

B) If so, please give some examples of research activities that would be limited by this licence.

If you would like to respond to this issue, please use the comment function below or send an email to r dot kiley at wellcome dot ac dot uk.

PS:  Presently, there are 5 comments on this blog post. 

NSDL releases new digital library platform

The National Science Digital Library has released EduPak 1.0. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
EduPak version 1.0 is a lightweight version of the NCore open-source digital library platform specifically designed to meet the needs of national educational organizations and institutions focused on establishing specialized digital collections, conducting educational research, or providing students, teachers and instructors with discipline-oriented pedagogical products and tools that require basic technology for educational digital repositories. Built with NCore components, EduPak is an all-in-one, educational digital repository solution that provides a general platform for building digital libraries united by a common data model and interoperable applications.

Survey on data sharing in archaeology

The Alexandria Archive Institute is conducting a survey on user needs relating to web publication of archaeological content. An overview of the survey results will be posted in May.

German library to add a quarter million images to Wikimedia Commons

The Land Library of Saxony - State and University Library Dresden announced on March 31 it would add 250,000 images to Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons BY-SA license. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.) See also the announcement at Creative Commons.

See also our past post on the similar announcement from the German Federal Archive on adding 100,000 of its images to Wikimedia Commons.

April SOAN

I just mailed the April issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at 25 misunderstandings about open access.  The round-up section briefly notes 158 OA developments March.


New DOAJ members

New members of the Directory of Open Access Journals:

On OA journals in India

Anup Kumar Das, Open Access to Research Literature in India: Contemporary Scenario, ISSI Newsletter, 2009; self-archived April 1, 2009. Abstract:
This paper discusses how Indian open access journals get international visibility with increased outreach through primary and secondary open access journal gateways and aggregators. This paper proposes a model of self-sustainability for open access journals as well as for open access journal publishers.

Upgrade to PMC journal list

The PubMed Central journal list now includes additional information on a single page:
  • ISSN
  • If the journal contains some or all libre OA content (see the PMC Open Access Subset)
  • Participation level:
    • Full: The journal deposits all articles from each issue.
    • NIH Portfolio: The journal deposits at least all NIH-funded articles, but may not include all of the journal's articles.
    • No longer depositing: The journal is not adding new material to PMC, but the material that it deposited previously is still available.
    • Now Select only: The journal previously was full participation or NIH Portfolio but has moved to a selective deposit model.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Students campaign for OA textbooks

Pat Lohmann, Students mourn outdated textbooks, New Mexico Daily Lobo, March 26, 2009. (Thanks to Open Education News.)

... [University of New Mexico Public Interest Research Group spokeswoman Erica] Krause said she and other PIRG volunteers are trying to get UNM faculty members to find an alternative to expensive textbooks.

"At UNM, we're trying to get professors to sign an open-source textbook commitment and try and get them to switch their textbooks over to something more affordable and easier to obtain," she said.

Krause said open-source textbooks are preferable because they are often published online, sidestepping major publishing companies.

"They're more available to this generation, and it doesn't allow textbook publishers to have a monopoly over the entire market, like (they do) right now," she said. ...

Notes on green and gold OA

Anna Creech, CIL 2009: Open Access: Green and Gold, eclectic librarian, March 31, 2009. Notes on a session at Computers in Libraries 2009 (Arlington, Va., March 30-April 1, 2009).

See also our past post on the conference.

OAI-ORE for repository interoperability

David Tarrant, et al., Using OAI-ORE to Transform Digital Repositories into Interoperable Storage and Services Applications, Code4Lib Journal, March 30, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Abstract:
In the digital age libraries are required to manage large numbers of diverse objects. One advantage of digital objects over fixed physical objects is the flexibility of ‘binding’ them into publications or other useful aggregated intellectual entities while retaining the ability to reuse them independently in other contexts. An emerging framework for managing flexible aggregations of digital objects is provided by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) with its work on Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE). This paper will show how OAI-ORE is being used to manage content in digital repositories, in particular institutional repositories, and has the potential ultimately to transform the conception of digital repositories.

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid adopts an OA policy

The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid adopted an OA policy on February 25, 2009. The policy applies to requests for funding to create or improve Web sites for the university's institutes and research groups. Applications for such funding from the must indicate whether the group will commit to self-archive its research results in the UC3M IR; commitment will figure in the evaluation of applications. (Thanks to David Wacks.)


More on Plazi and OA for biodiversity research

Donat Agosti and Willi Egloff, Taxonomic information exchange and copyright: the Plazi approach, BMC Research Notes, March 30, 2009.  Abstract:  

Background:  A large part of our knowledge on the world's species is recorded in the corpus of biodiversity literature with well over hundred million pages, and is represented in natural history collections estimated at 2 - 3 billion specimens. But this body of knowledge is almost entirely in paper-print form and is not directly accessible through the Internet. For the digitization of this literature, new territories have to be chartered in the fields of technical, legal and social issues that presently impede its advance. The taxonomic literature seems especially destined for such a transformation.

Discussion: Plazi was founded as an association with the primary goal of transforming both the printed and, more recently, "born-digital" taxonomic literature into semantically enabled, enhanced documents. This includes the creation of a test body of literature, an XML schema modeling its logic content (TaxonX), the development of a mark-up editor (GoldenGATE) allowing also the enhancement of documents with links to external resources via Life Science Identifiers (LSID), a repository for publications and issuance of bibliographic identifiers, a dedicated server to serve the marked up content (the Plazi Search and Retrieval Server, SRS) and semantic tools to mine information. Plazi's workflow is designed to respect copyright protection and achieves extraction by observing exceptions and limitations existent in international copyright law.

Conclusion: The information found in Plazi's databases - taxonomic treatments as well as the metadata of the publications - are in the public domain and can therefore be used for further scientific research without any restriction, whether or not contained in copyrighted publications.

PS:  Also see our past posts on Plazi.

Quarterly growth report

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access: March 31, 2009, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, March 31, 2009.  Excerpt:

Synopsis:  This quarter, the growth of open access has been dramatic in open access journals, open access archives, and, perhaps most noteworthy, open access policies. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is on the verge of an important milestone -4,000 fully open access, peer-reviewed journals, double the number of the largest commercial publisher. DOAJ is growing at the rate of 2 titles per day. OpenDOAR lists 1,373 repositories, an increase of about 70 this quarter. Scientific Commons now encompasses 26 million items, an increase of 2 million. 663 journals are now voluntarily participating inPubMedCentral, an increase of 119 (22%) this quarter. 447 journals provide immediate free access through PubMedCentral, an increase of 29 (7%) this quarter. There are 11 more open access policies, for a total of 72 policies worldwide, and 4 more proposed policies, for a total of 14 proposed policies.

One decrease is noted - not in open access per se, but rather subscription journals providing free back issues: Highwire Press seems to have 212,000 fewer free articles, a decrease of 10%. This is a bit puzzling, as Highwire has added 1 more completely free site, and there is an increase of 11 sites providing free back access. Any background on what is happening here would be most appreciated....

Recently, I posted the DOAJ Growth Rate 2005-2008. This illustrates not only a healthy and growth DOAJ title growth rate, but an even more impressive rate of growth of journals providing article-level searching, and the articles obtainable through a DOAJ search.
Dramatic Growth Full Data

Either of these Google spreadsheets can be downloaded; use the Edit key at the bottom of the screen. The dataverse version will be updated at a later date due to technical issues.

Microsoft folds up Encarta

Noam Cohen, Microsoft Encarta Dies After Long Battle With Wikipedia, New York Times, March 30, 2009.  Excerpt:

Microsoft delivered the coup de grâce Monday to its dying Encarta encyclopedia, acknowledging what everyone else realized long ago: it just couldn’t compete with Wikipedia, a free, collaborative project that has become the leading encyclopedia on the Web.

In January, Wikipedia got 97 percent of the visits that Web surfers in the United States made to online encyclopedias, according to the Internet ratings service Hitwise. Encarta was second, with 1.27 percent. Unlike Wikipedia, where volunteer editors quickly update popular entries, Encarta can be embarrassingly outdated. The entry for Joseph R. Biden Jr., for example, identifies him as vice president-elect and a U.S. senator....

[Andrew Lih] said something would be lost in the shuttering of Encarta. “Bill Gates bought Corbis, and Encarta had access to all these images that Wikipedia could never get,” he said. “Right now, that is a big weakness of Wikipedia -– the material has to be free.”

Mathias Schindler, one of the administrators of German Wikipedia, said he had already sent an e-mail to Microsoft asking the company to release the material from Encarta that it doesn’t plan to use anymore.

More on the last point from Rafe Needleman at Webware (incidentally reporting Jimmy Wales is folding up Wikia search),

[On Encarta,] Wales said it's "disappointing to see a center of knowledge going away." His company has been trying to contact Microsoft about making Encarta data available under a free license, he said, so some of it could be incorporated into Wikipedia.

Wales says Wikipedia could, theoretically, absorb all of Encarta. But due to the relatively small size of [Encarta], "the community probably wouldn't find it useful. However, the images might be useful," he said.

Comment.  I have no opinion on the quality of Encarta.  I never used it, and clearly I'm not alone.  But I'm still struck by the traffic figures:  Wikipedia at #1 with 97% of online encyclopedia traffic, and Encarta at #2 with 1.27%.  Is there any other category showing that kind of disparity between #1 and #2?

No contradiction between OA and quality

Karin Weishaupt, Freier Zugang und Qualität – kein Widerspruch!  Etablierte Strukturen des Wissenschaftssystems behindern die Durchsetzung von Open Access, IAT, April 2009. (Thanks to the Informationsplattform Open Access.)

In German without an English-language abstract.  The thesis is that there is no contradiction between OA and quality, and that the conventional metrics of quality, such as impact factors, are deeply misleading. 

Because the article is a PDF, I can't link to a machine translation.  But you can read today's (HTML) press release on the article in German or Google's English.

PS:  For my own arguments for the same thesis, see especially:

Also see our past post on Weishaupt's work on OA.

DOAJ will offer long-term preservation for OA journals

Long-term preservation of Open Access Journals secured, a press release from the DOAJ and the e-Depot of the National Library of the Netherlands (dated today).  Excerpt:

The Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ) - Lund University Libraries and the e-Depot of the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) today announced the start of a cooperation in order to secure long-term preservation of open access journals. The Swedish Library Association is generously acting as sponsor.

Long-term preservation of scholarly publications is of major importance for the research community. New formats of scholarly publications, new business models and new ways of dissemination are constantly being developed....

The composition of the DOAJ collection (currently 4000 journals) is characterized by a very large number of publishers (2.000+), each publishing a very small number of journals on different platforms, in different formats and in more than 50 different languages. Many of these publishers are – with a number of exceptions – fragile when it comes to financial, technical and administrative sustainability.

At present DOAJ and KB carry out a pilot project aimed at setting up a workflow for processing open access journals listed with DOAJ. In the pilot a limited number of open access journals will be subject to long term preservation. These activities will be scaled up shortly and long term archiving of the journals listed in the DOAJ at KB’s e-Depot will become an integral part of the service provided by the DOAJ....


  • Preservation matters.  Because it matters, and because doing it right can be difficult to arrange, new OA projects face a difficult decision:  delay launch to ensure preservation from birth or launch first and let preservation follow on.  One of the best features of the new DOAJ service is that it will follow on and catch up with OA journals already launched.  New OA journals will know from birth that it's available.  Another nice feature is that it will become part of the DOAJ array of services, simplifying life for the many small OA publishers.  It's one more reason for institutions to join the DOAJ membership program
  • Effective preservation reassures all the stakeholders, from authors and readers, to librarians, publishers, and P&T committees, that the valuable research in OA journals will last, that it will last in digital form (OA literature has always been compatible with the preservation of printouts), and that it will last in OA form. 
  • This is not the first preservation program for digital journals, or even the first for OA journals.  Two of the leading services are Portico and LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe).  LOCKSS has an OA-specific offshoot called OpenLOCKSS.


DOAJ tops 4,000 peer-reviewed OA journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals has passed the milestone of 4,000 peer-reviewed OA journals.  From today's announcement:

As of today the Directory of Open Access Journals contains 4000 open access journals, i.e. quality controlled scientific and scholarly electronic journals that are freely available on the web.

The usage of DOAJ is constantly increasing. Every month we have more than 8 million hits; hundreds of libraries all over the world have included the DOAJ titles in their catalogues and other services and commercial aggregators are as well benefiting of the service.

The goal of the Directory of Open Access Journals is still to increase the visibility and accessibility of open access scholarly journals, and thereby promote their increased usage and impact. The directory aims to comprehensively cover all open access scholarly journals that use an appropriate quality control system. Journals in about 50 languages can be found and all subject areas are welcome. Now there are journals from 98 countries in DOAJ. To maintain the quality of the service we also have to remove titles from DOAJ if they no longer live up to the selection criteria. 94 titles have been removed during 2008....

PS:  There are several larger lists of OA journals, but as far as I can tell they are not limited to peer-reviewed journals.  If there larger lists of peer-reviewed OA journals, I'd like to know about them.

Twitter channels for OA repositories

Les Carr reports that the Southampton ECS repository has been tweeting new deposits since June 2008.  He also shows how to set up a Twitter channel in any EPrints repository.  Eloy Rodrigues reports that the Minho IR (running DSpace) has started tweeting new deposits. 

Comment.  You may not need to know about new repository deposits while doing your laundry.  But neither do you have to follow repository channels in real time.  The brevity of deposit announcements is a perfect fit with the brevity of tweets.  There's no reason why generalized alert services couldn't record your interests, harvest repository deposits and journal TOCs (or integrate with ticTOCs), and tweet you across the range of resources in your field.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

OA to Canadian UFO files

The Canadian government is providing OA to its UFO files.

PS:  France has already made its UFO files OA.  Britain made its UFO files OA for a short time and then began charging for access.

Opening software, like opening research, is necessary for reproducibility

Benjamin J. Weiner and 15 co-authors, Astronomical Software Wants To Be Free: A Manifesto, a preprint, self-archived, March 25, 2009. 

Abstract:   Astronomical software is now a fact of daily life for all hands-on members of our community. Purpose-built software for data reduction and modeling tasks becomes ever more critical as we handle larger amounts of data and simulations. However, the writing of astronomical software is unglamorous, the rewards are not always clear, and there are structural disincentives to releasing software publicly and to embedding it in the scientific literature, which can lead to significant duplication of effort and an incomplete scientific record. We identify some of these structural disincentives and suggest a variety of approaches to address them, with the goals of raising the quality of astronomical software, improving the lot of scientist-authors, and providing benefits to the entire community, analogous to the benefits provided by open access to large survey and simulation datasets. Our aim is to open a conversation on how to move forward. We advocate that: (1) the astronomical community consider software as an integral and fundable part of facility construction and science programs; (2) that software release be considered as integral to the open and reproducible scientific process as are publication and data release; (3) that we adopt technologies and repositories for releasing and collaboration on software that have worked for open-source software; (4) that we seek structural incentives to make the release of software and related publications easier for scientist-authors; (5) that we consider new ways of funding the development of grass-roots software; (6) and that we rethink our values to acknowledge that astronomical software development is not just a technical endeavor, but a fundamental part of our scientific practice.

Comment.  You don't see this very often:  an argument for free and open source software by analogy to open access, rather than the other way around.

Two new OA journals from MDPI

Switzerland's Molecular Diversity Preservation Initiative (MDPI) has launched two new peer-reviewed OA journals:

  1. Sustainability, an "international and cross-disciplinary scholarly Open Access journal of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability of human beings, which provides an advanced forum for studies related to sustainability and sustainable development. Published online quarterly."  Inaugural issue, March 2009.
  2. Remote Sensing, a "journal of the science and technology of remote sensing and applications. Published online quarterly."  Inaugural issue, March 2009.

PS:  Also see our past posts on MDPI.

OA to law in Southern Africa

Kerry Anderson, What is a Legal Information Institute?  VoxPopuLII, March 1, 2009.  (Thanks to Simon Chester.)  Excerpt:

At its most basic level, a legal information institute obtains primary legal information from the public bodies responsible for producing that information, and makes it available online for free, full and anonymous access.

But what is a legal information institute when the courts from which judgments must be acquired are not themselves always sure where the final copy of the judgment is – either in electronic or in hard copy format?

What is a legal information institute when the courts from which judgments are sourced do not take the responsibility for ensuring that private information, including the names of minors and victims in sexual abuse cases, are removed from the judgments?

What is a legal information institute when the legislation of a country is available only through the purchase of costly subscriptions from a commercial publisher contracted by the Parliament of that country?

What is a legal information institute when the last Law Reports available in a country date from more than 20 years previously? Or not at all?

What is a Legal Information Institute when the transcripts of judgments are refused for publication – even by the courts themselves – by the company contracted to provide the transcription service on some very shady grounds of copyright?

All of the above describe situations SAFLII (the Southern African Legal Information Institute) has encountered in its dealings with jurisdictions across Southern and Eastern Africa....

Even more concerning is the role we have found ourselves assuming of the primary – and only – publisher of legal materials for some countries. Zimbabwe has not been able to publish its Law Reports since 2003 owing to the devastating collapse of infrastructure resulting from the political situation.  Swaziland last published Law Reports in the 1980s. Many other countries have out-of-date Law Reports with no resources to continue the Law Reporting function. Others have written more eloquently than I on the necessity of having contextual law, particularly in common law jurisdictions. The point is singular and self-evident: how can the laws of a country be known if the laws of the country are not available?

In finding inventive and creative strategies for dealing with these situations, we have traveled quite far down the rabbit hole....

Of significance is the fact that we have never encountered resistance to the concept of Free Access to Law. The issues I have described relate to shortages of resources, skills and technical infrastructure – but not aspiration. Which is why it is critical that the strategies we employ do not undermine the self-sufficiency of nascent law reporting structures. It is perhaps in the subtleties of how assistance and support is offered that we can find ways to engage that are not overbearing. It takes just one person of vision and determination – a change agent – within a court, a university, a private practice, an NGO or a law reporting committee to unblock the system sufficiently that a legal information institute – whatever your definition – can develop. We therefore see our most important task as being to identify these change agents and to transfer our accumulated knowledge as well as that which we ourselves have been given by other legal information institutes....

Springer wants a partner, not a buyer

The UKSG LiveSerials blog is covering the annual UKSG Conference (Torquay, March 30 - April 1, 2009).  Some highlights:

Kirsty Meddings on Ahmed Hindawi

Ahmed Hindawi opened the afternoon plenary session by talking about the "three big changes" that will affect scholarly publishing in the next ten years....

Scholarly journals publishing doesn't have [the] problems [of other sectors]: unlike newspapers, the content of scholarly journals is highly differentiated, and you're unlikely to just go and read a different article if the one you want is too expensive or behind access control. Scholarly journals are bought by organisations, so there's still a "middle man" in the sale as compared to author to reader trade book sales. And piracy isn't a big issue.

The three changes that Ahmed predicts will affect scholarly publishing:

  • Open access vs toll
  • The journal as a brand on author side
  • The journal as a brand on the librarian side...

    Drivers for open access

  • Recognition of merits of OA by researchers
  • Serials crisis = difficult to expand toll publications
  • Green open access - publishers will realise gold is more secure and more financially viable....

    So, five possible futures for scholarly publishing....

  • Possible Future 4: Open Access

  • Journals still have a strong brand with authors, but libraries don't need to purchase journals. High impact journals will be able to demand higher author publishing charges. Will be more competition between journals and publishers.

    Possible Future 5: Commoditization 2.0

    Open access and lost journal brand on author side. All journals are like PLoS ONE journals, publishing all rigorous artlcles. A&I databases will be only place to navigate content.

    What will materialize will be more complex than any one of these examples. Open Access is important, but isn't the only issue. Commoditization can bring benefits. Scholarly journals have many stakeholders. It's important to be as "humble and objective as possible" and consider all of the stakeholders. There will be winners and losers.

  • Ginny Hendricks on Derk Haank:

    ...Haank’s view is that the major advancements in scholarly publishing have already taken place. For a revolution to occur people have to be very dissatisfied with the current situation and that is no longer the case since the shared publishing goals of 1998 have already been achieved. These were:

    1) improving access;

    2) seamless linking; and

    3) improving value for money.

    The CrossRef initiative has solved one of the biggest problems by providing pure linking to enable seamless access to everything, for everyone. The fear and excitement of the late nineties meant that publishers “invested heavily - too much in my view - in technology” and this resulted in having to charge much higher fees for publishers’ platforms, rendering content inaccessible to some users.

    The technology will not be important in the next decade....“The techies are back in the cellar where they belong”....[W]e’ve already achieved a lot and it will not be possible to invest much further anyway.

    We’ve talked about Open Access for ten years but only 3% of articles are published in the OA model – hardly a revolution. But of course OA will not disappear (noting his recent investment in BioMed Central!) but will build slowly alongside and in parallel to traditional publishing business models as an evolution, not a revolution.

    More content is produced each year than the previous year but library budgets do not increase so we just need to get much more efficient every year instead of looking for the next big development....

    PS – Haank was asked about the "elephant in the room" and said that Springer is not up for sale but looking for a third additional partner not replacing current shareholders.

    PS:  See our past post on last week's rumors that Springer was for sale.

    Peer review at OA journals

    Uwe Thomas Müller, Peer-Review-Verfahren zur Qualitätssicherung von Open-Access-Zeitschriften – systematische Klassifikation und empirische Untersuchung, a doctoral dissertation at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, January 22, 2009.  (Thanks to David Solomon.)  In German but with this English-language abstract:

    The present work broadly discusses the problem of quality assurance in the field of scholarly publishing. It highlights the specific characteristics resulting from electronic publishing, business models based on Open Access, and particularly Open Access Journals. Out of the different approaches for quality assessment and its fundamental purpose – filtering relevant and audited information – mainly peer review processes are examined in detail. In this context weak points and basic criticisms on peer review are enumerated and subsequently discussed with respect to known studies in this field. As a major part the present work contains a classification of peer review processes regarding different properties and its potential values. Although it has been subject to fundamental criticism for decades peer review is still widely considered to be the method of choice for pre-publication quality assurance in scholarly publishing. Meanwhile, open access journals which increasingly appear within the scholarly publication market regularly raise suspicion to follow lower quality standards and to publish articles which have passed no or less rigorous editorial examination. Against this background the present work presents a comprehensive survey which aims at analyzing peer review processes of scholarly open access journals. Using the data provided by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) more than 3.000 editors have been asked to participate. With an overall return rate of about 40 % the resulting findings can be considered as highly representative. They clearly show that most open access journals actually apply peer review processes. Moreover, the analysis indicates that there exists a broad variety of different procedures and characteristics constituting peer review, including reciprocal anonymity between authors and reviewers, information flow, the reviewer selection process, and formal settlements as for conflicts of interest. Thereby, the nature of the applied peer review process strongly depends on the scholarly discipline of the respective journal and its publisher. In addition, correlations between external quality indicators and peer review properties could be observed.

    Coping with the financial crisis, without OA

    The Research Information Network (RIN) has released a two-page analysis of the effect of the economic meltdown on research access, Scholarly books and journals at risk, March 2009.  From the statement:

    Scholarly journals and publications play an essential role in communicating, recording, certifying, disseminating and preserving research findings. So researchers in the UK must have access to the fullest possible range of scholarly literature. Otherwise, the UK’s ability to support and undertake the research and teaching of the highest quality, for which it is internationally recognised, will be compromised....

    The current economic difficulties across the globe bring serious risks to scholarly books and journals. In the UK, the recent dramatic fall in the value of sterling has seriously damaged university library purchasing budgets....

    Savage cuts in journal subscriptions, with a consequent reduction – even reversal – in access to scholarly resources would run counter to all that has been achieved over the past decade in widening access for researchers and students. Restricting or rationing access to research in this way makes no sense....

    To avoid compromising the scope and quality of research and teaching in higher education, and consequent damage to the UK economy, everybody involved – universities, funding bodies, researchers, librarians, and publishers – must work together. Collectively, we must do all we can to minimise the risks arising from the current economic difficulties. We call on all the key stakeholder groups to work together to find creative, practical and sustainable ways to ensure that the scholarly publications link in the chain from genius to wealth creation is not damaged beyond repair.

    Comment.  The topic is important and the analysis timid.  The statement doesn't mention OA once, in any context, let alone as a possible solution, or partial solution, to the loss of access to priced research.  For an analysis of the same problem willing to speak the unspeakable, see the ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis from last month:

    ...Libraries serving research organizations are increasingly receptive to models that provide open access to content published by their affiliated authors in addition to traditional subscription access to titles. This kind of model can form a bridge from subscription models to models incorporating author-side payments....

    For my own analysis, that the economic crisis strengthens the case for OA, much as the climate crisis strengthens the case for wind, solar, and geothermal energy, see my open letter to Obama and McCain from last November and my predictions for 2009 from last December.

    Three winners in Elsevier's Article 2.0 contest

    Elsevier has announced the three prize winners in its Article 2.0 contest.  From the announcement:

    ...The panel of seven distinguished judges, drawn from academia, publishing, policymaking and media, considered how each application improved on the existing online presentation of research articles. Special attention was paid to contestants' ability to 'think outside of the box' as well as ease of use and the overall quality of the application.

    The $4,000 first prize was awarded to Inigo Surguy whose idea demonstrated how Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0/Semantic Web approaches can be combined to add value to article content. His application enhances content navigation, facilitating commentary on specific paragraphs, and assertions about the article and its contents.

    The $2,000 second prize was awarded to Jacek R. Ambroziak. His mobile application enables reading Elsevier articles on an Android Smartphone. Stuart Chalk, the $1000 third prize winner, submitted an idea operating on the premise that research articles are inherently non-linear and that researchers view articles in a random fashion, depending on their interests....

    PS:  There isn't a strong OA connection.  But we blogged the contest at earlier stages (1, 2), and I wanted to blog the results as well.  Congratulations to Surguy, Ambroziak, and Chalk.

    Three lessons from Michigan's OA week

    Molly Kleinman, Lessons from Open Access Week, Molly Kleinman, March 30, 2009.

    As most of you already know, last week was Open Access Week at the University of Michigan Library....

    Over the course of the week, I learned a few valuable lessons, and even changed my mind about a couple of things. Before I forget it all, I wanted to share them here.

    Lesson #1: A formal definition of open access should include re-use rights

    The Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin definitions of open access all require not just free online access to the work for all users with an internet connection, but also a license that permits copying and redistribution of the work. Prior to Open Access Week, I believed that a definition of open access that required usage rights was sacrificing the good for the sake of the perfect, and that therefore all three of these founding documents were deeply flawed. In an environment where scholarly authors must often haggle mightily just to keep the right to deposit their articles in an institutional repository, such a requirement was asking too much. We shouldn’t disparage those who do the valuable and important work of promoting subject and institutional repositories just because in an ideal world we’d have something even better.

    Discussions at the Open Access and the Academy panel have convinced me that the difference between a work that is freely available and a work that is freely reusable is tremendous, and that true openness does require the possibility of future adaptation and use. We can draw a distinction between free access and Open Access without demeaning those who have only been able to achieve free access. In very many situations, free access is enough....

    Lesson #2: Undergraduates have an important role to play in advocating for Open Access

    This is the second thing about which my mind has been changed. In the past, I have argued that Open Access outreach programs targeting students are misguided, because undergrads have nothing to do with any part of the publishing process....

    While nobody spoke directly about undergraduate engagement during OA Week, the week made me think about it because it reminded me that it’s damned hard to get faculty into a room they’re not contractually obligated to be in....

    So now imagine what a little undergraduate activism can do. The high cost of purchasing scholarly journals contributes to the rising cost of education, and the rising cost of education is a hot topic in these dire economic times. If we can get students riled up about open access - and that’s still a big if - they might have more luck influencing the behavior of their professors than librarians have. While before I thought that targeting students for open access outreach was a waste of time, now I believe it’s worth a shot. Some infrastructure for it already exists, and in the coming months I plan to look into how I can promote student participation here at Michigan.

    Lesson #3: Never lose sight of the Great Conversation

    Jean-Claude Guédon, one of the panelists on Tuesday, spoke of the importance of open access in facilitating what he called “The Great Conversation.” The Great Conversation is the purpose of all scholarship. It signifies engagement with knowledge, ideas, and a worldwide community of scholars. To frame the issue this way, open access is not about money or fairness or social justice, it’s about something more romantic. Perhaps the way to win over the hearts and minds of faculty is to put open access in loftier, more idealistic terms. People who do not have access to scholarly output cannot participate in the Great Conversation, and neither can people whose works are not widely accessible....

    Update (3/31/09). Also see Stevan Harnad's comments.

    OA to polar biodiversity data

    Antarctic marine biodiversity data now online, press release, March 31, 2009.
    The International Polar Year (IPY) concluded in March 2009 with a tangible legacy in the form of a network of databases on marine biodiversity that will serve as clearinghouse for all biodiversity-related data gathered since the very first Antarctic research expeditions. ... Created by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research's (SCAR), an inter-disciplinary committee of the International Council for Science, the Marine Biodiversity Information Network (SCAR-MarBIN) is a collaborative web portal that provides free and open access to information on Antarctic marine biodiversity. The portal started as a major Belgian contribution to the IPY, but grew into an international collaborative effort, with hundreds of scientists from around the world joining forces to build this unique web-based tool, enabling the community to share and publish information that is critical for research but also for conservation purposes. ...

    New gratis chemistry resource from ACS

    Common Chemistry is a gratis beta resource from the Chemical Abstracts Service which contains CAS Registry Numbers for approximately 7,800 chemicals of interest to the public.

    ... While not a comprehensive CAS Registry Number lookup service, Common Chemistry does provide a way to quickly and easily find names or CAS Registry Numbers for chemicals of general interest.

    CAS has collaborated with Wikipedia in developing this resource and encourages you to use the Wikipedia link (when available) or other sources of general information on chemistry, to learn more about these chemicals.

    See also comments by Antony Williams:

    ... We have already created the Data Source on ChemSpider in case anyone wants to connect up records from ChemSpider with CommonChemistry as they are curating our dataset. ...

    It is unclear what licensing is on the data. I doubt it’s Open but that won’t matter to the majority of users…they are looking for a piece of information or to confirm something and are unlikely to be distracted by whether the data are Open or not…free access will suffice. ...

    See also our past posts on the Chemical Abstracts Service.

    Notes on DRM and CC

    Marydee Ojala, DRM, Copyright, Creative Commons, Info Today Blog, March 30, 2009. Notes on a session at Computers in Libraries 2009 (Arlington, Va., March 30-April 1, 2009).

    Video of Willinsky on OA

    John Willinsky, Open Access Policies and Practices for Increasing Scholarly Contributions, presentation at the University of Kansas, February 19, 2009. Abstract:
    John Willinsky, Professor of Education at Stanford University, presents "Open Access Policies and Practices for Increasing Scholarly Contributions," February 19, 2009 at the University of Kansas. Presentation sponsored by KU Libraries, Hall Center for the Humanities, KU School of Education, and Kansas African Studies Center. 90 minutes.

    New OA mandate and IR for the Académie Louvain

    DIAL (Dépôt Institutionnel de l'Académie universitaire 'Louvain') is the new multi-institutional IR for the Académie 'Louvain' (composed of the Facultés universitaires catholiques de Mons, Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix à Namur, Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis, and the Université catholique de Louvain). (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

    The history and context section of the repository notes that the Université catholique de Louvain adopted a mandatory OA policy on July 7, 2008, which requires deposit in the IR.


    Podcast series from Repositories Support Project

    The Repositories Support Project has launched a podcast feature. The initial podcasts are on EPrints, DRIVER, preservation, and Fedora.

    Monday, March 30, 2009

    Papers from the Sydney public-domain conference

    Most of the papers to be delivered at next month's conference, National and Global Dimensions of the Public Domain (Sydney, April 16-17, 2009) are already online.

    The most OA-related of the papers currently up is Roger Clarke and Danny A. Kingsley, Open Access to Journal Content as a Case Study in Unlocking IP, last revised March 30, 2009.  Abstract:  

    The Internet has brought with it both means to disseminate and access content, and an enhanced expectation that content will generally be readily accessible. This has threatened entrenched for-profit activities, which have long prospered on closed, proprietary approaches to publishing, facilitated by anti-consumer provisions in copyright laws. The ePrints and Open Access (OA) movements have been complemented by the emergence of electronic repositories in which authors can deposit copies of their works.

    The accessibility of refereed papers published in journals represents a litmus test of the extent to which openness is being achieved in the face of the power of corporations whose business model is dependent on the exploitation of intellectual property (IP). A specification of the requirements for 'Unlocking IP' in refereed papers is presented and applied, leading to the conclusion that a great deal of progress appears to have been made. The copyright arrangements applied by most publishers enable authors to self-deposit PrePrints of their papers on their own web-sites and in open repositories; and in many cases authors can also self-deposit the PostPrint, i.e. the author's copy of the final version.

    The theoretical success of the OA, ePrints and repositories movements has not, or at least not yet, resulted in success in practice. This is because only a small proportion of papers are actually self-deposited, and a large proportion of refereed papers continue to be accessible only through highly-expensive subscriptions to journals and journal-collections controlled by for-profit publishers. The Unlocking of IP in refereed papers is therefore still very much a work-in-progress. Moreover, the gains may be ceded back to the for-profit publishing industry, unless concerted efforts are made within academe.

    Presentation on (lack of) OA to law

    The slides and video from Selling the Law: The Business of Public Access to Court Records (Princeton, February 5, 2009) are now online. (Thanks to Legal Research Plus.)

    Toolkit for sharing records via OAI-PMH

    Shreyansh Vakil, XC's OAI Toolkit on Google Code, Code for Libraries list, March 27, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

    The eXtensible Catalog (XC) OAI Toolkit repository is now available to the public for download at [here]. ...

    The OAI Toolkit is used to make data stored in an institution's [integrated library system] or other repository available for harvesting via OAI-PMH, including other eXtensible Catalog applications. ...

    The OAI Toolkit can be used as part of the XC system, or on its own to enable OAI-PMH harvestability of an existing repository. It is a server application written in Java and is only needed for ILS's and other repositories that do not already have the ability to be act as OAI-PMH Repositories (OAI Servers). ...

    New issue of Library Trends on IRs

    The Fall 2008 issue of Library Trends is a theme issue on "Institutional Repositories: Current State and Future". Contents:

    Only the abstracts are OA, at least so far. See the pre- and post-print for Salo (and our past post).

    Update. See also self-archived versions of Shreeves and Cragin (thanks to Garrett Eastman) and Heidorn (thanks to Dorothea Salo).

    WIPO Secretariat seeks to improve access to patent info

    Thiru Balasubramaniam, Balanced agenda reached at the conclusion of WIPO patent committee, Knowledge Ecology Notes, March 30, 2009.  Excerpt:

    The Summary by the Chair of the WIPO Standing Committee Committee on the Law of Patents’ (SCP) Thirteenth Session which took place in Geneva from March 23, 2009 to March 27, 2009 has been posted on the WIPO website....

    Here below is the portion of the Summary of the Chair detailing the patent committee’s future work.

    [9.c.ii] the Secretariat will prepare a concept paper on technical solutions to improve greater access to, and dissemination of, patent information; ...

    PS:  Also see our post on the WIPO Secretariat's report, Dissemination of Patent Information.

    UK development agency launches an OA repository

    The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has launched R4D (Research for Development), an OA repository. 

    For details, see Peter Ballantyne, R4D, tool to access DFID-funded research, Europe's Forum on International Cooperation, March 30, 2009:

    Over the last decade, DFID has invested around £700m in international development research. Hundreds of research partners around the world, running thousands of projects and programmes, have generated knowledge to shape our thinking on key development topics.
    For the first time, information about this research is available on a free searchable database through DFID’s research portal (R4D). 

    It has never been easy to find out what research topics, projects, and programmes DFID is funding or has funded. Researchers all over the world (and even DFID staff) had to rely on a network of personal contacts or inspired detective work to discover who was already working in a particular area, what was already known, and what lessons had been learned.

    But now, R4D puts that information at your fingertips. Responding to a demand expressed by many DFID stakeholders for better and open access to all this information, R4D is a free on-line database containing information about research programmes supported by DFID.

    R4D contains nearly 5,000 project records, and details of more than 20,000 research outputs. Every month we add new items, update existing information, and add historical documents as they become available....


    Assessing and enhancing the impact of your research

    The Becker Medical Library at Washington University has launched a set of 10+ web pages on Assessing the Impact of Research.

    From the about page:

    The Becker Medical Library Model for Assessment of Research Impact model represents a practical, do-it-yourself tool for tracking the impact of biomedical research. The Model includes guidance for quantifying and documenting research impact as well as resources for locating evidence of research impact....

    From the page of Strategies for Enhancing the Impact of Research:

    Improving access and retrieval of your research study is the surest way to enhancing its impact....

    7. Submit the manuscript to [an OA] digital subject repository. One example is arXiv which is an e-print service hosted by Cornell University in the fields of physics and mathematics. PubMed Central is another example of a digital subject repository. Investigators whose research was funded by NIH, Autism Speaks or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) are required to submit their manuscripts if funded by one of these organizations.

    8.  Submit the manuscript to an institutional repository such as DSpace@WUSM.

    9.  Retain rights to manuscripts that allow for maximum flexibility to re-use the work....(If the right to post a manuscript on an institutional or laboratory website cannot be obtained, create links to the manuscript from your website using the PMID from a PubMed citation or persistent URLs/DOIs that link directly to the publisher’s website. Check with the library staff of the affiliate organization for more information on how to create links to content).

    12.  Publish your work in an open access journal. Open access journals allow authors to retain rights to the manuscript to allow for many options for dissemination of the research. Open access articles often garner greater impact than traditional models of publication. See: “The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies.” ...

    Comment.  This is a useful project, well-executed.  Note that some of the strategies are general, and would apply in other fields, but many are field-specific.  Others may want to create similar guides for other fields. 

    OCLC survey on WorldCata data policy

    The OCLC Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship has launched a survey on the proposed Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records. Responses are due by April 8, 2009. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

    See also our past post on the review board.

    New social learning platform

    CloudSocial: A New Approach to Enabling Open Content for Broad Reuse, Open.Michigan, March 5, 2009.

    CloudSocial is a new approach to socially enhanced learning that allows learners to move among any web-based resources and have their learning environment and co-learners move with them. CloudSocial enables web-accessible learning content to be used by a wide variety of formal and informal learning environments without requiring the information to be copied into each of the learning environments. Instead, the learning systems integrate themselves into the content. This will allow dramatic increases in the accessibility, flexibility and interactivity of most all web content, but especially of open content, no matter what its format. It will thus be possible to integrate open content more easily into a wider variety of teaching and learning contexts and potentially increase the use and value of open content. ...

    CloudSocial is currently under development by the the University of Michigan Medical School and OpenMichigan project. CloudSocial is in its early stages of pre-alpha rollout.

    Cornell librarians oppose the Conyers bill

    Dawn Lim, Cornell Librarians Protest Bill Closing Access to NIH Research, Cornell Daily Sun, March 30, 2009.  Excerpt:

    ...Peter Hirtle, senior policy advisor for the Cornell Library, said that because the [NIH] policy requires publicly funded research to be available to the public no later than 12 months after publication, “people have access to the most recent research in fields where currency is very important.” ...

    In January 2008, NIH funds accounted for about 40 percent of the research dollars awarded to Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College, according to John Saylor, the associate university librarian for scholarly resources and special collections....

    Last month, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) submitted a bill that could reverse these new developments in the NIH policy. This bill, H.R. 801, if successfully passed, would make it illegal for the government to mandate the [open] availability of publically funded research....

    In response to this bill, the Cornell Library drafted a petition letter. Two weeks after the bill was first referred to the House Judiciary Committee, University Librarian Anne Kenney signed the letter and sent it to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd District).

    The letter, which criticizes the bill as an “ill-conceived piece of legislation,” reflects the administration’s position on this issue, stated Jacqueline Powers, director of federal relations, in an email.

    The letter underscores that “prior to any transfer of copyright to a publisher,” a publisher does not have copyright to works they have not authored or edited; the copyright to the piece resides in the author.

    The letter reads: “[The NIH public access policy] does not impinge on publisher copyrights since agreements to accept NIH funding (and any concomitant licenses that accompany that funding) are made long before authors begin to negotiate copyright transfers with publishers.” To assert otherwise, states the letter, is “thus turning two centuries of copyright law on its head.”

    The letter suggests that open access does not deter the publishing of academic work: “to our knowledge … no publisher has refused to publish an article because of the existence of a prior non-exclusive license to NIH. Indeed, hundreds of publishers are actively collaborating with NIH on the implementation of the system.”

    Stephen Kresovich, vice provost for life sciences, acknowledged that some faculty members had expressed concerns about the bill, and added that “there will be plenty of concern if the bill gets pushed through.”

    One argument that opponents of the NIH public access policy assert is that it reduces the revenue that publishers receive from subscriptions when the same articles will soon be available for free. Lowered profits would curtail the process of peer review, which provides quality checks on research, and maintains the standards of scientific inquiry.

    However, Hirtle, who helped draft Cornell’s letter, said that “there is reason to be suspicious about claims about costs of peer review, which is often be done for free.”

    Saylor who also assisted in drafting the letter, added that this bill ultimately caters to the interests of commercial publishers, “whose goals are to maximize profits.” ...

    Comment.  Kudos to the Cornell librarians.  It's terribly important that research institutions speak up, not just individual researchers.  The bill could move to the floor at any time, or equivalent language could be attached to another bill moving to the floor.  If you support the NIH policy and oppose the Conyers bill, and if you've already written to your representative in the House, please ask your library or university to do the same.

    Correcting seven myths about OA journals

    D.K. Sahu, Eight facts and myths about open access journals: an experience of eight years and eighty journals. In: Open Access to Science Publications: Policy perspective, Opportunities and Challenges, March 24 2009.  A slide presentation.  Abstract:  

    FACT: 1. Most Indian journals have low impact: In the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) 2007, only 49 journals were from India (0.76% of all journals in JCR and 2.6% of all Indian A&I covered journals listed in Ulrich's Periodical Directory). Average Impact Factor for the Indian journals was 0.40. According to SCImago Country Rank, India was ranked 143rd out of 233 countries based on Cites per Doc if all the documents published in 2007were taken into consideration. The same ranking dropped down to 42nd out of 64 if countries with at least 1000 documents in the year were taken into consideration. The trend, however, is changing with open access journal publishing in the country, particularly in the area of medicine and the editors of the journals in other disciplines can learn from this experience.

    MYTHS: 2. OA journals are not peer reviewed: Access policy is not related to the peer-review policy. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which lists only peer-reviewed journals, has nearly 4000 journals now. Of 4793 OA journals in OpenJGate, 2607 are classified as peer-reviewed. On the other hand, in JCR (Ulrich’s, March 2009 data) of 7483 non-OA journals nearly 8% are not peer-reviewed. Medknow has shown that OA journals are at par with any other journal in terms of their peer-review process as can also be judged from the unique ‘Reviewer Institution Mapping’.

    3. It is costly for a journal to go online: For a society / association owned journal, which has to provide a print copy to its members, it is usually not very hard to go online with an additional expenditure of 2-8% over its annual expenditure. Apart from the commercial services, such as those provided by Medknow, there are tools like Open Journal System (OJS) and services such as Bioline International, SCIELO, and MedInd to help journals go online.

    4. OA journal is one which charge author for publication: Bill Hooker in December 2007 showed that 62% of DOAJ journals did not charge author-side fee (information about fee not available for another 15% journals). Most journals from the developing countries do not charge author side fee and out of 82 journals published by Medknow only 4 charge any kind of fee. In contrast, many of the traditional access (TA) journals not only charge the readers, but even the authors to reproduce their own work in future publication(s).

    5. OA journals disappear faster than TA journals: Analysis from the Ulrich's Periodical Directory shows that while 8.3% of TA journals launched in the year 2000 have ceased publication. On the other hand, all but 3 out of 166 OA journals started in the same year are still operational. No OA journal started in year 2003 and 2005 have ceased publication till date, whereas 172 (out of 3382) and 109 (out of 4497) TA journals, started in those years respectively, are not functioning now.

    6. Converting all journals to OA will solve access problem in India: Good work done in India is usually not published in the Indian journals and hence converting all the Indian journals to OA will not make the Indian research available to the Indians. OA archiving has to complement OA journal publishing.

    7. OA journals have low impact: OA journals, when compared to older TA journals, erroneously show low citation impact. It is also believed that most OA journals are not indexed with Science Citation Index (SCI) and other important bibliographic databases. Many OA journals are now getting indexed with SCI; we have 16 journals indexed with SCI now as against just 2 journals a couple of years back. We have also shown that citations increase manifold when a TA journal opt for online free access. OA Indian journals published by Medknow have shown higher increase in the citations compared to non-OA journals published from the country.

    8. Free access will result in loss of revenue: Over the last eight years, we have shown that by providing free access to the journals we are not losing the revenue from the subscriptions to the print editions. Majority of the OA journals continue to receive subscriptions for the print versions and the number of subscriptions have steadily increased over the years. The journals also benefit from the additional revenue from the advertisements on the websites.

    A twist on the dual deposit/release strategy

    Gavin Baker, Why haven’t more research funders and institutions adopted self-archiving mandates? (Or: “Build it first, open it later”), A Journal of Insignificant Inquiry, March 27, 2009.

    Recently, I came across this quote from Rep. Mike Honda:

    Instead of databases becoming available as a result of Freedom Of Information Act requests, government officials should be required to justify why any public data should not be freely available to the taxpayers who paid for its creation.

    It struck me that there’s very different politics in these two different scenarios:

    • “We need information about topic X. We should build a database of data/documents about topic X.” Later: “Hey, now that we have this useful database, maybe we should share it with the public.”
    • “Let’s build a database about topic X for the public.”

    In the former case, you’re making an argument about value to the institution. Once the information trove has been established for a limited audience, there’s then (especially where public money is involved) an equity concern about other audiences who might benefit from the information but don’t have access.

    In the latter case, it’s an argument about the nebulous value to the “public”. Sometimes, a do-gooder idea just doesn’t get the traction as an idea framed as necessary to achieve a self-interested goal.

    So that brings us to scientific publications. The most effective route to open access is requirements by research funders and institutions that their authors provide OA to their manuscripts accepted for publication. Growing handfuls of funders and institutions have adopted these policies, but they’re still only handfuls. ...

    What if the argument was about creating internal repositories? We take concerns about open access off the table ... What’s left are entirely questions of bureaucracy, technology, and a little money. ...

    If my idea works (and I think it will), you’ll develop a low-cost, high-value repository. Then (more) people will start to ask, hey, why are keeping this locked down; why don’t we open it all up? Cue Rep. Honda ...

    I think of this as a twist on the immediate deposit/optional access strategy (or the dual deposit/release strategy). In those models, it’s framed as an open access strategy. Moreover, open access is the default, with an optional embargo. ...

    For funders and institutions without the wherewithal to adopt an OA mandate yet, it’s probably the best compromise step. ...

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    Arabic OA bibliography

    Abdel-rahman Farrag has written a bibliography of Arabic literature on OA.  Read it in Arabic or Google's English.

    Thanks to Sulieman Alshuhri, who translates the title as Open Access in Light of Arabic Literature: a Bibliography.

    Comparing repository software packages

    The UK Repositories Support Project has presented the results of its survey of repository software packages in a table comparing 11 software packages across dozens of features.

    Will suppressing hazard info reduce hazards?

    The US Federal Aviation Administration wants to stop providing OA to bird strike data.  The idea is that airports fearing bad publicity and loss of business would more readily report bird strikes if the information were not made public.  (Thanks to and USA Today.)

    More coverage.

    Comment.  Maybe peanut butter companies would more readily report salmonella poisoning if the information were not made public.  Maybe chemical companies would more readily report toxic spills if the information were not made public.  Maybe cities would more readily report their crime rates if the information were not made public.   Maybe politicians would more readily report inappropriate gifts if the information were not made public.

    More on the New Delhi OA conference

    Subbiah Arunachalam, Successful conference - now the challenge! EPT, March 28, 2009.  A report on the Conference on Open Access to Science Publications: Policy perspective, Opportunities and Challenges (New Delhi, March 24, 2009), Sponsored by India's Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.  Excerpt: 

    ...Prof. Sunil Sarangi, Director, NIT, Rourkela, spoke about how at NIT they were able to come up with faculty support for India's first and so far only institutional mandate for open access. Dr D K Sahu, MedKnow Publications, Mumbai, spoke from personal experience how open access publishing is profitable in more than one sense and cleared the many myths about the publication of OA journals. Prof. Mangala Sunder Krishnan of IIT Madras gave an overview of the NPTEL project and gave a glimpse of the National Mission supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Prof. John Willinsky of Stanford University told the audience that open access was all about the history of science and how even the usually secretive Isaac Newton came to acknowledge the importance of unfettered dissemination of scientific research results. Willinsky also told us how within months of joining the Stanford Faculty he persuaded his colleagues at the School of Education to adopt a Faculty-initiated mandate for open access to all their research publications. For Willinsky, open access is a basic human right. Prof. Leslie Chan of the University of Toronto stressed the importance, value and benefits of the commons - be it a spacious and well-maintained garden or the intellectual commons. He gave several practical suggestions. He gave a dramatic example of an African researcher whose papers, when placed in an open access server started attracting citations at an unusually high rate. In his inaugural address, Dr Gangan Prathap, Director of NISCAIR, CSIR's publishing arm, told us that CSIR journals recovered through subscription revenue only about 30% of the costs and the intangible benefits that would accrue by making all the journals open access would far exceed any loss in revenue. Dr Prathap mentioned it was only the mindset and our nature to hold on to 'the intellectual property' we generated that stood in the way of adopting open access. I pleaded for taking advantage of the web technologies in both accessing the information we need from around the world and making our own work more visible and stressed the need for walking the talk and converting intent into action.

    The conference ended with a lively panel discussion moderated by Prof. Leslie Chan. Prof. Chopra mentioned two great benefits of journals going open access and online: the first is ecological - all the trees we cut to produce print journals could be saved; the second is control of plagiarism, as it is easy to detect in the online environment. Dr Hirwani, Head of URDIP, CSIR, Pune, told us that at CSIR they were interested in creating both intellectual property and intellectual commons....

    To me the conference was successful. Just before the conference came to a close, the CSIR's Chief of Finance asked a couple of questions: If this was a conference on open access why was it not being broadcast to a nationwide audience through videoconferencing? Would we be writing a report and forwarding it to the key policy makers in the government? The answer to the second question, says Dr Naresh Kumar of CSIR, is yes....

    Now, what next? The participants came - some from as far away as Rourkela and Mysore, heard the speakers, some asked questions, and went away. What they do in the next few days is crucial. For starters, they could talk to their colleagues about what they came to know about the changing face of scholarly communication and open access at the conference; they could initiate action to set up open access repositories in their own institutions; they may place all their published work in an open access repository; they may resolve to make all their papers openly accessible either by publishing them in OA journals or by placing them in an OA repository. If they are already doing all these they may be proactive and persuade other scientists and institutions to adopt open access. They may write to leaders of science, policy makers and concerned government officials to mobilise support for the adoption of a nationwide mandate for open access to all publicly-funded research.

    PS:  Also see our past post on other reports from this conference.

    OA copies of medieval manuscripts

    Robert Peckham is collecting a large number of links to digital online (and apparently OA) copies of digitized medieval manuscripts, to supplement the Andy Holt Virtual Library page on Web Access for Manuscript-based Textual Scholarship and the UCLA Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)