Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Discussion forum on OA in Africa

MERLOT-Africa is a new discussion forum on OA and OERs in Africa.

JISC response to publisher objections to the Houghton report

JISC has posted a response (undated) to publisher criticism (1, 2) of John Houghton's January report on the economic impact of OA.  The publisher criticism was organized by the Publishers Association, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers.  

The JISC response quotes publisher objections and then replies, in the style of a long email.  That makes it difficult to excerpt --hence, read the whole thing.  But here are some passages, all from the JISC replies:

...JISC and the report authors [Houghton et al.] were pleased to meet with publishers and their representatives on 27th March. At this meeting a number of valuable suggestions were discussed for further work in the area of scholarly publishing. There are now active discussions on this topic underway involving JISC, publishers, the Research Information Network RLUK, SCONUL and others....

JISC concurs with Professor Danny Quah, Head of Economics at the London School of Economics, who sat on the study steering group, and noted:

“The report addresses an important and difficult problem, and is clearly the result of a lot of very careful thinking about the issues. The methodology is sound and the analysis is extremely detailed and transparent. The multi-stage model of production that is used is complex, and does require calibration according to a large number of parameters, many of which are necessarily estimates, where possible taken from published sources or the wider literature. If demonstrably better estimates become available then these could improve that calibration still further. The report represents the best evidence so far on the questions it addresses.”

On the issue of consultation: ...

2. Publishers do not typically make their cost data openly available, for commercial reasons. Therefore there was no reason to expect them to do so in this case, furthermore informal discussions early in the study confirmed this impression.

4. The study is transparent. The assumptions / estimates are listed at the end of the report, together with the sources used as a base for those estimates. Where the report notes that a figure is an “Authors estimate”, this is usually a conservative figure based on several sources from the literature, which are listed in the references section and can be specified if needed. The research that was undertaken was very detailed and during the research it was not possible to find any estimates that could be evidenced that were more valid than those within this report. Of course if there are other estimates that are demonstrably valid that could have been used here then the authors would like to hear more about those. Detailed responses are provided below to specific comments.

5. A version of the model is online for people to try out their own estimates, and publicise the results. One way of testing out the methodology thoroughly would be for publishers to undertake this process. As far as we know this has not happened so far and we would encourage this now to take place in order for us all to move forward with understanding the implications of the work....

It is increasingly clear that serious questions can be asked about the sustainability of the subscription model from all perspectives; as this paragraph makes clear, the ‘author pays’ model would appear to scale better with higher levels of R&D expenditure anyway.  JISC is committed to helping all actors to find sustainable alternatives that are cost-effective for the UK in the context of rapidly changing technology. The recent UK Government “Digital Britain” report notes that for the creative and publishing industries, “if digital distribution and copying costs are lower so too are digital revenues from the product or the advertising impact; often, in current business models, an order of magnitude lower. New business models need to evolve for that environment. The role for regulation or intervention is not to prevent the emergence of new business models or to preserve old and unsustainable ones. It is to contribute constructively to the transition.” ...

On self-archiving mandates: There does not appear to be any evidence that self-archiving destabilizes peer-review, this is backed up by subject areas such as some areas of the Physical sciences where self archiving has been largely universal for almost ten years. To add to this, Open Access models have potentially significant advantages for peer review, in making it easier for all reviewers to easily check references and follow leads, which under the subscription model is only possible if the reviewer’s home institution has access to the material cited....

Friday, April 24, 2009

State of OA in Spain

Ángel Díaz, La edición científica tradicional frena la difusión del saber, El Mundo, April 22, 2009. (Thanks to María Elena Bonora.) On the state of OA in Spain.

Learning and research objects living together

Common Institutional Repositories for Collaborative Learning Environments: Final report, report to JISC, April 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Executive summary:

[Oxford Brookes University] has established a pilot repository system, linked to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that can be used for storing both teaching and research objects. The project has allowed us to look in depth at the needs of a wide range of stakeholders, including schools, researchers, Library staff, central IT staff and students.

We believe that the line between learning materials and research is becoming blurred, and that these assets can be stored in a single repository. However, there are two main differences in how these objects are managed. Firstly, there are differences in how each object is catalogued. The repository software must deal with this complexity, at the same time providing a simple and customisable user interface. Secondly, there are differences in the access control required for each object. Whereas learning materials, at least initially, are intended to be accessed by university staff only, there is a need to provide completely open access to the research archive. We achieved this by developing an alternative webpage interface.

The software chosen for the project (Intralibrary) was developed as a learning object repository, and so a large part of our work involved configuring the software to deal with research outputs. Although Intralibrary can be adapted to deal with research, the project found that further work was needed for the software to meet all the requirements of the pilot groups. The university has an urgent need to establish a research archive and has therefore decided to pilot an alternative repository solution called Equella from The Learning Edge International. This follow-up project is called RADAR (Research Archive and Digital Asset Repository).

We feel that the knowledge and experience gained during the CIRCLE project have been extremely valuable and have paved the way for the development and rollout of the university’s repository. We have also explored the wider relationship between the repository and content management systems already in use in schools, ranging from Intranet to bespoke systems. The project has made a start on a co-ordinated approach to managing digital assets that will have clear benefits for schools and the university as a whole.

Computer science portal now OA

New release of computer science portal, press release, April 20, 2009. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

FIZ Karlsruhe now offers its computer science portal, which was launched for the first time 3 years ago, free of charge with a new database interface and numerous new search functions. FIZ Karlsruhe produces the database together with its partners Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) e.V., University of Trier, Springer-Verlag GmbH and IEEE Computer Society. is a freely accessible database with more than one million computer science publications. Documents from different sources are offered in a standardized format through one common search interface ...

The database covers the time range from 1931 to the present. This makes it the most comprehensive source of data on the historical development of computer science. The database contains bibliographical meta data, links to electronic full-texts and, for most of the references, article summaries or abstracts written by scientists. ...

New gratis OA journal supports open standards, open ontologies, and open data

Integrative Biology is a new peer-reviewed gratis OA journal from RSC Publishing.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Gratis access requires registration.  The inaugural issue appeared in 2009.  Integrative Biology is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Note this editorial from the fourth issue:  Richard Kidd, Changing the face of scientific publishing, Integrative Biology, 1, 4 (2009) pp. 293-295.  Excerpt:

...RSC Prospect has taken elements of semantic web developments —structuring documents to enable meaning to be interpreted— and applied them to the scientific content of our articles to show the possibilities of applying standard identifiers to chemicals and concepts....

Much of this work so far has been developed for academic research, developed in-house at the RSC with our partners the Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics and the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge....

Essentially, the application of these concepts to publishing within RSC Prospect is to prime the pumps —we are the first publisher to use these standards, and by doing so and promoting their advantages, we hope to catalyse developments in research, to spread these developments through the publishing ecosystem, and to change the way chemical science information can be found, analysed, interpreted and reused.

All Integrative Biology articles are available free of charge (after a simple registration) and all have been enhanced with our award-winning RSC Prospect....

The RSC has used selections from the Open Biomedical Ontologies (the Gene, Sequence and Cell Ontologies, and ChEBI for chemical entities) and has also contributed to these as an active user to help increase their accuracy and relevance.

In addition we have started to build our own subject classifications covering selected areas related to our journals...The first two ontologies that we're making available are: RXNO —a reaction ontology, and CMO —a chemical methods ontology. These are freely available to download [here]....

The RSC has been an enthusiastic early adopter of the new standard for compound identifiers, the InChI, developed by IUPAC and NIST....

To underpin our commitment to the standard, RSC has sponsored the development of an InChI resolver service via ChemZoo's ChemSpider service. ChemSpider already contains over 21 million compounds, and the resolver service will allow users to look up full InChI identifiers from the shorter fixed-length InChIKey....The InChI Resolver service is also intended to allow compound deposition so that compound collections can be deposited with the service, preserving their continued access for the future. This free service will allow the community to easily use InChIs and facilitate sharing of compound collections....

Already we make associated supplementary data files available alongside our articles and we know how powerful a standard format for data can be. It becomes not just a means to preserve research data but a way to share and allow the data to be visualised and reused. The RSC is a supporter of open data and will be working to encourage authors to store and supply their research data files within their publication. We will be looking at possible standards covering areas relevant to Integrative Biology and providing demonstrations to show what can be done with the data if it is available to share in an open, standard form....

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Royal Society of Chemistry.

More on access barriers to public-domain liturgical texts

Jeffrey Tucker, What To Do About Tethered Texts, New Liturgical Movement, April 19, 2009.  (Thanks to Gino D'Oca.)  Excerpt:

...In the Catholic Church in the English-speaking world, in contrast [to the Anglican Church], the publishers and agencies in charge of texts have used national laws to restrict them and charge for the right to print them and record them, which has put a serious crimp on musical composition and publishing, effectively creating profitable monopolies for a few....

Now, in what seems to be a new policy, ICEL [International Commission on English in the Liturgy] has been kind enough to permit its texts to be posted online with no charge. This is an exception made for “non-commercial distribution.” That’s fine, and more than [GIA Publications] is likely to allow with its upcoming Psalm monopoly, about which more in a bit....

The problem here is of course ICEL, which asserts this right, with the permission of the USCCB [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops]. When you start talking to people at ICEL about this subject, they quickly point out that they don’t like this policy anymore than you and I do. It is not something that they necessarily favor or support. They are only there to enforce it on behalf of their bosses at the USCCB, which insists on royalties....

Now to the matter of the Grail Psalms that have been approved by the USCCB for Mass. The administrator of the rights here is currently Harper/Collins in the UK and GIA in the United States....[T]hey will soon own the legal monopoly on the Psalms of David that we sing at Mass, and be in a position to charge whatever royalties they deem fair or just or suitable. Never mind that these texts have been translated thousands of times in the course of 500 years and there isn't really any newly copyrightable material here....

What I find most striking is what has come to my attention lately on this subject, namely that some of these monopolists say that charging royalties on the texts is made necessary because they have to pay royalties to ICEL. They regard their current fees as nothing but compensatory and thereby potentially dispensable. If ICEL would give up its state-enforced legal monopoly on the texts, they too would relent and give all the texts away for commercial or non-commercial use.

Now, if this is true, and perhaps this is just an excuse but let’s take them at their word, all of this amazing mess could be solved by a very simple action: ICEL should free the texts....

PS:  See our past posts on this issue.

Open U vice chancellor recognized for commitment to open content

Melanie Newman, Humble v-c welcomes University of the Air's open-access destiny, Times Higher Education Supplement, April 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[The Open University's] vice-chancellor, Brenda Gourley...[has won Outstanding Achiever of the Year at] last month's 2009 Women in Public Life Awards....

[She] had already won the International Public Servant of the Year March for her commitment to providing free educational material to developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa....

The biggest change during her seven years in charge of The Open University has been the technological progress that has made open-access study possible, she said.

"I've always been interested in education as a means of changing people's lives and pursuing social justice. There are so many who don't have access to decent libraries and textbooks. To them, being able to access good material on the web must be like manna from heaven." ...

Professor Gourley was "frantic" for the institution to be in the vanguard of the [OA and OER]movement, since The Open University is already a global leader in distance learning....

Why do we reward scholars for "having their work hidden, delayed, and restricted"?

Gideon Burton, Scholar or Public Intellectual? Academic Evolution, April 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

...I don't want to be a private intellectual....

I don't want to be complicit in sustaining a knowledge economy that rewards its participants when they invest in burying and restricting knowledge. This is why Open Access is more than a new model for scholarly publishing, it is the only ethical move available to scholars who take their own work seriously enough to believe its value lies in how well it engages many publics and not just a few peers.

What stands in the way of scholars respecting the public enough to address it and to contribute their best thinking to the broader world? Well, scholars do. So long as institutions of higher education sustain the system that punishes those who aim their work to broader audiences and rewards intellectuals only when they speak in the private code of a subdiscipline, then what are you going to get? You get scholars who speak in code to the brotherhood, instead of public intellectuals.

I'd rather be a public intellectual....

Our values are upside in academia when the whole trajectory of establishing scholars and scholarship is aimed at hiding and restricting knowledge, when the business model that accompanies traditional scholarship attaches a monetary motive to keeping ideas out of circulation. I think it will soon become hard to call someone "published" if they agree to having their work hidden, delayed, and restricted (the primary traits of restricted-access scholarship) when this is not a necessary condition to the circulation of knowledge.

I think that universities that claim they are serving humankind are disingenuous when they continue to invest in a system that disenfranchises the best work of their faculty....

New chemistry data repository project

Peter Murray-Rust, CLARION - our chemical data repository project, A Scientist and the Web, April 24, 2009.

We were very pleased to be told recently we had been awarded a grant from JISC for repository enhancement. It’s CLARION (Chemical Laboratory repository In/Organic Notebooks) ...

We believe that most chemistry data in most departments is valuable to science. ... These facts are – largely – reproducible so that the same substance in different laboratories will give “the same analytical data” (crystal structure, spectra, composition). ...

And the data are born-digital. They come out of machines as reproducible numbers. The semantics are not always explicit but they can usually be added if done by the author. But all too often the data are emitted as unsemantic PDF, printed on paper, scribbled with pencil, covered with coffee-mug rings and then published as some ugly bitmap. The poor reader then has to measure the peaks with a ruler.

I repeat. We are in the twenty-first century and we still use rulers.

That’s because the data publication process is not yet developed. Perhaps I should say data publication culture. Because the tools are all there. We’ve done this for the whole of the department’s crystal structures and put them in a repository (C3DER).

The structures are not yet all exposed as we need agreement with the researchers. I’m sure this will be forthcoming readily – many have said it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling to make their data available. Usually it has to be done after publication (we don’t expect everyone to adopt open Notebook yet) and this needs culture and process.

So an important part of CLARION will be developing the means for working with scientists to expose their data at the appropriate time. CLARION will expand to include a variety of spectral data, both from central analytical services and from individual labs.

Another key aspect of CLARION is that we shall be integrating it with a commercial electronic laboratory notebook (eLNb). We’re in the process of evaluating offerings and expect to make an announcement soon. This will be a key opportunity to see how feasible it is to integrate a standard system with the needs of a departmental repository. ...

Update. See also the project blog.

More on the economics of OA publishing

The March issue of the OA Economic Analysis and Policy is devoted to the Economics of OA Publishing.  (Thanks to the RePEc Blog.)  Here are the articles:

PS:  Economic Analysis and Policy converted to OA in March 2008, after 38 years of publication.

Update. Also see our past post on the preprint of the Cavaleri article.

Resources on UKPMC for researchers

Paul Davey, Resources for researchers now on UK PubMed Central website, UK PubMed Central Blog, April 23, 2009.

There is now a Resources and Media section on the UK PubMed Central website. So far this includes:

Focus group highlights - 2 minute streaming video: In late February members of the UK PubMed Central project team ran a focus group at the University of Oxford. 18 PubMed Central users attended, including researchers, technologists and librarians working within the biomedical and health communities. You can view a short two minute video which provides a quick insight into how we conducted the focus group and favourable comments from those that attended. ...

Vital information for biomedical or health researchers: Are you a researcher with a grant awarded by any of the UK PubMed Central funding organisations? If so, download and scrutinise the latest UK PubMed Central promotional leaflet. ...

Five US universities and a US consortium join SCOAP3

SCOAP3 receives more Expressions of Interest from U.S. University Libraries, an announcement from the CERN SCOAP3 project, April 24, 2009.  Excerpt:

The SCOAP3 support in the U.S. continues to grow: five universities and a consortium have signed an expression of interest pledging to re-direct to SCOAP3 their current subscriptions to HEP journals.

The new SCOAP3 partners are Grand Valley State University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Arizona, the University of Illinois at Chicago,Washington University in Saint Louis and the California State University Systemwide Electronic Information Resources consortium (CSU-SEIR), that has signed an Expression of Interest on behalf of the twenty three campus libraries of the California State University.

Libraries and consortia in the U.S. have so far collectively pledged a total of 2.3 Million $/year to SCOAP3. Pledges for an additional 1.2 Million $/year would cover the expected U.S. contribution to SCOAP3....

Update on Bioline membership campaign

Jen Booth, Libraries around the world support Open Access to critical research from developing countries, Bioline News Blog, April 22, 2009.

Just six months after launching its international membership and sponsorship campaign, Bioline International is pleased to welcome York University Libraries as the newest sponsor and supporting member for 2009. ...

Bioline's new sponsorship program, announced in November 2008, gives organizations and institutions the opportunity to make a bold statement for open access to the research published in developing countries.

These special funding contributions are helping Bioline to make the transition to a membership supported system, without compromising their commitment to ensuring sustainable, reliable access to the 70 journals from 16 countries distributed through the Bioline website. An expanded membership base will enable the addition of quality peer-reviewed scientific journals from other parts of the world.

Response to the call for members to provide Bioline with a sustainable funding base into the future has been well received. Despite the global economic crisis, Bioline is pleased to announce that 18 organizations have already signed on as Bioline members. ...

A full list of members and sponsors, as well as individual contributors, can be seen at: [here] ...

OA to historic Ontario legislation

The University of Toronto and the Internet Archive (IA) are digitizing Ontario legislation from the colonial period to 2000, for OA through the IA.  (Thanks to Connie Crosby.)

Case study of a Greek IR

Alexandros Koulouris, et al., Evaluating the NTUA institutional repository, presented at 11th International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations (Aberdeen, June 4-7, 2008); self-archived April 23, 2009. Abstract:
The National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), through its Central Library, offers an Institutional Repository (IR) and ETD submission service, currently operating in a pilot testing period. The main objectives of this paper can be summarized into three major points. Primarily, to evaluate the IR service pilot period, focusing on the ETD submission process. Secondarily, to refine and improve the above mentioned process and, finally, to promote the concept of self-archiving and open access. The project was undertaken by implementing a web-based survey, targeting on the ETD submission users’ population. The data were imported into and processed by statistical analysis software. The key results were exposed online, as part of the IR system, updated in real time, since the survey is an ongoing procedure. The statistical analysis produced useful results regarding various aspects of the IR service. The major descriptive statistics focused on user groups, administrative staff and procedure grading, as well as access policy selection. Moreover, cross tabulations and correlations were created between all variables, for example “university department” and/or “ETD type” associated with “access policy”. A positive user attitude towards the procedure was noted, which motivates us to further enhance and expand the service. Our first milestone is to broaden the service to incorporate all the university departments. For that to happen, the statistical results will be used to forecast, define and, finally, determine the process needs, both in technical and human resources terms. Process weaknesses detected will be rectified, wherever possible, whereas process strengths will be used to market the service. At the same time, certain improvements, such as the transition from a semi-automated metadata importing process into the main IR (DSpace), to a fully automated one (batch), are already in development.

Sociological implications of OA

Ulrich Herb, Open Access revisited: Wissenschaftsaltruismus oder alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen?, Kakanien Revisited, March 2009. English abstract:
The paper focusses on the sociological implications of these arguments by tackling their inherent sociological terminology and social values. Pierre Bourdieu's theory of the scientific field and the circulation of capital allows for the well-grounded estimation of the effectiveness of OA for scientific communication and the impact of its proposed openness. Discourse analysis based on Foucault, on the other hand, illuminates the dogmata and ideology of arguments about the leveling of the Digital Divide by redrawing the connection between scientific communication and the theory of science. Last, the sociological approach to the term “information society“ shows the relationship between accessibility of information and the emergence of democracy.

Adding an OA Trust to the Google book settlement

Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School has proposed that the Google book settlement include funding for an Open Access Trust.  Hal Abelson, Harry Lewis, and Lewis Hyde have joined the proposal.  Excerpt:

One wonderful promise of the Google Book Settlement is that it will bring back into circulation all the out-of-print books currently under copyright. An important subset of these works are "orphaned," meaning that their legal owners have abandoned them, died, or simply cannot be located. These works have value, and renewed public access to them will create a stream of revenue.

To whom should that revenue be dedicated?

We argue that truly orphaned works should be thought of as a part of the public domain, and that any income generated from their renewed circulation should therefore be dedicated to the public good. Moreover, as this income has been derived from renewed access to printed books, the public good in this case can well be thought of as those institutions that are themselves dedicated to access to knowledge.

We therefore propose the creation of an Open Access Trust, funded by the revenue generated by unclaimed orphaned works.

Trusts are centuries-old institutions devised to hold and manage property for beneficiaries. The essence of a trust is a fiduciary relationship. Neither trusts nor their trustees may act in their own self-interest; they're legally obligated to act solely on behalf of beneficiaries. These rules are enforceable by the courts.

Imagine a trust dedicated to access to knowledge. The beneficiaries of such a trust would be all living citizens, globally, and future generations. The trustees, in turn, would have as their primary duty the creation, encouragement, and maintenance of institutions that serve the goal of open access, worldwide....


  • This is an excellent idea.  It needn't rest solely on the argument that orphaned works are part of the public domain.  It could rest, instead or in addition, on the argument that the Google book settlement will shrink the scope of fair use and shrink the odds that competition will lower the price or improve the terms under which the public will have access to digitized orphan works.  Nesson expands upon the orphan-works argument in this blog comment.
  • The OAT has already been incorporated as a Massachusetts charitable corporation.
  • Housekeeping note:  When the proposed Google book settlement was new, I blogged nearly all the news and comment about it I could find.  But as time passed, and the volume of comments kept growing, I had to cut back.  Now I only blog about it when there's a strong OA connection, as there is here.  However, I still tag settlement-related news and comment for the OA tracking project (using the tag,, if you want to follow them that way. 

"Kernel" for open drug discovery in tropical diseases

Leticia Ortí, et al., A Kernel for Open Source Drug Discovery in Tropical Diseases, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, April 21, 2009. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.) Author summary:

Open source drug discovery, a promising alternative avenue to conventional patent-based drug development, has so far remained elusive with few exceptions. A major stumbling block has been the absence of a critical mass of preexisting work that volunteers can improve through a series of granular contributions. This paper introduces the results from a newly assembled computational pipeline for identifying protein targets for drug discovery in ten organisms that cause tropical diseases. We have also experimentally tested two promising targets for their binding to commercially available drugs, validating one and invalidating the other. The resulting kernel provides a base of drug targets and lead candidates around which an open source community can nucleate. We invite readers to donate their judgment and in silico and in vitro experiments to develop these targets to the point where drug optimization can begin.

The kernel is available under the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data.

See also Leticia Ortí, et al., A kernel for the Tropical Disease Initiative, Nature Biotechnology, April 2009.

New statement on OA to PSI

The Communia Workshop on Accessing, Using, Reusing Public Sector Content and Data (London, March 26-27, 2009) has released this statement on OA to public sector information:
Public sector content and data must be made freely and openly available to all without delay for use and re-use.
See also Jonathan Gray's notes on the workshop.

New OA report from the RCUK

The Research Councils UK has released a new report, Open Access to Research Outputs (plus annexes).  The report is dated September 2008, but was only released yesterday.  From the announcement:

RCUK published today an independent study commissioned by the Research Councils into open access to research outputs. The purpose of the study was to identify the effects and impacts of open access on publishing models and institutional repositories in light of national and international trends. This included the impact of open access on the quality and efficiency of scholarly outputs, specifically journal articles. The report presents options for the Research Councils to consider, such as maintaining the current variation in Research Councils’ mandates, or moving towards increased open access, eventually leading to Gold Standard.

Welcoming the study, Professor Ian Diamond, Chair of the RCUK Executive Group said: "This excellent study sets out a way forward for the UK Research Councils in relation to open access, building on the extensive activities already supported through repositories such as UK PubMed Central and ESRC Society Today. The Research Councils look forward to working with their partners across the research community to consider the options."

In response to the study, the Chief Executives of the Research Councils have agreed that over time the UK Research Councils will support increased open access, by:

  • building on their mandates on grant-holders to deposit research papers in suitable repositories within an agreed time period, and;
  • extending their support for publishing in open access journals, including through the pay-to-publish model....

I'd include an excerpt from the report itself, but it's a locked PDF which has disabled cut/pasting.  (Why?  This is a report on OA from publicly-funded agencies committed to OA.)  I don't have time to rekey many of the results, but here are a few:

  • One key finding (#20) is that "In general, Open Access has had non impact on library subscriptions to date." 
  • Another (#23) is that 45% of authors publishing in fee-based OA journals had their fees paid by their funding agency.  Only 17% of authors paid a fee out of pocket.
  • Another (#36) is that authors who provided OA to their own work (apparently green or gold OA)ranked speed of dissemination as the most important factor in their decision.  OA for users came in second.  Funder and university mandates came in last; 66% said that mandates were not at all important in their decision.
  • Another (#46) is that "there is no inherent reason why [a move to OA] should jeopardise the position of existing publishers..., especially under a funded system of Gold [OA] publications.  the main caveat is that learned societies may find it difficult to adapt to a new business model and their general contribution to scholarly communication could be threatened."
  • Section 3 discusses three scenarios (#6.1):  (1) "A majority of world-wide funders move to a mandate similar to that taken by the Wellcome Trust and the MRC, and as a result the other research councils adopt a similar position", (2) "Business as Usual -- this scenario would see all RC's with mandates of one form or another -- some fairly tough and some more flexible and less monitored", and (3) "A majority of world-wide funders start to remove mandates because of pressure from various sectors e.g. publishers, academics, HEI's, Governments."
  • The findings are based on a review of the literature, consultations with stakeholders, and two online surveys, one of UK academic libraries and one of UK researchers funded by the RCUK. 


  • All 7 of the RCUK currently have green OA mandates in place.  The report does not recommend weakening or removing them.  Some of the RCUK are willing to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals and some are not; the report does not recommend scaling this practice up or down.
  • The report incorrectly assumes (in #13) that most OA journals charge publication fees, when in fact most do not.  That's a very inauspicious sign about the thoroughness of its review of the literature and understanding of gold OA. 
  • As noted, the report finds that green OA mandates have not triggered TA journal cancellations (#20) and that "there is no inherent reason" why they should (#46).  It adds (#46) the "caveat...that learned societies may find it difficult to adapt to a new business model and their general contribution to scholarly communication could be threatened."  However, it does not cite the November 2007 study by Caroline Sutton and myself, which identified 425 societies publishing 450 full OA journals, and 21 societies publishing 73 hybrid OA journals.  (Caroline and I will soon release an update with even higher numbers.)  This too is an inauspicious sign of the study's thoroughness and depth.
  • The announcement --but not the report-- says that the leaders of the 7 individual Research Councils have agreed to "support increased open access, by extending their support for publishing in open access journals, including through the pay-to-publish model."  As long as they maintain their green OA mandates, and don't pay fees at journals with a double-charge business model, then I welcome this move.  Indeed, I hope the Research Councils will also find ways to support the majority of OA journals which charge no publication fees. 

Update (4/24/09).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

Contrary to the suggestion of this RCUK report, there is no "Gold Standard" for OA except universal OA, and the way to universalize OA is to universalize Green OA self-archiving mandates to all institutions and funders globally, not to divert scarce research money -- pre-emptively and needlessly -- toward paying Gold OA publication fees at a time when subscription fees are still paying for publication worldwide and only 77 out of 10,000 institutions and funders have yet mandated Green OA. Green OA mandates are not failing to achieve compliance, as this RCUK report suggests: They have not yet been adopted by 99.23% of the world's institutions and funders!

Unlike "peer-to-peer" consumer "sharing" of creators' non-give-away commercial output, creators giving away their own peer-reviewed and public funded research output to maximize its uptake, usage and impact is not piracy but the sharing of a public good for public benefit. In contrast, publisher embargoes on research access are the hostage-taking of a public good -- and the way to counter that is immediate-deposit (IDOA) mandates coupled with the "Email EPrint Request" Button, not the payment of a gold ransom....

Update (4/29/09).  Also see Zoë Corbyn's article in THES on the RCUK report.  Excerpt:

...The study also reports that more than three quarters of 2,100 council-funded researchers surveyed were unaware of the councils' current mandates.

Paul Gemmill, chair of the research outputs group at Research Councils UK, said the next stage was to decide whether a specific model should be adopted. He said the process would involve learned societies, publishers and academics.

Open-access advocate Stevan Harnad, professor of electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton, said scarce research money should not be used to pay open-access journal fees, where the costs normally borne by the publisher are picked up by funders.

"If good sense were to prevail, funders and universities would just mandate repositories," he said....

Update (5/1/09). Also see Stevan Harnad's comments on Corbyn's article.


JISC evidence shows that free ebooks don't undercut sales of TA editions

London Book Fair panel calls JISC e-textbook study ‘myth-shattering’, a press release from JISC, April 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

The sales’ growth and the development of e-books have been hotly debated at this year’s London Book Fair, with the e-books for academia market acknowledged as being further developed than other areas....

A panel at the London Book Fair believe that a key myth has been shattered by early results from JISC Collections’ recently concluded e-books observatory project. (During this two-year project, JISC provided UK university students with free access to 36 core e-textbooks in science, technology and medicine to all UK university students, to monitor their usage patterns.)

The presumption that increased e-book usage will negatively affect sales is overturned by the report. Its findings reveal that, in reality, e-book usage actually has ‘no impact’ on print sales....

Caren Milloy manages the e-books observatory project on behalf of JISC Collections. Milloy said that the two-year effort is the largest e-book study ever conducted, with around 48,000 survey responses and using information gathered from 127 UK universities....

The results from the e-books observatory project will be published in June.


Progress report on OA in Africa

J.J. Musakali and D.C.Rotich, Open Access in African Publishing Industry: Opportunities and Challenges, abstract of a presentation at next month's KMAfrica 2009 meeting, Knowledge to Reposition Africa in the World Economy (Dakar, May 4-7, 2009). 

Abstract:   This paper examines the development and access to knowledge through Open Access, propelled by emerging technologies in the publishing industry in Africa. The paper further discusses opportunities that present themselves through Open Access and the benefits to scholars worldwide. Challenges that face this practice are discussed and solutions suggested.

The paper argues that scholars require access to relevant scholarly literature to further the development of knowledge. This literature, which is rapidly increasing, is interdisciplinary, global, expensive, digital, and hidden behind technical walls to comply with license restrictions. Scholars with up-to-date technologies still have difficulty accessing the specialized literature that they need, while those in technologically poor institutions barely have any access at all. The current scholarly communication system needs urgent reforms to cope with the rapidly changing technological environment. Open Access, being the permanent online access to the full text of research articles for anyone, web-wide, is free, immediate, and handles multiple users.

This way, society as a whole benefits from an expanded and accelerated research cycle in which research can advance more effectively because researchers have immediate access to all the findings they need. Many research findings go unnoticed but with Open Access, they will be more visible and their usage and impact will increase, as the researchers too will find, access and use findings of others. Publishers likewise also benefit from the wider dissemination, greater visibility and higher journal citation of their articles.

Among the recommendations, the paper suggests that researchers, their institutions and their funders need to be informed and trained on the benefits of providing Open Access, together with establishing Institutional Open Access Repositories. Through this management of knowledge, scholars worldwide will access and benefit from each other’s findings.

Maryland faculty votes against OA policy

The University of Maryland University Senate just voted down a mixed green/gold OA policy. 

From the defeated resolution:

...[B]e it resolved that...

  1. The University Senate urges the President to work collectively with other universities, research institutions, and other appropriate entities to establish and advocate for nationwide open access policies, such as those recently adopted by the National Institutes of Health, that would apply to all disciplines.
  2. The University Senate urges the Libraries to continue to inform the faculty about the pricing and open access policies of the journals in its collection and, where possible, to assist faculty in negotiating reasonable copyright and open access arrangements.
  3. The University Senate encourages faculty, students, and other researchers, where practical and not detrimental to their careers, to (a) publish in open access journals or journals that make their contents openly accessible shortly after publication, (b) negotiate with the journals in which they publish for the right to deposit articles in an open access repository, and (c) consider the price of the journal as one factor in the decision on where to publish.
  4. The University Senate encourages faculty, students, and other researchers to deposit all preprints and reprints of articles, when permitted, in an open access repository such as the DRUM archive or, where appropriate, in discipline-specific repositories such as PubMed Central.

From Tizra Austin's story in today's Diamondback Online on the debate in the Senate:

An unforeseen debate erupted at the University Senate meeting yesterday about where faculty members should be encouraged to publish their research.

After more than half an hour of debate, the senate voted against a resolution that called for faculty members to publish their work in free online databases. Despite the potential savings open-access journals could bring to the university, the senate voted the resolution down in a 37-24 decision, due to perceived impositions on academic freedom.

"[The cost of scholarly journals] has to be one of the most challenging issues we have at this university," Senate Chair Ken Holum said.

The defeated resolution, proposed by the senate's faculty affairs committee, laid out four specific suggestions: for university President Dan Mote to advocate for open-access journals on a national level, to urge the libraries to educate faculty on the cost of journals and to encourage faculty to publish their research in open-access journals and deposit findings in open-access databases whenever possible.

Because so many faculty members are published in research journals that require subscriptions, the university has to pay for access to numerous journals every year. Dan Falvey, the chairman of the committee that authored the resolution, emphasized the proposal was not a university policy and didn't mandate any changes, but was rather intended to spark discussion about other options for journal access. But, Holum said, the discussion it sparked was largely "gloom and doom."

"Open access will kill the journals you need during your career," women's studies professor and university senator Claire Moses said. "It's as simple as that."

While everyone acknowledged that the high cost of scholarly journals and slimming library budgets needed to be addressed, many felt it was too soon to instate anything resembling university policy....

Senators criticized the proposal for its language, which they said did not accurately characterize the variations that exist between departments. Throughout the debate, science professors faced off against humanities professors - a rift caused by the vast differences between scientific journals and humanities journals....

Both Moses and [history professor Gay Gullickson] argued the resolution's language was too strong to count as a mere suggestion and would eventually lead to university policy.  "This does not call for discussion - it urges the president to take action," Gullickson said....


  • The resolution didn't focus more on gold OA (OA through journals) than green OA (OA through repositories), but the controversy focused more on gold OA than green OA.  It's a pity, because it didn't have to be that way.  The policy could and should have made the green OA recommendation (#4) primary.  It could and should even have made #4 even stronger.  The Harvard policy, for example, goes beyond encouraging green OA to requiring it, and offers an opt-out on request, decisively answering the fear that faculty would not be able to submit work to the journals of their choice. We've known for several years now that, with good drafting and good campus education, strong green OA policies, even green OA mandates, can win wide faculty support.  In the past year and half they have been adopted by unanimous faculty votes at Harvard, Stanford, Macquarie, Boston U, Oregon State, and MIT. 
  • To supplement a green OA policy, it makes sense to encourage gold OA but not to require it.  The Maryland resolution wouldn't have required gold OA (#3), but I can see why some faculty wondered whether it was stronger than mere encouragement.  A strong green OA policy is compatible with the freedom of faculty to submit their work to the journals of their choice but a strong gold OA policy is not.  The freedom of faculty to submit their work where they like is important, but needn't stand in the way of a well-crafted OA policy.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

May 1 is OA Anthropology Day

Open Access Anthropology Day is an event on Bloggers Unite, scheduled for May 1, 2009. For more information, see the post at Sara Anthro Blog.

Update. See also How to Participate in Open Access Anthropology Day:

  1. You can join the event over blogger unite ...
  2. Spread Open Anthropology Day via social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc
  3. Write a post at that day about any related topic associated with Open Access Anthropology
  4. Professors can discuss topics related to Open Access Anthropology with their students at that day.
  5. Graduate and undergraduate students can discuss with their colleagues and professors the importance of Open Access Anthropology
  6. Share with us any open access publication of yours. ...
  7. Let us know your experience with Open Access Anthropology Journals either ...
  8. Copy and Paste into your text sidebar the HTML code of event’s badge ...

OA to UK law

CaseCheck Launches UK-wide Service – Free Access to over 5000 legal case summaries and more, press release, posted to SPARC-OAForum, April 22, 2009.

Scotland’s leading online legal information provider, CaseCheck, has linked up with Law Brief Publishing. This collaboration with the English legal publisher will give users free access to a database of more than 5,000 case summaries. The resource is popular with the Scottish legal community and has ambitious plans for the rest of the UK and beyond.

The free web-based resource now covers all major areas of law across the UK and EU, and includes expert opinions covering a wide variety of specialist subjects. ...

Interview with a PLoS ONE editor

Bora Zivkovic, Academic Editor Interview - Craig McClain, everyONE, April 21, 2009. McClain is the Section Editor for Aquatic and Marine Sciences at PLoS ONE.

... [Q:] What was it that attracted you to PLoS ONE in the first place?

My primary attraction is Open Access. I believe science should not be a privilege of the wealthy or well funded, whether it be scientists, the public, research institute, universities, or even countries. Science is not only research, but also communication of the research to the both other scientists and the public. Communication is a step of the Scientific Method. Thus, science that is hidden behind a wall is incomplete.

Another important aspect of Open Access is that it is also Immediate Access. When I search for literature and I find a reference, I need it today. I may not be able to afford week or more for an inter-library loan to come through or the author to mail me a reprint. I may be working under a deadline to submit a manuscript or grant. More importantly, waiting for information may provide an unnatural break in the flow of synthetic thinking as one is putting together ideas and concepts. ...

[Q:] How does the peer-review process on PLoS ONE work? What is the standard of peer-review on PLoS ONE?

The criteria on which PLoS ONE manuscripts are judged are: a) is it technically flawless, b) is the conclusion justified from the results, and c) does the research meet the community criteria in that field. When I joined the editorial board I was somewhat surprised - the rejection rate was higher than I thought.

The peer-review process at PLoS ONE is as rigorous as anywhere else. If a manuscript is judged unacceptable, it is rejected. I am continuously surprised by the myth that exists out there that peer-review in PLoS ONE is “soft” or even non-existent. Why is this even a subject? We have a review process. Period.

[Q:] How quickly does this process move?

The process moves really quickly - a good manuscript that does not require much revision can get published in a couple of months. Excellent staff strives to keep the turnaround time low. The reviewers are also almost always quite vested in the paper. The speed is a real benefit both to the authors and to the science. ...

UC Press and CDL collaborate

Taste Fine Wines, Visit Old California, and Explore the History of Life on Earth, University of California Press Blog, April 22, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
... [University of California] Press and the California Digital Library are pleased to announce University of California Publishing Services (UCPubS). This integrated system combines print distribution, sales, and marketing services offered by UC Press with the open access digital publishing services provided by the California Digital Library through eScholarship. UCPubS is part of the University of California’s broader effort to ensure a sustainable scholarly publishing system in the service of research and teaching. Here's a preview of the UCPubS books coming this fall: [Note: omitting list.] ...
See also our past posts on the UC Press or the California Digital Library.

OA to bird strike data

Last month the US Federal Aviation Administration floated the idea that it should stop providing OA to bird strike data.  The idea was that keeping the data secret would encourage airlines and airports to report it.  But the agency made a mid-course correction when its proposal was hit by a barrage of public protests, including a protest from the National Transportation Safety Board.  It will launch its OA database of bird strike data tomorrow.

Update (4/25/09). The OA database is now online.

Helping Google index an OA repository

Nick Sheppard, Google indexing and SEO, Repository News, April 22, 2009.  Tips for helping Google index an OA repository.

PS:  Also see my 2005 hand-out on this topic, probably very much outdated.

OA mandate at the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation

The Canadian Health Services Research Foundation has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

...Since its inception, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation has required that the results of Foundation-funded research be made openly and freely accessible on its web site.  In October 2008, the Foundation formalized its Policy on Open Access to Research Outputs. The objective of the policy is to remove barriers to accessing Foundation-funded research that is subsequently published in peer-reviewed journals....

Individuals and teams who receive funding from the Foundation for research and related activities are required to make every effort to ensure that the results of their research are published in open access journals (freely available online) or in an online repository of published papers, within six months after initial publication.

Research funded by the Foundation after October 1, 2008, should be limited to online publication on/in:

  • Websites of the Foundation, co-sponsors, and administering organizations
  • Open access journals
  • Journals where the publisher may not make its content immediately openly accessible, but where the publisher agrees to archive the paper in an open access repository (for example, institutional repository or PubMed Central) within six months after initial publication.

Expenses related to disseminating research are eligible to be included as part of Foundation grant proposals. Expenses that researchers may incur related to having their submissions evaluated or published by open access or hybrid journals can be included as eligible expenses as of October 2008.  The Foundation also encourages (but does not require or finance) archiving of research papers published by researchers who received grants before October 1, 2008.

The Foundation reserves the right to review individual award agreements, should the Foundation determine that a breach of this policy by the award recipient or the researcher’s administering agency has occurred.

Reasonable exception

If a research team considers that the best dissemination vehicle for particular findings is a journal that does not have open access or that does not permit access via a repository, the Foundation requests that program lead submit a publishing addendum to the publisher that reads:

Journal acknowledges that the researcher will be entitled to deposit an electronic copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript for inclusion in PubMed Central (PMC), and for this manuscript to be mirrored to all PMC International sites. Manuscripts deposited with PMC (and PMC International sites) may be made freely available to the public, via the internet, within six months of the official date of final publication in the journal.

Also see the CHSRF FAQ on the policy.


  • I like the policy's equal embrace of green and gold OA.  On the green side, however, the policy needlessly restricts itself by requiring grantees who do not publish in OA journals to publish in journals "where the publisher agrees to archive the paper in an open access repository".  It would be enough to look for journals where the publisher agrees to allow the author or author's agent to archive the paper in an OA repository. 
  • Also on the green side, it allows delayed deposit, as opposed to immediate deposit and delayed OA release.  As a result, it may complicate compliance and enforcement by having to chase down manuscripts six months after their publication, when it would otherwise only have to flip the access switch on deposited manuscripts from closed to open.
  • The exception is unique and interesting.  When a grantee wants to publish in a journal unwilling to allow OA on CHSRF's terms, the foundation doesn't offer a blanket opt-out for the publisher (like the loophole policies), it doesn't offer an opt-out for the author (like the Harvard policy), and it doesn't require the grantee to use an addendum or find a new publisher (like the NIH policy).  Instead it requests the use of an addendum.  This is a new shade of gray in the spectrum of OA policies, showing yet again that we have a limited vocabulary ("mandate", "voluntary policy") for describing the range of regulatory nudging. 
  • Along the same lines, note that the policy doesn't flatly require green or gold OA, but merely requires grantees "to make every effort" to provide green or gold OA to their funded research.
  • I can't tell when CHSRF adopted its OA mandate.  Today, the CHSRF home page says that "The Foundation introduces its Policy on Open Access to Research Outputs", suggesting that the policy is recent.  But the policy itself says that CHSRF has mandated OA "since its inception" and that it "formalized" the policy in October 2008.  (The CHSRF's inception was in 1997.)  If anyone can clear up this discrepancy, please drop me a line.


World Digital Library officially launches

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another law school IR

The Oklahoma City University School of Law has launched an institutional repository.  (Thanks to Nancy Pontika.)  From today's announcement:

“It is a vital part of our law school’s mission to contribute to the improvement and development of law and legal institutions,” said OCU LAW dean Lawrence K. Hellman. “We do this through the careful and creative research and scholarship of our faculty. This new on-line repository will enhance the accessibility and impact of this important body of work.”

"The repository has several unique features that set it apart from other similar online ventures," said Lee Peoples, OCU LAW’s associate law library director, who designed the program. "We’re offering the majority of articles by our faculty members as free downloads in PDF document form. This means OCU LAW alumni, students, the local legal community, policy makers and scholars around the world, and the general public will have nearly complete access to scholarly articles by our faculty members in the repository. It’s an incredible research tool that opens the doors to scholarly cross-pollination in a way that just wasn’t possible a few short years ago."

The open-access feature is modeled after Duke Law and Harvard Law School. Both schools recently unveiled open access scholarly repositories....

Webcast of Drexel OA meeting

Drexel University has released a webcast of its meeting, For What It’s Worth: The Hidden Costs of Scholarly Communication (Philadelphia, April 16, 2009).  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

Brevity + plain language + OA

The Legal Workshop is a blog-based compendium of short, non-technical summaries of recently published law-review articles, written by the original authors.  (Thanks to the Wired Campus.)

Comment.  It's a great idea, and many other fields, especially in the humanities and social sciences, should follow suit.  However, OA to brief summaries is no reason to slow down or give up on OA to full-texts. 

More on the recession and OA

Raf Aerts, Open-access publishing can survive recession, Nature, April 23, 2009.  A letter to the editor. 

Your Commentaries on ‘How to survive the recession’ devote much discussion to the effects of the global recession on science (Nature 457, 957–963; 2009). However, the financial squeeze may also be affecting the publication output of research institutions in a more subtle way. It could be boosting the traditional reader-pays publication model for scientific journals at the expense of the author-pays, or open-access, model....

They are therefore struggling to emerge and to attract the most prestigious research findings.

This situation could deteriorate further if open-access journals are forced to move to (partial) site licensing in order to cover their production costs — a shift recently undertaken by the Journal of Visualized Experiments, for example — as authors become increasingly reluctant or unable to pay in the current financial climate.

Some publishers have adopted a scheme that allows authors to post their unformatted, accepted manuscripts on their institutional repositories, rendering conventional articles de facto open access without added cost. Encouraging authors to use this right would prevent further dampening of the move towards openly sharing scientific knowledge, to the benefit of all.


  • Aerts is right that the recession is no obstacle to OA archiving and that authors should be encouraged to seize the opportunity.  However, I wouldn't call green OA a "scheme...adopted by publishers".  Most TA publishers do allow it, but only authors can do it, and a growing number of funders and universities require it.  BTW, it's also misleading to speak of fee-based OA journals as if they constituted all OA journals, when they don't constitute even a majority. 
  • While the financial crisis will hurt OA in some respects, it could foster and stimulate OA in other respects.  See my predictions for 2009.

Update (4/28/09).  Also see Bill Hooker's comments, emphasizing that most OA journals charge no publication fees.

Interview with CAMBIA's Jefferson

Richard Jefferson, Catalyst, March 26, 2009. Video with text transcript. Interview with Richard Jefferson of CAMBIA.

See also our past posts on Jefferson and his projects.

Presentations and notes from French OA Days

The conference blog from the French OA Archives Days, Journées d’étude sur les Archives Ouvertes (Paris, April 2-3, 2009), has many posts on the presentations and has just been updated to included audio and/or slides of the presentations themselves.  (Thanks to Marlène Delhaye.)

On OA resources inside libraries

Wally Grotophorst, OA begins at home…, iNODE, April 21, 2009.

... Testing a history collection, my mind eventually drifted to thoughts of Roy Rosenzweig. I entered his name in the [library] search box and among the hits that began flowing back, I noticed an interview from 2000 that appeared in the journal Left History.

America: History & Life (the source of the link) supports OpenURL so I clicked our SFX link and ultimately received the “Sorry, no match for ISSN# 1192-1927.” By this time I decided I really wanted to read the interview with Roy so I jumped over to Google and in less time than it takes to finish this sentence I had the full text.

Damn. Not only was it available online but it was hosted on an OJS system. Thinking I’d stumbled onto an oversight I dashed off an email to our e-resources group, asking that this journal be included in our SerialsSolutions e-journal database (which serves as the datastore behind our e-journal finder). ...

I got this email from our collection development group:

“You’ve raised an interesting issue that we’re still thinking about…what freely-available e-journals to include in our systems.”

That’s when I realized that for all the Web 2.x buzz maybe things haven’t changed all that much. We might call them discovery tools but clearly many of us still think of them as public interfaces to our inventory control systems. Somehow, I think you approach it differently if you’re trying to solve the task of connecting researchers with information no matter where it resides (and no matter who’s paying for it).

I came away from today’s experience feeling that I’d probably uncovered one of the fault lines between yesterday’s “master of inventory” orientation and the place where we really need to be. ...

OA and IP in developing countries

Victoria Henson-Apollonio, Kay Chapman, and Sebastian Derwisch, Some IP challenges in the developing world; and what is being done, Open and Shut?  April 19, 2009.  Excerpt:

The business of the CGIAR [Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research]’s, Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP), is to assist with effective IP & technology transfer management within the context of agricultural development, to benefit the world’s poor....

Victoria Henson-Apollonio

Access to correct and appropriate information is an ongoing challenge. Capacity to communicate, providing access to knowledge, networking, sharing of experiences, building capacity and access to professional advice and experience all play a role.

Many of our partners in developing countries are struggling to raise awareness as to why IP management is important and how IP management forms part of the bridge between researchers and users....

Kay Chapman

When thinking about access in terms of Open Access specifically it should be noted that articles from some ‘big-name’ journals — such as the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), can be read and downloaded from servers in developing countries for free.

This is a policy that could be encouraged more widely to address part of the problem for access in developing countries — but that, and indeed OA from large publishers in general, doesn’t fix the problem.

Journals from the developed world tend to deal with IP issues from the developed world. Unfortunately where communications infrastructure is weak, even Green OA can be problematic and here the informal IP management elements play a role — how can we transfer the skills necessary for ensuring successful data sharing in a particular project!

But this isn’t going far enough when considering how to tackle IP management challenges in developing countries. We need to be active as well as reactive to the IP issues. One cannot segregate IP as a problem in itself; IP mechanisms that are, for the most part–business tools....

Sebastian Derwisch

[System Dynamic Modelling] can...form the basis for trying to ask broader questions such as “what can be done to improve IP management in a development context?” ...

PS:  Also see our past posts on CGIAR.

Milestone at Medknow

More than 30,000 full-text articles are now OA via Medknow journals.

New project promotes OA for public health info

A group of European and Latin American organizations have launched Project NECOBELAC.  From the site:

NECOBELAC is a European project to improve the production and dissemination of scientific information in public health, coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Rome, and funded under the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission. NECOBELAC stands for a Network of Collaboration Between Europe and Latin American-Caribbean Countries and the project lasts three years, starting from 1st February 2009.

Project aim - to spread knowledge in scientific writing and open access publishing

The NECOBELAC project aims to establish a network of collaboration between European countries (EU) and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), to spread knowledge on the methods of scientific writing and publishing and on appropriate tools for the open access dissemination of information for the protection of public health. In this context, the project aims to implement a cultural change and not just establish an infrastructure for two-way exchange (EU-LAC / LAC-EU) of health information for both researchers and stakeholders....

NECOBELAC partners include Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) from Italy, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) from Spain, the University of Nottingham (SHERPA) from the UK, BIREME from Brazil, the Instituto de Salud Publica(ISP) from Colombia, and the Universidade do Minho (UMINHO) from Portugal.


OA scientometrics

Stevan Harnad, Open access scientometrics and the UK Research Assessment Exercise, Scientometrics, April 2009.  The publisher's edition is accessible only to subscribers.

Abstract:   Scientometric predictors of research performance need to be validated by showing that they have a high correlation with the external criterion they are trying to predict. The UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) - together with the growing movement toward making the full-texts of research articles freely available on the web - offer a unique opportunity to test and validate a wealth of old and new scientometric predictors, through multiple regression analysis: Publications, journal impact factors, citations, co-citations, citation chronometrics (age, growth, latency to peak, decay rate), hub/authority scores, h-index, prior funding, student counts, co-authorship scores, endogamy/exogamy, textual proximity, download/co-downloads and their chronometrics, etc. can all be tested and validated jointly, discipline by discipline, against their RAE panel rankings in the forthcoming parallel panel-based and metric RAE in 2008. The weights of each predictor can be calibrated to maximize the joint correlation with the rankings. Open Access Scientometrics will provide powerful new means of navigating, evaluating, predicting and analyzing the growing Open Access database, as well as powerful incentives for making it grow faster.

PS:  While the journal dates this issue April 2009, it published this article online on November 14, 2008.  Also see the OA preprint, which we blogged in March 2007.

OA mandate discussed by U of Virginia Faculty Senate

The University of Virginia Faculty Senate considered an OA resolution on April 8.  (Thanks to iNODE via Charles Bailey.)   From the resolution:

...Factors specifically driving faculty consideration of authors? rights and open-access include:

  • The routine loss of control over the intellectual property produced by faculty as researchers and scholars in a copyright regime controlled by publishers.
  • The sorry fate of many scholarly imprints and university presses which have played such a central role in promotion and tenure processes through their peer review and publication of academic scholarship.
  • The enormous price paid by research libraries to buy back scholarship that is produced in great part within the academy itself.
  • The preservation and dissemination requirements of born-digital scholarship and the general opportunities posed by new technologies.
  • A changing philosophy of intellectual property ownership, especially where public agencies and private philanthropies have provided core research funding.
  • Growth of new open-access and open-source licensing mechanisms....

Individual faculty can work today with author's addenda and other tools to obtain greater control over their scholarly works and ensure that uses now possible with technology are not given away, but few appear aware of this potential. The benefits of asserting such control can be immediate and important - whether enabling electronic distribution of articles to students and colleagues without fearing violation of a publication agreement, submittal of such works to a departmental or scholarly repository, or maintaining control over a revised edition of a scholarly monograph. The potential impact of any single individual attempting to negotiate alone is dwarfed, however, by the possibilities inherent in coherent and collective action by the country?s important institutions of higher education. It is that leverage which has been endorsed by the UVa Faculty Senate Task Force on Scholarly Publications and Author?s Rights through its submittal of the Resolution attached as Exhibit A....


Adoption of a strong open-access resolution by the Faculty Senate would place the University in a leadership position on scholarly communications without having to reinvent the wheel on every point of implementation. It would make a significant difference both locally and nationally to have a faculty of the University?s caliber adopt a strong statement on author?s rights. If implemented by the Provost, the University would host and preserve a significant amount of scholarly work for non-commercial research, teaching, and learning activities. Obtaining greater control over their copyrights as a matter of formal policy would enable all UVa faculty members to put their scholarly articles up on personal or departmental websites, to maintain other forms of control over the scholarship they produce, and to know that their work would be preserved and made accessible to future generations of students and scholars.

Draft Resolution on Open Access and Scholarship 3.24.09

Adapted from the resolution passed on February 12, 2008, by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University....

NOW THEREFORE the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia hereby adopts and endorses the following policy to govern copyrights in scholarly articles authored by the faculty and respectfully asks the Provost to implement this grant of copyrights and to develop an Open Access Program for the University of Virginia as provided below:

Each Faculty member at the University of Virginia will grant to the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia a nonexclusive, irrevocable, non-commercial, global license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of her or his scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit. This policy will be applied to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Provost or the Provost?s designee will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written request by a Faculty member.

To assist the University in making the articles widely available, each faculty member will provide an electronic version of the final peer-reviewed manuscript version of the article at no charge to a designated representative of the Provost?s Office. The Provost's Office or the Provost?s designee shall make the article available to the public in an open-access electronic repository no sooner than twelve months (12 months), from the date of publication of the article, such public access to be accomplished as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.

The Office of the Provost of the University of Virginia will be responsible for implementing this policy and for resolving - in consultation with the Faculty Senate or its designee, disputes concerning its interpretation and implementation. The policy will be reviewed after two years and a report prepared by the Faculty Senate for distribution to the University Faculty and the Office of the Provost.


  • Kudos to the UVa Task Force on Scholarly Publication and Authors' Rights for bringing this forward.
  • The Faculty Senate minutes are not yet online.  Does anyone know whether the resolution was approved?
  • The story in UVa's newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, says that the resolution was "introduced" and "presented" but says nothing about the outcome.  It doesn't even say that the outcome is secret.  However, FWIW, it uses the indicative rather than the subjunctive to talk about the resolution's effects:  "the resolution will only affect scholarly articles" (as opposed to books) and "the policy will be reviewed after two years".  So does that mean it passed?  (Why should we have to guess?)

Update (4/24/09). Gavin Baker learned from a contact at UVa that the Faculty Senate took no action on the resolution. The Senate may return to it later but probably not until the fall.


European Open Data Inventory

The Open Knowledge Foundation has launched the European Open Data Inventory.  From Jonathan Gray's description on the OKF blog yesterday:

We’re currently working on a European Open Data Inventory:

This is an inventory of EU-relevant datasets that is being compiled by EU Transparency, the NGO that made and theOpen Knowledge Foundation. It includes data that is already available, as well as data that we know exists but is not published - from budget data and environmental information to postcodes and place names.

This will be launched at the First European Open Data Summit, which will take place 5-7th May 2009 in Brussels.

For more information on contributing to the European Open Data Inventory, see [here]...

If you’re interested in attending the summit, please add your details [here].

Society journal adopts delayed-OA policy

The Association for Laboratory Automation has adopted a delayed OA policy, with a two-year moving wall, for the scientific articles in the Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation (published by Elsevier).  Non-scientific content is OA without delay.  The OA content will be posted to JALA Online.  (Thanks to Russ Swan.)

South African bill would smother OA

Eve Gray, IPR Bill Regulations promulgated - the death knell for open science in South Africa? Gray Area, April 21, 2009.  Excerpt:

The Department of Science and Technology has published the Regulations for the implementation of the IPR Act of 2008. These have serious implications for researchers and the universities and research institutions they work in and even more dire implications for open access and open innovation in South Africa.

I set out below my preliminary reading of what these Regulations might mean. However, they are not very well drafted and contain some confusions, so it would be good to share reactions from researchers on how they see this affecting their research practices. The time for responding is short - we have until 8 May....

A brief recap for those who are not familiar with the Act.

The full name of the Act is The Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Funded Research and Development Act, 2008. (I blogged the Draft Bill last year here and here and here and here and here) In 2009, one would expect a piece of legislation dealing with publicly funded research to be dealing with access to research, but that could not be further from the case of this legislation. To put it briefly, this is designed to ensure that all publicly funded research gets intellectual property protection for the purposes of commercialisation. This seems to be the only way that this legislation can conceive of public benefit from research. Open innovation, open science, open access and open source have to get special permission from the bureaucrats before they will be allowed....

Open science, open access and open source

There is confusion in the Regulations between public domain, open source and open access (see Andrew Rens's blog on this question), but Section 2 (12) appears to be trying to say that where a the university wants to make research open access or develop open source software, it has to fill in a form and apply to NIMPO [National IP Management Office]. If the need to make the research open comes from the requirements of cooperative research agreements or funder requirements, then this has to have prior approval from NIMPO. According to the Regulations, NIMPO then decides whether this agreement is in the best interests of the country or not (2 (14))....

PS:  Also see our past posts (1, 2) of Eve Gray's coverage of South African legislation that would smother OA.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slow uptake of OERs in developing countries

Mathias Hatakka, Build it and They Will Come? – Inhibiting Factors for Reuse of Open Content in Developing Countries, The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, 2009.

Abstract:   Open content has the potential to change the playing field when it comes to every individual’s right to education. Development of new course content is both expensive and time consuming and open content can help educational organizations to deal with these problems by offering free-to-use educational resources. Despite the benefits of open content the usage is very low in developing countries and understanding why content developers choose not to use open content is the first step towards finding a solution to the problem. Which inhibiting factors for reuse do content developers in developing countries experience with open content? To answer the question interviews, questionnaires and observations have been made with content developers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and from UNESCO Open Training Platform. Findings show that many of the inhibiting factors with reuse of open content do not necessarily relate to the actual content. Educational rules and regulations, lack of infrastructure, teaching practices and traditions etc. are major obstacles that need to be overcome if the usage of open content should increase.

From the body of the paper:

...In this study eleven inhibiting factors were found, educational rules and restrictions, language, relevance, access, technical resources, quality, intellectual property, awareness, computer literacy, teaching capacity, and teaching practices and traditions....

Re-using OA content in the semantic Web

Nathan Yergler, Open Access and Linked Data,, April 20, 2009.

... When I read the Budapest Open Access Initiative, one part stood out to me.

By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.

... [I]n particular, “availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, [or] pass them as data to software.” ... If you think about it, this sentence has implications that make OA materials perfect for linked data integration. It implies:

  • you have a stable, unique URL for the work
  • there isn’t a paywall or login requirement in front of the actual work
  • there isn’t any user agent discrimination—text in a Flash viewer need not apply (I’m looking at you, Scribd)
  • they’re in a format that’s useful as data; maybe [X]HTML?

So we have a growing corpus of information that’s ripe for markup with structured data. We’re doing a lot with embedded, structured [,linked] data right now at CC (things we need to do a better job talking about). I find it reassuring that the principles other efforts value mesh so well with what we’re doing.

York U. digitizing books with Internet Archive

York books scanned, digitized at Internet Archive, YUL News, April 20, 2009.

We’re working with the Internet Archive to scan thousands of our pre-1923 books and get them on the web in high-quality digitized versions available for free to the entire world. More details to follow as this exciting project develops, but for now, have a look at the titles that are already available. ...

Standardizing data citations

Toby Green, We Need Publishing Standards for Datasets and Data Tables, OECD Publishing White Paper, April 20, 2009.  A proposal for citing datasets.  Green argues that improving citations will improve access, but generally leaves access issues for others.  Nevertheless, he makes these two points along the way:

...According to a recent ALPSP report on scholarly publishing practice, 45% of journal publishers said they provided access to data sets associated with the journal articles they publish1. Since 160 publishers replied to this question, this means that at least 72 journal publishers report they are handling data....

Proof that readers want to access underlying data

OECD launched a service called StatLinks in 2004. The concept is simple. Under each table,
chart and graph appearing in an article or book chapter, a DOI (Digital Object Identifier1) link
is printed alongside the traditional "Source" legend. By following the DOI link, readers are
able to download a spreadsheet containing the data used to create the table, chart or graph.

By 2008, OECD had put 20,000 StatLinks into its publications and in 2008 alone, 980,381
spreadsheet files were downloaded. Proof, if it were needed, that readers do take the chance to get hold of original data when it's offered....

Another response to the Heidelberg Appeal

Matthias Spielkamp and Florian Cramer, Die Autoren werden gestärkt!  Frankfurther Rundschau, April 21, 2009.  Another response to the objections and misunderstandings of the anti-OA Heidelberg Appeal.  Read it in German or Google's English.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Heidelberg Appeal.

What data should publishers make OA?

David Shotton, Semantic publishing: the coming revolution in scientific journal publishing, Learned Publishing, April 2009; see also this self-archived version. (Thanks to Gerry McKiernan.)

... STM publishers have already aligned themselves with the aims of semantic publishing, and are seeking ways to implement these commitments in an affordable manner. Lest some subscription-access publishers be anxious about giving away information associated with their published articles, it may be instructive to look at three examples where giving away data and metadata has brought financial benefit. [Note: omitting the examples.] ...

So what data should the publishers be making freely available? Clearly they should provide the datasets that underlie the figures and tables in their articles, and machine-readable provenance information about the article itself. But machine-readable reference lists should also be made available, so that citation networks can be created, analysed and used to promote reader traffic to both citing and cited articles, to the benefit of the publishers concerned. Furthermore, publishers already have extensive sectional mark-up for their articles within the XML created during the publication process, many using a recognized de facto international standard, the National Library of Medicine's XML document format. It would be hugely advantageous if this information was also made available on line, rather than being discarded upon creation of PDF versions of the articles.

Fortunately, with the introduction of the new ACAP [Automated Content Access Protocol] open standard that enables publishers to express terms under which automated access to website content can be regulated, and the increasing employment of Creative Commons licenses regulating rights for reuse, publishers have the means to specify clearly which data are to be made freely available. The open question of who should host the data published to the Web in this manner – whether publishers should each host the datasets relevant to their own publications, or whether there should be independent data repositories, equivalent to SourceForge for open access [sic] software – will be decided in practice, but this is a secondary concern. The important thing is to get the relevant data onto the Web, no matter where they are hosted! ...

See also our past posts on David Shotton.

ACRL working on OA for publicly-funded research

The ACRL has released its 2009 Legislative Agenda.  Here's #2 on its eight-point agenda:

Public Access to Federally-Funded Research – supporting enhanced access to federally-funded research through open-access publication and open-data policies.

Also see the section on this priority in its full-length report:

Brief Background/Legislative History: In February 2005 after many months of discussion and deliberation the National Institutes of Health (NIH) introduced their policy on “Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH Funded Research.” On December 26, 2007 the NIH Policy became mandatory with passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 (H.R. 2764.) Federal Research Public Access Act (2006) FRPAA has not been reintroduced in the current Congress. Open data policies outline requirements for the management of publicly funded original research data that enables minimally restricted downstream use and reuse for the advancement of knowledge. Such policies promise similar advantages and opportunities to libraries as do policies for public access to published research results, including downward pressure on the cost of information products, ease in providing access to and preservation of an institution's scholarly output, and support for the advancement of knowledge by opening up primary data to re-interpretation, student use, etc.

Current Status: The Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Member (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) re-introduced a bill into the 111th Congress that would reverse the NIH Public Access Policy and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place. The legislation is H.R. 801: the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act."

As of April 7, 2008, investigators who receive NIH funding must submit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central no later than 12 months after acceptance for journal publication. For all applications, proposals or progress reports submitted for the NIH’s May 25, 2008 due date or beyond, investigators need to include a PubMed Central reference number when citing articles they have authored or co-authored with support from an NIH award. Open data legislation or policy developments have already been adopted in some form by the NIH and the NSF.

Impact on Academic Libraries: Public access to this important health science research will improve access particularly for those users affiliated with libraries (small colleges, non-health science libraries, etc.) that could not afford access to a broad range of health science journal literature. Libraries at institutions with NIH grant holders may wish to construct or consult on services that assist researcher or institutional compliance. Local, regional, and national scholarly communication programs will want to track the implementation of the NIH policy in order to inform their response to additional proposed funder mandates, e.g. if a version of the Federal Research Public Access Act (2006) is reintroduced....

Gender aspects of access to knowledge

Kathleen Diga, University women struggle for knowledge access in Africa,, April 9, 2009.

The future female leaders of Africa are up against major barriers to knowledge access, which could mean lost opportunities in university learning and teaching the state-of-the-art research most necessary for academic success. Online academic journals, and university textbooks are a few of the important resources that are part of this access to knowledge, which is pertinent particularly at the university level. Not only do students need to pass their courses, they are also encouraged to develop innovative and novel ideas informed and possibly inspired by past research work. This article questions whether such access of learning materials to all students and teachers at universities in Africa are fair to both women and men.

The 2008 (Abrahams et al.) study called, Opening Access to Knowledge in Southern African Universities, examines key constraints to access to knowledge in universities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The eight universities in seven countries found there was a “lack of awareness of what has been produced” in the African region (ibid). Most researchers kept their work as unpublished outputs or as “grey literature” that was not digitized, likely to be filed away in some dusty office and thus was not accessible to the rest of the world. ... Deeper studies as to whether men and women are experiencing similar constraints in the availability to research publications have yet to be explored. ...

The internet has been a major source of accessing and disseminating research through online journal databases and search engines like Google Scholar. However, whether women students or teachers had equal access to the internet or even computers is debatable. One university example showed first-hand experience of gender inequality from computer access. ...

Another element of the knowledge access picture is the copyright environment. ... How, if at all, do copyright environments differentially affect access for men and for women to learning materials, particularly in the university context? ...

The preliminary ACA2K finding from interviews in the eight ACA2K study countries was that most of the chosen interview subjects – government/state actors, university actors, rights-holders/publishers – did not see, or had not considered, a connection among gender, copyright and learning materials access. However, there were smatterings of anecdotal evidence that were of interest. ... While the team has yet to explain these anecdotes through gender analysis, the initial findings has sparked the team to complete further investigation on the significance of gender within the realm of copyright and access. ...

OA archive of Madame Bovary

Les manuscrits de Madame Bovary is a recently-launched OA archive of documents relating to the novel by Gustave Flaubert. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

Paying for e-journals in Europe, with a section on OA

Dominique Cottart, Politiques européennes d’abonnement et de souscription aux périodiques électroniques (les) : du financement à l’accès : problématiques, réalités, perspectives, thesis at the École nationale supérieure des sciences de l'information et des bibliothèques, January 2009. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) English abstract:
The emergence of electronic publishing, especially e-journals, has deeply shattered usual operating budget practices, and has induced overwhelming increases of subscription costs libraries will soon not be able to face. In order to cope with publishers monopolies, libraries have started to share their resources on mutual support basis consortia. Each European country has built its own original structure, adapted to the local development of scientific and technical information. These structures have performed several accomplishments which could influence the situation in France, itself undergoing radical transformations.

Repository and OA policy coming to the Indian Academy of Sciences

N. Mukunda, Journals, Open Access, Copyright, Repositories:  Some Viewpoints from an Academy, the keynote address at the 2009 meeting of India's National Aerospace Laboratories (Bangalore,  March 26, 2009).  Mukunda is the Editor of Publications at the Indian Academy of Sciences.  (Thanks to Subbiah Arunachalam.)  Excerpt:

...The [Indian Academy of Science]’s efforts in the Open Access direction go back to 1998. It was then that the journal Pramana was made available on the Academy website completely free for all to read. Thereafter all the other Academy journals have also been made freely available online, so now all ten Academy journals are available....In 2006 the Academy entered into an agreement with Springer to co-publish the international online and print editions of the ten journals, but with the proviso that world-wide open access on the Academy website would continue. So now there is the version on the Academy site, which is accessible world-wide and free, and also the value-added SpringerLink version available to paid subscribers. This arrangement is working quite well. The download figures from both sites are quite encouraging, and in any case the visibility of the journals world-wide is much better than it used to be. [The Indian National Science Academy, INSA] by the way has signed the Berlin Open Access Declaration and its journals are also freely accessible....

4) The [April 2008] INSA meeting discussed many aspects including the need to educate working scientists about their rights with respect to copyright....Some of the major INSA recommendations are to granting agencies to mandate Open Access for results of publicly funded research, and to scientists to publish in Open Access journals by choice.

Some tasks are set for the Academies too, such as setting up Institutional Repositories, and to work toward Open Access in all possible ways. In this context, it is possible that the three national Science Academies of India – IASc, INSA and NASI – may try to cooperate in these matters, as they have been doing in the case of science education recently....

6)...With generous help from the Indian Institute of Science, we are trying and hoping to set up an Institutional Repository covering all publications of all Fellows past and present. Starting since 1934 – the total number of Fellows is about 1500, 900 present and 600 past. And the total number of research publications may be around 60,000 or 75,000....We should try to get a substantial number of entries into the Repository within this year, catch up as soon as possible, then make it an ongoing automatic process....It seems about 50 institutions in India already have set up such repositories, but we have miles to go before we sleep! ...

Report on the March OAPEN meeting

Chuck Henry, A New European Initiative for Open Access, CLIR Issues, March/April 2009.  Excerpt:

I was recently invited to join the European Union Science Board for Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN), a consortium of universities and academic presses whose goal is to develop an open access publication model for the humanities and social sciences. One aim of this 30-month effort is to achieve a sustainable publishing methodology and platform that improves the quantity, usability, and visibility of high-quality open access content in relevant fields of study.

All the participating institutions and their presses...[are] committed to uphold the principles of open access, to publish humanities and social science scholarship in multiple languages, and to work closely with university libraries.

The first meeting of the science board, hosted by the University of Amsterdam, took place in that city in early March....

From an American perspective, it is remarkable that a government would invest the equivalent of more than US$1 million to study and make recommendations regarding the tradition and future of the monograph in humanities and social science scholarship. The board's discussions, which focused on a range of problems relating to the monograph, were compelling. One major issue is that far fewer titles are now becoming available annually because of the rising cost of paper-based book publication business models; a related problem is that the chances for academic advancement for younger scholars may be hampered because they have fewer outlets for publication than did their predecessors....

The case for university-level OA mandates

Stevan Harnad, Waking OA’s “Slumbering Giant”: The University's Mandate To Mandate Open Access, forthcoming in the New Review of Information Networking, self-archived April 14, 2009.

Abstract:   Open Access (OA) will not come until universities, the universal research-providers, make it part of their mandate not only to publish their research findings, as now, but also to see to it that the few extra keystrokes it takes to make those published findings OA -- by self-archiving them in their institutional repositories, free for all online -- are done too. Students and junior faculty -– the next generation of researchers and users -- are in a position to help convince their universities to go ahead and mandate OA self-archiving, at long last.

World's largest OA disease network database

César A. Hidalgo and four co-authors, A Dynamic Network Approach for the Study of Human Phenotypes, PLoS Computational Biology, April 10, 2009.

Abstract:   The use of networks to integrate different genetic, proteomic, and metabolic datasets has been proposed as a viable path toward elucidating the origins of specific diseases. Here we introduce a new phenotypic database summarizing correlations obtained from the disease history of more than 30 million patients in a Phenotypic Disease Network (PDN). We present evidence that the structure of the PDN is relevant to the understanding of illness progression by showing that (1) patients develop diseases close in the network to those they already have; (2) the progression of disease along the links of the network is different for patients of different genders and ethnicities; (3) patients diagnosed with diseases which are more highly connected in the PDN tend to die sooner than those affected by less connected diseases; and (4) diseases that tend to be preceded by others in the PDN tend to be more connected than diseases that precede other illnesses, and are associated with higher degrees of mortality. Our findings show that disease progression can be represented and studied using network methods, offering the potential to enhance our understanding of the origin and evolution of human diseases. The dataset introduced here [the Human Disease Network (HuDiNe)], released concurrently with this publication, represents the largest relational phenotypic resource publicly available to the research community.

Video interview on OA to African agricultural research

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has posted a six-minute video interview with Harry Heemskerk on OA to African agricultural research.  Heemskerk is the Head of Information Projects and Products at the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam

The interview was recorded at the Dgroups Partnership Meeting (The Hague, April 15-16, 2009).

Obama names a CTO, with an open ed. connection

U.S. President Barack Obama has named Aneesh Chopra his Chief Technology Officer. (Thanks to techPresident.)

Chopra previously served as Secretary of Technology for the state of Virginia. In that role, he supported Virginia's "flexbook" program to develop open textbooks. Chopra was also a member of the Obama transition's Technology, Innovation and Government Reform working group, which discussed topics such as OA to public sector information and open data.

Response from industry and advocates is very positive so far. Micah Sifry says the appointment "looks like very good news for the transparency movement". Art Brodsky and Tim O'Reilly point to his work to make K-12 educational content from Virginia freely available on iTunes.

See also our past posts on OA-related recommendations for Obama's CTO.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Inside the serials crisis: scholarly journals vs. all serials; comparing disciplines

Bill Hooker has two recent posts looking at pricing trends over the past two decades in scholarly journals as compared to all serials, and at trends for journals across several disciplines:

Podcast with Peter Brantley on digital libraries

Richard Wallis, Peter Brantley Talks with Talis as he moves to the Internet Archive, Talking with Talis, April 17, 2009; audio, 53 minutes. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

I first interviewed Peter Brantley, in the Talking with Talis series, in July 2007 about his role in the Digital Library Federation and its place in the world of digital libraries.

In this conversation we look back over the last couple of years at the DLF and then forward in to his new challenge and opportunity at the Internet Archive. ...

Upcoming improvements in EPrints

Leslie Carr, EPrints and its Development, RepositoryMan, April 17, 2009.

... Some more details about the 24 new features planned for the next release of EPrints can be found on the EPrints Wiki. ...

Cloud, Web, Intranet and Desktop Connectivity - repository data can now be stored in the cloud, on the web, on an intranet storage service, on a local disk or on any combination of the above. Also, the contents of the repository can be mounted on the user's desktop as a 'virtual file system'.

Desktop Document Support - thumbnails and embedded metadata extraction is provided for Microsoft Office documents. Media copyright checklists are generated for PowerPoint slideshows to assist Open Access clearance for lecture slides. ...

Research Management - Support for new kinds of administrator-defined data objects ... to provide compatibility with Current Research Information Systems (CRIS). Citation reporting will use ISI's Web of Science as well as Google Scholar.

Preservation Support - Preservation Planning Capabilities embedded in the repository using PRONOM and DROID.

Improved EPrints Data Model - ... [A] new REST interface provides an API to all EPrints data.

Improved Interoperability and Standards - SWORD 2 (v1.3 Specification), new OAI-ORE Import and Export Plug-ins, RDF plugins improved to provide better support for W3C Linked Data, CERIF support for Current Research Information Systems and enhanced Compatability for DRIVER project systems.

Miscellaneous Improvements - ... Enhanced User Profiles allow for more CV-relevant information than just publication lists. ... A Scheduler / Calendar for planning for embargoes, licenses, preservation activities, periodic maintenance activities etc. ...

Notes on Australian IP conference

Notes on National and Global Dimensions of the Public Domain (Sydney, April 16-17, 2009):

New research group on digital repositories

The Open Grid Forum has started a Digital Repositories Research Group. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
The goal of the Digital Repositories Research Group (DR-RG) is to analyze how digital repositories can be built on top of federated storage infrastructure, focusing on the exploitation of existing data-related standards and the identification of need for new or revised data-related standards.

New OA journal on poverty

Poverty & Public Policy is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Policy Studies Organization and the Berkeley Electronic Press. The inaugural issue was released in March 2009.

JoVE's OA option is now Wellcome-compliant

The OA option for the hybrid video journal Journal of Visualized Experiments now includes a CC BY-NC license, making it eligible as a cost for authors funded by the Wellcome Trust and the UKPMC Funders Group. JoVE will also deposit OA articles in PMC for free access upon publication.

See also our past posts on JoVE.

New IR for U. Veracruzana

The Universidad Veracruzana library has launched a new IR. (Thanks to Juan Manuel Zurita Sánchez.)

Notes on Webcast on the Harvard policies

Ray English, SPARC-Oberlin Group Webcast on Harvard Policy, SPARC, April 17, 2009.

On February 25 SPARC hosted a webcast for Oberlin Group liberal arts colleges about Harvard University’s open access policy. A number of Oberlin Group colleges are in various stages of discussing faculty open access policies similar to those that have been adopted at Harvard, MIT, and the Stanford University School of Education, and the webcast served to reinforce these ongoing conversations by answering key questions from librarians and faculty members. Both Trinity University and Oberlin College are now in advanced stages of policy development. ...

The webcast featured Stuart Shieber, Professor of Computer Science at Harvard and director of the university’s new office of scholarly communication. Shieber was the chief architect of the open access policy passed by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in February 2008, and has been instrumental the passage of similar policies by the Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government.

Twenty six liberal arts colleges from all parts of the United States participated in the webcast, which was coordinated by Diane Graves, University Librarian at Trinity University; Ray English, Director of Libraries at Oberlin College; and SPARC staff. The audience included both librarians and faculty at the participating schools.

In his webcast presentation Shieber outlined the reasons for Harvard’s adoption of its open access policy, including in particular the history of scholarly journal price increases and resulting problems in access to research literature. He described the details of the Harvard FAS policy ...

Shieber also described the process leading to Harvard’s policy as well as the institution’s long-term commitment to encourage Harvard authors to publish in open access journals by providing support for their authors’ fees. ...

Example of re-use of OA content with semantic markup

Evie Browne, Creative Re-Use Demonstrates Power of Semantic Enhancement, Public Library of Science, April 16, 2009.

A Review article published today in PLoS Computational Biology describes the process of semantically enhancing a research article to enrich content, providing a striking example of how open-access content can be re-used and how scientific articles might take much greater advantage of the online medium in future.

Dr. David Shotton and his team from Oxford University spent about ten weeks enriching the content of an article published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the results of which can be seen online here.

The enhanced version includes features like highlighted tagging which you can turn on or off (tagged terms include disease names, organisms, places, people, taxa), citations which include a pop-up containing the relevant quotation from the cited article, document and study summaries, tag clouds and citation analysis.

With a single click you can re-arrange the reference list by number of times each paper is cited, or add in the authors’ analysis of how the reference is used in the paper (obtains background from, confirms, extends, shares authors with, uses method in). The group has also provided interactive versions of some of the figures: compare the original, static Figure 3 to the moveable, overlaying, enhanced version.

David Shotton’s group hopes that this largely manual effort will demonstrate what practical enhancements can be made to scientific papers through the application of existing technology. These developments significantly enrich the content of a paper, and also demonstrate some of the potential that open-access provides by removing any barriers on the re-use of content. Once the methods employed by Dr Shotton and his colleagues become more routine, all open-access literature could be semantically enhanced and redistributed without restriction. ...

Update on the OA discussion at the U of California

Mengfei Chen, Journals: The Cost of Free Access, New University, April 20, 2009.  This excerpt picks up after Chen discusses the MIT OA policy and rising journal prices:  

...[Rising journal prices have], according to Lorelei Tanji, [the University of California at Irvine's] Assistant University Librarian for Collections, made it increasingly difficult for libraries to afford the journals that researchers and student use. Libraries around the United States, including the UCs, have been forced to cut the less-used titles in their collection.

Tanji pointed out that part of the problem is that authors are often unknowledgeable about their rights.

“[Often] people are so focused on publishing that they don’t always read what they are signing. Sometimes authors are also afraid to change the [release] form because they are worried of not being published. So they may just sign away their rights,” Tanji said.

In the past, this meant that some researchers would sign an agreement only to find out later that they couldn’t freely use the material in their classrooms or post it onto online repositories.

However, Tanji believes that things have changed in publishing. Many publishers are now willing to amend their agreements to allow authors much more control over their work.

John Tagler is the former vice president of Elsevier....After 30 years at Elsevier, Tagler left the publisher to serve as vice president and executive director of the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. He agreed with Tanji’s assessment that publishers are now more willing to accommodate authors.

However, Tagler refused to answer specific questions about Elsevier, whose profits rose by about 30 percent last year. Instead, he insisted that it is impossible to make general statements about journal publishers because not all publishers are the same....

Tagler questioned whether MIT’s policy is really an open-access policy.

“The term is bandied around too often. Open Access is a model, MIT’s policy is a repository,” Tagler said.

According to Tagler, supporters of open access are seduced by the concept, but most have not thought it through.

Tagler insisted that advocates of open access forget that publishers fulfill the basic function of validation and certification. They set up the infrastructure and the peer review panels that assure the public’s trust in research results.

Tagler explained the reason behind rising prices as being that the number of journals has increased.

There are more articles, including many that don’t make it to publication, that need to be put through the review process. He also blames the financial difficulty faced by many libraries on their stagnant budgets.

However, in a study published on First Monday, a peer-reviewed open-access Internet journal published by the University of Illinois, author Roger Clarke found that for-profit publishing is inherently more expensive than their counterparts.

“Their much greater investment in branding, customer relationship management and content protection [makes them expensive],” Clarke said.

Few proponents of open access, including Tanji and Stephen Bondy, UCI’s representative on the UC Committee on Libraries and Scholarly Communication, believe that open-access journals can or even should realistically replace traditional publishers....

The last system-wide effort to adopt an open access policy at the University of California happened in 2007. The proposed policy was similar to the one adopted by MIT. After going through eight draft forms, the policy was abandoned due to academic senate concerns. Many members of the academic senate, which represents the interests of UC faculty, supported the principle of the policy but were concerned over the implementation. Eventually, UCI, along with several other UCs, adopted a non-binding Joint Resolution on Scholarly Communication and Faculty Copyrights....

An Academic Senate report on the proposed system-wide policy documents concerns from UCI, UC Santa Barbara and the Committee on Planning Budget over possible delays in publication and the possibility of fewer publishing options and opportunities. Another major concern was that the opt-out provision would be too burdensome for the author to use.

Daniel Greenstein, the vice provost of Strategic Academic Planning, Programs and Coordination...acknowledged that more could have been done to answer faculty concerns. He pointed out that other institutions that have adopted some sort of open access policy, including MIT and departments at Stanford and Harvard, were much smaller than the UCs. They have fewer people to convince.

Abelson, the MIT professor, put it more bluntly.

“Like anything else [adopting open access policy],” Abelson said, “faculty live somewhere in the stone age … they have tunnel vision and it takes strong leadership to get them to do anything.”

Greenstein believes that the UCs will get another chance to consider a binding open access policy in the near future....


  • "Tagler questioned whether MIT’s policy is really an open-access policy.  'The term is bandied around too often. Open Access is a model, MIT's policy is a repository,' Tagler said."  This is confused and confusing.  Of course MIT has adopted an OA policy.  It's a real policy as opposed to a mere model.  It's a policy about OA as opposed to something else.  Is it possible that Tagler believes that OA only pertains to journals, and not to repositories?  Could he really be the former VP of Elsevier and current VP of the AAP/PSP and not understand that green OA is OA?  (Elsevier and AAP/PSP both lobby against the green OA mandate at the NIH precisely because it delivers OA.)  In any case, it makes no sense to say that "MIT's policy is a repository," especially after raising expectations about heightened precision.  Policies are not repositories and repositories are not policies.  The MIT policy is to deposit in a repository, and the policy, the deposits, and the repository all have the purpose of providing OA.
  • "According to Tagler, supporters of open access are seduced by the concept, but most have not thought it through.  Tagler insisted that advocates of open access forget that publishers fulfill the basic function of validation and certification. They set up the infrastructure and the peer review panels that assure the public’s trust in research results."  This is wishful thinking.  I don't know a single OA supporter who has forgotten that publishers facilitate peer review.  But I know many OA critics, especially in the publishing lobby, who have forgotten that OA journals are peer-reviewed too, and that support for peer review does not entail opposition to OA.  If any of them wants to think it through, I can recommend my 2007 article analyzing the frequent but unargued publisher assertions that OA will undermine peer review.
  • "After going through eight draft forms, the [draft University of California OA] policy was abandoned due to academic senate concerns."  I don't believe this has been reported in public before.  The last we'd heard, UC was inspired by the Harvard OA mandate to keep working to muster system-wide consensus on its draft policy.  But at least "Greenstein believes that the UCs will get another chance to consider a binding open access policy in the near future...."

Using citation data to shed light on access restrictions

Patrick Gaulé, Access to the scientific literature in India, CEMI Working Paper 2009-004, February 23, 2009.

Abstract:   This paper uses an evidence-based approach to assess the difficulties faced by developing country scientists in accessing the scientific literature. I compare backward citations patterns of Swiss and Indian scientists in a database of 43'150 scientific papers published by scientists from either country in 2007. Controlling for fields and quality with citing journal fixed effects, I find that Indian scientists (1) have shorter references lists (2) are more likely to cite articles from open access journals and (3) are less likely to cite articles from expensive journals. The magnitude of the effects is small which can be explained by informal file sharing practices among scientists.

From the body of the paper:

The different types of evidence used in this paper strongly suggest that there is a problem of access to the scientific literature in India. Many researchers self-report having limited access to the literature. Objective data from library subscriptions shows that even in an elite institution such as the Indian Institute of Science, researchers lack institutional access to one third of the top 100 biology journals.

However, the most convincing evidence comes from citation data, which is both objective and exhaustive....

Assessing whether differences in citing behavior reflects a severe problem is difficult....

In any case, an important factor limiting the severity of the access problem is the prevalence of informal file sharing practices among scientists. 84 % of Indian biologists who answered my survey had either contacted an author or a friend with better access to request a copy in the last three months. The majority of requests to authors are successful. Thus, in practice, the importance of openness as a norm of science lessens the effect of restrictions imposed by publishers on access to the literature.

An important point is that access to the literature is better viewed as a continuum rather than a yes/no variable....

Finally, the extent to which the results of this study can be generalized to other developing countries is unclear. However, the methodology used in this paper could easily be used as a blueprint for studies with other developing countries.

Case study of the IR at the National Taiwan University

Kuang-hua Chen and Jieh Hsiang, The unique approach to institutional repository: Practice of National Taiwan University, The Electronic Library, 27, 2 (2009) pp. 204-221.  The DOI-based URL is not working.  Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.  Abstract:  

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the practical and unique approach to construct an institutional repository (IR) at the National Taiwan University (NTU).

Design/methodology/approach – In general, IR systems are used to preserve the research outputs of academic organizations. The preserved contents as a whole will demonstrate the achievements and influences of organizations. The NTU Repository (NTUR) project is the action which is the response of NTU Library to the converging and emerging issues. The system design of NTUR is based on a well-known open-source package, DSpace, but many of its functional modules are modified to fulfill the requirements of Chinese users. The content acquisition of NTUR is carried out by a machine-aided manual approach, which quickly accumulates the volume of registered digital objects in NTUR.

Findings – With comparison to other IR systems, it is found that a content-rich system with the much friendlier user interface like NTUR could be constructed in an effective way. The post-processing for search results – which is very unique feature of NTUR – could be also implemented effectively.

Practical implications – Many investigations point out that an open-access IR system can decrease the cost in dissemination of scholarly information and increase the impacts of research outputs.

Originality/value – The practical approach to the construction of an institutional repository at NTU has been proposed. The approach can make NTUR quickly acquire a large volume of digital objects. This makes NTUR a much more content-rich repository with comparison to other similar IR systems.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oxford's World Atlas of Language Structures converts to OA

The World Atlas of Language Structures started life in 2005 as a £475 book from Oxford University Press, but now has an OA edition under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.  The OA edition is a joint production of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Max Planck Digital Library.

Comment.  Thanks to Robert Forkel via pampel and the OATP.  This is the first time I've blogged a bit of news gleaned from the project feed of the open access tracking project.  It's probably the last time I'll make special note of this kind of assistance, which should quickly become routine.  But if you aren't yet following the feed, please note that it's up, working, and growing daily.