Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 02, 2009


I just mailed the May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at open access tracking project (OATP), a collaborative tagging effort to capture new OA developments comprehensively and in real time.  The round-up section briefly notes 151 OA developments from April. 


OAD home page for the OA tracking project

The Open Access Directory (OAD) has opened a set of lists on the Open access tracking project (OATP) for community editing.  OATP is the collaborative tagging project I launched in beta about two weeks ago.  The new OAD page will function as the project home page.

The new home page supports user-maintained lists of project links (including feeds), project tags, project mashups, and (shortly) a project FAQ.

The May issue of SOAN, to mail later today, will include a longer introduction to the project.

Friday, May 01, 2009

IRs and university libraries

María del Rosario Tissera, Repositorios institucionales en bibliotecas académicas, apparently a pre-print, self-archived April 30, 2009. English abstract:
Starting from the concept and current functioning of academic libraries, there is a planning to adherence to the open access international movement to digital files, installed as repositories via Internet to allow free access to intellectual production of a discipline or an institution or several consortia libraries in order to increase the visibility and accessibility to information produced at universities. There are some examples of institutional repositories offered by consortia libraries of Spain and North America, as well as Latin America and Argentina. Considering some barriers faced by institutions, publishers and authors to the creation of digital repositories offers some basic guidelines for their training.

Milestone for RePEc Author Service

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc Author Service now 20,000 strong, The RePEc Blog, April 30, 2009.

Authors can register on the RePEc Author Service to create an online profile of their works and obtain monthly various statistics and newly found citations for their works. This service was introduced in its current form in 2004, and has just seen the 20,000th author register (in addition to over 6000 non-authors). While RePEc and the RePEc Author Service are not formally associations, we can still claim to be larger than the largest of all societies in Economics, the American Economic Association having about 18,000 members.

We are frequently asked how much of the profession we cover. This is very difficult to determine. Using the method discussed when we reached 15,000 authors, we can only say that we have currently a coverage between 41% and 80% of the profession. ...

Another argument that the Google settlement should support OA

David Weinberger, Pros and cons of the Google book deal, KM World, May 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[S]ince the people who will make money from orphaned works [under the settlement] are precisely not the people who created or published the works —by definition, those people cannot be found— I like the idea of shunting some of that money into a fund to help increase open access to all the works of our culture. The settlement does talk about donating unclaimed funds to non-profits "that advance literacy, freedom of expression, and/or education," but makes no commitment to the amounts, and does not directly name open access. This should be a requirement, not an afterthought....

More on OA journals which offer gratis but not libre OA

Bill Hooker, Open Access, copyright transfer and NC licensing: caveat emptor!  Open Reading Frame, May 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

When I was rummaging around in J Vis a while back, I noticed something that I've been meaning to blog about: why is an Open Access journal still requiring complete surrender of author copyright [1]?

I happen to know one answer to that question, though I don't know whether this is the case at J Vis. The deal is this: Big Publishing sells paper reprints, and not just of their own articles -- they pay fees where necessary in order to provide a one-stop shop (e.g. through Excerpta Medica or Ovid), mainly to the pharmaceutical industry. In order to blanket existing and potential customers with research favorable to their causes, pharm companies spend a great deal of money on these reprints -- some of which trickles down to small publishers, some of whom depend on that revenue. Such publishers therefore cannot afford to give up such rights as force the reprint traders to pay for their wares....

Why do I care about this? Because it's another instance of the old "Free is not Open" argument, and the problems discussed here and here. Since digital repositories -- as far as I know, all existing digital repositories -- carry no blanket license, but leave intact the licensing of each individual digital object they contain, the effect is that there are no OA repositories that remove both price and permission barriers (that is, provide "strong" or "libre" OA to their contents)....

Consider, for instance, PubMed Central, all the papers in which are free to read. What else can you do with them? Textmining, datamining? As far as I can tell, the answer is no, you can't do any of that -- because whatever you want to do, some papers will be licensed to allow it and some won't. Barring some way to reach agreements with dozens or perhaps hundreds of publishers and pre-sort millions of papers on the basis of licensing, the entire PMC barrel is spoiled by the copyrighted, NC and similar apples -- though there is a much smaller uncontaminated barrel available [4].

Which brings me, at long last, to my title. Why "caveat emptor"? Well, if you're buying Open Access -- that is, publishing with a journal that charges author-side fees (remember, most don't), make sure you're getting value for your money! If the journal demands your copyright, or slaps a NC license on your work before distributing it, you should know that many possible downstream uses for your work are being pre-emptively eliminated. Are you sure that's what you want?


  • I'm sure Bill is right that some OA journals offering gratis OA rather than libre OA are hoping to sell reprints.  It restricts use, re-use, and users, but at least it's a reason and at least it provides a revenue stream to support the journal's expenses.  I suspect that some gratis OA journals don't have this motive, don't have any articulate motive, mistakenly believe that all OA is gratis OA, and never thought about libre OA or its benefits.  I wish we had a good study of how many OA journals offer merely gratis OA and why.
  • I also wish we had good clarity on whether data- and text-mining require libre OA.  See some past blog discussion of this question (1, 2, 3) and the current discussion at LibLicense.
  • I fully support Bill's final caveat and recommendation.  I recently argued that "funders [and universities and authors] should demand libre OA when they pay for publication, not just for research."

OA repository for refereed conference proceedings in CS

The Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science (EPTCS) is a new OA repository of refereed conference proceedings in CS.  See yesterday's announcement.  (Thanks to Michael Greenburg.)  From the site:

Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science (EPTCS) is an international refereed open access venue for the rapid electronic publication of the proceedings of workshops and conferences, and of festschrifts, etc, in the general area of theoretical computer science, broadly construed.

We do not charge authors or event organisers for electronic publication in EPTCS in any way. If hard-copies of proceedings are desired, event organisers have the choice of organising the printing themselves or taking advantage of a standard contract we will make with a printing house. Copyright on all papers is retained by the author, and full-text electronic access to all papers is freely available, without any need for registration or subscription. Permanent archival of the journal content is ensured by organising the journal as an overlay of the Computing Research Repository (CoRR): see In addition, a printed version of the entire series is available to subscribers.

Quality Control

Event organisers may apply for publication of proceedings or festschrifts as an issue of EPTCS by filling in this form and writing to a member of our editorial board whose scientific interest are closest to the topic of that event. Such an application needs to contain a detailed description of the way in which the papers that are considered for publication in that issue are being refereed. The application will be granted only if we trust the event to select scientific papers of quality only. This trust may be instilled through the organisers of the event, the program committee members, and (if applicable) the quality of earlier editions. Once an application has been granted, the refereeing is left entirely in the hands of the committee established for this purpose by the event organisers, and our staff will perform a quick check of format and contents only.

Pre- and Post-proceedings

Workshops and conferences can choose between proceedings that will be online when the event takes place, or post-proceedings, that will appear after the event, thereby giving authors the opportunity to incorporate insights gathered during the event into their papers....

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More on open data from Sage

Harnessing open innovation, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, May 2009.  Accessible only to subscribers. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)   Excerpt:

On 1 July 2009, the incubation phase of a new open-access platform called Sage should begin. With logistical support and data from Merck and seed money from private sources, Eric Schadt and co-founder Stephen Friend — who are both moving from senior positions at Merck — aim to build complex, predictive models of disease. “The idea is to integrate large-scale biological information into models and then enable other scientists to leverage that information in an open-access way (freely available with no intellectual property restrictions),” says Schadt....

Sage aims to harness the kind of computing power used by internet information providers such as Google to enable researchers worldwide to iterate disease models and transform our understanding of disease biology....

Whereas Sage and CollabRx are among the most recent open-innovation initiatives, several other drug development challenges, such as biomarker identification and validation, are increasingly being addressed at a pre-competitive level, often through public–private partnerships (Table 1). Later this year, the consortia that will answer the first calls of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the largest such public–private partnership to date, will be officially announced. The research tools that emerge from the IMI will be made available to other companies and academic groups for research purposes at a reasonable cost or free of charge, although the IP rights will belong to members of each consortium (Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 7, 548–549; 2008).

The issue of who should own the IP generated by such pre-competitive initiatives has been the subject of considerable debate....

PS:  Also see our past posts on Sage and pre-competitive sharing.

Amazon Web Services grants for researchers

Amazon Web Services has launched AWS in Education, a set of programs including grants for free use of AWS for research purposes (such as providing OA to large datasets). (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

See also our past posts on AWS:

New OA publications from Oriental Institute backlist

The Oriental Institute has released OA editions of 11 documents originally published 1929-1992. (Thanks to Charles Ellwood Jones.)

The Institute is also developing an OA database of its collection of pottery sherds and providing OA to recordings of some of its members' lectures.

See also our past posts on the Oriental Institute.

Milestone for UC Dublin IR

Release candidate of Open Database License v1.0 available for public comment

Open Database License (ODbL) v1.0 Release Candidate Available, Open Data Commons, April 29, 2009.  Excerpt:

The Open Database License (ODbL) v1.0 “Release Candidate” is now available [here].

This updated version of the license incorporates a whole set of changes arising out of the earlier comments period and the main changes are summarized below.

As the naming suggests, we believe this text is now very close to a “production-ready” 1.0 license. To allow interested individuals and communities time to review the latest set of changes, as well as to provide an opportunity to catch any last minute “bugs”, there will be a 1 week comment period starting today and ending at midnight next Wednesday (6th May). Full details on how to comment can be found on the ODbL home page.

In preparation for the 1.0 release we have also prepared detailed instructions on how to apply the license which can also be found on the ODbL home page. Any feedback on these is also very welcome....

Summary of Changes

For the license, specific changes include:

  1. A variety of typos, grammar fixes and minor renaming
  2. Change “Publicly Convey” to “Use” as Trigger for SA
  3. Clarify “Publicly Convey”
  4. Change from “Data” to “Contents” for contents of DB.
  5. Introduction of proxy for specification of compatible licenses
  6. Clarification of what is required when making available of derivatives
  7. Reinstatement of terminated rights if breach ceases
  8. Move “How To Apply” section to website (not strictly part of license)

We have also prepared several new FAQs to address issues that were raised during the comment process...

PS:  Also see our post on the beta release of this license, in March 2009, and our other past posts on the Open Data Commons.

Launch of Sci-Mate

Christopher Dyer has launched a suite of tools called Sci-Mate (for Scientific Material Transfer Exchange) for sharing research information and physical specimens.  From today's announcement:

Scientists should benefit when their knowledge is openly applied and developed by other members of the research and development industry. However, in practice researchers generally fail to realise these benefits, and so focus their efforts on publishing information in exclusive journals and patenting otherwise valuable technology. The Sci-Mate is an entirely new approach that uses Web 2.0 software to ensure that researchers benefit from the broader application and ongoing development of their ideas.

Because publication is so important to researchers, the Sci-Mate contains software that makes it relatively easy for scientists to collaboratively assemble high impact publications. Open access wiki software allows individual researchers to place highly specialised knowledge into a pre-existing context in such a way so as to increase the value of both their contribution and the value of the pre-existing information. With academics in mind, the “Wiki-Mate” records authorship, assigns copyright, defines licenses, manages editing, and includes custom software for an interactive peer-review process. This pre-publishing environment will be further streamlined to include one-click submission of peer-reviewed articles for open access or 'traditional' publication when an appropriate publishing partner/solution is identified....

A separate tool, based on similar principles, allows researchers to exchange any item of interest to researchers through software a bit like eBay (but without auctions and a necessary commercial focus)....This provides open access to many valuable research tools, such as antibodies, plasmids, hardware, assay services, etc, that would otherwise be ignored by other developers desperately seeking such solutions. Once listed on the site, the software then makes it very easy (compared to 1-to-1 emails) for owners to answer questions, evaluate requests and safely distribute material towards productive collaborations. To protect IP following exchange, the software provides extensive records, reports and data-flows to researchers, administrative staff and other controlling interests without any additional work for the researcher. This dramatically simplifies the distribution of even commercial items to other researchers, and technology transfer to industry. The same software can be used to list jobs, courses, grants, seminars, conferences and other matters of interest to the research community, which can be easily sorted and searched by interested users.

In addition to these major tools, co-operation is further facilitated by a discussion forum and networking tools, and space is provided for software developers to embed additional services of value to the research community.

The Sci-Mate is a community project that is intended to be owned, controlled and administrated by its members according to the social and democratic principles of Web 2.0.

Happy birthday, OAD

SPARC has released a birthday greeting to the Open Access Directory (OAD).  Excerpt:

As growing appreciation of Open Access to research drives demand for new resources – on what Open Access is and how it benefits faculty, students and researchers worldwide – the popular Open Access Directory (OAD) marks its first anniversary today. 

The Open Access Directory, hosted by Simmons College, is  a wiki where community contributors create and maintain simple, factual lists about Open Access to science and scholarship. Launched just one year ago, and operated entirely by an international corps of volunteers, the OAD quickly blossomed from six to 40 lists and has served more than 250,000 unique users.

Designed by Robin Peek (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College) and Peter Suber (Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School, and Senior Researcher at SPARC), the OAD has quickly become a “go-to” resource in the academic community. 

The Directory’s “signature” lists include:

“The Open Access Directory has become a central and relied-upon resource that is also a gathering place for everyone looking to learn more about the benefits of Open Access,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “In planning last year’s Open Access Day, it became clear that OA champions in every corner of the world have valuable tools, key advancements, and breaking news to share. The OAD is the place they can meet and share these resources.  Congratulations to the editors of the Open Access Directory on their first birthday!”

The Open Access Directory will serve as a central component in the program for the upcoming Open Access Week (October 19 to 23, 2009), which will feature educational resources that local hosts can use to customize events to suit local audiences and time zones. Two sample program tracks, highlighting “Author’s rights and author addenda - For researchers,” and “Institutional Advantages from Open Access - For administrators,” have been released for participants to use to design or inspire their plans for the week.

Sample tracks point first to OASIS (the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook), which delivers resources for multiple constituencies and awareness levels. Both OAD and OASIS resources are community-driven tools that invite registered users to expand and refine available content....

Four presentations on OA in Canada

Heather Morrison, Donald Taylor, Andrew Waller, and Devon Greyson, Open Access in Canada - Overview and Update, four slide presentation at the BC Library Conference 2009 (Burnaby, April 16-18, 2009).  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Abstract:   An overview of open access around the world, and in Canada in particular. There are more than 100 fully open access, peer reviewed journals published in Canada, and more than 2 have been added to DOAJ each month so far in 2009. Presents examples of the journals. Research funding agency open access policies are discussed, and university perspectives on OA. Early announcement of a new OA policy by and for University of Calgary library faculty is featured. The unique perspective of the health sector on OA is discussed.

Eliminating quality bias in explaining the OA impact advantage

Yassine Gargouri and Stevan Harnad are measuring how OA mandates affect the OA citation advantage.  They've posted two docs with preliminary versions of their findings (1, 2).  Here's Stevan's summary, by email:

  1. Green OA self-archiving is at about 15% unmandated by 2006 (with not much sign of spontaneous annual growth)
  2. Green OA self-archiving is at about 60% if mandated (by 2006)
  3. OA adds an independent positive increment to citation frequency, over and above other positive correlates of citation frequency such as article age, journal impact factor, number of co-authors, number of references, field, article length, country, institution
  4. The OA citation advantage is equal for mandated OA and for unmandated OA (hence the citation increase is not an artifact of self-selection for self-archiving the better articles, as some have tried to argue)
  5. The OA citation advantage is greater for the articles in higher-impact journals (hence the "better" articles benefit more from OA).


  • Yassine and Stevan are writing up their study for publication; this is just a preview. 
  • See especially point #4.  While all past studies have shown that OA articles are cited more often than non-OA articles, some have suggested that the effect is due to a tendency of authors to make their best work OA.  The current study has found beautiful leverage on that question:  OA mandates erase the effect of author self-selection.  If all articles from a certain funder or university must be deposited in an OA repository, then the resulting works will not show the effect of author self-selection.  Therefore any remaining citation advantage cannot be attributed to a quality bias in the sample, and is much more likely the result of OA itself.
  • On point #5, see Jonathan Wren's study in BMJ for April 12, 2005, and my editorial commenting on it.

Four more Indian journals convert to OA

India's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) has converted four more of its 17 journals to OA and plans to convert the rest this summer.  Details from Subbiah Arunachalam:

NISCAIR...the publishing arm of India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), publishes17 journals (one of them in Hindi) and two abstracting journals....On 14 October 2008, two of them were made open access: Indian Journal of Chemistry Section A, and Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Now four more have become open access:

  • Indian Journal of Chemistry B
  • Indian Journal of Radio and Space Physics
  • Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Indian Journal of Pure & Applied Physics

This information is not yet recorded by DOAJ.

By end of July 2009, the editors tell me, all the remaining journals will become open access.

We should thank Prof. Samir K Brahmachari, Director General of CSIR, for sending out a note to directors of all CSIR laboratories on 6 February 2009 requesting them to se up institutional repositories in each laboratory and to make all CSIR journals open access [PS: blogged here]. We must also thank Dr Gangan Prathap, the new Director of NISCAIR, for the speedy implementation of OA at NISCAIR.

Competition for fee funding

Philip Davis, Paying for Open Access Publication Charges, Scholarly Kitchen, April 30, 2009.  Excerpt:

...The [RIN report on Paying for open access publication charges] first covers why central funds are necessary for funding publication fees [at fee-based OA journals]....

[B]ut the devil is always in the details, and I was particularly interested to see how the report would approach governance of these central pots of publication money, among them:

  1. Who gets to make the funding decisions?
  2. How does one determine financial support when articles include authors from other institutions?
  3. How does one establish priority for funding competing requests if funds become limited? And most importantly,
  4. How does one deal with appeals when funding requests are denied?

The report provides no answers to these questions except that each institution needs to address them.  Questions #1 and #2 are the easiest of the bunch.  Beware of #3 and #4.

The function of publication is not merely to disseminate research results — publication also serves as a way to evaluate faculty for promotion and tenure.  Those who deny a publication fund request must understand the implications of their decision on the career path of the authors.  The time during which a new faculty member must establish a track record in the literature is terrifyingly short.  A denied publication can impact the tenure decision of a junior faculty member.  Even the delay incurred over an appeal should not be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, I have read no open access publication policy that addresses these important issues:

[M]any library administrators are pushing for these author funds, and in many cases, the monies are simply being skimmed off existing library collection funds or were provided as a one-time gift from a Vice Chancellor before the economy took a nosedive.   As the RIN report states on page 23, there is clearly not enough money to support both author-pays and subscription-pays models.

If use of these author funds takes off, prepare for some road rage.

Comment.  Davis is right that universities launching these funds should be designing procedures to deal with appeals and conflicts.  If the demand on the funds is low today, it may grow steadily over time, just as the number of funds continues to grow.  He has raised these issues before (1, 2), and I responded to an earlier version this way:

I concede that these scenarios are ugly, but I still want universities to join foundations in their willingness to pay author-side fees, and to start thinking about allocation procedures that faculty will accept as fair....

[Note that] to the extent that no-fee OA journals spread, universities will not have to pay author-side fees or adjudicate disputes between rival professors applying for limited funds....

The problems may be tractable:  after all, libraries currently pay more (much more) for journals in some disciplines than others without triggering campus wars.  Or they might be as difficult and ugly as [Davis] predicted....

The ACM and Harvard authors

Harvard computer scientist Michael Mitzenmacher reports that the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) does not accept Harvard's author addendum and asks Harvard authors to seek a waiver from the school's OA mandate.  In a clarification sent to Mizenmacher's colleague, Salil Vadhan, the ACM explained that it does allow OA archiving in the Harvard repository but does not allow all the reuse rights required by the Harvard addendum.  The ACM and Harvard's Office of Scholarly Communication are discussing the matter.  See Mitzenmacher's post, The ACM Does NOT Support Open Access, My Biased Coin, April 29, 2009.

Stevan Harnad underscores the ACM clarification:  that the ACM journals are green and allow author-initiated preprint and postprint archiving.  See his post, APA Kerfuffle Redux: No, ACM is NOT Anti-OA, Open Access Archivangelism, April 30, 2009.

Comment.  I suspect that many publishers are like the ACM, either in permitting gratis but not libre OA archiving, or in permitting only a more limited form of libre archiving than Harvard would like.  Hence, the result of the Harvard-ACM discussions should have wider application.

Update (5/1/09).  See the second installment of Stevan Harnad's comments.  Excerpt:

The nuances here are about the differences between "gratis" OA (free online access) and "libre" OA (free online access plus certain further re-use rights).

I will make no secret of what my own view on this is -- and I've been at this for a very, very long time: Free online access ("gratis OA") is all you need in order to make all the rest happen....

Libre OA asks for more, and entails more complications. Hence it is both harder to agree on adopting a Libre OA mandate, and harder to get compliance (rather than opt-out). The right strategy is hence to stick to mandating Gratis OA for now. Gratis OA is urgent; addenda can wait....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Interview on open textbooks

Jane Park, CK-12 Foundation’s Neeru Khosla on Open Textbooks, Creative Commons, April 28, 2009. Interview with Neeru Khosla of the CK-12 Foundation.

See also our past post on CK-12.

New OA database of food aid

Food Aid Information System is a new OA database from the World Food Programme, containing "the most reliable and comprehensive data on food aid flows". (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

2 new members of Flickr Commons

The Nantucket Historical Association Research Library and the Swedish National Heritage Board have joined Flickr Commons. For more information on the latter, see this page. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Forthcoming OA journal of African arts

Afro-beat Journal is a forthcoming peer-reviewed journal published by the New York Afrobeat Festival. Authors retain copyright. (Thanks to Olumide Abimbola.)

Google adds search for public data

Ola Rosling, Adding search power to public data, Official Google Blog, April 28, 2009.

... We just launched a new search feature that makes it easy to find and compare public data. ...

If you go to and type in [unemployment rate] or [population] followed by a U.S. state or county, you will see the most recent estimates:

Once you click the link, you'll go to an interactive chart that lets you add and remove data for different geographical areas. ...

The data we're including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers' salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on. Reliable information about these kinds of things exists thanks to the hard work of data collectors gathering countless survey forms, and of careful statisticians estimating meaningful indicators that make hidden patterns of the world visible to the eye. All the data we've used in this first launch are produced and published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division. ...

Since Google's acquisition of Trendalyzer two years ago, we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today's launch is a first step in that direction. We hope people will find this search feature helpful, whether it's used in the classroom, the boardroom or around the kitchen table. We also hope that this will pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations. ...

See also Google's Information for public data publishers:

... Google wants to eventually display data from other governmental agencies, research institutes, and other private organizations as well. To do so, we want to identify free, authoritative, high-quality data, irrespective of topic and locale. We are interested in both aggregated statistics and the underlying raw data from which they were derived. Other types of structured information like reference lists and classifications are also of great interest. We will not use any data that compromises the privacy of individuals or infringes upon any proprietary rights.

If you are a data publisher, get your data out to a wider audience, through Google, by telling us about your public data. ...

Update. See also coverage by Nextgov:

... Many federal Web sites or content on site pages cannot be indexed by typical search engines, including Google. So, much of the data on these sites is invisible, or hidden in the so-called "Deep Web."

Part of the reason is that government pages include databases, forms and other coding that search engines cannot crawl through. Many are also lacking site maps, or a visual breakdown of the pages of a Web site, that help search engines capture all of a site's pages.

Google's new tool, Google Public Data, only works with public data that is already accessible to search engines. ...

Google researchers "haven't figured out how to site map everything," said Jerry Brito, who studies government transparency as a senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center. "It's kind of impossible to do that without the government agencies cooperation."

He and Google have advocated that Congress require agencies to make all of the information on their sites accessible to commercial search engines.

A law introduced last Congress by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, directs the government to "promulgate guidance and best practices to ensure that publicly available online federal government information and services are made more accessible to external search capabilities, including commercial and governmental search capabilities."

APA adds Wellcome-compliant OA option

Robert Kiley, American Psychological Association develops Wellcome-compliant OA option, UK PubMed Central Blog, April 28, 2009.

The American Psychological Association (APA) - publisher of titles such as Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Psychological Bulletin - have developed a Wellcome-Trust compliant author-pays model.

In return for paying an OA fee ($4000) APA will deposit on behalf of the author, the final, published version directly into PMC, where it will be mirrored to UKPMC.

Such papers will be licenced such that anyone may "access, download, copy, display, and redistribute this article or manuscript as well as adapt, translate, or data and text mine the content contained in this document", as long as this is done for non-commercial purposes, and proper attribution is given.

Upon submission to an APA journal, Wellcome-funded authors will be asked to identify their manuscript as being Wellcome Trust funded. If the papers is accepted for publication, Wellcome funded authors should complete this form to ensure that APA journals will deposit the manuscript in PMC.

As of April 2009, this author-pays option is only available to Wellcome-funded researchers.

Open data in swine flu virus

Stimulus for cyberinfrastructure

James Boyle, What the information superhighways aren’t built of..., Financial Times, April 17, 2009. (Thanks to Lawrence Lessig.)

... We know that the United States’ experiments with freely providing publicly generated data -- on everything from weather to roads to navigation -- yield an incredible economic return. More than 30-fold by some estimates. We know that investment in basic science can provide stellar multipliers.

Some scholars have been arguing that the architecture of the internet, its embrace of openness as a design principle, might revolutionize science if we could apply the same principles there -- if we could break down the legal and technical barriers that prevent the efficient networking of state funded research and data. Imagine a scientific research process that worked as efficiently as the web does for buying shoes. Then imagine what economic growth a faster, leaner, and more open scientific research environment might generate.

Streamlining science, learning from the success of the internet, more open access to state funded basic research: these kinds of initiatives are the ones that might provide the ”superhighways of the mind,” the ”freeways of the information age” -- but they are too abstract, more likely to involve open data protocols than bundles of wires, and thus they garner little attention. Now would be an ideal time to invest in the architecture of openness, but this kind of architecture doesn’t get built with cement. ...

More on the deepening access crisis

Charles Bailey, Seven ARL Libraries Face Major Planned or Potential Budget Cuts, DigitalKoans, April 28, 2009.  Excerpt:

Seven Association of Research Libraries member libraries are facing major planned or potential budget cuts....These examples suggest that significant budget cuts may be widespread in ARL libraries.

The Cornell University Library will have to cut around about $944,000 from the fiscal year 2010 materials budget.

The Emory University Libraries have "already cut $200,000 from the current (2008/2009) collections budget" and more cuts are planned in FY 2010....

The MIT Libraries are faced with a $1.4 million budget cut this summer....

The UCLA Libraries are facing a cut of over $400,00 this year alone....

The University of Tennessee Libraries sent a February 16th memo to deans, department heads, and library representatives saying that they were "facing a potential 8% base budget cut. This cut represents reductions totaling $1,343,299 from the library’s operations, personnel, and collections budget." ...

The University of Washington Libraries have submitted a business plan to the Provost and Executive Vice President that reflects "levels of reduction in central support of 8%, 10%, and 12%." In dollar terms, these reductions are $2,457,962, $3,072,452, and $$3,686,943 respectively.

The Yale University Library is cutting its collection budget for the first time due to budget shortfalls....

Related post: "University of Florida Libraries Propose to Cut Budget by over $2.6 Million.

PS:  I've argued that the recession will have mixed results for OA, but will strengthen the case for it.

Preview of Wolfram/Alpha

Wolfram Research previewed its question-answering service, Wolfram/Alpha, at Harvard yesterday.  See the 105':57" webcast or David Weinberger's blog notes

Also see Larry Dignan's preview of Wolfram/Alpha at ZDNet or Frederic Lardinois' preview at ReadWriteWeb.

Comment.  At first glance Alpha looks like any other free search engine.  But it returns direct answers, sometimes with graphs of relevant data, not just links to pages which might contain answers.  I'm looking forward to its launch next month.  This kind of service --from humans or machines-- is what I meant (in an article last summer) by solving the last-mile problem for knowledge.

More on the NIH policy and Conyers bill in the MSM

Brian Blank, Copyright Battle Looms for Docs Who 'Grew Up Google', ABC News, April 22, 2009.  Excerpt:

...Now a fourth-year student at Harvard Medical School, [Carolina] Solis spent a summer doing research in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Before the sun rose each morning, she boarded an old school bus bound for some of Nicaragua's most remote regions. When she finally arrived, farmers would be waiting for her, clutching small cups. The cups contained samples of their own stools, which Solis would check for evidence of certain parasites. Gathering up the samples, she then made the long trek back to San Juan del Sur....

Her results were startling. Up to 80 percent of some communities were infected. Contaminated well water was a likely culprit.

Like many researchers, she plans to submit her findings for publication in a medical journal. What she discovered could benefit not just Nicaraguan communities but those anywhere that face similar problems. When she submits her paper, though, she says the doctors she worked with back in San Juan del Sur will probably never get a chance to read it.

"They were telling me their problems accessing these [journals]. It can be difficult for them to keep up with all the changes in medicine." ...

Now, with Washington rushing to transform health care, a debate often limited to hospital wards, medical schools and Internet forums is pushing to the fore. It's a debate deeply rooted in beliefs about access to information -- medical research. Increasingly, a generational gap is emerging.

On one side of the gap are those who say such research should be free to all, that it's too valuable to keep firmly planted in the walled gardens of the prestigious journals that publish it. And for research that's taxpayer-funded, the public that paid for it, at least, deserves access.

On the other side of the gap are those who say the copyright interests of the journals come first....

The [traditional subscription] pay-to-play model doesn't jive with a generation of soon-to-be docs who "grew up Google," with information no farther than a search button away. It's a generation that...doesn't see why something as important as medical research should be locked behind the paywalls of private journals....

Washington recently got involved. Squirreled away in the massive $410 billion spending package the president signed into law last month is an open access provision. It makes permanent a previous requirement that says the public should have access to taxpayer-funded research free of charge in an online archive called PubMed Central....

But Democrats are divided on the issue. In February, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., submitted a bill that would reverse open access. HR 801, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, would prohibit government agencies from automatically making that research free....

[Dr. C. Michael Gibson] says it's only a matter of time before the generation that verbified "Google" abandons the more traditional journal model. A cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, he didn't grow up with the Internet but has embraced it. Four years ago, he literally borrowed a page from Wikipedia and started his own medical wiki, called WikiDoc. Like its progenitor, anyone can edit its pages. And because names are attached, Gibson says the whole process is a purer form of peer review. "In an era where information's ubiquitous, the days of highly cloistered, secretive processes are just over." ...

Public radio story on the NIH policy

Publicly funded research for a price, Marketplace (American public media), April 28, 2009.  A four-minute radio story on the NIH policy and Conyers bill by Janet Babin.  The web site contains a full transcript and comments from listeners. 

A plea for unbundling

Mike Rossner, A challenge to Goliath, Journal of Experimental Medicine, April 27, 2009.  An editorial.  Rossner is the Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press, and this editorial appeared in the latest issues of all three RUP journals --Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Experimental Medicine, and the Journal of General Physiology.  Excerpt:

Megapublishers obligate librarians to buy hundreds of journals they do not need in order to access the journals their constituents actually read. The time has come to challenge this business model, which is unsustainable for the libraries....

For many years librarians have recognized that these package deals are not sustainable (Library Journal article, 2004), but the situation has now reached a crisis point. Librarians throughout the world are facing budget cuts in the coming fiscal year—some estimates are up to 15% in monetary terms (Van Orsdel and Born, 2009), which will result in even larger cuts in real terms as many subscription prices increase. Budget cuts, of course, translate into fewer subscriptions; this is not necessarily a bad thing, as I will discuss below. But librarians are concerned that they may have to drop important journals from smaller publishers because they are locked into multiyear deals with the megapublishers, effectively forcing them to purchase hundreds of journals they do not need....

What can publishers do to help librarians in these financially difficult times? Smaller publishers who do not have multi-year subscription deals with librarians can help by keeping their subscription prices flat for 2010. We at The Rockefeller University Press announced on April 6th that we will indeed keep our 2010 subscription rates at their 2009 levels.

The largest financial burden on biomedical research librarians, however, comes from the megapublishers, who often bundle hundreds or even thousands of online journals into a multi-year contract. At The Rockefeller University library, the subscription packages from Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Nature Publishing Group take up 69% of the total serials budget in 2009. The megapublishers should address the global financial crisis by forgiving contracted price increases and by unbundling the journals in their deals, allowing librarians to choose only the titles they want and can afford.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open chemistry data from NIST

Peter Murray-Rust, Open Chemistry Data at NIST, A Scientist and the Web, April 24, 2009.

I had a wonderful mail this morning from Steve Heller …

I am helping the [National Institute of Standards and Technology] folks get additional GC/MS EI (electron impact only) mass spectral for their WebBook and mass spec database.

The question I have for you is would you be willing to post something on your blog suggesting it would be useful for people to donate their EI MS to the NIST folks. The WebBook is Open Data which is where the spectra would go first/initially. In addition, the spectra would also go into the NIST mass spec database to add to the existing database they provide.

NIST is in the process of setting up an arrangement with the Open Access Chemistry Central folks to do this and I wanted to see if you also would be willing to cooperate/collaborate as well. ...

Many of us have known the NIST webbook for many years. It was the first, and for some time the only, openly accessible chemistry resource on the web (outside bio-stuff like PDB). ...

The webbook has many thousands of entries for compounds. Even if you aren’t a chemist, have a look as it’s an ideal exemplar of how data should be organised. ...

Kathleen Sebelius is the new US Secretary of HHS

The US Senate has confirmed Kathleen Sebelius as the new US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Comment.  Here's a bit of what I said when President Obama nominated her in February

What's the OA connection?  As far as I can tell, Sebelius has no public track record for or against OA to research, although she does have a good record on open government and OA to PSI.  The important OA connection is that HHS is the home of the NIH.  We haven't had an NIH Director since Elias Zerhouni stepped down last October, and we haven't had a Secretary of HHS since the regime change in January 2009....We have a leadership vacuum at NIH and HHS, and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is taking advantage of it by pushing early and hard for his Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (a.k.a. the Conyers bill, HR 801)....[I]n practice the HHS position must be filled before the NIH position....[T]here's no doubt that the Daschle fiasco [which delayed the Sebelius nomination] gave the publishers a month-long advantage in this session of Congress.  That advantage [is coming to an end].

Defining open data

Peter Murray-Rust, BioIT in Boston: What is Open?, A Scientist and the Web, April 27, 2009.

... [T]he fundamental postulate of Openness is: ANY barrier to access and re-use, however small and seemingly trivial COMPLETELY destroys public semantic data. ...

Why am I so insistent on this? I’ll leave the moral and ethical arguments aside here and concentrate on the technical aspects. ...

There are many data resources which are described as “Open” but they fail in one or more aspects. The commonest failures are:

  • to expose only part of the data. A database system with a query interface is normally not Open Data even if individual items can be downloaded without barrier. It is generally impossible to extract the whole work ...
  • to limit the amount downloaded ...
  • To forbid re-use ...
  • To require access through specific technology. A search form limits the access.
  • To require any form of signin, even if free. Robots are illiterate in this aspect
  • To restrict purpose of re-use. Thus CC-NC (“no commercial reuse”) is NOT OKF-compliant
  • To fail to provide a clear statement that the data are open and comply with the Open Knowledge definition. It’s almost universal that data are NOT labelled as Open. This is easy to fix – just add the OKF’s tags

So the message is simple, though it will take time to spread: Use the OKF definition for all your data and tag it as such

Update. See also Where do we get Semantic Open Data?.

Interview with OA conservation magazine

Daniel Cull, Exclusive: Interview with E-Conservation, Dan Cull Weblog, April 27, 2009. Interview with Rui Bordalo of e-conservation magazine.

... [Q:] The magazine has on several occasions discussed the practical side of open-access choices of distribution… at least once stating: “all we have to do is be willing to share and learn” ... [W]hat led you to this (creative commons/open access) in the first place?

To distribute the magazine in open access was our objective since the very beginning. We believe that it is the best way possible to truly achieve a significant worldwide readership through the internet, which on its turn would encourage the sharing of knowledge among professionals. We chose Creative Commons (CC) - Some Rights Reserved - as licence to freely disseminate the information but at the same time to safeguard both the rights of the authors and of the magazine. This way, authors not only are able to retain copyright of their work after publication but they can distribute or even republish their papers. Moreover, CC allows licensing the content alongside copyright, so authors can choose what terms best suit their needs. CC is truly the perfect tool to share culture in open access. Before we started with the magazine we have seen some examples of CC licensed works and we have consulted a lawyer to better understand what are the rules and risks of publishing, because our experience was limited to being authors but lacked the editorial perspective. We try to keep everything as simple as possible for our authors and minimise the submission bureaucracy as much as possible. Creative Commons helps a lot in this respect as well.

[Q:] In the editorial for issue 6 you stated: “conservators might soon face the problem that most of the specialised literature in our field is written by non-conservators. Thus, it is my belief that conservators need an attitude change towards publishing as sharing inside specialist knowledge is essential for our field.” Which I believe was a very astute observation, I was wondering whether you think that the tone taken in journals as they have increasingly published so called ‘hard-science’ papers has pushed alternative visions of what constitutes conservation, and conservation papers, out of the journals. I was wondering to what extent you saw e-conservation's style, approach, and content, as a means of redressing that balance? ...

... E-conservation’s purpose is to give an easier, open access to the very much needed information which is not easily accessible to conservators, and not to compete with the other publications available in the field. Except for some few national magazines of limited circulation, or international publications that one can only access by being member, there are really not many ways to be informed. ...

[Q:] What role do you think open-access/creative commons will have in the future of conservation publishing. Do you think the major organisations (ICON, AIC, IIC, ICCROM, etc) will take up this method of publishing; and are there any that have, that you are aware of?

I hope an important one. The publishing world has changed a lot in the last years and in fact, since we launched 2 years ago, we have seen other publications taking this lead. ... As for the non-periodical publications that are made available online by the major organisations, I think it is a great step forward towards sharing knowledge in open access in our field. AIC made an important step in 2001 when they made available the contents of JAIC on the internet but one can’t expect all other associations or institutions to make the same thing. In most associations you have to be a member to receive their publications and I doubt these could be distributed for free in the future since benefits justify membership rates, which help sustain the existence of the association. Concerning international institutes of reference, such as ICCROM, part of their publications are already available online in pdf format. The Getty has also had an admirable attitude in distributing online publications whose print editions were sold out. ...

PLoS Medicine turns 5 this year

A Medical Journal for the World's Health Priorities, PLoS Medicine Editors, editorial, April 28, 2009. See also the press release:

The editorial published in this week's PLoS Medicine looks back over the 5 years since the journal made its first call for papers and describes a new evidence-based approach to the aims and scope of the journal, which emphasizes the focus of PLoS Medicine on the diseases and risk factors that cause the greatest losses in years of healthy life worldwide.

Taking as its guide several prominent publications that document these diseases and risk factors, in the editorial the editors reaffirm one of the principles that led to the founding of PLoS Medicine: "We remain guided by the conviction that research reports, especially those on work that most affects human health globally, must be available to all, and not restricted by access fees and legal barriers to reuse."

In taking such an approach the editors emphasize the need to look beyond just the biological causes of disease, saying "As the world faces up to the challenges of a changing climate, a turbulent economic system, and continued global conflict, we now wish to reinforce the important place in health research of work that encompasses the social, environmental, and political determinants of health, as well as the biological." ...

In concluding the editorial the editors say "We believe our new, evidence-based approach will not only ensure that open-access publishing reflects the health priorities of the 21st century, but will also reaffirm and revitalize the long tradition of medical journals leading, rather than following, the debate over research priorities."

More on the 2004 Cornell calculation

In discussing the vote at the University of Maryland, Philip Davis makes this claim:

...Institutions like the University of Maryland would pay much more under an author-pays model, as would most research-intensive universities...


  • Davis' link points to a Cornell study he authored in December 2004.  The study calculated the costs to universities in a hypothetical world in which all peer-reviewed journals converted to OA, all charged publication fees, and all fees were paid by universities. 
  • We don't live in that world, and current trends suggest that we won't live in it even if all peer-reviewed journals do convert to OA.  We didn't know in December 2004 that most OA journals charge no publication fees at all.  But we know it now.  Less than a year after the Cornell study, Kaufman and Wills discovered that 53% of surveyed OA journals were no-fee.  In November 2007, Caroline Sutton and I found that 83% of society-published OA journals were no-fee.  In December 2007, Bill Hooker's survey of all full-OA journals in the DOAJ found that 67% were no-fee. In March 2008, Heather Morrison found that 90% of the psychology journals listed in the DOAJ were no-fee.  (BTW, by chance, and with a different provocation, Bill Hooker recaps much of this information in his own post today.)
  • Moreover, the RCUK study completed late last year, but released just last week, showed that 45% of the fees charged by fee-based OA journals are paid by funding agencies. 
  • The Cornell calculation used false assumptions about how many journals would charge fees and how many fees would be left to universities for payment.  We now have the data to show it.  For more detail on the methodological flaws of the Cornell calculation, even before some of the recent data emerged, see my article from June 2006.  Rather than continue to cite the Cornell calculation, as a picture of our future, we need to redo it in light of newer and better information.

New SCOAP3 FAQ addressed to US libraries

SPARC and ACRL have produced a new FAQ for CERN's SCOAP3 project.  Excerpt:

The SCOAP3 proposal is...currently supported by ~100 U.S. libraries, either directly or through consortia, and by the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, on behalf of all Canadian libraries, as well as libraries, consortia and funding agencies in 18 other countries in Europe, the Middle East and Australasia.

The success of the SCOAP3 proposal now depends on the full support of U.S. libraries. The following FAQs aim to support the decision-making process for additional U.S. libraries to sign an Expression of Interest in support of SCOAP3....

1.    What is SCOAP3?

SCOAP3, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access in Particle Physics Publishing, proposes an innovative economic model to achieve Open Access to peer-reviewed literature in high-energy physics (HEP). The model seeks to, (using current funding levels as a starting point), redirect subscription expenditures to ensure open access and work to contain costs - and in doing so, achieve more value than is possible within a subscription-based system.

The SCOAP3 model is the product of extensive consultation with all stakeholders in scholarly communication — authors, funding agencies, libraries and publishers....

2.    What is SCOAP3’s business model?

SCOAP3 proposes to create an international consortium of libraries and funding agencies that will centrally contract with publishers for the services of administering peer-review, editing, and Open-Access article dissemination. An open tender or “bidding” process will invite publishers of HEP journals, not-for-profit and commercial alike, to compete to provide these services. This will replace the current disaggregated process, in which libraries negotiate the cost of access separately – putting libraries back at the center of scholarly communication.

The tendering process is an established practice in the HEP community, as it is in other large-scale publicly funded industrial procurements. It is guided by the principles of competition and will work to link price with quality and volume. These variables are not explicitly (or transparently) linked in today’s scholarly communication market.

The SCOAP3 initiative relies on Expressions of Interest from the worldwide library community to advance to the next step. Once a critical mass of interest from the international community is established, a governing board will be formed to represent the interests of all participants. CERN will provide the legal and purchasing infrastructure required to administer the tendering process.  The governing board will invite and assess bids from the publishers and adjudicate contracts, ensuring that the requirements and interests of member libraries are met. Partner libraries and consortia will only formalize their commitment to the consortium through a Memorandum of Understanding once bids have been reviewed and accepted by the governing board....

6.    What are the costs for an individual library to participate?

The cost of supporting SCOAP3 will not exceed the cost of subscription access to the identified suite of HEP journals....

9.    Is the SCOAP3 model expected to cost libraries less than they pay now for subscriptions? If yes, how?

While libraries are asked to commit to SCOAP3 with the level of funding they currently direct to HEP publishing, and cost reductions will not be evident in the first year, the model is expected to lower costs over time for the following reasons:

  • The consortium creates the most possible leverage for libraries, negotiating with publishers as a single party.
  • The competitive tender process will link price to quality and volume, challenging publishers to deliver more value for less cost. The process will also make fees transparent, open to analysis, and more thoroughly understood.
  • The power of some publishers to inflate fees will be mitigated by the transparency of the bidding process; the cost of individual services will be specified and proposals will be openly visible....

12.    How have publishers reacted to the SCOAP3 proposal?

All publishers of high-quality HEP journals have been involved in consultative conversations with SCOAP3 since the beginning of the project. All have demonstrated a pro-active and open attitude toward the HEP community’s desire for Open Access to research, including allowing or promoting self-archiving (the APS even hosts a mirror of the popular arXiv repository) and offering Open Access to subsets of the literature at no cost to authors....

The organizers are encouraged and expect the publisher response to the call for tender to be positive....

PS:  SCOAP3 produced an FAQ for US libraries back in 2007.  The new FAQ is an update of the old one, and CERN's links now point to the new edition. provides, endorses OA

The Library and the Open Access Movement, Newsletter, April 2009.  An editorial.  Excerpt:’s library on ethics aligns itself within the open access movement. As such it wishes to address the problem of skewed access to information between the global South and the global North. The fact that some parts of the world are prevented from participating in the global discourse due to a lack of access to information and knowledge resources is a form of injustice that needs to be corrected.

The’s library supports the Open Access Initiative and also intends to make a part of its collection accessible as an open repository. As such it does not only take advantage of what has already been developed by others in the open access movement, but also participates in its further development. The originality of the library on the landscape of open access repositories lies in the uniqueness of its collection of open access content. It includes electronic versions of journals from the global South that were previously only available in paper format; documents submitted through the document submission process; indexation of open access journals; and the integration of ethics related content from open repositories. All of this content is reassembled in one place, forming a new organized collection of core applied ethics content that is searchable as a whole.

At the same time, the’s library is more than an open access actor, because it also provides access to commercial content to its registered users, since the global South also needs to have access to content in the field of applied ethics that is only available from commercial publishers. In this respect, the library wants to give preferential access to commercial content to people of the global South who are currently denied such access.

We invite all our participants to support this movement by submitting your ethics related documents to the’s library....

Universities as active supporters of OA

Tíscar Lara, El papel de la Universidad en la construcción de su identidad digital, Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento, 6, 1 (2009).  In Spanish but with this English-language abstract:

Universities face the need to adapt to an environment of open collaboration in which production and diffusion of knowledge are not exclusive to traditional scientific institutions. Being involved in the online society urges them to develop a digital identity that enters into debate with all the players and participants in the building of knowledge. In order to do this they need to redefine their role in society and make key decisions on where they stand in reference to the characteristic elements of digital culture: participation, remediation and bricolage. This redefinition requires a radical change of attitude in matters such as the collective representation of the distributed identities of its members, the adoption of open access systems to encourage free access to knowledge and the use of open technologies to produce knowledge.

This article defends the identification of the University as an active agent in digital culture playing the role of a commissioner to build and promote flexible contexts that allow collaborative work online and attract creative innovation from outside its organizational boundaries.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Review of ticTOCs and Gold Dust

Lisa J. Rogers, Simon Hodson, and Roddy MacLeod, Transforming Current Awareness through RSS:  How two projects (ticTOCs and Gold Dust) are using RSS to improve the information landscape for the 21st century researcher, a presentation at the European Library Automation Group Conference (ELAG 09), University Library in Bratislava, April 22-24, 2009.

Abstract:   This paper looks at the current situation with respect to RSS and then reports upon the findings of the ticTOCs and Gold Dust projects. We will look at the lessons learnt from developing the ticTOCs service, and also report on two iterations of the Gold Dust development and use cycles. We will deliver an appraisal of the effectiveness of the raft of techniques being employed by Gold Dust. How effective are current data mining and pattern matching techniques for such an application? How useful is RSS metadata in this context? These findings will be of considerable pertinence both for future services which may use RSS Feeds, and for future research and development in the area of adaptive personalisation using RSS.

Full cast of PCAST

We've blogged the fact that President Obama named OA supporters Harold Varmus and Eric Lander to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), with John Holdren.

Today President Obama named all 20 members of PCAST.  (Thanks to the Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog.)

PS:  I haven't had time to check the OA records of the 17 new names.  If anyone else has the time and makes a notable discovery, please drop me a line.

Biosciences Federation supports recommendations on paying OA journal fees

The Biosciences Federation has released a statement (April 14, 2009) in support of last month's report from Universities UK and the Research Information Network on Paying for open access publication charges.  In particular, it supports the recommendations that universities launch funds to pay publication fees and that funding agencies clarify when they will pay publication fees.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Biosciences Federation.  Since 2007, BF has supported the idea of OA journals, provided they are "adequately funded".

Search tool now includes PMC

Bioalma Announces Full-Text Search Capabilities From Open Access Journals Through novo|seek, press release, April 27, 2009.

Bioalma today announced at the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo, that novo|seek is now capable of executing full-text searches in all Open Access journals housed in PubMed Central.

Leveraging Bioalma’s text mining capabilities, users can now extend beyond just the abstract to identify – for the first time – key information housed in the full-text article. By identifying key biomedical terms in the entire text, searches yield the most relevant research results available today. Additionally, by adding Open Access journals to the novo|seek universe of search targets, Bioalma is extending the number of searchable articles by an average of 1,000 new articles per day, or about 140,000 total new articles.

... [S]aid Ramon Alonso-Allende, director of marketing and business development, Bioalma: “... We look forward to adding as much open access and free access content as we can to broaden the scope of literature users can mine.”

Open access rights to biomedical research is important as it goes beyond just free access to content, making distribution, copying and derivative work production possible. Free access only allows the individual to view the content, but not use it or share it, and it is not made available in public repositories. To learn more about the differences between open access and free access and what this means for the biomedical community, please visit the novo|seek blog. ...

For independent researchers who would like their published papers in novo|seek, please contact

See also our past post on novo|seek.

Presentations from UKSG 2009

The presentations from the 2009 UKSG Conference (Torquay, March 30 - April 1, 2009) are now online. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

See also our past posts on UKSG 2009:

Trends in citations to PLoS journals

Abhishek Tiwari, Citation Trend Line For PLoS Journals, Fisheye Perspective, April 25, 2009.

... Scopus Journal Analyzer provide[s] two very good parameters for journal analysis purpose: first one is Trend Line which is ratio of Total citation received in the given year to Total papers published in the same year; second one is % Not Cited which is percentage of articles published in that year that have never been cited to date. Impact factor vs Trend Line figures for year 2008 are in the same row which means there is loose correlation between these two parameters ...

Apart from specific figures, PLoS One's growth and popularity are phenomenal, looks like it will overshadow many journals in its range. ...

OA clichés

Higher Ed Tag Lines is a five year old database newly converted to OA by its compiler, the Richard Harrison Bailey Agency

Thanks to Don Troop in the Chronicle of Higher Education, who offers this background:

...The database is the brainchild of Rick Bailey, principal of Richard Harrison Bailey/the Agency, a marketing firm that, among other things, writes tag lines for institutional clients.

Mr. Bailey says his agency started tracking college tag lines about a decade ago to avoid duplicating any already in use. Five years later the firm began collecting them and shoveling them into the database.

Somewhere along the way, he had an open-source epiphany. "We were sitting on this wonderful piece of information," he says. "We thought, 'It's a shame we're keeping this for ourselves.'"

Now the site is open to any institution that wants to add its own tag line....

The best tag lines, says Mr. Bailey, are simply discovered on a campus, perhaps overheard among students....

The worst are the clichés. He cites the classic groaner, "A Tradition of Excellence," which shows up six times in the database....

Comment.  This isn't the human genome project.  What's blogworthy here is not the value of the content for research (though historians and anthropologists should take a look), but Bailey's realization that he had no reason to keep his offline database to himself and that others might enjoy it.  Sometimes you need to hear a strong argument.  But sometimes it's enough just to ask, "why not OA?"

BTW, not a single institution in the database uses the word "sharing" in its tagline.

New journals on

Selling a green car

Barbara Kirsop, Reassuring Open Access-waverers, EPT, April 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

In the OA-sphere there are two worlds, the OA-rich and the OA-poor.

The OA-rich world may be economically poor, but understands the great benefits that OA can bring to its national research base, its education, its institutes and the progress of global research. The OA-poor world may be economically rich, but has not been informed about OA, or has been misinformed about OA, or is failing to understand how access to scholarly information is changing for the good in the age of the Internet.

But there’s a problem. The rich world has now moved on from describing the great benefits of OA to its authors, readers and administrators. As its constituencies have understood and adapted, it has begun to discuss the technicalities of tracking versions; it is wondering how data can be archived and shared; it has begun to worry about the slowness of authors to deposit their research into their institutional repositories; it is considering whether Face Book and Twitter have a place; it is assessing the value of downloads versus citations. It is gnawing away at the endless possibilities that OA has opened up . . . taking its future existence for granted.

But as the OA-rich communities discuss progress and new developments, they perforce repeat the difficulties. ‘There are still only 16% of the world’s research articles available through OA – how can we speed this up?’, yet they no longer mention that even 16% represents millions of free research articles. ‘There are only 1300 IRs so far’ – yet they don’t mention that these are increasing at the rate of 1-2/day (1319 yesterday, 1321 today!)....As the debates and exchange of ideas surge ahead, organisations that are not immersed in the exciting OA opportunities for research communities only hear about the remaining challenges while the great benefits are no longer voiced. And hardly anyone bothers to mention the highly impressive usage being made of OA resources – which in the end is all that counts.

It is a bit like trying to sell a ‘green’ car. ‘Yes, madam, it is a bit small....No, it doesn’t have retractable wing mirrors’. . . . no sale. But the successful salesman adds, ‘But you will save $x on fuel. You will save $x on tyre replacements. You will have very low insurance costs. You will have very low greenhouse gas emissions....

For OA newcomers there are plenty of test drives to be found at ePrints and elsewhere, and there are very satisfied customers at Harvard, MIT, UK Research Councils, Wellcome Trust, Universities in Portugal, Australia, Venezuela, India, Scotland . . . . see ROAR or openDOAR. And the OA-usage statistics are incontestable proof that these organisations have made the right choice, see for example the University of Strathclyde , or the University de los Andes....

Editorial on the Maryland faculty vote

If you recall, last week the University of Maryland University Senate voted down a mixed green/gold OA policy

Here's an editorial from the UMaryland student paper in response:  Free at last, free at last, Diamondback Online, April 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[W]here the RIAA saw thousands of binary pirates, Apple saw thousands of people looking to get their music via the Internet. In 2003, the company launched the iTunes Music Store; three short years later, the digital store now known just as iTunes sold its billionth song.

The university is trying to find the right perspective on free online scholarly journals, and right now, most faculty seem to be more Metallica than Steve Jobs. Last Thursday, the University Senate voted down a resolution encouraging faculty members to post their research in free online journals.

Administrators who supported the measure framed the debate in financial terms, seeing online journals as a means to resolve library budgetary problems. If our faculty members provide free online access to their research, the library doesn't have to subscribe to as many costly journals. Faculty members primarily saw the resolution as a threat to academic freedom, a roadblock to prestige and a measure that would disproportionately harm certain disciplines. Their concerns aren't baseless; publishing in some journals is more prestigious, and being published in selective journals is important for career advancement. But ultimately, both sides are missing the real opportunity.

In 2004, Kristin Antelman, the Associate Director for Information Technology for the Digital Library at North Carolina State University,...found that being posted [free] online enormously increases the number of citations of a given article, ranging from a 45 percent increase in philosophy to a 91 percent increase in mathematics....

The transition to publishing academic research in free online journals may not yet be a done deal, but the shift has begun. This February, Harvard University's arts and sciences faculty voted to adopt a system in which every research article would instantly be made available online free of charge unless a faculty member specifically requested otherwise. You're still doubtful that making articles available in online journals makes them more influential? We found Antelman's article because it was available online free of charge, and we just reprinted her findings 16,000 times.

Comment.  The editorial is right to criticize the Senate vote and point out that OA articles are cited more often than non-OA articles.  (Antelman's study was not the first to show this effect, which has been confirmed by many other studies.)  But the editorial makes one of the same mistakes as the Senate it criticizes:  overlooking green OA (through repositories) in order to focus on gold OA (through journals).  The Senate resolution would have encouraged both, but the editorial only mentions the gold OA provision.  Most faculty opposition, likewise, seems to have focused on the gold OA provision.  (See my comments on the vote.)  In summarizing the Harvard policy, the editorial leaves the false impression that it too focuses more on gold OA than green OA ("The transition to publishing academic research in free online journals may not yet be a done deal, but the shift has begun....")  But the reverse is true.  The Harvard policy focuses on green OA more than gold OA.  It's about depositing peer-reviewed journal articles in OA repositories even when they were not published in OA journals.  I suspect there would have been less contention at the Maryland Senate meeting, and fewer negative votes, if the proposal had been closer to Harvard's green OA policy and if faculty had understood that it is entirely compatible with the freedom to submit work to the journals of one's choice.