Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Harms of privatizing knowledge

Rachael Beddoe and 12 co-authors, Overcoming systemic roadblocks to sustainability:  The evolutionary redesign of worldviews, institutions, and technologies, PNAS, February 24, 2009.  (Thanks to Nick van der Leek.)  Excerpt:

...Privatizing knowledge. As a final example closely related to the previous point, institutions governing knowledge are competitive, not cooperative. Whether new sources of energy are fusion, solar, wind or geothermal, the limiting factor is knowledge. Knowledge, which actually improves with use, is the ultimate nonrival resource. In the example above, not only would China’s adoption of solar technology not limit the use of it by the United States (barring serious constraints on resource inputs), China would most likely improve the technology thus conferring benefits to other users. However, if we use patents and prices (protected by the WTO) to ration use, other countries may not be able to afford the technology, and if they continue to burn coal, the technology will do nothing to solve climate change. Only nonexcludable, open-access information will solve the problem. For example, existing patents on nonozone-depleting compounds drive up their costs, leading India and China to favor ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons which generated the worst ozone hole in history in 2006. When Indonesia sells a strain of avian flu virus to one corporation rather than let hundreds work on a vaccine, the chance of finding a vaccine decreases. When a corporation patents a vaccine and rations its use to those who can afford it, the pool of uninoculated will be too large to prevent a pandemic....

Loyalty and apprehension as inhibitors to repository deposit

Colin Smith, Open Access and author-publisher relationships: loyalty or apprehension?  Open Research Online, May 8, 2009.  Excerpt:

In the last week or so I have had two very interesting email exchanges with academics here at the OU [Open University] around the topic of depositing full text versions of their work in ORO, i.e. making their publications available Open Access. In both cases, I had noticed that the persons concerned had recently published journal papers, and so I emailed requesting that they deposit copies of their articles in ORO [the OU IR].....

The first person replied to say that he fully supported Open Access to scholarly research, but on the flipside one must bear in mind that if all articles published by the journal in question were openly available then it would undoubtedly spell out the end for the journal’s existence, and he and his authors would lose their publishing outlet....

The second person replied to say that he was very willing to deposit a record of his paper in ORO, but that he was concerned about “antagonising the Editors of the journal” by making a full text version of the article openly available....

On the face of things, these two responses seem very similar; both expressing a certain concern for the journals (and thus the publishers) with which they placed their papers. However, upon reflection, I believe there to be a subtle but significant difference between the two, and one which perhaps provides an interesting insight into how academics’ concerns over Open Access might change depending on their seniority....

The person who made the statement about Open Access possibly spelling out the end for his journal of choice is, I think it’s fair to say, at a more advanced stage of his research career than the person who was concerned about antagonising his journal’s Editors. Consequently, this person has published a lot of papers and clearly has a long history with the particular journal concerned. This, then - I believe - is concern fueled by loyalty. On the other hand, the younger, early-career researcher, is perhaps still at a stage where publishing with a reputable and ‘high impact’ journal is an overwhelming priority, and thus doing anything that might (as he put it) antagonise the Editors would be tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot. This, then, is concern fueled by apprehension.

So, when thinking about barriers for Open Access from the point of view of the depositing author..., then perhaps there exists this spectrum of concern, ranging from apprehension in the younger researcher at one end to loyalty in the experienced academic at the other. If this is true, then surely there must be a midpoint where authors are neither fearful of nor loyal to their publishers! Perhaps these are the people we should be targeting to embrace Open Access! ...

Patents endanger OA database on HIV

Joe Mullin, The Fight of His Life, IP Law & Business, May 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

...An expert in bioinformatics...[Bob Shafer is] waging a battle to wipe out a pair of patents that he believes threaten to destroy his life’s work, Shafer has racked up more than $100,000 in legal bills while putting himself at odds with Stanford University, where he is an associate professor of medicine and pathology.

The cause Shafer is staking his career, reputation, and retirement nest egg on is the HIV Drug Resistance Database [HIVdb], a highly regarded free resource that he developed, Stanford hosts, and doctors and scientists around the world rely on. Shafer says he’s fighting for more than the survival of his creation —he’s fighting for the future of bioinformatics research itself. It’s something he and many colleagues believe is imperiled by a European company’s move to assert a patent claim against Stanford over the database. “They are saying that if you want to use computers to help doctors make medical decisions, you have to give us money,” Shafer says of the company, Advanced Biological Laboratories [ABL]....

The standoff...comes at a time when the outer boundaries of what constitutes patentable subject matter are in flux....

Shafer arrived at Stanford nearly 20 years ago, and launched the HIVdb online in 1998. Since then, the database has built a following among HIV researchers and practitioners around the world, attracting some 50,000 unique visitors a month....

The database allows users to enter genetic information for viruses from individual patients or groups of patients, and to retrieve drug resistance information, which can then be used to help devise treatment regimens....

“Fantastic” is how Mark Wainberg, a professor of molecular biology at McGill University in Montreal, and a former president of the International AIDS Society–USA, describes the database: “It provides the ability to interpret what can sometimes be very complicated patterns of resistance.”

[The] ABL...patents...describe a way of doctors using databases to diagnose and treat diseases....

Shafer’s colleagues say that recognizing the validity of ABL’s patents could harm all types of research. David Katzenstein, a Stanford scientist who studies HIV in the developing world, sees gene therapy as one area of study that could suffer. “If you read [ABL’s patents] literally, anyone who is providing therapeutic options based on the sequence of a pathogen violates their patent, and that goes on in hundreds of contexts. It’s truly a dangerous precedent.” ...

“They want to make knowledge a commodity,” Shafer says. “That’s why I can’t back down.”

PS:  Thanks to Bill Hooker and Jonathan Eisen for the lead.  Eisen has given Shafer an Open Access Pioneer Award and comments on the case:

...Advanced Biological Laboratories...seems to be trying to claim to have rights over many (or maybe they think all) uses of...computers to help doctors make medical decisions. And they have been trying to get people to license their IP/software for doing this and one way they appear to be trying to get "users" is by suing them....

Sadly, Stanford University appears to have given in to the lawsuits even though their validity is debatable...and Bob has been left hanging on his own. Instead of caving to the lawsuit and shutting down HIVDB or making it less openly available or requiring people to say they will give commercial rights to Advanced Biological Laboratories for anything they develop using the DB. And rather than cave to the lawsuits Bob is fighting back - with a website called and with a set of letters and communications....[I]f this lawsuit leads to the shutting down or restriction of HIVDB that would be proof enough to me that Advanced Biological Laboratories and the legal system that supports them is doing a disservice to the progress of science.

Ukrainian OA presentations

The presentations from the workshop on Creating Open Access Journals and Repositories (Donetsk, Ukraine, April 8, 2009) are now online.

Friday, May 08, 2009

More comments on Elsevier's fake journal

For background, see our original post.

Jonathan Rochkind:

... I suggest that Elsevier needs to get a message from libraries that selling it’s imprint to the highest bidder will hurt their bottom line. We ought not to spend huge money (and we do spend HUGE money) for questionably legitimate products from a publisher of ill repute.

If Elsevier was willing to prostitute their imprint once, how many more fake journals may also be included in their catalog, and in ScienceDirect? ...

Dorothea Salo:

... I’ve heard representatives of scholarly journal publishers talk in grave tones about the importance of their brands. Why aren’t they jumping up and down in fury at Elsevier right now? Because how can they say that any more without the rest of us chortling about Elsevier the journal gigolo? ...

Bill Hooker:

... Jonathan says "WorldCat lists 50 publications by Excerpta Medica Communications"; I just tried a simple author search for that phrase and got only 21 results, including the recently-exposed-as-fake Australasian journal of bone & joint medicine; how many others are fake? How about the other fourteen "Australasian Journal of" titles in the same list ...

Why, for one thing, are none of them indexed by Science Direct? ...

John Hunter:

... As I have said the journals fighting open science should have their credibility questioned. They are putting their outdated business model above science. We should not see organizations that are focused on closing science research through deceptive publicity efforts and lobbying efforts as credible.

JISC 4-year roadmap for repositories

Rachel Heery, Digital Repositories Roadmap Review: towards a vision for research and learning in 2013, report commissioned by JISC, May 4, 2009. See also background here. From the executive summary:

The Repositories Roadmap was published in 2006 and presented a vision for the role of repositories in 2010. Given the many changes in practice, policy and technology since 2006 it is timely to review the Roadmap. This Review seeks to extend the horizon to 2013, to clarify the relationship of repositories to the broader environment and to steer the future work of JISC and others interested in furthering repository implementation and enhanced scholarly communication. The review is based on consultation with experts using a Web forum (IdeaScale), a questionnaire based survey, and a workshop.

The Review is structured into two parts. Firstly it makes a number of recommendations targeted at the JISC Executive to inform further funding of repository related activity. The Review then goes on to identify a number of milestones of relevance to the wider community that might act as a measure of progress towards the wider vision of enhanced scholarly communication. Achievement of these milestones would be assisted by JISC through its community work and funding programmes.

Recommendations to JISC ...

  • Recommendation 4: Communications about repositories should emphasise higher level objectives. It would be helpful for JISC to differentiate high level objectives and subsume repository activity under those objectives. There needs to be a shift in emphasis from the ‘repository’ to the objective. JISC should ensure calls and funded activity relate to particular objectives rather than to ‘repositories’. ...
  • Recommendation 14: Explore use of cloud computing to support repository storage and services. Consider what repository infrastructure is best located at the local institutional level and what is better outsourced to help alleviate cost implications. ...

Milestones by repository content type

Research Outputs ...

  • Milestone 2: Support population of institutional repositories by advocacy, case studies, guidelines on best practice, encouraging institutional mandates, encouraging inclusion of open access and management of the life-cycle of digital content in institutional strategies. ...
  • Milestone 4: Develop added value services layered on repository content (e.g. tools for deposit, search, re-use, linking data, metadata enhancement, citation metrics, publication lists).
  • Milestone 5: Establish an agency/lead body within the JISC HE community to take a lead on legal issues connected to copyright and publisher policies.

Research Data ...

  • Milestone 7: Ensure the multiple objectives that management and re-use of research data supports (e.g. discovery, access, re-use and preservation of data) are taken into account in proposed solutions. ...

Public domain medicine info

Kaitlin Thaney, EMBL puts data in the public domain via CC0, Science Commons, May 7, 2009.

EMBL, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, has made part of their SIDER Side Effect Resource available to the public free of restriction via CC0, placing it in the public domain.

The database, SIDER, contains information on marketed medicines and their recorded adverse side effects and drug reactions. Included in this dataset is information on the frequency of these drug reactions, other drug and side effect classifications as well as links to other relevant resources. To date, 888 drugs are listed in the database, a tremendous resource for research and drug discovery.

The mapping of labels and euphoria-related side effects are now public domain, with some other side effect information available for download under a CC-BY-NC-SA license. ...

Microsoft launches open gov. data initiative

Microsoft Open Government Data Initiative to Help Foster Transparency and Collaboration, press release, May 7, 2009. (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)

As part of Microsoft Corp.’s ongoing open government efforts aimed at helping government organizations meet goals of transparency, citizen participation and agency collaboration, the company today unveiled its Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI), and will be releasing a collection of software assets that allow government agencies and developers to publish and interact with their data in Windows Azure, the company’s cloud computing platform. ...

As data becomes both increasingly necessary and readily available in response to demands for transparency, collaboration and participation, methods need to be developed to allow for interaction with that data. To help public sector entities meet these demands, Microsoft’s OGDI provides an Internet-standards-based approach to house existing public government data in Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, called Windows Azure. The approach makes the data accessible in a programmatic manner that uses open, industry-standard protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs). A reference beta site showcases an implementation of a data service in Windows Azure, using a sample of publicly available government data. ...

The source code for OGDI is publicly available on CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source hosting site, so that developers can reuse and provide feedback. ...

Government organizations interested in making their public data available for developers to work with through the Open Government Data Initiative should contact ...

OA to 64 books from Belgian UP

The Digithèque des Bibliothèques de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles has posted 64 OA digitized books from the school's university press. The texts are from the series Problèmes d’histoire du Christianisme, Problèmes d’histoire des religions and Etudes du XVIIIe siècle.

See also our past post on the project.

7 journals join

Seven more journals have been approved to join, bringing the total number of journals on to 199. As with all journals on, the 7 new journals will be OA or delayed OA.
  • Bulletin de la Sabix
  • Les cahiers du CEDREF
  • Criminocorpus, la revue
  • Documents pour l’Histoire du français langue étrangère ou secondaire
  • Genre, sexualité et société
  • LISA e-journal
  • Revue annuelle de politique du développement - Genève

OA to 36,000 pages from the Spanish Golden Age

The Biblioteca Nacional de España has launched the Portal del Teatro del Siglo de Oro, a new OA site containing 2,000 manuscripts (comprising more than 36,000 pages) from the Spanish Golden Age.

Survey of users has posted a user survey (in English).

More on OA to CRS reports

Stephanie Strom, Group Seeks Public Access to Congressional Research, New York Times, May 4, 2009.

American taxpayers spend more than $100 million a year supporting the work of the Congressional Research Service, a little-known but highly regarded division of the Library of Congress.

But unlike the library itself, the research service is by law exclusively for the use of members of Congress. Only they and their staffs have access to the reports and memorandums it generates, and only they can decide to make its work public. ...

[U]ntil recently, the only comprehensive source for the reports — there is no public index of them — was a small company, Penny Hill Press. Based in Maryland, Penny Hill Press sells the reports to lawyers, universities, lobbyists and corporations, as well as to Gallery Watch, which makes them available online.

“We wear out a lot of shoe leather and get cauliflower ear on the phone and use e-mail and every other trick we can, and we manage to get virtually all of the new C.R.S. documents,” said Walter Seager, owner of Penny Hill.

Mr. Seager said there were about 20 new documents, including updates to reports, each day. He started the effort in 1992, and he and one of his sons do most of the work finding the reports and updates. His wife, a dental hygienist, helps run the business.

“I’m 70 years old and getting tired, but my son is younger, so this will continue until such time as C.R.S. or Congress does the right thing and makes the reports freely available to the public,” Mr. Seager said. ...

Janine D’Addario, a spokeswoman for the research service, said that by law, its work is to be exclusive and confidential to Congress. Additionally, a provision in the appropriations bill that finances the service each year forbids it to make its work public. ...

A bipartisan group of senators, including John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Patrick J. Leahy Democrat of Vermont, has tried for the last decade to make the reports public.

A spokesman for Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is the new chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said Mr. Schumer was “aware of the arguments for making these reports public” and was reviewing the current policy.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who makes several of the reports available on his Web site, has twice proposed legislation to make the reports public, but to no avail. He did so again last week.

“For too long, C.R.S. reports have been available to the public only on a haphazard basis,” Mr. Lieberman said in an e-mail message. “These reports inform members of Congress and their staffs on a wide range of issues. The American people, who pay for these reports, should be able to learn from this same expert analysis.”

See also our past posts on CRS.

Podcast on Health Commons

Open Source Science, A World of Possibilities, May 5, 2009; a podcast.

See also our past posts on Health Commons.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

An OA mandate for U of Oregon library faculty

The University of Oregon Library Faculty adopted an OA mandate.  From today's announcement:

The University of Oregon Library Faculty this morning (May 7) unanimously adopted a resolution mandating deposit of scholarly works produced by library faculty members in our institutional repository. The text of the resolution is:

The Library Faculty of the University of Oregon are committed to disseminating the fruits of their research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy:

Each Library faculty member gives to the University of Oregon nonexclusive permission to use and make available that author's scholarly articles for the purpose of open dissemination. Specifically, each Library faculty member grants a Creative Commons "Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States" license to each of his or her scholarly articles. The license will apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Library Faculty except for any articles accepted for publication 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 Dean of the Libraries will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs the UO of the reason.

To facilitate distribution of the scholarly articles, as of the date of publication, each faculty member will make available an electronic copy of the author's final version of the article and full citation at no charge to a designated representative of the Libraries in appropriate formats (such as PDF) specified by the Libraries. After publication, the University of Oregon Libraries will make the scholarly article available to the public in the UO's institutional repository.

We largely followed the leads of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and most recently Oregon State (our friends and rivals).  One area where we differ is in explicitly mandating a CC-BY-NC-ND license.  Choosing that license was very conscious.  We believe that it is vital that the community standardize on a small number of licenses to move beyond the present mess where every publisher and practically every author has their own unique terms.  The license we chose is a good candidate for standardization.  It grants sufficient rights for most scholarly purposes, but is also minimalist....Authors who wish to can of course also license their works under a more liberal license such as CC-BY-SA.  Similarly, if a publisher does not object we'd of course rather get the publisher's version for deposit instead of or in addition to the author's final version.

Our expectation is that we will develop an implementation of this policy that includes a blanket license signed by each faculty member as part of their regular contract renewal (to meet the "in writing" requirements of 17 USC 205(d)), plus suggestions for how to negotiate with publishers.  We believe that in most cases no addendum to publishing contracts is needed, but in cases where such an addendum is needed the resolution puts the author in a stronger bargaining position.

The policy doesn't yet have an official web site, but Johnson has created a temporary web page with the text of the policy and an FAQ.


  • First note that this is another unanimous faculty vote.  Even though we've seen unanimous faculty votes for OA mandates at Harvard, Stanford, Macquarie, Boston U, Oregon State, and MIT, it's not getting old.  I still find it hard to imagine any faculty anywhere reaching unanimous agreement even on a toothless proposition like knowledge is good.  But these OA mandates have teeth.  Kudos to the library faculty at the U of Oregon for a strong policy and fresh evidence that faculty support is wide and deep.
  • This is the second OA mandate adopted by library faculty, after the Oregon State U policy in March.
  • I believe it's also the second OA mandate to use a libre OA license, after the U of Leige policy in January.  In February I argued that OA mandates should settle for gratis OA, for the time being, but might add strength "when a libre OA mandate would elicit journal accommodation more often than refusals to publish".  Are we approaching that point?  Testing the waters?  Taking early steps toward a critical mass that will facilitate its own success?  In the same February article I argued that "if a publisher can refuse to publish work subject a strong OA policy, and still find enough other good work to publish, then it might do so.  But this will change as more institutions adopt OA policies and more new work is subject to them."


End of JISC's repositories and preservation program

Andy McGregor, Close of the repositories and preservation programme, JISC Information Environment Team, May 6, 2009.

The repositories and preservation programme is coming to an end and over the next two days we will be gathering all the projects together for a final meeting to think about what we have learned and where we are going next with repositories and preservation. ...

Of course there is already further work going on in this area. The Information Environment Programme 2009-11 has started and the projects in that programme are just getting going. You can read all about them on the JISC website.

See also the following posts: Update. See also these comments by Phil Barker from one of the meetings:
... Jeff Heywood said that one of the spin-off benefits of open access repositories was that students are finding primary research literature through Google and engaging with it in a way that hasn’t happened for a long time. I think the same applies to open research data of the type that Simon [Coles] was talking about. That, I think, is where there is potential for repositories to link research and teaching activities.
Update. See also Nick Sheppard's notes on discussion at the meetings on repositories for research vs. learning objects.

Forthcoming OA journal on autism

Molecular Autism is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal published by BioMed Central, announced on May 7, 2009. The journal will publish "research into the molecular basis of autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions".

OA to longitudinal study in psychology

Lifespan Initiative for the Research and Data Archive Repository is a new JISC-funded project to establish a repository for data generated by the Lifespan Collection, a longitudinal psychology study. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Presentations on Web rankings

The presentations from International Workshop on University Web Rankings 2009 (Madrid, April 21, 2009) are now online.

More on automating metadata annotation for repository deposits

Christine Urquhart, Deposit Plait Project: Final Report, February 23, 2009.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

The aim of the Deposit Plait project was to examine potential for easing the deposit of journal articles into institutional repositories by making use of any metadata embedded within the document properties of the document being deposited....

The first stage of the project was to see how easy it is to extract this metadata. The target file formats that the project worked with were the Open Document Format (as created by OpenOffice), OpenXML (as created by Microsoft Office 2007), and .doc files (as created by version of Microsoft Office from 97 to 2003). There are standard open source software libraries that can extract both standard and custom metadata fields from each of these file forms.

The second stage of the project was to see how easy it is to use extracted metadata as search terms in order to search for a more complete metadata record. In the case where the item being deposited into the repository has been in existence for some time (it is a ‘retrospective deposit’) then metadata found can be used to perform a search....

The project concluded by creating an online demonstration system. In contrast to a normal repository deposit where the user enters metadata, and then uploads a file, this system requires the user to first upload a file. The metadata is extracted, and the user is allowed to choose which (one or more) of the fields to use as the basis of a search. The search is then initiated and matching records returned. The user can then pick and choose fields from the results the ‘plait’ together their final metadata record.

The end to end concept works well, subject to the following issues:

  • Metadata must exist within the deposited document. It is not common practise for authors to make use of these fields at present.
  • The item must have been published a reasonable amount of time earlier for the metadata record to have made its way into online metadata stores.
  • Licensing issues may restrict both the searching of online metadata stores and the re-use of the metadata found.

More evidence that OA editions boost sales of print books

John Hilton, Hard Numbers on Free Random House Books, Wide Open, May 6, 2009.  Excerpt:

On March 4, 2009, Random House announced it was giving away free digital versions of five books....I thought it would be interesting to look at sales data from these books for the 8 weeks before and after the “free” versions became available.

Based on a method outline by Tim O’Reilly, I used the Bookscan database to measure sales data....

So what do the numbers say?

One of the five books has had zero sales in 2009. So no sales before or after the free version. But the other four books all saw significant sales increases after the free versions were released. In total, combined sales of the five books were up 30%. Together they sold  3,958 copies the 8 weeks prior to being released free and 5,129 copies the eight weeks after being released....

Update (5/14/09).  Also see the summary of Hilton's research in Bloggasm:

John Hilton admits up front that there would be no way to definitively prove one way or another whether releasing a book for free online will help boost print sales of the same title — he called such absolute statements “irresponsible” — but he is nonetheless trying to track down as many hard numbers as humanly possible to try to argue whether there’s a positive effect....

For his research, he has located, so far, approximately 40 book titles for which publishers have released free online versions at least eight weeks after releasing the printed version. He does not consider books that were released both simultaneously for free online and as print products because then he wouldn’t be able to observe the before and after effects on sales. He then records the Bookscan numbers — which account for about 70% of all US book sales, including those sold at most retailers — for the eight weeks prior to the free release and the eight weeks after....

[PS: Omitting a summary of the Random House findings, already noted above.]

Early last year, in an effort to get people to sign up for its e newsletter, Tor Books, the largest science fiction and fantasy publisher, began releasing free ebooks of its titles for those who signed up for its mailing list. Though the platform wasn’t as open as some other free book promotions — in which the publisher releases a book under a Creative Commons license — those who were on the email list received a link to where they could download that week’s free title. Many of the books that were featured in the promotion had been in print for some time (years in some cases) beforehand.

When Hilton pulled up the prior and post eight week numbers, he was astonished at what he found. “When you looked at eight weeks before and after, 20 of the 24 books that Tor gave away saw decreasing sales,” he said. “To me that’s a real puzzle. Random House was four for four with increasing sales, and Tor was 20 for 24 decreasing?” ...

These are all unknowns, and these unknowns leave enough wiggle room so that proponents of both sides of the argument have plenty of leeway to argue why releasing a book for free — whether it’s through a Creative Commons license or Google Books — has a net benefit or detriment to sales. To try to close the gap on this wiggle room, Hilton will continue trying to find more books to add to his study — he said that finding 50, 100, or even 200 would greatly inform his findings — so that future authors and publishers will have at least some conclusive data before deciding they too would like to make the online book release plunge.

On removing copyright barriers

Leo Babauta, The Culture of Sharing: Why Releasing Copyright Will Be the Smartest Thing You Do, Write To Done, April 29, 2009.

... Last year I Uncopyrighted my blog, Zen Habits, and my ebook, Zen To Done, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. People have used my articles in blogs, newsletters, magazines, ebooks, books and more. And yes, they’ve made profits off me without me getting any of that money … but at the same time, I’ve benefitted: my ideas have spread, my name and brand have spread, and my readership has grown and grown. Since I Uncopyrighted the blog, it has grown from about 30K subscribers to 113K.

You can Uncopyright your blog, your ebooks, and even your print books. And I can almost guarantee you: it’ll be the best thing you can do as a writer.

... I have proven that it’s possible to make money, even today, without using copyright. And so have many others (Cory Doctorow being a notable example). The release of my copyright didn’t decrease my income — it increased it. It didn’t decrease my exposure — it increased it. ...

By protecting your copyright, you are putting up barriers for the spread of your ideas. In this digital age, that is a mistake, plain and simple.

This digital age is defined not by how much money you can make with an individual post or book, but how widely you can get your ideas to spread. If you get your ideas to spread widely, you’ll make money. Somehow. ...

Bulgarian OA presentations

The presentations from the Bulgarian OA workshop, Open Access: Maximising Research Impact (Sofia, April 23-24, 2009), are now online.

Adapting UK copyright law to accommodate research

Copyright - what is the future for education and research?  A press release from the British Library, May 5, 2009.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

...[L]eading figures in UK education and research today met at the British Library to explore the tensions and opportunities surrounding the role of copyright law in an increasingly digital knowledge economy....

At this morning's debate, Chief Executive of the British Library Dame Lynne Brindley launched the Library's campaign to ensure that copyright issues of importance to the research and education sector are included in the ongoing public debate on copyright and are reflected in any subsequent legislation, rules or regulations resulting from recent Government initiatives. These suggestions include:

  1. Public Interest - Many contracts undermine the public interest exceptions in copyright law agreed by Parliament to foster education, learning and creativity. Addressing this issue is crucial so that existing and new exceptions are not over-ridden by contract law.
  2. Preserving our cultural heritage - Libraries must be able to make preservation of copies of the material they acquire, including web harvesting of the UK domain.
  3. Orphan works - 40% of the British Library's collections are Orphan Works (where the rightsholder can no longer be found or traced). A legislative solution to Orphan Works would help provide access to the UK's large historical collections over the internet.
  4. Fair Dealing - Researchers and libraries need to be able to make available "fair dealing copies" of anything in their collections, including sound and film recordings that Fair Dealing does not currently relate to.
  5. Technology Neutral - Computer based research techniques, such as scientific research, needs to be allowed by future copyright law, in the same way that in the analogue world research activity is protected through "fair dealing"....

Dame Lynne added: "There is a supreme irony that just as technology is allowing greater access to books and other creative works than ever before for education and research, new restrictions threaten to lock away digital content in a way we would never countenance for printed material. Let's not wake up in five years" time and realise we have unwittingly lost a fundamental building block for innovation, education and research in the UK." ...

Update (5/12/09).  Also see the podcast of the debate and the accompanying brochure, Copyright for Education and Research:  Golden Opportunity or Digital Black Hole?  Excerpt:

We are at a cross roads. Golden Opportunity or Digital Black Hole?

The Golden Opportunity is:

  • a vibrant research environment which fully utilises technological developments for education and research which in turn supports the UK’s knowledge economy.

The Digital Black Hole is:

  • digital lockdown where access is restricted and education, research and the knowledge economy are stifled....

Good primer on publication agreements for scholarly authors

Timothy K. Armstrong, An Introduction to Publication Agreements for Authors, a hand-out for a workshop, May 13, 2009.  Armstrong is a copyright specialist at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Comment.  This is a very good primer for authors who don't understand copyright or why they should try to retain rights.  It focuses on legal scholars writing for law reviews, but Armstrong has put it under a CC-BY-SA license and encourages others to adapt it for their own purposes.

More on the Heidelberg Appeal

Stevan Harnad, Heidelberg Appeal Peeled, Open Access Archivangelism, May 5, 2009.  Excerpt:

...Professor Eberhard Hilf has noted that the drafter of the Heidelberg Appeal (a double-barrelled petition directed indifferently both against google book-scanning and against providing Open Access to research journal articles in Germany), Professor Roland Reuss, himself provides open access to his own journal articles:

EH: "...Mr. Reuss, in his role as Professor of history, has of course posted digital copies of all his scholarly articles on his institutional server (with a link to the publisher for ordering a printed copy if wished).

"This is Kafkaesque: Lying on one's back, one says, just as the lobbyists do, that OA is the "devils' gift," whereas standing on one's feet as a scholar, one provides OA!

"By the way, Reuss's research field is Kafka."

What has happened, is that Professor Reiss has made two fundamental confusions: He has confused (1) Open Access (which concerns journal articles) with google book-scanning, and he has confused (2) author-intended give-aways with author-unintended rip-offs.

It is quite astonishing that a scholar rushes to draft a petition rather than first gathering a clear understanding of what he is petitioning about....

Below is a clause by clause critique of Professor Reuss's Heidelberg Appeal....

Survey of repository activity in developing countries

Several partners are running a survey of OA repositories in developing countries.  From yesterday's announcement:

This study is part of a cooperative program between, the University of Kansas Libraries, the DRIVER project and Key Perspectives Ltd., and aims at creating an inventory of current digital repository activities in developing and transition countries, at both the infrastructure and services level....

The results of this survey will be made available online via a wiki. All participants in this study will receive an invitation to look at and comment on the results of this inventory for their own country. This is the first time that such data will be collected about digital repository activity in developing and transition countries, and we hope this will serve as important resource for promoting open access and repository development in these regions....

We encourage all repository managers in developing and transition countries to participate. Please forward this message to other repository managers or colleagues who may be interested in participating. The survey will take approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.

The link to the survey is here....

(To help you prepare you can view a PDF preview of the survey questions here....)

Mandate theses in HTML

Peter Sefton, Three big hairy audacious goals for an open USQ, ptsefton, May 5, 2009. (Thanks to Peter Murray-Rust.)

... It just so happens that our new boss, Deputy Vice Chancellor Philip Candy is meeting with staff over the next couple of weeks, and he’s asking us for three ideas for the future where we would value his assistance/input. ... Here are three substantial goals to which I think [the University of Southern Queensland] should aspire before someone else aspires to them and steals the thunder. I think these would take us well on the way to being a truly open university:

  1. Be the first university in Australia to mandate that theses are deposited in the institutional repository in HTML, with linked data and embedded semantics as well as the standard paper-on-screen PDF file. ...

The Open Access movement is now well established, and USQ already has a mandate that all theses are to be submitted electronically and to go into ePrints when the degree is conferred. This does help to make research available to the community that paid for it, but it is such a pity that in the web age we are still stuck with the paper view of a research output. Citations are not reliably machine readable, data sets are rarely made available and if they are they are not linked into the thesis. And worst of all, the thesis is not made available in HTML where it is part of the fabric of the web. Can you imagine a university getting away with a web site which was PDF only? We certainly try not to deliver courses that way. In most web situations PDF is considered an accessibility barrier and yet in the repository community it’s the main game. ...

Getting spectacularly data-rich highly-linked theses online is one way to change the expectation of up and coming academics. They will be able to continue to use ICE to create their papers and where publishers allow it, will be able to deposit these as well into repositories, given the right adapters. But as I noted in my paper for eResearch Australasia last year, the big problem is that publishers are not set up to accept rich documents, so there is little reason for people to care. I still like the example of Peter Murray-Rust writing a paper using a web editing package, all about semantically rich publishing. Then having to put it into Microsoft Word to submit it to the journal.

My proposed solution to that? Make new publishers who do accept semantically rich HTML. ...

New OAI aggregator software released

Version 1.0 of MOAI Server was released on May 4, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

... MOAI is a platform that aggregates input from disparate sources and republishes it via the Open Archive Initiatives protocol for metadata harvesting. MOAI is built for institutional repositories that store relational metadata and asset files.

MOAI is open source software, released under a BSD license. ...

Notes on the Bio-IT conference

Antony Williams, Open Chemistry Presentations at the Bio-IT Conference and a Nomination for An Award, ChemSpider Blog, April 30, 2009. Notes on the Bio-IT World Conference (Boston, April 27-29, 2009).

I was in Boston for two days at the Bio-IT meeting. As usual this was a long list of conversations, meetings and chance introductions that will help ChemSpider grow in reputation. I had an opportunity to sit with Peter Murray-Rust, Steve Heller and Alex Tropsha (the latter two gentlemen on our advisory group). We discussed Open Data, specifically in terms of adding spectral data into the NIST MS Database and how the data on the NIST Webbook are NOT Open Data, they are copyrighted. They are FREE to access and even download. But they are copyrighted and not Open. ...

Peter, Rajarshi Guha and I were speakers in a session on Open Science. I opened up with my presentation “Crowdsourcing, Collaborations and Text-Mining in a World of Open Chemistry” on SlideShare here.

Peter talked about Open Data and Semantic Data and gave live demos of CrystalEye and Chem4Word. ...

ChemSpider was nominated for a Bio-IT Award. There were 72 nominations in total and we did not win but we were up against some very significant projects from organizations such as GSK, Astra Zeneca etc. The winners are listed here. In any case…it was nice to be nominated for a Best Practices Award at the Bio-IT meeting. We clearly have some fans. ...

OA journals in acoustics and sound

Felipe Raimann Arias, Open Access Journals, CEASonido, March 28, 2009. A discussion (in Spanish) of OA journals in sound and acoustics.

Most popular arXiv papers on Twitter

Michael Banks, Tweet your preprints, Physics World, April 28, 2009. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)

... Robert Simpson, a PhD student from Cardiff University in the UK, has created a website that ranks papers appearing on the arXiv preprint server according to their popularity on Twitter.

His website searches Twitter for tweets that mention an arXiv url or posts that are tagged “#arxiv” and include the paper’s unique identifier.

The website retrieves and lists all the tweets and produces a table of the most popular papers, authors and arXiv categories ranked by how many tweets they have received.

The website has only been active since 16 April, but already there have been 75 tweets quoting arXiv papers. ...

More on Pfizer, BMC, and the free-rider problem

Two days ago, BMC announced that Pfizer had set up a fund to pay publication fees for scientists from developing countries who publish in BMC journals.  (See my blog post and comments.)  A short article in yesterday's Pharma Times adds a new detail:  Pfizer also bought a BMC institutional membership to cover its own scientists when they publish in BMC journals.


  • Think about the Pfizer membership in light of the supposed free-rider problem.  Publishers have often argued that drug companies will become free riders in an OA world:  consuming OA literature without paying the costs of producing it.  In a subscription world, drug companies pay for access just like universities; but because industry scientists publish less than university scientists, drug companies would pay fewer author-side publication fees than universities and shift more of the cost burden to universities.  We don't know whether the Pfizer membership arose from bean counting (to save money on BMC fees) or philanthropy (to support BMC and OA regardless of actual fees incurred by Pfizer scientists), but it tends to answer the objection that a transition to OA means relinquishing the pharma contribution to the costs of peer-reviewed publication. 
  • BTW, my argument against the free-rider problem has always been (1) that it only arises when someone ought to pay but isn't paying, which is never the case for OA literature; (2) that it confuses the problem of shirking an obligation with the problem of leaving money on the table, e.g. from pharma companies which formerly bought subscriptions; and (3) that leaving money on the table, within limits, is survivable if OA publishing costs less than what we now spend on TA publishing.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Video: librarians can help with schol. comm. questions

University of Texas at Arlington Library, Librarian vs. Stereotype : Scholarly Communication, YouTube, April 10, 2009. A 1-minute video encouraging faculty to contact librarians for help with scholarly communication issues.

Notes on Flickr Commons event

Jill Hurst-Wahl, CIL2009: Flickr Commons for Libraries and Museums, Digitization 101, March 30, 2009. Notes on a session at Computers in Libraries 2009 (Arlington, Va., March 30-April 1, 2009).

See also our past posts on the conference (1, 2).

Remix contest on Lessig's Remix

Remix the Remixer Competition, Bloomsbury Academic’s Blog, May 4, 2009.

To celebrate the Creative Commons release of Lawrence Lessig’s latest book, Remix, we’re hosting a competition called Remix the Remixer. Prizes include a ‘remixed’ book signed by Cory Doctorow, a copy of Remix signed by Lessig himself and £200 (about 300 USD) worth of any books from Bloomsbury Publishers.

Here’s how the competition works: Find any video, interview, or written work of Lessig’s, mash it up with another piece of Lessig’s work and create something new. It can be a video (3 min max), photo or text. Just remix any of Lawrence Lessig’s existing work and create something that is new, unique and creative. ...

Submission deadline is the end of May, after which public voting will begin.

Some people have asked why it took so long for us to post Remix on a CC license. As we said on our site earlier on, the contractual arrangements with the originating publisher Penguin USA only allowed for CC release on the 1st of May. With other titles, where we have global rights, CC licensing will happen simultaneously with the print publication.

Why teach students to use closed databases?

Dorothea Salo, A quick question for academic librarians, Caveat Lector, April 30, 2009.
Why should we go through so much effort and agony to teach undergraduate students to use library-provided subscription databases when the vast majority of them will never again have access to those databases once they graduate?
Dorothea Salo, Teaching database searching, Caveat Lector, April 30, 2009.

... The lion’s share of the responses I can acknowledge, but only go so far with, honestly. ...

“They need to know that not everything’s in Google!” Okay. But more and more is. I’m very much less than convinced that “good information lies in the Deep Web!” is the line we’re really promoting. I think it’s “Google sucks,” which by proxy means “the open Web sucks,” which makes me as an open-access advocate feel both insulted and disconsolate. Do I think librarian affection for proprietary databases might play a role in general librarian disaffection for open access? And might that have been one of my ulterior motives for asking the question? Why, yes and yes again. ...

As more and more information sets itself free from firewalled silos and unbelievably unusable search screens, I’m not at all sure my tribe is preparing itself to teach real information issues. ...

“They need to know these things exist so that they can complain when they don’t have access to them.” Interesting. And for a repository-rat, a likable response. But come on, people. Librarians are barely complaining. We’re expecting our patrons to? Over databases? ...

“Because we pay for them.” Also an excuse, not a reason; see above about librarian hate for the open Web. Cozy little circle we have going here: we pay for databases ostensibly so our students can use them, and then we force students to use them so that we have an excuse to pay for them. Yeah. Think database vendors might have to learn to stop sucking if we broke this cycle? I do.

I dunno. I live in a very weird place with respect to most of the rest of my tribe, which is deeply suspicious of “open” in all its forms, and still believes that its future is tied to “for-pay” and “proprietary.” ...

I guess I still think I’m backing the right horse—not just on a strategic level, but on an ethical level.

OA/TA book series on Iceland

New volumes in Cornell's 101-year old book series on Iceland, Islandica, will be published in dual OA/TA editions.  From yesterday's announcement:

... Islandica, which was first published in 1908, is now available online to the international scholarly community in a searchable, open-access format as well as in print.

The series is an extension of Cornell University Library’s Fiske Icelandic Collection, the largest in North America and among the three most comprehensive in the world....

The Library publishes the Islandica series....

“Islandica is returning to a venerable model, one in which academic librarians engage directly in scholarly publishing,” said Patrick J. Stevens, managing editor of the series and curator of the Fiske Icelandic Collection in the Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

Stevens views the model as a natural extension of Halldór Hermannsson’s work during his tenure as curator and series editor in the early part of the 20th century, adding that “electronic open access offers scholars an effective and attractive medium for dissemination of research, no less in the esoteric humanities than in the hard sciences.”

Searching OA legal databases

MetaJuris is a new search engine covering OA legal databases.  (Thanks to Academic Research Resources.)

More on U-SKIS

Anne Morrow and Allyson Mower, University Scholarly Knowledge Inventory System: A Workflow System for Institutional Repositories, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 47, 3-4 (2009) pp. 286-296.

Abstract:   The University Scholarly Knowledge Inventory System (U-SKIS) provides workspace for institutional repository staff. U-SKIS tracks files, communications, and publishers' archiving policies to determine what may be added to a repository. A team at the University of Utah developed the system as part of a strategy to gather previously published peer-reviewed articles. As campus outreach programs developed, coordinators quickly amassed thousands of journal articles requiring copyright research and permission. This article describes the creation of U-SKIS, addresses the educational role U-SKIS plays in the scholarly communication arena, and explores the implications of implementing scalable workflow systems for other digital collections.

PS:  Also see our past posts on U-SKIS.

New bill on OA to CRS reports

Gautham Nagesh, Senators want congressional research available to the public, Nextgov, May 1, 2009.

A resolution introduced in the [United States] Senate on Thursday would create a computer network to allow the public to access research reports that Congress relies on to make decisions and write laws.

Senate Resolution 118, introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., would require the creation of a database where the public could search for Congressional Research Service reports. The resolution also would require the development of an index for the reports and issue briefs. Only those reports that are available to all members of Congress would be made available to the public. Classified and sensitive documents would be exempt.

CRS is Congress' research arm and studies issues for congressional members, their staffs and committees. The agency has about 700 staff members and had a $107 million budget for fiscal 2009. The public currently cannot access the reports directly, but members of Congress and some private sector Web sites post some of them online. CRS also maintains a Web site for the reports, but only members and Hill staff can access it. ...

Lawmakers have tried to introduce similar legislation several times, but they have never made it out of committee, said Ari Schwartz, vice president and chief operating officer at the [Center for Democracy and Technology]. Because the proposed legislation is a resolution and not a bill, it would need the approval of the Senate Rules Committee and a floor vote, but not House approval or the President Obama's signature. ...

Schwartz said it is likely the resolution would pass the committee this year because both political parties support it. "Thanks to the push for openness by the executive branch, the effort is getting more attention this year," he said.

The center, however, has not heard from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Rules Committee chairman, about the issues. Schumer's office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. ...

See also comments on the bill by the Center for Democracy and Technology, Sunlight Foundation, and American Library Association.

April update from RePEc

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in April 2009, The RePEc Blog, May 5, 2009.
... RePEc also grows with the addition of new participating archives, the following for last month: Monash University, Deakin University, Bank of Lithuania, Universidad Nacional de Salta, Università della Calabria, Rivista di Politica Economica, Institut d’Estudis Regionals i Metropolitans de Barcelona, Italian Department of the Treasury, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, Advances in Management. With the addition of Lithuania, there are now RePEc archives in 67 countries. ...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Video of scholarly copyright event

The video of Know Your Rights: Who Really Owns Your Scholarly Works? (New York, April 8, 2009) is now online.

See also: Columbia University Libraries, Scholarly Communication Program Speaker Series Videos Now Available Online, press release, May 1, 2009:

Complete video of Research without Borders, the ’08-‘09 speaker series on hot topics in scholarly communication, is now available at [link], the website of Columbia University's Scholarly Communication Program. ...

OA backfiles to 2 Medknow journals

Two Medknow journals have added their backfiles, which are now OA:

Field Museum joins Flickr Commons

The Field Museum Library has joined Flickr Commons.

See also our past posts on Flickr Commons.

Forthcoming OA journal of Pakistan studies

Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies is a peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Kent State University Department of English and hosted by Scholarly Exchange. Authors retain copyright and the journal is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

New OA religion journal

Methodist Review: A Journal of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies is a new peer-reviewed OA journal sponsored by a group of theology schools and hosted by the Emory University Libraries. (Thanks to the Dallas Morning News.)

The inaugural issue is dated 2009. From the inaugural editorial:

... The generous financial support provided by its sponsors enables MR to provide immediate open access to its content at no cost to its readers, thus embodying the principle that making re- search freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge and ideas. Doing so means that readers in Moscow or Manila or Mumbai can have access the content of the journal at the same time and on the same basis as readers in New York or Nashville or Nacogdoches. Visitors may view the MR website without registration, but one-time, free user registration is required in order to complete the login process that is necessary to access the articles published in the journal. ...

Authors retain copyright and articles are published under a Creative Commons license. (It's not clear which CC license the journal uses: the site says articles are published under the Attribution license, but the link and logo are for BY-NC-ND.)

On the Prelinger Library and the Google settlement

Clifton B. Parker, Steal this archive: Image curator warns of public domain loss, urges greater access, Dateline UC Davis, April 17, 2009.

... Decades ago [Rick] Prelinger began collecting what he referred to as “ephemeral” film — educational, industrial, training, high school driver’s ed films, a film of the conversion of a Chrysler factory from making cars to making tanks in World War II — all the filmmaking that’s other than Hollywood. To him, it seemed like a treasure trove of American life and culture.

Prelinger’s efforts grew into the Prelinger Library, a private research library in San Francisco that is open to the public. Its collections encompass some 50,000 books, periodical volumes and ephemera. ...

His library strives to “remake what a library might be,” both physically and in cyberspace. At last count, more than 30 million downloads have been made of Prelinger library holdings, he said. ...

However, much is at stake today, Prelinger said. He worries that the consumer has been left out of the recent Google Book Search settlement, which allows Google to fund a new book rights registry that gives power to the company to digitize books and sell downloads.

“If the Google book deal is approved without any changes, we could soon lose 100 million books that society doesn’t know what to do with,” said Prelinger, referring to “orphan works,” or works under copyright, but whose owner is not known.

The Google agreement is currently under review in a U.S. District Court.

On his Web site, Prelinger writes that U.S. government documents are, by law, in the public domain, as they are produced with taxpayer funds. However, he noted, Google is treating government documents published after 1923 in the same way they are treating non-government material — as potentially copyrighted material.

“This is unnecessarily cautious, and what it means is that only ‘snippets’ are available and the document remains unreadable,” he wrote. ...

See also comments by Jonathan Eisen, who gives Prelinger his "Open Access Pioneer Award".

OA to medical research helps patient families, not just professionals

Here's a mother of a child with a sternal cleft, "looking for scientific information and support to make an informed decision about the surgical intervention", and documenting her efforts online.  After trying several other routes to answers, her most promising leads have come from OA journals.

It's impossible to argue that OA to peer-reviewed research doesn't help lay readers, even if the primary beneficiaries are professional researchers.  Also see our past posts on OA for lay readers.

Designing metadata for images in IRs

Visual research objects of art and design in Open Access repositories,, April 24, 2009.

The aim of this pilot project was to develop a model of how to represent visual research objects within the field of art and design in institutional repositories.

The project studied one complex design object, in the research field [of] smart textiles, originated from three researchers at the School of Textiles at the University of Borås. BADA, Borås Academic Digital Archive (DSpace) was used for the example.

The design object was analysed from the metadata standard, CDWA Lite and from Dublin Core, the existing metadata standard in DSpace.

The record, when completed with selected fields from CDWA Lite, was much richer than when only Dublin Core was used. This result shows that using an appropriate, complementary metadata standard could be successful when representing visual objects in open repositories. ...

Neylon on open notebook science

Cameron Neylon, Scientists lead the push for open data sharing, Research Information, April/May 2009.

... A central facility like the ISIS Pulsed Neutron Source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK needs to support its community. By making our work public we are helping the researchers who use our facility. In the ISIS Biomolecular Sciences group, we aim to make our research records and the data available on the web as soon as possible. The open notebook approach is not currently a standard ISIS policy for data access but our group is exploring the approaches that could work at a large research centre like ISIS. Our aim is simply to make more of this information available to those who want and need it.

At ISIS we are using the open notebook science approach to study the structure and function of a class of proteins found in biological membranes. ...

Biology experiments like this involve considerable trial and error and generate large volumes of data. In most projects much of this data is discarded, and methods are often not described in detail, although these may be useful for other research. By capturing and recording our data and placing it in the public domain, we provide a foundation that can save other scientists valuable time and money. ...

In addition, when people know that their work is going to be readily available for others to view, they’re likely to be more precise in their note taking. At the core of doing good science, is making a high-quality record of that research.

We try to provide detailed methodology online, in papers or in other online services that are linked back to specific examples in our lab notebooks. ...

p>The web makes it possible to share more with a wider audience. We need improved tools to do this, and many groups are working on building those. Currently, sharing requires an active choice and additional work. I believe that, in the future, when the tools mature, sharing will be a question of pressing a button. Researchers may choose to press that button when the results are formally published or as soon as the experiment is done. My belief is that the benefits of sharing immediately will encourage more (but by no means all) people to share all their work as it is recorded. ...

More on the Heidelberg misconceptions

Stevan Harnad, Heidelberg Humanities Hocus Pocus, Open Access Archivangelism, May 4, 2009.  Excerpt:

Yet another declaration/petition/statement/manifesto concerning OA has been drafted, this time...full of...anti-OA canards and nonsequiturs: The Heidelberg Appeal ("Heidelberger Appel"), launched by the German text critic, Roland Reuss.

(These misunderstandings are intentional when promulgated by publishers lobbying against OA [e.g., the "DC Principles," the "Prism Coalition" and the "Brussels Declaration"] but not in the case of scholars waxing righteously indignant about their rights without first coming to a clear understanding of what is really at issue, as in the case of Herr Reuss.)

An article in the 2 May 2009 Zuercher Zeitung seems to catch and correct a few of the ambiguities and absurdities of Reuss's singularly wrong-headed argument, but far from all of them.

Someone still has to state, loud and clear (and in German!), that Herr Reuss (and the signatories he has managed to inspire to follow him in his failure to grasp what is actually at issue) is:

  1. conflating consumer piracy of authors' non-give-away texts (largely books) with author give-aways of their own journal articles (which is what Open Access is about);
  2. conflating Open Access with Google book scanning;
  3. conflating "Gratis" Open Access (free online access), which is what all the Green Open Access Self-Archiving and self-archiving mandates are, with "Libre" (free online access PLUS re-use rights), which only some Gold OA journals are providing, and again, in accordance with the wishes and agreement of the author....

Comment.  Also see our past posts on the Heidelberg Appeal.  I should add that I've been tagging much more Heidelberg news and comment for OATP than I've been blogging here at OAN.  I'm using the tag, oa.heidelberg_appeal. If you're interested, see the Connotea tag library for oa.heidelberg_appeal.

More on OA to H1N1 flu info

More OA resources on H1N1 ("swine") flu: See also our past posts on H1N1 flu.

Elsevier and Merck published fake medical journal

Bob Grant, Merck published fake journal, The Scientist, April 30, 2009. (Free registration required, or try BugMeNot.)

Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of a publication that had the look of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles--most of which presented data favorable to Merck products--that appeared to act solely as marketing tools with no disclosure of company sponsorship. ...

The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, which was published by Exerpta Medica, a division of scientific publishing juggernaut Elsevier, is not indexed in the MEDLINE database, and has no website (not even a defunct one). ...

The claim that Merck had created a journal out of whole cloth to serve as a marketing tool was first reported by The Australian about three weeks ago. It came to light in the context of a civil suit filed by Graeme Peterson, who suffered a heart attack in 2003 while on Vioxx, against Merck and its Australian subsidiary, Merck, Sharp & Dohme Australia (MSDA).

In testimony provided at the trial last week, which was obtained by The Scientist, George Jelinek, an Australian physician and long-time member of the World Association of Medical Editors, reviewed four issues of the journal that were published from 2003-2004. An "average reader" (presumably a doctor) could easily mistake the publication for a "genuine" peer reviewed medical journal, he said in his testimony. "Only close inspection of the journals, along with knowledge of medical journals and publishing conventions, enabled me to determine that the Journal was not, in fact, a peer reviewed medical journal, but instead a marketing publication for MSD[A]."

He also stated that four of the 21 articles featured in the first issue he reviewed referred to Fosamax. In the second issue, nine of the 29 articles related to Vioxx, and another 12 to Fosamax. All of these articles presented positive conclusions regarding the MSDA drugs. "I can understand why a pharmaceutical company would collect a number of research papers with results favourable to their products and make these available to doctors," Jelinek said at the trial. "This is straightforward marketing." ...

In response to several questions about the publication posed by The Scientist, an MSDA spokesperson wrote in an email: "MSDA understood that Elsevier envisaged the complimentary publication would draw on the vast resources of Elsevier, publishers of many leading peer-reviewed journals including Lancet, Bone, Joint Bone Spine and others, to deliver novel and timely full text articles and abstracts to physicians." Many of the articles appearing in the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine were in fact reprints or summaries of studies that originally appeared in other Elsevier journals.

A spokesperson for Elsevier, however, told The Scientist, "I wish there was greater disclosure that it was a sponsored journal." Disclosure of Merck's funding of the journal was not mentioned anywhere in the copies of issues obtained by The Scientist.

Elsevier acknowledged that Merck had sponsored the publication, but did not disclose the amount the drug company paid. In a statement emailed to The Scientist, Elsevier said that the company "does not today consider a compilation of reprinted articles a 'Journal'."

"Elsevier acknowledges the concern that the journals in question didn't have the appropriate disclosures," the statement continued. "It is worth noting that project in question was produced 6 years ago and disclosure protocols have evolved since 2003. Elsevier's current disclosure policies meet the rigor and requirements of the current publishing environment." ...


  • Remember this anecdote the next time someone raises the common myth that OA journals are lower quality or that OA is about bypassing quality control. Closed access does not guarantee high quality, even from the most prominent publishers.
  • On the contrary, some argue that if the "journal" had been OA, the concerns might have been detected earlier.

Update. See also comments by Robert Helling:

... I think nobody in the world can claim anymore that our libraries should throw big money at these commercial publishing houses because they provide the quality control that open access publication cannot provide.

Pfizer supports OA at BMC

Pfizer supports open access publishing for researchers in low-income countries, a press release from BioMed Central, May 5, 2009.  Excerpt:

Today, Pfizer announced an agreement with BioMed Central to launch an open access waiver fund which will support automatic waivers of publication fees for authors from low-income countries.

Thanks to the open access waiver fund, researchers in low-income countries can publish research articles in BioMed Central's open access journals without the need to pay a publication fee.

Speaking of the agreement Dr Jack Watters, Vice President, Pfizer External Medical Affairs said "Pfizer's support for open access publishing is driven by a recognition of the wide benefits of global access to the latest research results, and the crucial role that open access journals can play in the communication of those results. In addition, we feel that it is critically important that the benefits of scientific publication are extended to all scientists who do quality research, and that providing this access will promote much-needed recognition of research conducted in developing countries.

Matthew Cockerill, BioMed Central's Managing Director, commented: "Researchers working in low-income countries have been strong supporters of open access publishing. Many of BioMed Central's most successful journals such as Malaria Journal and BMC Public Health, focus on issues of strong relevance to developing countries and publish many articles from these countries. BioMed Central's policy of automatic waivers for low-income countries ensures that researchers based in these countries will face no financial barrier to publishing and sharing their work in a way that makes it globally accessible."


  • The pharma industry needs access to peer-reviewed biomedical research and (like universities) complains about skyrocketing TA journal prices.  It should be supporting OA biomed journals, as it is here, and should be in the forefront of the campaign to save the NIH policy from the Conyers bill and publishing lobby.  The industry has its own access issues, but that shouldn't prevent it from supporting OA to research literature or prevent OA proponents from praising pharma support when it arrives.
  • The pharma industry is taking steps toward what some call pre-competitive sharing, and sharing data even when not compelled.  See our past posts on OA-related activity at BIOS and Cambia, Celera, Collaborative Drug Discovery, Galapagos, GSK, Lilly, Merck (tarnished by this), Novartis, Pfizer, and Synaptic Leap.  The best analysis of this trend I've read is still Tapscott and Williams from March 2007.

AJOL moving toward full-text OA

African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is moving beyond OA TOCs to OA full-texts.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  From today's announcement:

On the 1st of May 2009, African Journals OnLine (AJOL) launched the latest version of its online service to provide access to peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals....

At 346 journals from 26 countries, AJOL is the world’s largest online collection of African journals, but until now, has included only tables of content, abstracts, and journal information on the website. As of the beginning of May, 60% of the 40,000 plus articles on AJOL will be available for immediate download. By the end of 2009, AJOL aims to have 100% of its growing collection fully full-text online.

The updated site and the new functionality are possible due to a close collaboration between AJOL and the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), developers of Open Journal Systems (OJS) – the open source software which powers the AJOL service. AJOL is also supported by its donor partners, INASP and the Ford Foundation.

AJOL receives an average of 60,000 visits per month, 30% of which are from the African continent and over 15% from other parts of the developing world.  The global researcher community and the authors and institutions whose work is published in the portal benefit from this increased access and visibility of African knowledge provided by AJOL.  The new portal helps AJOL achieve its greater goal of shifting global flows of scholarly information, so that the importance of research published from the global south is more equitably represented.

AJOL allows for both Subscription-based and Open Access journals to be hosted for free on the site, with article downloads to toll journals being processed by AJOL and income sent on to the originating journals, less AJOL cost-recovery.  In the future, AJOL will begin providing access to journal management functions of OJS to its partner Open Access journals, as a way to improve editorial quality and lower production costs....


Librarian attitudes toward OA

Kristi L. Palmer, Emily Dill, and Charlene Christie, Where There’s a Will There’s a Way?:  Survey of Academic Librarian Attitudes about Open Access, a preprint forthcoming from College & Research Libraries.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Abstract:   Academic libraries are becoming increasingly involved in scholarly communication through work with institutional repositories and other open access models. While academic librarians are being encouraged to promote these new models, their opinions about open access have not been documented. This article reports on the results of a national survey conducted in the summer of 2006 of academic librarians’ attitudes toward open access principles and related behaviors. While attitude responses were largely positive, there were differences in levels of support related to respondents’ job descriptions and funding of open access activities. Surveyed librarians appear to be more comfortable with tasks that translate traditionally held responsibilities, such as educating others, to the open access environment. Most significant is the discrepancy between stated support of library involvement in open access initiatives and significantly lacking action toward this end. The results offer insight into how open access proponents may better focus their advocacy efforts.

From the body of the paper:

This study indicates that librarians support the concepts of open access and more importantly believe that that these concepts are related to their work as librarians....

Librarians are in favor of seeing their profession take some actions toward open access. The most highly supported behaviors were those that extend traditional library activities such as educating faculty about open access and providing a means by which to locate open access items. Indeed, involvement in education campaigns was not only highly supported but those librarians managing education campaigns also had significantly more supportive attitudes than other respondents. This positive connection offers open access proponents a logical avenue for focusing their efforts. Yet this survey found that agreement with various open access related concepts does not constitute actual action....

This survey’s results indicate that funding may be one of the primary reasons for little present action from librarians. While the survey results do not shed light on what library monies are actually being spent in support of open access initiatives, they indicate a low level of willingness to expend such funds....

While this survey answered important questions about the level of support by librarians in concept and in action toward open access’ goals, it also raised questions for future studies such as: How are current library?managed open access projects being funded? If funding were not an issue would librarians be more willing to manage and promote open access projects? What other entities, institutions, groups, or professions need to be involved in advocating open access’s principles?

Monday, May 04, 2009

WERF adopts an OA policy

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) has adopted an OA policy for its research reports.  From today's announcement:

The Water Environment Research Foundation today announced a new “open access” initiative that will bring its wastewater and stormwater research results to the forefront of scientific and technical innovation. The new policy, which was vetted with all subscribers through an initial survey and then with a follow-up invitation to comment on the proposal, will go into full effect on July 1, 2009.

Recognizing that its subscribers benefit when elected officials, regulators, and the public have accurate information on which to base funding and regulatory decisions, WERF intends to improve access to its objective research results.

The open access policy has two primary components:

  • First, all WERF final research report PDF files and hard copy reports remain available exclusively to subscribers, or available for sale to the public, through WERF and its publishing partners for two years. After the initial two years, all WERF final research report PDF files will be “open access,” free to the general public, from the WERF website. (Tools are not part of the open access initiative.)

  • Second, if the WERF Board of Directors, Research Council, Communications Advisory Committee, or executive director determine that an earlier release of a final research report is in the public’s and subscribers' interest, they will need a majority vote in the affirmative to enact “open access” for that report before the 2-year open access date. Once WERF designates a report as open access, a PDF version of the report will be available, free of charge, on the WERF website....

In November, WERF sent an advisory survey to all subscribing organizations, asking if WERF should make its research reports freely available to the public. Subscribers were generous with their comments....

Open access policies are becoming the new standard for research organizations that want to provide objective and peer-reviewed information to an increasingly interconnected world.

“The amount of misinformation readily available on the internet compels WERF to make its work, among the best that exists, available to all interested parties,” noted one subscriber in his response to the November survey.

A complete copy of the WERF Open Access Policy, adopted by the Board of Directors at their meeting on December 16, 2008, is on the WERF website.

From the WERF about page:

...We are a nonprofit organization that operates with funding from subscribers and the federal government. Our subscribers include wastewater treatment plants, stormwater utilities, and regulatory agencies. Industry, equipment companies, engineers and environmental consultants also lend their support and expertise as subscribers....

ERIC microfiche digitization project yields 55% OA

The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) has summarized the results of its microfiche digitization project.  From its April 27 announcement:

The full scope of the digitization project encompassed scanning the legacy microfiche collection of nearly 340,000 documents added to ERIC from 1966 to 1992, and reaching out to thousands of individuals and organizations who submitted these documents and hold copyright to them. This massive effort resulted in more than 55 percent of documents released online. This outcome is notable in light of the challenges associated with locating document submitters from up to 40 years ago. ERIC users now have full-text [open] access to nearly 192,000 digitized microfiche documents because copyright holders have granted ERIC permission for digital release, or in other cases, it was determined that the documents are in the public domain.

The opportunity remains for copyright holders to help ERIC expand access to their materials. National Archive Publishing Company (NAPC), ERIC’s partner in this major initiative, is still accepting permissions to release documents online. ERIC cannot assume permission, due to the specific language of the original permission forms and the technology available at the time of indexing. Interested copyright holders may reach NAPC by completing a contact form or calling their toll-free number. For more information, see [here].

Comment.  This has been a massive digitization and permission-seeking project.  Kudos to ERIC for undertaking it and batting 550.  It shows (again) that libre OA can facilitate preservation and format-migration by eliminating permission problems from the start.  Also see our past posts on this project.

Case study in depositing a thesis in an IR

Colin Macduff, An evaluation of the process and initial impact of disseminating a nursing e-thesis, Journal of Advanced Nursing, February 18, 2009.  Abstract:  

Aim. This paper is a report of a study conducted to evaluate product, process and outcome aspects of the dissemination of a nursing PhD thesis via an open-access electronic institutional repository.

Background. Despite the growth of university institutional repositories which make theses easily accessible via the world wide web, nursing has been very slow to evaluate related processes and outcomes.

Method. Drawing on Stake's evaluation research methods, a case study design was adopted. The case is described using a four-phase structure within which key aspects of process and impact are reflexively analysed.

Findings. In the conceptualization/re-conceptualization phase, fundamental questions about the purpose, format and imagined readership for a published nursing PhD were considered. In the preparation phase, seven key practical processes were identified that are likely to be relevant to most e-theses. In the dissemination phase email invitations were primarily used to invite engagement. The evaluation phase involved quantitative indicators of initial impact, such as page viewing and download statistics and qualitative feedback on processes and product.

Conclusion. Analysis of process and impact elements of e-thesis dissemination is likely to have more than intrinsic value. The advent of e-theses housed in web-based institutional repositories has the potential to transform thesis access and use. It also offers potential to transform the nature and scope of thesis production and dissemination. Nursing scholars can exploit and evaluate such opportunities.

169 years of BMJ now OA

Tony Delamothe, The new BMJ online archive, BMJ, April 29, 2009.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Every BMJ article published since the journal’s first issue in October 1840 is now available online from This was achieved by digitally scanning 824 183 pages of the print journal. It cost about $1 (£0.68; 0.76) a page and was made possible by the extraordinary generosity of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the United Kingdom’s Wellcome Trust and Joint Information Systems Committee.

The journey began in 2000, when the BMJ announced it would be the first general medical journal to sign up with PubMed Central. This project, to create a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, was masterminded by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information under the aegis of the NLM. Three years later, the NLM offered to digitise the archival content of publishers participating in PubMed Central to create complete digital archives of their journals. In return for permanent rights to archive and distribute the material freely through PubMed Central, the library offered to fund the cost of cover to cover scanning back to a journal’s first issue....

Early into the project, progress was slower and costs were higher than had been envisaged. At this point, the Wellcome Trust and the Joint Information Systems Committee—both fervent supporters of freeing up access to the results of scientific research—split the bill with the US taxpayer, who had until then been picking up the tab....

In November 2008, the last BMJ was loaded on to PubMed Central, which means that the archive is available from there too. Last month the archive was loaded on to; the archival material is integrated fully within and shares the same functionality as more recently added content. Articles from the archive can be searched for, just like any other article, and old issues of the journal can be browsed from the journal’s print issue archive. The BMJ Group and our online host, HighWire Press, shared the costs of this phase of the operation....

[W]e believe that the availability of the entire archive offers something qualitatively different to just a full set of articles. In fact, we are so convinced of this that we are offering a prize of £1000 for the most interesting use of the archive (see the journal for further details of this competition)....

OA journals on applied ethics

Institutions join hands to develop applied ethics journals, Information World Review, May 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

A project to build, distribute and promote journals on applied ethics is initiated by and Medknow Publications. The programme will have a special focus on ethics journals from developing and transition countries.

Medknow, the open-access publisher has signed an agreement with Globethics, the network of professionals interested in different fields of applied ethics, to together work in the acquisition, production, subscription, distribution, availability and marketing of online and print journals on applied ethics, worldwide.

The move aims to increase global access to these journals, especially via Globethics’ online library and the journals’ individual websites. Most of the journals in the project would offer immediate open access to the contents.

The African Journal of Business Ethics will be the first journal to go full text online as a part of this project. It is expected that more journals will be following soon. The partners say they welcome journals in the area of applied ethics to participate in the project.

PS:  Also see our past posts on Medknow and Globalethics.

Industry support for OA to clinical drug trial data

BIO Members Committed to Ensuring Public Access to Key Clinical Trial Results, a press release from Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), May 4, 2009.  Excerpt:

In testimony submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) stressed the commitment of its member companies to help ensure that patients and health care providers have access to key clinical trial results information from trials of unapproved products.

“BIO supports efforts to increase the availability of accurate, reliable, scientific evidence to inform clinical decision-making,” stated BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood. “We believe that individual patients, clinical decision-makers and scientific researchers should be armed with the best available information to help assess the relative clinical benefits and risks of treatment options.”

The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) directs NIH to address whether or not results of clinical trials should be disseminated if the drugs studied in the trial are unapproved. BIO's testimony today was part of a public meeting required to be held to address this and other questions regarding public disclosure of clinical trial results.

In testimony, BIO reiterated its support for FDAAA’s goal to, “provide more complete results information and to enhance patient access to and understanding of the results of clinical trials.” BIO noted that disseminating certain additional trial result information may reduce duplicative studies, which divert industry resources that could be used to undertake innovative research, and could also alleviate pressures on the Food and Drug Administration’s review resources....

The OA impact advantage as an incentive

S. Bernius and M. Hanauske, Open access to scientific literature - Increasing citations as an incentive for authors to make their publications freely accessible, Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2009.  (The DOI-based URL doesn't work at the moment.)  Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.

Abstract:   In recent years the scientific journal market faces significant evolutions that may cause major changes in the way of publishing research results. In this connection, open access is the prime alternative to publishing in traditional journals, whose subscription-based business model inhibits the distribution of scientific knowledge. But despite strong support for open access among researchers, today this new paradigm is realized only in a few disciplines. A main reason for this lies in the lack of individual incentives for authors to make their publications freely accessible. In this paper we focus on the argument that open access articles are cited more often than articles in traditional journals. Based on a simulation of the citation network, which emerges on the scientific publishing market, we demonstrate how an individual author can increase her citations, and thus her standing in the community, when switching to open access. Especially first movers may benefit from the change of their publication behavior.

Update (5/6/09).  Also see the OA archived edition and Bernius' accompanying slide presentation.

OA to LOC subject heading data, take two

If you recall, last December the Library of Congress asked Ed Summers to take down his OA Library of Congress Subject Headings linked data service.  At the time, Summers thought that the LOC might be considering offering a similar service of its own in the future.

The LOC has launched its own service; it's OA and seems to be a real step forward.  From Richard Wallis' comments:

Back in December I was very critical of the Library of Congress for forcing the take down of the Linked Data service at  LoC employee...Ed Summers had created a powerful and useful demonstration of how applying Linked Data principles to a LoC dataset such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings could deliver an open asset to add value to other systems....

I still wonder at the LoC approach to this, but that is all water under the bridge now, as they have now launched their service, under the snappy title of “Authorities & Vocabularies” ....

The Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies service enables both humans and machines to programmatically access authority data at the Library of Congress via URIs.

The first release under this banner is the aforementioned Library of Congress Subject Headings.

As well as delivering access to the information via a Linked Data service, they also provide a search interface, and a ‘visualization’ via which you can see the relationship between terms, both broader and narrower, that are held in the data.

To quote Jonathan Rochkind “ is AWESOME”:

Not only is it the first (so far as I know) online free search and browse of LCSH (with in fact a BETTER interface than the proprietary for-pay online alternative I’m aware of).

But it also gives you access to the data itself via BOTH a bulk download AND some limited machine-readable APIs. (RSS feeds for a simple keyword query; easy lookup of metadata about a known-item LCSH term, when you know the authority number; I don’t think there’s a SPARQL endpoint? Yet?)....

On the surface, to those not yet bought in to the potential of Linked Data, and especially Linked Open Data, this may seem like an interesting but not necessarily massive leap forward.   I believe that what underpins the fairly simple functional user interface they provide will gradually become core to bibliographic data becoming a first-class citizen in the web of data.

Overnight this uri ‘’ has now become the globally available, machine and human readable, reliable source for the description for the subject heading of ‘Elephants’ containing links to its related terms (in a way that both machines and humans can navigate).  This means that system developers and integrators can rely upon that link to represent a concept, not necessarily the way they want to [locally] describe it.  This should facilitate the ability for disparate systems and services to simply share concepts and therefore understanding – one of the basic principles behind the Semantic Web.

This move by the LoC has two aspects to it that should make it a success.  The first one is technical.  Adopting the approach, standards, and conventions promoted by the Linked Data community ensures a ready made developer community to use and spread the word about it.  The second, one is openness.  Anyone and everyone will not have to think ”is it OK to use this stuff” before taking advantage of this valuable asset.  Many in the bibliographic community, who seem to spend far too much time on licensing and logins, should watch and learn from this.

A bit of a bumpy ride to get here but nevertheless a great initiative from the LoC that should be welcomed....

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Wrap-up from OA Anthropology Day

See these two wrap-ups of activities from Open Access Anthropology Day (May 1, 2009):

See also this list of OA anthropology journals, released on the same day.

See also our past post on Open Access Anthropology Day.

On the new U.S. CIO and his approach to PSI

Two items on Vivek Kundra, Obama's new federal Chief Information Officer, and his approach to access to public sector information (thanks to ResourceShelf):

Video interview with Kahle on the Google settlement

Google Faces Antitrust Investigation for Agreement to Digitize Millions of Books Online, Democracy Now!, April 30, 2009. A 25-minute video with text transcript.

... [Q:] Why would any library agree to give over their work to a private company?

Brewster Kahle: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

[Q:] Why?

Brewster Kahle: Because Google was going to pay for the digitization of these books. And what they said originally is that they would—like a web search engine, they would go and index these books and then allow people to see bits and pieces, but direct people back to the libraries or direct people back to bookstores to be able to get them. What we now find through this suit is Google’s ambitions were far greater than just directing people back to where they came from; they wanted to be the library or the bookstore themselves. ...

OA to H1N1 flu info

See this recent message from DynaMed (thanks to ResourceShelf):
Due to the recent global outbreak of H1N1 flu, EBSCO Publishing and the DynaMed Editors have made the main elements of the DynaMed clinical summary for H1N1 flu free to health care providers and institutions throughout the world. The DynaMed topic on H1N1 flu consolidates information from multiple sources for health care providers to stay current with recommendations for monitoring, diagnosing, and treating patients with flu-like illnesses during this outbreak. DynaMed Editors will continue to monitor information and update this topic as needed throughout this global crisis. ...

More on Talis Connected Commons

Zach Beauvais, What we’ve been working on…, Zach Beauvais, April 30, 2009.

Talis, my employer, has been a big promoter of Linked Data and open-access to information, because we see that new ideas often arise when existing ideas come together. ...

... [M]ost of the world’s data are locked away in silos (prisoners of the cells their databases confine them to). Many organisations may wish to make use of their data in a semantic environment, and many might even embrace the Open-source nature of their data, and make it freely available to the world to recombine and use: there are always more innovations outside an organisation than within! In order to lower barriers to enter this linked data world, Talis has built a Platform with resources to host and utilise these connections, making use of semantic web standards (RDF and SPARQL, the query language of the semantic web) and a developer-friendly environment (a RESTFul API, for example).

However, this innovation is only possible when data are accessible. In order to further lower the barriers, Talis is now offering free access to the Platform to host public domain data. We are calling this initiative the Talis Connected Commons, and the offer is not limited to free hosting: the data access services, including access to a public SPARQL endpoint, are also freely available. To keep this data open, you will need to use either the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License or the recently launched Creative Commons CC0 license to publish data. Anyone will then be able to freely access the stored data using the Platform services, without API keys and without usage limits. ...

See also our past post on Talis Connected Commons.

Final report of IR research project

Rachel Proudfoot, et al., IncReASe (Increasing Repository Content through Automation and Services), JISC Final Report, May 1, 2009. (Thanks to John Robertson.) Executive summary:

The IncReASe (Increasing Repository Content through Automation and Services) was an eighteen month project (subsequently extended to twenty months) to enhance White Rose Research Online (WRRO). WRRO is a shared repository of research outputs (primarily publications) from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York; it runs on the EPrints open source repository platform. The repository was created in 2004 and had steady growth but, in common with many other similar repositories, had difficulty in achieving a “critical mass” of content and in becoming truly embedded within researchers’ workflows.

The main aim of the IncReASe project was to assess ingestion routes into WRRO with a view to lowering barriers to deposit. We reviewed the feasibility of bulk import of pre-existing metadata and/or full-text research outputs, hoping this activity would have a positive knock-on effect on repository growth and embedding. Prior to the project, we had identified researchers’ reluctance to duplicate effort in metadata creation as a significant barrier to WRRO uptake; we investigated how WRRO might share data with internal and external IT systems. This work included a review of how WRRO, as an institutional based repository, might interact with the subject repository of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The project addressed four main areas:

  1. researcher behaviour: we investigated researcher awareness, motivation and workflowthrough a survey of archiving activity on the university web sites, a questionnaire and discussions with researchers
  2. bulk import: we imported data from local systems, including York’s submission data for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and developed an import plug-in for use with the arXiv repository
  3. interoperability: we looked at how WRRO might interact with university and departmental publication databases and ESRC’s repository.
  4. metadata: we assessed metadata issues raised by importing publication data from a variety of sources

A number of outputs from the project have been made available from the IncReASe project web site.

The project highlighted the low levels of researcher awareness of WRRO - and of broader open access issues, including research funders’ deposit requirements. We designed some new publicity materials to start to address this. Departmental publication databases provided a useful jumping off point for advocacy and liaison; this activity was helpful in promoting awareness of WRRO. Bulk import proved time consuming – both in terms of adjusting EPrints plug-ins to incorporate different datasets and in the staff time required to improve publication metadata.

A number of deposit scenarios were developed in the context of our work with ESRC; we concentrated on investigating how a local deposit of a research paper and attendant metadata in WRRO might be used to populate ESRC’s repository. This work improved our understanding of researcher workflows and of the SWORD protocol as a potential (if partial) solution to the single deposit, multiple destination model we wish to develop; we think the prospect of institutional repository / ESRC data sharing is now a step closer.

IncReASe experienced some staff recruitment difficulties. It was also necessary to adapt the project to the changing IT landscape at the three partner institutions – in particular, the introduction of a centralised publication management system at the University of Leeds. Although these factors had some impact on deliverables, the aims and objectives of the project were largely achieved.

Can FOSS adopt restrictions that favor OA?

Ben Brumfield has written software, FromThePage, to coordinate the work of online volunteers in transcribing and digitizing handwritten manuscripts.  Now he wants to release the code as open source, but only under a license that would require users to make the resulting transcriptions OA.  From the blog post on his dilemma:

...My quandary is this: none of the existing Free or Open Source licenses allow me to require that FromThePage be used in conformance with Open Access. Obviously, that's because adding such a restriction -- requiring users of FromThePage not to charge for people reading the documents hosted on or produced through the software -- violates the basic principles of Free Software and Open Source. So where do I find such a license? ...