Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 16, 2009

RIN developing a scholarly communications toolkit

If you recall, in February 2007 the Research Information Network (RIN) developed a set of seven principles for public policy on scholarly communications.  Because the principles were vague and non-committal on OA, they could be signed by proponents (JISC, the RCUK, and the Wellcome Trust) and opponents (ALPSP, the Publishers Association, and STM) of strong OA policy.  See my comments on the principles at the time.

RIN hasn't forgotten them, and is now commissioning a toolkit to help stakeholders put the principles into practice.  From its announcement:

The RIN has commissioned Mark Ware Consulting, working in partnership with Searchlighter, to help it formulate a web-based toolkit to support key stakeholders (especially research funders, higher education institutions, libraries and publishers) to apply the common principles set out in the Research and the Scholarly Communications Process: towards strategic goals for public policy.

The project will run from March to November 2009.

The toolkit will provide guidance to relevant stakeholders in relation to each principle constituting the statement of principles, and their roles in applying them. It will encourage reflection on how the agendas of different stakeholders might be aligned behind common goals and conflicts of interests resolved.

Also see Mark Ware's blog post on the new project.

More on the case for the tactical priority of green OA

Stevan Harnad, Against Squandering Scarce Research Funds on Pre-Emptive Gold OA Without First Mandating Green OA, Open Access Archivangelism, May 15, 2009.  Excerpt:

Pre-Emptive Gold OA. There is a fundamental strategic point for Open Access (OA) that cannot be made often enough, because it concerns one of the two biggest retardants on OA progress today -- and the retardant that has, I think, lately become the bigger of the two.

(The other major retardant is copyright worries....)

The biggest retardant on OA progress today is...a distracting focus on pre-emptive Gold OA (including the conflation of the journal affordability problem with the research accessibility problem, and the conflation of Gold OA with OA itself, wrongly supposing that OA or "full OA" means Gold OA -- instead of concentrating all efforts on universalizing Green OA mandates....

Just as it is true that there would be no research accessibility problem if the the journal affordability problem were solved (because all institutions, and all their researchers, would then have affordable access to all journals), it is also true that the journal affordability problem would cease to be a real problem if the research accessibility problem were solved: If all researchers (indeed everyone) could access all journal articles for free online, then it would no longer matter how much journals cost, and which institutions were willing and able to pay for which journals. After universal Green OA, journals may or may not eventually become more affordable, or convert to Gold OA: It would no longer matter either way, for we would already have OA -- full OA -- itself....

 Green OA Can Be Mandated, Gold OA Cannot. But here there is an equally fundamental difference: Green OA self-archiving can be accelerated and scaled up to universality (and this can be done at virtually zero cost) by the research community alone -- i.e., research institutions (largely universities) and research funders -- by mandating Green OA
In contrast, Gold OA depends on publishers, costs money (often substantial money), and cannot be mandated by institutions and funders....

Virtual conferences on OA

I just found this post in my blogging queue for May 9.  After writing it, I forgot to post it.  (Now I wonder how often I've done that.)  Apologies for the delay.

Michael Geist has a good idea:  instead of pointing to an ongoing conference, or a past conference, he found four presentations he liked and blogged them together as a "virtual conference".  (It's a good idea even though one of the four is mine.) 

See his virtual conference on OA, with presentations by Melissa Hagemann, John Willinsky, Francis Pinter, and me.

I went looking because I wanted to link back to it when citing Michael's new Friday Forum on OA, with presentations by Carl Malamud, Leslie Chan, Subbiah Arunachalam, and John Wilbanks.

May/June D-Lib

Launch of Wolfram|Alpha

Wolfram|Alpha has officially launched.  But don't expect to try this exciting OA "knowledge engine" any time soon.  User traffic has brought it to its knees. 

You can still read the project FAQ and blog or watch the overview video (recommended).

Alpha is open in several senses.  It's free to use.  It has an open API.  And it draws upon a combination of open and closed data, though in most cases (even for open data) using Wolfram-hosted, curated, and refined copies of the original datasets.  BTW, Alpha not only draws upon many data sources, but cites its sources in its answers.

Alpha is built on nearly 6 million lines of (Wolfram) Mathematica code.  That code is not open source, but Alpha provides the Mathematica source for its outputs.  From the launch announcement:

...[Y]ou can take the output from Wolfram|Alpha and actually compute with it in Mathematica....[Y]ou can also click the Use Input button on particular Wolfram|Alpha output pods in the notebook, and get Mathematica input that would generate the basic output in the pod....

One way to see the Mathematica code is to get the Live Mathematica Notebook.  But if you just want to know the Mathematica code for a particular Wolfram|Alpha output pod, you can click on the pod and look at the popup.

So long as there’s a simple representation of the pod computation in Mathematica, there’ll be a “Mathematica plaintext input” field in the popup —that you can copy and paste anywhere....

See our past post on Alpha and some of the early coverage and reviews.

Comment.   Alpha is orders of magnitude better than any previous attempt to go from user queries beyond lists of web pages to direct, composed answers.  It reminds you why computers are cool.  It will be terribly useful in every area it covers, and will steadily enlarge the number of areas it covers.  It's very exciting even from a narrow OA perspective because sophisticated Q&A services are among the most effective ways to solve the last-mile problem for knowledge.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Review of Gary Hall's "Digitize This Book"

Dan Cohen, Idealism and Pragmatism in the Free Culture Movement, Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog, May 12, 2009. A review of Digitize This Book! The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now by Gary Hall (University of Minnesota Press, 2009).

... Gary Hall’s Digitize This Book! clearly falls more on the idealistic side of today’s open movements than the pragmatic side. Although he acknowledges the importance of practice—and he has practiced open access himself—Hall emphasizes that theory must be primary, since unlike any particular website or technology theory contains the full potential of what digitization might bring. He pursues this idealism by drawing from the critical theory—and the critical posture—of cultural studies, one of the most vociferous antagonists to traditional structures in higher education and politics.

Hall’s book is less accessible than others on the topic because of long stretches involving this cultural theory, with some chapters rife with the often opaque language developed by Jacques Derrida and his disciples. Digitize This Book! gets its name, of course, from Abbie Hoffman’s 1971 hippie classic, Steal This Book, which provided practical advice on a variety of uniformly shady (and often illegal) methods for rebelling against The Man. But Digitize This Book! reads less like a Hoffmanesque handbook for the digital age and more like a throw-off-your-chains political manifesto couched in academic lingo.

Those unaccustomed to the lingo and associated theoretical constructions might find the book offputting, but its impressive intellectual ambition makes Digitize This Book! an important addition to a growing literature on the true significance of digital openness. Hall imagines open access not merely in terms of the goods of universal availability and the greater dissemination of knowledge, but as potentially leading to energetic opposition to the “marketization and managerialization of the university,” that is, the growing approach by administrations to treat universities as businesses rather than as places of learning and free intellectual exchange ...

He is a co-founder of the Open Humanities Press, a founder and co-editor of the open access journal Culture Machine, and is director of CSeARCH, an for cultural studies.

Yet Hall sees his efforts as ongoing “experiments,” not the final (digital) word. ...

Here is where Hall’s true radicalism comes to the fore, building toward a conclusion with more expansive aims (and more expansive words, such as “hypercyberdemocracy” and “hyperpolitics”). He believes that open access provides a rare opporunity to completely rethink and remake the university, including its internal and external relationships. ...

A wag might note at this point that Digitize This Book! is oddly not itself available as a digital reproduction. ... Drawing attention to this disconnect is less a cheap knock against Hall than a recognition that the actualization of open access and its transformative potential are easier said than done. ...

See also our past posts on Digitize This Book.

Poland considering an OA mandate

Jane Park, Open Education and Open Science in Poland, Creative Commons, May 14, 2009. Notes on Open Science in Poland (Warsaw, May 5, 2009)

... The first session provided an overview of three key elements of open science: open access to scientific content, open education and new models of scientific communication described as “Science 2.0”. Presentations were given by Ahrash Bissell (Creative Commons ccLearn), Ignasi Labastida i Juan (University of Barcelona, Creative Commons Catalunya) and Paweł Szczęsny (Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Department of Biology, University of Warsaw).

The second part of the conference concerned open science in the Polish context. Marek Niezgódka, director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling at the University of Warsaw gave an overview of the open projects currently undertaken in Poland, and of the challenges they face. Jan Kozłowski from the Center for Science Policy and Higher Education Studies at University of Warsaw spoke about alternatives to classical peer review. Alek Tarkowski from Creative Commons Poland spoke about legal issues related to open science, and in particular about open licensing methods.

The conference ended with a panel debate among conference speakers, chaired by Edwin Bendyk from the “Polityka” weekly and attended as well by Krzysztof Gulda, Director of the Department of Strategy and Development of Science at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Mr Gulda declared the interest of the Ministry in introducing open science models in Poland, as part of the current reform of the scientific system. In particular, he declared that the Ministry is considering introducing an open mandate for publicly funded scientific content. ...

The conference presented an opportunity to present the project Open the Book, which will become public on the 20th of May. “Open the Book” is a collection of scientific books made available under Creative Commons licenses by their authors and made available online. The project serves to highlight the importance of open access to scientific content and to promote open scientific models among Polish scientists. ...


Robotics journal publishes datasets, provides OA

Paul Newman and Peter Corke, Data Papers -- Peer Reviewed Publication of High Quality Data Sets, editorial, The International Journal of Robotics Research, May 2009. (Thanks to UKSG Serials-eNews.)

This issue marks the launch of an undertaking by The International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR) to solicit and publish a new genre of journal paper: a “data paper”. Our prime goal is to facilitate and encourage the release of high-quality, peer-reviewed datasets to the robotics community. ... We recognize that acquiring high-calibre data is a substantial technical endeavour and one that need not be undertaken by every researcher. Indeed, the time and financial cost of experimental data capture can at worst be a barrier to entry and commonly slows algorithmic development. We wish to make it easier for authors to present original contributions and evaluate performance by processing established datasets. This, we hope, will have a twofold benefit to authors: first, there is no overhead in collecting experimental data; and second, it facilitates a direct comparison with work published previously. Beyond altruism, we are keen to provide a sufficient motivation for authors to release excellent, often hard-earned, experimental data. IJRR data papers will be treated in the same fashion as regular papers, undergoing the standard peer-review process and appearing in print in regular journal issues, and authors should expect their data papers to be cited just as regular papers are.

The content of a data paper will of course be markedly different from a regular paper, not least because they are expected to be short affairs. Rather than standing alone, they should be considered as a companion to a website that will host the data and associated access tools. A data paper should provide a crisp statement of how the data was collected and a summary of its salient properties and intended audience. ... [W]e stress that authors are encouraged to focus not on processing the data itself but on easing access to it to ensure its widespread adoption. Note also that data paper authors will retain the copyright and ownership of their data.

It is the intent of IJRR to solicit archival quality data, which means the provision of an archival service to authors. This will be an ongoing process, and while we aim ultimately to host all datasets and their supporting websites, it is anticipated that initially many data papers will refer to websites hosted author-managed. ...

This issue sees the publication of two data papers. ... The websites accompanying these papers are replete with access tools (with usage examples), showcase videos, taster sample sets, documentation and, of course, the free-to-access data itself. ...

  • The journal as a whole is TA. Both the editorial and the announcement are ambiguous as to whether the datasets categorically will be OA. (Both published examples so far are.)
  • Note that the journal also maintains a site for supplementary content, mostly video, which is also OA.

500 out-of-print books now OA from U. Pittsburgh press

University of Pittsburgh Press, 500 Pitt Press Titles Available Again Online and In Print, press release, April 27, 2009.

The University of Pittsburgh Press, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Library System and the Chicago Digital Distribution Center (CDDC), is making nearly 500 out-of-print Press titles available again for scholars and students around the world.

Representing the full range of scholarly series and subject areas published by the Press, these titles are now part of the University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions collection, fully searchable and freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection through the University of Pittsburgh Library System?s D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program. Over the next year, they will also be made available for purchase in reasonably priced paperback editions through the CDDC. ...

Since its inception in December 2007, the University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions site has been visited by thousands of users, many from outside the United States. Sales of the UPPDE titles still in print and requests for print copies of out-of-print titles suggest sufficient interest among scholars and students in having these titles available again as printed books. ...

Guide to including research data in repositories

Ann Green, et al., Policy-making for Research Data in Repositories: A Guide, report for the DISC-UK DataShare project, May 2009. From the introduction:

The Policy-making for Research Data in Repositories: A Guide is intended to be used as a decision-making and planning tool for institutions with digital repositories in existence or in development that are considering adding research data to their digital collections.

The guide is a public deliverable of the JISC-funded DISC-UK DataShare project (2007-2009) which established institutional data repositories and related services at the partner institutions: the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford and Southampton. It is a distilled result of the experience of the partners, together with Digital Life Cycle Research & Consulting. The guide is one way of sharing our experience with the wider community, as more institutions expand their digital repository services into the realm of research data to meet the demands of researchers who are themselves facing increasing requirements of funders to make their data available for continuing access.

The guide also can contribute indirectly to efforts to articulate the benefits of sound data management practices, as well as the goals of data sharing and long term access. In addition to setting up data repositories, institutions and libraries in particular can become more active by pursuing some of the following activities:

  • Raising awareness of data issues within institutions and the benefits of actively managing research data
  • Assisting in developing policies about data management and preservation
  • Providing advice to researchers about data management early in the research life cycle; influencing the way researchers will be creating their data, the formats they will use and building a commitment to use the repository to publish/preserve their data
  • Working with IT service colleagues to develop appropriate local data management capacity
  • Training and introducing data management and curation concepts to research students
  • Exploring methods of moving data from work-in-progress storage spaces to repositories in more seamless ways (Lewis, 2008).

This guide is largely based upon the online OpenDOAR Policy Tool (SHERPA, 2007), the OAIS Reference Model (CCSDS, 2002) and the TRAC checklist (OCLC, 2007). Although the focus was initially based on social science datasets, research institutions typically produce a vast heterogeneity of data types and so many other research outputs could be considered within the range of requirements listed in the report; other content includes images, texts, audio, video files as well as scholarly publications and ‘grey literature’. The guide does not cover the value-added services that should be offered within a curatorial environment, details of selection and appraisal, nor does it cover advocacy, researcher requirements and data management considerations surrounding funders’ mandates. Policies should be developed to address the complex issues related to access mechanisms and user support services as part of any service development process.

The trend for institutions to pay publication fees

Fytton Rowland, Towards a grudging consensus? UKSG Serials eNews, May 17, 2009.  Excerpt:

Two recent reports have addressed the vexed issue of paying for open access, especially when it has been mandated, that is, insisted upon, by a research funding body. There are three main arguments for OA. The first, which appeals to academics, says that an author's work has more visibility and impact if it can be seen by everybody free of charge to readers. A second, which appeals to librarians, says that something has to be done about the problem of journal prices, which leads to annual cancellation exercises and to libraries thus becoming steadily less complete in the collections needed by their users. And a third says that if taxpayers have paid for research to be undertaken, then taxpayers should be able to read the results of that research without further payment. OA can be achieved in two ways - either by publication in a journal that accepts author-side payments to provide access free of charge to readers, or by deposition of the published paper in a repository that is freely available to readers.

SQW Computing undertook a study for Research Councils UK, Open Access to Research Outputs, which was reported in Times Higher Education on 30 April. RCUK's collective stance is broadly pro-OA, but the different Research Councils have adopted varying policies towards mandating OA, with only the EPSRC standing out against it completely....RCUK's response to the SQW report was to say that they would continue to strengthen their mandates to deposit copies in repositories, and would extend support for the pay-to-publish model as well.

Meanwhile, a study of the same problem has been published jointly by Universities UK and the Research Information Network, Paying for open access publication charges. The recommendations of this report have been endorsed by The Biosciences Federation - a collective body of a large number of learned societies in the biological area....

The report recommended that HEIs "should each set up a dedicated budget to pay author-side OA publication charges", and that funding bodies should "clarify how they will provide support for researchers to meet their open access policies, especially regarding the payment of OA publishing fees"....

Perhaps predictably, Professor Stevan Harnad, a leading advocate of achieving OA by the repository model, is reported in the THE as opposing the idea that Research Council funds should be used to cover publishers' author-side charges, while other OA advocates - including myself - have been calling for this to be permitted by the Research Councils for many years. It was perhaps inevitable that a body representing many learned society publishers would emphasise the OA publishing model over the repository one.

There are indeed good arguments for seeking a stable financial future for learned societies and other not-for-profit scholarly publishers....

The Biosciences Federation's current position does represent progress - from an OA advocate's perspective - from the earlier position taken by some learned society publishers, which was to ally themselves with the for-profit publishers in outright opposition to OA....


  • It's disappointing that in an article specifically on paying for OA Rowland would repeat the error that all OA journals charge author-side publication fees.  Not only is it untrue for some OA journals; it's untrue for most OA journals, as we've known since 2005. 
  • Rowland's claim about the EPSRC is out of date ("the different Research Councils have adopted varying policies towards mandating OA, with only the EPSRC standing out against it completely").  In January 2009 the EPSRC revealed that it had decided in December 2008 to adopt an OA mandate.

Comparing 10 sources of OA case law

Robert J. Ambrogi, Get Your Free Case Law on the Web,, May 8, 2009.

Free is good. But free is not necessarily equal. Below are 10 sites that provide free access to case law. Each has its peculiar strengths and weaknesses. Which is right for your research project? The answer depends on what you need....

Opening Vancouver

Next week the city of Vancouver will take up a motion to support open data, open standards, and open source.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Vancouver endorses the principles of:

  • Open and Accessible Data - the City of Vancouver will freely share with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions the greatest amount of data possible while respecting privacy and security concerns; ...

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT in pursuit of open data the City of Vancouver will:

  • Identify immediate opportunities to distribute more of its data;
  • Index, publish and syndicate its data to the internet using prevailing open standards, interfaces and formats;
  • Develop appropriate agreements to share its data with the Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICIS) and encourage the ICIS to in turn share its data with the public at large
  • Develop a plan to digitize and freely distribute suitable archival data to the public;
  • Ensure that data supplied to the City by third parties (developers, contractors, consultants) are unlicensed, in a prevailing open standard format, and not copyrighted except if otherwise prevented by legal considerations;
  • License any software applications developed by the City of Vancouver such that they may be used by other municipalities, businesses, and the public without restriction....

U. Denver presentation on OA

Joseph Kraus has posted his slides and notes from his presentation on OA at the University of Denver's Library Liaison Advisory Group (Denver, May 12-13, 2009).

Forthcoming OA anthropology journal

Anthropology Reviews: Dissent and Cultural Politics is a recently-announced peer-reviewed OA journal. See this blog post for background.

ICOLC opposes OCLC data policy

International Coalition of Library Consortia, Statement on the Proposed OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records, May 11, 2009. (Thanks to Jeremy Dibbell.)

The “OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records” has been widely commented on since its release on November 4, 2008. Both the content of the policy and the process by which it was formulated have been challenged. ...

The member consortia endorsing this ICOLC statement add our recommendation to others in the library community calling for OCLC to withdraw the proposed policy and start anew to formulate a record use policy. Most notably we add our support to the January 30, 2009 Final Report to the ARL Board by the Ad Hoc Task Force to Review the Proposed OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records. It includes an extended review of the policy and six recommendations. We concur with the ARL report that OCLC develop a new policy based on widespread member library participation with a clear set of goals and explanations as to how the policy will achieve these goals and how member libraries will be affected operationally and legally.

We urge the OCLC Review Board to consider the issues raised in the ARL report and by others in the community. The concerns are substantial and broad and individual ICOLC member consortia will find different concerns most compelling. Underpinning these concerns are several broad issues that we ask the Review Board to consider.

  1. The proposed policy appears to freeze OCLC’s role in the library community based on historical and current relationships. We share the concern, voiced by many, that the policy hinders rather than encourages innovation, and we urge the Review Board to carefully examine this issue. ...
  2. The scope of the proposed policy goes well beyond any concerns about inappropriate commercial exploitation of WorldCat records. It applies as well to non-commercial uses. ...
  3. The proposed policy is legally murky. There is no mechanism for negotiation of terms and conditions nor is it clear what constitutes acceptance by member libraries. A new policy must address these problems. ...
See also: Tim Spalding, OCLC Policy, Good night, Thingology (LibraryThing's ideas blog), May 12, 2009.

...For a while there it looked like OCLC was going to succeed in locking down the world's library data, converting a wonderful sharing and coordination tool into an unbreakable data monopoly. But, together with OCLC's recent, revealing decision to enter the library systems market, the ICOLC statement effectively ends that possibility. OCLC isn't getting its new Policy, or anything like it. Good night, OCLC Policy. ...

It's time now for the library world to step back and consider what, if anything, they want to do about restricting library data in a fast-moving, digital world. Some, including some who've deplored OCLC's process and the policy, want restrictions on how library data is distributed and used. Once monopoly and rapid, coerced adoption are off the table, that's a debate worth having, and one with arguments on both sides.

From my perspective, restrictions on the use and transfer of cataloging data—which is not usually copyrightable and is most frequently created by bodies responsible to the public good—is legally dubious and ethically stingy.

Instead, libraries should embrace "radical openness," a commitment to sharing what they know freely, something that looks less radical in light of the library's historic dedication to the free exchange of information. Selling other people's library records isn't a real threat, but, if it were, the answer would be more openness, not less. ... And in a world that's looking less and less friendly to the long-term success of libraries, an unwavering commitment to sharing and openness may well be libraries' saving grace. ...

All PLoS journals now on Topaz platform

Richard Cave, PLoS Biology Migration to Ambra/Topaz, Public Library of Science, May 13, 2009.

Yesterday, we migrated PLoS Biology to the Ambra/Topaz platform. ... Now all of the PLoS journals have the same feature set including notes, comments, ratings, article impact metrics, etc. Migrating all of the PLoS journals to a single platform is a major milestone for PLoS and will allow us to finally create cross-journal features such as cross-journal search. ...

See also: All PLoS titles now on the same publishing platform, everyONE, May 13, 2009.

See also our past posts on Topaz.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New minor release of EPrints

EPrints 3.1.3 was released on May 13, 2009. See the release announcement for details of changes.

First humanities department OA mandate

The University of Oregon Department of Romance Languages adopted an OA mandate today.  From the announcement:

On Wednesday, May 14th, by unanimous vote, the faculty of the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon adopted an Open Access mandate (text below). This mandate is the first (according to ROAR) such mandate in the world by any Department in the Humanities and the 3rd in Oregon (after OSU Library faculty and UO Library faculty). It is distinguished by the stipulation that URLs of self-archived postprints are to be included in all materials submitted to the Department for purposes of review and promotion....

Resolved, that the UO Romance Languages Faculty adopts the following policy in support of deposit of scholarly works in Scholars' Bank [the UO IR]: ...

Every Romance Language tenure-track faculty member is required to self-archive in UO Scholars’ Bank a postprint version of every peer-reviewed article or book chapter published while the person is a member of the Romance Languages faculty. The URLs of these postprints will be included in all materials submitted internally to the Romance Languages Department for purposes of review and promotion.

Self-archiving in UO Scholars’ Bank means that each Romance Languages 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 Romance Languages faculty member grants to the UO 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 Romance Languages 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 Department of Romance Languages will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs the Department of the reason.

It is strongly recommended that faculty...self-archive postprints of articles and book chapters published prior to the adoption of this policy.

To facilitate distribution of the scholarly articles, as of the date of publication, each faculty member will make available an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article and full citation at no charge to a designated representative of the UO 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.


  • This is one of the strongest policies anywhere.  It starts with a Harvard-style mandate-plus-waiver policy and then adds a libre OA license (CC-BY-NC-ND).  It seems to say that promotion review of journal articles will be limited to those on deposit in the repository (a desirable feature pioneered by Napier Edinburgh and Liege).  Moreover, it does not allow embargoes beyond the date of publication unless the author seeks a waiver.  All this in another unanimous vote.  Kudos to the whole department.
  • As the announcement notes, this is the first OA mandate anywhere by a humanities department.  I believe it makes the U of Oregon the first university anywhere with two departmental mandates.  The UO library faculty adopted an OA mandate one week ago today --also by a unanimous vote.  (Harvard has three schools with mandates but they are not departments.)  This is the start of what Arthur Sale called a patchwork mandate and suggests that we'll soon see mandates from other Oregon departments.

Update (5/15/09).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comment:

University of Oregon (UO) has just registered (in ROARMAP) UO's second Green Open Access (OA) self-archiving mandate in a week -- the world's 80th Green OA mandate overall.
UO's first mandate was for the UO Library Faculty. UO's latest one is for the UO Department of Romance Languages. It's also the first departmental mandate in the humanities (confirming, along with the several humanities funder mandates already adopted, that OA isn't, and never was, just for the sciences!).

This is also the world's 9th departmental mandate, again confirming Arthur Sale's sage advice about the "patchwork mandate" strategy:

If your institution has not yet managed to reach consensus on adopting a university-wide OA mandate, don't wait! Go ahead and adopt departmental mandates, for which consensus can be reached more quickly and easily....


Society for Neuroscience offers PMC deposit

Robert Kiley, Society for Neuroscience offer manuscript deposition service, UK PubMed Central Blog, May 14, 2009.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) - publishers of the Journal of Neuroscience - now offer a manuscript deposition service for Wellcome Trust funded researchers.

Under this option, the Society will deposit the final author manuscript (i.e. the version that includes all changes that were approved following the peer review process) in UKPMC, where it will be made freely available six months after publication.

No fee is charged for this service.

This service is currently limited to researchers funded by NIH, HHMI and the Wellcome Trust. ...

Royal Society of Chemistry acquires ChemSpider

Royal Society of Chemistry, RSC acquires ChemSpider, press release, May 11, 2009. (Thanks to Peter Murray-Rust.)

The Royal Society of Chemistry announced today that it has acquired ChemSpider, heralding a breakthrough investment for the organisation and for the Chemistry Community.

This acquisition reflects RSC's commitment to providing access to rich resources of chemistry data and information. This complements RSC's existing leading role in online chemistry, including award-winning semantic mark-up technology and the release of the InChI resolver, recently launched in partnership with ChemSpider. ...

The ChemSpider development team will continue to be located in the USA and the ChemSpider website will be re-launched later in the year.

See also our past posts on ChemSpider.

Update. See also coverage in BioInform:

... Antony Williams, president of consulting firm ChemZoo and the lead developer of ChemSpider, told BioInform via e-mail that ChemSpider has been "free access with no price barriers to access and that is intended to continue." Williams will serve as vice president of strategic development for ChemSpider at the RSC. ...

Williams said there will be fees for some of the web services set to be created in the future, "but this is already that way that ChemSpider operates." ...


Richard Hake included OAN in his new compilation of Over Two-Hundred Education & Science Blogs.  (Thanks, Richard.)

Positioning an IR for institutional support

Richard W. Clement, Leveraging Institutional Repositories to Support Your Institution's Strategic Mission, a slide presentation at the ARCL National Conference (Seattle, March 12-15, 2009).

Abstract:   This presentation was given at the Association for College and Research Libraries 2009 conference during a breakfast presentation. It addresses how to improve the chances of a successful Institutional Repository.

Pitching IRs to provosts

Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Courtney Smith, and Kathleen Cowan, Making the Case for an Institutional Repository to Your Provost, a preprint, May 2009.  Excerpt:

...2009 is a good time to be talking about repositories, research distribution strategies, and publishing services with your Office of the Provost.

Over the last year, the university-wide research distribution strategy has become a hot topic amongst provosts and other senior administrators. Recent work by prominent thinkers and associations has galvanized the community into action. Amongst Digital Commons repositories, we’re even observing a growing trend toward provost-driven initiatives, spurred by the recognition that an institutional repository serves two valuable roles: it is critical to establishing the university’s
research distribution strategy; and, it enables the Office of the Provost to better serve the university’s mission.

A research distribution strategy is essential in the digital age. According to David Shulenberger, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, a university-wide research distribution strategy would represent an institutional “shift from a passive role in research distribution to an active one.” He further argues that institutional repositories and research distribution strategies are tightly intertwined. “The effort,” he says, “to develop policy and strategies will undoubtedly cause greater appreciation of the value of university research within the university community and enhanced distribution will increase research value externally.” ...

To the Office of the Provost, the IR is most compelling as a research portal—a timely, highly-visible, comprehensive showcase to the institution’s scholarship. This “research showcase” serves to expand the reach and value of the scholarly work produced at the institution. In short, the repository is an integral part of the university’s “research distribution strategy.”

At the same time, the IR is a service that plays a key role in helping your provost fulfill his or her mission. The IR serves your provost by enabling the university to improve its ability to: share research with local communities; increase global visibility and prominence; enhance the quality of its teaching and research; and, further institutional advancement by securing funding....

How scholars see and use Wikipedia

Erik Moeller, Scholarly community gives feedback regarding Wikipedia, Wikimedia Blog, April 27, 2009.

In February, the Wikimedia Foundation ran a survey with support from the Public Library of Science to explore the attitudes and beliefs of the open access scientific community with regard to Wikipedia. ...

At Wikimedia, we’ve been thinking for a while about ways to directly work with scientists and open access journals. While scientists already contribute to Wikipedia in a self-organized manner (an example being the Gene Wiki effort), we have never made a systematic, large-scale effort to invite them to participate. Our exploratory survey indicates that such an invitation would be welcomed with open arms.

The survey was published on the PLoS website, blog, newsletter and Twitter feed, and the link to the survey was also more widely circulated, most notably in Peter Suber’s open access newsletter. 1,743 self-selected respondents completed the survey. Out of the respondents, 225 identified as PLoS authors. The subsample of authors did not differ remarkably from the general response. In general, respondents expressed a very favorable (58.98%) and somewhat favorable (32.19%) opinion of Wikipedia, and 87.73% indicated they used Wikipedia frequently or occasionally as part of their professional work.

71.03% of respondents supported some form of hyperlinks from open access publications to Wikipedia, and 91.51% supported links from Wikipedia to open access publications. 67.93% of respondents indicated support for large scale efforts to invite scientists to become Wikipedia contributors, and 24.73% indicated support for limited experiments. 81.82% responded they would participate in such an effort to improve Wikipedia, with roughly half of the respondents indicating they would only do so as part of their professional work.

... We’ve had some initial conversations specifically with the Public Library of Science, and are looking forward to continuing them, specifically with an eye to scalable approaches to future collaboration.

More information:

See also our past post on the survey.

Author rights anecdote: success with T&F

Lisa Johnston, A Copyright Story, Physics and Astronomy Library News, April 22, 2009.

... I was accepted for publication earlier this month in a journal owned by [Taylor and Francis]. The "Transfer of Copyright Agreement" they sent was not great. It significantly limited my rights, namely it withheld:

  • the non-exclusive right to use, reproduce, distribute, and make derivative works of the article in all areas of my profession (not just teaching)
  • the ability to legally contribute this work, or some preprint form of it, to my university's institutional repository after an embargo period of 6-months (or other negotiable time period).

My first step was to send them the [University of Minnesota]'s author addendum. This is a document approved by the [Committee on Institutional Cooperation] and provided by each of the big 10 universities that reclaims some of the copyrights I mention above. ...

Rather than accepting the addendum, as other publishers have reportedly done, they sent me a second, secret copyright agreement that they "don't like to give out."

The appropriately named "Author or Company Owned Copyright Transfer" is an agreement that allows the publisher to use my work for the journal in this instance only and specifically states that the

Copyright of the manuscript remains in the author’s name and the author reserves all other rights.

So, bottom line, it was worth the trouble and it didn't hurt to ask (in this case). ...

More on the relationship between OA and book sales

Brian O'Leary, Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales, ebook, May 2009. Only this description is OA:
Book publishers have long used free content as part of their marketing and selling efforts, with the vast majority of free content distributed in printed form. Digital distribution of free material, either intentional or via unauthorized availability through peer-to-peer sites and other Web outlets, offers a fast and expansive connection to consumers, but content can also be copied and disseminated without publishers' control. Some publishers are torn between the efficiencies digital distribution provides and concerns over piracy and print-sale cannibalization. This research report is part of an ongoing effort by O'Reilly Media Inc. and Random House to test assumptions about free distribution, P2P availability and their potential impact on book sales.
See also our past post on O'Leary's research.

Synergy of OA and web 2.0

Mark Ware, Web 2.0 and Scholarly Communication, a preprint.  Undated but posted by the author May 14, 2009.  Excerpt:

...There is a clear synergistic relationship between the open access (and related ideas of open data and open science) and Web 2.0. At a trivial level, for instance, a blog commenting on a published paper presupposes access to that paper. Institutional repositories, as a platform for sharing scholarly content, could (perhaps should) be very “Web 2.0” in their design philosophy (although in practice they are not). At a much deeper level, the Web 2.0 culture of content purposing and re-use is much harder to realise within a non-open access environment. One of the arguments in favour of open access is that it facilitates the creation of new services and new knowledge through data mining and data mashups of the published literature....

Demand for UK OA ETDs

Chris Spencer, EThOS - an update, Bournemouth University Library, May 13, 2009.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

Since its beta launch in January 2009, EThOS, the open access repository for UK theses, has become one of the British Library's most popular online resources.

Over the three months that it has been available as a beta version:

  • Over 100 UK universities have signed up to participate in the service;
  • Traffic to the site has grown to over 550,000 hits per month;
  • The number of theses available for immediate download has tripled, from 4,000 in January to over 12,500 at the end of April;
  • It has become the most popular linking destination from the British Library Integrated Catalogue, generating four times more links than the next most popular resource.

EThOS has quickly been adopted by the research community and is effectively showcasing UK research to the World. However, this popularity has created some service delays.

Demand has been twice British Library's expectation, resulting in a backlog of theses waiting to be digitised. The British Library has taken steps to minimise the backlog by introducing a second digitisation shift and investing in new scanning machinery.

Details on the size of the backlog at the end of April:

  1. Number of theses waiting to be digitised: c10,000;
  2. Average number of new requests for theses per day (as of 6/5/09): 100;
  3. Digitisation capacity (theses per day): 175;
  4. Forecast date for complete digitisation of theses in backlog: October 2009....

New IR at U. Valladolid

UVaDoc is the new IR for the Universidad de Valladolid. See the announcement here (in Spanish).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How are OA journal funds being used?

Philip Davis, Dark Secrets: Open Access and Author Processing Charges, Scholarly Kitchen, May 13, 2009.

You would have thought I was requesting a field manual for interrogating prisoners of war or a list of members on Dick Cheney’s Energy Taskforce.  At least in those instances, I would have received a response that answering my questions violated national security or “executive privilege.”

All I did was ask five librarians at institutions administrating Open Access publication charges two simple questions:

“Can you provide a list of Open Access articles that you have supported through your author support program,” and “Have you rejected any requests to date?”

Now, before I give you the results, I need to mention that the librarians I contacted all serve in public institutions (University of California, Berkeley; University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; University of Calgary, Canada; and University of Nottingham, UK), which means that their library budgets are also public documents....

Two weeks after asking my simple questions, I received just two short responses.  No list, no numbers, but at least a few details:  There was some confusion on the part of faculty of what an OA article publication charge really was.  Some faculty requests were actually for page charges in conventional subscription journals; one faculty submitted a request for reprint charges; others submitted invoices to the library when they should have been directed to the external granting agency (like the HHMI).  To date, no bonafide requests have been denied.

While I am thankful for these two responses, I am troubled by a lack of transparency of how participating libraries are disclosing the details of their programs....

Comment.  Phil's title and opening sentence are a little melodramatic in light of the results, but he asked two good questions and I'd like to know the answers myself.  Or at least I'd like to know how many requests the funds received (for OA journal publication fees rather than something else) and how many they rejected.  I don't need to know which authors or articles were subsidized.  I'd also like to know the range of fees requested, and how often the fees would pay for libre OA rather than gratis OA.  I'd like to know how often the fees would go to hybrid journals with a double-charge business model (i.e. not promising to reduce subscription prices in proportion to author uptake).  I'd like to know the fields or departments of the requesting faculty.  If the funds have a good reason not to share anonymized data about their use, I'd like to know what it is.  (This is not a hostile question; there may be very good reasons which haven't occurred to me.)  I should add that I also have lots of questions about the business information at OA and TA journals.

One more question:  When a survey has a low response rate, why assume that the surveyed people or institutions are suppressing information?

Update (5/26/09).  Also see Bill Hooker's comment.

Podcast of Wilbanks talk on open science

John Wilbanks, Knowledge ‘Interoperability’, Beyond the Book, May 10, 2009. A 30-minute podcast, recorded at the Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting (Pittsburgh, May 1-5, 2009). From the Science Commons description:
... In Wilbanks’ talk he details the need for an open approach when it comes to knowledge sharing in the digital world, necessary to really see network effects on available information and explosions of innovation. He argues that the ability to create and distribute is now ubiquitous, and that the digital commons presents a different opportunity for sharing, if allowed. ...

More on OA law resources

Luigi Benetton, Free vs. paid online legal research tools, The Lawyers Weekly, April 17, 2009. (Thanks to Kristopher Nelson.) Discusses commercial law resources vs. OA sources such as CanLII.

New version of Fedora Commons

Version 3.2 of Fedora Commons was released on May 11, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) See the release notes for a list of changes.

New version of Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

Charles Bailey has released version 75 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. See the announcement for a list of sections updated.

New SSRN section on corporate governance

The Social Science Research Network has launched the Corporate Governance Network, including an OA repository. The section is sponsored by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute.

The puzzle of Advanced Research Journals

Advanced Research Journals is an apparently new OA publisher.  I say "apparently" because nothing on the site speaks about OA, although a May 5 listserv call for papers in broken English says that ARJ publishes OA journals ("Advanced Research Journals are an Open Access online journal...").  I've seen no press release announcing the launch, even now that I've gone looking.  The web site includes no "about" page and no contact info for the company.  The "help" link isn't (yet) activated.  Of the 13 journal titles listed in the sidebar, 3 titles are links and 10 titles are unlinked phrases.  The links all point to separate journal pages, but none of the journals has any content yet.  Each has a page of instructions for authors, but they don't mention OA or any kind of publication fee.  I didn't blog ARJ when I first ran across it, last week, because I couldn't tell how old it was and there wasn't much to blog. 

But on Sunday, Jim Till noticed something strange and blogworthy:  if you click on the ARJ logo on the home page, you are sent to the ScienceDirect home page.  He says "it would be of interest to find out whether or not Advanced Research Journals is sponsored by Elsevier."

Yes, it would.  If this is another Elsevier deception, would it link to ScienceDirect from the ARJ logo?  If it's a candid attempt to test the waters of OA publishing, perhaps to play catch-up with Springer after Springer's acquisition of BMC, then wouldn't it be more candid?  If it's under construction, and a full explanation is still to come, why raise questions and suspicions by starting with vaporous journals rather than a clear announcement of the plan? 

BTW #1, a search for "advanced research journals" at ScienceDirect draws a blank.

BTW #2, the code of conduct for the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association says that "Company contact information shall be clearly visible on the web site."

Organizing and searching OA sources in archaeology

Matthew Law is building a list of open access archaeology journals, conference proceedings and books on WikiArc, the wiki for archaeological research.  Even better, he's building a Google custom search engine, WikiArc Open Access Archaeology Search, to crawl all the OA resources on the new wiki list.

Comment.  This is a great idea.  Here's one more layer of utility to add on top:  encourage archaeologists to tag OA sources (including journals, repositories, databases, datasets, articles, comments, presentations, and so on) with "oa.archaeology" in Connotea.  If the sources are new, tag them with "" as well.  Then the project could offer an RSS feed of OA archaeology sources, or new OA archaeology developments, or both.  For more details, see the OA tracking project.

An open concept web

John Wilbanks, A Truly "Open" Concept Web Definition, Common Knowledge, May 12, 2009.  Excerpt:

I was invited to join a meeting last week in New York to kick off something called the "Concept Web Alliance." It's an emerging non profit hoping to stimulate the emergence of lots and lots of marked-up content from the life sciences and it's claiming the mantle of open access. The potential value of a concept web is essentially the same idea as the semantic web, but with a little more savvy about branding - we can have a computable web of data linked into the literature, and a better way of asking very precise questions of a massively complex data space if the information has more structure.

The CWA is being driven by the folks behind Knewco, a company that has been selling a technology that generates concepts out of content. I've known their CEO Jan Velterop for a while and consider him a friend, but I stayed away from the Knewco technology for a long time because of what I felt was a closed model that leveraged patents and asserted copyrights over the concepts generated. Neither of those are consonant with my own beliefs about concepts and webs....

So now we have the CWA, which is the Knewco folks taking their ideas and trying to build a more community based approach to the concept web. I like the idea a lot, and it was a fascinating meeting. And I decided at the end of the day to sign the declaration behind the CWA. It's a good declaration - it's kind of hard to go wrong with the core ideas of cooperation and coordination of methods and infrastructure....

There are some critical points to consider, however, as this effort moves forward.

The Web wasn't built by a company. Nor was the internet. Open systems get built by lots of entities, for and non profit, and the public-ness of them is the very source of their success. They get more valuable as a function of being open. And making them half-open doesn't work - or scale. Copyrights and patents - even in "non commercial" formats - would have choked the web and the internet in their cribs.

The CWA says it wants to build a web. Well, we've got one already (the Web!) and we know how it evolved. It was unpatented. It was technically open from the very start. And it aggressively enabled widespread copying via the view source technology. The CWA needs to follow the road that Tim Berners-Lee set for the WWW.

So, I have a four-point definition of "open" I want to propose for the CWA. I'm working from open access and open source software definitions as a guide here: they ban non-commercial restrictions. The W3C process gives us another guide: none of the parties driving the standards can use their patents against people practicing the standards. And we need to use standards in terms of technology and persistent web names.

Thus, the definition I propose is an amalgam of what has worked before, legally and technically.

1. The foundation of the CWA is going to be a database of semantic concepts - "triples" - if the CWA is going to be calling itself open, that database has to be in the public domain. Period. No non-commercial licensing allowed on that database - we have to be able to endlessly remix and recombine. This can be done through either CC0 or through the Public Domain Dedication and License.

Unlike the Web and the internet, we don't have the option of ignoring the copyright law here. We have to decide, right now, if we want to build a concept web on a very stretched interpretation of copyright. The idea that a semantically encoded triple derived from someone else's content (data, literature, you name it) is a "creative work" deserving of life + 70 years of lockdown monopoly rights doesn't seem to fit the reality of the triples. "A causes B" isn't Shakespeare. Calling it creative work in order to get a copyright is a siren's song that appeals to publishers, but it's a dead end if we want to make a web out of trillions of triples. Build the Web, and add value through trusted services and trademarks and brand loyalty. That only scales through the public domain approach.

2. No one involved can use a patent against the Web or the Web's users - to do so is to be a fox in the hen-house. This means that anyone involved will need to issue patent licenses to the public to make the public domain infrastructure accessible to go along with the public domain content. This can be accomplished by having anyone involved in the org sign onto the W3C patent process. This is absolutely essential to protect the ability of the web to scale.

3. Use RDF/OWL. There's an emerging public domain of content around RDF/OWL in the life sciences and we need to interoperate with it.

4. Use common persistent web names. The Shared Names Project should be the guideline for the CWA. Private web addresses will be a tempting way to monetize the concept web, but again, the paradox is that you have to give everything away if you want to make the web scale enough that you can make money on services. At every point, open has to be embraced as a strategy in the early days of web-building.

I think the CWA has the opportunity to be a tremendous public good. It could be great. But the decisions about how to run the CWA and what to distribute are going to be essential. The devil is always in the details, and the temptation to be half-open is always going to be strong. We have to resist it....

OA book series from Bloomsbury Academic

Alison Flood, New Bloomsbury science series to be available free online, The Guardian, May 12, 2009.  Excerpt:

Sir John Sulston, Nobel prize winner and one of the architects of the Human Genome Project, has teamed up with Bloomsbury to edit a new series of [OA] books that will look at topics including the ethics of genetics and the cyber enhancement of humans.

The series will be the first from Bloomsbury's new venture, Bloomsbury Academic, launched late last year as part of the publisher's post-Harry Potter reinvention. Using Creative Commons licences, the intention is for titles in the imprint to be available for free online for non-commercial use, with revenue to be generated from the hard copies that will be printed via print-on-demand and short-run printing technologies.

Publisher Frances Pinter is talking to "very high-level academics" across the disciplines to build up the list, which she hopes to reach 200-odd titles a year by 2014....Sulston and his colleague John Harris, professor of bioethics at Manchester University, are the first editors of a series she's signed up....

Sulston and Harris's series, Science, Ethics and Innovation, will be aimed "at a very wide market", covering subjects from "the interplay between science and society, to new technological and scientific discoveries and how they impact on our understanding of ourselves and our place in society", and the responsibility of science to the wider world. Authors they will be looking to commission will range from academics to policymakers, opinion formers, those working in commercial scientific roles, "and maybe even politicians". "They'll be non-technical books which will appeal to any intelligent person," said Harris. "The proverbial Guardian reader." ...

Pinter estimates that Bloomsbury would have to sell around 200 copies of a highly technical monograph, priced at around £50, to make a profit, but a more commercial title with a wider appeal and a lower price point would need to sell around 2,000 copies to be worthwhile. "We believe there are enough people who are willing to purchase a hard copy that we will sell enough physical books to meet our needs, to cover our costs and make a modest profit," she said. "But we won't be able to judge whether [the model is] financially viable for the next two years." And with academics more and more frequently looking to publish their work themselves online, Pinter is adamant that "if publishers are not willing to experiment with models, academics will bypass publishers".

Sulston...jointly won a 2002 Nobel prize for discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death....

PS:  Also see our past posts on Bloomsbury Academic.

Open Data Grid ready to host open data

The Open Knowledge Foundation has launched an Open Data Grid.  From today's announcement:

In the last couple of months we’ve had several threads on the okfn-discuss list about distributed storage for open data (see here and here).

Last month we started a distributed storage project, aiming to provide distributed storage infrastructure for OKF and other open knowledge projects.

After researching various technical options, we’ve launched an Open Data Grid based on Allmydata’s open-source “Tahoe” system....

Anyone can store open data on the grid, or start running a storage node. For more details see the readme. If you’d like to comment on the service feel free to post on the okfn-discuss list!


Fedora Commons and DSpace Foundation merge

The Fedora Commons and DSpace Foundation are merging to form DuraSpace.  From yesterday's announcement:

Fedora Commons and the DSpace Foundation, two of the largest providers of open source software for managing and providing access to digital content, have announced today that they will join their organizations to pursue a common mission. Jointly, they will provide leadership and innovation in open source technologies for global communities who manage, preserve, and provide access to digital content.

The joined organization, named "DuraSpace," will sustain and grow its flagship repository platforms - Fedora and DSpace. DuraSpace will also expand its portfolio by offering new technologies and services that respond to the dynamic environment of the Web and to new requirements from existing and future users. DuraSpace will focus on supporting existing communities and will also engage a larger and more diverse group of stakeholders in support of its not-for-profit mission....

"This is a great development," said Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI). "It will focus resources and talent in a way that should really accelerate progress in areas critical to the research, education, and cultural memory communities. The new emphasis on distributed reliable storage infrastructure services and their integration with repositories is particularly timely." ...

"The joining of DSpace and Fedora Commons is a watershed event for libraries, specifically, and higher education, more generally," said James Hilton, CIO of the University of Virginia. "Separately, these two organizations operated with similar missions and a shared commitment to developing and supporting open technologies. By bringing together the technical, financial, and community-based resources of the two organizations, their communities gain a robust organization focused on solving the many challenges involved in storing, curating, and preserving digital data and scholarship," he said.

New Products

DuraSpace will continue to support its existing software platforms, DSpace and Fedora, as well as expand its offerings to support the needs of global information communities. The first new technology to emerge will be a Web-based service named "DuraCloud." DuraCloud is a hosted service that takes advantage of the cost efficiencies of cloud storage and cloud computing, while adding value to help ensure longevity and re-use of digital content. The DuraSpace organization is developing partnerships with commercial cloud providers who offer both storage and computing capabilities.

The DuraCloud service will be run by the DuraSpace organization. Its target audiences are organizations responsible for digital preservation and groups creating shared spaces for access and re-use of digital content. DuraCloud will be accessible directly as a Web service and also via plug-ins to digital repositories including Fedora and DSpace. The software developed to support the DuraCloud service will be made available as open source. An early release of DuraCloud will be available for selected pilot partners in Fall 2009.

Key Benefits of the DuraSpace Organization

DuraSpace will support both DSpace and Fedora by working closely with both communities and when possible, develop synergistic technologies, services, and programs that increase interoperability of the two platforms. DuraSpace will also support other open source software projects including the Mulgara semantic store, a scalable RDF database.

From the DuraSpace FAQ:

3. What is the mission of the DuraSpace organization?
The DuraSpace organization inherits the shared aspects of missions of both Fedora Commons and the DSpace Foundation. The purpose of DuraSpace is to provide sustainable open technologies and services to help individuals and organizations create, manage, publish, share, and preserve digital resources upon which we form our intellectual, scientific, and cultural heritage.

4. How will the Fedora and DSpace open source software be affected?
Both the Fedora and DSpace repository platforms will have their home in the DuraSpace organization. The DuraSpace organization will support both platforms by providing leadership in the areas of technology, community outreach, communication, and marketing. Each project will continue to innovate and evolve within their existing communities, but with better opportunities for sharing across communities. Over time, we expect synergies to emerge between the projects....

8. When will DSpace and Fedora platforms interoperate?
For many years, our communities have been very active in discussions about repository interoperability. Both platforms have moved toward adopting common deposit APIs (e.g., SWORD) and improved fit with emerging Web standards. There is also active discussion about a common storage abstraction layer that would provide APIs to enable back-end storage interoperability. Our communities will continue to set priorities on which forms of interoperability are most desirable for the platforms as they evolve. We predict new opportunities for common components and API's, especially with the emergence of the DSpace 2.0 community of users.

10. When will the DuraSpace organization be effectively operating?
DuraSpace will be operating on July 1, 2009....


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OA at U. Calgary

Andrew Waller, Open Access at the University of Calgary: Access and Initiatives, presented at University of Calgary Faculty Technology Days (Calgary, May 7, 2009). Abstract:
The Open Access (OA) movement is one of the most important and growing developments in the world of scholarly communication. Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR) at the University of Calgary is involved in many initiatives relating to Open access. This session discussed how Open Access resources can be found and used by the University of Calgary community members and find out about services that support Open Access on campus, such as the Open Access Authors Fund and the institutional repository (DSpace).

Notes on academic copyright event

David Weinberger, [berkman] Kenneth Crews on academic copyright, Joho the Blog, May 11, 2009. Notes on Protecting Your Scholarship: Copyrights, Publication Agreements, and Open Access (Cambridge, Mass., May 11, 2009).

Blog notes on European open data conference

Jonathan Gray, European Open Data Summit, Open Knowledge Foundation Blog, May 11, 2009.

Last week was the first European Open Data Summit in Brussels (which we blogged about here) organised by EU Transparency, who created The event brought together journalists, researchers, civic hackers, and representatives from European institutions for two days of documenting and building on documents and datasets from European institutions and member states. ...

I presented our work on the European Open Data Inventory, which currently includes nearly 150 packages. You can see these under the ‘eutransparency’ tag on CKAN.

For each package we looked for legal information and whether or not items could be downloaded in bulk - providing direct download links where possible. Data includes everything from budget information to statistics to postcode databases. ...

Podcast interview on HathiTrust

OCLC, New Podcast: The Hathi Trust and "The Silence of the Archive", May 6, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

In this interview, Roy Tennant talks with John Price Wilkin, Executive Director, Hathi Trust and AUL for Library Information Technology, University of Michigan, about the recent accomplishments and future plans of the Hathi Trust, a shared digital repository of vast amounts of digital content.

John makes an amazing prediction about this invigorating collaborative development and also talks about "the silence of the archive," as well as the issues it poses for those interested in preserving our cultural heritage. ...

See also our past posts on Hathi Trust.

SWORD wins JISC award

SWORD Wins Innovation Award at JISC Event, UKOLN, May 11, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
The Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit (SWORD) Project, led by UKOLN, was named most innovative project at the recent JISC Repositories and Preservation conference at Aston Business School, as voted for by delegates from across the whole Programme. SWORD, whose partners include developers of the DSpace, EPrints, Fedora and IntraLibrary repository software platforms, plus the University of York and CASIS at the University of Wales, has created a mechanism for repositories to deposit and receive deposits via a standard protocol, thus making it possible for different repositories and other applications to move content around more easily. ...

Launch of the CARPET platform for scientific publishing tools

The CARPET (Community for Academic Reviewing, Publishing and Editorial Technology) project officially launched on April 30.  From the about page:

...Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft the CARPET project aims to support the efficient use of electronic tools and services for scientific publishing. In view of international developments in this field, the following will be carried out for  Germany initially....

PS:  For background, see our post on CARPET from its initial announcement last November.

Biological data repository funded by the NSF

Scientific data repository gets $2.18 million boost, a press release from the University of North Carolina School of Library and Information Science, May 8, 2009.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

A digital data repository that researchers agree has the potential to transform how scientific research is pursued will be expanded with a $2.18 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The repository, called Dryad, is designed to archive data that underlie published findings in evolutionary biology, ecology and related fields and allow scientists to access and build on each other’s findings....

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and the Metadata Research Center have been developing Dryad in coordination with a large group of Journals and Societies in evolutionary biology and ecology. With the new grant, the additional team members are contributing to the development of the repository....

Currently...[t]he lack of data sharing and preservation makes it impossible for the data to be examined or re-used by future investigators.

Dryad addresses these shortcomings and allows scientists to validate published findings, explore new analysis methodologies, repurpose data for research questions unanticipated by the original authors, integrate data across studies and look for trends through statistical meta-analysis.

“The Dryad project seeks to enable scientists to generate new knowledge using existing data,” said Kathleen Smith, Ph.D., principal investigator for the grant, a biology professor at Duke and director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. “The key to Dryad in our view is making data deposition a routine and easy part of the publication process.”

Dryad is being designed with a consortium of stakeholders who include representatives of more than a dozen journals in evolutionary biology and ecology....Dryad is intended to serve as a model for the many other scientific disciplines facing similar challenges in data preservation and sharing....

Spanish overview of OA

Leticia Barrionuevo-Almuzara, Open Access: la información científica al alcance de la sociedad (Open Access: Scholarly Information at Society's Reach), presented at International Meeting of Experts in Information Theories (León, November 6-7 2008); self-archived May 10, 2009. English abstract:
The concept of scholarly information and the importance of Open Access is analysed along with the importance that initiative is giving in the academic-scientific field and in society. The model of scholarly communication is studied, as well as, the concerns and problems that could arise. Two paths drive to Open Access: gold road, that suggests the publication of research in OA journals, and green road, whereby authors self archive their papers in repositories, which are other choices to traditional model of scientific dissemination.

More on "open source dividends" for inducement prizes

James Love, Prizes and Grants, Type I, II and III diseases, rich and poor countries, open and closed medicine development, Knowledge Ecology Notes, May 10, 2009.

... For all innovation efforts, there are quite important issues concerning openness, and the hazards of enclosures of science and the hoarding of knowledge. A number of academics writers, patent professionals and R&D experts have called attention to the potential risks that innovation inducement prizes might lead to less sharing of knowledge, as people position themselves to win prizes. But this risk should be seen in a broader context. It is also often pointed out that patents can discourage upstream research and downstream product development. ...

After a series of workshops on medical innovation inducement prizes, proposals also emerged to include new “open source dividends,” which involve sharing of prize money to entities that openly share access to knowledge, materials and technology. The open source dividends were modeled in several of the 2008 Bolivia Barbados prize proposals, and have unfortunately been ignored by some of those who have commented on those proposals.

There are also much more transformation proposals for funding open source medicine, including the proposals to introduce “competitive intermediaries” that have as their mission, the funding of public goods, or the reward of interim drug development benchmarks. KEI, some PDPs and others sees the competitive intermediaries discussion as potentially quite important, and we are thinking of organising some technical meetings to explore this further.

See also our past post on the "open source dividend".

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on letting the market decide

Oliver Graute asked Herbert Reul, member of the European Parliament, for his views on OA.  Reul responded that he thinks OA and TA should compete in the market and that government should not intervene by setting policy.  Moreover, he likes browsing print books and journals.  (Thanks to Infobib.)  Read the exchange in German or Google's English.


  • Reul must have thought the question was about which journals should be read or supported by libraries and researchers.  That's an area where the government should not intervene by setting policy.  But if the question is whether governments should require OA for publicly-funded research, then it must be decided by governments.  We don't let the market decide whether private corporations may charge members of the public for admission to publicly-funded parks or roads.  What would that even mean?
  • In addition, the domain of scholarly journals is much less market-like than meets the eye.  Most scientific research is funded by taxpayers.  Most researcher salaries are paid by taxpayers.  Most TA journal subscriptions are paid by taxpayers.  Journal publishers receive both the articles and the referee reports as donations from authors and referees.  Not even TA publishers really want to exclude government money from this sector.  That would be the end of most research, most universities, and most academic publishing.  If government money and government policy are already in this domain with both feet, then it's a polite fiction, or worse, to pretend that it's a market like any other and that governments should give up their responsibility to decide whether public money is being spent in the public interest.

Student campaign for OA at Yale

Five Yale students have launched a web site on OA at Yale.  The site includes a proposed OA mandate modeled on the policies at Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.  It also includes the results of 17 faculty interviews about OA.  (The results show that many of the usual fears and misconceptions have not yet been answered for these 17.)  From the sub-page on Open Access at Yale:

...Nabiha Syed, a student at Yale Law School, began working on implementing an Open Access program at YLS. However, complications arose. One of the major problems is consciousness of OA, of which there seems to be none. Another problem was that a new law school dean needs to be found before any progress or actions could be made. When the new dean is chosen, Syed plans to bring the plan back to the table and hold a faculty vote. She also plans on getting the opinion of the editors-in-chief of various law school journals.

Jason Eiseman, the Librarian for Emerging Technologies at Yale Law School, pointed to a few technologies that Yale is toying with, but admitted that there was no real effort towards Open Access. One example is CONTENTdm, a digital collection management software. Yale Library has started putting up certain texts, images, and archives of the Yale Daily News....

Yet, however much actions like CONTENTdm are opening up Yale's resources, they are not Open Access when it comes to the stuff coming out of our departments every day. Much of scholarly research done by people at Yale is held under permission-and-fee. Only the scientists whose research is funded by the National Institutes of Health have an incentive (in the form of NIH requirements) to make their research free and open to any and all.

Yale has instituted the Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure, headed by Meg Bellinger of the Yale University Library. One of the office's goals is: "Ensuring faculty and researchers get needed institutional support for the deposit, retrieval and preservation of their publications and research." This office, which has a committee under the Provost's Office, is in charge of the future of Yale's open programs, including open educational resources and Open Yale Courses. They must be at the front of any efforts for serious Open Access programs at Yale.

Update (5/12/09).  This is the five students' final project for IP in the Digital Age, a course taught by Elizabeth Stark.  But the project will continue when the course ends.

Cornell allows unrestricted use of its public-domain ebooks

Cornell University Library Removes All Restrictions on Use of Public Domain Reproductions, a press release from Cornell (today).  Excerpt:

In a dramatic change of practice, Cornell University Library has announced it will no longer require its users to seek permission to publish public domain items duplicated from its collections. Instead, users may now use reproductions of public domain works made for them by the Library or available via Web sites, without seeking any further permission.

The Library, as the producer of digital reproductions made from its collections, has in the past licensed the use of those reproductions. Individuals and corporations that failed to secure permission to repurpose these reproductions violated their agreement with the Library. "The threat of legal action, however," noted Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, "does little to stop bad actors while at the same time limits the good uses that can be made of digital surrogates. We decided it was more important to encourage the use of the public domain materials in our holdings than to impose roadblocks."

The immediate impetus for the new policy is Cornell’s donation of more than 70,000 digitized public domain books to the Internet Archive (details [here]).

"Imposing legally binding restrictions on these digital files would have been very difficult and in a way contrary to our broad support of open access principles," said Oya Y. Rieger, Associate University Librarian for Information Technologies....

Institutional restrictions on the use of public domain work, sometimes labeled "copyfraud," have been the subject of much scholarly criticism. The Cornell initiative goes further than many other recent attempts to open access to public domain material by removing restrictions on both commercial and non-commercial use. Users of the public domain works are still expected to determine on their own that works are in the public domain where they live. They also must respect non-copyright rights, such as the rights of privacy, publicity, and trademark. The Library will continue to charge service fees associated with the reproduction of analog material or the provision of versions of files different than what is freely available on the Web. All library Web sites will be updated to reflect this new policy during 2009.

Comment.  This is an exemplary policy.  The original books are in the public domain and the digitizers do not acquire new copyrights in the digital editions (at least under US law).  Hence, these digital editions are also in the public domain.  Privately-funded digitization projects, like Cornell's, may still want to be reimbursed for the costs of digitization.  But Cornell is right that restricting reuse of the public-domain texts will limit valuable uses, violate the university's background commitment to OA, and (as usually implemented) constitute copyfraud.  Nor would it do much to stop determined reusers --who should not be called bad actors when they are exercising their rights to use and reuse works in the public domain. 

Update (5/14/09). Also see Josh Hadro's article in Library Journal.

Update (5/31/09). Also see Dawn Lim's article in the Cornell Daily Sun.


Elsevier confirms 6 fake journals; more comments

Bob Grant, Elsevier published 6 fake journals, The Scientist, May 7, 2009.

Scientific publishing giant Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and looked like peer reviewed medical journals, but did not disclose sponsorship, the company has admitted.

Elsevier is conducting an "internal review" of its publishing practices after allegations came to light that the company produced a pharmaceutical company-funded publication in the early 2000s without disclosing that the "journal" was corporate sponsored. ...

An Elsevier spokesperson told The Scientist in an email that a total of six titles in a "series of sponsored article publications" were put out by their Australia office and bore the Excerpta Medica imprint from 2000 to 2005. These titles were: the Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint [Medicine]. Elsevier declined to provide the names of the sponsors of these titles, according to the company spokesperson.

"It has recently come to my attention that from 2000 to 2005, our Australia office published a series of sponsored article compilation publications, on behalf of pharmaceutical clients, that were made to look like journals and lacked the proper disclosures," said Michael Hansen, CEO of Elsevier's Health Sciences Division, in a statement issued by the company. "This was an unacceptable practice, and we regret that it took place." ...

"We are currently conducting an internal review but believe this was an isolated practice from a past period in time," Hansen continued in the Elsevier statement. "It does not reflect the way we operate today. The individuals involved in the project have long since left the company. I have affirmed our business practices as they relate to what defines a journal and the proper use of disclosure language with our employees to ensure this does not happen again."

"I understand this issue has troubled our communities of authors, editors, customers and employees," Hansen added in the statement. "But I can assure all that the integrity of Elsevier's publications and business practices remains intact."

Bill Hooker, More on the "Australasian Journal of..." series., Open Reading Frame, May 9, 2009.
On the basis of the evidence below, I believe the entire "Australasian journal of..." series from Excerpta Medica to be either nonexistent or fake, in the same sense of "fake" that Elsevier has already admitted applies to the [above] six titles from that series ...
When is peer review not peer view? (hint: when Merck pays Elsevier), Small Gray Matters, May 8, 2009.
... The bitter irony is that Elsevier, along with the other major academic publishers, have spent the last few years ceaselessly lobbying against the open access movement, on the grounds that open access journals can’t be trusted to maintain the high quality of peer review that the commercial publishers provide. Any guesses as to whether Elsevier will rethink that stance following this fiasco? ...
Ben Goldacre, The danger of drugs … and data, The Guardian, May 9, 2009.
... Health systems pay for these drugs – state-funded in almost every single developed country – and they largely pay for the journals, too. In a sensible world, countries would band together and pay for comparative research themselves, and the free, open distribution of the results, to prevent all this nonsense. ...
Peter Murray-Rust, Trust in scientific publishing, A Scientist and the Web , May 9, 2009.

... So – as many have noted – here is a commercial company which has campaigned to rubbish Open Access as “junk science” behaving in a manner which totally destroys any trust in their ethics and practice. I have no option but to say that I now cannot absolutely trust the ethical integrity of every piece of information in Elsevier journals.

The need for Open, trusted, scientific data and discourse is now clear. The scientific societies are well placed to help us make the change from closed paper to open trusted semantic digital. They clearly need a business model that transforms the new qualities into a revenue stream. This will not be easy but it has to be tried – there is no alternative. Some of the modern tools will help – the ability to mashup, aggregate, etc. will lead to new forms of high-quality information that will have monetary value. Certified validated information will lead to productivity gains and may be a valuable commodity. ...

Jonathan Eisen, Elsevier, fake medical journals, and yet another reason for #openaccess, The Tree of Life, May 8, 2009.
... [W]e can cross of the list of criticisms of Open Access publishing that the costly non open access journals and publishers are protecting the world from bad science. Instead, it seems like they are in fact explicitly and purposefully pushing bad science and medicine in order to make extra money. ...
David Prosser, posting on liblicense-l, May 8, 2009.
Irony lovers will enjoy going back to 2004 and re-reading the evidence Crispin Davis, former CEO of Reed Elsevier, gave to the UK House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology. Right in the middle of this interesting practice Sir Crispin was commenting on the quality and objectivity safeguards of the subscription models - safeguards that would be undermined by open access. He also mentioned that 25% of Elsevier revenue came form the commercial sector, including Merck [question 65]. We now know how that came about. ...

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

Update. See also comments by Economic Logic and Richard N. Landers.

More on making money from OA books

Cory Doctorow, Extreme Geek, Locus Online, May 9, 2009.

... I give away all my books as free, Creative Commons-licensed e-books the same day they go on sale in stores, on the grounds that for most people, a free e-book is more apt to entice them to buy the print book than to substitute for it.

But there's a small minority — mostly other geeks — for whom the e-book is all they want, and who, nevertheless, want to see the writers they enjoy compensated (bless 'em!). They write to me with some variation on, "Can't I just send you a donation?" And my answer has always been no, because:

  1. I don't want to have to bookkeep, file taxes on, and otherwise track your $5;
  2. I don't want to cut my extremely valuable and useful publisher out of the loop;
  3. I don't want to reduce my print-books' sell-through rates (which determine advance sizes, print runs, and bookstore orders).

So, traditionally, I asked my readers to compensate me by donating a book to a school or library or halfway house. ...

Starting with my novel Little Brother, I've been doing something different: I actually provide a matchmaking service to connect donors with willing recipients. ...

Judging from donor e-mails, many of them just gave to the first outstanding request, others looked for requests from their region, and others judged by merit. Some donated several copies — as much as 15! As I type this, we've given away well over 200 copies to people who really wanted the book. I got the sales number, my publisher got the sale, the library or school got the material, and the reader got to feel like s/he had paid for the value s/he'd received. ...

Forthcoming OA journal on philosophy of science

Philosophy & Theory in Biology is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal. Authors retain copyright.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An OA mandate for Calgary's LCR division

The University of Calgary division of Library and Cultural Resources has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Andrew Waller.)  From the May 5 announcement:

The Academic Council of Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary has adopted a mandate to deposit their scholarly output in Dspace, the University’s open access scholarly repository. The repository has been in place since March 2003 and currently provides access to a broad range of scholarly output, including a growing collection of full text university theses.

Members of the Council, comprised of archivists, curators, and librarians, have long supported open access through promotions on campus such as Open Access Day, membership in SPARC and Canadian Association of Research Libraries, support for online open access journals published through the University of Calgary Press, and an active program of introducing the repository to faculty and graduate students. Libraries and Cultural Resources also funds the $100,000 Open Access Authors Fund to assist researchers to publish in open access journals.

The text of the mandate is:

"As an active member of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary endorses the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing and the Berlin Declaration.

LCR academic staff members believe that the output of our scholarly activities should be as widely disseminated and openly available as possible. Our scholarly output includes but is not limited to journal articles, books and book chapters, presentations if substantial, conference papers and proceedings, and datasets.

Effective April 17, 2009, LCR academic staff commit to

  • Deposit their scholarly output in the University of Calgary’s open access scholarly repository
  • Promote Open Access on campus and assist scholars in making their research openly available
  • Where possible, publish their research in an open-access journal"

Comment.  This is the third OA mandate for the LIS division of a university, after the Oregon State U policy in March and the U of Oregon policy earlier last week.  Or more precisely, it's the third to be announced here on OAN.  It was adopted and publicly announced before the U of Oregon policy.  Note that the Calgary policy applies to books and datasets (and a few other categories), not just journal articles, and apparently offers no opt-out.  It includes encouragement to publish in OA journals and to promote OA elsewhere on campus.  Kudos to all at Calgary LCR.

Update (5/13/09).  Also see the accompanying guidelines, especially the sections on open licenses (hence libre OA), permissions, and opt-outs.  Excerpt:

...Each publication added to the repository is covered by a copyright license. Submitters can choose to use the standard University of Calgary DSpace license or they can create their own Creative Commons license. The license is added at the time of submission.

We encourage staff to negotiate permissions with publishers for journal articles, conference presentations, proceedings, etc. You can also check the Sherpa site to review the archiving policy of your journal publisher.

Where publishers do not allow self-archiving or retain copyright over an individual’s publication, authors are requested to submit a metadata record for their publication and to indicate that copyright permission for publishing in the repository has not been obtained. Publishers who use a “moving wall” are acceptable under these guidelines; however, the author must provide this information prior to submitting....

Comment.  When a given publisher won't allow OA on Calgary's terms, it would be better to deposit the full-text article and keep it non-OA (a "dark deposit") than to deposit only metadata.


Lessons from free trade for free science

Michael Nielsen, Doing science in the open, PhysicsWorld, May 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

In your high-school science classes you almost certainly learned Hooke’s law, relating a spring’s length to how hard you pull on it. What your high-school science teacher probably did not tell you is that when Robert Hooke discovered his law in 1676, he published it as an anagram, “ceiiinossssttuv”, which he revealed two years later as the Latin “ut tensio, sic vis”, meaning “as the extension, so the force”. This ensured that if someone else made the same discovery, then Hooke could reveal the anagram and claim priority, thus buying time in which he alone could build upon the discovery....

Imagine modern biology if the human genome had been announced as an anagram, or if publication had been delayed 30 years....

This cultural transition [to public sharing of scientific results] was just beginning in the time of Hooke and Newton, but a little over a century later the great physicist Michael Faraday could advise a younger colleague to “Work. Finish. Publish”. The culture of science had changed so that a discovery not published in a scientific journal was not truly complete....

From the outside, scientists currently appear puzzlingly slow to adopt many online tools. As we will see, this is a consequence of some major barriers deeply embedded within the culture of science. Changing this culture will only be achieved with great effort, but I believe that the process of scientific discovery — how we do science — will change more over the next two decades than in the past 300 years....

The adoption of the journal system was achieved by subsidizing scientists who published their discoveries in journals. This same subsidy now inhibits the adoption of more effective technologies, because it continues to incentivize scientists to share their work in conventional journals and not in more modern media.

We should aim to create an open scientific culture where as much information as possible is moved out of people’s heads and labs, onto the network and into tools that can help us structure and filter the information. This means everything — data, scientific opinions, questions, ideas, folk knowledge, workflows and everything else....

Ideally, we will achieve a kind of extreme openness: making many more types of content available than just scientific papers; allowing creative reuse and modification of existing work through more open licensing and community norms; making all information not just human readable but also machine readable; providing open interfaces to enable the building of additional services on top of the scientific literature, and possibly even multiple layers of increasingly powerful services. Such extreme openness is the ultimate expression of the idea that others may build upon and extend the work of individual scientists in ways that they themselves would never have conceived.

To create an open scientific culture that embraces new online tools, two challenging tasks must be achieved: first, build superb online tools; and second, cause the cultural changes necessary for those tools to be accepted. The necessity of accomplishing both these tasks is obvious, yet projects in online science often focus mostly on building tools, with cultural change an afterthought....

Rather than hoarding their questions and ideas, as scientists do for fear of being scooped, the [open source] programmers revel in swapping them. Some of the world’s best programmers hang out in these forums, swapping tips, answering questions and participating in the conversation...., there is no way that Alice will be willing to advertise her questions to the entire community. The danger of free riders who will take advantage for their own benefit (and to Alice’s detriment) is just too high.

In science, we are so used to this situation that we take it for granted. But let us compare it to the apparently very different problem of buying shoes. Alice walks into a shoe shop with some money. Alice wants shoes more than she wants to keep her money, while Bob the shop owner wants the money more than he wants the shoes. As a result, Bob hands over the shoes, Alice hands over the money, and everyone walks away happier after just 10 minutes. This rapid transaction takes place because there is a trust infrastructure of laws and enforcement in place that ensures that if either party cheats, then they are likely to be caught and punished.

If shoe shops operated like scientists trading ideas, first Alice and Bob would need to get to know one another, maybe go for a few beers in a nearby bar. Only then would Alice finally say “You know, I am looking for some shoes”. After a pause, and a few more beers, Bob would say “You know what, I just happen to have some shoes I am looking to sell”. Every working scientist recognizes this dance; I know scientists who worry less about selling their house than they do about exchanging scientific information....

Unfortunately, science currently lacks the trust infrastructure and incentives necessary for such free, unrestricted trade of questions and ideas.

An ideal collaboration market will enable just such an exchange of questions and ideas. It will include metrics of contribution so that participants can demonstrate the impact that their work is having. Contributions will be archived, time-stamped and signed, so it is clear who said what, and when. Combined with high-quality filtering and search tools, the result will be an open culture of trust that gives scientists a real incentive to outsource problems, and contribute in areas where they have a great comparative advantage. This will change science.

PS:  Also see Nielsen's blog version of this article from July 2008.

More on the Heidelberg Appeal

Stevan Harnad, Heidelberger Appell Abgepellt, Open Access Archivangelism, May 9, 2009.  Excerpt:

Matthias Spielkamp [MS] has just participated in an International Copyright Conference in Berlin (May 7-8) and is participating in a radio debate on open access today (May 9). MS has cast some revealing new light on the original source of Roland Reuss'sanimus against Open Access (OA) in the Heidelberg Appeal, which Reuss co-drafted. (The following exchange with me [SH] is posted with MS's permission.)

SH: The Heidelberger Appell is all based on pure misunderstanding.
MS: It is indeed. Reuss is not talking about journal articles. He says he is not even talking about OA. He says that he "does not want to be forced to publish" his works (classics editions, in his case) [books] in any form other than what he chooses himself. Why does he say that? Because he apparently had the experience that one of his funders demanded that a classic edition he was going to publish in cooperation with a mid-size book-publisher be made OA a year after publication. The publisher said he would not produce the book under these circumstances.

SH: Matthias, first, thanks so much for at last discovering and revealing the original source of the misunderstanding!

Second, it is still Reuss's fault, for having immediately launched a petition that made this scattershot attack on all forms of free online access without taking the trouble to see and separate what is benign and desirable from what is not (and what is and is not OA's target).

Third, it sounds as if the fault here lies also partly with the research funder too....Books are a far more complicated, far less uniform, and far less urgent case insofar as OA is concerned.....