Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 23, 2009

UKPMC now reports article-level citation impact

Alison Henning, New UKPMC Grant Reporting services – including citation data – now available, UKPMC Blog, May 21, 2009.  Excerpt:

Users of the UK PubMed Central Manuscript Submission System (UKMSS) are now able to use a new service - 'My UKPMC' - to report on the outcomes of any grant funded by any one of the UKPMC Funders' Group member organisations. Grantholders can export these grant reports not only in standard .csv and xml formats but also as publicly available web pages, which will update dynamically whenever a new publication is added to either PubMed or UK PubMed Central.

The service also provides grantholders with a “My Impact” report which shows the number of citations each paper has attracted. The citation count data – again updated dynamically so that it always shows the most up-to-date data – is provided by Thompson/Reuters Web of Knowledge (WoK). Users who have full access to the WoK service will be able to see details of the citing articles.

Over time we hope to provide additional metrics from other organisations, along with data such as number of downloads from the UKPMC repository.

Grant reporting using ‘My UKPMC’ : a step-by-step guide [PDF 8MB] ...

Questions about OA mandates

Richard Poynder, Open Access mandates: Judging success, Open and Shut? May 23, 2009.  Excerpt:

As Alma Swan has graphically demonstrated (here and here), mandates have begun to propagate nicely.

It is worth noting that many of the new ones are being introduced by faculty themselves, rather than by administrators imposing mandates on them from above....

But what level of compliance can we expect from these mandates? After all, a mandate is only as good as the compliance rate it achieves. And how do we judge success so far as compliance is concerned anyway?

Arthur Sale’s analyses of the effect of mandates on Australian researchers suggest that a high level of compliance with a mandate can be achieved within two years. (Sale appears to have judged success as being a compliance rate of 70%)

Perhaps the most controversial and hard-won mandate was the one introduced at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in May 2005. Initially this was a request.

By November 2005 it was reported that fewer than 5% of NIH grantees were complying with the request. As a result, last year the mandate was upgraded to a requirement.

The new policy came into effect in April 2008. Since then, an NIH spokesperson tells me, “Compliance has increased almost 250% ... It has jumped from 19% of our target estimate 80,000 papers per year arising from NIH funds during the voluntary policy to almost half (49%) of the target estimate of papers arising from NIH funds at the end of 2008.”

And compliance, he added, continues to improve. “In January and February 2009 we collected over 3 times as many manuscripts as we did in January and February 2008, before the requirement took effect, and March and April numbers appear even higher.”

A similar increase in deposits has been experienced at the University of Stirling following the introduction of a mandatory self-archiving policy by its Academic Council last year (which came into force last September).

Last week it was announced that deposit rates in the University’s repository (STORRE) have grown from 20 a month to 120 a month, and STORRE now hosts 1,000 papers, reports and book chapters.

Commenting on the JISC-REPOSITORIES mailing list, the University of Stirling’s eLearning Developer Michael White said, “Whilst we are aware that we don't yet have 100% compliance with our mandate, the key point is that we only managed to get 63 journal articles over the 3 years prior to the announcement of the mandate, but have got 687 items (excluding eTheses) in the year since (with the vast majority coming in after the mandate came into force in September).”

A number of questions naturally arise:

— Can we expect the NIH compliance rate to match the levels reported by Sale in Australia by next April (i.e. two years after it became mandatory)?

— Can we expect the surge of new mandates to achieve the same levels of compliance reported by Sale?

—  Is there any significance in the fact that many of the new mandates are being introduced by library faculties, and can we expect that to affect compliance rates?

— Will the fact that many of the new mandates are self-imposed affect compliance rates? (Will it make them appear more voluntary than mandatory)?

— Will the fact that many of the new mandates include opt-outs affect compliance rates? (Will that make them appear more voluntary than mandatory?)

— What is full compliance so far as a self-archiving mandate is concerned? (Is Sale’s 70% level the objective, or should the research community be aiming higher?)

What other questions should we be asking, particularly when trying to judge the success of a mandate?

Comment.  These are very good questions.  I just copied them, with attribution, to the OAD list of Research questions (subsection on universities).  Doctoral students and other scholars use this list to find open questions about OA in need of investigation.

Dark deposits when OA is not permitted or when permission is uncertain

Stevan Harnad, The Definitive Answer: Deposit All Final Drafts, Immediately Upon Acceptance for Publication, Open Access Archivangelism, May 21, 2009. 

The context is an AmSci OA forum discussion thread on whether Wiley-Blackwell allows postprint archiving.  See Stevan's full post (of which this is just a summary) for the evidence on each side. 

Summary:  (1) Under all circumstances, deposit the final, refereed, accepted draft of your journal article (postprint) in your Institutional Repository (IR), immediately upon acceptance for publication. There is no need whatsoever to make a single exception.
    (2) Unless you are certain that you have reason not to, set access to that deposited draft as Open Access (OA) immediately upon deposit. (Otherwise, you can set access as Closed Access, for the duration of any publisher embargo you wish to honor.)
    (3) The only thing even remotely at issue is whether or not, if you deposit a document in your IR and make it OA, you receive a take-down notice from the publisher.
    (4) If you receive a take-down notice and you wish to honor it, set access as Closed Access for the duration of any publisher embargo you wish to honor.
    (5) Meanwhile, if there are multiple, self-contradictory statements of the publisher's policy, act on the most positive one and don't give it another thought until and unless you ever receive a take-down notice.

Update (5/23/09).  Also see Stevan's follow-up post.  Some of it includes more detail on the Wiley-Blackwell policy and some of it continues the general advice.  Excerpt:

...And above all, reflect that if the millions of articles that have been made OA (by computer scientists, physicists, economists, and all other disciplines) since the 1980's had waited (or asked) for a clear, unambiguous green light in advance from each publisher, we would have virtually none of those millions of articles accessed, used and built-upon across those decades by the many users worldwide whose institutions could not afford access to the publisher's subscription edition....

I can only repeat, yet again, that it is an enormous strategic error to ask when there already exists a suitable public green light from the publisher....

Update (6/13/09). Also see Stevan's third installment in this series.  Excerpt:

The default explanation and advice to [faculty] regarding their right to deposit their refereed, accepted final drafts in [an institutional] repository should (in my judgment) be the following:

  1.  Every final draft can and should be deposited in OU's IR immediately upon acceptance for publication. There is absolutely no legal obstacle to doing this, without exception; publisher policy and copyright are completely irrelevant to making this deposit.
  2. Set access to the deposit immediately as Open Access if the journal (or the publisher, on behalf of all its journals) has formally stated that all of its authors may make their final drafts OA, without any access embargo (as at least 63% of journals have already done). If you have contractually agreed to an access embargo in your copyright agreement, you can instead set access to the deposit as Closed Access for the duration of the embargo. (Closed Access means only the metadata are openly accessible, not the full-text, until the embargo elapses.)
  3. If the journal or publisher has formally posted that you may make your final draft OA immediately and has elsewhere made negative statements inconsistent with that, act according to the positive statement until and unless you should ever receive a "take-down notice" from the publisher -- at which time you may simply re-set your OA deposit as Closed Access if you wish.
  4. Avoid agreeing contractually to any OA embargo wherever possible....

In cases where they have any "reasonable doubts" they should simply set access provisionally as "Closed Access," rather than not depositing at all -- or depositing only after any embargo has elapsed....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jim Neal wins 2009 Dewey Medal

The American Library Association awarded Jim Neal its Melvil Dewey Medal, for a lifetime of service to libraries, including work for OA.  From the ALA announcement (May 7, 2009):

James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and university librarian at Columbia University, has been chosen to receive the American Library Association’s 2009 Melvil Dewey Medal Award, sponsored by OCLC. This prestigious professional honor [is] given in recognition of creative leadership of high order....

Neal an effective spokesman for and to the library community career spans more than 35 years. A nominator commented “Jim Neal is one of the most well-known and widely respected leaders in the library world today.  As an advocate for sensible and supportive intellectual property policy and for effective open access to scholarly research, he has helped shape the national debate on these topics, influenced the direction of government policy, and served as a respected, effective voice for the library profession....”

[From Winston Tabb, chairman of the award jury:]  “Among the achievements specially noted by the Dewey jury and the colleagues who wrote in support of this award were...his long-standing role in promoting changes in scholarly communication, most notably as a leader in the development of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition whose steering committee he chaired during its years of major growing impact....”

PS:  Also see our past posts on Neal.  (Congratulations, Jim!)

Coventry U. wins best IR award

The Coventry University Repository Virtual Environment won Best Institutional Repository in the IMS Global Learning Consortium's Learning Impact Awards. (Thanks to

See also the other award categories for some other projects related to open education.

What to ask candidates for EU Parliament about OA

Eberhard R. Hilf, Questions for the European Parliament from the research community concerning Open Access, Opening scientific communication, May 22, 2009.

... We have prepared some very focused questions for the EU-parliament candidates; the candidates’ replies will then be distributed in the research community. The purpose of these questions is to elicit and reveal the current problems at the EU-level in moving legislation and policy towards a stable and reliable support for research information in the digital era through Open Access (while continuing to leave it entirely in the hands of researchers what and where they wish to publish).

  1. How will you communicate with researchers to learn and understand their needs for legislation? Are you aware that research organizations worldwide are unanimously calling for Open Access ...[?]

  2. Are you aware of the EC recommendations in favour of mandating OA and of the petition for mandating OA, so far signed by 27.000 European researchers and research organisations? ...

  3. Are you aware of the international status of the recommendations by science organisations regarding Open Access (UNESCO, SPARC, ….). And will you communicate with them?

  4. Are your aware that leading universities in the world have adopted a mandate to provide Open Access for all of their authors’ refereed research journal article output ... and that most universities and research institutes now have an Open Access repository for the digital copies of their authors’ research output?

  5. Are you aware that there is a specific European Community, the scientists, for whom no specific legislation yet exists to meet their needs for doing research effectively? On the contrary, the present legislation misuses ‘copyright law’ to bundle these special, give-away authors in a legislative framework designed exclusively for trade authors (who earn their living by publishing for the general consumer). The result is that this deprives their publicly funded research of its full potential usage and impact. The result is subscription and license toll-barriers blocking researcher access to give-away research.

    Will you help bring attention to the need [for] legislation that treats publicly funded give-away research publications differently from royalty-seeeking trade publications?

    The question is: Will the EU design the specific legislation required by scientific and scholarly research, or will it persist in treating the needs and works of publicly-funded scientific researchers as if they were the same as those of trade authors? ...

Update. Updated to reflect the amended post.

Report on launching the IR at Leeds Met. U.

Wendy Luker and Nick Sheppard, Implementing an Institutional Repository for Leeds Metropolitan University: Final report, undated but recent. Executive summary:

Leeds Met has been funded under the Repositories Start Up programme to establish an institutional repository. The project began with an institutional needs analysis, which resulted in the starting point for the population of the repository to be based on research outputs, with a clear mandate that the software platform should be extensible to support outputs of assessment, learning and teaching, as well as a range of other materials. The project team led the procurement of a suitable software platform, intraLibrary, and this was implemented in June 2008. Up until this point, the project team had concentrated the bulk of their activities on the procurement and also on advocacy activities. The result of the latter has been that the repository already has a high profile within the University.

Since the commissioning of IntraLibrary in the Summer of 2008, the project team has concentrated on working with the project consultancy team to agree appropriate policies and procedures. The team has also worked closely with Intrallect, and adapted open source applications developed by other JISC projects, to configure IntraLibrary to function more effectively as an open access research repository.

Procurement of full text content has followed the pattern exhibited elsewhere in the sector. A number of full text articles are available within the Repository. However, to date the bulk of contributions have been in citation format. The University Research Office is very supportive of the project, and are convinced of the potential of the Repository to raise the profile of research at the University. It is hope that this commitment, combined with the already high profile of the Repository, will lead to higher levels of full text deposit.

The next development of the Repository will be to store and make accessible learning objects. Again, a number of learning objects are already held in the repository, and in addition the University’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Assessment Learning and Teaching and the Dean of Partnerships for Students are both supportive of a drive to populate the Repository with existing content held in the University’s VLE.

A number of other uses for the Repository have already been identified and will be implemented in due course.

See also our past posts on the IR at Leeds Met.

More on the recession and the access crisis

Zoë Corbyn, Expect few new titles in library as sterling's fall pounds acquisitions, Times Higher Education Supplement, May 21, 2009.  Excerpt:

40% of [UK] university libraries plan cuts to book and journal purchases next year.

Academics should brace themselves for "severe" cuts in access to new books and journals in the next academic year as higher costs caused by the fall in the value of the pound put libraries under pressure.

Times Higher Education reported in January that the drop in the pound's value was having a "crippling effect" on the budgets of UK university libraries, which faced huge increases in subscriptions costs for research journals from the US and elsewhere in Europe.

Now a new survey of 38 university libraries conducted by the Research Information Network (RIN) reveals just how serious the situation is.

Preliminary findings presented to Times Higher Education show that although the current academic year has been "financially challenging", it is in 2009-10 that the pinch will really be felt.

The survey shows that nearly 40 per cent of libraries plan cuts to books and serial purchases from next year. One in five plans to cancel one or more so-called big deals with publishing houses to access bundles of journals online. A single bundle can contain hundreds of titles.

Michael Jubb, director of the RIN, said that many university libraries had already overspent in the current academic year and some had been forced to cut budgets. But it was 2009-10 that would be the "much bigger problem".

"We are facing the prospect of significant reductions in access to a wide range of journals and severe cuts in the availability of books ... which could do severe damage to research and teaching in UK universities," he said.

"In some libraries, the extra costs for journal licences that they will face next year, simply as a result of the fall in the value of the pound, exceed the total of their current budgets for buying books." ...

PS:  I've argued that the recession will harm OA and TA alike, but will strengthen the case for OA.

Rapid recent growth of OA mandates

Alma Swan has made two charts showing the rapid recent growth in the number of OA mandates.  (Thanks, Alma!)

PS:  Note that there have been four departmental mandates so far this month, and all four by unanimous faculty votes.  The links point to my blog posts:

I'll have another university mandate to report in the next few days; stay tuned.

Update (5/23/09).  Alma has updated the two charts.

California to develop list of approved OA textbooks

Gov. Schwarzenegger Launches First-in-Nation Initiative to Develop Free Digital Textbooks for High School Students, press release, May 6, 2009. (Thanks to Elizabeth Looney.)

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today launched an initiative to make California the first state in the nation to offer schools free, open-source digital textbooks for high school students. The Governor directed his Secretary of Education Glen Thomas to ensure these resources are available for use in high school math and science classes by fall 2009, a critical first step in helping ensure digital textbooks are widely available to all California students. ...

At the Governor’s request, Secretary Thomas will work with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and State Board of Education President Ted Mitchell to develop a state approved list of standards-aligned, open-source digital textbooks for high school math and science. This list will be compiled after content developers across the country are asked to and have submitted digital material for review. ...

Galileo as forbear of OA

Gideon Burton, Galileo opened the heavens with Open Access, Academic Evolution, May 20, 2009.

The telescope was not the instrument through which Galileo opened the skies four centuries ago, forever changing our concepts of worlds terrestrial and celestial. No, Galileo's breakthrough was not a technological one, nor an intellectual one per se. Copernicus and Kepler had laid out the concepts before Galileo pointed his modest tube into the sky. ... No, it was Galileo's strategy for freely and publicly communicating his findings. Galileo opened the heavens with Open Access. ...

Of course Galileo didn't call his campaign for spreading scientific knowledge "Open Access publishing," but Galileo was following the same principles that animate today's movement to liberate scholarly knowledge. Most in his day were operating within a different paradigm--one that privileged the restriction of knowledge. ...

Take, for example, the actual inventors of the telescope, Hans Lippershey and James Metius of Alkmaar. ... They each tried to secure patents on their devices in the Netherlands. Political and legal entanglements prevented them. When Metius didn't obtain the patent, he not only refused to let anyone see his telescope again, but when he died he had all of his tools destroyed so that no one else could ever receive credit for his achievement. (It's not unlike those publishers who keep their backlist out of print because if they can't get a financial profit by selling access, then by dang, no one is going to get any other kind of profit from those books, either!)

Galileo was operating from a different set of principles than these Dutch inventors. Instead of keeping his telescope or his discoveries secret, he did everything he could to give that knowledge away. He was constantly doing public demonstrations, touring with his instrument and getting church men, academics, and laymen peeping through his optics as he explained the significance of this new mode of seeing. And he didn't charge admission or lecture fees. ...

[W]hen he published his more influential work on the Copernican theory a few years later, he did not address this important book to learned peers, nor did he compose it in Latin; he put his Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems into an accessible dramatic format and published this in Italian. He ignored the academic audience and took his work to the people. ...

The digital world is no new world at all so long as it remains tethered by the same restricted knowledge paradigm that tried to ground Galileo's vision. If our communication is not electronic, online, and freed from commercial and licensing restrictions, then we are not the equals of Galileo, nor worthy of the fantastic instruments multiplying in our hands. To discourage or delay Open Access publishing today is not simply ignoring an efficiency for disseminating scholarship; it is betraying an epistemological evolution. ...

US trying to kill Medical R&D Treaty

James Love, Hillary and Obama Set to Kill Medical R&D Treaty at WHO Meeting, Huffington Post, May 20, 2009.

The most favorable explanation for what is going on this week in Geneva is that Hillary Clinton and Obama are not following what key Bush hold-overs are about to do. The less favorable explanation is that Secretaries Clinton (State) and Sebelius (HHS) and the Obama White House are closely working with PhRMA to kill any further discussions of a medical R&D treaty at the WHO.

The medical R&D treaty has been discussed by many governments at the WHO, and supported by a very long list of health, consumer and development NGOs, including MSF, Oxfam, Health Action International, HealthGap, the 80 member TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue, Knowledge Ecology International, Essential Action, and others. (See earlier expressions of support here, here, here, and here).

At present, the United States government is the leading source of government funded medical R&D, through agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. In both absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP, no other country comes close....

The efforts to discuss new trade and business models for R&D [in the treaty negotiations] have delighted public health groups, but alarmed PhRMA....

The U.S. position has now been incorporated in a draft resolution....

The deal the US has pushed is to force developing countries to choose between (a) the medical R&D treaty or (b) the ability of the WHO to look at other intellectual property issues relating to access to medicines. Basically the US delegation has conceded that it cannot block all efforts to deal with access to medicines, but it wants to stop any discussions that would be more transformative, in terms of trade or business models for medical R&D, that are opposed by PhRMA.

For context about what a medical R&D treaty might do, consider this recent proposal by four countries for possible topics: ...

5.  Global norms and best practices to facilitate access to government funded research....

9.  Norms promoting the management of intellectual property rights in a manner that reconciles the public interest in access to knowledge and health-related innovation, including the R&D needs of developing countries....

PS:  For background see the draft treaty from February 2005 and our past posts on it.  (Disclosure: I signed the letter of submission and helped draft the treaty's OA provision, §13.1, which would mandate OA to publicly-funded research.)

Presentation on PhysMath Central

PhysMath Central has posted a presentation introducing the project, presented at an undated INSPIRE meeting in Batavia, Ill.

Video intro to DRIVER

The DRIVER project has posted a 3-minute video intro to the repository project. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

Repositories for research reporting

QUT ePrints Update – HERDC & stats, LibraryFIT, May 21, 2009.

Every year, [Queensland University of Technology] academics are required to report their publications to the Office of Research for the HERDC (Higher Education Research data Collection). The University’s research funding is partly based on the number of publications we report – so we lose money if publications go unreported. Academics are also required to deposit copies of their published journal articles and conference papers in QUT ePrints. Naturally, busy academics will object to doing anything twice so the Office of Research and the Library have been working towards merging these two processes into one.

When a paper is deposited in QUT ePrints, the depositor can tick a box to say that the publication should be considered for inclusion in the next HERDC. When the record appears in the repository, it will have a link at the bottom of the screen to a HERDC collection form.

When it comes time for the next HERDC, the School admin staff can search for all publications affiliated with their School, print the forms (which will be pre-populated with publication details from the eprint record), print a copy of each paper (which is attached to the record) and pass to the ADR for a consideration and possible sign-off. From now on, the Government has indicated that there will be no need to keep photocopies as evidence provided the full-text paper is in the institution’s repository. For the academics, this means no more double-handling. They can comply with both obligations in one go. ...

See also some of our past posts on repositories for research reporting (e.g. 1, 2, 3).

Presentations from OKCon

The presentations from Open Knowledge Conference 2009 (London, March 28, 2009) are now online.

Winners of Developer Challenge at Open Repositories conference

RepoChallenge Winners!, dev8D, May 20, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

For the second year in a row the Developer Challenge at Open Repositories has revealed the significant contribution developers can make when asked to “show us the future of repositories”! This year over a dozen submissions were entered in the competition. Both JISC and Microsoft put up prizes for the top two prototypes. ...

The second place runner up was a prototype called FedoraFS by Rebecca Koesar who exposed Fedora as a desktop filestore using Fuse. While only a command line prototype at this point, the ease of overlaying a Graphical User Interface with file-folder icons is all but a done deal. [Note: omitting demo videos.]

The winner and new “RepoChallenge Champion” is Tim Donohue who coded up his MentionIt prototype with less than three-hundred lines of javascript. The idea itself was noted for its user centric focus on how the repository can actually bring value to the individual end user. By pulling back comments accross the web to the original repository paper the end user is able to see what is being said about the paper and where it is getting the most feedback.

Both Tim and Rebecca will be given $2000 USD to use on attending the conference of their choice. ...

Chopra confirmed as Obama's CTO

Aneesh Chopra, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee to be the country's first Chief Technology Officer, was confirmed by the Senate yesterday.

For background, see also our post on Chopra's nomination.

Labels: launches: OA warehouse of U.S. gov. data, an OA warehouse of datasets created by the U.S. federal government, launched yesterday. See, e.g., coverage by the Washington Post.

Also yesterday, the Sunlight Foundation launched a new contest for best re-use of data from, Apps for America 2. First prize is $10,000.

See also our past posts on

OCLC review board recommends withdrawing WorldCat policy

In a presentation to the OCLC Members Council on May 18, 2009, Jennifer Younger, chair of OCLC's Review Board on Principles of Shared Data Creation & Stewardship, recommended that OCLC withdraw the proposed policy. See the presentation slides or video.

Younger does say that a new policy is needed, but that OCLC should start over in developing one. She acknowledges concerns about increased control of the WorldCat data, but doesn't call for OA either, stating that it may be necessary to prohibit "unreasonable" uses of WorldCat to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the service.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making repository deposit policies more effective

Karla Hahn, Achieving the Full Potential of Repository Deposit Policies, Research Library Issues No. 263, April 2009.  Excerpt:

Editor’s note: A small group of individuals with expertise on author-rights policies, the campus policy environment, National Institutes of Health (NIH) deposit processes, and digital repository services met in Washington DC on January 9, 2009, under the auspices of ARL’s Public Policy and Scholarly Communication programs. The group explored opportunities, desired outcomes, and policy issues involved in developing capabilities for institutionally mediated deposit processes and content transfer between institution-based and funder-based repositories, particularly PubMed Central. Based on that discussion, the group also identified potential strategies that would lead toward creating the needed rights-management environment and repository services. This essay reflects the January 9 discussions....

Actions to Pursue

Having looked at key questions and fostered agreement among the January meeting participants, several potential action arenas emerge:

1.  Exchange of content between different repositories is a needed capability for research institutions,...For example, one step toward expanding locally based repository services is to harvest content as it is deposited in a disciplinary repository....It is already feasible for an institutionally based repository program to start harvesting PubMed Central content that is
coded as fully open access. NLM staff at the meeting expressed interest in working on such a project with a small group of libraries.

2....[T]here is a need for a “universal addendum” for author-publisher agreements that facilitates the grant of a limited license to an author’s funding organization and affiliated

Another way to advance toward the desired copyright-sharing environment would be for libraries to engage in conversations with publishers about appropriate rights-management practices on behalf of the authors at their institution. One avenue where this could occur is through negotiations libraries engage in with publishers to license journal products.3 Particularly with large publishers, including discussion of rights assignments for works authored by affiliates of the licensing institution could be an efficient approach....

ARL will be working with member libraries on how best to move closer to the ideal repository environment, one that effectively incorporates the requirements of research funders as well as the interests of research institutions.

Michigan signs new contract with Google for increased leverage over Book Search

Miguel Helft, Google Book-Scanning Pact to Give Libraries Input on Price, New York Times, May 20, 2009.

In a move that could blunt some of the criticism of Google for its settlement of a lawsuit over its book-scanning project, the company signed an agreement with the University of Michigan that would give some libraries a degree of oversight over the prices Google could charge for its vast digital library. ...

Under Google’s plan for the collection, public libraries will get free access to the full texts for their patrons at one computer, and universities will be able to buy subscriptions to make the service generally available, with rates based on their student enrollment.

The new agreement, which Google hopes other libraries will endorse, lets the University of Michigan object if it thinks the prices Google charges libraries for access to its digital collection are too high, a major concern of some librarians. Any pricing dispute would be resolved through arbitration.

Only the institutions that lend books to Google for scanning — now 21 libraries in the United States — would be allowed to object to pricing.

The new agreement also gives the university, and any library that signs a similar agreement, a discount on its subscription proportional to the number of books it contributes to Google’s mass digitization project. Since Michigan is lending a large number of books, it will receive Google’s service free for 25 years. ...

The American Library Association, which has asked the court to oversee aspects of the settlement, said the new agreement is a step in the right direction but is insufficient to ensure that Google does not set artificially high prices for its digital collection. ...

See also the University of Michigan's press release and the amended agreement.

New OA journal on digital culture

Digital Culture & Education is a new peer-reviewed OA journal. The inaugural issue is now available. From the inaugural editorial:
... DCE is open-access. Accepted peer-reviewed articles will be made available online shortly after submission. ... Our commitment to making the journal ‘open-access’ emerges from our own frustration at trying, often unsuccessfully, to access articles from various university and publishing databases. ...

Opening up access to Norwegian books

More than 10,000 Norwegian books will soon be digitized, move online, and be freely accessible at least to Norwegians.  See yesterday's announcement from Kopinor, Norway's copyright management agency:

On the World Book and Copyright Day, Kopinor and the National Library of Norway signed a contract regarding a pilot project for digital books on the Internet.

Through the project, called (’Bookshelf’), the library will make all Norwegian books from the 1790s, 1890s and 1990s available on the Internet.

All titles from the 1990s and some titles from the 1890s – together approx. 50.000 books – are under copyright. These books will not be prepared for print or download, but will be made available to Norwegian IP-addresses. The licensing agreement will be supported by the Extended Collective License.

The Bookshelf project will be launched in May, with 10.000 books under copyright. More books will be introduced in 2009–10, and the project will continue until the end of 2011.

Representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the National Library and Kopinor made recommendations on the principles for licensing of the copyright protected material and for the payment of remunerations in March, 2009.

The contract is in accordance with the regulations of the extended collective license.

Comment.  I like that the books will at least be gratis OA for Norwegians and that the project will cover all the books from three decades, including many that are still under copyright.  But I have many questions.  How did the project decide to cover some copyrighted books and not others?  What kind of remunerations will be paid, and out of what pocket?  Will non-Norwegians have toll access to the same books, or no access?  Will the digitized editions of the public-domain works be also limited to Norwegian IP addresses, and limited to gratis OA, or will Norway lift all access restrictions from them?  If not, why not?

Wikipedia votes to move to CC license

Jay Walsh, Wikimedia community approves license migration, Wikimedia Blog, May 21, 2009.

Today we announced some fantastic news. The proposal to see Wikimedia’s content adopt a new dual license system has been voted on and approved by the Wikimedia community. With the full approval of our Board of Trustees, this now means that the Wikimedia Foundation will proceed with the implementation of a CC-BY-SA/GFDL dual license system on all of our project’s content. The new dual license will begin to come into effect in June.

A Q&A about the announcement has been posted on the Foundation wiki. ...

Update. To be clear, the Foundation board has ratified the outcome of the community vote, and so will proceed with relicensing.

Little progress on OA at U. Houston

Charles Bailey, The University of Houston Libraries’ “Enrich Support for Scholarly Communication” Strategic Directions Goal Near the Three-Year Mark, DigitalKoans, May 19, 2009.

In July 2006, the University of Houston Libraries released their UH Libraries Strategic Directions, 2006-2010. ...

This post examines the "Enrich Support for Scholarly Communication" section of the document ...

The first goal is "Expand efforts to build and preserve digital collections," and it includes items such as digitizing Special Collections materials, developing a secure institutional repository, participating in digital preservation efforts such as LOCKSS and Portico, and participating in the Texas Digital Library.

It appears that little visible progress has been made in these areas. No new public digital Special Collections exhibits have been made available (back-room digitization efforts likely continued), there is no public institutional repository, and, while the Libraries participate in the Texas Digital Library project, none of their digital materials appear to be available on its Website (there is an empty test repository in TDL Labs). The Libraries do not participate in Portico, but do participate in LOCKSS.

The second goal is "Advocate for open access in order to develop collections in a cost-efficient manner and increase the reach of University-generated scholarship," and it includes items such as selecting open access materials, acting as a faculty/student resource about digital rights, acting as a digital rights advocate with publishers, and providing tools such as digital/institutional repositories and open access journal platforms.

Again, little progress appears to have been made. ...

The third goal is "Collaborate with communities of practice within the University to help scholars make their work accessible and improve the world-wide visibility of the University’s scholarship." Aside from another repository objective (that mentions ETDs) and a self-archiving assistance objective, the objectives in this section don't lend themselves to public assessment. A 2007 Electronic Theses & Dissertations Pilot Project using DigiTool was launched in 2007 with two UH colleges participating, but it is unclear what has happened subsequently. There is no evidence of self-archiving assistance.

Recently, the Libraries have hired a Digital Projects Program Director, and, hopefully, this may move forward some of the objectives in this section of the strategic directions. ...

Integrating repositories and Current Research Information Systems

Leslie Carr, Repositories and Research information, RepositoryMan, May 14, 2009.

I've just spent three days in Athens at the euroCRIS meeting, discussing the relationship between repositories and Current Research Information Systems. The idea behind a CRIS (plural CRIS, not CRISes) is that it forms a cross-institutional information layer that aggregates information from the library (publications), human resources (personnel and organisational structure), finance department (projects and grants), estates management (facilities and equipment) and external sources (funding programmes, citation data), and so integrates at some level with the set of services provided by a repository.

The CRIS initiative comes out of an administrative background (starting in 1991) and so predates repositories and exists tangentially to them. A CRIS is typically concerned with repository metadata (how many papers? which publishers? written by whom?) but not its data contents. So my concern was that the repository should not be sidelined or marginalised, but instead the repository should be seen as a mature partner in the aggregate of information services provided across the institution. ...

At the meeting many universities from across Europe spoke of how they were trying to make the two systems work together in one form or another. In some ways, the innovation is not technical, but simply in the concept that institutional information should not be siloed, but that it can be shared between administrative domains for the benefit of the whole institution.

On the technical side, CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) is the data sharing and interoperability standard that euroCRIS are promoting. ...

These requirements are straightforward to satisfy in EPrints ... So an EPrints repository should be able to take on a useful role within a CRIS environment ...

New IR at U. Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg launched its IR, UJDigiSpace, on March 24. (Thanks to eIFL.)

New upload tool for Internet Archive

Cara Binder, Welcoming the “Share” Button, What’s New at the Internet Archive, May 8, 2009.

This week, released a beta version of our new upload tool, created to ease sharing of your material on Internet Archive. We’ll be moving away from FTP uploads in favor of HTTP uploading which allows you to upload right on the web. When you click on the “Upload” button, you’ll be prompted to use the HTTP method, if you choose. ...

We encourage you to give it a shot and offer any feedback you have on the new system. Here is a conversation that is currently taking place about the switch.

Additionally, we have a new edit tool for your items on the Archive. You can use this tool to change an item’s title, description, file formats and titles, running time, language, etc. You can also use it to remove, add, or rename files within an item. ... adds 2 sources, New Sources Added to, May 13, 2009.

KoreaMed, a product similar to PubMed, was recently added to KoreaMed provides access to articles published in Korean medical journals from the Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors (KAMJE). Coverage goes back to approximately 1997.

The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), a database containing approximately 5,000 project summaries of research taking place in Russia and several former Soviet states, has also been added to ...

Help with nine institutional policies

For a piece I'm writing, I'm looking for more detail about the following institutional OA policies.  In particular, I'd like to know (1) whether they were adopted by faculty votes and (2) if so, what was the vote tally. 

The links point to my blog posts about the policies.  The dates are the dates of adoption, not the dates of my posts. 

If anyone can help with these details, please drop me a line.  I'd be grateful.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More on Microsoft's Zentity repository platform

Rob Knies, Facilitating Semantic Research, Microsoft Research, May 20, 2009.  Excerpt:

On May 20, as part of the Open Repositories Conference being held May 18-21 at Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology, Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research’s External Research group, will be announcing the public availability of downloads of a pair of tools, Zentity and the second version of the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007, part of the scholarly-communication tools life cycle announced during Faculty Summit 2008. The downloads are the latest in a regular drumbeat of releases from the Scholarly Communications team within Hey’s group....

In the days leading to the opening of the conference, for which Microsoft Research is a leading sponsor, Lee Dirks, director of the Education and Scholarly Communication team, took a few minutes to discuss his team’s efforts, along with Alex Wade, director of Scholarly Communication, and Savas Parastatidis, now an architect for Live Search after serving as the primary architect for the Zentity project:

Q: What does the Scholarly Communication team do, and what is your vision for this work?

Dirks: ...At Microsoft Research, we have looked at that entire life cycle [of academic research], mapped the multitude of tools, resources, and technologies across Microsoft, and saw that we could —and should— be adding more value into the process. Indeed, most academic institutions around the globe have licensed Microsoft software...but they aren’t actively utilizing it as part of this life cycle....

In this effort, I want to stress that all of the software, accelerators, and add-ins that we are making available are free to demonstrate the value of the Microsoft platform and the various products the institutions have already licensed.

Q: What will Tony be announcing today?

Wade: We are announcing version 1.0 of Zentity, our research-output repository platform, and version 2.0 of the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007.

Zentity, previously called Research-Output Repository Platform and code-named Famulus, is a platform that allows institutions to store all of their digital scholarship: papers, lecture, presentations, videos —anything that might be collected by the university as part of the digital output of their researchers and scholars....

With regard to the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007, we’ve added a lot of great functionality over version 1.0, which was released last summer. You now can upload directly into a repository—ours or those of others—via the SWORD [Simple Web Operation for Repository Deposit] protocol. We also have added support for authoring Object Reuse and Exchange [ORE] resource maps within the Word environment. We’ve also added the ability to perform literature searches and to import the bibliographic information in Word with one click, which makes it very simple to quickly add citations into a paper.

Q: You’re planning to release these as open source?

Dirks: Yes. First and foremost, we’re releasing the binaries, but soon thereafter, we’ll release both of these as open source. Once they are available, our big push over the next 12 to 18 months will be to build a worldwide community around these assets....

Q: What have you found most exciting about working on these projects?

Dirks: ...Overall, we are moving in the right direction regarding how Microsoft engages with the open-source community. Tony Hey’s entire group is on the leading edge in making our case that we can engage in a positive dialogue, that all sides can benefit, and that we can all learn something in that process. It is critical when Microsoft initiates any engagement with academics that we listen and understand. We need to observe and adapt. I can tell you that, for many academics we work with, we represent a new Microsoft.

Calls for OA at WSIS

Catherine Saez, UN Internet Governance Panel Urges Infrastructure, Education On Access To Knowledge, Intellectual Property Watch, May 19, 2009.

Access to knowledge is a future challenge and a key factor for social and economic development but a balance needs to be found between the interests of rights holders and those of the public, said speakers at a high panel on access to knowledge during the World Summit on the Information Society Forum on Monday.

The 2009 WSIS Forum, being held from 18-22 May, is organised by the UN International Telecommunication Union, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and the UN Development Programme. ...

Access to knowledge is key to development but infrastructure is still a substantial challenge for developing countries, said Hoda Baraka, first deputy to the Egyptian minister of communication and information technology. ...

Public data from publicly funded research should be shared, she said, but in the case of public-private partnerships, questions remain regarding ownership of intellectual property rights. Egypt does not have a framework on IP rights related to such partnerships. ...

The value of knowledge increases with its use, said Hans Hoffmann, honorary member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), adding that fundamental scientific results must be available freely. ...

Scientific articles were first published in paper, back to Gutenberg, the inventor of the mechanical printing press, said Hoffmann, but today we have better means and can store all kinds of digital objects, such as data, pictures, writing and drawings.

“We have to develop this, and we have to do it all together,” he said, “to go from the Gutenberg age to the digital age.”

The World Wide Web was open access, said Hoffmann, but it did not prevent business from growing, as “a lot of people have made business out of it,” he said. He advised not to be afraid of open source, urging listeners to “dare to be open.” ...

Interview with Chris Anderson on free content

Andrew Albanese, Rip My Book, Please, Publishers Weekly, May 18, 2009. Interview with Chris Anderson, author of the forthcoming Free: The Future of a Radical Price. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

... [Q:] The concept of free as a price still seems so counterintuitive to publishers and other content producers.

That's what I love. I'm in San Francisco, the center of dot-com. Twitter is across the street, Google is down the block, all around me there are people that are like “free, um, duh. Is there anything left to be said?” My kids can't believe I actually wrote a whole book about free. Then you go to other places, and people are like, impossible! There is no such thing as a free lunch! The fact that you can have intelligent people who find the concept either self-evident or completely wrong is the sweet spot of the book. In that tension is all the misunderstanding, change and structural, institutional, industrial revolution that is worth writing about.

[Q:] You observe that products that are born free have an easier road than those that transition to free. What does that portend for today's publishers?

The problem with the price/value equation is that once you establish a relationship, it's hard to change it. It's hard to raise prices and get people to change their impression of value, and hard to lower prices and not get some sense of devaluation. So what you have to do is create a new product. New products are born with a blank slate in terms of price and value. No one thinks less of Google because it is free. ...

See also our past posts on Anderson.

Nature adds OAI-PMH interface has added an OAI-PMH interface for accessing metadata on its published titles. (Thanks to Andy Powell.)

Update. For more background on OAI-PMH and metadata at, see this interview.

Joint IPA-IFLA statement on the OA debate

The International Publishers Association and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, have issued a joint statement, Enhancing the Debate on Open Access, May 20, 2009.  Excerpt:

The debate about open access in scholarly communication is an important opportunity for the international library and publishing communities to explore how technology and new business models can resolve the challenge of growing scholarly publishing output which puts pressure on publisher prices and library resources. IFLA and IPA welcome the widespread attention this extremely important issue has received. The debate has, however, occasionally been harmed by unnecessary polarisations and sweeping generalised statements.

IFLA and IPA believe that the time is right for the debate to develop, as hypotheses and speculation can gradually be enhanced by case-by-case experience and empirical data. The debate should be conducted in an open-minded way, encouraging experimentation and arguments based on empirical facts and following the principles of academic discourse.

IFLA and IPA share a common set of basic understandings and believe that the observance of the shared ground as set out below would enhance the overall debate.

1. IFLA and IPA value the contribution to scholarly communication that publishers and libraries have made and believe that mutual respect is important to enhance the quality of the public discourse on open access.

2. IFLA and IPA recognise that the concerns of academic authors must be at the heart of this debate - their scientific freedom, and their needs as researchers, teachers, authors, reviewers and users are paramount.

3. IFLA and IPA acknowledge that the broadest possible access to scholarly communications is an important shared objective and that potential access to all research by all researchers, irrespective of geographical location or institutional affiliation is a shared aspiration of libraries and publishers.

4. All assumptions surrounding open access and scholarly communications should be open to scientific scrutiny and academic debate. All stakeholders are encouraged to innovate, experiment and explore the new opportunities that technology brings.

5. IFLA and IPA recognise that access must be sustainable, i.e. that economic long-term viability and long-term archiving are important elements of this debate.

6. IFLA and IPA agree that the debate is most effective if it recognises the potential diversity of scholarly communication in different academic disciplines and different types of publications, e.g, research journals, review journals, monographs, text books, etc. IFLA and IPA support a debate that avoids general conclusions for all scholarly communication but gives a closer, differentiated focus on the potentially very different framework in various academic disciplines and types of publications.

7. Equally, scholarly publishers and their specific roles and functions can vary greatly. Scholarly publishing includes publishers with a variety of commercial and non-commercial affiliations and interests, outside and within the research community.

8. IFLA and IPA believe publishers, librarians, government and funding agencies should at this stage support innovation, experimentation and pilot schemes on access to scholarly publications. Pilot schemes should be accompanied by vigorous research and analysis that enables evaluation against measurable targets, that reflect the chief concerns of academic authors (as set out in Point 2), as the basis for an enriched, fact-oriented debate. As part of investigating the feasibility of open access, studies should also explore such matters as impact, transparency and economic models. Data should be shared openly among stakeholders or disclosed to allow open scrutiny. The results from these studies should provide better insight into the processes surrounding open access.


  • Taken at face value, this is constructive.  We all want constructive, evidence-based debate.  But the suggestion that constructive, evidence-based debate would be a new thing here is deeply misleading, and unfair to the players who have been more fully involved than IFLA or IPA.  The same is true of their suggestion that experiments would be new or that the feasibility of OA has never been tested or confirmed.  It's almost as if IFLA and IPA haven't been following the evidence of OA experiments, projects, policies, publishers, and empirical studies. 
  • The IFLA strongly endorsed OA in February 2004, though I haven't seen it take a public position on OA since then:

IFLA affirms that comprehensive open access to scholarly literature and research documentation is vital to the understanding of our world and to the identification of solutions to global challenges and particularly the reduction of information inequality.

Open access guarantees the integrity of the system of scholarly communication by ensuring that all research and scholarship will be available in perpetuity for unrestricted examination and, where relevant, elaboration or refutation.

  • Also see our past posts on IFLA.
  • As far as I can tell, the IPA has not previously taken a public position on OA except to welcome a May 2007 communication on OA from Germany's Parliament.  Unfortunately the Parliamentary communication made several evidence-free assertions and sweeping generalizations, which IPA endorsed; see my comments on them at the time.
  • Also see our past posts on the IPA.

Update (6/9/09). The AAP/PSP has endorsed the IPA/IFLA statement.

Royal Society hybrid program charges by the article, not the page

The Royal Society has modified the fee structure for its hybrid OA program, EXiS Open Choice.  From the announcement:

...In response to author feedback, pricing will change from a per page rate to a per article rate.

With article based pricing, the author will know - from initial submission - what the price will be, rather than having to wait for the article to be paginated....

There are now two article rates:

Full research articles and reviews are priced at £2,600 ($4,420).

Shorter format articles are priced at the lower rate of £1,500 ($2,550).

Full details of the new pricing structure are now available.

Presentations from Danish OA Day

The presentations from Danish Open Access Day 2009 (Copenhagen, March 31, 2009) are now online.  Some are in Danish and some in English.

Sherpa has surveyed 600 publishers

Sherpa has now surveyed 600 publishers for their copyright and self-archiving policies.  As of today, 60% allow self-archiving in some form.

Danish panel drafting a policy for OA to publicly-funded research

Results from publically funded research should be easy to find on the web and free to read, Knowledge Exchange, May 19, 2009.  Excerpt:

A new project group will now plan how Denmark can adhere to the EU policy of open access to research results from projects partly or fully sponsored with public funds.

The group’s plan will be ready late 2010. The group will organisationally be placed within the framework of Denmark’s Electronic Research Library (DEFF)....

“I find the EU initiatives towards free access to publicly financed research results extremely relevant in today’s knowledge society. In a time where research and innovation are important prerequisites for a positive development of society, as many obstacles impeding the access to knowledge as possible must be removed. I look forward to working to promote Open Access under the auspices of DEFF,” says Mai Buch, chair of DEFF’s steering committee.

Denmark’s Electronic Research Library, DEFF, is the result of a collaboration between Danish Ministry of Culture, Danish Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The new project group is comprised of select members of DEFF’s steering committee as well as representatives from Danish University and Property Agency, Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, and The Council for Protection of Intellectual Property.

The project group will strengthen the national strategies and structures for access as well as promotion and long-term conservation of scientific information and data. The group will investigate how publicly funded research can be made freely available and what economic consequences open access to research may have.


The value of journal proliferation

John Willinsky, The Risk and Value of Journal Proliferation in the Age of Open Access, Slaw, May 20, 2009.  Excerpt:

“India does not need any more journals, especially localized institution-based ones, if that is what you mean. We already have too many journals, most of them third rate. What we need is to look for ways by which we can convince many of these journals to close down. Instead, we should try to identify the better ones and persuade their editors and publishers to make them Open Access…”

My challenging correspondent has permitted me, in this case, to share his comments and my response on this matter of journal proliferation.  I have chosen to do so as it has become a common enough concern, and one that I may otherwise seem to be exacerbating through the Public Knowledge Project’s lowering of the cost barrier for scholarly publishing by developing and distributing its open source (free) Open Journal Systems.

As opposed to my correspondent I feel that there may well be value in supporting the spread of journals and a research culture. As a result, I have grown concerned with how government agencies in South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and elsewhere, are increasing the recognition and reward for researchers who publish in the “best” journals and in the best journal alone (as defined by a ranked listing in the ISI Web of Science, for example). This may well be a way to convince third-rate, as well as second-rate, journals to close down, which my correspondent suggests is a desirable thing....

What I believe, at this point, is that what is needed are many publishing opportunities at varying levels of selectivity (rejection rates). This will allow for a greater number of researchers (if only another 10-20% in addition to the accredited elite) to make their way up the long ladder to the submission upload page of the best journals, while in the process raising the quality of at least the second-tier journals in the process.

For government agencies to in effect cut the rungs below the top levels of this research ladder needlessly reduces the chances of their research communities making it up the ladder. That is, the idea that the best value is achieved by concentrating resources/opportunities on the very best is countered by the idea that the best arises out of the surplus production of knowledge, along with a few surprises from unexpected sources....As well, as only the best journals are recognized, to start a new title becomes all the more difficult, even as such an act is often a common, if not necessary, step in developing new, innovative field of research....

[I]t also happens that work on local, practical questions may not get published in the best journals for reasons not related to quality.  To go back to the case for open access, I would also argue for how a greater availability of research — of varying qualities — also contributes to greater interest in comparing studies and qualities in the public use of this work....

Important fossil finding published in an OA journal

James Randerson, The palaeontologist who brought fossil Ida to the world, The Guardian, May 19, 2009.  Excerpt:

...There will be some raised eyebrows in the scientific establishment that [Jørn Hurum] did not opt to publish the scientific description of Ida in either Science or Nature, widely regarded as the two most prestigious scientific journals in the world. Instead he and his team chose...PLoS ONE, an online open-access journal that does not charge people to read its papers.  [PS:  The paper is here.]

Hurum said the main reason was to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to read the paper. "I'm paid by the tax payers of Norway to do this research. I'm not paid by Nature or Science and still they charge money for other people to read my scientific results," he says. "This fossil really is part of our history, truly a fossil that's a world heritage. A find like this is something for all human kind." ...

Comment.  Will anyone really raise their eyebrows at this?  Good journals are made good by good articles, not the other way around.  There's even a trend --among scientists as well as journals-- to provide OA to results which are especially important, on the principle that the more knowledge matters, the more open access to that knowledge matters.  If the conjectured eyebrow-raising is not from disapproval, but merely surprise that Hurum didn't seek the prestige of a Science or Nature publication, one only has to reflect that discoveries like this one carry their own prestige, far greater than the prestige any journal could provide.  Kudos to Hurum and his five co-authors for choosing OA.

An OA mandate for ICRISAT

India's International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has adopted an OA mandate.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

Every ICRISAT researcher/author in all locations, laboratories and offices will send a PDF copy of the author’s final version of a paper immediately upon receipt of communication from the publisher about its acceptance.

This policy is effective retroactively to 1 January 2009, in order to capture the publication outputs for the entire calendar year. The policy will remain in effect until further notice.

All PDFs should be sent electronically to the Library and Information Services. Complete citation details need to be provided once the article is actually published. The Library and Information Services will make the PDF available via ICRISAT’s Open Access platform....

Comment.  As Stevan points out, this is the third OA mandate in India, after Bharathidasan University and the National Institute of Technology Rourkela.  It's also the first anywhere from a research institution focusing on agriculture.  I applaud the immediate-deposit provision and the universality across ICRISAT labs and offices.  (I just wish that the policy didn't require PDFs, a reuse-unfriendly format that we should leave behind.)  Congratulations to all involved.  Also see our past posts on ICRISAT and its OA work.

Update (5/28/09).  Also see the ICRISAT press release (reprinted in the Business Standard), and the short article in Feedstuffs.

Update (5/31/09). Also see the article in Afrique en ligne.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recent OA presentations by Heather Morrison

Two recent presentations on OA by Heather Morrison are now available:

Author rights and Elsevier's fake journals

John Mark Ockerbloom, What you’re asked to give away, Everybody’s Libraries, May 8, 2009.

If you’ve published an article in an Elsevier journal, you might have missed an interesting aspect of the contract you signed with them to get published. It goes something like this:

I grant Elsevier the exclusive right to select and reproduce any portions they choose from my research article to market drugs, medical devices, or any other commercial product, regardless of whether I approve of the product or the marketing.

What, you don’t remember agreeing to that? Actually, the words above are mine. But while it isn’t explicitly stated in author agreements, Elsevier authors usually grant that right implicitly. Elsevier’s typical author agreement requires you to sign over your entire copyright to them. Why ask for the whole copyright, instead of just, say, first serial rights, and whatever else suffices for them to include the article in their journal and article databases? Elsevier explains:

Elsevier wants to ensure that it has the exclusive distribution rights for all media. Copyright transfer eliminates any ambiguity or uncertainty about Elsevier’s ability to distribute, sub-license and protect the article from unauthorized copying or alteration.

That “unauthorized” would be “unauthorized by them”. Not “unauthorized by you”. Once you sign, you’ve given up the right to authorize copying or alteration, or any other rights in the copyright, except for rights they offer back to you. For instance, you can’t “sub-license” your article for anything Elsevier deems “commercial purposes”. But they can, and do.

And sometimes those commercial purposes have had questionable ethics. The Scientist reported about a week ago that “Merck published [a] fake journal” with Elsevier. ...

[O]ne of the publication’s “honorary editors” admitted to the Scientist that it included marketing material, but that “[i]t also had papers that were excerpted from other peer-reviewed journals. I don’t think it’s fair to say it was totally a marketing journal.” But that was what Merck paid Elsevier for, and the excerpts from real Elsevier-acquired research articles helped the publication as a whole look like disinterested scholarship instead of advertising. ...

Excerpta Medica still has the right to cherry-pick from any article signed over to Elsevier in any of their marketing publications. Or, as they announce to potential clients, “we can leverage the resources of the world’s largest medical and scientific publisher.” Even with what Elsevier considers “proper use of disclosure language”, some authors might not want their writing used in this way. ...

Notes on open innovation event

John Wilbanks, NESTA, Open Innovation, Creative Commons, Common Knowledge, May 16, 2009. Notes on Open Innovation and Intellectual Property (London, May 15, 2009).

BMC adds reporting tool for members

BioMed Central, Open Access Membership: Reporting tool brings convenience and control, press release, May 18, 2009.

Following the recent rapid growth of institutional Memberships for open access publications, innovative publisher BioMed Central announces the introduction of the "Online Reporting System" for its open access Prepay and Postpay Membership accounts. ...

The unique online system, accessible anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, provides members with greater account control, allowing for management of their published and 'in progress' articles and detailed, customizable statements. This will allow all members to keep a close eye on their outstanding balances and purchase histories.

The quick and easy reporting tool allows users to monitor authors claiming their "Article Processing Charge" payment via a Prepay or Postpay Membership, whilst also providing an unprecedented level of reporting into submission dates, costs-per-article and forecasts into future balances once 'in progress' submissions are published.

The system gives BioMed Central's members a timely, crucial tool to aid the management of their budget. This ensures that organizations get the most from their open access Membership, whilst also significantly reducing the time spent managing and monitoring submissions to BioMed Central's journals.

On self-archiving and RePEc

Christian Zimmermann, About self-archiving your research, The RePEc Blog, May 15, 2009.

When you write a paper, you typically pursue several goals. One is to publish it in a good journal in order to get recognition for your work. The other is to get read and have an impact (and get citations). While publishing in a good journal may help you achieve the second goal, this is not necessarily so as the access to most journal articles is restricted by subscriptions. One way around this is to make some version of your work available in other ways. This is referred to as self-archiving. ...

[T]here are good ways to make such works more widely available, RePEc being a major one. Indeed, once a working paper series is indexed in RePEc, it will be available in thematic search engines dedicated to Economics (EconPapers and IDEAS), disseminated through mailing lists and RSS (NEP) and further pushed to other indexers (Econlit, Google Scholar, OAISTER, etc.). But for this to happen, the working paper series would need to be indexed in RePEc (instructions). The same applies to an institutional repository (see more about that).

If these options are not available, the paper can be hosted elsewhere. For RePEc, the Munich Personal RePEc Archive is ready to accept uploads, and has in a couple of years accepted more 8000 papers, including quite a few older ones that researchers wanted to make available to anyone. Another option is SSRN, but this archive does not participate in RePEc. ...

Articulating principles for open data

A group of open data advocates, including Peter Murray-Rust, Cameron Neylon, and Rufus Pollock, recently met at the Panton Arms pub in Cambridge and articulated a set of principles for open data. Here's Neylon's version of what Murray-Rust calls the "Panton Principles":
Where a decision has been taken to publish data deriving from public science research, best practice to enable the re-use and re-purposing of that data, is to place it explicitly in the public domain via {one of a small set of protocols e.g. cc0 or PDDL}.
From Neylon's comments:

... [W]e focused on what we could agree on with the aim of seeing whether it was possible to find a common position statement on the limited area of best practice for the publication of data that arises from public science. I believe such a statement is important because there is a window of opportunity to influence funder positions. ...

The purpose of publishing public scientific data and collections of data ... is to enable re-use and re-purposing of that data. Non-commercial terms prevent this in an unpredictable and unhelpful way. Share-alike and copyleft provisions have the potential to do the same under some circumstances. ...

The advantage of this statement is that it focuses purely on what should be done once a decision to publish has been made, leaving the issue of what should be published to a separate policy statement. This also sidesteps issues of which data should not be made public. ...

From Murray-Rust's comments:

... Data itself must be completely free. The question is how to ensure that it is. ...

For us Data are born Open. The question is how to state that. ...

The biggest danger is not making the assertion that the data is Open. There may be second-order problems from CC0 or PPDL but they are nothing compared to the uncertainty of not making this simple assertion. ...

Also see John Wilbanks' comments.

U. Tennessee launching an IR

The University of Tennessee is launching an IR. The repository will be called Trace (Tennessee Research And Creative Exchange) and will use Digital Commons. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Microsoft releases v. 1.0 of its repository software

Microsoft Research has released Zentity 1.0, its research repository platform.  From the May 15 announcement:

MSR’s Research Output Repository Platform aims to provide the necessary building blocks, tools, and services for developers who are tasked with creating and maintaining an organization’s repository ecosystem. Furthermore, it provides an easy-to-install and maintain experience for those who want to quickly set up a research-output repository for their project, team, or organization. The platform is based on Microsoft’s technologies (SQL Server 2008 and .NET Framework version 3.5 SP1) hence taking advantage of their robustness, their quality support infrastructure, and the plethora of developer-focused tools and documentation. New applications on top of the platform can be developed using any .NET language and the Visual Studio 2008 SP1 environment. The platform focuses on the management of academic assets —such as people, books/papers, lectures, presentations, videos, workflows, datasets, and tags— as well as the semantic relationships between them. In this latest release, developers can declaratively (or at runtime) easily introduce their own asset and relationship types. Support for various formats and services such as full-text search, OAI-PMH, RSS and Atom Syndication, BibTeX import and export, SWORD, AtomPub, RDFS, and OAI-ORE are included as part of the distribution.

From the Zentity site:

...Our Research Output Repository Platform provides a built-in ScholarlyWorks data model with pre-defined entities, such as Lecture, Publication, Paper, Presentation, Video, File, Person, and Tag along with basic properties for each of these and well known relationships such as Author, Cites, Version, etc. The platform also provides support to create custom entities and design custom data models using our Extensibility API....

Included is an easily extendible (ASP.Net) web interface. The web interface is built using custom controls developed as part of the included UI Toolkit controls. The web interface can be customized with (CSS) style sheets to integrate your organization’s existing web site, or the ASP.Net controls can be deployed directly into your current web presence....

The Search API is included, which supports Advanced Query Syntax similar to that provided by Windows Search. Included in installation is support for services such as RSS, OAI-PMH, OAI-ORE, AtomPub and SWORD. Also provided is a pluggable Security model for Authentication and Authorization to allow an administrator to secure repository content. Extensive MSDN-style documentation for each API is included to enable developers to build new services or custom applications....


  • Zentity will be a player.  But because worldwide repository installations on all platforms range from 1,345 (ROAR) to 1,392 (OpenDoar), and because new repositories appear on the order of five per week (the number for 2008), rather than hundreds per day, it may be a while before we can point to working examples, detailed comparisons, user surveys, or case studies.  Both ROAR and OpenDOAR allow filtering by repository software, but neither lists any repositories running the Microsoft package (at least not under "Microsoft", "Zentity", or the project's former codename, "Famulus").  If any earlier adopters have evaluations they are ready to share, please post them to SOAF.
  • Nothing on the Zentity site indicates whether the downloadable .zip file includes the source code, and I haven't had time to check.  But at least the .zip file is downloadable without charge.  The license allows users to "use, copy, reproduce, and distribute this Software for any non-commercial purpose...." but is hypothetical about open source ("If the Software includes source code....").  However, the license is dated September 2006 and applies to many Microsoft Research programs, not just Zentity.  If anyone can shed light on the openness of the code, please drop me a line.
  • Also see our past posts on earlier releases of Zentity.  For those who wonder about Microsoft's commitment to OA, it's important to remember that the Research Division doesn't sell products and is headed by Tony Hey, who ran the UK e-Science Programme for four years and is "passionate about OA".  For more detail, see our past posts on Microsoft Research and Tony Hey.

Monday, May 18, 2009

List of OA journals in arts & humanities

The JURN Directory is a recently-launched list of more than 1,500 OA journals in the arts and humanities.

See also our past post on JURN.

Importance of OA to educational research

Heather Morrison, The Open Access Imperative and Education, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, May 17, 2009.

... Recently, a question was raised on liblicense as to whether open access is necessary outside of the field of medicine.

The answer is: yes!!

While the moral imperative of open access is perhaps most easily seen in the field of medicine, the same arguments apply across the disciplines.

One example is the field of Education. Even at the very wealthiest universities where students and faculty have access to all the literature in this field, access to the scholarly literature for the practising educator, parents and other professionals involved in education (such as school-based social workers), is for all practical purposes limited to what is freely available. Evidence-based practice is this area - teachers who are able to keep up with the latest in their field and look up answers to issues that come up in the classroom - requires open access. School library budgets tend to be very limited; a school library that has all the resources that it needs to meet the needs of the students is indeed fortunate. A school library with sufficient resources to meet the needs of teachers and administrators is truly exceptional. ...

Positioning librarians for outreach to faculty on OA

Kara J. Malenfant, Leading Change in the System of Scholarly Communication: A Case Study of Engaging Liaison Librarians for Outreach to Faculty, forthcoming in College & Research Libraries. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Abstract:
This narrative, single-case study examines how liaison librarians at the University of Minnesota (UMN) came to include advocating for reform of the scholarly communication system among their core responsibilities. While other libraries may hire a coordinator or rely on a committee to undertake outreach programs, UMN has defined baseline expertise in scholarly communication for all librarians who serve as liaisons to disciplinary faculty members. By “mainstreaming” scholarly communication duties, UMN is declaring these issues central to the profession. This intrinsic study uses evidence gathered from open-ended interviews with three participants, supplemented by documentation. It explores the context of these changes, systems thinking, and new mental models.

Are scientific images copyrightable?

Peter Murray-Rust, Are these images copyrightable?, A Scientist and the Web , May 17, 2009.

I contend that almost all images in scientific publications should not be copyrightable by any publisher and should be stamped as Open Data by the author. To give an idea I have extracted some images from BMC journals (which I can do without permission as BMC is a CC-BY publisher). I’d like to know if anyone thinks any of the following should be copyrightable.

Remember that an image copyrighted by a publisher requires explicit permission (e.g. emails and often the payment of money). Do any of these deserve that? [Note: omitting images] ...

These are very beautiful images, but they are raw data and absolutely essential to communicate the science and should not be copyrighted. ...

For background, see Murray-Rust's earlier post, What is Data and what should be Open?.

Comment. It's not an idle question. Recall the case of Shelley Batts, a science blogger who reproduced a graph from a Wiley-published journal and was in turn threatened by Wiley with a claim of copyright infringement.

Case studies of Australian and NZ repositories

Leonie Hayes, Research Repository Case Studies, presented at EDUCAUSE Australasia (Perth, May 3-6, 2009). (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) A series of self-submitted case studies of repositories from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Milestone for U. Stirling IR

STORRE, the IR at the University of Stirling, recently passed the 1,000 item milestone. The repository's managers attribute the growth to the university's institutional mandate:

STORRE is a full text only repository that has been up and running at the University of Stirling since 2005. We focussed initially on eTheses, with the submission of eTheses to STORRE becoming mandatory in September 2006. ...

In April 2008 the University's ePrint Mandate was announced - this requires all Journal Articles submitted for publication since January 2007 to be deposited in STORRE immediately on acceptance for publication. ...

Since the ePrint Mandate came into force in September 2008, the rate of submissions of items to STORRE has risen dramatically from less than 20 items per month (sometimes much less!) to around 120 items per month. ...

OA resolution at the U of Washington

On April 23, the Faculty Senate of the University of Washington adopted an OA resolution (pp. 21-22) by an overwhelming majority.  From the resolution:

Resolution Concerning Scholarly Publishing Alternatives and Authors’ Rights

...Be it resolved, that

1. the University of Washington prepare for a future in which academic publications are increasingly available through open sources by encouraging faculty members to:

  • assess the pricing practices and authors’ rights policies of journals with which they collaborate (as authors, reviewers, and editors) and advocate for improvements therein; and
  • adopt and use an Addendum to Publication Agreement such as that provided by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in order to retain their rights to use their work in the classroom and in future publications and to archive final accepted manuscripts; and
  • publish scholarly works in moderately priced journals, in journals published by professional societies and associations, or in peer-reviewed “open access” journals; and
  • archive their work in the UW’s ResearchWorks or other repositories supported by research institutions, professional societies, or government agencies in order to provide the widest and most affordable access to their scholarship; and

2. UW Libraries is encouraged to

  • provide relevant, current information regarding journal publishers, pricing, and authors’ rights to departments and individual faculty members; and
  • maintain and further develop ResearchWorks and related services; and
  • allocate personnel to facilitate the deposit of faculty publications in ResearchWorks, and to obtain publishers’ permission to deposit previously published works when possible; and

3. the University of Washington administration is encouraged to:

  • provide resources to the Libraries and to academic units to foster these efforts; and
  • work with departments and colleges to assure that the review process for promotion, tenure and merit takes into consideration these new trends and realities in academic publication.

Thanks to Charles Wilkinson (Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) for the alert.  Thanks too for this background information, which I quote with his permission:

...It is somewhat similar to the resolution voted down by the University of Maryland, but we managed to avoid some of the pitfalls that apparently doomed their resolution. In terms of open access, ours is a weak resolution; it doesn't mandate anything on the part of anyone. When I, as chair of the Faculty Council on University Libraries (affectionately, the FCUL), first thought about this, I envisioned it as the first of a two-step process. First, I thought it necessary to draft a resolution such as this to raise awareness of the problems in scholarly communication and suggest to faculty members how they could make informed publishing decisions and make use of our repository. I hope that the second step will be something very similar to the Harvard mandate, perhaps a year or two down the road....In various discussions, we repeatedly encountered the arts-humanities/sciences divide and watered down the resolution in response -- suggesting publishing in moderately priced journals as an alternative to open access journals....By the time it reached the Faculty Senate for a final vote, there was little discussion and no real dissent. Perhaps the resolution is not strong enough, but it's a start.


  • As Wilkinson says, it's not a mandate, but it does contain the very elements (encouragement of green and gold OA) recently voted down at the University of Maryland.   To make the comparison even tighter, note that both votes took place on April 23, 2009.  What's notable here is that another university is encouraging OA.  More pointedly, another university is proving that the combination of elements defeated in Maryland needn't trigger faculty opposition, even apart from the evidence that much stronger policies have been approved by unanimous faculty votes on other campuses.  Some Washington faculty were apparently worried that the encouragement to publish in OA journals would limit their freedom to submit to the journals of their choice, even though it was just encouragement.  Washington addressed those concerns by widening the encouragement beyond OA journals, while campuses adopting firm OA mandates have addressed them by focusing on green OA and allowing opt-outs on request.  Finally, "it's a start" and Washington may consider a Harvard-style mandate in another year or two. 
  • Also see our past posts on OA activity at the University of Washington.

How to open your data

The Open Data Commons has released a concise primer, Making Your Data Open: A Guide (Beta), in the form of a four-question FAQ.  Excerpt:

What is Open Data?

Open data is data that anyone is free to use, reuse and redistribute without restriction (except, perhaps the requirements to attribute and sharealike). For precise details see

Why Does Openness and Licensing Matter?

Why bother about openness and licensing for data? After all they don’t matter in themselves: what we really care about are things like the progress of human knowledge or the freedom to understand and share.

However, open data is crucial to progress on these more fundamental items. It’s crucial because open data is so much easier to break-up and recombine, to use and reuse.

Licensing is important because it removes uncertainty. Without a license you don’t know where you, as a user, stand: when are you allowed to use this data? Are you allowed to give to others? To distribute your own changes, etc?

Together, a definition of openness, plus a set of conformant ‘open’ licenses deliver clarity and simplicity. Not only is interoperability ensured between different sets of open data but people can know at a glance, and without having to go through a whole lot of legalese, what they are free to do....

The other two questions covered:

  • So How Can I Make My Data Open?
  • How Do I License My Data?

ASBMB journals go delayed OA

Robert Kiley, ASBMB - join PMC and UKPMC, UK PubMed Central Blog, May 18, 2009.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - publishers of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics and the Journal of Lipid Research have announced that they will make all their content freely available through the PMC and UKPMC repositories, with a 12-month embargo. (Previously ASBMB were only depositing NIH and "Author Choice" papers to PMC/UKPMC.)

Researchers funded by any of UKPMC Funders should continue to make use of the ASBMB "Author Choice" option. On selecting this option, papers are made available at PMC/UKPMC at the time of publication (no embargo), and are licenced using the Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial licence (CC-BY-NC). ...

OA video abstracts of physics papers

Quantiki Video Abstracts is a recently launched platform for authors to create and share OA video "abstracts" of their papers in quantum information science. See also the YouTube channel. (Thanks to Michael Nielsen.)

False hypothesis is no reason to pull OA data on H1N1 virus

Phil Leggiere, WHO Defends Open Access to H1N1 Data, Homeland Security Today, May 18, 2009.  Excerpt:

While debunking rumor that H1N1 started in lab, WHO director defends public posting of virus gene sequences on internet....

[Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General and Interim for Health Security and Environment for the World Health Organization (WHO)] was responding to the hypothesis of an Austrian virologist Adrian Gibbs widely circulated last week claiming that that the H1N1 influenza virus that has now infected over 8000 people and killed 72 people in 39 countries around the world was accidentally made in a lab....[Gibbs] was not a scientist who was actually working with the influenza viruses, Fukuda said, but rather somebody “who is able to go to the databases and take a look at the sequences available and, on his own analyses, come up with this hypothesis.” ...

Fukuda, while acknowledging that open access to data might result in wider circulation of unfounded rumors and incorrect hypotheses, argued that the policy nonetheless was a sound one.

“We live in a time when there are many different hypotheses, many different rumors, many different accusations, many different theories which are posted on the Web which people bring up in any number of ways,” Fakuda said. “In a sense I do not think this is damaging at all. I think what it shows is that if we have that information it brings up possibilities – and possibilities from very credible people – but it also points out that these possibilities can be addressed and they can be addressed in a really transparent manner.”

“We now live in an age in which it is really not possible to hide things,” Fakuda added. “You know, things have to be looked at in an open way and it is all for the better, as far as we are concerned. It means that things come up that you have to address, maybe it means a little bit more work, but what it means is that you can also address it in a way which is pretty convincing to people. The scientist will publish his paper, it will be looked at by additional scientists – people will debate it and they will also be able to look at the evidence – but this is healthy, this is the way it should be done.” ...

Comment.  I'm dumbfounded that anyone would suggest that we stop providing OA to H1N1 data simply because someone studying the data proposed what now appears to be a false hypothesis.  If that were a ground for suppressing data, we'd suppress all data on every topic, forever.

More on Brazil's Embrapa

Patrícia Rocha Bello Bertin, et al., Embrapa Technological Information: A Bridge Between Research and Society, forthcoming in Agricultural Information Worldwide; self-archived May 13, 2009. Abstract:
This paper presents the efforts undertaken by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation regarding Science and Technology information management, through one of its Decentralized Units, Embrapa Technological Information (Scientific and Technological Information Service', SCT). The major aim of SCT is to promote and improve the processes of scientific communication - information that feeds and that results from research activities - and of science and technology dissemination - information that results from research activities and that is directed to the general public
From the article:

Open access to Embrapa’s scientific information

Embrapa is designing a project whose purpose is to propose and implement a methodological model for the management of technical-scientific information. The model is based on the premises/mechanisms of Open Access to feed the research and development activities and broadly disseminate the information produced. The application of an open access model to scientific information at Embrapa and its effective use by part of the community would make it possible to:

  • assemble and preserve the scientific intellectual production of the institution in digital form using specific techniques;
  • provide unified access to the entire scientific production of Embrapa in electronic format and full text, and to external, open access scientific information sources relevant to the research carried out in the institution;
  • enhance the profile of the scientific production, the researchers and the institution itself by maximizing access to their intellectual production and, consequently, helping increase the impact of the outcomes of the research executed at Embrapa, i.e. an increased number of citations of scientific articles written by Embrapa’s researchers, and thus support the internationalization of the institution;
  • provide tangible indicators for the evaluation of Embrapa’s scientific production and demonstrate the public value and scientific, social and economic relevance of its activities; and
  • provide scientific information services to external users, with special focus on universities, researchers, and research institutes in developing countries as a whole. ...
See also our past posts on Embrapa.

New OA journal of Dutch and Flemish archaeology

The Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries is a new peer-reviewed OA journal, published by a consortium of 10 Dutch and Flemish research and cultural institutions.  (Thanks to UBA E-Informatie.)  From Leendert P. Louwe Kooijmans's editorial in the inaugural issue:

...The constantly growing ‘grey literature’ of [Dutch and Flemish archaeological] reports published in small editions has been likened to a ‘cemetery’ of inaccessible information, and the scientific depth of most of the reports is limited....At the same time,...opportunities for publication have decreased due to the termination of the journal Helinium...and the Proceedings of the State Service for Archaeological Investigations in the Netherlands....

The Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries has been established as a means to stop the recently formed gap and counter the aforementioned criticism. It offers all archaeologists working in the Netherlands and Flanders an opportunity to publish information and conclusions worthy of being presented to an international public....

More on OA to CRS

Sharing Congress’s Research, New York Times, May 11, 2009. An editorial.

The Congressional Research Service investigates important issues and produces detailed, well-written reports that are available to members of Congress but not the general public. A resolution has been introduced in the Senate to make these reports freely available online. It would be an important step forward for government openness, and it would narrow the information gap between Washington insiders and ordinary Americans. ...

A resolution sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, would require that the research service’s reports be posted on its Web site. The resolution makes an exception for information that is truly confidential. ...

For the resolution to become law, it needs to be passed by the Senate Rules Committee. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York and chairman of the panel, has not endorsed Mr. Lieberman’s resolution, but he is working on a plan that would make the research reports publicly available. However it happens, the reports should be put online for all Americans to access free.

Nancy Scola, What Scares CRS About Going Public, techPresident, May 12, 2009.

... CRS is calling in the FBI (!) to figure out how a cache of their reports got out onto the Interwebs. ...

But it's worth considering why CRS objects so strongly to a shift in its mission from a purely internal expert body to something with a public face. It's helpful to see CRS as it sees itself: a consigliere to Congress ...

An internal CRS memo a few years back argued that there were several very good reasons why the office didn't want to a more public role. The first: it's not about them. It's the job of Congress to actively engage with constituents; that's why MOCs get paid the big bucks. Inject CRS into the mix "threatens the dialog on policy issues between Members and their constituents that was envisioned by the Constitution." Beyond that, a more public CRS threatens confidentiality (though the Lieberman/McCain bill mitigates that concern somewhat by exempting reports specifically requested by congressional offices) and it runs the risk of queering the focus of CRS report writers so that they're tailoring their work for a public audience. And a whole new body of public work might possibly create a whole new raft of public questions about said work -- questions that have to be answered by either overstretched congressional offices or CRS itself.

There's a subtext, though, that is missing from the CRS memo (or at least the now-public parts of it). And that's that politicized expert agencies can sometimes have a tough time in the world of Congress. Expert agencies like CBO and GAO ferociously guard their images as independent arbiters of truth, which leads to classic GAO on-the-one-hand report titles like "Agency X is Doing a Good Job, But Room for Improvement Remains." (OMB is in a somewhat better position, having a powerful defender in their main client, a.k.a. the President of the United States.) Understandably, CRS is reluctant to stick its neck out into the public sphere ...

Open Government Advocates Urge the Senate to Improve Public Access to CRS Reports, press release, May 14, 2009.

Over 40 organizations and advocates concerned with government transparency signed on to a letter asking the Senate Rules Committee to hold public hearings on open government issues and to mark-up and pass a resolution by Senator Lieberman (I-CT), S.R. 118, that would improve public access to reports by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The breadth of organizations supporting the letter, which was organized by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and, reflects the importance of public access to CRS reports. ...

See also our past posts on CRS.

Case studies of three no-fee OA humanities journals

Sigi A. Jottkandt, No-fee OA Journals in the Humanities, Three Case Studies: A Presentation by Open Humanities Press, a presentation at Berlin 5 Open Access: From Practice to Impact: Consequences of Knowledge Dissemination, (Padua, Italy, 19-21 September, 2008).

Abstract:   Open Humanities Press (OHP) is the first open access publisher devoted to contemporary critical theory. OHP was created as a grassroots movement of academics, librarians, journal editors and technology specialists to address the growing inequality of readers' access to critical materials necessary for our research. In this presentation, I offer case studies of journals edited by the founders of the new OA academic journal consortium, Open Humanities Press, as a starting point for a discussion of how professional open access publishing may be achieved without author-side fees (a ‘business model’ that for both practical and cultural reasons is inappropriate in the context of humanities publishing). While reputable open access publishing in the humanities confronts significant challenges, the problem of how to finance it - the problem that is frequently raised as the Gold path’s chief obstacle in the sciences - appears far and away the least pressing.

The three journals are:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wendy Hall elected to the Royal Society

Wendy Hall has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for her work in computer science, which includes important work on OA.  See the announcement from the University of Southampton or the announcement from the Royal Society, both from May 15, 2009.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad). 

At the time Hall was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE), Stevan Harnad, her colleague in the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science, summarized her contributions to OA:

An invaluable friend to Open Access, University of Southampton's Professor Wendy Hall, as Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science from 2002 to 2007, not only presided over the adoption and implementation of the world's first Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate, but she quietly went on to help get Green (ID/OA) Mandates adopted at the European level, as a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Councilas well as President of the British Computer Society (BCS) and member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. It is no small thanks to Wendy's support that the UK in particular and Europe in general are leading the world in its inexorable progress toward the optimal and inevitable outcome for scientific and scholarly research, at long last. And this is but one part of what Wendy has done for computer science, and science in general....

Also see our past posts on Hall and her OA work.

An OA pledge from the Gustavus Adolphus library faculty

The library faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College adopted an Open Access Pledge on May 14, 2009.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Here's the pledge in its entirety:

The Gustavus library faculty believes that open access to scholarship is critical for scholarly communication and for the future of libraries. For that reason we pledge to make our own research freely available whenever possible by seeking publishers that have either adopted open access policies, publish contents online without restriction, and/or allow authors to self-archive their publications on the web. We pledge to link to and/or self-archive our publications to make them freely accessible.

Librarians may submit their work to a publication that does not follow open access principles and will not allow self archiving only if it is clearly the best or only option for publication; however, librarians will actively seek out publishers that allow them to make their research available freely online and, when necessary, will negotiate with publishers to improve publication agreements.


  • This is the fourth library faculty to adopt an OA policy, after Oregon State (March 6, 2009), Calgary University (May 1, 2009), and the University of Oregon (May 7, 2009).  Note that three of the four were adopted this month.  That's momentum.  Also note that the the fourth one puts library faculties or departments ahead of computer science departments (and hence, all other departments) in adopting OA policies in advance of their institutions.  It's also the first departmental OA policy at a liberal arts college. 
  • If we interpret a mandate self-imposed by faculty vote as pledge, then we can interpret this pledge as a mandate.  If we do, then it has the equivalent of a Harvard-style opt-out, but not the equivalent of the Harvard-style license for the institution.  The Harvard-style OA mandates are stronger than this policy primarily in securing permission for OA even when authors publish in journals that do not permit it on their own.
  • I'm collecting policies adopted by unanimous faculty votes.  Does anyone know the vote tally for this one?

Update (5/18/09).  Barbara Fister, Chair of the Gustavus Adolphus Library Department, tells me that the vote for the pledge was unanimous.  Congratulations to all. 

Also see Barbara's blog post about the pledge:

...[A]t our last librarian’s meeting we adopted our own Open Access Pledge. It’s not as sophisticated as the ones that have been making news. We are a small library, with only six librarians, and we haven’t had the time or money to start up an institutional repository. We also, quite frankly, don’t have a terribly sophisticated grasp of all the OA arguments, the copyright issues, and the color choices. (Green? Gold? What about mauve?) We’ve also very, very busy trying to wrap up a big project, working with departments to make enough cuts that we can balance our budget next year - without scuttling our commitment to undergraduate research.

And that is precisely why it seemed time to take a stand, even if it’s not a sophisticated one. Our pledge is simply to make every effort to ensure that our scholarship is freely available online, either because the publisher posts its content online [without charge]..., it’s a truly OA journal, or because the publication agreement allows self-archiving, which most credible library publications do. We also pledge to do the work of self-archiving, which really isn’t a lot of trouble for librarians who are tweaking the web daily. It mystifies me that so few librarians can be bothered.

This wasn’t a simple decision. Half of the department is on the tenure track. Their continuing employment depends on establishing professional credibility through publication. But we feel strongly that this is the right thing to do, and that taking these simple steps won’t damage the ability of our emerging scholars to thrive.

We’ve submitted a sobering report about the library’s finances for our next faculty meeting. In the last paragraph we wanted to show one way that our choices, our individual actions, can honor the spirit of open inquiry. It’s the least we can do.


Patented method for combining OA and secrecy

The US Patent Office has awarded Scott Moskowitz and Mike Berry a patent on a method for scrambling the data in an OA data file to a specific, reversible, degraded level of signal quality.