Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Forthcoming OA Journal of Participatory Medicine

Participatory Medicine will Change the Health Care World as we Know it! Better Health, June 6, 2009.  (Thanks to Janice McCallum.)  Excerpt:

...A wonderful group of people, patient advocates, physicians and other professionals alike have created a broad platform for this “e patient” movement, called Participatory Medicine....

...Participatory medicine is a cooperative model of health care that encourages and expects active involvement by all connected parties (healthcare professionals, patients, caregivers, etc.) as integral to the full continuum of care. The ‘participatory’ concept may also be applied to fitness, nutrition, mental health, end-of-life care, and all issues broadly related to an individual’s health. This group is forming a society, the Society of Participatory Medicine....In addition, the Society is founding a new journal, the Journal of Participatory Medicine....

The mission of the Journal is to transform the culture of medicine to be more participatory; and we believe that doing so, as the saying goes, will take a village – perhaps even a large metropolitan area! JPM constitutes a major investment of time and talent in community development. The journal will be entirely electronic [and OA], using the Open Journal System platform of online publishing....We expect to publish our first issue of the Journal sometime in the fall of this year....

A call on German scholars to support OA

Germany's Coalition for Action: Copyright for Education and Research (Aktionsbündnis:  Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft) is asking German scholars not to grant VG Wort, the licensing and collecting society, the right to remove them from the Google Book Settlement.  Instead, it's asking scholars to support a (forthcoming) plan for OA through Google.

Klaus Graf has posted the Coalition's press release with some comments.  Read them in German or Google's English.

Update (6/15/09).  Also see the press release in English (June 5, 2009).  Excerpt:


The Coalition for Action "Copyright for Education and Research" recommends all researchers not to agree to or even to veto against the most recent change of the VG Wort contract (the German collecting society for authors). The Coalition for Action has informed their institutional and individual subscribers of the Göttingen Declaration about this recommendation. The Coalition for Action considers the interests of education and research to achieve free access to information and knowledge to be at risk when, as the VG Wort contract suggests, all texts of German authors will be withdrawn from Google Book Search and when access (eventually and probably under commercial conditions) can only be renewed under a licence controlled by VG Wort. The Coalition for Action calls upon VG Wort to take the interest of science and education in free access into account in any case. Otherwise there might be a need to establish alternative means to respond to the growing interest of researchers to exercise their rights against Google themselves.

Full version: ...

VG Wort right now is trying to make the authors assign the safeguarding of their rights to VG Wort....

This is not what education and research are interested in....

It is not only that free access enhances the visibility of the own works and therefore increases personal reputation but also the possibility to know and access many works of other authors is of great importance to any scientist. It has scientifically been proven long ago that the easier it is to gain access to published knowledge the more national economy will profit. This may not be true for public entertainment markets or fiction.

As long as VG Wort does not support the interests of education and research and free access more intensely the Coalition for Action recommends all researchers not to agree to the most recent change of the VG Wort contract to exercise the rights of authors or even to possibly express their veto explicitly against it....

If VG Wort refuses to comply with the demands of the Coalition for Action, the possibilities for a representation of the interests in OA by education and research themselves must be considered. Even now the Coalition for Action tries to come to an agreement with Google that would allow free display in Google Book Search, possibly with publicity, but under the condition that no new commercial business models will arise from this.

Though demanding free access to the scientific materials digitized by Google the Coalition for Action does not favor Google's intention to digitize and publish scientific works. The Coalition for Action will support any attempt to make freely accessible published (out-of-print, orphaned, but also deliverable) works from research and the broader range of culture....

More on the access crisis: 70% of AAHSL libraries face budget cuts

The Medical Library Assocation (MLA) and the Association of Academic and Health Science Libraries (AAHSL) have released a Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and its Impact on Health Sciences Library Collections, May 2009.  Excerpt:

[AAHSL and MLA] endorse the International Coalition of Library Consortia’s (ICOLC) January 19, 2009 “Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Consortial Licenses.” ...AAHSL and MLA also support, in principle, the Association of Research Libraries February 19, 2009 “Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis.” ...

Budget pressures in the current economic environment are forcing some community hospitals to close their libraries, severely decreasing or eliminating access to vital information and resources. Libraries in most academic health centers are also facing severe cutbacks resulting from declining state support, declining clinical revenues, decreased gifts and endowments, and increased competition for a smaller number of research grants. A recent AAHSL survey found that many academic libraries had mid-year budget reductions in the current fiscal year, and that nearly 70% are expecting budget cuts for the coming year, some of which could be 10% or higher. In many cases, these are permanent cuts to library budgets, and, with few exceptions, libraries will have to reduce collection budgets as part of their cost-saving strategy....

The situation for health sciences libraries is complicated by the fact that the cost of STM (scientific, technical and medical) journals has risen disproportionately higher than other fields, and certainly higher than the vast majority of budget increases in health sciences libraries....

Comment.  Note that the ARL statement, which AAHSL and MLA support "in principle", says that

...Libraries serving research organizations are increasingly receptive to models that provide open access to content published by their affiliated authors in addition to traditional subscription access to titles. This kind of model can form a bridge from subscription models to models incorporating author-side payments....

Also see my comments on the ARL statement.

UK plan for OA to government data

Charles Arthur, UK set to follow successful US data method, The Guardian, June 4, 2009.  Excerpt:

The UK government is preparing its own version of the US's "" site, which lets anyone download datasets generated by the US government in various formats and use them as they wish. --unveiled in mid-May-- is intended to give US citizens direct access to non-personal information collected by taxpayer-funded agencies. By dint of having funded the collection, US citizens and organisations are automatically given rights to reuse the data as they wish - including commercially for profit....

Now the UK government has picked up on the idea, and in a post on the Cabinet Office blog Richard Stirling is asking the British public how a UK version of the US site should be implemented....

Although there is a list of dozens of the UK government's published data sources there is no clear pan-governmental approach to making data available....

Friday, June 05, 2009

Tropical medicine journal clarifies Wellcome compliance policy

Robert Kiley, Am J Hygiene and Tropical Medicine clarifies author pays option, UK PubMed Central Blog, June 4, 2009.

The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene - published by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene - have clarified their author-pays option.

For authors who select the OA option (at a cost of $2500) the journal office will deposit the final version directly in PubMed Central and it will be made freely available at the time of publication.

These articles will be licensed using the Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license ...

This policy is fully compliant with the requirements of all the UKPMC funders.

Interview with Bora Zivkovic

Caryn Shechtman, A Blogger Success Story, New York blog, June 2, 2009.

... [Q:] Please describe the duties of an online community manager at PLoS ONE.

... I have a number of “jobs”, really. Building the community, increasing awareness of what PLoS stands for and does, correcting the myths and errors that sometimes pop up about PLoS (and Open Access) online, watching how the online world talks about us, promoting Open Access both online and offline, trying to get people to comment on our articles (and studying why they don’t if they don’t and why they do if they do), monitoring media/blog coverage of our papers, encouraging bloggers to write about our articles, promoting some of our most interesting articles every week, blogging on everyONE blog, and in general working with our communications team in making sure our message gets spread online.

I am also trying, whenever I am in a position to do so, to persuade online and offline friends to submit manuscripts to us and, especially lately, to help us build new Collections on PLoS ONE ...

OA and academic freedom

Stuart Shieber, Open-access policies and academic freedom, The Occasional Pamphlet, May 28, 2009.  Excerpt:

I very occasionally hear expressed a concern about the Harvard open-access policy that it violates some aspect of academic freedom. The argument seems to be that by granting a prior license to Harvard, faculty may be forced to forgo publication in certain venues.  Our rights as scholars to determine the disposition of particular articles would thus be assailed by the policy.

A requirement to publish or refrain from publishing in particular venues would certainly infringe on academic freedom. But the Harvard policy leaves choice of whether and where to publish fully in the hands of authors. The policy allows for the license to be waived for any article at the sole discretion of the author. (Obtaining a waiver involves filling out a web form at the OSC web site with some metadata about the article. The process takes about 20 seconds.) This “opt-out” provision makes the policy consistent with libertarian principles. The policy manifests “libertarian paternalism” in the sense of Sunstein and Thaler.

Of course, one could attempt to argue that even that 20-second web form serves as an impediment to one’s free choice of where to publish....[But if so, then] the seconds required to fill out copyright transfer forms for closed-access journals, the costs of having to negotiate use rights for one’s own articles published in closed-access journals, and the like should also be considered impediments to free choice of publishing venue....

Frankly, a more substantial argument can be made that the traditional scholarly publishing mechanism infringes academic freedom. The status quo in scholarly publishing requires authors to assign copyright to publishers as part of the publication process. With this control, publishers can and do limit access to the scholar’s writing.  Scholars are therefore not free to disseminate their academic work in the broadest way....I am not claiming here that this is an undue limitation on freedom — there are countervailing arguments for the need for closed access — but a limitation on freedom it surely is, much more so than the Harvard open-access policy....

Insofar as an individual’s actions are limited by the policy (through the 20-second web form impediment), it is countervailed by the potential expansion of academic freedom for all members of the scholarly community that we are members of and rely on.

In the same way, we as scholars are not free to refuse to participate in the shared responsibilities of academic governance, of peer review of our literatures and colleagues, of education, advising, and mentoring of our students.  Our responsibility to widely disseminate our writings is even codified in the explicit University policies under which we were hired: “when entering into agreements for the publication and distribution of copyrighted materials individuals will make arrangements that best serve the public interest.” The policy makes clear that we as a community feel that the best service of the community involves open access to the scholarly literature.

A careful confirmation that 70+% of OA journals charge no fees

Stuart Shieber, What percentage of open-access journals charge publication fees?  The Occasional Pamphlet, May 29, 2009.  Excerpt:

In the popular conception, open-access journals generate revenue by charging publication fees. The popular conception turns out to be false....You can verify this yourself using some software I provide in this post.

The first study of what we’ll call the “publication-fee percentage”, by Kaufman and Wills, showed that fewer than half of the OA journals they looked at charge publication fees. The figure for publication-fee percentage they report is about 47%. (For convenience, we put all publication-fee percentages in boldface in this post.) Following on from this, Suber and Sutton provided a figure of 16.7% for scholarly society journals charging publication fees.

Bill Hooker came up with a clever way of calculating a figure for publication fee percentage, by taking advantage of the publication fee metadata hidden in the “for authors” journal listings at the Directory of Open Access Journals to calculate the figure as of December 2007....Depending on the disposition of the “information missing” cases, Hooker’s study indicates that 18-33% of OA journals charge fees.

Hooker performed his study using a combination of automated and manual methods. In particular, he apparently used manual effort to eliminate the hybrid journal listings. But it isn’t difficult to write software to perform the entire analysis automatically, which allows anyone to replicate the results him- or herself. Unfortunately, the OAI-PMH feed that DOAJ kindly provides doesn’t include the crucial information of whether journals charge fees and whether they are pure or hybrid OA journals, so I, like Hooker, resorted to screen-scraping. The method is effective, if inelegant.

Here are the results computed by my software, as of May 26, 2009:


No charges

Information missing



The numbers are consistent with those of Hooker’s study some 16 months earlier. You’ll see that the total number of full OA journals is up from 2967 to 4110, and the number with missing information has been halved from 15% to about 7%. The reduction in those with missing information seems to have gone more to those with fees than those without, so that the percentage charging fees is up some 5% and those not charging fees only up 3%. Again, depending on the “information missing” cases, the range of fee-charging journals is 23-30%. Assuming that the missing information cases are similar in distribution to those that were resolved over the last year, the figure would be about 27%. That leaves 73% of OA journals, the overwhelming bulk, charging no fees.

Anyone interested in replicating the results should feel free to use the simple Python script below, provided without warranty....

Comment.  This is important for two reasons.  First, it's new confirmation that most OA journals charge no publication fees.  Like Hooker's earlier study, it covers all the OA journals listed in the DOAJ.  Second, it provides a Python script (omitted here) to repeat the census at any time, allowing us to watch how the number changes over time.  Thanks to Stuart for writing the script and for opening the source.


Stuart Shieber enters the blogosphere

Stuart Shieber has launched The Occasional Pamphlet, a new blog.  Stuart is a professor of computer science at Harvard, Director of Harvard's Office of Scholarly Communication, and the chief architect of the influential Harvard OA policies.  The blog will frequently cover OA, as I'll show in just a moment when I blog excerpts from two of his recent posts.  (Welcome, Stuart!)

PalArch OA journals convert their backfiles to OA

The three OA journals from the Dutch PalArch Foundation have converted their backfiles to OA.  (Thanks to Open Source Paleontologist.)

OA-oriented research center for the U of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham has announced plans to launch an OA-focused Centre for Research Communications (no URL yet).  From today's announcement:

...The SHERPA team at the University of Nottingham are pleased to announce the formation of a new research centre -- the Centre for Research Communications (CRC). This will be based at the University and will help to support and inform these changes and new ideas. The CRC will house the portfolio of open access projects, services and initiatives currently undertaken by the University.

These include the home of the SHERPA partnership; the open access services RoMEO, Juliet and OpenDOAR; the Repositories Support Project (RSP), and the University contribution to the European and international projects DRIVER, Dart-Europe and NECOBELAC. Project and service funders include JISC, the European Commission, the Wellcome Trust and SPARCEurope. The CRC will also act as a focus for new work in the area both within the University and nationally.

Bill Hubbard has been appointed as Head of the CRC: "We aim to develop innovative research and development activities across the whole field of research communication. This is an exciting time for authors and researchers. We are beginning to leave behind straightforward electronic analogues of our centuries-old print world and realise the possibilities of new and far richer forms of research communication."

The SHERPA team and others will be working over the coming weeks to establish the CRC and promote its activities -- more details soon!

Comment.  In April, BioMed Central cited the CRC plans when it named Nottingham the Open Access Institute of the Year for 2008.  Congratulations to Nottingham and best wishes for the CRC.

OA book series from Firenze University Press

Firenze University Press has launched a series of 60+ OA books in all fields, La libreria Open Access (the OA Library).  When possible, the titles are published under CC-BY-NC-ND licenses.  (Thanks to Elisa Brilli.)

Also see the OA Library page in Google's English, and the FUP page on OA in Italian and Google's English.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Procedures for participation in PEER project released

The PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research) project has released its Guidelines for publishers and repository managers on deposit, assisted deposit and self-archiving. The document details the procedures for participating publishers and repositories.

Comment. One point about the project which wasn't clear to me before is that even the publisher deposits will be of the author's manuscript, not the final published version.

See also our past posts on the PEER project.

New publisher of OA, ad-supported textbooks

Bookboon is a new publisher of OA, ad-supported textbooks. The textbooks are written specifically for Bookboon and cover a variety of topics, such as accounting, chemistry, economics, and statistics. Bookboon is owned by Danish company Ventus Publishing.

Notes on repository event

Ben Wynne, Web Services and repositories, JISC Information Environment Team, June 3, 2009.

I attended a workshop on June 2 on the use of Web Services to enable interoperability between repositories, repository services and other systems. The workshop was organised by the Ethos project (Electronic Theses Online). ...

The main focus of the day was on the use of a number of specific protocols and approaches to provide ’services’:

  • SWORD for depositing items in repositories
  • SRU to search for and retrieve items
  • And REST for passing data between servers.

Using such ’services’ enables repository services to be used from within environments other than the repository itself (so, if you wanted to deposit an item in a repository from within a research management application of some kind, for example). It also enables repositories to use other systems’ services. ...

From discussion, the general view appeared to be that Web Services do have a role to play in aiding integration of repositories with other systems and avoiding ’silos’. ...

Comment. Can any readers provide the event's name, location, and/or URL?

Four German journals have converted to OA

The four journals from Germany's GIGA (German Institute of Global and Area Studies) have converted to OA.  (Thanks to Informationsplattform Open Access.)  The four journals are:

Launch of Google Squared

Google has launched the Google Labs edition of Google Squared, an attempt to capture structured open data and present it tabular form.  From the announcement:

Some information is easy to find. If you want to learn the rules of golf, you can search Google for [golf rules] and we'll return a list of relevant web sites right at the top. But not all your information needs are that simple. Some questions can be more complex, requiring you to visit ten, perhaps twenty websites to research and collect what you need.

For instance, I'm a big fan of roller coasters. In the past I've used Google to search for information about roller coasters, such as which ones are the tallest, fastest, and have the most loops. Finding this information used to take multiple searches — I'd find roller coaster sizes on one website, heights on another, and speeds on a third. By manually comparing the sites, I could get the information I was looking for, but it took some time. With Google Squared, a new feature just released in Google Labs, I can find my roller coaster facts almost instantly.

Google Squared is an experimental search tool that collects facts from the web and presents them in an organized collection, similar to a spreadsheet. If you search for [roller coasters], Google Squared builds a square with rows for each of several specific roller coasters and columns for corresponding facts, such as image, height and maximum speed....

This technology is by no means perfect. That's why we designed Google Squared to be conversational, enabling you to respond to the initial result and get a better answer. If there's another row or column you'd like to see, you can add it and Google Squared will automatically attempt to fetch and fill in the relevant facts for you. As you remove rows and columns you don't like, Google Squared will get a fresh idea of what you're interested in and suggest new rows and columns to add....

If you click on any fact, you'll see the sources Google Squared gathered it from as well as a list of other possible values that you can investigate. So even if your square isn't perfect at the beginning, it's easy to work with Google Squared to get a better answer in no time. Once you've got a square you're happy with, you can save it and come back to it later.


  • I like this.  OA to structured data is useful but just the beginning.  OA alone doesn't help users query the data or view its structure.  However, we're seeing a wave of new tools to provide visualization and querying, after the fact, for a growing range of data files.  This is another in that wave.  (Note that these tools would never be developed if there weren't a large and growing number of OA data files to harvest as input.)  The job is difficult and the first results are not always impressive.  But many well-equipped players are entering the game and the results should steadily improve.
  • I particularly like the way Google lets users add and subtract rows and columns.  For example, if you search on trees, you can subtract the rows devoted to mathematical trees.  If you add a new column on "genus", Google runs a new search for the genus of each tree already on table.  If you add a row for "white pine", Google runs a new search for each parameter of white pines already represented by a table column.   To see the full power of this feature, start with an empty table.  Add a row for "white pine".  Note that Google creates two default columns:  "image" and "description".  Then add your own column for "genus".  While you're at it, add columns for "family", "class", and "species".  Then add rows for "red oak" and a few other trees, and watch Google fill in the cells as well as it can.
  • Features to add:  Let users save their tables as CSV or spreadsheet files.  Let users upload a spreadsheet, modify it with new Googly rows and columns, and then download again.  Allow sorting by clicking on a column head.  Merge Google Squared with the spreadsheet in Google Apps:  When cells contain numbers, users should be able to calculate on them.  (For an example of a Google Square with numbers, search for hard drives.  One of the default columns is "capacity".  Add a column for "price" to get a second number.  Imagine another column computing "price / capacity".  For another example, create a new table with three nations in three rows, and add columns for "2006 GDP" and "2007 GDP".  Imagine computing the unit and percentage changes from one year to the next.) 

Pretoria presentations

The presentations from the CSIR workshop, Gaining the momentum: Open access & advancement of science and research (Pretoria, May 14, 2009), are now online.  (Thanks to P. Kovatcheva.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The value of raw data

Who Cares About Raw Data?, Open Scriptures, June 1, 2009.

... So what is open access to raw data and who really cares? ...

A very good analogy is that of a research paper. When one sets out to write a detailed research paper, a first step is to collect information. ... Once this information gathering phase is finished, the writer has a formidable amount of raw data. Yet, as mentioned above, this raw data is not particularly useful. If the writer were to simply submit all of these separate pieces of information to the publisher/teacher/newspaper the paper would clearly be rejected. The reason: raw data needs to be linked in meaningful ways.

This is where the second part of the writing process comes into play, actually writing. The author takes all of the raw data that was collected and he or she sets out to tie it all together into a meaningful piece of literature. ...

To the point, raw data is the essential first step in the process of presenting information in meaningful and helpful ways. Thus, even though most web users do not seem to care about raw data, in reality, they actually care a great deal. Content providers need to put their raw data online in a way that is accessible to developers so that they can do their job creating applications that make the data useful for the rest of the world. ...

Playing to your audience

Dorothea Salo, Talking points we didn’t know we had, Caveat Lector, June 2, 2009.

An experience I’ve had several times now:

Librarian: Hi, what do I have to do to get a new collection in the repository?

Me: *two minutes later* You have it. Should I add any submitters to it? How about custom metadata?

Librarian: Wow! That was fast!

“Wow” is a good reaction to get, obviously.

I do think it notable that this reaction has come invariably from librarians. ...

I’ve managed to get a service-based “wow” here and there from faculty and staff, but it does take more work, on the order of a major batch ingest. ...

New project to harvest bibliographic info into repositories

The BiblioSight project has been recommended for funding from JISC. The project description:
The project will aim to exploit the Web of Science Web Services API that uses standard transport protocols, such as HTTP, and message formats, such as SOAP and XML, to facilitate the exchange of data between Web of Knowledge and a custom application. It will build on work undertaken by the JISC funded SUE project, Implementing an Institutional Repository for Leeds Metropolitan University to integrate bibliographic information from Web of Science into the Leeds Met Open Access repository of research; this will facilitate automatic update when a published article appears in Web of Science. The aim is to integrate the technology into an efficient workflow to populate the repository with citation information / full text; we will also build on work undertaken by the JISC funded PERSoNA project and aim to develop a ‘widget’ that can easily be added to a personal environment like iGoogle or personal/communal environment like netvibes and that will extract bibliographic information – and potentially also bibliometrics – for authenticated Leeds Met staff in line with Web of Science licensing.

History of OA and science 2.0

Khaiser Nikam and Rajendra Babu H., Moving from Script to Science 2.0 for Scholarly Communication, Webology, March 2009. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) Abstract:
This study attempts to trace the evolution of scholarly communication from the days of publication of Journal-des-Scavans to the era of web 2.0, explaining the Open Access (OA) movement in brief. The views of Harnad on OA are highlighted. The emergence of Open Access 2.0 is put in context. This study also explains science 2.0 as the emerging practice in scientific knowledge sharing and scholarly communication. The positives and drawbacks of science 2.0 are discussed. Some of the science 2.0 concepts like OpenWetware, PLoS and other science 2.0 systems used in scientific research for communication as put forth by Hooker and Surridge are cited to indicate that science 2.0 is the future for scholarly communication.

First results from PARSE.Insight

Andre Holzner, et al., First results from the PARSE.Insight project: HEP survey on data preservation, re-use and (open) access, presented at Workshop on Data Preservation and Long-Term Analysis in High-Energy Physics (Hamburg, January 26-28, 2009). Abstract:
There is growing interest in the issues of preservation and re-use of the records of science, in the "digital era". The aim of the PARSE.Insight project, partly financed by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Program, is twofold: to provide an assessment of the current activities, trends and risks in the field of digital preservation of scientific results, from primary data to published articles; to inform the design of the preservation layer of an emerging e-Infrastructure for e-Science. CERN, as a partner of the PARSE.Insight consortium, is performing an in-depth case study on data preservation, re-use and (open) access within the High-Energy Physics (HEP) community. The first results of this large-scale survey of the attitudes and concerns of HEP scientists are presented. The survey reveals the widespread opinion that data preservation is "very important" to "crucial". At the same time, it also highlights the chronic lack of resources and infrastructure to tackle this issue, as well as deeply-rooted concerns on the access to, and the understanding of, preserved data in future analyses.
See also the other presentations from the conference. See also our past posts on PARSE.insight.

McGill launches digitize on demand service

McGill University Library, McGill University Library becomes first Canadian content provider to participate in Digitize on Demand and, press release, May 29, 2009. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

McGill University Library is pleased to announce a partnership with Kirtas Technologies and its Canadian partner Ristech, which will allow students, faculty and the general public to request to have books scanned and made available through the new Digitize on Demand program. ...

The program will offer books that are difficult to find, because they are generally out of print. They are also in the public domain, meaning that there are no copyright restrictions. ...

Kirtas currently has 12 partnerships with universities and public libraries to make special collections available for sale online, with McGill University the first to participate in Canada. ... Distribution rights are non-exclusive so the books can also be made available through other distribution channels at a library’s request. McGill University Library will also make a digital copy of each scanned item available through its catalogue. ...

Comment. The announcement says McGill will "make [the digitized books] available". Does that mean OA?

See also our past posts on Kirtas.

Update (from Peter, 6/6/09).  Kirtas is apparently using the same business model at McGill that it used at the University of Pennsylvania:  covering its costs by selling POD editions and leaving the OA decision to its university partner.  Penn has not yet decided to offer OA and neither has McGill.  Klaus Graf reports by email that, currently, none of the 11 books in the McGill-Kirtas program is OA.

Open Knowledge Foundation turns 5

Rufus Pollock, The OKF Turns 5 - And We Need Your Support, Open Knowledge Foundation Blog, June 2, 2009.

This month the Open Knowledge Foundation is five years old. ...

While we have achieved a lot, we believe we can do much, much more. We are therefore reaching out to our community and asking you to help us take our vision further.

Our aim: at least a 100 supporters committed to making regular, ongoing donations of £5 (EUR 6, $7.50) or more a month.

These funds will be essential in expanding and sustaining our work by allowing us to invest in infrastructure and employ modest central support. To pledge yourself as one of those supporters all you need to do is take 30 seconds to sign up to our “100 supporters” pledge ...

New book on scholarly publishing

Albert Greco, ed., The State of Scholarly Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities, Transaction Publishers (June 30, 2009). (Thanks to Gerry McKiernan.) Including this article -- not OA, at least so far:
  • Chen-Chi Chang, Open access, intellectual property, and sustainability issues -- Exploring the willingness of scholars to accept open access : a grounded theory approach

10 university presses endorse OA

The directors of 10 US and Canadian university presses released this statement today:

Position Statement From University Press Directors on Free Access to Scholarly Journal Articles:

  1. The undersigned university press directors support the dissemination of scholarly research as broadly as possible.
  2. We support the free access to scientific, technical, and medical journal articles no later than 12 months after publication.  We understand that the length of time before free release of journal articles will by necessity vary for other disciplines.
  3. We support the principle that scholarly research fully funded by governmental entities is a public good and should be treated as such.  We support legislation that strengthens this principle and oppose legislation designed to weaken it.
  4. We support the archiving and free release of the final, published version of scholarly journal articles to ensure accuracy and citation reliability.
  5. We will work directly with academic libraries, governmental entities, scholarly societies, and faculty to determine appropriate strategies concerning dissemination options, including institutional repositories and national scholarly archives.

The statement is signed by the directors of the University Press of Florida, University of Akron Press, University Press of New England, Athabasca University Press, Wayne State University Press, University of Calgary Press, University of Michigan Press, Rockefeller University Press, Penn State University Press, and University of Massachusetts Press. 

The organizers welcome signatures from additional university presses.  Those interested should contact Mike Rossner, Executive Director of the Rockefeller University Press.

Comment.  This is significant.  It's the first statement in support of OA from a group of mostly-TA publishers and the first from a group of mostly-book publishers.  It's also an important reproach to the American Association of University Presses, which publicly supported the Conyers bill last September without consulting its members.  (See all our past posts on the AAUP and the Conyers bill.)

Update (6/4/09).  Also see Scott Jaschik's article in today's Inside Higher Ed.  Excerpt:

...Rossner of Rockefeller University said that the press directors issued the statement as they wanted "to align ourselves with the stances taken by many universities -- by faculties and administrators -- on scholarly communication."

He said that many academics feel "excitement" about the open access movement, seeing it as advancing the mission of scholarly communication and helping to keep research available at a time when many libraries and scholars don't have enough money.

Policy positions from the AAUP opposing open access -- such as this statement backing the legislation (commonly called the "Conyers bill" after its sponsor, Rep. John Conyers) that would revoke the current NIH requirements -- generally express support for the concept of open access, but fears about its financial impact.

"The members of AAUP strongly support open access to scholarly literature by whatever means, so long as those means include a funding or business model that will maintain the investment required to keep older work available and continue to publish new work," said the statement. "However, trying to expand access by diminishing copyright protection in works arising from federally-funded research is going entirely in the wrong direction, and will badly erode the capacity of AAUP members to publish such work in their books and journals."

The problem with that argument, Rossner said, is that there is nothing inconsistent with backing open access and having a business plan that works for university presses. He noted that Rockefeller University Press went open access in 2001 for material that has been published at least six months. Revenue from journal subscriptions has gone up during that time, with funds shifting from print to online, but flowing in nonetheless....

Peter Givler, executive director of the AAUP, said that while members of the association had the right to express their views, "we took this position [supporting the Conyers bill] believing that it reflected the views of a strong majority of our membership."

Givler said he was frustrated that "there's a lot of misunderstanding about the real issues here." He said that presses are very much in the business of "dissemination of knowledge -- the issue is how to pay for it." While there is "a lot of experimentation going on," he said it was not clear that models broadly exist to help university presses in an open access system...."

To those who think university presses should be able to endorse open access now, he said, "look at what's going on right now. Look at the enormous financial pressure universities and university presses are under." Even if the government is paying for the research covered by the current requirements, "the publishing process is not paid for by the taxpayers."

Update (6/4/09). Also see Jennifer Howard's article on the Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog.


2 new members of Flickr Commons

More on OAPEN

Making Europe's biggest online library, Science Guide, June 3, 2009.  Excerpt:

How to increase the quantity, visibility and usability of academic research while lowering costs? OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) is working on it. This is a 30-month EU-project intended to develop and implement an Open Access publication model for peer reviewed academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Recently named as one of the most promising Open Access examples, OAPEN has had a very promising start. Spokesperson Saskia de Vries: “We want to build the largest European Open Access online library.”

Sometimes the best ideas just ‘happen’. When Saskia de Vries, director of Amsterdam University Press went to attend the February 2007 EU-conference on Open Access she had no idea that she would return from Brussels with a plan, the commitment, and partners to start OAPEN. It just happened that way after Sijbolt Noorda, VSNU-president, had introduced her to several of her colleagues at other European University Presses. Almost a year later, united University Presses from Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands had proposed their plan for Open Access Publishing in European Networks and the EU programme eContentplus rewarded it with a €900.000 funding. De Vries: “We had already experimented with Open Access publishing, but now we were ready to aim much higher.” ...

When asked if the financial crisis is slowing down the project De Vries states exactly the opposite. It seems to be fueling the development, because faced with harsh economic conditions University Presses are more and more looking towards digital publishing as a viable alternative for the costly printing of publications. This way it is also much easier to disseminate works that would otherwise not have been published. This means an increase in the availability of HSS [humanities and social science] works. De Vries: “Of course these works will be subject to the usual publishing restrictions of each press, and they will be made available as printed books through POD (Printing On Demand) partners globally.”  ...

In the summer of 2010 the OAPEN online library is supposed to go online....

PS:  Also see our past posts on OAPEN.

OA to hospital price data: changing the default

Mark Sanchez, Price transparency: Some health providers open access to cost data,, June 2, 2009.  Excerpt:

Mike Freed can't say for sure there's any great benefit to posting price information online that provides patients some idea what they could expect to pay when they have a diagnostic test or procedure performed at Spectrum Health.

Nor has he seen any large public demand for the data.

Yet at the same time, "it doesn't hurt us" to do it, said Freed, the chief financial officer at Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health.

"We don't lose anything and it's not much effort to do," Freed said. "We can't figure out why someone else would have a problem with it."

By adopting that posture and publishing price data online, Spectrum Health is out front of a slowly emerging trend in health care: Giving price information to the public.

Interactive front end to OECD data

The OECD has launched the Factbook eXplorer, a beautifully interactive front end to the data in the OECD Factbook 2009

Thanks to ResourceShelf for the alert, and for the reminder to see the  OECD Interactive Charts and Trendanalyzer as well.

Publishing wikified and non-wikified versions of the same articles

Open Medicine, the OA journal, has launched an associated Open Medicine Wiki.  The purpose is to provide "an online collaborative tool for improving and updating peer-reviewed systematic reviews."

According to the blog post announcing the project, OM now publishes selected articles in three formats:  HTML, PDF, and wiki. 

...Readers are invited to edit the [wiki version of the] article either by adding, deleting or modifying its contents....


  • This is a very interesting experiment.  The HTML and PDF versions of the peer-reviewed OM articles are not publicly editable, and will always be available for reading or reference no matter what users do to the modifiable version on the wiki.  That should answer any worries that wikification will degrade quality.  Now the question is whether wikification will improve quality.
  • This quality ratchet is a simple idea with significant consequences.  It should enable riskfree experimentation with all sorts of Web 2.0 innovations, social networking, and collaborative research and writing.  Some will fail to add value.  That doesn't matter.  The point is not that all experiments will succeed but that this simple idea frees us to experiment.

Allowing embargoes in ETD policies

In SOAN yesterday I argued that waiver options in university OA policies can remove political obstacles to their adoption.  Today on her blog, Dorothea Salo extends the argument to embargo options in policies to mandate OA for ETDs.  From her post:

...I am particularly struck by the difficulty over the absence of obvious language about waivers [in the defeated U of Maryland policy].  Suber gets it spot-on:  there wasn’t a need to have waiver language in the resolution because it wasn’t a mandate, but its absence justifiably made people worry that should it become a mandate it wouldn’t have appropriate wiggle-room.

Doesn’t this bear more than a passing resemblance to discussions about ETD embargoes? It sure does to me. The easiest conversations I’ve ever seen or heard about regarding ETDs involved everyone taking embargo capability for granted. The slightest doubt about whether embargoes will be available imperils an ETD program.

And then, of course, the funny thing is that almost nobody uses the embargoes once they’re available; there’s abundant evidence to this effect. To a technologist, this can seem like pointless creeping featurism: “why did I have to spend dev time on this so-called feature that less than half a percent of the end users actually take advantage of?” But socially, having that bolthole is absolutely crucial, even were it not true (and it is) that a few situations genuinely do require embargoes....

As I think I said before, I’m glad Maryland happened, despite how excruciating it must have been for the people involved. I’m even glad that the ETD wrangle in Iowa happened, for the same basic reason. Spelling out why these things happened so that this can be done right in more places will, in time, give us far more value than the individual roadblock removed....

Why aren't there more OA journals in philosophy?

On the Leiter Report, Gualtiero Piccinini asks why there aren't more OA journals in philosophy.  The question has elicited a good discussion on that blog and elsewhere.

An OA mandate for University College London

University College London has adopted an OA mandate.  From today's announcement:

UCL (University College London) has today announced the establishment of a UCL Publications Board that will implement the university’s Open Access policy and be responsible for ensuring that, subject to copyright permissions, all UCL research is placed online in the university’s institutional repository, freely accessible to all. This move places UCL at the forefront of academic institutions who are pioneering the move to Open Access, as the first European university ranked in the global top ten in the THE – QS world university rankings to do so.

UCL has already given all of its PhD students the option of making their theses available in its online repository, open access, giving these far greater visibility than they would enjoy as paper copy on library shelves. In academic departments across UCL there is already a broad take-up of Open Access, and the records of the whole of UCL’s 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) return have been loaded into the repository, with links added to the relevant version of the full text where copyright permissions allow. The creation of the UCL Publications Board extends this situation to the whole of UCL’s published research output. The Publications Board will oversee the rollout of UCL’s Open Access mandate, and promote Open Access both within UCL and beyond as an important scholarly medium for the dissemination of research.

Open Access is a new form of dissemination for published books, articles, conference proceedings and digital outputs. Its principles are based on the Berlin Declaration, which urges authors to retain the rights in the materials they produce and to place a copy in an Open Access medium – in UCL’s case the university’s electronic repository – so that they are available free at point of use to anyone, anywhere in the world, with an Internet connection.

“In the competitive environment of a global higher education market, Open Access repositories provide a platform on which a university can showcase its research,” says Dr Paul Ayris, Director of UCL Library Services. “Open Access helps prospective students make a judgement on which University to choose, shares blue-skies research with the widest possible audience, and supports outreach activity to open up higher education to new communities....


  • I applaud UCL for this move and look forward to the policy details.  From this announcement, UCL seems to have left a loophole for publishers (ensuring OA "subject to copyright permissions") rather than closing the loophole, Harvard-style, by blocking opt-outs for publishers and opening opt-outs for authors.  More later.
  • As you can see from yesterday's SOAN, I'm collecting university OA policies adopted by faculty votes, especially unanimous faculty votes.  Does anyone know whether the UCL policy was adopted by a faculty vote and, if so, what was the final tally?

Update.  Also see David Turner's article in the Financial Times, quoting this irrelevant objection:

...[S]ome experts say using journals boosts efficiency by signalling to readers whether research is good or not.

Martin Weale, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said: “If you read something in the American Economic Review, there’s a presumption that its quality has been examined with great care, and the article isn’t rubbish. But if you have open access, people who are looking for things ... will find it very difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff.”

Weale seems to believe that the purpose of OA is to bypass peer review, that UCL will only provide OA to unrefereed preprints, or even that UCL will promote repository deposits as an alternative to journal publication.  Turner is the journalist here but failed to report that Weale was misinformed.

Update.  Also see Richard Van Noorden's article in Nature News.  He reports that "UCL's decision [was] approved by a unanimous vote of its academic board in October 2008."  Added to those I listed in SOAN yesterday, that makes 20 faculty-adopted OA policies and 13 unanimous faculty votes:  65% of all faculty-adopted policies have been adopted unanimously.

More from Van Noorden:

..."Open-access mandates [from institutions, departments and funding bodies] have almost doubled globally in the year that has elapsed since Harvard's mandate in [February] 2008," says Stevan Harnad, an advocate of open access at the University of Southampton, UK.

UCL's move is unlikely to improve public access to scientific research papers, as national bodies that support research already demand that. Thirty-six of them — including the US National Institutes of Health, all seven UK research councils, and the European Research Council — require work they have financed to be made publicly available (usually through deposition in open-access repositories such as PubMed Central, six months after publication).

But Alma Swan, a consultant for Key Perspectives, which analyses scholarly communications, says the recent flurry of institutional activity has come because university officials are realizing the importance of increasing their institution's visibility on the internet, and of creating a complete record that can be analysed and compared against other institutions' outputs or easily entered in national funding competitions. The UK and Australia, which both allocate funding depending on the quality of published research, lead the world in open-access repository policies, Swan notes.

"A lot of other UK universities are also considering their policies. We're going to start to see the dominoes fall," she says....

The UCL policy is unlikely to immediately affect publishers, thinks Peter Suber, director of the Open Access project at the Washington DC–based non-profit lobby group Public Knowledge. "Publishers who don't want to allow open access on UCL's terms won't have to," he says, as it seems UCL will defer to publishers' copyright policies....

Update.  Also see the U of Southampton press release:

With the announcement today (Wednesday 3 June) that University College London has just adopted the UK's 22nd (and the world's 84th) mandate to make all of its research output Open Access..., it is clear that the United Kingdom continues to lead the world in Open Access.

With its 13 funder mandates and 9 institutional/departmental mandates so far, the UK still has the planet's highest proportion of Open Access Mandates. But the rest of the world is catching up (see Figure).

Dr Alma Swan of Key Perspectives and University of Southampton, has just documented how mandates to provide Open Access to research output have almost doubled globally in the year that has elapsed since Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted the world’s 44th Open Access mandate in May 2008....

Professor Stevan Harnad, leader and archivangelist for the world-wide Open Access movement, and a Professor in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, comments: 'Alma Swan's analysis shows that the UK is at last going to lose its lead, as the global growth spurt of mandates we had all been awaiting appears to have begun.

'The globalization of Open Access mandates is of course something that all UK universities heartily welcome as a win/win outcome, optimal and inevitable for research and researchers worldwide.

'Open access is essentially reciprocal. The only way every university on the planet can gain open access to the research output of every other university on the planet is by each providing open access to its own research output.’

Update (6/4/09). Also see Zoë Corbyn's article in THES.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Critique of JISC and RIN studies on OA

David Bousfield, Some thoughts on Open Access publishing, Current Trends in Biomedical Publishing and Bioinformatics, June 2, 2009.

Comments on JISC's Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models and RIN's Activities, costs and funding flows in the scholarly communications system in the UK.

See also our past posts on the JISC and RIN studies.

Podcast with Wilbanks

Paul Miller, John Wilbanks talks about Creative Commons, Data, Science and more, The Cloud of Data, June 1, 2009. A 48 minute audio recording.

Update on PhilPapers

Jennifer Howard, Archive Watch: Taking It Philosophically, Wired Campus, June 2, 2009.  Excerpt:

Billed as “a comprehensive directory of online philosophy articles and books by academic philosophers,” PhilPapers is the brainchild of David Chalmers, a philosopher who directs the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University, and David Bourget, one of Mr. Chalmers’s graduate students. First sustained by ANU, the project now has a two-year grant from Britain’s Joint Information Systems Committee and support from the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London, where Mr. Bourget is a rising postdoc.

Judged by the early numbers, PhilPapers has been a hit. It now has about 5,000 registered users, 60 percent to 70 percent of them graduate students and professors in philosophy, according to Mr. Bourget. Site traffic grew from 23,000 visits in February to 96,000 in May. The Chronicle asked Mr. Bourget for an update on how the experiment has unfolded so far and how it might spread. (Hint: This is not a model for philosophers alone.)

Q. What aspects of the site are working well?

A. We’re especially pleased with the steady stream of submissions to our repository we’ve been getting. We received about 2,200 submissions since we launched (four months ago). That’s quite high when you compare with other online archives, given the small size of the discipline and that we already have a lot of material in the index — people are not allowed to submit already existing items.

We’re also happy with the fruits of the new editorial structure we’ve just put in place two weeks ago. We solicited editors to help us classify all PhilPapers entries in some 3,000 fine-grained categories. We have now about 70 editors working with us, and the categorization is progressing at a good pace, though some areas are moving faster than others. On a good day we can categorize some 2,000 papers, or 1 percent of the index. Soon we will have covered most of the core areas of the discipline, and we will have a really useful platform for people to find articles on all the key topics. This is indispensable in philosophy because there isn’t enough regimentation in the terminology to be able to rely exclusively on search to cover a topic....

PS:  Also see our past posts on PhilPapers.

Audio of CC call

The audio of the May 27 CC community conference call is now online.

OA as a factor in publishing decisions

Mike Taylor, Choosing a journal for the neck-posture paper: why open access is important, Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, June 1, 2009.

...There are plenty of criteria that come in to play in picking a journal, and people will vary in how much weight their place on each. We’ll take a look at some of them (in no very convincing order), and then I’ll explain what I think is the unifying principle. ...

Open access. Assuming that a PDF exists, who can get it and under what terms? Under the classical model, publishers own your work, and can — and do — restrict access to it. To see what you wrote, other scientists, and interested amateurs, have to either have an institutional subscription or pay some ludicrously inflated fee like $30. ...

In contrast, an increasing number of journals are now open access, which means that anyone, anywhere can download the PDF with minimum fuss and at no cost. Acta Palaeontologia Polonica is one of these, and was among the first in palaeo. Other notable journals in this category include PLoS Biology and PLoS ONE, and Zootaxa. If you’re prepared to wait a year before your paper becomes open access (i.e. wait until everyone who’s interested has long had a copy and all the buzz has died down so that no-one cares any more), then the list of open access journals grows to include venues like Science and Proc. B, but personally I am inclined to feel that this is stretching the definition well past breaking point. There are good and valid reasons for wanting to publish in these venues, but their open-access-but-not-in-any-way-that-matters policy is not one of them.

There are (at least) two reasons to favour open-access journals: the pragmatic one is that it’s the best way to make sure that anyone, anywhere in the world who’s interested in your work can get it — whether professor, curator, student, interested amateur or vaguely interested high-school kid. The other reason is that it’s just right. We’re talking here about the world’s accumulated knowledge, in many cases acquired by publicly funded research programs. It is simply and plainly wrong that this work should be shut up behind paywalls where the people who paid for it can’t see it.

Copyright retention. Most publishers, including some open access publishers, require the author to sign over copyright as a condition of publication. Even if it doesn’t make much difference in practice, I have to say it rankles that, for example, that the Palaeontological Society has ended up owning my and Darren’s work on Xenoposeidon (Taylor and Naish 2007). This is particularly iniquitous in unashamedly commercial publishers such as Elsevier — guess who owns Darren’s paper on “Angloposeidon” (Naish et al. 2004)? And it’s even more baffling in open-access journals since they let anyone have the work anyway. I assume the real reason for this is that publishers want to be able to exploit any spin-offs such as popular books, but copyright transfer forms usually contain a lot of blurfl about it being for the author’s benefit, as it allows the publisher to pursue infringement claims on the author’s behalf. To which I offer the following rebuttal: “yeah, right”.

Not all publishers do this. Notably, we retain the copyright on our recent paper in Acta Pal. Pol., Zoologica Scripta leaves copyright with the authors, and there are others. Good for them. ...

[T]he interesting thing is that the first half dozen of these are all about the same thing, which I’d argue is the underlying issue:

Getting the paper read by as many people as possible. ...

So what criteria are we left with? Of the ten we started with, those left standing in the era of ubiquitous PDFs number just four: prestige, turnaround speed, figure reproduction quality and length restrictions/page charges. And this is excellent, because these are the actual services that journals provide to authors. ...

And among journals that do these things well, it’s fairer to reward the good buys by bestorwing our submissions on those that are deliberately publishing open access rather than those that try to stop people reading what they “publish” (which, of course, is ironically the very opposite of what the word is supposed to mean, i.e. making something available). ...

On open biology

Gary Richmond, Extending the free software paradigm to DIY Biology, Free Software Magazine, June 2, 2009.

... One citizen biologist is trying to modify Jellyfish genes and adding them to yoghurt to detect the presence of Melamine (which was implicated in contaminated baby milk in China). She intends, if successful, to release the design into the public domain. ... Where do these so called garage geneticists get their technology and raw material? Many pick up basic equipment on eBay. As for materials, they have something akin to GNU/Linux software repositories on which to call. MIT has a registry of standard biological parts called biobricks. The remit could almost have been written by a [Richard] Stallman clone:

The Registry is based on the principle of “get some, give some”. Registry users benefit from using the parts and information available from the Registry in designing their engineered biological systems. In exchange, the expectation is that Registry users will, in turn, contribute back information and data on existing parts and new parts that they make to grow and improve this community resource.

... [T]he Biobricks Foundation (BBF) has not opted for a species of viral licence, though it has taken Science Commons, an offshoot of the Creative Commons, as the basis for developing a legal framework for its activities. ...

One of the best and most interesting takes I have read on these issues to date is a Ph.D thesis on open source biotechnology by Janet Hope which is available an an online PDF. It is particularly good on discussing the biological equivalents of the GPL, copyleft and what constitutes source code and binaries ... Also highly recommended is an introduction to science commons by John Wilbanks and James Boyle which is particularly good at eliciting the problems with “proprietary” science and how they can inhibit the rate of progress, discovery and application ...

Nextbio is an interactive life sciences search engine which searches through and correlates experiments, literature and clinical [data] to assist researchers to make new discoveries. This is done through a conventional search engine interface. ...

Validating the numbers behind the serials crisis claims

Bill Hooker, Pick an index, any index., Open Reading Frame, June 1, 2009.

Over at The Scholarly Kitchen, Philip Davis takes the ARL to task for comparing their serials expenditures with the Consumer Price Index:

By adopting the CPI as a general frame of reference, almost any industry that requires huge professional worker input will look like it is spiraling out of control. Perhaps this is the reason the ARL uses the Consumer Price Index as a reference for journal prices when it could have used the Higher Education Price Index, the Producer Price Index, or an index which more closely resembles professional knowledge production. ...

Since I've just played around with updating the famous graph to which Davis takes exception, I thought I'd better take a closer look at the alternative indices he suggests. ...

There isn't a lot of difference between the HEPI and the CPI, and the all commodities PPI index shows even less increase. Davis suggests that salaries, professional worker input, are at least part of the reason why the CPI is a poor choice for comparison with serials costs, but (to the extent that the HEPI is a better "professional worker weighted" measure) the data do not bear him out. ...

Remember, too, that this is still only part of the story: "serials" includes a great many publications whose costs have not increased at the same rate as the scholarly literature. The Abridged Index Medicus data I got from EBSCO only cover 1990 onwards, so I reworked the comparison to include the AIM data ...

I used the AIM data because comparison with a much larger data set, broken down by individual discipline, showed that the AIM data gave what looks like a reasonable "middle value" -- and as you can see, scholarly journal price increases outstrip all others, including total serials, by a considerable margin. ...

If you want the data I used, the spreadsheet is here.

Wellcome authors increasingly publishing in compliant journals

Robert Kiley, Journals compliant with Wellcome mandate, UK PubMed Central Blog, June 1, 2009.

At a poster session at the Open Repositories Conference 2009, Peter Millington (Technical Development Officer at Sherpa) presented data on the number of publishers/journals used by Wellcome-funded authors that offered a Wellcome-compliant OA publishing policy.

Taking a cohort of 3766 papers published in 901 different journals, Millington shows that potential compliance increased from 70% in 2006 to 87% in 2009. (i.e. 87% of articles were published in journals that had a Wellcome-compliant OA policy).

Millinton's analysis is based on a fixed cohort of papers, published in 2006. Analysis undertaken by the Wellcome on more recent publications (see Funder manadate presentation, slide 14) shows a potential compliance of around 95%, with actual compliance hovering around 35%.

To help Wellcome-funded authors determine the OA publishing policy of the most popular journals used by Wellcome-funded authors the Trust has produced a simple A-Z journal list. ...

Update. See also Jim Till's comments:

... An estimate of somewhat more recent compliance can be obtained via PubMed. ...

[T]he proportion of articles with publicly-accessible full text, published between 6 months and one year ago, can be estimated to be ... 43.7%. ...

New discussion list on OA for development

The Open Knowledge Foundation has launched a new mailing list on open knowledge in development.

Connecting data publication with an OA journal

Lyubomir Penev, et al., Publication and dissemination of datasets in taxonomy: ZooKeys working example, ZooKeys, 2009. (Thanks to Jonathan Gray.) Abstract:
A concept for data publication and semantic enhancements proposed by ZooKeys and applied in the milestone paper of Miller et al. (2009) is described. For the first time in systematic zoology, an unique combination of data publication and semantic enhancements is applied within the mainstream process of journal publishing, to demonstrate how: (1) All primary biodiversity data underlying a taxonomic monograph are published as a dataset under a separate DOI within the paper; (2) The occurrence dataset is discoverable and accessible through GBIF data portal ( simultaneously with the publication; (3) Occurrence dataset is published as a KML file under a distinct DOI to provide an interactive experience in Google Earth; (4) All new taxa (42) are registered at ZooBank during the publication process (mandatory for ZooKeys); (5) All new taxa (42) are provided to Encyclopedia of Life through XML mark up on the day of publication (mandatory for ZooKeys). It is proposed to clearly distinguish between static and dynamic datasets in the way they are published, preserved and cited.
See also our past post on ZooKeys.


I just mailed the June issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the University of Maryland faculty vote rejecting a proposed OA policy.  The round-up section briefly notes 165 OA developments from May. 

Update (2:00 pm EST).  There seems to be a problem with the list software today.  For the time being, the email version is stuck in one of those internet tubes, and you'll have to make do with the web version.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Presentations on mandates in practice

The presentations from the RIN/RSP meeting, Research in the open: How mandates work in practice (London, May 29, 2009), are now online.

Also see our past post on Robert Kiley's presentation and our post on blog notes on the meeting.

First OA book from PALM Africa project

Eve Gray, Genocide by Denial: How Profiteering from HIV/AIDS Killed Millions – an open access book from Uganda, PALM Africa, May 24, 2009.

Fountain Publishers in Uganda has launched as its first open access book, a powerful and moving indictment of the price in human lives that the global innovation system has extracted in sub-saharan Africa, written by the internationally respected AIDS specialist, Peter Mugyenyi. The book is Genocide by Denial: How profiteering from HIV/AIDS killed millions. This is the first demonstration project in the PALM Africa initiative and the response to the open acess book as well as its impact will be tracked and researched by the PALM team.

Fountain Publishers' motivation in pioneering the first pilot in the PALM programme is to get wider exposure for its books and test the impact of open access on print sales. Fountain publishes a number of leading African scholars as well as Mugyenyi, including Mahmood Mamdani, Ali Mazrui, Archie Mafeje and Sylvia Tamale. James Tumisiime, the publisher, hopes that placing an open access version of these books online will bring more readers to the Fountain publishing list, gaining more inter-African and international exposure and increasing sales of the print version of the books concerned. ...

Print copies of the book are available in the UK from the African Book Collective (ABC) and the book is available from Amazon in the UK and the USA. Now we need to get a system going for POD fulfilment in African countries, something the South African PALM project is addressing.

See also our past posts on PALM Africa (1, 2).

Notes from OA mandates event

Notes on Research in the Open: How Mandates Work in Practice (London, May 29, 2009): See also our past post on the conference.

More on support for OA by students at Uppsala U.

In October, we blogged about the work of a group of Pirate Students in the student union at at the University of Uppsala in drafting a resolution supporting OA. At that time, the Pirate Students had 5 seats in the student union.

In elections this year, the Pirate Students expanded their share to 9 seats, only 1 seat behind the largest party (and the only party to gain seats in the election). From Google's translation of the campaign site:

Pirate Students working for a university which is in keeping with the vision of a free information society. We want knowledge to be as widely available as possible, and therefore seems to the university should use open standards and open publication in terms of software, literature and publishing research results.

In the free information society, no need to purchase a certain program to carry out their studies. Nobody should have to risk prosecution for having copied portions of their literature. Research results will be published directly on the Internet so that everyone has access to them. ...

DSpace UG presentations now online

The presentations from the DSpace User Group Meeting at Open Repositories 2009 (Atlanta, May 18-21, 2009) are now online.

New from Seed Media

Innovium Investment Seed Media Group Announces New Initiatives, a press release from the Seed Media Group, June 1, 2009.  Excerpt:

Seed Media Group...Founder and CEO, Adam Bly, announced a number of new initiatives and innovations in scientific communication during a keynote speech at the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. One of Seed's principal assets is

  • Bly officially launched a new Information Science channel on ScienceBlogs for the 10,000 librarians who regularly visit the site. The new channel will feature several prominent librarian-bloggers and information scientists and will focus on open access and open science, digital and print publishing, intellectual property and ownership, data visualization, and other revolutions in information science.
  • Bly previewed the new version of ResearchBlogging to SSP attendees. The software from Seed Technology connects scientific papers to scientific blogs, enabling researchers to make use of the unique and timely information about current science in the blogosphere. The new version of ResearchBlogging includes support for citation data from both ArXiv (an electronic archive for scientific papers) and PubMed (a search engine provided by the US National Library of Medicine for accessing Life Sciences citations, abstracts and articles) and streamlined citation generation.
  • Bly unveiled RB Connect, a new service that enables scientific publishers to link articles to aggregated blog posts from ResearchBlogging. RB Connect will be launched on the websites of PLoS One from the Public Library of Science, the pioneering open access publisher, and the Royal Society (Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge), the British scientific society and publisher founded in 1660....

PS:  Apparently RB Connect doesn't yet have a web site.  If I'm just overlooking it, please drop me a line.

Framing the OA debate

Diane Gurman, Why Lakoff Still Matters:  Framing the Debate on Copyright Law and Digital Publishing, First Monday, June 2009. 

Abstract:   In 2004, linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff popularized the idea of using metaphors and “frames” to promote progressive political issues. Although his theories have since been criticized, this article asserts that his framing is still relevant to the debate over copyright law as applied to digital publishing, particularly in the field of scholarly journals. Focusing on issues of copyright term extension and the public domain, open access, educational fair use, and the stewardship and preservation of digital resources, this article explores how to advocate for change more effectively — not by putting a better “spin” on proposed policies — but by using coherent narratives to frame the issues in language linked to progressive values.

Friend of OA becomes US Deputy Chief Technology Officer

The Obama administration has appointed Andrew McLaughlin the country's Deputy Chief Technology Officer.  McLaughlin has been the head of global public policy for Google, and will leave the company to take the new position. 

David Weinberger, a former colleague of McLaughlin's at Harvard's Berkman Center, says that McLaughlin is "committed to open access".

More on OA in the European Parliament elections

Voting in the forthcoming European Parliament elections is scheduled for June 4-7. Some news on OA:

  • Frank Swain, Science and the European Elections: Open Access, SciencePunk, May 31, 2009. Responses on public access from 4 UK parties contesting the elections.

    Comment. I hesitate to characterize any of the responses as calling unequivocally for an OA mandate for EU-funded research. The strongest comment is from the Green Party respondent, who states that he "would work with colleagues to open access - particularly for research that has been funded by the taxpayer." The responses are brief, if you want to read them yourself.

  • Pirate Parties are contesting the elections for the first time. In Sweden, the Pirate Party is predicted to win at least one seat. The German Pirate Party is predicting that if it does not earn enough votes to gain a seat in Parliament, it may earn at least enough votes to qualify for public funding in the next election.

    What's the OA connection? The German party's platform (Google translation) has supported OA since 2006. The Swedish party's platform (Google translation) also seems to support OA.

    Another connection: Mattias Bjärnemalm, third on the Swedish party's list, previously worked on a statement supporting OA in the University of Uppsala's student union.

See also our past posts on OA in the European Parliament elections:

Update. Tom Chance has posted a note elaborating the UK Greens' position.

Update. Eduardo Robredo Zugasti writes (Google translation) that it remains unclear if the Spanish parties contesting the election support OA.

Integrating OA mandates for faculty research and ETDs

Stevan Harnad, ETD2009 Keynote: Integrating University Thesis and Research Open Access Mandates, Open Access Archivangelism, June 1, 2009. 

Abstract:   A growing number of universities are beginning to require the digital deposit of their thesis and dissertation output in their institutional repositories. At the same time, a growing number of universities as well as research funders are beginning to mandate that all refereed research must be deposited too. This makes for a timely synergy between the practices of the younger and older generation of researchers as the Open Access era unfolds. It also maximizes the uptake, usage and impact of university research input at all stages, as well as providing rich and powerful new metrics to monitor and reward research productivity and impact. It is important to integrate universities' ETD and research output repositories, mandates and metrics as well as to provide the mechanism for those deposits that may need to be made Closed Access rather than Open Access: Repositories need to implement the "email eprint request" Button for all Closed Access Deposits. Any would-be user webwide, having reached the metadata of a Closed Access Deposit can, with one click, request an eprint for research purposes; the author instantly receives an automatic email and can then, again with one click, authorize the automatic emailing of one copy to the user by the repository software. This feature is important for fulfilling immediate research usage needs during any journal-article embargo period, and it also gives the authors of dissertations they hope to publish as books a way to control who has access to the dissertation. Digital dissertations will also benefit from the reference-linking and book-citation metrics that will be provided by harvesters of the distributed institutional repository metadata (which will also include the metadata and reference lists of all university book output). Dissertation downloads as well as eprint-requests will also provide useful new research impact metrics.

PS:  Also see my keynote from ETD2006, in which I argued for mandating OA to ETDs and (toward the end) for integrating the OA repositories and mandates for faculty research and student ETDs.

Sci/tech law journal converts to libre OA

Luis Villa, Letter From the Editor-in-Chief, Columbia Science and Technology Law Review, June 2009.

... Starting with this volume, we’ve made two significant changes to how we publish, and I wanted to write this note to explain those changes and why we did them.

First, we’ve decided to meet the standards set out by the Open Access Law Program and formally seek to become an Open Access Law Journal. To that end, we’ve refined our author agreement (already very liberal) to explicitly ensure that authors retain their copyrights, and we’re making our agreement public on our website. At the same time, we’re also embracing open publication, formally putting our articles under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial No-Derivatives license, and allowing our authors to distribute themselves under even more liberal licenses if they so choose.

Second, in order to meet the standards set forward by the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, we’re moving our backend from our own server to professionally maintained, archival-quality services run by the Columbia Library. We were already publishing in the relatively open PDF format. As a result of these two choices, we can now be fully confident that our digital scholarship has the same permanence and long-term ’shelf life’ as a paper journal- a big step forward for digital scholarship in general. ...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Preview of a new OA publisher

The founders of Pronetos, the academic networking site, are offering a pre-launch preview of their Open Academic Press.

From the short announcement at the Pronetos site (May 30):

Seeking to fill a void in the scholarly publications realm, the founders of Pronetos are this week issuing a sneak preview of Open Access Press. Open Access Press helps scholars and learned societies in the humanities and social sciences bring print journals on line. Using the world’s most ubiquitous journal management platform, the Open Journal System, Open Access Press works with publishers to convert existing journals to an online, Open Access format, or create a new digital Open Access Journal. More details will follow next week.

Impact of OA preprints in economics

Tove Faber Frandsen, The effects of open access on un-published documents: A case study of economics working papers, forthcoming from the Journal of Informetrics.

Abstract:   The use of scholarly publications that have not been formally published in e.g. journals is widespread in some fields. In the past they have been disseminated through various channels of informal communication. However, the Internet has enabled dissemination of these unpublished and often unrefereed publications to a much wider audience. This is particularly interesting seen in relation to the highly disputed open access advantage as the potential advantage for low visibility publications has not been given much attention in the literature. The present study examines the role of working papers in economics during a ten-year period (1996 to 2005). It shows that working papers are increasingly becoming visible in the field specific databases. The impact of working papers is relatively low; however, high impact working paper series have citation rate levels similar to the low impact journals in the field. There is no tendency to an increase in impact during the ten years which is the case for the high impact journals. Consequently, the result of this study does not provide evidence of an open access advantage for working papers in economics.

New academic publisher combines OA and POD

French Creek Press is a new book publisher (launched in April 2009), whose academic division, Kenwood Academic, will combine OA with POD (print on demand).  For details, see today's post on the press blog by co-founder Shoshana Kleiman.

Case study in converting a journal to OA

Alexandra-Emilia Fortis, Indexing Research Papers in Open Access Databases, a preprint self-archived in arXiv May 28, 2009.

Abstract:   This paper synthesizes the actions performed in order to transform a classic scientific research journal - 'Annals. Computer Science Series' - available only in printed form until 2008, into a modern e-journal with free access to the full text of the articles. For achieving this goal, the research papers have been included in various article databases, portals and library catalogs which offered a high visibility to the journal.