Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More on whether gold OA support is premature

Stevan Harnad, The Argument Against (Premature) Gold OA Support, Open Access Archivangelism, June 12, 2009.  This is a relatively short excerpt from a long post.  Those following the debate should read the whole thing.  Excerpt:

In The argument for gold OA support, Stuart Shieber [SS] wrote:

SS: "Are green and gold open access independent of each other? In particular, is worry about gold OA a waste of time, and are expenditures on it a waste of money?
   Stevan Harnad has
brought up this issue in response to a recent talk I gave at Cal Tech, and in particular my remarks about a potential “open access compact”. I will take this opportunity to explain why I think that the answer to both questions is 'no'."

I welcome this dialogue with Stuart Shieber, who, with his patient, resourceful, tireless efforts at Harvard succeeded in achieving consensus on the adoption of what is indisputably the most important and influential of Green OA self-archiving mandates to date – a historic milestone and turning point for the entire global OA movement.
Although Green and Gold OA are definitely not independent of each other, their interdependence is subtle and not at all the simple, parallel complementarity that many imagine it to be. I will try to show why worry about Gold OA at this time is indeed a waste of time....

I will also try to show why spending money pre-emptively -- whether redirected from the university’s (serials-crisis-burdened) library acquisitions budget or from funding agencies’ scarce research funds -- to pay for Gold OA at this time is indeed a waste of money (though it will not be a waste of money if and when gold OA’s time actually comes – which it certainly has not done yet)....

Once (1) universal mandates have made Green OA universal and (2) if and when that universal Green OA in turn makes journal subscriptions unsustainable, then and only then is it time for a transition to paying for peer review on the Gold OA model: not before, when what is urgently needed is far more OA -- which is provided by implementing Green OA mandates to deposit all journal articles, not by paying needlessly for Gold OA journal publishing.

Moreover, the price for Gold OA then -- when it is actually needed -- will be much lower than what is being asked now, pre-emptively, when subscriptions are intact and Gold OA is not yet needed. And the money to pay for Gold OA (then) will come out of the windfall savings from the very same institutional subscription cancellations on which this if/then scenario is predicated, rather than out of universities’ already overstretched library budgets and/or funders' overstretched research budgets....

Update (6/15/09).  Also see (1) Stevan's discussion with David Prosser on this point, (2) his clarification on Michael Smith's blog, and (3) his new post arguing that "it is far more productive (of OA) for universities and funders to mandate Green OA than to fund Gold OA."

Update (6/20/09).  Also see Bill Hooker's comments on both Stevan Harnad's and Stuart Shieber's contributions in this debate.

Counting on the next generation of researchers

At a World Science Festival in New York yesterday, six high school students interviewed Harold Varmus.

...When Sala Uddin asked about his future plans, Mr. Varmus said he would keep working on cancer research and teaching students. He also wanted to see more open access to scientific information and more stem cell research. To the students sitting with him on the stage, and to all the young people in the crowd, he said, “I’m counting on you guys to help get these things done.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

OA to backfiles of Etudes

The backfiles to the journal Études, 1856-2000, are now online via Gallica. See also a 19-page dossier prepared by the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Notes on schol. comm. event

Bonnie Swoger, Scholarly Communication 101, The Undergraduate Science Librarian, June 5, 2009.

Today I attended one of the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 workshops, held at the Uniersity at Buffalo. It was an excellent workshop and met my expectations perfectly. ...

Some interesting factoids about scholarly publishing

  • STM publications make up 84% of the $19.1 billion industry
  • 91% of the dollars spent on journals go to the for-profit publishers
  • Papers in the for-profit publications only account for 38% of citations

The business model of publishing scientific papers isn’t really working, and right now everyone is trying to figure out what to do about it. Publishers are clinging to traditional business practices (getting content from scholars for free, charging libraries a lot of money for access).Library budgets are shrinking, and we can’t afford to purchase access to everything.

One possible solution: open access models of publication. ...

Presentations from Biblioteca Digital Colombiana conference

The presentations from Integración de contenidos digitales a través de redes académicas avanzadas (Bogotá, June 4-5, 2009) are now online.

More data on impact of unauthorized downloads on book sales

Brian O'Leary, The impact of piracy, Magellan Media Partners, June 8, 2009. (Thanks to Boing Boing.)

... At BookExpo America, we presented an update that included sales data for 21 O’Reilly Media 2008 front-list titles that we found on one or more P2P sites. This is an increase of 13 titles over the 8 that had been found when we first presented at Tools of Change in February 2009. ...

Average sales for unpirated content start higher and peak later, although this may reflect the specific nature of titles in a small sample.

The primary difference between sales of pirated and unpirated content appeared in weeks 19 through 25 [after publication], when sales for pirated content peaked a second time at a level higher than that seen in the first, sell-in period. This second peak followed the time (19 weeks) at which the average pirated O’Reilly front-list title was first seeded on a P2P site. ...

See also the related slides.

See also our past posts on O'Leary's research.

DINI position paper on research data

The DINI working group on electronic publishing has released a position paper on research data, Positionspapier Forschungsdaten (version 1.0, April 2009).  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Update (6/13/09). Here's the report in Google's English.

Journal issue on OA in Italy

The theme of the latest issue of AIDAinformazioni is Open Access in Italia. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) Each article has an English abstract.

More on the prehistory of OA

Richard Poynder, The world’s first Open Access Mandate?  Open and Shut?  June 12, 2009.  Excerpt:

In the process of writing something about the current state of Open Access (OA) mandates I became intrigued by the mandate introduced at Geneva-based particle physics laboratory CERN.

Officially, CERN introduced a self-archiving mandate in November 2003. Amongst other things, this requires CERN researchers to “deposit a copy of all their published articles in an open access repository”.

This suggests that CERN’s mandate came some ten months after the world’s first mandate – introduced in the department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the UK’s University of Southampton in January 2003.

When I began enquiring about the genesis of the CERN mandate, however, the picture began to seem less clear. I found it hard, for instance, to establish why CERN had introduced its mandate, and who had been responsible for pushing it through.

Amongst those I contacted for enlightenment was scholarly publishing consultant Alma Swan, who said her understanding was that there had always been a mandate at CERN. Originally this was an analogue mandate, with researchers expected to provide the library at CERN with print copies of all the papers they published, but that this was subsequently upgraded to a digital mandate (in November 2003).

Alma kindly emailed the head of the Scientific Information Service at CERN Jens Vigen for clarification. Vigen also found the question intriguing and began digging around in CERN's archives; and today he emailed me a copy of the original memo from CERN's Director General – officially known as CERN/DG/Memo/5, and dated 17th March 1955.

Vigen commented, “Times have obviously changed since then and I must admit I was smiling quite a lot while reading it. However, the mandate for deposit was, as you see, in place from the very first days of the organisation's life.”

Images of the two-page memo are attached below, and can be accessed as a PDF file here.

This still leaves me with a number of questions however:

1. Is it fair to call the CERN memo an OA mandate given, for instance, that the term OA was only coined in 2001, at the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)?

2. Similarly what do we make of the fact that the policy was combined with one on press statements? Could it be that this was not intended to refer to scholarly papers?

3. If it can be classified as an OA mandate, is it truly the world's first, or is there another dusty memo out there somewhere predating 17th March 1955?

4. If it is an OA mandate, why was it introduced at CERN at such an early date?

5. What was the process by which CERN’s analogue mandate was upgraded to a digital mandate. Specifically, who was responsible, and why was it upgraded?

All comments and further information gratefully received.

Comments.  Many thanks to Richard and Jens for digging this up.  I'm very much interested in the prehistory of OA myself, especially Richard's question #3.  Here are a couple of other early episodes from my files.

  1. Here's an early (1944) example of what could be called a proposed OA deposit mandate.  It's from my 2004 article, Creating an Intellectual Commons through Open Access, footnote 26 in the OA draft, and footnote 27 in the slightly revised version published in Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom (eds.), Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice, MIT Press, 2006, pp. 201-202.  J.A.K. Thomson, a classicist at King’s College London, wrote the following in a letter to Gilbert Murray, a fellow classicist at Oxford, March 26, 1944 (p. 4). The original is in the MS. Gilbert Murray Box 174, Fols. 165-67, at Bodleian Library, Oxford.  I thank Barbara McManus, classicist emerita at the College of New Rochelle, for bringing it to my attention. 
    ...I am concerned at the amount of good work in scholarship which has no chance of being published --unless of course the Government should subsidise it. I am pessimistic about the immediate, though not the ultimate, prospect for the Classics. I think compulsory Latin will be abolished and when that happens the Classical Departments in other places than Oxford and Cambridge will dwindle to nothing. Even now it does not pay a publisher to put out a Latin, let alone a Greek, book, however excellent, and the University Presses cannot carry the burden unsupported. But would it be possible for the B.M. [British Museum] or Oxford or Cambridge to invite really good scholars to deposit with them a typed or manuscript copy of some magnum opus on which they had spent long time and labour? It would then become available to other scholars, even if it could not be published....
  2. Here's an early (1974) example of the OA debate, focusing on the circulation of photocopies.  It's from my 2004 article, A glimpse of our history.  The article pulled together several contributions to the debate and added a few comments.  The bit I'm quoting here is from John Walsh, "Journals:  Photocopying Is Not the Only Problem," Science, March 29, 1974, pp. 1274-1275.  (Thanks to Christopher Kelty, Professor of Anthropology at Rice University, for bringing it to my attention.) 
    ...Attention has been focused on the photocopying issue by a suit brought by the Baltimore publisher of scientific and medical journals, Williams & Wilkins, charging the National Library of Medicine and the library of the National Institutes of Health with copyright infringement via photocopying.  The most recent round of court action favored the defendants, permitting them to continue photocopying....Reduced to its essentials, the dispute over photocopying casts scientific publishers and research libraries as the major antagonists.  The libraries want the right to continue to provide a single photocopy for a reader who requests it.  The limit on material is generally accepted to be a single article from a journal.  The publishers argue that the mass, mail-order photocopying by major research libraries deprives the journals of the revenue necessary to cover editorial and printing costs and, in the case of commercial publishers, return on investment.  They contend that if things go on this way there will be no journals to copy....Libraries, for their part, are experiencing severe strains on their general budgets from inflation and are beginning to rebel at soaring journal costs....

Update (6/29/09).  Here's another early (1965) example.  On July 28, 1965, the US Office of Education published the following policy statement in the Federal Register:

Material produced as a result of any research activity undertaken with any financial assistance through contract with or project grant from the Office of Education will be placed in the public domain. Materials so released will be available to conventional outlets of the private sector for their use. 

Thanks to Jonathan Miller for digging this up.  For more detail, see his article, “Publishers did not take the bait”: A Forgotten Precursor to the NIH Public Access Policy, a preprint forthcoming in the Spring 2009 issue of College & Research Libraries.

The US Office of Education was the predecessor to the current US Department of Education.  The USOE approach --putting publicly-funded research into the public domain-- was tried again in June 2003 by Martin Sabo in the Public Access to Science Act.  For more detail, and a critique of this approach, see my July 2003 article on the Sabo bill.

New index of library-UP publishing partnerships

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services and SPARC have released a list of Campus-Based Publishing Partnerships, collaborations between libraries and university presses to support publishing. The index includes a list of OA journals.

Financial pressures nudge California toward open textbooks

Michael B. Farrell, Schwarzenegger's push for digital textbooks, Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2009.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking a page from high school science books in an effort to shrink California's $24 billion budget gap.

In fact, he wants to take the entire book – and do away with it.

By next fall, Governor Schwarzenegger intends to make free, open-source digital textbooks available for high school math and science classes throughout California, a move that he says will help reduce the more than $350 million the state spends annually on educational materials. ...

In the era of the Internet, do students really need to lug around pounds of often-outdated print?

Neeru Khosla doesn't think so. Two years ago, she helped start CK-12, a Palo Alto, Calif., nonprofit group that aims to lower the cost of course materials by offering primary and secondary schools free Web-based content. Already, the organization has partnered with Virginia to provide physics texts.

Ms. Khosla says CK-12 will submit at least eight proposals to the California Digital Textbook initiative, which the governor announced last month and detailed in a press conference earlier this week. Submitted digital books still have to be approved by state education authorities before being made available to California schools. ...

It's too early to know what Schwarzenegger's plan will mean for traditional textbook companies, but they'll certainly chafe if California's move leads other states to look into digital replacements.

Mary Skafidas, spokeswoman for McGraw-Hill Education, notes that her publishing company has long been able to provide schools with digital content. "We're a content provider," she says. "All of our major programs [for K-12] are available digitally."

However, she says, most schools are not yet equipped to make the leap into digital content. And, unlike open-source texts, content from major educational publishers would still come with copyright and distribution limits and typically a higher price tag.

Traditional textbook companies say the price of their books reflects the vast amount of work that goes into producing each text, often tailored to meet specific state standards.

But schools can receive similar quality at a lower price by using open-source books, says David Wiley, associate professor in instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and founder of

There is a misconception that "free text must be poor quality," he says. "That's certainly not the case. There are stinker textbooks and stinker open-source textbooks."

See also our past post on the California initiative.

New tool for publishing online collections

Tom Scheinfeldt, Omeka 1.0 Drops Today, Omeka, June 2, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

If you have been waiting to try Omeka, today’s the day.

Today the Omeka team at [the Center for History and New Media] and our growing developer community are celebrating the release of Omeka 1.0. This production-grade release marks the completion of Omeka’s basic requirement set. Maintaining our commitment to serious web publishing for scholarship and cultural heritage, Omeka 1.0 incorporates unqualified Dublin Core metadata for organizing and displaying collections; support for extensible element sets; robust, flexible theme and plugin APIs; and plugins for Zotero compatibility, static page creation, and building sophisticated online exhibitions.

New with Omeka 1.0 is an improved exhibit builder; support for associating and displaying file-type icons; JPEG2000 support; and new import plugins, including a CSV importer and an OAI-PMH harvester. Moreover, with the addition of an OAI-PMH repository plugin, Omeka can now serve as an OAI provider. Best of all, Omeka 1.0 maintains its five minute setup, its intuitive user interface, its easy design theme switching, its many site enhancing plugins, and its free support resources.

... Over the next several months, the Omeka team will continue to release bug fixes, minor improvements, and additional plugins and themes. But most of our energy will be devoted to making Omeka available as a hosted web service, allowing Omeka users the choice of downloading and hosting their own installation of Omeka, or signing up for a hosted account at ...

OA support from the other AAUP

Kate Maternowski, Who Profits From For-Profit Journals?  Inside Higher Ed, June 12, 2009.  Excerpt:

It's time to shake loose from commercial journal publishers. That was the message here Thursday at the meeting of the American Association of University Professors [PS: not to be confused with the American Association of University Presses], which urged academics to seek nonprofit venues for their work....

The problem with commercial publishing of academic work, [argued Salvatore Engel-DiMauro, professor of geography at the State University of New York at New Paltz], is a matter of access and compensation.

“Corporations use unpaid academic labor for knowledge production and consumption,” he said, noting the peer-review process, the writing and research that go into producing publishable articles, and unpaid editorial posts. “Why is there this continuation of working for corporations for free? It doesn’t make any sense.”

And it is not just the academics whom Engel-DiMauro says should be shying away from commercial journal publication. It’s not in the interest of the universities either, he said: they provide the infrastructure and resources for knowledge production that leads to publishable articles without getting compensated.

Those in the for-profit publishing industry tend to disagree. No one at the session spoke in defense of for-profit publishers. But in an interview, John Tagler, executive director of professional and scholarly publishing for the Association of American Publishers – which represents all types of journals, including commercial and non-profit society journals – said it would be wrong to say that just because one sector of publishing turns a profit it should be “cut out of the system.” ...

What’s more, Tagler continued, most commercial journals do provide financial support to maintain editorial office functions at the universities from which they draw submissions. Similar to how a society journal would reinvest its resources back into its composite departments, a commercial journal invests in university infrastructure, too....

Still, the presenters Thursday were unconvinced that compensation by commercial, for-profit journals back to the academics who write for them is actually happening.

So why would professors and universities continue to buy into a model of publication that is taking advantage of them and their resources? Complacency, Engel-DiMauro said. Because it is simply the way things have always been done in higher education – and because tenure is so dependent on high-profile publication.

But while professors who slave away over their publishable, peer-reviewed articles may think it is in their best interest to submit to the large – increasingly expensive – high profile commercial journals, [Rea Devakos, information technology services coordinator at the University of Toronto library] said the most compelling reason for faculty members to utilize other types of journals is, surprisingly, self-interest.

“The easier your research is to find, the more likely you are to be cited,” she said, adding that open-access models of publishing allow academics’ literature to be searchable on Google. “And you also get an increased and different kind of readership” with an article published in a journal that is not fee-restricted for viewers. Devakos also went on to mention, if not completely endorse, the idea that academics might have a moral obligation to disseminate their scholarly work in a way that is most likely to reach a sizable audience for the purposes of public debate....

A few alternatives to completely commercially managed journals the speakers mentioned included self-managed, non-profit, open-access models (like ACME, where Engel-DiMauro serves on the editorial board); self-managed, nonprofits with fee-restricted access (Human Geography: A New Radical Journal is one); pooled control, free access journals (SCOAP3); or even – though Engel-DiMauro admitted they can be too pricey for academics -- corporate-owned journals that provide free access but charge the author (Open Geography Journal).

Options like these could become the standard for academic publishing, and provide the kind of exposure scholars need to gain credibility in their fields, if only a few brave souls start the trend, Engel-DiMauro said.

“Unless you have established faculty promoting this, it’s going to be difficult to change,” he said. That is, “unless there is a forced change [by administrators],” he added. “That could be the key.”

Comment.  I welcome the support for OA journals.  However, the discussion is oddly unbalanced.  If we conceive the problem as alienated labor in the academy and working for for-profit corporations, then it's understandable that the solution will include systematic efforts to submit new work to journals from other kinds of publishers.  But if we conceive the problem as access barriers to new research, when researchers did not write it for money and benefit from circulating it as widely as possible, then the solution will be peer-reviewed OA --with much less concern for the precise corporate or profit status of the provider.  I encourage members of the AAUP to widen their vision to all forms of OA provider, including for-profit OA publishers like BioMed Central and Medknow, as well as to all forms of OA itself, including green OA (deposit in OA repositories), not just gold OA (submission to OA journals). 

Report recommends OA policy at Concordia U

Kathleen Shearer, Open Access at Concordia University: A Report for the Office of Research, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

Academic freedom and openness are the hallmarks of scholarship. Researchers publish their results, not for financial return, but to enable other researchers to build upon them and to contribute to the progress of knowledge in their fields. As such, most scholars want to share their work as widely as possible with colleagues, students, and others who may be interested.

The current scholarly publishing system does not reflect these needs and values....

Currently, over 50 funding agencies worldwide have implemented open access policies including several in Canada....

Several universities have also committed to open access through policy implementation, including MIT, Harvard, and Stanford in the US, as well as institutions in Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK. No university in Canada has yet to follow suit....

Clearly, open access will advance Concordia University's mission of “innovation and excellence in education, research, creative activity and community partnerships” and, given its many benefits for scholarship and society, the principle of open access should be widely supported by the entire Concordia community....

In terms of policy elements, a number of options can be considered. Most policies call for members of a university (or department) to both deposit their peer-reviewed articles into a university repository and to grant the university a non-exclusive license to make those articles available over the internet. Experience of others demonstrates that without a requirement to deposit, the policy is not likely to be widely adhered to. However, since not all publishers currently allow for article deposit, a policy can include a clause for opting out of the license, thereby ensuring maximum flexibility for authors in terms of publishing options. OA policies can also address publisher embargoes by permitting authors to delay access to a deposited article for an agreed upon amount of time....

The university could also support the transition of Concordia-based journals to open access models by providing them with expertise and infrastructure support. There are sustainable business models for open access journals....

Finally, the university should continue the practice of giving due weight in promotion and tenure committees to peer-reviewed publications regardless of their price, medium, or business model....

Comment.  This is an excellent set of recommendations, effectively packaged with a supporting argument and OA policies from other institutions.  Here's hoping that the Concordia faculty and administration will read it with care.

Audio proceedings of two recent events

Sun has released the audio of two recent events, for playback or download:

More on the university-press statement in support of OA

Barbara Fister, On the Same Page: Ten University Presses Support Open Access, Library Journal, June 11, 2009.  This excerpt picks up after Barbara quotes the statement in support of OA from 10 North American university presses, and my comments on it:

...[Publisher] fears are speculative and exaggerated. The Open Access Directory lists a variety of business models as well as a bibliography that includes publications on the economics of open access and a compilation of guides and best practices for open access journal publishers.

Besides, the experience of Rochester University Press (RUP), publisher of science journals, proves that the open access provisions of the NIH mandate are not damaging to a presses’ balance sheet. In an email, Mike Rossner, the director of RUP, told me “all of our journal articles are free to the public 6 months after publication. This has been the case since January, 2001, and our subscription revenues have increased every year since then, so it is compatible our subscription-based business model.”

In 2008, RUP took a further step and adopted a Creative Commons license. In the words of an editorial in the Journal of Cell Biology describing this new policy, “you wrote it, you own it!” Authors publishing in RUP journals retain copyright of their work and may reuse it however they choose provided they acknowledge the publisher. In turn, RUP grants the public the right to use the work provided it’s for non-commercial use, that the author and publisher are attributed, that the use is “share-alike,” meaning any work that uses it must be offered under the same terms, and that no third-party mirror sites are created—though authors may immediately post it to their own or their institution’s website. RUP also handles submission of the article to PubMed Central. Wouldn’t you want to publish with these guys?

Creating a new model for the public good

At Occasional Pamphlet, Stuart Shieber, the Harvard professor of computer science and director of the university’s Office for Scholarly Communication addresses publishers’ fears directly in a post titled “The Death of Scholarly Journals?” In his conclusion he argues that a different economic model not only works, it has the potential to fix a broken system:

The market will provide for journals because journals add tremendous value. Funds to pay for that value are patently available; they are being paid now. What will change—slowly over time if and as the situation changes—are the market mechanisms that match the costs and value. They will change to a system that doesn’t have the market dysfunctionalities of the present one.

A final word: What is the alternative to this open-access policy or similar steps to improve access? The status quo involves hyperinflation, squeezing library budgets, and further journal cancellation, all of which lead to even more limited access, monograph demand withering, and scholarly societies in trouble. We have been on this spiral for decades. Something needs to be done.

Most academic librarians would heartily agree with that sentiment.  Meanwhile, [let’s give them a round of applause to] the ten innovative and forward-looking presses that have publicly supported openness....[PS:  Here omitting a list of the ten.]

Bentham editors resign

Bob Grant, Editors quit after fake paper flap, The Scientist, June 11, 2009.  Excerpt:

The editor-in-chief of an open access journal has stepped down from his post after learning that the journal accepted a fake, computer-generated article for publication. So has an editorial advisory board member of a second journal published by the same company, Bentham Science Publishers.

Bambang Parmanto, a University of Pittsburgh information scientist, resigned from his editorship at The Open Information Science Journal (TOISCIJ) after reading a story on The Scientist's website yesterday (June 10) that described a hoax paper submission to the journal. Editors at journal claimed to have peer reviewed the article and slated it for publication pending the submission of $800 in "open access fees."

"I didn't like what happened," Parmanto told The Scientist. "If this is true, I don't have full control of the content that is accepted to this journal." Parmanto said that he had never seen the phony manuscript that was accepted by TOISCIJ. "I want to lessen my exposure to the risk of being taken advantage of." ...

Parmanto did add, however, that the perpetrators of the hoax -- Cornell grad student Philip Davis and Kent Anderson, executive director of international business and product development at the New England Journal of Medicine -- were also guilty of some degree of unethical behavior. "This is a process based on trust," he said. "An author should submit something legitimate, and the process on the review side should decide if a paper is worth publishing or not. In this case, the process was broken on both sides."

Parmanto isn't the only one to react to the news of Bentham's ignominy by terminating his association with the publisher. Marc Williams, an immunologist and stem cell researcher at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry who served on the editorial advisory board of The Open Stem Cell Journal (OSCJ), another Bentham publication, resigned as well. After reading the story of Davis and Kent's "little experiment" yesterday, Williams "immediately requested my name to be removed from the journal's editorial board."

"What upset me was the fact that this happened at all, in any of [Bentham's] journals," Williams told The Scientist. "It really informs us that it may be a company policy that this is permitted in general."

Williams, who had served on the OSCJ editorial advisory board since the journal's inception last year, said that in his 15 or 16 months on the job he has not reviewed a single manuscript submitted for publication, though the journal has only published one volume containing five articles since its inception.

Both Parmanto and Williams said that they support the idea of open access journals. "The open access system is definitely the way forward," said Williams. "At face value, it is an extremely valuable way of making scientific data widely available."

But Parmanto, though he said that he "believes in the open access system," noted that the business model of charging authors fees to publish in OA journals might become problematic. "I see that [Bentham would] have the incentive to maintain the credibility of the journal, but I also see the potential for abuse." ...


  • In April, Marie-Paule Pileni, editor in chief of Bentham's Open Chemical Physics Journal, resigned when the journal published a 9/11 conspiracy-theory paper without her knowledge or approval.  Now Parmanto is saying that he never saw the nonsense submission and doesn't have full control of what the journal accepts.  It's time for Bentham to explain how peer review works or is supposed to work at Bentham journals.
  • I applaud Marc Williams for asking Bentham to remove his name from the editorial board of Bentham's Open Stem Cell Journal.  This is a more effective way to get the company's attention than is available to most of us on the outside.
  • Also see my original post on the Bentham affair.  I've been adding updates on new comments and developments.  For more coverage, see the items tagged oa.bentham for the OA tracking project

OASPA launches a blog, comments on the Bentham affair

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) has launched a blog

In its inaugural post, yesterday, it points out several ways in which practices at Bentham Science appear to fall short of the association's code of conduct, and that Bentham is not a member of OASPA.

Calculating the size of the public domain

Rufus Pollock, Estimating Information Production and the Size of the Public Domain, miscellaneous factZ, June 9, 2009.

... Cultural institutions, primarily libraries, have long compiled records of the material they hold in the form of catalogues. Furthermore, most countries have had one or more libraries (usually the national library) whose task included an archival component and, hence, whose collections should be relatively comprehensive, at least as regards published material.

The catalogues of those libraries then provide an invaluable resource for charting, in the form of publications, levels of information production over time (subject, of course, to the obvious caveats about coverage and the relationship of general “information production” to publications).

Furthermore, library catalogue entries record (almost) the right sort of information for computing public domain status, in particular a given record usually has a) a publication date b) unambiguously identified author(s) with birth date(s) (though unfortunately not death date). Thus, we can also use this catalogue data to estimate the size of the public domain ...

I’m working on a EU funded project on the Public Domain in Europe, with particular focus on the size and value of the public domain. This involves getting large datasets about cultural material and trying to answer questions like: How many of these items are in the public domain? What’s the difference in price and availability of public domain versus non public domain items? ...

See also our past post on Pollock's related work on automated identification of copyright status.

Presentation on DRIVER project

Dale Peters, DRIVER: Building a sustainable repository infrastructure to support national and international scholarly communication, presented at Deutscher Bibliothekartag (Erfurt, Germany, June 2-5, 2009). Abstract:
This paper presents some of the challenges of the DRIVER II project, which aims to internationalise the DRIVER Information Space in three ways: in building an international DRIVER Community / Confederation; in growing Open Access content to address the challenge of innovative scholarly research and communications; and in the deployment and replication the robust e-Infrastructure and services developed by DRIVER.

Institutional memberships at York U.

York University Libraries have institutional memberships for many journals, YFile, June 9, 2009.
... York University Libraries have institutional memberships for BioMed Central (BMC), publisher of 186 peer-reviewed open access journals, and Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals. The memberships cover author fees for publication in BMC journals and a 10-per-cent discount for PLoS submissions. ...

IMLS grantees at Open Repositories

Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS Grants Highlighted at Open Repositories Conference, press release, June 8, 2009.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grantees showcased innovative repository-based projects at the Fourth International Open Repositories Conference (OR2009) in Atlanta May 18-21. ...

Among presentations by former and current IMLS grantees were the following:

  • Michael Witt, from Purdue University presented an IMLS National Leadership Grant (NLG) project, “Investigating Data Curation Profiles Across Multiple Research Disciplines.” He shared preliminary findings of this investigation, with a focus on scholars’ data curation needs and how these could help shape the functional requirements for a data repository.
  • Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Library Digital Programs and Hodson Director of the Digital Research and Curation Center at the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University, referenced his current work with an NLG project “Digital Archiving of Astronomical Data to Support Publication and Long-term Preservation,” and how it influences work soon to be funded by the NSF Datanet program.
  • Elizabeth Yakel, assistant professor at the University of Michigan, described research she is conducting with fellow investigator Soo Young Rieh, for the NLG project, “Institutional Repositories: Ensuring Continued Access to Learning Objects.” The comparative case study of five institutional repositories (IR) explores the internal and external factors that contribute to an institutional repository’s success, and considers how these repositories help libraries achieve long-term goals of service to academic communities.
  • Bill Parod, Karen Miller, and Claire Stewart shared Northwestern University Library’s work building a digital repository on the FEDORA technical architecture, as part of the NLG project, “From the Zanzibar Slave Market to Election Campaigning in Pre-Independent Kenya: Digital Access to 100 Years of East African Life and Culture.”
  • Work being performed under the NLG project, “The Texas ETD Repository: Promoting our Scholarship and Preserving Our Legacy” was presented in two sessions: Alexey Maslov of the Texas A&M University Libraries described tools for harvesting and federating content in the statewide electronic theses and dissertation repository; and Scott Phillips, also from the Texas A&M University Libraries, presented on Vireo, a submission and workflow tool developed for the Texas ETD project.
  • William Reilly of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described work conducted under an NLG project, “Future-Proofing Architectural Computer-Aided Design (FACADE).” This project created an object model for CAD digital content, built numerous applications to help capture or create information necessary for long-term curation and archiving of CAD content, devised techniques for processing CAD collections at large scale, and designed compelling visualization and discovery user interfaces for stored content.

In addition to these conference presentations, IMLS grantees highlighted other projects during the conference poster session, including working from the Apiary Project at the University of North Texas. ...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

ROARMAP now covers ETD mandates too

Stevan Harnad has circulated this announcement to several lists:

As announced at yesterday's (June 10) Electronic Thesis and Dissertations meeting ETD 2009: Bridging the Knowledge Divide, Universities are now invited to register their Open Access Thesis Deposit mandates in ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies), alongside the existing 85 university and funder mandates to deposit refereed research articles.

In preparation for the announcement, Professor Arthur Sale on June 9 registered all 17 of Australia's thesis deposits, and since the announcement, University of Trieste and Cranfield University have registered their thesis deposit mandates.

Actually, OA thesis deposit mandates have been growing for years. (Please include the date of adoption, if possible, when registering.) The reason ROARMAP had not been recording OA thesis mandates until now was that refereed-research deposit mandates had not yet become sufficiently widespread and well-known, so there was some risk that OA mandates would be identified exclusively with thesis deposit mandates.

But now that there are already a respectable number of refereed-research deposit mandates, adding the thesis mandates into ROARMAP should help accelerate the adoption of both kinds of mandates by universities. Indeed, each university should integrate the two kinds of mandates into a unified policy on archiving, managing, assessing and showcasing its own research output.

So please do register your own university's OA thesis mandates as well as its OA refereed-research mandates in ROARMAP -- for the record, for the continuously updated growth table, and for the growth curves (which will soon be continuously updating too), as well as in order to encourage further adoptions by other universities....

PS:  I second the motion, and hope that every research institution will mandate OA for ETDs as well for the peer-reviewed research articles of the faculty.

Berners-Lee to help open UK government data

David Meyer, PM calls on Berners-Lee in open-government drive, ZDNet UK, June 10, 2009.  Excerpt:

Gordon Brown is bringing in the inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to help open up government data.

Brown made the announcement in Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, during a speech on constitutional reform....

OA sourcebook launches

Alma Swan and Leslie Chan officially launched OASIS (Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook) at ELPUB 2009 (Milan, June 10-12, 2009).  The OASIS subtitle or motto is:

Practical steps for implementing Open Access

From today's announcement:

OASIS aims to provide an authoritative ‘sourcebook’ on Open Access, covering the concept, principles, advantages, approaches and means to achieving it. The site highlights developments and initiatives from around the world, with links to diverse additional resources and case studies. As such, it is a community-building as much as a resource-building exercise. Users are encouraged to share and download the resources provided, and to modify and customize them for local use....

A brief [video] introduction to OASIS is available here.


  • OASIS should help every kind of OA outreach and educational effort find the most effective material and avoid reinventing the wheel.  Use it as is, improve it, help it grow, and spread the word.  Kudos to Alma and Leslie for bringing this useful idea from drawing board to launch.  (Disclosure:  I'm on the OASIS steering committee and co-founder with Robin Peek of one of the OASIS partner resources, the Open Access Directory.) 
  • Also see our past posts on OASIS (1, 2, 3). 


YouTube channel for Italian repository software

PuMa, the Italian repository software, has launched a YouTube channel.  The channel currently offers three videos:

More on author rights

Dorothea Salo, “Keeping copyright”, Caveat Lector, June 9, 2009.

... The central logistical difficulty is the one-time nature of these [publishing agreement] negotiations. Once something is signed, that’s all she wrote—going back to renegotiate agreements is so expensive in time and hassle that it pretty much never happens. It is therefore crucially important to get this right the first time, the first time being the only. That’s a burden on all sides of the question.

(This doesn’t just hit publishers, either. I have had to regretfully turn down collections of student work for the repository because nobody considered at the time of authoring that students are copyright owners too, and we can’t just make free with their work without their permission.)

I don’t have a magic answer to this; I note that my own personal favorite word in a copyright agreement is “non-exclusive.” ... now hosts more than 200 journals

Seven more journals have been approved to join, bringing the total number of journals on over 200. As with all journals on, the recently-joined journals will be OA or delayed OA.
  • Mélanges de la Casa de Velasquez. Nouvelle série
  • Cahiers Mondes anciens
  • Dictynna
  • Entrelacs
  • Lectures
  • Temporalités
  • Tic et société

Another society adds a Wellcome-compliant OA option

Robert Kiley, American Society of Hemtaology implements Wellcome-compliant author pays option, UK PubMed Central Blog, June 10, 2009.

The American Society of Hematology - publishers of the journal Blood - have developed a Wellcome-compliant author-pays option.

In return for a fee ($2000), ASH will deposit the final version of Wellcome-funded articles directly into PMC, where they will be made freely available at the time of publication. Further, special licensing language has been drafted to allow end-users of Wellcome-funded articles unrestricted access to these articles. ...

Currently, the special licencing language only applies to researchers funded by the Wellcome Trust. ...

New OA index on European history

European History Primary Sources is a new OA index of "scholarly websites that offer on-line access to primary sources on the history of Europe", sponsored by the European University Institute. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

According to the site, "Most of the listed websites can be accessed for free, though sometimes a registration is required."

May update from RePEc

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in May 2009, The RePEc Blog, June 6, 2009

It seems that every month we have some new big number to announce. This time we have four. First, RePEc has now information about 3/4 million items of research. Second, our email notification service NEP has now sent 500 weekly NEP-ALL reports (the ones containing all new papers). Then, the CitEc project has now managed to extract references from 200,000 items, and thus find citations to 250,000 items within RePEc.

New participants providing bibliographic information about their publications are: Arizona State University (II), Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, University of Pitesti, Warwick Business School, University of Economics Prague, Technical University of Lisbon, Gestión Joven, Anadolu University, ISCTE, Polish Academy of Sciences, George Washington University (II) ...

Have the Bermuda Principles kept up with the times?

David Dooling, Double standard, PolITiGenomics, June 5, 2009. (Thanks to Daniel MacArthur.)

... Since the Bermuda Principles were agreed to in 1996, all genome sequencing centers have submitted their data, from raw sequence data to finished sequence to assemblies to annotation, to public repositories as quickly after generation as possible. ...

If the rapid release described in the Bermuda Principles still holds true, why does it only apply to large-scale sequencing centers? Many researchers are generating more sequence in a month than the Human Genome Project was able to produce in a year. As they continue to be allowed to perform pre-publication (as opposed to post-generation) data submission, why are they not being held to the same standard as the large-scale sequencing centers? ...

The human reference has been published (with a recent update to GRCh37). The blueprint exists. Thus, many of the reasons underlying the conclusions of the Bermuda Principles are no longer applicable. So should those open access principles be applied more widely to other areas of biology and science at large or should they no longer apply to sequence data from a genome for which a reference exists? It is time to rethink the current policies and begin to apply them to all sequence generators. And people are doing just that. The double standard must end.

New OA math journal

The Bulletin of Mathematical Analysis and Applications is a new OA journal. The inaugural issue is now available. (Thanks to Marcus Zillman.)

New tool for finding full-text papers

Kevin Davies, Got PubMed? Pubget Searches and Delivers Scientific PDFs, Bio-IT World, June 10, 2009.

Imagine a search tool for the life sciences literature that could, with one click, pull up a full-text PDF of any paper. That in essence is the attraction of Pubget, the first product of a small Cambridge, Mass. start-up. ...

The original Pubget product was developed by one of the three co-founders, a clinical pathologist at Beth Israel Hospital (Harvard Medical School) named Ramy Arnaout. He got his PhD in mathematical biology from Oxford, but was frustrated by the challenge of getting full-text PDF access to science journal articles -- even while working inside well-endowed institutions like Harvard and Oxford. ...

[Pubget president Ryan] Jones, who was previously with a start-up acquired by Microsoft enterprise search, says Pubget is built on three key components. “One is a search engine that has all the content that Medline or the NIH’s PubMed has in it – 20 million research documents. ... We took an initial data dump from PubMed, and now we’ve based direct connections to the publishers themselves, so as soon as research is available, we get that feed from the publisher.”

Second, Pubget built a ‘pathing engine’ that understands the location of the full-text PDFs across all 20,000 journal titles. “It knows exactly where on the web that full-text document lives,” says Jones. “We have crawlers that go out and understand at Nature or Cell or Science where those full-text documents live. ...”

The third component is what Jones calls “a credentials engine, which understands the credentials of the subscriptions you have based on where you are ...”

What this means is that when scientists use Pubget to search by author for example, the results are delivered in the form of the full-text PDF, without having to navigate through abstracts or publisher’s electronic portals. “The end user sees us in two ways,” says Jones. “If they are not associated with a larger institution, we are the most thorough resource for free full-text documents. We not only have everything that’s in PubMed Central and the other free resources, but we spider the web for other full-text documents that happen to be out there. If you’re at an institution, we’re the fastest way to take advantage of the subscriptions your institution has provided for you.” ...

Pubget will in time make money in two ways. One will be the provision of premium services. The other will be by aggregating analytics about current life science search topics. “We can help vendors like Agilent or Bio-Rad understand what the community is searching on,” says Jones. “If you do a search on swine flu, and someone did a virus study and in the methods of that study cited a specific type of microscopy, we can present ads relevant to that.” Host institutions can decide if they want those ads presented or, for a fee, they can opt for “a closed, white label site.” ...

Report on PLoS' progress to date

Peter Jerram, Announcing the first PLoS Progress Report, Public Library of Science, June 8, 2009.

Today, we’re delighted to share our first Progress Report with you which has the theme of “Liberating research. Accelerating science". ...

Reading it will tell you more about our story, our success and our vision for the future through the voices of many people who have helped us to get where we are today. In it you will find:

Discussions about important questions such as:

  • Five years after entering the publishing arena, what does the PLoS financial picture tell us? How will PLoS and OA affect STM (science, technology and medical) publishing in the future?
  • Examples of PLoS articles that have really changed outcomes on the ground: for example some that have improved global health, liberated research, helped scientists advance their careers, protected privacy, unearthed fossils, accelerated science or even changed policy.
  • Many personal messages from our supporters ...
  • Impressive statistics about the size of the PLoS community: 13,000 peer-reviewers. 26,000 authors, 1,400 board members and millions of unique visitors in 2008.
  • Information about our diverse portfolio of journals: why each exists and what they do for the organization and the audiences that they serve.
  • The reasons why PLoS still needs the financial support of our donors: to fuel OA advocacy and fund innovation in new online tools and how you can help us.
  • Our current financial statement ...

OA to 2 chapters of Heather Morrison book

Heather Morrison, Two OA chapters of Scholarly Communication for Librarians (in press), The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, June 7, 2009.

Two chapters of my book, Scholarly Communication for Librarians, in press at Chandos / Woodhouse Publishing, are now available for open access in E-LIS.

The two chapters are:

  • Open Access: In-depth overview of open access, covering definitions (open access publishing, open access archives, gratis and libre, open access works versus open access processes), major statements and declarations, types of open access, major initiatives, trends, advocacy and lobbying.
  • Summary and Conclusions: Summary and Conclusions of Scholarly Communication for Librarians, a book designed to provide librarians at all levels with the basics of how scholarly communication works, an understanding of the academic library as an essential support for scholarly communication, the impact of the decisions librarians make, and emerging roles for libraries and librarians in scholarly communication. Includes major points from all chapters, on: scholarship, scholarly journals, the scholarly publishing industry, librarianship and scholarly communication, author's rights, open access, the economics of scholarly communication, and emerging trends.

Comment: why would an ardent open access advocate publish a book that is only partially open access? One reason is simply that monographs are of interest, but not the primary focus of the open access movement; the arguments for open access for books are a bit different than for the journal articles that articles traditionally given away. The other reason is that when I started the book, the market did not appear to be quite ready for open access books. ...

Erfurt presentations

The presentations from Deutscher Bibliothekartag (Erfurt, June 2-5, 2009) are now online.  Several (for example, 1, 2, 3) are OA-related.

A defense of OA journal funds

Stuart Shieber, The argument for gold OA support, The Occasional Pamphlet, June 11, 2009.  Excerpt:

Are green and gold open access independent of each other? In particular, is worry about gold OA a waste of time, and are expenditures on it a waste of money? Stevan Harnad has brought up this issue in response to a recent talk I gave at Cal Tech, and in particular my remarks about a potential “open access compact”. I will take this opportunity to explain why I think that the answer to both questions is “no”.

Enaction of green OA policies at universities requires the broad support of faculty and administration, and careful attending to their wholly reasonable concerns. Chief among these is the following argument against a green OA policy: The services that the journals provide are important, as are the scholarly societies that publish many of the journals. They constitute a good to the scholarly community. But now consider the following dystopian scenario. Suppose the green OA policy being proposed were to be adopted universally, and further that it were widely followed so that the vast majority of scholarly articles were thereby openly available (though admittedly in the deprecated form of author’s final manuscript rather than publisher’s version). This might lead some libraries to feel freer about canceling subscriptions, which would lead to price pressure on journals. This price pressure might become so great that publishers might not even be able to recoup their costs by sale of subscriptions. In the absence of other business models, the publishers will have no choice but to shut down their journals....

This worry is by far the most common one that I encountered in working with three Harvard faculties in passing green OA policies, and still encounter as I work with the remaining faculties at Harvard and talk with other institutions.

Of course, there are a lot of “might”s in the worry. But, it doesn’t matter that there is no evidence that such a scenario will transpire, and that there is in fact evidence against it. (The case of physics is well known.) ...What is important is is widely perceived as being a real possibility....

Let me first dismiss two inadequate responses [to these faculty concerns]:

If all that journals provided were access, then this response would be entirely correct. However, access is the least important of the services that journals currently provide—least important because technological advances have led to the ability to provide access at essentially zero marginal cost by the authors themselves. The important and valuable services that publishers provide in greater or lesser quantity are management of peer review, a variety of production services, and imprimatur. Of these, the last is by far the most important to the authors, but all are valuable to the scholarly community. If universal green OA were to make journals unsustainable by not addressing the affordability problem, and the dystopia ensued, then all of these services (other than access) would be lost. This potentiality introduces its own urgency. We cannot postpone the urgency until the dystopia ensues, as its mere possibility impedes the enactment of green OA policies right now.

A response that “the market will solve this problem down the line” is not sufficient for two reasons. First, markets are not magic. They solve problems by virtue of the behaviors of their participants and within rule systems that surround them. It therefore behooves us as participants to make sure that our behaviors and rule systems are set up to allow salutary changes to occur. If eventual conversion to gold OA publishing is the way that the problem (if it arises) ought to be eventually solved, then we must make it possible for a publisher to convert a journal to a gold OA business model. Currently, publishers cannot feasibly do so, as gold OA journals are at a systematic disadvantage against subscription-based journals from the point of view of attracting authors, since universities and funding agencies subsidize the subscription-based journals through their library subscription payments, whereas they do not subsidize article-processing charges for gold OA journals.

I return to the underlying issue, which is assuaging the worries of faculty considering green OA policies who are imagining the possibility of the dystopian scenario. The natural response is to assure the worrier that there is a reasonable alternative business model in the wings, namely gold OA. And to make that assurance plausible, we must address the viability of gold OA journals in a realistic way....That is what the open access compact that I discussed at Cal Tech and elsewhere is intended to do.

In summary, a university that commits to the open access compact will more easily be able to answer objections against green OA policies specifically because it has an approach to long-range support for gold OA publishing, not in spite of it. The two models are inextricably tied. I, like Professor Harnad, am interested in facilitating the adoption of green OA policies. I proposed the open access compact in large part because I expect that adoption of the compact will lead to more green OA policies. The open access compact is therefore contributory to the promotion of green OA, not a sidetrack to it. I of course encourage universities to adopt green OA policies before gold OA support, but given that dystopian fears of faculty are preventing adoption of such policies, an open access compact that might assuage these worries should not be delayed.

Let me conclude by arguing against a view that support for the open access compact is at best “a needless waste of scarce research funds.” At least in the near term, the cost of the open access compact as I have proposed it is minimal. Universities implementing the compact would not underwrite hybrid gold OA fees, would not pay fees where grants had funded the research, and would be able to set up market mechanisms to ensure that economic signals from the fees are passed on to authors. A university supporting the open access compact may even choose to implement it by limiting its application to faculties falling under a green open access policy (as I hope and expect we will do at Harvard)....

Insofar as the open access compact increases the odds of establishing green OA policies, it is ipso facto not a waste of the minimal funds that it requires.

Update (6/20/09).  Also see Bill Hooker's comments on both Stevan Harnad's and Stuart Shieber's contributions in this debate.

More on the Kultur project

Creative repositories for the arts, EPrints News, June 2, 2009.

A repository which will make it possible for colleges and individuals in the arts to store and present their work in a creative way will be unveiled tomorrow (Wednesday 3 June).

Kultur, a project that is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and that uses the world-leading EPrints software from the University of Southampton, has developed a joint pilot repository for the University of the Arts London, the University for the Creative Arts and Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton. The project will be officially completed tomorrow and an event to mark the occasion will be held at Whitechapel Art Gallery.

'Up to now, the focus of most repositories has been science and engineering and published articles,' said Dr Leslie Carr, Technical Director of EPrints, based at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science. 'Kultur has provided us with an opportunity to use EPrints to develop the first comprehensive institutional repository for the arts.'

The Kultur project provides a flexible, multimedia pilot repository capable of showcasing a wide range of outputs from digital versions of paintings, photography, film, graphic and textile design to records of performances, shows and installations.

The three institutions involved will now develop their own open repositories to store and showcase their creative work. ...

See also:

Comment. I can't find the repository mentioned in the announcement. Is it the KULTUR Demonstrator? The project report points to repositories for UAL and UCA, but the links don't work.

See also our past posts on the Kultur project (1, 2, 3).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shortcut to OA mandates

You can now reach the ROARMAP list of funder and university OA policies with the shortcut URL,  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)

Friend of OA and open govt joins the US National Archives

Michael Sniffen, First Freedom of Information ombudsman appointed, Associated Press, June 10, 2009.  Excerpt:

The National Archives appointed a veteran open government advocate Wednesday to be the first Freedom of Information Act ombudsman, empowered to mediate disputes between people who request data and the agencies that have it.

Miriam Nisbet, who now heads the information society division of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, was chosen to direct the Archives' new Office of Government Information Services, acting Archivist Adrienne Thomas announced....

Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of nine media groups, including The Associated Press...said Nisbet "is a longtime advocate for open government, and this is a promising start for those who want the FOIA to work better."

Thomas said Nisbet "has dedicated her entire professional life to working for open access to government records." ...

Nisbet's U.N. office supports libraries and archives in developing countries and promotes new communication technologies for education, science and culture. Before joining the U.N. in 2007, she was legislative counsel of the American Library Association. In the mid-1990s, she was special counsel for information policy at the National Archives. And from 1982 to 1994, she was deputy director of the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, which decided which department documents could be released under FOIA and the Privacy Act and provided guidance to the entire federal government on how to implement FOIA.

The FOIA ombudsman's office was created by the OPEN Government Act of 2007. Besides mediating disputes, it is authorized to review how well agenc[ies] comply with the act and recommend policy changes to the president and Congress.

Comment.  I got to know Miriam when she was legislative counsel for the ALA and an active and effective member of the Open Access Working Group.  See for example her defense of the proposed OA mandate in the CURES Act of 2005.  She's a superb choice to carry out the presumption in favor of disclosure that President Obama announced in his memo on the FOIA his first full day in office.  (Congratulations, Miriam!)

OA and the future of the monograph

Sanford Thatcher, From the University Presses — The Hidden Digital Revolution in Scholarly Publishing: POD, SRDP, the “Long Tail,” and Open Access, Against the Grain, April 2009.  Excerpt:

...[The] digital printing, in fact, probably the single most important contributor to the eventual success of “open access” for book publishing. Even though the aim of open access is to make publications available for unobstructed full-text browsing online, it is unlikely to succeed in the arena of book publishing without the appendage of POD [print-on-demand] unless and until an even greater revolution occurs in how the costs of migrating monographs to open access are paid. In journal publishing, the transition is well under way, and various funding models to cover upfront costs have been tried, including fees from authors, subsidies from foundations, and costs built into the prices of subscriptions (so that faculty from a university whose library pays the premium can publish in these journals for no additional fee). No one has yet confronted the fact that the upfront costs for publishing a monograph are at a whole different level, from about $20,000 on the low end to many multiples of that for certain types of complicated books. There seems to be no inclination on the part of university administrators to encourage the movement of open access into monograph publishing, partly no doubt because they are at least dimly aware of what the higher level of upfront costs involved would be....For the time being, then, the only feasible way economically to proceed toward open access for monographs is to provide a system, as the National Academies Press has done since the mid-1990s and we at Penn State Press have done for our Romance Studies series since 2006, whereby the purchase of books in print form through POD produces enough income to support the whole enterprise. From the perspective of authors, of course, this kind of system represents the best of both worlds: a print copy may be used for all the various purposes where eBooks are not yet fully accepted, such as promotion-and-tenure reviews, nomination for book prizes, submission to professional journals for review, and even gifts to family members; meanwhile, the entire community of scholars worldwide who may have an interest in the author’s research can have immediate access to it over the Internet; and teachers who may want to assign a chapter or two for their classes simply need to include the URLs in their syllabi. Mention of this last advantage, of course, reveals one difference between the open access and print only models: with the dual OA/POD model, the publisher does sacrifice the subsidiary income that would normally come from licensing course use through the Copyright Clearance Center or directly. A dollar or two added to the retail price for the POD edition would, for most books, suffice to make up this difference, however, so it is not a crippling concern. And the greater access OA affords to use of these books is a significant contribution the scholarly publisher can make to the dissemination of knowledge far and wide, which is after all the fundamental mission of a university press. Only if the online access were to completely displace the sale of paperback editions for course use would this economic model break down. But since teachers often do not assign entire books anyway but have chapters photocopied or scanned into e-reserve systems, there would appear to be little reason to fear that this greater erosion of sales will occur. It has not so far, anyway, in our experience with the Romance Studies series....

Coalition calls for OA in France

Three French associations have issued a call for a national policy on scientific and technical information. The associations are COUPERIN (Consortium Universitaire des Publications Numériques), ADBU (Association des directeurs et des personnels de direction des bibliothèques universitaires et de la documentation), and AURA (Association du réseau des établissements utilisateurs de l'ABES); see also comments by COUPERIN. The document calls for:
  • an OA mandate for research funded by the Agence nationale de la recherche
  • encouraging OA journals and non-commercial subscription journals
  • state-level discussions with French publishers on defining their OA policies

Interview on data sharing within GEOSS

The importance of data sharing within the Global Earth Observation System of Systems- CODATA speaks to José Achache, Director Geo Secretariat, CODATA Newsletter Special Issue, May 2009.

[Q:] The GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan as adopted in 2005 explicitly acknowledges the importance of data sharing in achieving the GEOSS vision and anticipated societal benefits. Almost 5 years later do you think data sharing is still critically important, and what is your assessment of the importance of data sharing in the GEOSS vision and its successful implementation?

... If we want GEOSS to be a facility for the whole world, including not just wealthy countries and companies but countries with limited resources, then data sharing will be critical. Although its ultimate goal is to facilitate informed decision making, GEOSS is also a vital tool for scientific research and, as you know, research communities cannot usually afford to pay for data. Therefore, the need for data sharing and for the free and open access to data are of paramount importance to the success of GEOSS. ...

See also our past posts on GEOSS.

Mandatory online access for publicly-funded research in Lithuania

A new Lithuanian law on science requires online access for publicly-funded research.  It was adopted by parliament on April 30 and took effect on May 12.  Read the new law in Lithuanian or Google's English.

Thanks to Emilija Banionyte and Rima Kupryte for hand-translating the section on research access:

Article 45. Publicity of the results of scientific activity

1. In order to guarantee the quality, transparency of the scientific research and to stimulate scientific advancement carried out utilising state budget funds, all the results of the scientific activity carried out in the state science and study institutions must be made public (via the internet and by other means) if this is in agreement with laws regulating intellectual property and protection of the commercial, state or work related secrets.

2. Results of scientific activity carried out at non-governmental institutions of science and studies using state budget funds must be made public (via the internet and by other means) if this is in agreement with laws regulating intellectual property and protection of the commercial or state secret.


  • The new law only requires that publicly-funded research be online, not that it be free online.  It's not all that Lithuanian OA advocates hope to get, but it's a large and hard-won step forward.  For print journals without online editions, the easiest way to comply with the new law may be through green OA.  The law may inspire Lithuanian universities to launch institutional repositories to offer one easy way to comply with the new requirement.  Moreover, the principle behind the new law is to guarantee access and transparency to publicly-funded research.  With parliamentary support for this principle, OA advocates may be able to strengthen the law over time, much as the NIH request of 2005 became the NIH mandate of 2008. 
  • Also see our past posts on OA activity in Lithuania.

Update (6/12/09).  Emilija Banionyte tells me that in Lithuanian "to make public" suggests "free of charge" more often than not.  However, the term doesn't always carry that implication and it's still too early to tell how lawyers and judges will interpret it.


Coalition of student organizations calls for OA

SPARC, National student organizations call for Open Access to research, press release, June 10, 2009.

A coalition of national and regional college student associations today issued a “Student Statement on the Right to Research,” calling on universities, research funders, and researchers to take action in support of Open Access to research. The American Medical Student Association, the Student PIRGs, Students for Free Culture, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, as well as the Trinity University Association of Student Representatives and the California Institute of Technology Graduate Student Council have signed the statement.

Students rely on access to academic journal literature for their research and education. However, even before the recent economic crisis many colleges have struggled with the high costs of journal subscriptions, restricting access for students and scientists alike. The statement reads, in part:

Learning and inquiry are impeded when scholars lack access to fellow researchers’ work, and when students lack access to the work of scholars before them.

At the same time, digital technologies have opened new opportunities for research. New tools facilitate faster discoveries, speed the development of new technologies, and accelerate the progress of science. Patients could have access to the latest medical research, citizens could evaluate scientific information on environmental impacts, and developing countries could apply the most recent scholarship to public health and development efforts. But access barriers leave these opportunities under-explored. ...

“As both taxpayers and students, we deserve access to the research that our tuition and tax dollars have financed,” said Nick Shockey, recent graduate and Student Senator at Trinity University in San Antonio. “Our education should not be limited by the number of journal subscriptions our library can afford – a number that is drastically shrinking with recession-induced budget cuts at universities across the country.”

Laura Janneck of the American Medical Student Association added, “As medical students, we need full access to the best and latest research to have the most accurate and up-to-date education. As future doctors, we know patients deserve access to the same research. Open Access ensures that students, scientists, and the public can all access the best information, to improve health, education, and scholarship.”

“The student voice is growing louder, more clear, and more compelling in the discussion on access to research,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). “Financial pressures are driving libraries, universities and colleges, as well as students to more closely examine the return on their investment in resources. Our young colleagues, whose education relies on access to quality scholarship, are absolutely right to make research access a focal cause.” SPARC helped to coordinate discussions that led to the launch of this statement and sponsors the statement Web site.

The “Student Statement on the Right to Research” closes with a call to action – urging universities, governments and other research funders, researchers, and additional student organizations to support Open Access – and a commitment to back Open Access in their activities.

Student organizations are invited to sign the statement ...

From the statement's call to action:

... We hereby:

Call upon universities to support Open Access

  • We believe universities should adopt policies that ensure Open Access to their faculty’s research, such as the policies adopted at Harvard University and Stanford University.

Call upon governments and research funders to support Open Access

  • We believe research agencies should adopt policies that ensure Open Access to publicly funded research, such as that of the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • We believe charitable funders likewise should adopt policies that ensure Open Access to their funded research, such as that of Autism Speaks and the Canadian Cancer Society.

Call upon researchers to support Open Access

  • We believe researchers should publish in Open Access journals, and/or deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts in Open Access repositories.

Commit to support Open Access in our activities

  • We will undertake activities, in our membership and on our campuses, to educate students about Open Access and to engage them in efforts supporting Open Access.

Disclosure. I have been a paid consultant for my work supporting this project.


Spread of OA in the field of art conservation

Dan Cull, The Open Access Apocalypse, Dan Cull Weblog, June 10, 2009.  Excerpt:

In this post I am going to highlight a few conservation open access journals.

However, first I want to comment on one aspect of my recent survey, the results so far indicate that, 82% of respondents have ‘read’ open access conservation material, with 12% saying they ‘haven’t’ and 6% saying ‘other’ (I presume meaning they are unsure). It was good to see that 37% of respondents had ‘been published’ in open access format, but, worrying that 17% said they ‘did not want to be’ published in open access format.

I say worrying, because I believe, and hope that conservation journals en-masse make the necessary decision to convert their content, and ethos, to an open access format. I feel that if they fail to do so we will lose these valuable resources, because there really is no getting away from the fact that the future of publishing is open access, and the future of research will be based primarily on open access material – for the simple benefits that text mining and other techniques will allow....[PS:  Here omitting two YouTube videos.]

On this blog I have previously discussed aspects to do with two excellent open access journals/magazines. I of course refer to E-Conservation and CeROArt: Conservation, exposition et Restauration d’Objets d’Art. However, these are not the only open access journals that carry conservation content....[PS:  Here omitting a list of 11 more.]

OA would save the Netherlands 133 million Euros/year

John Houghton, Jos de Jonge, Marcia van Oploo, Costs and Benefits of Research Communication: The Dutch Situation, May 29, 2009.  A major new report sponsored by the Dutch SURFfoundation.  From the summary:

This study examines the costs and potential benefits of alternative models for scientific and scholarly publishing in the Netherlands. It is a follow-up of the Australian study ‘Research Communication Costs, Emerging Opportunities and Benefits’ (Houghton et al. 2006) and the UK/JISC study ‘Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models’....

This study focused on comparing three alternative models for scholarly publishing, namely:  subscription publishing, open access publishing (Gold Open Access) and self-archiving (Green Open Access)....

As many of the potential cost savings cannot be fully realised unless there is worldwide adoption of open access alternatives, Houghton’s model estimates the impact of a worldwide open access system although it also models the impact of unilateral adoption of alternative open access models by the Netherlands. Furthermore, a distinction is made between impact on the whole of the Netherlands and specifically for the Dutch universities....

Adding up the costs of production, publishing and dissemination in electronic-only format, the average subscription publishing system costs would amount to around € 17,046 per article (excluding Value-Added Tax), average open access publishing costs would amount to € 15,857 per article and average open access self-archiving costs would be € 15,331 per article (including overlay review and production services with commercial margins). At these costs, open access publishing would be around € 1,190 per article cheaper than subscription publishing, and open access self-archiving with overlay services around € 1,715 per article cheaper.

For the universities, the difference in journal article publishing costs would have amounted to savings of around € 30 million per annum in the case of a shift from subscription access to open access publishing, and even € 43 million based on a shift to open access self-archiving with overlay services. While alternative publishing models for scholarly books are much less developed and costing is more speculative as a result, similar savings would appear to be available from shifting to open access book publishing....

The estimated savings

  • ‘Gold OA’ open access publishing for journal articles might bring net system savings of around € 133 million per annum nationally in the Netherlands in a worldwide open access system, or € 37 million if the Netherlands adopted open access unilaterally (based on 2007 prices and levels of publishing activity), of which around € 107 million and € 32 million, respectively, would accrue in the universities.
  • Open access self-archiving without subscription cancellations (i.e. ‘Green OA’) would save around € 50 million per annum nationally in a worldwide Green OA system, of which around € 30 million would accrue in the universities. In a unilateral situation, an additional cost of € 11 million would result in a benefit of € 68 million.
  • The open access self-archiving with overlay services model explored is necessarily more speculative, but a repositories and overlay services model may well produce similar cost savings to open access publishing....


It seems likely that more open access would have substantial net benefits in the longer term and, while net benefits may be lower during a transitional period they are likely to be positive for both open access publishing and self-archiving alternatives (i.e. Gold OA) and for parallel subscription publishing and self-archiving (i.e. Green OA). Both open access publishing and self-archiving with overlay services appear to be more cost-effective systems for scholarly publishing, with cost savings available throughout the scholarly communication process (i.e. in funding, performing, publishing, disseminating and preserving research). Nevertheless, a shift from a user-side to producer-side system for funding scholarly publishing implies a greater concentration of costs and diffusion of benefits, with costs concentrated among the most intensive producers of scholarly content and benefits diffused across many users....

Also see today's press release:

If every scientific and scholarly article were publicly available, it would save the Netherlands EUR 133 million a year....

Even if the Netherlands were the only country to adopt this publication model and continued to pay for licences to access periodicals, there would still be a saving of EUR 37 million....

The director of SURFfoundation, Wim Liebrand, welcomed the results of Prof. Houghton’s study: “The study makes clear that Open Access offers a realistic alternative to the traditional publisher’s model based on licences....”

The study was commissioned by SURFfoundation and forms part of a series of similar studies carried out in Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. A survey will soon be published of the advantages that Open Access publication offers in those countries....

Also see our past posts on Houghton's research on the economic impact of OA, including criticism from TA publishers and Houghton's responses. 


Hoax exposes incompetence or worse at a Bentham OA journal

Philip Davis, Open Access Publisher Accepts Nonsense Manuscript for Dollars, Scholarly Kitchen, June 10, 2009.  Excerpt:

Would a publisher accept a completely nonsensical manuscript if the authors were willing to pay Open Access publication charges?  After being spammed with invitations to publish in Bentham Science journals earlier this year, I decided to find out.

Using SCIgen, a software that generates grammatically correct, “context-free” (i.e. nonsensical) papers in computer science, I quickly created an article, complete with figures, tables, and references.  It looks pretty professional until you read it. The opening sentences are typical:

The synthesis of the Ethernet is a confusing grand challenge. Given the current status of knowledgebased archetypes, statisticians particularly desire the refinement of superpages, which embodies the practical principles of software engineering. In order to address this riddle, we investigate how web browsers can be applied to the construction of the Ethernet.

The manuscript, entitled “Deconstructing Access Points” was submitted on January 29th, 2009, to The Open Information Science Journal (TOISCIJ), a journal that claims to enforce peer-review.

The manuscript was given two co-authors, David Phillips and Andrew Kent.  Any similarity to real or fictitious, living or dead academics is purely coincidental, as was their institutional affiliation: The Center for Research in Applied Phrenology based in Ithaca, New York....

Bentham confirmed receipt of my submission the very next day (January 30, 2009).  Nearly four months later, I received a response — the article was accepted.  The acceptance letter read:

This is to inform you that your submitted article has been accepted for publication after peer-reviewing process in TOISCIJ. I would be highly grateful to you if you please fill and sign the attached fee form and covering letter and send them back via email as soon as possible to avoid further delay in publication.

The letter was written by a Ms. Sana Mokarram, the Assistant Manager of Publication.  She included a fee schedule and confirmation that I would pay US$800, to be sent to a post office box  in the SAIF Zone, a tax-free complex in the  United Arab Emirates.  The manuscript was subsequently retracted [by the authors]:

Dear Ms. Mokarram,
I’m afraid that we have to retract this article.  We have discovered several errors in the manuscript which question both the validity of the study and the results.

I have yet to receive a response....

From this one case, we cannot conclude that Bentham Science journals practice no peer review, only that it is inconsistently applied.  Earlier this year, I reported on a case in which a nonsensical article submitted to another Bentham Science journal was rejected after going through peer review.

While one should be careful not to generalize these results to other Open Access journals using similar business models, it does raise the question of whether, at least in some cases, the producer-pays-to-publish model may unduly influence editorial decision-making.  One may also question whether publishers like Bentham see a lucrative opportunity from the OA movement, considering that academic libraries are establishing author publication funds to pay Open Access charges.

Also see Kent Anderson's follow-up post in the same blog:

...Our hope was that this experiment would fail. We hoped that Bentham Science Publishers would prove to be rigorous and uniform in their application of peer-review....Unfortunately, Bentham wasn’t up to the task. But there’s a larger issue this incident reveals, tangential to the story about Bentham....

It’s important that everyone in academic publishing realize there is a feeder issue at play — the swelling pools of author-pays funding, how they’re being managed, and policies around their use.

As Phil Davis has pointed out in other posts on this blog, there is a lack of transparency to how author funds are being spent and the oversight of these funds may not be adequate. In addition to pots of money coming from institutions, other pots of money have also opened up to support author-pays publishing — in early May, Pfizer agreed to cover author fees for any of their employees submitting to BioMed Central.

Institutions should contemplate how their policies and practices supporting author publication fees may encourage the emergence of publishing programs aimed at soliciting and accepting as many papers as possible. With poorly managed sources of funding (i.e., easy money), blaming these publishers is akin to treating a symptom of a more fundamental and deleterious malady....

But it may not be the author-pays model itself that introduces the fatal flaw.

Instead, it may be the administrators of the funding who have shown an Achilles‘ heel — lax oversight, a lack of transparency, motivations to support the “publish or perish” culture of academia today, and an inability to hold publishers accountable for services rendered....


  • There has been public suspicion about Bentham's operation for more than a year now (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  In April 2008, Richard Poynder interviewed the Bentham Editorial Director, Matthew Honan, to get the company's response to criticism, especially criticism for spamming researchers to submit papers or join editorial boards.  In the interview Honan would not identify the owners of the company and would not say why.
  • The Davis-Anderson hoax clearly uncovered incompetence at this Bentham journal.  We have to ask whether the journal lies about performing peer review or just performs it so badly that it's equivalent to no review at all.  Even if the journal were cynically trying to maximize revenue from publication fees, a competent scam would not have accepted the Davis drivel.
  • The Sokal hoax proved something important about lax standards, either within a given journal or within the larger field of postmodern cultural studies.  So I don't criticize this sort of hoax as such and prefer to focus on the conclusions to draw from it.
  • There's no doubt that OA journals can be strong or weak, just as TA journals can be strong or weak.  The question is whether we're dealing with a very weak journal or with something larger.  Davis himself wants to be "careful not to generalize these results to other Open Access journals using similar business models, [though] it does raise the question of whether, at least in some cases, the producer-pays-to-publish model may unduly influence editorial decision-making."  Anderson builds on Davis' question to ask a slightly different one --not whether publication fees unduly influence editorial decisions but whether institutions willing to pay those fees on behalf of authors should take greater responsibility for the quality of the work they fund.
  • We've known since the Kaufman-Wills report in 2005 that many more TA journals (by numbers and percentages) charge author-side fees than OA journals.  At that time, a slight majority of OA journals charged no fees at all, while only 23.4% of ALPSP journals overall charged no fees.  Kaufman and Wills reported similar numbers for other collections of TA journals.  Since then, a new study has put the percentage of no-fee OA journals at over 70%.  I haven't seen a new study of the percentage of no-fee TA journals.  These studies should help us avoid a careless generalization.  As I put it in a 2006 article:
    [I]insofar as charging fees for accepted papers is an incentive to lower standards, many more subscription journals are guilty than OA journals.  We know this even before we take into account that OA journals with many excellent submissions can often accept more papers without lowering standards (because they have no size limits) and OA journals with a dearth of excellent submissions can accept fewer papers without shortchanging subscribers (because they have no subscribers).  We know it before we take into account that OA journal fees are much closer to "subsistence-level" compensation than typical subscription fees.  We know it before we take into account that subscription journals justify price increases by pointing to the growing volume of published articles....We know it before we take into account that subscription journals with lower standards and lower rejection rates have higher profit margins (because they perform peer review fewer times per published paper).
  • Anderson is right that institutions paying publishers should take responsibility to monitor how their money is spent.  But the principle is a general one.  It doesn't matter whether the journal pays reader-side subscription fees or author-side publication fees.  Or if author-side publication fees somehow call for greater vigilance, then institutions should exercise that vigilance over the larger set of fee-charging TA journals as well as the smaller set of fee-charging OA journals.  The fake Elsevier journals show that money can corrupt editorial judgment at TA journals, even at publishers with better reputations to uphold and astronomically more money in the bank to buffer against temptation.  I raise this here only to prevent a one-sided conclusion.  I have no desire to shift attention away from dishonest practices the OA side of the line.  On the contrary, I want to drive dishonest OA journals out of the field.  They give OA a bad name and impede its growth.  This matters to OA proponents even more than to its critics.  We know that OA is compatible with the highest levels of quality (1, 2) and want to put it to work accelerating high-quality research in every field.
  • For other news and comment on this story, see the items tagged oa.bentham in the OA tracking project

Update.  Also see Bob Grant's article in The Scientist.  One new nugget:

...I called Richard Morrissy, who's listed as the US contact for Bentham Science Publishers on the company's website, but he declined to answer my questions and instead directed me to his supervisor, Matthew Honan, who works in Bentham's France office. Honan does not have a phone number, according to Morrissy....

Update.  Klaus Graf calls for a boycott of Bentham.  See his comments in German or Google's English.

Update.  Also see Paul Basken's article on the Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog.  The comment section is starting to grow.

UpdateJURN, the search engine for OA journals in the arts and humanities, has stopped indexing Bentham journals.

UpdateTom Wilson argues that the Bentham scandal is another reason to prefer no-fee OA journals.

Update (6/11/09).  Peter Aldhous in New Scientist reviews similar hoaxes in which journals or conferences were caught accepting outright nonsense.  He also got an official response from Bentham:

...Mahmood Alam, Bentham's director of publications, responded to queries from New Scientist by email: "In this particular case we were aware that the article submitted was a hoax, and we tried to find out the identity of the individual by pretending the article had been accepted for publication when in fact it was not."

"Why hasn't he attempted to contact me directly in order to determine my true identity?" Davis responds....

Update (6/11/09).  Also see Norman Oder's article in Library Journal.

Update (6/11/09).  The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) points out several ways in which practices at Bentham Science appear to fall short of the association's code of conduct, and that Bentham is not a member of OASPA.

Update (6/11/09).  According to Bob Grant in The Scientist, the editor of the journal accepting the computer-generated nonsense paper, Bambang Parmanto, an information scientist at the U of Pittsburgh, has resigned.

Update (6/13/09).  Dorothea Salo wants universities with OA journal funds to refuse to pay publication fees charged by Bentham-like publishers, and wants librarians to help identify the Bentham-like publishers.

Update (6/15/09).  Kirsten at Into the Stacks wonders whether libraries should continue to support links to Bentham journals, and whether the DOAJ should continue to list them.

Update (6/15/09).  Also see Natasha Gilbert's article in Nature News.  Bentham is standing by the story that it knew the paper was a hoax and pretended to accept it in order to learn the authors' true identities.

OA to digitized journals in Gallica

Arnaud Dhermy, Les revues savantes dans Gallica, Gallica, June 5, 2009. Read it in the original French or Google's translation. Includes a table of journals digitized (or to be digitized) by region of France.

Momentum of OA means greater bargaining power for authors

Open Access Growing Steadily, But Powerful Gatekeepers Remain, CAUT Bulletin, June 2009.

The recent vote by MIT faculty to freely and publicly distribute research articles they write marks a sea change in the relationship be­tween academic authors and publishers of scientific journals.

“Resistance by publishers to authors retaining copyright and posting their scholarship online is diminishing,” says Brent Roe, executive director of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries. “Work by professor Stevan Harnad at Montreal’s Université du Québec and others indicate that a majority of journals now allow authors to engage in internet self-archiving on an institutional repository or some other form of open distribution of their work.” ...

“Until now, authors — usually with support of their libraries — have had to approach journals individually about accepting the addendum,” says Jennifer McLennan, SPARC communications director. “Now, as institutions adopt campus-wide open-access policies, authors have the weight of a MIT, Harvard or Stanford behind them. The climate has changed totally.”

But individual scholars still have a prominent role to play, she added, citing the case of Chris Boulton, a PhD student in communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Last year Boulton submitted an article with the addendum attached to The Communication Review, a Taylor & Francis journal. His article was accepted for publication, but the addendum was rejected. The journal’s publisher asked Bolton to give up the copyright to his article, but he refused and in turn rallied the other contributors in the journal edition behind the demand, delaying the release of the publication. After three months of negotiations, Taylor & Francis reversed their policy and agreed to accept the SPARC addendum.

“The first response was no, and this could easily dissuade a vulnerable academic trying to establish a publication record,” says Boulton. “But we pushed back. If publishers are flooded with the addendum and more authors refuse to blink, we will force changes.” ...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

An OA policy for the U of Bergen

The University of Bergen has adopted an OA policy.  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  From the ROARMAP version of the policy:

Results from publishing at the University of Bergen should be made publicly accessible in electronic archives for peer-reviewed journal articles

All employees at the University of Bergen are asked to deposit peer-reviewed versions of articles to the institution from the 1.1.2010

Peer-reviewed articles are made available in the institutional repository after consent by author and publisher. The version that is made available should be the same as the published version....


  • Congratulations to all involved.  The word "should" (rather than "must") needn't reduce compliance.  But unfortunately the loophole for dissenting publishers will reduce compliance.  And it's not necessary.  Institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT close the loophole and use rights retention to assure that OA through the institutional repository is authorized by the copyright holder regardless of the journals where the faculty publish their articles.  The no-loophole policies still allow opt-outs, but for authors rather than publishers.  At the next policy review, and perhaps before next January when the policy takes effect, I hope Bergen will consider following the Harvard model and closing the loophole.
  • If you saw the June SOAN, you know I'm collecting OA policies adopted by faculty votes, especially policies adopted by unanimous votes.  Does anyone know how the Bergen policy was adopted?
  • Also see our past posts on OA activity at the U of Bergen.


Update to database of IRs in Japan

The IRDB Contents Analysis System, a database of Japanese IRs, was updated on June 2, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

... We have made the following improvements:

  1. The default in “Content growth” has been changed to “Full text”.
    • You can select either “Full text” or “ALL” from the pull-down menu.
  2. “Breakdown of content by resource type (ratio)” has been added.
    • The breakdown of the latest data and the pie chart are displayed.
  3. The details of data have been hidden.
    • The numbers of records which had been shown horizontally are no longer displayed.
    • The breakdown can be downloaded by clicking “TSV Download”.
  4. The analysis of content has been added.
    • NDC (Nippon Decimal Classification) distribution, File format distribution and others are additionally shown. And the percentage of input is displayed respectively.

At the same time, we have reduced the load time of the front page ...

Swedish Pirates win 1 seat in European Parliament

Elections for European Parliament were held on June 4-7. One result is that Sweden's Pirate Party -- a supporter of OA -- gained its first seat. In Germany, the Pirate Party earned 0.9% of the vote: not enough for a seat in Parliament, but enough to qualify for public funding for future campaigns.

For a broad overview of the election, see coverage in the New York Times.

See also Klaus Graf's comments on why he voted for the Pirate Party (Google translation).

New OA journal on Defoe

Digital Defoe is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of scholarship on Daniel Defoe. (Thanks to Wired Campus.) From the introduction:
... Unlike the pricey databases accessible only to those working in universities with big budgets, Digital Defoe is a publicly accessible, subscription-free peer-reviewed journal and online forum which all those working in higher and secondary education, as well as those outside of academia, are welcome to join. ...

OA work of the Alliance for German Science Organizations

Andreas Hübner and Christoph Bruch, Die Aktivitäten der Arbeitsgruppe „Open Access“ in der Schwerpunktinitiative Digitale Information der Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen, a slide presentation at Deutscher Bibliothekartag (Erfurt, June 2-5, 2009).

The abstract in Google's English:

The alliance of German research organizations, the activities of the various partner organizations in the field of digital scientific information and through intensive co-ordinate a joint initiative focused in the years 2008 to 2012 to further expand. One of the six action is "Open Access". It will be the work of the Working Group on "Open Access" and the first concrete results in implementing the activities identified jointly presented.

Changing the default access rules is not unfair to publishers

Stuart Shieber, Are the Harvard open-access policies unfair to publishers? The Occasional Pamphlet, June 9, 2009.  Excerpt:

Recently, the representative of a major scientific journal publisher expressed to me the sentiment that the position that Harvard faculty have taken through our open-access policies — setting the default for rights retention to retain rights by default rather than to eschew rights by default — is in some sense unfair to subscription-based journals that require embargoes, that we are favoring one scholarly publishing business model over another and setting up an unlevel playing field.

By way of background, the Harvard open-access policies specify that faculty authors grant a nonexclusive license to the university to distribute our articles, which can be waived for any reason at the sole discretion of the authors. The license applies immediately upon copyright vesting in the article, and thus predates any transfer of copyright to a publisher. If a publisher has a policy that is inconsistent with this license — for instance in requiring that no distributions occur until expiration of an embargo period — then it must either make an exception for an article falling under the OA policy or get the author to obtain a waiver of the license. Open-access journal publishers, who do not mandate embargoes on distribution, will not need to engage their authors in obtaining waivers. The publisher in question thought that this difference was an unfairness toward embargo-carrying subscription-based publishers because it favored open-access publishers....

[This] fallacious....

[F]or the purpose of this discussion, let us stipulate (counterfactually to my mind) that wholesale adoption of the Harvard policy would in fact prove detrimental to the business of subscription-based journals at least a little bit.  Does that make it intrinsically unfair? ...

[The present objection] seems to rely on an assumption that the Harvard policy is an undue intervention, whereas without the policy, there is no intervention. It seems to go something like this: In designing a system of rights allocation between author and publisher, the approach in which all rights are transferred to the publisher with the publisher selecting some rights to provide back to the author is the privileged position, and any other arrangement involves some kind of intervention. But what makes that the privileged (nonintervening) position? Why isn’t the privileged position an approach in which all rights are transferred to the publisher subject to a nonexclusive limited noncommercial license to the author, with a publisher’s requirement for exclusive transfer of all copyright being the intervention? It is true that one was the status quo ante for some time, but that is a historical contingency, and gives it no privileged position as consisting of the appropriate default position. There is in fact no privileged position one way or the other.  All choices of design involve intervention....

Another way of thinking about the issue is this: The faculty must make a decision about what portion of their rights they retain by default: none, a few, a lot, this subset, that subset.  A decision is inevitable; there is no option of making no decision.  The status quo ante made a decision, namely that no rights were retained by default.  The Harvard policy makes a different decision, that a nonexclusive limited license is retained by default; some other policy might state that exclusive rights are retained by default.  But one way or another, a decision must be made.  The faculty are obviously inclined to make decisions that benefit them as they perceive it, and have done so.  The change is not from making no decision to making a decision, it is from making one decision to making another that the faculty perceives as preferable....

I appreciate that some publishers may not like the waiver process, and I do not begrudge them that view or think it is unreasonable.  But preferring X to Y doesn’t mean that Y is unfair.

Peer review without assignment of copyright

Leo Waaijers, Publish and Cherish with Non-proprietary Peer Review Systems, Ariadne, April 2009.  Excerpt:

Now that publications are increasingly being enriched with databases and audio-visual elements, the need for non-proprietary review systems – that is, peer review systems that do not require the assignment of copyright to the organiser of the peer review i.e. the publisher - is becoming ever-more pressing. Although there is a steadily growing number of peer-reviewed Open Access journals and an active Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, the supply fails to keep pace with the demand. More and more research funders require open access to the publications that result from research they have financed. Recently the European Commission conducted a pilot initiative on open access to peer-reviewed articles in FP7, its Seventh Research Framework Programme, that may result in 100,000 reviewed articles. In so far as authors cannot all publish in Open Access journals, the EC and, for that matter, other Open Access-mandating funders impose unfair conditions on authors.

With a shift from proprietary to non-proprietary systems of peer review, initial experience has now been garnered from SCOAP and the Springer experiments at UKB, MPG, Göttingen University and, lately, California University). This conversion can be speeded up if disciplinary communities, universities, and research funders actively enter the market of the peer review organisers by calling for tenders and inviting publishers to submit proposals for a non-proprietary design of the peer review process. Given the current situation – with the American legislature and the European Commission having clearly taken a stand in favour of Open Access – one can expect that such tenders will certainly produce interesting proposals. The time is ripe!

This article examines the idea of the European Commission putting out such a tender....


  • I support the call for what Waaijers terms "non-proprietary review systems" (and which I have called free-floating editorial boards).  I'm also glad to see the detailed calculations in the body of the article on how a conversion to OA would save money at two Dutch universities. 
  • But in the opening paragraph Waaijers writes, "In so far as authors cannot all publish in Open Access journals, the EC and, for that matter, other Open Access-mandating funders impose unfair conditions on authors."  This claim leaves the false impression that funder OA mandates require submission to OA journals, when not a single OA mandate in the world takes that form.  Instead, and for good reason, all OA mandates require deposit in OA repositories.  Funder mandates, like university mandates, require green OA, not gold OA. 
  • Waaijers knows this and is clear about it later in the paper.  His point is that when when grantees can't satisfy an OA mandate by publishing in an OA journal, then they must deposit in an OA repository and negotiate permission with their TA journal.  When he speaks about the imposition of "unfair conditions on authors", he's referring to the difficulty of that negotiation. However, the deeply misleading statement remains in the opening paragraph.  And even his less-misleading point still leaves a false impression.  It assumes that all funder mandates require negotiation when only the most ill-drafted ones do so.  This is true even apart from the fact that most TA publishers already allow OA archiving
  • When a funder, like the EC, asks grantees to "make their best efforts to negotiate copyright and licensing conditions that comply with the open access", they create the difficulties that Waaijers highlights.  But the NIH, Wellcome Trust, and half a dozen other funders have long-since figured out how to avoid that problem.  They require grantees to retain a key right and use it to authorize OA.  Grantees may transfer all their remaining rights to their publishers and typically do.  But because grantees authorize OA before they transfer copyright, the funder's OA is authorized by the copyright holder, and the publisher never acquires the key right which would allow it to deny permission for OA or claim infringement.  If a given publisher is not willing to provide OA on the funder's terms, the author must look for another publisher.  But at the NIH, for example, virtually all publishers have accommodated the policy.  I strongly recommend that funders use the NIH-Wellcome model (and on the university side, the equivalent Harvard model).  But in any case, we must not leave the impression the model doesn't exist or even that it is rare.  The idea that all scholars subject to OA mandates must publish in OA journals or undertake difficult negotiations is simply untrue.

New issue of The Serials Librarian

The latest issue of The Serials Librarian (vol. 56, nos. 1-4, 2009) is devoted to the presentations at NASIG 2008.  Here are the OA-related items:

Digital humanities manifesto 2.0

The Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities at UCLA released the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Version 2.0 is just as vague on OA as version 1.0.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Open licenses to medical patents in developing countries

Sean Flynn, Aidan Hollis, and Mike Palmedo, An Economic Justification for Open Access to Essential Medicine Patents in Developing Countries, The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, June 3, 2009. Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.

Abstract:   This paper offers an economic rationale for compulsory licensing of needed medicines in developing countries. The patent system is based on a trade-off between the "deadweight losses" caused by market power and the incentive to innovate created by increased profits from monopoly pricing during the period of the patent. However, markets for essential medicines under patent in developing countries with high income inequality are characterized by highly convex demand curves, producing large deadweight losses relative to potential profits when monopoly firms exercise profit-maximizing pricing strategies. As a result, these markets are systematically ill-suited to exclusive marketing rights, a problem which can be corrected through compulsory licensing. Open licenses that permit any qualified firm to supply the market on the same terms, such as may be available under licenses of right or essential facility legal standards, can be used to mitigate the negative effects of government-granted patents, thereby increasing overall social welfare.

More on OA to assist replication

Scott M. Hofer, and Andrea M. Piccinin, Integrative data analysis through coordination of measurement and analysis protocol across independent longitudinal studies, Psychological Methods, June 2009. Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.

Abstract:   Replication of research findings across independent longitudinal studies is essential for a cumulative and innovative developmental science. Meta-analysis of longitudinal studies is often limited by the amount of published information on particular research questions, the complexity of longitudinal designs and the sophistication of analyses, and practical limits on full reporting of results. In many cases, cross-study differences in sample composition and measurements impede or lessen the utility of pooled data analysis. A collaborative, coordinated analysis approach can provide a broad foundation for cumulating scientific knowledge by facilitating efficient analysis of multiple studies in ways that maximize comparability of results and permit evaluation of study differences. The goal of such an approach is to maximize opportunities for replication and extension of findings across longitudinal studies through open access to analysis scripts and output for published results, permitting modification, evaluation, and extension of alternative statistical models and application to additional data sets. Drawing on the cognitive aging literature as an example, the authors articulate some of the challenges of meta-analytic and pooled-data approaches and introduce a coordinated analysis approach as an important avenue for maximizing the comparability, replication, and extension of results from longitudinal studies.

OA journal introduces publication fees

Paying for open access, Haematologica, June 2009.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Haematologica is owned by a non-profit organization, the Ferrata Storti Foundation, and serves the scientific community with strict adherence to the principles of open access publishing....In addition, the journal now makes every paper published immediately available in PubMed Central (PMC)....These initiatives are made possible also thanks to the vision and support of the European Hematology Association.

The potential benefits of open access, not only for science but also for public health, are vast, and this alone fully justifies this publishing model. However, in order to reach its objectives, open access needs to be combined with rigorous peer-review, scientific integrity and excellence. This means high costs, in particular for journals that, like Haematologica, have both online and print editions.

As a non-profit organization, the financial objective of the Ferrata Storti Foundation is to break even, and it is also prepared to face losses in order to keep the open access status of the journal. However, these losses must be limited and must not jeopardize the very existence of the journal.

In the last few years, the journal has improved considerably, and its impact factor is increasing steadily. Through Bench>Press and HighWire Press the journal now has both a very efficient manuscript submission and tracking system, and an enjoyable online edition.

All these initiatives have had a significant impact on production costs. To continue to provide open access, the journal now needs to share these high costs of publication with authors. Therefore, authors are now required to pay page charges. Considering the total cost of the average study, page charges will, in any case, represent only a small fraction....

More on OA and security

Randall Mayes, Openness and Biosecurity: Can They Co-exist?  Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, June 7, 2009.  Excerpt:

Our growing ability to decode and re-encode genomes has enabled rapid responses to emerging diseases, but also potentially empowers would-be bio-terrorists. It is urgent that we develop national and international policies to regulate this dual use technology to ensure its benefits and minimize its risks....

Fearing a monopoly on standard biological parts,...bioconservative organizations have called for openness through public databases for sharing information. Several researchers in the field have responded by creating BioBricks and The Registry of Standard Biological Parts. Other groups have created The Science Commons and Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS)....

Ironically, the same bioconservative organizations that called for openness in public databases now realize in some cases sharing information is not always in the best interest of public health. Due to the dual use nature of synthetic biology, the placement of genetic code of lethal pathogens in public databases compromises biosecurity....

Now that scientists established a proof of principle for creating a deadly virus from genetic code, the only thing left for evildoers is a how-to manual. As synthetic biology became more in popular literature, a persistent journalist from Britain decided to investigate how easy it would be to order the biological parts necessary for creating a deadly virus.

In 2006, the science reporter with The Guardian contacted synthetic biology pioneer Drew Endy, formerly at MIT and now at Stanford, for advice on the story. In a dialogue with Endy, they discussed a partial sequence of the smallpox virus which was slightly altered for safety reasons to see what would happen. The reporter ordered the partial sequence via the internet and had it delivered to the Guardian headquarters.

In this case, the supplier was not aware the sequence coded for a destructive organism. As part of self governance, the sybio community has attempted to close the loophole by boycotting DNA synthesizing companies that do not screen their orders for sequences placed on a list determined to be public health concerns to prevent rogue groups from creating a biological weapon....

So, who is the real enemy; capitalists, nature, the media, or militarization by rogue groups? ...

Comment.  I already accept that patient privacy takes priority over OA.  Hence I don't support OA to medical records without either anonymization or consent.  In the right case I can accept that security also takes priority over OA.  But I'm not sure this is the right case.  A panel of the US National Research Council (NRC) considered exactly the case Mayes discusses --OA to genome data on pathogens-- and decided that the benefits outweighed the risks.  In September 2004 it justified its assessment in a book-length report, which Mayes does not cite.  (Also see my 2005 article on the NRC report.)  I'm ready to believe that fabrication techniques have changed significantly since 2004, and that they will continue to lower the barriers to fabricating viruses from genomic blueprints.  On the other hand, the NRC report rested on several arguments independent of the state of technology in 2004, for example, that suppressing factual knowledge about nature is ineffective, and that access to pathogen genome data is necessary to protect public health, especially in the face of bioterror.  I'd like to see someone redo the NRC assessment in light of changing technology, or assess changing technology in light of the NRC's policy arguments.

Another try at free to read, pay to print

PaperC is a new platform for OA books.  (Thanks to Blick Log.)

At the moment Paper C is in beta and limited to invited users. 

According to Andreas Menn's article in Saturday's Handelsblatt (also see Google's English), reading a PaperC book online is free of charge, and users only have to pay if they want to print excerpts or annotate pages.  PaperC is currently running a  trial with 1,500 German students and 3,000 German books in computer science, economics, law, and medicine.

Apparently the company will not publish its own books but merely host books from cooperating publishers.  Olaf Ernst, President of E-Product Management & Innovation at Springer, said that PaperC was a promising model.

Comment.  This is essentially the business model of ebrary at the time of its launch, circa 2002.  Sometime after 2005 ebrary changed its model, and now allows the original content publishers to choose their own business models.  (None of the suggested models includes OA.)  Does anyone know why ebrary changed?  The reasons may affect the prospects of PaperC. 

OA databases for collaborative taxnomy

Cene Fišer and three co-authors, Public online databases as a tool of collaborative taxonomy: a case study on subterranean amphipods, Zootaxa, May 2009.  (Thanks to Layla Michán.)  Accessible only to subscribers, at least so far.

Abstract:   Public databases are a promising tool for collaborative taxonomy. A collaborative revision requires a number of decisions, which – unlike in individual work – need to be clarified in advance. The success of such initiatives depends on acceptable guidelines for possible-yet-unknown participants. The nature of morphological variation constrains the scope of this kind of taxonomy to a level of single genera or families. The database should contain information also on sub and infra-subspecific taxa in order to preserve their identity and retain full knowledge of morphological diversity. All information on morphological variation to be included in the open-access database needs to be subject to peer-review, e.g. in the form of species descriptions. We expect the Web-accessed morphological databases to centralize and unify scattered taxonomical efforts, to foster taxonomy of difficult taxa, to provide free identification aids, and to condense the publication-citation cycle in the notoriously undercited field of alpha taxonomy. Specific issues are illustrated by the case of the amphipod family Niphargidae.

Answering the fear about killing journals

Stuart Shieber, The death of scholarly journals?  The Occasional Pamphlet, June 8, 2009.  Excerpt:

One of the frequent worries I hear expressed about open-access policies such as the ones at Harvard is that they will lead to the death of journals (or of scholarly societies, or of peer review). When we first began addressing Harvard faculty on these issues, I heard this worry expressed so frequently that I wrote up my standard reply to save myself time in answering it. I supply that reply in this entry. There is little original in the argument. It has been made in various forms in various places in writings about open access, most notably and comprehensively by Peter Suber here . But it may be useful to see it in this distilled form....

Many of the worries about the Harvard open-access policies rest on a dystopian scenario in which, first, there is systematic uptake of the idea of authors making their papers available through open access because of initiatives like ours, and then journals are unable to function, leading to the end of journals and peer review. The worry is a legitimate one, as journals and peer review play a crucial role in the scholarly enterprise. But the worry is misguided on both empirical and principled grounds.

What would happen to journals if, by magic, the author’s prepublication version of every scholarly article were freely available in an institutional repository?  Arguably, nothing. In fact, this is the situation in physics....

But suppose that at some point readers (or libraries) decided that the value publishers added were not sufficient to endorse subscribing at the current prices. The result would be price pressure on journals, arguably a propitious side effect. This price pressure would accrue to journals with the highest price to value ratio, that is, to commercially published journals in general. These are the journals where there is the most room for price reduction. (Consistent with this intuition, a 2006 study by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers concluded that price far outstrips open access availability in libraries’ decisions to cancel journal subscriptions.)

In his study of the economics of electronic journal distribution, Andrew Odlyzko notes “Many publishers argue that costs cannot be reduced much, even with electronic publishing, since most of the cost is the first-copy cost of preparing the manuscripts for publication. This argument is refuted by the widely differing costs among publishers. The great disparity in costs among journals is a sign of an industry that has not had to worry about efficiency. Another sign of lack of effective price competition is the existence of large profits.” For instance, economics journals published by commercial publishers are six times more expensive per page than those of noncommercial publishers. Such price disparities are a clear sign of inefficiency and excess profit-taking.

But suppose further that the price pressure were so strong that readers or libraries were unwilling to pay anything at all for the journals. Would that be the end of journals? No, because even if publishers (again, merely by hypothesis and presumably counterfactually) add no value for the readers (beyond what the readers are already getting in the [again hypothetical] universal open access), the author and the author’s institution gain much value: vetting, copyediting, typesetting, and most importantly, imprimatur of the journal. This is value that authors and their institutions should be and would be willing to pay for. And fortunately, in this scenario in which libraries are unwilling to pay for subscriptions, there is plenty of money available to pay for this value, namely all of the money that otherwise would have gone to the subscriptions. The upshot is that journals will merely switch to a different business model, the open access journal, in which the journal charges the author a one-time charge to cover the costs of publishing the article. (By the way, there are already thousands of open access journals, many published by profitable commercial publishers.)

In this scenario, the cost of journal publishing would be borne not by the libraries on behalf of their readers, but by funding agencies and institutions on behalf of their authors. Already, funding agencies such as Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes Medical Institute underwrite open access author charges, and in fact mandate open access. Federal granting agencies such as NSF and NIH allow grant funds to be used for open access author charges as well. Not all fields have the sort of grant funding opportunities that could underwrite these charges. For those fields, the university should underwrite charges for publication in open access journals. One of the recommendations of the provost’s committee is that Harvard do just that: underwrite reasonable open access publication charges that are not otherwise covered by research funds, regardless of field.  Remember, in this utopian scenario, the funds required for these charges are amply provided by the savings from subscriptions. In any case, this scenario is, at best, many years, perhaps many decades, away, so there is plenty of time for the market to adjust business and funding models so long as the books balance overall.

How can we know that the books will balance? In aggregate, the costs to run the journals are now paid for by university library budgets. In the depicted scenario, these costs would not rise, and would likely even be mitigated by the economies of open access distribution.  So in total, the funds will be adequate for the costs.

Another happy fact about this scenario is that the open access funding model has revenues directly tied to costs. For open access distribution, where access has essentially zero marginal cost, all of the costs are first-copy costs. Under the new business model, revenues are first-copy revenues as well. The market basis for the spiraling hyperinflation—prices rising to recoup revenues from cancellations leading to more cancellations—is thus eliminated....

The market will provide for journals because journals add tremendous value. Funds to pay for that value are patently available; they are being paid now. What will change—slowly over time if and as the situation changes—are the market mechanisms that match the costs and value. They will change to a system that doesn’t have the market dysfunctionalities of the present one.

A final word: What is the alternative to this open-access policy or similar steps to improve access? The status quo involves hyperinflation, squeezing library budgets, and further journal cancellation, all of which lead to even more limited access, monograph demand withering, and scholarly societies in trouble. We have been on this spiral for decades. Something needs to be done.

Comment.  This is an excellent response that should circulate at all schools considering an OA policy.  I'd only recommend that it reflect the fact, which Stuart recently confirmed, that most OA journals charge no publication fees.  In the hypothetical world in which high-volume green OA puts pricing pressure on TA journals, many of those journals will convert to OA, but not all will convert to fee-based OA.  There are many other business models for OA journals than charging publication fees.  Likewise, in the hypothetical world in which high-volume green OA causes massive cancellations of TA journals, and libraries have correspondingly massive savings to spend on peer-reviewed OA journals, a new policy to pay publication fees will not help all or even most OA journals.  The best no-fee journals will deserve support just as much as the best fee-based journals.  Institutions thinking this far ahead should be thinking about how to help the no-fee journals as well, for example, through direct subsidies of cash, facilities, equipment, or personnel.

More on Google Wave for open science

Cameron Neylon, Google Wave In Research - The Slightly More Sober View - Part I - Papers, Science in the Open, June 8, 2009.  Excerpt:

I, and many others have spent the last week thinking about Wave and I have to say that I am getting more, rather than less, excited about the possibilities that this represents....

Drafting and publishing a paper via Wave

I start drafting the text of a new paper. As I do this I add the Creative Commons robot as a participant. The robot will ask what license I wish to use and then provide a stamp, linked back to the license terms. When a new participant adds text or material to the document, they will be asked whether they are happy with the license, and their agreement will be registered within a private blip within the Wave controlled by the Robot....The robot may also register the document with a central repository of open content. A second robot could notify the authors respective institutional repository, creating a negative click repository in, well one click. More seriously this would allow the IR to track, and if appropriate modify, the document as well as harvest its content and metadata automatically.

I invite a series of authors to contribute to the paper and we start to write. Naturally the inline commenting and collaborative authoring tools get a good workout and it is possible to watch the evolution of specific sections with the playback tool....The formatter automatically recognizes text of the form (Smythe and Hoofback 1876) and searches the Citeulike libraries of the authors for the appropriate reference, adds an inline citation, and places a formatted reference in a separate Wavelet to keep it protected from random edits. Chunks of text can be collected from reports or theses in other Waves and the tracking system notes where they have come from, maintaing the history of the whole document and its sources and checking licenses for compatibility....

It is time to add some data and charts to the paper. The actual source data are held in an online spreadsheet. A chart/graphing widget is added to the document and formats the data into a default graph which the user can then modify as they wish. The link back to the live data is of course maintained. Ideally this will trigger the CC-bly robot to query the user as to whether they wish to dedicate the data to the Public Domain (therefore satisfying both the Science Commons Data protocol and the Open Knowledge Definition - see how smoothly I got that in?). When the users says yes...the data is marked with the chosen waiver/dedication and CKAN is notified and a record created of the new dataset....

Submission is as simple as adding a new participant, the journal robot (PLoSsy obviously) to the Wave. The journal is running its own Wave server so referees can be given anonymous accounts on that system if they choose. Review can happen directly within the document with a conversation between authors, reviewers, and editors....In addition the contribution of editors and referees to the final document is explicitly tracked. Because the journal runs its own server, not only can the referees and editors have private conversations that the authors don’t see, those conversations need never leave the journal server and are as secure as they can reasonably be expected to be.

Once accepted the paper is published simply by adding a new participant. What would traditionally happen at this point is that a completely new typeset version would be created, breaking the link with everything that has gone before. This could be done by creating a new Wave with just the finalized version visible and all comments stripped out. What would be far more exciting would be for a formatted version to be created which retained the entire history. A major objection to publishing referees comments is that they refer to the unpublished version. Here the reader can see the comments in context and come to their own conclusions. Before publishing any inline data will need to be harvested and placed in a reliable repository along with any other additional information. Supplementary information can simple be hidden under “folds” within the document rather than buried in separate documents....

Based on the currently published information none of the above is even particularly difficult to implement....

Update (6/8/09). Also see Part II, on using Google Wave for an open lab notebook.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Subbiah Arunachalam enters the blogosphere

Subbiah Arunachalam (a.k.a. Arun) has launched a blog.  Arun is India's leading OA activist and one of the leading activists for OA in developing countries worldwide.  His blog is bound to become an important source of news and comment on OA in developing countries.  On launch day --today--  Arun links back to some of his major interviews on OA.  (Welcome, Arun!)

Elsevier fake-journal tally now 9

Bob Grant, Elsevier tweaks custom pub rules, The Scientist, June 4, 2009.  Excerpt:

Publishing company Elsevier is revising its policies and procedures for partnering with pharmaceutical companies to create custom publications in response to recent media attention over a fake journal, called the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine (AJBJM), created by the company and paid for by Merck.

Elsevier provided The Scientist with the names of additional custom publications produced by the company's Australia office from 2000-2005, that an Elsevier spokesperson admitted "should not have been called 'journals'." According to Elsevier, these other publications differed from AJBJM in that they were not sponsored by a single corporation, but were instead paid for by selling "clearly-marked" advertisements purchased by several pharmaceutical companies.

Like AJBJM, the additional publications did not contain original research. Sponsors had some editorial input, but not as much as Merck had over AJBJM, the spokesperson said. "We don't have any indication that any one of our advertisers or sponsors had the level of sponsor-editorial control that existed in [AJBJM]." ...

The company now states that it plans to craft new guidelines regarding these practices by the end of June. "Elsevier will review practices related to all article reprint, compilation or custom publications and set out guidelines on content, permission, use of imprint and repackaging to ensure that such publications are not confused with Elsevier's core peer reviewed journals and that the sponsorship of any publication is clearly disclosed," the company said in a statement released today (June 4)....

Like AJBJM, the other journals in this series -- the company added three more titles to those it listed in May -- contain no original, peer-reviewed research and consist largely of reprinted articles, and summaries of previously published research papers. Unlike AJBJM, however, which was sponsored only by Merck, with the pharmaceutical company heavily influencing the editorial content of the journal, the other titles were bought through ad sales to a multitude of pharma companies, the names of which Elsevier declined to disclose....

Elsevier declined to reveal how much Merck paid to have AJBJM published. "As a matter of policy, we don't discuss the details of specific transactions with our customers," the Elsevier spokesperson said. But the publisher did reveal a range of how many copies of the nine journals were distributed in Australia. "Single issues were typically distributed to between 2,000 and 10,000 general practitioners (GP) in Australia, and the company is aware of one issue that went to 20,000 (the estimated total number of GPs in Australia)," today's Elsevier statement reads....

Update.  Also see Summer Johnson's comments at


CLOCKSS preserves access to discontinued OUP title, an announcement from EDINA, May 31, 2009.  Excerpt:

Oxford Journals have announced that the journal "Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention" [BTCI], which had been discontinued, will be accessible through CLOCKSS.

"Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention" ceased publication at the end of 2008. Archival content from volume 1, issue 1 (2001) to volume 8, issue 4 (2008) will be removed from the Oxford Journals online platform at the end of May 2009. This removal has acted as a "trigger event" to prompt CLOCKSS, one of OUP's preservation partners, to provide free access to the title and take responsibility for its ongoing long-term preservation....

Built on open source LOCKSS™ technology, the CLOCKSS archive comprises geographically dispersed "archive nodes" located at 12 major research libraries, into which nearly 60% of the world's e-content is ingested and preserved....

Also see the CLOCKSS archive of the BTCI backfile.  All the back issues are hosted under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.

eIFL's five years of OA advocacy in South Africa

Gaining the momentum: eIFL marks five year commitment to Open Access in South Africa, May 2009.  Excerpt:

...The workshop [African Digital Scholarship & Curation 2009 (Pretoria, May 12-14, 2009)] marks a five-year commitment by eIFL, together with local partners, in support of the development of Open Access in South Africa. This can be tracked in three seminal events. The first OA conference in South Africa took place in July 2004, co-hosted by eIFL/OSI (Open Society Institute) and SASLI (South African Site Licensing Initiative), now SANLiC (South African National Library and Information Consortium). “Open Access Scholarly Communications” was a one-day programme to introduce the OA model in South Africa. Attended by delegates from research and tertiary institutions, scientific councils, libraries and museums, it set the wheels in motion for a follow-on event that captured the momentum and responded to requests on how to put the ideas into practice.

Consequently the first Institutional Repository (IR) workshop in South Africa took place in May 2005 on creating an information infrastructure for library partnerships in the scholarly community”. It was a three-day event organised by SASLI and CSIR/CILLA with support from eIFL, that provided hands-on training on setting up and managing an IR. Participants returned home with a good understanding of technical and policy issues for IRs, installing DSpace, the popular open source IR application and the promotion of IRs within an institution.

SivulileSivulile, meaning "We are Open" in isiXhosa, was an informal group that came together in 2005 to support Open Access in South Africa through advocacy, policy, technology and research....

The third key event was co-sponsored by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and aimed to broaden awareness of OA in the region. Speakers from Botswana, Canada, Egypt, Scotland, South Africa and the US were joined by over forty participants from nine southern African countries at the OSISA/eIFL Open Access Workshop for Southern Africa in August 2006 to discuss practical ways in which Open Access projects and policies could be implemented in the region. The programme focused on OA journals, IRs, advocacy and the role of funding agencies in Open Access publishing. Since then, eIFL has continued to sponsor a variety of OA conferences and events throughout the region, and has supported individual librarians to attend key international conferences as part of its capacity building efforts.

“I am pleased to have worked with eIFL and Susan Veldsman to organise the first OA workshop in South Africa in 2004,” said Melissa Hagemann, Program Manager, Open Society Institute. “It was actually the first OA workshop eIFL ever organised and we weren’t sure how OA was going to be received. Thus it is wonderful to see the progress which has been made especially with ASSAf”.

“I have been involved with eIFL in several capacities throughout this time,” said Susan Veldsman, Director of Scholarly Publishing at ASSAf. “The early events gave the momentum that got things going, and we have continued to move ahead with new partners, initiatives and concrete results”.

“eIFL has demonstrated a strong and serious commitment to Open Access in South Africa”, added Eve Gray, eIFL-OA Advisory Committee, “and has established itself as an able advocate for OA throughout the developing world”.

In the meantime, sixteen OA repositories have been established in South Africa and discussions on OA mandates are taking place in universities. ASSAf is running a two year pilot project to convert four of the country's leading journals to Open Access, and a strong community of practice has grown up sharing knowledge and expertise....

Ukraine is implementing its 2007 OA mandate

Iryna Kuchma, Libraries advocating for open access in Ukraine,, May 2009.  A report from an international conference in Sevastopol, Ukraine, May 21, 2009.  Let me separate four bits of news so that none gets lost:

(1) Ukraine is starting to implement the national OA mandate it adopted in 2007 but until now had not implemented:

To implement the Open Access Mandate (open access to research funded from the state budget of Ukraine introduced in the Law of Ukraine On the principles of Developing Information Society in Ukraine in 2007-2015) the Vernadsky National library of Ukraine created a registry of 726 journals and full text articles of 346 journals (starting from 2008) are already deposited here.  2453 full text records are also deposited in the DSpace repository of the Vernadsky National library of Ukraine.

This initiative was presented at the seminar E-libraries Management and Technologies on May 20,2009 at the National parliamentary library of Ukraine (in the frames of the Sixth international conference Documents, Libraries and Information: Problems and practices of science and education, May 19-21, 2009, State academy for the arts and culture management).

(2) Ukrainian librarians issued a progressive statement endorsing OA:

More than 150 Ukrainian University librarians endorsed Open access to knowledge statement on May 21, 2009 at the International conference Libraries of the higher education institutions in the context of higher education modernisation that took place in Sevastopol, Ukraine:

"We support open access to knowledge and strategies on developing open institutional repositories and open access journals published by the Universities....

We ask the government to support open access to research information especially when the research is funded from the state budget of Ukraine, as well as to support open access to research data and cultural heritage.

We ask the researchers to support open access and self-archive research papers, reports, dissertations, educational materials, etc., in open institutional repositories and publish articles in open access journals. We ask the researchers to retain copyright.

We ask the Universities and research institutions to implement open access policies and strategies, provide open access to the full-text peer-reviews research outputs produced by the faculty and staff....We ask to launch and develop open institutional repositories and open access journals...

We ask the academic journal publishers … to allow self-archiving of the postprints, request only the rights needed to publish an article, cancel or shorten the embargo periods and provide the published versions of the articles to the relevant open institutional repositories.

We ask the university libraries to promote open access to research information among the research community, faculty and individual researchers. To launch and develop open institutional repositories to provide open access to the research materials and to raise the University profile, provide long-term preservation for the research publications. Repositories should follow DRIVER and other relevant recommendations, be OAI-PNH compliant and interoperable to allow the best possible global searching facilities.”

Full text of the Open access to knowledge statement in Ukrainian is here.  [PS:  Also see the statement in Google's English.]

Congratulations to Tetiana Yaroshenko, University Librarian, Vice President for IT, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and eIFL-OA country coordinator in Ukraine, for introducing this declaration. Her presentation (from the above mentioned conference) Open Access: History and current projects in Ukraine and in the world (in Ukrainian) is here.

(3) A Ukrainian research institute launched a new disciplinary repository:

[T]he library of the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (IBSS), Ukraine, launched CEEMaR (Central and Eastern European Marine Repository) – a thematic digital repository covering the marine, brackish and freshwater environments and providing access to papers produced by the staff of the ECET institutes in Bulgaria, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.  [PS:  Also see the IBSS institutional repository.]

(4) The Sevastopol conference proceedings are now online:

Seminar presentations are here and other open access related presentations from this conference (in Ukrainian language) are Open Access and Libraries Transformations by Iryna Kuchma, eIFL Open Access program manager, Institutional Repositories: UBC and Europe by Lea Starr, University of British Columbia, Associate University Librarian - Public Services, Vancouver, Canada, Web-resources of the children libraries by Natalia Dzuba, the National library of Ukraine for children, E-library in the National parliamentary library of Ukraine by Olga Barkova, E-resources in the National Technical University Kyiv Polytechnic institute by Valentyna Volynets.

Presentations from South African OA meeting

Presentations from the CSIR meeting, Gaining the momentum: Open access & advancement of science and research (Pretoria, May 14, 2009), are now online.

Presentations from Palestinian OA workshop

Presentations from the workshop, Open Access: Maximising Research Impact workshop in Palestine (Birzeit, May 25-28, 2009), are now online.