Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Young people and OA

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Expectations of the Screenager Generation, presented at RLG Annual Partnership Symposium (Boston, June 3, 2009). (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) Report on a study of 12-18 year olds and their expectations of libraries and information resources.
  • ... Their Information Perspectives
    • Information is information
    • Media formats don’t matter ...
  • What Attracts Them to Resources
    • Convenience, convenience, convenience
      • Available 24/7
        • Working from home
        • At night or on weekends
      • Immediate answers
      • Lack of cost
      • Efficient ...
  • What Attracts Them to Resources
    • Independence
      • Prefer to do own search
      • Use the Internet
      • No librarian necessary ...
  • What We Learned
    • Libraries are trusted sources of information
    • Search engines are trusted about the same
    • Screenagers
      • Lack patience to wade through content silos and indexing and abstracting databases
      • Like convenience and speed
      • Do not view paid information as more accurate than free information ...

More on the theory of research sharing

David Wojick, Sharing Results is the Engine of Scientific Progress, OSTIblog, June 17, 2009. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)

[The Office of Scientific and Technical Information]'s mission is to help scientists share their results, but what role do results play in science? Here we present a simple model of one of the most basic uses of results, namely as the engine of scientific progress. Research results are more than just accumulated knowledge. Research results make possible new questions, which in turn lead to even more knowledge. The resulting pattern of exponential growth in knowledge is called an issue tree. It shows how individual results can have a value far beyond themselves, because they are shared and lead to research by others.

The reader is referred to the Sharing Results Issue Tree. [Note: omitting diagram.] This is an abstract example of a fundamental pattern that occurs throughout science. It begins with Result 1, which is an important finding by a researcher named Smith. Given this result there are three important new questions that can be formulated -- Questions A, B & C. It is important to realize that these questions could not have been asked until Result 1 occurred. Result 1 does much more than simply add to our knowledge, it raises important new questions.

Each of the three questions now becomes the object of new research. It is important to realize that in many cases this new research will be undertaken by researchers other than the one who got Result 1. This could not happen unless these new researchers know about Result 1, which requires sharing of results in some way or other. Thus sharing is essential for scientific progress.

The new questions that grow out of Result 1 yield Results 2 through 9. These new results are obtained mostly by researchers other than Smith, such as Brown, Gupta, Kim, etc. This is a large increase in knowledge, which is only made possible by the sharing of Result 1. Thus Result 1's value extends far beyond its contribution to knowledge. ...

Progress is not just the cumulative product of individual efforts, it requires sharing for its very being. We take this sharing for granted but it is by no means assured, and it is far from being efficient. The Internet promises to greatly improve the process of sharing scientific results, which should speed up progress. But this promise is still largely unmet. This is the challenge that OSTI is working on, how to speed up scientific progress by making sharing efficient.

More on EOS; OA in Belgium

Bernard Rentier, Faux départ !, Bernard Rentier, Recteur, June 22, 2009. Read it in the original French or Google's English.

I certainly rushed some things in announcing last week the launch of the [Enabling Open Scholarship] website. The next day we had an important meeting of the founders of the EOS group that I chair and we have decided that the site still requires some work, some improvements, a more recent update and a finalization of the Advisory Board. ... Embarrassing, especially since ... applications for membership in EOS abounded on every side from the first day! Hopefully this incident will not adversely affect the participation of many universities at the final launch ...

The role of the EOS site, in fact, will be mainly to rally the leaders of universities worldwide, to convince them to set up institutional repositories and help them. Its second goal is to persuade funders of the importance of free access to the publications of research they have funded and the need to develop systems to harvest from institutional repositories. For us, [Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique], signatory of the Berlin Declaration on open access, is expected to speak out soon in this regard. ... French-speaking Belgium thus could become the first "country" to adopt this system in its entirety, which should serve the cause of our researchers and their reputation.

See also our past posts on Enabling Open Scholarship and its predecessor, EurOpenScholar.

Cancellations and OA, the flip side

Jonathan Eisen, Another reason to publish as Open Access - libraries hurting big time financially and they will be cancelling many subscriptions, The Tree of Life, June 27, 2009.
If you need any more incentive to publish a paper in an Open Access manner if you have a choice - here is one. If you publish in a closed access journal of some kind, it is likely fewer and fewer colleagues will be able to get your paper as libraries are hurting big time and will be canceling a lot of subscriptions. ...

Court orders release of Elsevier license terms

Association of Research Libraries, Elsevier Motion to Block License Release Denied in Open-Records Decision, press release, June 23, 2009.

An injunction filed by Elsevier to block release of information included in a licensing contract between the publisher and Washington State University (WSU) was denied by a court in the state of Washington last week. A public-records request for contract terms had been submitted to the university by researchers gathering data on the terms of large-publisher bundled contracts.

Whitman County Superior Court, State of Washington, ruled Friday, June 19, 2009, in favor of full disclosure for a public-records request submitted to Washington State University by Ted Bergstrom, Paul Courant, and Preston McAfee for license information regarding the WSU-Elsevier contract. On June 9, Elsevier had filed a Motion for Injunction against release of the data. According to court papers, the plaintiff argued that disclosure of the Elsevier-WSU contracts would “disclose aspects of Elsevier’s pricing methods and formula so as to produce private gain and public loss. Such disclosure would violate Elsevier’s rights under Washington statutes…to preserve the confidentiality of its proprietary pricing methods and formulae.” ...

Researchers Ted Bergstrom, Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Paul Courant, University Librarian, Dean of Libraries, and Professor of Public Policy, Economics, and Information, University of Michigan, said, “We believe that state open-access laws serve the public interest by requiring full transparency of contracts that involve millions of taxpayer dollars. We will continue to collect and analyze the terms of ‘Big Deal’ contracts signed by a large number of universities and to share this information with the library community. We appreciate the efforts of university librarians who have helped us to collect contract information and we are grateful for ARL’s support and encouragement.”

It is not enough for institutions to assume that public-records requests will ensure that information about contracts and licenses can be made publicly accessible. Last month, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Board of Directors supported a resolution to encourage its members to refrain from signing nondisclosure agreements with publishers and to share information about their agreements, insofar as possible, with each other. Tom Leonard, President of ARL and University Librarian, University of California, Berkeley, said, “By responding to an open-records case in this manner, Elsevier has only increased our resolve to push for both open contracts and public disclosure of terms in our negotiations. This case is a telling example of why we should not be signing these nondisclosure agreements.”

Why do publishers participate in developing country access initiatives?

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Why are publishers participating in developing country access initiatives?, post to the Healthcare Information For All by 2015 mailing list, June 30, 2009.

INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) and ACU (Association of Commonwealth Universities), through their Publishers for Development initiative, recently hosted an online discussion on the question, 'Why are publishers participating in developing country access initiatives?'

All participants were learned society and commercial scholarly publishers (publishing in all sectors, including health). The results of the discussion are provided below. ...

There are a number of major access initiatives - and many smaller schemes focused on specific disciplines or even individual titles - which enable developing country researchers and students to access scholarly information freely at point of use. Commonly these are focused on supplying free or proportionately priced access to academic journals and databases, but there are also several support programmes which aim to strengthen the capacity of libraries to access and use these resources more effectively.

Publishers already provide considerable support to these schemes, offering proportionately discounted access to their principal titles - or in some cases free access - most often in electronic form, but occasionally also for print subscriptions where libraries still struggle to make good use of online information. ...

Some key motivations for publishers’ participation:

A moral argument: For many there is an important moral or philanthropic argument. Publishers, committed to advancing scholarly and scientific investigation, wish to extend access as widely as they can, and to ensure as many people as possible can reap the benefits of research. Developing countries are unable to pay ‘market rates’ but publishers can help by making subscriptions more affordable, thereby ensuring the digital and academic divide is narrowed.

The business case: This moral argument is also underpinned by a business case. Publishers’ key objective is to serve their authors as well as they can. Making sure that their publications - and thus their authors’ research - are disseminated as widely as possible is central to this. ... Discussion also noted that as well as serving the authors some publishers serve society partners who have this dissemination as part of their articles of existence. ...

Authors are not so much interested in the quantity of readers, but that the "right" people are reading - that can be those that have influence over their careers or those that could advance their research by putting it into direct practice. ...

See also our past posts on INASP and on developing country access initiatives, such as HINARI.

Skeptical review of Anderson's Free

Malcolm Gladwell, Priced to Sell, New Yorker, July 6, 2009. A review of Chris Anderson's Free: The Past and Future of a Radical Price.

... Anderson’s ... point is that when prices hit zero extraordinary things happen. Anderson describes an experiment conducted by the M.I.T. behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of “Predictably Irrational.” Ariely offered a group of subjects a choice between two kinds of chocolate—Hershey’s Kisses, for one cent, and Lindt truffles, for fifteen cents. Three-quarters of the subjects chose the truffles. Then he redid the experiment, reducing the price of both chocolates by one cent. The Kisses were now free. What happened? The order of preference was reversed. Sixty-nine per cent of the subjects chose the Kisses. The price difference between the two chocolates was exactly the same, but that magic word “free” has the power to create a consumer stampede. Amazon has had the same experience with its offer of free shipping for orders over twenty-five dollars. The idea is to induce you to buy a second book, if your first book comes in at less than the twenty-five-dollar threshold. And that’s exactly what it does. In France, however, the offer was mistakenly set at the equivalent of twenty cents—and consumers didn’t buy the second book. “From the consumer’s perspective, there is a huge difference between cheap and free,” Anderson writes. “Give a product away, and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business. . . . The truth is that zero is one market and any other price is another.”

Since the falling costs of digital technology let you make as much stuff as you want, Anderson argues, and the magic of the word “free” creates instant demand among consumers, then Free (Anderson honors it with a capital) represents an enormous business opportunity. Companies ought to be able to make huge amounts of money “around” the thing being given away—as Google gives away its search and e-mail and makes its money on advertising.

... Look at YouTube, he says, the free video archive owned by Google. YouTube lets anyone post a video to its site free, and lets anyone watch a video on its site free ...

The only problem is that in the middle of laying out what he sees as the new business model of the digital age Anderson is forced to admit that one of his main case studies, YouTube, “has so far failed to make any money for Google.” ...

[T]here’s plenty of other information out there that has chosen to run in the opposite direction from Free. The [New York] Times gives away its content on its Web site. But the Wall Street Journal has found that more than a million subscribers are quite happy to pay for the privilege of reading online. Broadcast television—the original practitioner of Free—is struggling. But premium cable, with its stiff monthly charges for specialty content, is doing just fine. ... The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws.

See also our past posts on Anderson's Free.

Presentations from European OA meeting

Comparative study says benefits of OA outweigh costs

Knowledge Exchange, Benefits of Open Access clearly outweigh costs in three European Countries, press release, July 1, 2009.

For Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands free access to scholarly materials could offer significant benefits not only to research and higher education but also to society as a whole. This has been calculated by Australian economist Professor John Houghton in studies which have taken place in these three countries on the costs and benefits of scholarly communication. He has now summarised these findings in a report commissioned by Knowledge Exchange, which is a partnership of the IT bodies from Denmark (DEFF), the United Kingdom (JISC), the Netherlands (SURFfoundation) and Germany (DFG). ...

Adopting this model could lead to annual savings of around EUR 70 million in Denmark, EUR 133 million in The Netherlands and EUR 480 in the UK. The report concludes that the advantages would not just be in the long term; in the transitional phase too, more open access to research results would have positive effects. In this case the benefits would also outweigh the costs. ...

See also our past posts on Houghton's research.


I just mailed the July issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at OA and the variety of digitization projects.  How far can we defend the principle that the results of publicly-funded digitization projects should be OA?  What if the public funds are supplemented by private funds?  What if the works to be digitized are under copyright?  What if the project wants to provide gratis rather than libre OA?

The round-up section briefly notes 166 OA developments from June.


Feedback sought on citation sharing service

A Citation Services draft project proposal, drafted at a recent workshop in Amsterdam, is now soliciting feedback. For background, see posts by the JISC Information Environment Team and Alma Swan.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Victoria committee recommends encouraging, not requiring, OA

The Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia on June 24 released the final report of its Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data. (Thanks to Dave Bath.)

See especially Recommendation 8:

That the Victorian Government encourage as part of its funding agreements with research agencies and higher education institutions that research results be deposited in open access journals or repositories. The Government should consider providing additional funds to these agencies to allow them to publish in open access journals that charge a fee for publication.

From the report:

In its report Public sector support for science and innovation, the [Australian Government] Productivity Commission argued that mandatory requirements would better meet the aim of free and public access to publicly-funded research results. This is despite claims that requiring publicly funded research to be made available via open access could have a detrimental impact on the journal publishing industry. According to the Australian Publishers Association, the increasing availability of peer-reviewed manuscripts in repositories “will lead to cancellations and the eventual demise of the journal upon which their peer-reviewed process depends.” A possible solution, as noted by the Productivity Commission, is the ”author pays” approach whereby authors are responsible for paying publishers or repositories a fee on the basis that the publication is publicly and freely accessible. ...

While it would be difficult for the Victorian Government to require research agencies and higher education institutions to completely comply with an open access policy, it does have a role in encouraging this practice. The Government should encourage, as part of its funding agreements with these organisations, that research results be deposited in open access journals or repositories. The Committee believes this is an important step to maximise the value of the Government’s research and development investment, and further contribute to scientific research and innovation.


BMC adds 'Post to Twitter' button

Matthew Cockerill, BioMed Central and Twitter, BioMed Central Blog, June 24, 2009.

Recently we have noticed more and more researchers using Twitter as an informal channel to share thoughts on the latest open access research published in our journals. We're always keen to facilitate such discussions, and with that in mind we have recently added 'Post to Twitter' as a convenient option in the right hand toolbar of each BioMed Central journal article.

We've also in the early stages of using Twittter ourselves - you can follow us as BioMedCentral.

So far, our Twitter feed includes blog posts and hot article notifications, along with various short updates and links relating to BioMed Central and open access publishing. ...

Forthcoming libre OA journal on stem cells

Stem Cell Research & Therapy is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal published by BioMed Central. See the June 26 announcement. Authors retain copyright and articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution License. The article-processing charge is $1690, subject to discounts or waiver.

Most BMC journal impact factors increase

Matthew Cockerill, New and improved impact factors for BioMed Central journals in the 2008 JCR, BioMed Central Blog, June 24, 2009.

The latest edition of Thomson Reuter's Journal Citation Reports has just been released, with official Impact Factors for a total of 58 BioMed Central journals [Note: 59 to my count]. Impact factors are by no means a perfect quality metric, but these journal citation data provide strong evidence of the growing success of BioMed Central's open access journal portfolio.

Highlights include:

  • Impressive initial Impact Factors for two key titles in the BMC series: BMC Medicine and BMC Systems Biology
  • Initial Impact Factor for Nutrition & Metabolism, placing it in the top 25% of the NUTRITION & DIETETICS category ...
  • An increased Impact Factor for BMC Bioinformatics, now ranked #3 of 28 in MATHEMATICAL & COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY ...
  • An increased Impact Factor of Malaria Journal. The TROPICAL MEDICINE category now has open access journals in both the #1 and #2 spots. ...
  • A significantly increased Impact Factor for Critical Care, ranked #4 of 21 in CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE. ...
Of the 59 IFs for BMC journals listed in the post, 12 are new, 29 are improved, and 18 are not improved.

Forthcoming libre OA journal on water

Water is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal on "the ecology and management of water resources" published by Molecular Diversity Preservation International. Authors retain copyright and articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution license. There are no article-processing charges in 2009; I can't tell if there will be later.

OCLC scraps WorldCat data policy, will write new one

OCLC, Review Board on Principles of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship releases final report, press release, June 26, 2009.

The Review Board on Principles of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship, convened jointly by the OCLC Board of Trustees and Members Council to represent the membership and inform OCLC on matters concerning shared data, has issued its final report recommending that the proposed Policy on Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records be withdrawn and a new policy drafted.

After review of the recommendations, OCLC has formally withdrawn the proposed policy. A new group will soon be assembled to begin work to draft a new policy with more input and participation from the OCLC membership. ...

In May, Jennifer Younger, Review Board Chair, and Edward H. Arnold Director of Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, presented a report to OCLC Members Council recommending that the proposed policy be formally withdrawn and a new policy should be drafted. "We affirm that a policy is needed, but not this policy," said Dr. Younger. ...

[S]aid Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO: "Soon we will announce a new initiative to develop a record use policy that reflects both the rights of individual libraries and the needs of the cooperative to sustain and grow WorldCat for future generations. ..."

A new group will be named to begin work to draft a new policy. Until a new policy is in place, OCLC has reaffirmed the existence and applicability of the “Guidelines for the Use and Transfer of OCLC-Derived Records,” which have been in place since 1987, as recommended by the Review Board. ...

See also our past posts on WorldCat or OCLC.

WorldWideScience adds new discovery, sharing features

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information, Find and share global research with new tools at, press release, June 26, 2009.

You can now quickly hone your research results list to the documents you need and then share them via social networking sites using the new features at This free online science gateway to global databases now offers clustering of results by publication and author, as well as by topic and date. This enhancement allows you to quickly narrow a results list from the databases ...

Using a quick share tool, you can add your results to social networking sites to discuss and share with friends and colleagues. In addition, you can easily bookmark your search topic as well as set up weekly alerts. has been upgraded for increased speed and improved relevance ranking. searches more than 375 million pages of research information in real time via a single query. ...

See also our past posts on WorldWideScience.

Milestone for IR at U. Liège

Myriam Bastin, 12,000 references in ORBi, the institutional repository of the University of Liège, announcement, June 26, 2009.
Just six months after its official launch (November 2008), ORBi, the institutional repository of the University of Liège (ULg), has reached 12,000 deposits and gives access to the full texts of almost 9,000 publications! These impressive figures are the results of a voluntary Open Access policy at the University of Liège, which has defined the "mandate ULg", ie the obligation for all researchers to deposit in ORBi the references of all scientific publications since 2002 and the full texts of all scientific articles since the same year. Free access to them is conditioned by respect for copyright. This success also reflects the very positive reaction of by researchers regarding this policy and this new way of visibility. ...
See also our past posts on ORBi and the University of Liège.

Pharmacy Education journal converts to OA

International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP Re-Launches Pharmacy Education, An International Journal for Pharmaceutical Education, announcement, June 30, 2009.

The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) is pleased to announce the online re-release of Pharmacy Education, an International Journal for Pharmaceutical Education. Previously published in hard copy circulation by Informa Publishing, Pharmacy Education is now an official FIP Electronic Publication, available online free of charge. The online publishing and re-release has been made possible by the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in collaboration with the European Association of Faculties of Pharmacy (EAFP).

Pharmacy Education will continue to be an independent, peer-reviewed academic publication ...

A new online format provides a comprehensive and interactive environment which encourages increased feedback and communication on published articles (including all previously published archives since 2000), related international events and relevant global issues in the field of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences education.

"The journal has always aimed to disseminate the latest research and information in pharmacy education," said Professor Ian Bates, Editor-in-Chief of the journal. "The new, open access format will allow for a broader reach to all audiences, especially to researchers from low income countries seeking engagement with the wider global community." ...

Note that access to the full text requires free registration.

Obama Ed. department drafting plan to fund OERs

Scott Jaschik, U.S. Push for Free Online Courses, Inside Higher Ed, June 29, 2009. (Thanks to Kevin Donovan.)

Community colleges and high schools would receive federal funds to create free, online courses in a program that is in the final stages of being drafted by the Obama administration.

The program is part of a series of efforts to help community colleges reach more students and to link basic skills education to job training. The proposals are outlined in administration discussion drafts obtained by Inside Higher Ed. A formal announcement could come in the next few weeks. ...

John White, press secretary for the Education Department, said Sunday that the department would discuss the plans "when the time is right." He said that there is a lot of "high level discussion and excitement" around these ideas related to community colleges.

The funds envisioned for open courses -- $50 million a year -- may be small in comparison to the other ideas being discussed. But in proposing that the federal government pay for (and own) courses that would be free for all, as well as setting up a system to assess learning in those courses, and creating a "National Skills College" to coordinate these efforts, the plan could be significant far beyond its dollars.

The draft language suggests that the administration is throwing its weight behind the movement to put more courses online -- and offer them free -- and is also pushing that movement in the direction of community colleges. ...

According to the draft materials from the administration, the program would support the development of 20-25 "high quality" courses a year, with a mix of high school and community college courses. Initial preference would go to "career oriented" courses. The courses would be owned by the government and would be free for anyone to take. ...

While the program is described as one that emphasizes community colleges and high schools, it would be open to public agencies and to private for-profit or nonprofit groups.

Advocates for open courses guess that the proposal reflects the ideas of Martha J. Kanter, the under secretary of education. Kanter was previously chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. In that position, she helped to create the Community College Consortium for Open Education Resources, which has pioneered the idea of making textbooks and other course materials for community college students available free and online. ...

UNESCO releases its first openly licensed publication

UNESCO releases new publication on open educational resources, press release, June 26, 2009. (Thanks to Mike Linksvayer.)

UNESCO has released its first openly licensed publication. Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace brings together the background papers and reports from the first three years of activities in the UNESCO OER Community. Access the online edition – or buy the book! ...

In particular, the license is Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike.


Today I step back from systematic daily blogging in order to free up time for my new position at Harvard's Berkman Center and Office for Scholarly Communication.

The blog itself will continue and Gavin will continue at something like his current pace.  I will continue my daily crawl for OA-related news.  I'll continue to tag what I find for the OA tracking project (OATP).  I'll continue to write the monthly SPARC Open Access Newsletter (SOAN).  I'll continue to work full-time for OA. 

I'll even continue to blog, though only sporadically.  Open Access News (OAN) will be smaller and more selective than in the past.  I cannot assure you that the news it covers will be the most important subset.  (That presupposes that Gavin and I will be on top of all new developments and in a position to pick the most important.)  I'll blog what I notice, what moves me, and what I have time for, with the accent on the third criterion.  It should be a eclectic bunch.  I know that I'll notice a lot of important news, thanks to OATP, and I know that I'll be moved to blog a lot of it.  But because of my new projects, even the most important news will be important news that I only have time to tag, not to blog.

For a comprehensive source of OA news, subscribe to the OATP feed, which is available by RSS, email, and a blog-like web page with the most recent items displayed first.  The OATP feed has been more comprehensive than this blog since April and it grows more comprehensive and useful every day.  To help the cause, please join OATP as a tagger and help select new items for inclusion in the feed.  For more details, see the OATP home page or my SOAN article about it from May 2009

In the same May SOAN, I reflect on the losses and gains from this transition.  I'm acutely aware of them both. 

  • To my fellow bloggers:  When you encounter a new OA development, please tag it for OATP even if you also blog it.  That will alert people who may not read your blog.  If your blog post goes beyond a citation, link, and excerpt (for example, adding a comment or links to related developments), then tag your own post as well.  That will make your blog visible to people who may not be reading it.  OATP is an austere source of news designed to nourish and complement richer sources, not supplant them.  (I'm stepping back from near-full-time blogging not because OATP makes it unnecessary, but because my new position makes it impossible.)  We all need the deeper coverage, commentary, and discussion that you can provide.
  • To my correspondents who send me news:  I'm grateful for your help and still want to know what's going on.  But if you want me to blog the news, I'll have to beg off.  I can tag it rather than blog it.  But I hope that you will consider tagging it yourself.  Tagging new developments for OATP is the best way to alert the OA community, including me.  (I still welcome emails about developments that are offline or confidential, and therefore not yet taggable.)
  • To my readers:  If I've had any influence on the realization of OA, it's because of you, and I've never lost sight  of that.  Thank you for reading and, above all, thank you for taking action.  I have one request and one promise.  The request is not to stop reading OAN.  It will still be here, still posting, even if its volume and role are changing.  The promise is that I'm not going away and I'm not leaving the front lines.  I'm just shifting a chunk of my time from the blog to other projects which I hope will advance the cause from other directions. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reading the ground tremors

Michael Nielsen, Is scientific publishing about to be disrupted?  Michael Nielsen, June 29, 2009.  Excerpt:

...Today, scientific publishers are production companies, specializing in services like editorial, copyediting, and, in some cases, sales and marketing. My claim is that in ten to twenty years, scientific publishers will be technology companies....That is, their foundation will be technological innovation, and most key decision-makers will be people with deep technological expertise. Those publishers that don’t become technology driven will die off.

Predictions that scientific publishing is about to be disrupted are not new....

[Let me] draw your attention to a striking difference between today’s scientific publishing landscape, and the landscape of ten years ago. What’s new today is the flourishing of an ecosystem of startups that are experimenting with new ways of communicating research, some radically different to conventional journals. Consider Chemspider, the excellent online database of more than 20 million molecules, recently acquired by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Consider Mendeley, a platform for managing, filtering and searching scientific papers, with backing from some of the people involved in and Skype. Or consider startups like SciVee (YouTube for scientists), thePublic Library of Science, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, vibrant community sites like OpenWetWare and the Alzheimer Research Forum, and dozens more. And then there are companies like Wordpress, Friendfeed, and Wikimedia, that weren’t started with science in mind, but which are increasingly helping scientists communicate their research. This flourishing ecosystem is not too dissimilar from the sudden flourishing of online news services we saw over the period 2000 to 2005....

Scientific publishers should be terrified that some of the world’s best scientists, people at or near their research peak, people whose time is at a premium, are spending hundreds of hours each year creating original research content for their blogs, content that in many cases would be difficult or impossible to publish in a conventional journal. What we’re seeing here is a spectacular expansion in the range of the blog medium. By comparison, the journals are standing still.

This flourishing ecosystem of startups is just one sign that scientific publishing is moving from being a production industry to a technology industry. A second sign of this move is that the nature of information is changing. Until the late 20th century, information was a static entity. The natural way for publishers in all media to add value was through production and distribution, and so they employed people skilled in those tasks, and in supporting tasks like sales and marketing. But the cost of distributing information has now dropped almost to zero, and production and content costs have also dropped radically. At the same time, the world’s information is now rapidly being put into a single, active network, where it can wake up and come alive. The result is that the people who add the most value to information are no longer the people who do production and distribution. Instead, it’s the technology people, the programmers....

How many scientific publishers are run by people who know the difference between an INNER JOIN and an OUTER JOIN? Or who know what an A/B test is? Or who know how to set up a Hadoop cluster? Without technical knowledge of this type it’s impossible to run a technology-driven organization. How many scientific publishers are as knowledgeable about technology as Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, or Larry Page?

I expect few scientific publishers will believe and act on predictions of disruption. One common response to such predictions is the appealing game of comparison: “but we’re better than blogs / wikis / PLoS One / …!” These statements are currently true, at least when judged according to the conventional values of scientific publishing. But they’re as irrelevant as the equally true analogous statements were for newspapers. It’s also easy to vent standard immune responses: “but what about peer review”, “what about quality control”, “how will scientists know what to read”. These questions express important values, but to get hung up on them suggests a lack of imagination much like Andrew Rosenthal’s defense of the New York Times editorial page. (I sometimes wonder how many journal editors still use Yahoo!’s human curated topic directory instead of Google?) In conversations with editors I repeatedly encounter the same pattern: “But idea X won’t work / shouldn’t be allowed / is bad because of Y.” Well, okay. So what? If you’re right, you’ll be intellectually vindicated, and can take a bow. If you’re wrong, your company may not exist in ten years. Whether you’re right or not is not the point. When new technologies are being developed, the organizations that win are those that aggressively take risks, put visionary technologists in key decision-making positions, attain a deep organizational mastery of the relevant technologies, and, in most cases, make a lot of mistakes. Being wrong is a feature, not a bug, if it helps you evolve a model that works: you start out with an idea that’s just plain wrong, but that contains the seed of a better idea. You improve it, and you’re only somewhat wrong. You improve it again, and you end up the only game in town. Unfortunately, few scientific publishers are attempting to become technology-driven in this way. The only major examples I know of are Nature Publishing Group (with and the Public Library of Science. Many other publishers are experimenting with technology, but those experiments remain under the control of people whose core expertise is in others areas....

Here’s a list of services I expect to see developed over the next few years....

Harvesting ProQuest metadata for an ETD repository

Shawn Averkamp and Joanna Lee, Repurposing ProQuest Metadata for Batch Ingesting ETDs into an Institutional Repository, code{4}lib, June 26, 2009.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) 

Abstract:   This article describes the workflow used by the University of Iowa Libraries to populate their institutional repository and their catalog with the data collected by ProQuest UMI Dissertation Publishing during the submission of students’ theses and dissertations. Re-purposing the metadata from ProQuest allowed the University of Iowa Libraries to streamline the process for ingesting theses and dissertations into their institutional repository. The article includes a discussion of the benefits and limitations of the workflow described.

Another new OA publisher

Open Access Publications (OAP) is a new OA journal publisher.  (Thanks to Jim Till.) 

OAP will allow authors to retain copyright.  Though it doesn't indicate what license it will use, it will offer libre OA, allowing "any third party the right to download, print out, extract, archive, and distribute the article as long as its integrity is maintained and its original authors, citation details and publisher are identified."  It will charge a publication fee of £499.

OAP's first journal is Single Cell Analysis, whose inaugural issue is still forthcoming.

More on the U. Kansas OA policy

A Web version of the text of the University of Kansas' new OA policy confirms what I'd suspected in my last post: that the policy as passed doesn't contain an OA mandate. It commits the university to OA, gives the university permission to provide OA to its faculty's research via the IR, and establishes a task force to work out the details -- including the details of how the manuscripts will get into the IR.

See also: Chad Lawhorn, KU plans to be first public university library to allow free online access to researchers’ work, KTKA, June 26, 2009.

... Members of the KU faculty proposed the “open access” policy, and believe that it will put KU on the leading edge of emerging trend in how scholarly research is disseminated. ...

And once the system is fully functioning, KU leaders hope it will provide some interesting reading for the general public.

“We think one of the benefits is that this won’t just be for the research community, but even for lay people,” [Dean of Libraries Lorraine] Haricombe said.

Updates on FRPAA

What's new with the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) since our last post:

  • The text of the bill is now online.
  • At first blush, I only spot two changes in the bill, both fairly minor:
    • The new bill adds a specific exception for "research progress reports presented at professional meetings or conferences"
    • The new bill specifies additional committees to receive oversight reports
  • See the Alliance for Taxpayer Access's call to action to support the bill.
  • Sen. Cornyn's statement at the bill's introduction is now available in the Congressional Record:

    ... I am proud to report that the NIH's public access policy has been a success over the past few years. By the NIH implementing a groundbreaking public access policy, there has been strong progress in making the NIH's federally funded research available to the public, and has helped to energize this debate.

    Although this has surely been an encouraging and important step forward, Senator Lieberman and I believe there is more that can and must be done, as this is just a small part of the research funded by the Federal Government.

    With that in mind, Senator Lieberman and I find it necessary to reintroduce the Federal Research Public Access Act that will build on and refine the work done by the NIH and require that the Federal Government's leading underwriters of research adopt meaningful public access policies. ...

    This simple legislation will provide our government with an opportunity to better leverage our investment in research and in turn ensure a greater return on that investment. All Americans stand to benefit from this bill, including patients diagnosed with a disease who will have the ability to use the Internet to read the latest articles in their entirety concerning their prognosis, students who will be able to find full abundant research as they further their education, or researchers who will have their findings more broadly evaluated which will lead to further discovery and innovation. ...

Things to watch:

Monday, June 29, 2009

OA to government statistics

Siu-Ming Tam, Informing The Nation – Open Access To Statistical Information In Australia, March 18, 2009.  A presentation at the UNECE Work Session on the Communication and Dissemination of Statistics (Warsaw, May 13-15, 2009).  (Thanks to Anne Fitzgerald.)  Excerpt:

...3. In 2005, the Australian Government released cost recovery guidelines...[requiring] fees and charges set by Government agencies to reflect the costs of producing and providing the products and services....

5. In...June 2005 the [Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)] sought and obtained additional funding from the Australian Government for free access to ABS publications on its website. In December 2005, the Minister made the announcement, in an event to mark the centenary for the establishment of the ABS, that as a centenary tribute to the people of Australia, all ABS statistical output on the web site would be made free of charge.

6. The recent advent of Web 2.0 technologies increases the potential to use, share and 'mix and match' ABS data sets to add value to ABS information. 'Mash ups' are an excellent example of how the value of a product may be significantly enhanced by including different layers of information with statistical information. To facilitate this, and other innovative uses of ABS data, the ABS needs to have an internationally recognised licensing framework for accessing, using and reusing its statistical information.

7. In December 2008, ABS introduced Creative Commons licensing by adopting the Attribution 2.5 Australia licence for its materials contained in the ABS website.” ...

Also see Marc Debusschere, Dissemination Policies in the ESS, from the proceedings of the same conference.  Excerpt:

...27. The results of the survey show that all countries have well-established practices for disseminating statistical data, which for the larger part are disseminated for free; the most common exceptions are tailor-made data sets, microdata and paper publications....

29. ...[A] single policy document which coherently spells out dissemination principles is still absent in many countries. Specific dissemination conditions and procedures can, as a rule, be found on an ad hoc basis in many different places, but not bundled together in one place, on the web site or in a document.

30. The overview shows very markedly that policies, some times implicit ones, are quite similar across the [European Statistical system (ESS)]. The summary of current principles and practices of [National Statistical Institutes] could constitute a first outline of a basic 'Dissemination Policy Charter' for the European Statistical System:

  • Statistical data and metadata are disseminated free of charge for all users, with few or even no exceptions.
  • All users can obtain custom-made data extractions at no more than production cost or even for free.
  • Use, re-use and redistribution of statistical data and metadata are allowed on two conditions only: respect for the integrity of data and mention of the source.
  • Microdata are available free of charge for all eligible users providing sufficient guarantees, especially on the respect of confidentiality....

New OA publisher

PAGEPress is an apparently new publisher of OA journals in biomedicine.  It's based in Italy, a brand of MeditGroup.

The PP journals charge a publication fee, which for 2009 is 500 Euros/article.  However, PP explains that "the ability of authors to pay publication charges will never be a consideration in the decision as to whether to publish."

PP says its uses CC-BY licenses.  But when it spells out what it means, it describes a CC-BY-NC license and links to one.  However, the sample article I looked at used a CC-BY license.

The site lists 17 journals in medicine and biology.  When I clicked through on each one, I found that 8 were operational, with published content (most still on their inaugural issue), and 9 were still on the drawing boards.

No OA impact advantage seen in ophthalmology

V.C. Lansingh and M.J. Carter, Does Open Access in Ophthalmology Affect How Articles are Subsequently Cited in Research? Ophthalmology, June 20, 2009.  The article doesn't yet appear at the journal site, so I've linked to the abstract in PubMed.  Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the concept of open access affects how articles are cited in the field of ophthalmology.

DESIGN: Type of meta-analysis.

PARTICIPANTS: Examination of 480 articles in ophthalmology in the experimental protocol and 415 articles in the control protocol.

METHODS: Four subject areas were chosen to search the ophthalmology literature in the PubMed database using the terms "cataract," "diabetic retinopathy," "glaucoma," and "refractive errors." Searching started in December of 2003 and worked back in time to the beginning of the year. The number of subsequent citations for equal numbers of both open access (OA) and closed access (CA) (by subscription) articles was quantified using the Scopus database and Google search engine. Number of authors, article type, country/region in which the article was published, language, and funding data were also collected for each article. A control protocol was also carried out to ascertain that the sampling method was not systematically biased by matching 6 ophthalmology journals (3 OA, 3 CA) using their impact factors, and employing the same search methodology to sample OA and CA articles.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of citations.

RESULTS: The total number of citations was significantly higher for open access articles compared to closed access articles for Scopus (mean 15.2 versus 11.5, P < .0005, Mann-Whitney U = 20029, and Google (mean 6.4 versus 4.0, P < .0005, Mann-Whitney U = 21281). However, univariate general linear model (GLM) analysis showed that access was not a significant factor that explained the citation data. Author number, country/region of publication, subject area, language, and funding were the variables that had the most effect and were statistically significant. Control protocol results showed no significant difference between open and closed access articles in regard to number of citations found by Scopus: open access: mean = 17.8; SD (standard deviation) = 23.70; closed access: mean = 19.1; SD = 20.31; Mann-Whitney test, P = 0.730, Mann-Whitney U = 20584.

CONCLUSIONS: Unlike other fields of science, open access thus far has not affected how ophthalmology articles are cited in the literature.

New OA journal on virology

Viruses is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by MDPI.  The inaugural issue (June 2009) is now online.

OA mandate at the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance

The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance has strengthened its OA policy from a request to a requirement.  (Thanks to Jim Till.)

From the old policy (adopted April 2007):

CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants.  CBCRA requests that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants. These articles will be posted on the CBCRA Open Access Archive as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted....

From the new policy (revised April 2009):

CBCRA requires that grant holders supply an electronic copy of final, accepted manuscripts funded in whole or in part by CBCRA grants, to be posted in the CBCRA Open Access Archive, as soon as possible after publication. A publisher’s embargo period of up to six months will be permitted....


  • In addition to the new language mandating deposit in the OA repository, the new policy encourages grantees to retain the right to authorize OA through the repository.  Kudos to all involved.
  • Also see my post from October 2007 calling for precisely this change, and my other past posts on the CBCRA.


Swords and plowshares: harvesting online knowledge

Mark Rutherford, Reading machine to snoop on Web, CNet News, June 27, 2009.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

What if the wisdom of Web could be yours, without having to read through it one page at a time? That's what the military wants.

DARPA has hired a company to develop a reading machine to reduce the gap between the ever increasing mountain of digitized text and the intelligence community's insatiable appetite for data input.

BBN Technologies was awarded the $29.7 million contract to develop a universal text engine capable of capturing knowledge from written matter and rendering it into a format that artificial intelligence systems (AI) and human analysts can work with. (PDF)

The military will use the Machine Reading Program, as it's officially called, to automatically monitor the technological and political activities of nation states and transnational organizations --which could mean everything from al-Qaeda to the U.N....

BBN also expects the program to enable a plethora of new civilian applications, everything from intelligent bots to personal tutors. The system could provide unprecedented access and automated analysis of the world's libraries, allowing for vastly expanded cultural awareness and historical research....

BBN already offers a broadcast monitoring system that automatically transcribes real-time audio stream and translates it into English, creating a continuously updated, searchable archive of international television broadcasts....

Update.  Also see our past posts on open source intelligence.

Version 1.0 of the Open Database License

The Open Data Commons has released version 1.0 of the Open Database License (ODbL).  From today's announcement:

The Open Database License (ODbL) is an open license for data and databases which includes explicit attribution and share-alike requirements.

This license, the first of its kind, is a major step forward for open data. There are currently very few licenses available suited to data and databases and none which provide for share-alike (existing share-alike licenses such as the GPL, GFDL and CC By-SA are all unsuitable for data).

The development of the ODbL, has been a major effort extending over more than one and half years with an intensive consultation and review period for the last 6 months. We’d like to express our thanks to the communities and individuals who have contributed during this time.

PS:  Also see our past posts on the Open Database License --and our past posts on the Science Commons alternative (Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data), which favors the unrestricted public domain over open licenses for data.

First funding pledge for ELIXIR

Sweden became the first country to pledge funding to ELIXIR, an ambitious European project to preserve and provide OA to biological data.

A career in OA publishing

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., A Look Back at Twenty Years as an Internet Open Access Publisher, June 28, 2009.  Excerpt:

...In August 1989, I began my scholarly digital publishing efforts, launching one of the first e-journals on the Internet, The Public-Access Computer Systems Review.  This journal, if it was published today, would be called a "libre" open access journal since it was freely available, allowed authors to retain their copyrights, and had special copyright provisions for noncommercial use.

Aside from Public-Access Computer Systems News (also "libre" open access), my subsequent digital publications, such as the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, were "gratis" open access until 2004, when all new versions of existing publications and new publications became "libre" open access under various versions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

For current information about my publication activities, see "Brief Resume of Charles W. Bailey, Jr." and "Selected Publications of Charles W. Bailey, Jr." ...

Below is a chronology of my digital publishing efforts from June 1989 through June 2009....

Also see the abridgment, A Brief Look Back at Twenty Years as an Internet Open Access Publisher, June 28, 2009.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A new model for OA repositories

Laurent Romary and Chris Armbruster, Beyond Institutional Repositories, a preprint, self-archived June 26, 2009.

Abstract:   The current system of so-called institutional repositories, even if it has been a sensible response at an earlier stage, may not answer the needs of the scholarly community, scientific communication and accompanied stakeholders in a sustainable way. However, having a robust repository infrastructure is essential to academic work. Yet, current institutional solutions, even when networked in a country or across Europe, have largely failed to deliver. Consequently, a new path for a more robust infrastructure and larger repositories is explored to create superior services that support the academy. A future organization of publication repositories is advocated that is based upon macroscopic academic settings providing a critical mass of interest as well as organizational coherence. Such a macro-unit may be geographical (a coherent national scheme), institutional (a large research organization or a consortium thereof) or thematic (a specific research field organizing itself in the domain of publication repositories).

The argument proceeds as follows: firstly, while institutional open access mandates have brought some content into open access, the important mandates are those of the funders and these are best supported by a single infrastructure and large repositories, which incidentally enhances the value of the collection (while a transfer to institutional repositories would diminish the value). Secondly, we compare and contrast a system based on central research publication repositories with the notion of a network of institutional repositories to illustrate that across central dimensions of any repository solution the institutional model is more cumbersome and less likely to achieve a high level of service. Next, three key functions of publication repositories are reconsidered, namely a) the fast and wide dissemination of results; b) the preservation of the record; and c) digital curation for dissemination and preservation. Fourth, repositories and their ecologies are explored with the overriding aim of enhancing content and enhancing usage. Fifth, a target scheme is sketched, including some examples. In closing, a look at the evolutionary road ahead is offered.

Finland joins SCOAP3

Finland's National Electronic Library (FinELib) has joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.

Friend of OA to help open up government data in Australia

The Australian government has appointed Brian Fitzgerald to its Government 2.0 Taskforce, which is charged with opening access to non-sensitive government information.  Fitzgerald is the head of the Queensland University of Technology Open Access to Knowledge Law Project.

Also see our past posts on Fitzgerald and his OA work, and our post on the launch of the Government 2.0 Taskforce.  (Congratulations, Brian!)

More on the history of OA and the preprint culture in physics

Richard Poynder, Open Access and the A-Bomb, Open and Shut?  June 22, 2009.  Excerpt:

Many have wondered why the first scientists to embrace Open Access (OA) were physicists.

That physicists were the OA trailblazers is not in doubt: it was, after all, theoretical physicist Paul Ginsparg who in 1991 created the seminal physics preprint repository arXiv....

Maybe because physicists have been sharing paper preprints with one another for decades? OA advocate Eberhard Hilf tells me that this began as long ago as 1932, when the Italian Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi started to routinely mail preprints of his papers to colleagues prior to publishing them....

In this light, arXiv was simply a digital manifestation of a practice that began long before the Internet....

Miriam Blake head of the library at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)...was kind enough to ask one of her colleagues – LANL librarian Michelle Garcia – to see if she could find any reference to an OA mandate in the Los Alamos archives....

A few days later I had an email from Garcia. There was no mention of a mandate in her message, but she did send me something of greater inherent interest: a link to the 1945 Smyth Report.

The Smyth Report, Garcia explained, is “the earliest example of any kind of acknowledgement on the need for public release of information specifically on the development of atomic energy by the US government. Following the Smyth Report, there was a declassification program headed by a committee of senior scientists that led the Manhattan Project, which came up with the declassification guidelines in 1946.” ...

As the preface to the Report puts it, “The ultimate responsibility for our nation’s policy rests on its citizens and they can discharge such responsibilities wisely only if they are informed.”

[T]he Smyth Report stressed that scientific information should be released to the public not because its creation had been funded by taxpayers, but because it would enable them to make informed decisions about how the science should be used....

Back to the question of why physicists were the first to embrace OA: Could it be that the US atomic weapons declassification program helped create the preprint culture characteristic of the particle physics community?

In other words, in being asked to think through the reasons for and against making their research freely available, could it be that physicists became acculturated into assuming that the default position should be one in which scientific information is made as widely available as possible, as soon as possible – on the assumption that in most cases the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages? ...