Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, August 07, 2009

New OA humanities monograph series

Open Humanities Press, Five New Open Access Book Series, press release, August 7, 2009.

Open Humanities Press (OHP), in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO), is pleased to announce the following forthcoming open access series in critical and cultural theory: New Metaphysics (ed. Graham Harman and Bruno Latour), Critical Climate Change (ed. Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook), Global Conversations (ed. Ngugi wa Thiong’o), Unidentified Theoretical Objects (ed. Wlad Godzich), and Liquid Books (ed. Clare Birchall and Gary Hall).

In a unique collaboration, the scholars of the Open Humanities Press are partnering with the University of Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office to launch five new OA book series, edited by senior members of OHP's editorial board. All of the books will be freely available in full-text, digital editions and as reasonably-priced paperbacks. ...

All books published by OHP in conjunction with SPO will go through the highest standards of editorial vetting and peer review that will be managed by OHP's series editors and board, which contains some of the most well-respected names in literary criticism and cultural studies ...

After the vetting and peer review process, manuscripts will be handed on to SPO for conversion to structured XML for electronic and print on demand publication, metadata creation and cataloging, and archiving in the University of Michigan Library for long-term preservation. The books will be available electronically through the OHP and SPO websites, and in paperback through the usual online distributors. ...

Authors will retain the copyrights for their works and have a choice of Creative Commons licenses. They will also have the option of making their manuscripts available online in various pre- and post-publication versions for reader commenting and annotation if they so wish. ...

Licensing, normative and actual

SURFdirect and Creative Commons Netherlands chose the Creative Commons Attribution license as its recommended license for education and research. From the English version of the report:

... An exploratory survey by SURFdirect and Creative Commons Netherlands has shown that educators wish to be able to share educational and research material but that there are currently no appropriate guidelines. ...

Given SURFdirect’s requirement that the choice of licence must not create barriers to the future use of educational and research material, that it can be applied at both research universities and universities of applied sciences [hogescholen], and that this can in fact be done in 80% of cases, this report recommends using the most liberal Creative Commons licence for textual output ...

Licensing of raw research data forms an exception to this recommendation. At the moment, the Open Data licences that were reviewed are only available in draft form, meaning that it is not yet possible to make any definite recommendations regarding a specific licence. The definitive choice of a licence for licensing research data must in any case comply, however, with the “Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data”. ...

Meanwhile, ccLearn published a data supplement to its report, What status for “open”? (see our past post).

... This supplement provides a graphical view of the licensing landscape within online education ... We find that a large proportion of educational sites are protected by “All Rights Reserved” copyright, including many sites that self-describe as “open,” which indicates a misconception of what it means to be an open resource. ...

More journals join

In July, 11 more journals were approved to join as OA or delayed OA journals: see the first and second list. Four other journals inaugurated their site on in July:

6 archives join RePEc in July

From RePEc's July 2009 update, six more archives joined RePEc: Universidad de los Andes, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (II), Spiru Haret University Brasov, Austrian Academy of Sciences, ETH Zürich (III), and the German Council for Social and Economic Data. Universidad de los Andes is the first participating archive from Venezuela, bringing the tally of RePEc participating countries to 68.

Funding cuts end Utah State U. OpenCourseWare program

Marion Jensen, End of an Era, Chickens Don't Have Armpits, June 18, 2009. (Thanks to David Wiley.)

Four years ago I took a class from David Wiley. I liked what he was saying, and we started a conversation. The next thing I knew David offered me a job as Utah State's OpenCourseWare director. When I came to the project we had 8 courses online. There are now over 80. ... Being the OCW director is something I've loved doing the last four years.

It is also coming to a close.

Budget cuts have resulted in the program coming to an end. We've spent the last six months scrambling to find a way to keep the lights on. We've sought after state money, private money, grant money, and my boss stopped me from going after embezzled money. We've found nothing, so as of June 29th, I will be starting a new job. ...

Harvard, publishers work together

Stuart Shieber, Publishers cooperating with the Harvard OA policy, The Occasional Pamphlet, July 28, 2009.

One of the advantages of the Harvard open-access policies is that the university’s cumulation of rights allows it to negotiate directly with publishers on behalf of covered authors. Such discussions can lead to win-win agreements in which Harvard authors can more simply comply with the open-access policies they have voted and publishers can express solidarity with their academic community partners while avoiding bureaucracy like addenda or waivers on a per-article basis.

We first took advantage of this possibility with an agreement with the American Physical Society. ... APS agreed to acknowledge the policy and not require addenda to their publication agreements (much less waivers of the OA policy). In return, Harvard made clear that for articles covered by the OA policy it would

  1. Refrain from using facsimiles of the publisher’s version of the articles unless the publisher permits;
  2. Not charge for the display or distribution of articles;
  3. Cite to the publisher’s definitive version of the articles and link to them where possible;
  4. Authorize others to use the articles only subject to these same restrictions. ...

We’ve now concluded a large handful of such arrangements and have started listing the publishers and journals that have been supportive in this way in a listing of publishers who are “easiest to publish with”. The listing provides a resource for our faculty to let them know which journals they can publish in without waivers or addenda. Already, we have affirmations from scholarly societies (APS, American Mathematical Society, American Economic Association), non-profit publishers (Public Library of Science, Berkeley Electronic Press), commercial publishers (BioMed Central, Hindawi Publishing), and university presses (Duke, Rockefeller, and University of California Presses). We expect more to be added soon. ...

Toward equitable funding for OA publishing

Stuart M. Shieber, Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing, PLoS Biology, August 4, 2009.

... [O]pen-access journal publishing is currently at a systematic disadvantage relative to the traditional model.

I propose a simple, cost-effective remedy to this inequity that would put open-access publishing on a path to become a sustainable, efficient system, allowing the two journal publishing systems to compete on a more level playing field. ...

Over the past several decades, a workable infrastructure has developed to handle the subscription-based mechanism for scholarly journals—publishers to manage logistics and production, subscription agents to handle order processing, library budgets to pay for the subscriptions, overhead from grants to fund those library budgets, and so forth. Unfortunately, there is no such infrastructure to support the processing-fee model. Imagine you are a publisher of a subscription-fee journal, a forward-thinking publisher who sees the benefit to scholarship or at least the inevitability of the open-access processing-fee model. You would like to convert one of your journals to an open-access model. However, you realize that, were you to take this bold step, yours would be the first journal in its field to charge processing fees. Prospective authors would suddenly be faced with the prospect of paying, say, US$1,500 to publish their articles in your journal, as compared to paying nothing for your competitors' journals. Even though the primary motivation for authors is gaining the journal's imprimatur and the quality of that imprimatur for your journal hasn't changed (yet), the US$1,500 may be perceived as a steep price for the imprimatur advantage of your journal over your competitors'. ...

The problem is, of course, that the US$1,500 article revenue to the journal that is provided by the processing fee under the processing-fee model is hidden in subscription charges in the subscription-fee model, and these are typically paid not by the authors ... Yet authors are now expected to pay these charges under the open-access processing-fee model. ...

To mitigate this problem—to place open-access processing-fee journals on a more equal competitive footing with subscription-fee journals—requires those underwriting the publisher's services for subscription-fee journals to commit to a simple “compact” guaranteeing their willingness to underwrite them for processing-fee journals as well.

The crucial underwriters are universities and funding agencies. ...

Funding agencies would ideally implement the compact by providing incremental funding for reasonable processing fees for articles in open-access journals, describing the results of research funded by their grants. ...

But not all research is grant-funded. Universities would commit on behalf of their authors to underwrite reasonable processing fees for articles in open-access journals for which funds are not otherwise available (in particular, for research not funded by grants). ...

It is important to keep in mind that the goal of the compact is not to increase access to the individual articles it underwrites. That goal is already reasonably satisfied by the possibility of open-access self-archiving that any author can unilaterally perform and that various open-access policies such as that of the National Institutes of Health promote. Rather, the goal of open-access funds as envisioned in the present proposal is to reduce the disincentives to authors and thus the risk to publishers of the processing-fee business model. ...

New A2K project from BYU education school

The Access to Knowledge Initiative is a new project at Brigham Young University's McKay School of Education. (Thanks to David Wiley.)
... The Access to Knowledge Initiative draws on a wide range of disciplines as outlined in the Initiative Objectives (in sidebar at right [Note: omitted here]). Our current research includes projects examining the long-term sustainability of university-based open education initiatives; a "Continuous Local Improvement Curriculum" (CLIC) model of leveraging and improving open source curriculum materials in an online high schools involving a significant amount of educational data mining; issues of textbook affordability; business models supporting the creation and distribution of open source textbooks; the sales impact of releasing free online copies of commercially printed books; institutional policies dealing with open access to research and open educational resources; and a scalable "data-driven micro-tutoring" teaching model ...

New OA competitor to arXiv

Jon Cartwright, Fledgling site challenges arXiv server,, July 15, 2009.

A physicist in the UK has set up a new website for sharing preprints following criticisms about the way that the popular preprint server is moderated. Called, which is the reverse of arXiv, the rival server — unlike arXiv — places no restrictions on the sorts of papers that can be posted. "This is an experiment to find out what kind of stuff is not managing to get into the arXiv, as well as being a serious archive for people to put their research in," says Philip Gibbs, an independent physicist based in the UK and creator of viXra.

Gibbs decided to set up viXra having listened to claims on blogs and the tell-all website that arXiv administrators, who are based at Cornell University in the US, unfairly reject certain manuscripts or transfer them to the server’s less reputable "general-physics" category. ...

Librarians at Cornell use a two-stage filtering process to ensure all the uploaded preprints are of at least "refereeable" quality. First, authors must gain the approval of a recognized endorser, who is typically someone with a prestigious academic affiliation or who has a proven track record of submissions. Second, the endorsed preprints pass under the eyes of a moderator to check that they are not nonsense and that they qualify for one of the 18 main subject categories. Of some 250 new submissions received every day, a Cornell librarian says just "a few" are rejected. ...

But for now it looks like arXiv will not have to worry too much: as today there were just seven papers on the viXra site.

See also this related post on

More U.S. libraries back SCOAP3

SCOAP3, More U.S. libraries support SCOAP3, announcement, August 4, 2009.
Six more U.S. libraries have signed the SCOAP3 Expression of Interest: East Carolina University, Savannah River National Laboratory, the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the University of Mississippi and Wake Forest University. These new SCOAP3 partners join a long list of supporters in the U.S. who have collectively pledged about 3/4 of the projected U.S. contribution to SCOAP3. ...

New resources on developing campus OA policies

SPARC, SPARC Calls on Campuses to Coordinate Open-Access Policy Efforts, press release, August 5, 2009.

... As a growing number of colleges and universities embark on the path toward an institutional open-access policy, SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) invites libraries to take advantage of a new Web resource built to leverage experience gained in establishing such policies to date. ...

SPARC has introduced a new suite of Web-based tools to facilitate fact-based campus policy discussions on Open Access, including hot-button topics such as copyright, journal sustainability, disciplinary differences, and author rights. Readers are invited to:

  1. Learn about campus open-access policies implemented to date, including that of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, through videos and white papers publicly available online.
  2. Request copies of offline documents, including a list of “Responses to Common Misconceptions” related to open-access policies and “Choice Points” to be addressed in policy development.
  3. Request support from a group of expert advisers who helped to develop these resources, have experience with gaining faculty acceptance for an institutional open-access policy, and who stand by to answer questions that remain after examining available tools. ...
Disclosure: I served as a paid consultant in developing these resources.

Collins confirmed as NIH director

The U.S. Senate today confirmed Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health. The Scientist notes that

... Collins's confirmation proceeded via unanimous consent, without the need for a hearing in the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions or a roll-call vote on the Senate floor. ...

Comment. As I noted in our post on the nomination:

... Collins has been a public advocate for OA to data, most notably in the Human Genome Project, which he lead. Even if that wasn't the case, simply having a permanent director at NIH will enable the agency to better explain its public access policy -- such as defending against the Conyers bill and supporting FRPAA. ...

We can be thankful that the Senate confirmed the nomination, and quickly. If there's any drawback, it's that the lack of a hearing means a missed chance for Collins to explain his views on OA to Congress and the public in a high-profile forum. But once he takes office, there should be many more such chances.

See also our past posts on Collins.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Feedback on OATP

One day I'll survey users of the OA tracking project (OATP).  But since I won't be able to do it any time soon, let me throw out an open-ended question.

If you've used OATP as a reader or tagger, regularly or irregularly, did you find any part of the experience to be frustrating or confusing?  If you have thoughts or suggestions, please drop me a line

I know that Connotea is flaky these days, and often slow or down.  Hence this may not be the best time to ask for feedback on OATP, which depends on Connotea.  But I'd rather not wait to think about ways to improve the service.  I have long-term plans for OATP and hope to keep them closely tied to user experiences.  Thanks.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Lessons from the plagiarism beat

Erica Hendry, Students Reach Settlement in Turnitin Suit, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 3, 2009.  Excerpt:

A two-year battle over copyright infringement between four students and Turnitin, a commerical plagiarism-detection service, came to an apparent end last Friday in a settlement that prohibits either party from taking further legal action.

The high-school students first sued iParadigms, Turnitin's parent company, in 2007 for copyright infringement, saying the company took their papers against their will and then made a profit from them. The students' high schools required them to use the service, which scans papers for plagiarism and then adds them to its database, which students argued could easily be hacked.

But the students and their lawyers were handed two decisions against them -- first from the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., in March 2008 and again this April from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The Chronicle reported in March 2008 that the district-court judge said Turnitin's actions fell under fair use, ruling that the company “makes no use of any work’s particular expressive or creative content beyond the limited use of comparison with other works." He also said the new use “provides a substantial public benefit.” ...

Comment.  Under this standard for fair use, wouldn't Google have prevailed against the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers, making the whole complicated and controversial Google book settlement unnecessary?

Update (8/5/09).  I'm pleased to say that Peter Jaszi, who knows copyright law better than most and far better than I, is also encouraged by the Turnitin decision.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I'm back from my travels (extended without my consent due to auto troubles) and settling back in to the usual rhythm of life. I've resumed tagging at OATP (where others, Peter included, had continued in my absence) and will pick up blogging tomorrow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

August SOAN

I just mailed the August issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which Senators John Cornyn and Joe Lieberman reintroduced in the US Senate in June.

The round-up section briefly notes 140 OA developments from July.