Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rapid expansion of Academic Journals continues

In January, we reported a spate of new or forthcoming OA journals from Academic Journals; Jim Till counted the total of extant or announced journals at 54. On the publisher's journals list, there are now 106 journals, by my count. New titles range Journal of AIDS and HIV Research to Journal of Brewing and Distilling.

New universal repository launches -- "file-sharing for academics"

Scholas is a newly-launched beta service which brands itself as "Social File-Sharing for Academics". The site is run by an Oxford-based company. From the about page:

Scholas is a service that enables academics to list their publications and share work quickly and easily via the web. This can be a list of existing publications including journal articles, books etc. As well as any other items, such as research notes, presentations, posters and data-sets.

Each publication created by the user has its own user-item page, which can be linked to using a short, unique URL e.g. (called a Scholas ID). The user-item page allows bibliographical information to be associated with the user-item, as well as facilitating discussion through a comments section.

Scholas also provides users with a Scholas ID for their profile page, which links to all the publications they have listed on the service. This enables the user to provide a single short and unique link to all the work they wish to share on Scholas.

Call for better support for OA in Google Books settlement

A group of 21 professors from the University of California have submitted a comment on the proposed Google Books settlement. Among other issues, the faculty are concerned the settlement does not provide support for academic author's "open access preferences". From the comment:

... For books in copyright with identified rights holders, the proposed settlement agreement envisions several options for authors and publishers to commercially benefit from revenues generated from uses of the Book Search corpus. They can, for example, sign up for the [Book Rights Registry] and share in the revenues generated by use of the corpus that Google will share with the BRR. However, the agreement does not explicitly acknowledge that academic authors might want to make their books, particularly out-of-print books, freely available by dedicating their books to the public domain or making them available under a Creative Commons or other open access license. We think it is especially likely that academic authors of orphan books would favor public domain or Creative Commons-type licensing if it were possible for them to make such a choice through a convenient mechanism. We are concerned that the BRR will have an institutional bias against facilitating these kinds of unfettered public interest, open access alternatives. The notices some of us received from Google as members of the author class do not, for example, mention either public domain dedication or Creative Commons licenses as alternatives to registration for payouts from Google through the BRR. ...

Academic authors may well want to terminate transfers of copyright to publishers in order to make their works more accessible through public domain dedication or Creative Commons-type licensing. The proposed settlement agreement, which governs only the relationship between rights holders and Google, does not address the potential for authors to recapture copyright and may create the perception that the BRR stands between authors and registered rights holders. Although the relationship between authors and rights holders is beyond the scope of the proposed settlement agreement, it would be reassuring if the agreement referenced the possibility that authors might recapture copyright and make their books available on an open access basis. The BRR could create tools that would assist authors to complete such transactions. ...

Bringing the Web to repositories

Peter Sefton, Towards Scholarly HTML, Serials Review, June 30, 2009; see also the self-archived OA version. Abstract:

The editors of this special edition originally asked if institutional repositories are shaping and changing scholarly communications. While the Open Access movement has had a profound impact, there is at least one area where repositories are not. While repositories are Web-based, they almost always contain only print-oriented materials which are not fully realizing the fabric of the Web and its ability to link documents to each other and to data.

This article will explore some of the factors that have contributed to this print-dominated situation and then report on work undertaken at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) to make repositories more Web-like, using a publishing system which was originally devised at the university for publishing course materials to multiple formats. The article concludes with a description of a new model for changing scholarship by focusing on post-graduate theses and new journals in an open access context.

Readership and royalties from an OA book

Terry Anderson, Royalties from Open Access, Virtual Canuck, August 19, 2009.

I was very pleasantly surprised to receive this week the download stats and a check from Athabasca University Press. I edited the second edition of The Theory and Practice of Online Learning and it was copy edited and now promoted, sold and distributed by Athabasca University Press. I documented the reason for releasing the book under a Creative Commons license as one of Alan Levine’s Amazing Stories of Openness ...

During the first year of distribution 404 copies were sold and at 5% of net sales, my royalty check was for $636. During that year 26,497 chapters or copies of the whole book were downloaded at no charge. This means 1.5% of readers choose the paid route- This may be underestimated as some readers probably downloaded more than one chapter, or more than once. In any case, this $600 is about the same range of funding I have come to expect from the other 5 academic type books I have authored or co-authored. But of course, the fame and glory from 26,000 PLUS readers is unmeasurable! ...

New research notes collection from PLoS

Harold Varmus, A new website for the rapid sharing of influenza research, Public Library of Science, August 20, 2009.

... Today, after several months of work, I’m delighted to announce that PLoS is launching PLoS Currents (Beta) – a new and experimental website for the rapid communication of research results and ideas. In response to the recent worldwide H1N1 influenza outbreak, the first PLoS Currents research theme is influenza.

PLoS Currents: Influenza, which we are launching today, is built on three key components: a small expert research community that PLoS is working with to run the website; Google Knol with new features that allow content to be gathered together in collections after being vetted by expert moderators; and a new, independent database at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) called Rapid Research Notes, where research targeted for rapid communication, such as the content in PLoS Currents: Influenza will be freely and permanently accessible. To ensure that researchers are properly credited for their work, PLoS Currents content will also be given a unique identifier by the NCBI so that it is citable. ...

Contributions might take the form of new datasets, preliminary analyses or entire manuscripts. ...

To enable contributions to PLoS Currents: Influenza to be shared as rapidly as possible, they will not be subject to in-depth peer review; however, unsuitable submissions will be screened out by a board of expert moderators ...

The key goal of PLoS Currents is to accelerate scientific discovery by allowing researchers to share their latest findings and ideas immediately with the world’s scientific and medical communities. Google Knol’s features for community interaction, comment and discussion will enable commentary and conversations to develop around these findings. Given that the contributions to PLoS Currents are not peer-reviewed in detail, however, the results and conclusions must be regarded as preliminary. In time, it is therefore likely that PLoS Currents contributors will submit their work for publication in a formal journal, and the PLoS Journals will welcome these submissions.

PLoS Currents: Influenza is an experiment and a prototype for further PLoS Currents sites. ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Publishing, and opening, science software and data

Vivien Marx, PLoS Mulls Hosting Software amid Growing Crossover between Informatics and Publishing, BioInform, August 7, 2009.

... [T]he Public Library of Science is planning to launch a software section for its PLoS Computational Biology and PLoS One journals that may include a function for authors to deposit their software when they submit their papers for publication.

The section, which PLoS expects to launch some time this fall, will only accept open source software, Phil Bourne, founding editor-in-chief of PLoS Computational Biology and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California at San Diego, told BioInform last month at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology conference in Stockholm.

Bourne said that Carnegie Mellon University's Robert Murphy will be the section's editor.

"We'd like to have software deposited with the article," Bourne said, but noted that the team is ironing out details, such as whether to create a repository like SourceForge to host software that is not yet live at the time of article submission. ...

[O]ther publishers discussed ways that journals could improve the dissemination of large data sets that support a paper's findings.

Publishers often treat "data as an afterthought" and "rarely" put it in a form that is readily re-usable, BioMedCentral's publisher Matthew Cockerill said, adding that BMC is working on techniques to put data in context. BMC is also starting a new journal in this area called the Journal of Biomedical Semantics with Dietrich Rebholz-Schuhmann of the European Bioinformatics Institute and Goran Nenadic of the University of Manchester as editors.

Nature's database publisher Matthew Day agreed that publishers do a "pretty poor job" of handling data and said that large data sets tend to remain "unpublishable."

Publishers should explore ways to help manage research data such as from genome-wide screens, he said. He added that publishers could also help by annotating data or by finding ways to give credit to widely used data sets ...

Finding the right proportion of resources for knowledge sharing

Walt Warnick and David Wojick, The Knowledge Investment Curve, OSTIblog, August 19, 2009.

Every scientist knows that science advances only if knowledge is shared. Mathematically, this statement implies that the advance of science is a function of both the sharing of research results, as well as doing the original research. In principle, therefore, decision makers face the problem of deciding how much to spend on original research and how much to spend on sharing the knowledge that comes out of research.

Consider the accompanying graph with the x-axis being the fraction of research resources expended on spreading knowledge. The scale would range from 0% to 100%. The y-axis is the pace of scientific discovery. One can imagine a curve plotting the pace of discovery as a function of the fraction of resources expended on sharing knowledge.

When the fraction of resources is 0%, the pace of science advance is zero, as nothing is shared. When the fraction of resources is 100%, the pace of advance is also zero, as nothing is spent on the research itself. In between these endpoints, the plot will have a maximum. The plot is the Knowledge Investment Curve.

... [W]e know very little about the actual form of this curve, or even how much is currently invested in sharing. ...

[The] myriad activities [of knowledge sharing] are centuries old, as old as science itself. What each costs in the aggregate we have little idea. We do know that scientific journals cost several billion dollars a year ...

We also know that the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, is changing the nature of the equation ...

We can ask then what the federal investment should be in Web-based science sharing? ... One thing we know is that the investment in sharing is highly uneven across the various sciences. The fraction of health science research funding dedicated to sharing knowledge is greater than for physical and energy sciences. The latter is unlikely to be near the optimum.

Google to digitize French national library -- or is it?

Daniel Cressey, French library denies ‘Google seduction’ claims, The Great Beyond, August 19, 2009.

France’s national library has been forced to deny rumours that it has sold out to Google over digitization, and thus ended protracted resistance to perceived cultural imperialism.

“Following a news item published Tuesday 18 August in La Tribune, the [Bibliothèque Nationale de France] wishes to clarify that it has not signed an agreement with Google for the digitization of its collection,” says the library.

However, it adds that, “The Library has never ruled out a private partnership that would be consistent with the strategy of the Ministry of Culture regarding digital content.”

The BNF has been seen as “spearheading resistance” to Google’s digitisation of books and it championed an alternative European digital library that might be more suitable to non-English speaking countries.

[La Tribune] claimed yesterday that the BNF had capitulated to the American search engine. ...

A library spokesperson told the Times the library has not abandoned its own digitization project, but would use Google to do the work faster and cheaper than it would be able to do itself. ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First OA mandate in China

The National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences has adopted an OA mandate. According to ROARMAP, the policy is the first mandate in China. (Thanks to EIFL.)

See: Li Lin, Liu Xiwen, and Zhang Xiaolin, Open Access Practice in National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Science, presented at the IFLA annual conference (Milan, August 23-27, 2009):

... During the preparing of NSL-IR operation, we drafted related archiving policies, guidebooks, and other mechanisms, which can be divided into 3 levels. Firstly, it is the basic principles and archiving policy. NSL adopted the mandate policy, which mandates the NSL members to archive the article to the NSL-IR 1 month after the article was published. The articles submitted by the NSL members will be one of the main evidences and references for the members’ final year performance evaluation, which impacts on the salaries and other treatments of the faculties and staffs. The archiving policy also stipulates the dissemination principles and the mission of NSL-IR. Secondly, it is the related addendums. We drafted series of addendums, including Copyright License Addendums, Conference achievements hosted by NSL Archiving License, Journals hosted by NSL Archiving License. For the CAS institutes whose articles published in foreign journals, we also translated and edited the RoMEO Guidebook to introduce the foreign publishers’ copyright licenses to CAS scientists. Thirdly, it is operational guidebooks, including the procedure of IR operation and IR system handbook. We provide the detailed documents of the IR operation procedure to the institute libraries, which are the IR operational department in the CAS institutes. Also, we edit many kinds of system handbook, for the users, administrators, and policy maker, with both the simple version and the detailed version. ...

See also our past posts on the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

English Wikipedia has 3 million articles

Jay Walsh, 3,000,000, Wikimedia Blog, August 17, 2009.

Beate Eriksen, a Norwegian film-maker and actress, can add another unique claim to her personal history. Today her newly-minted English Wikipedia article was counted as the three-millionth article created on Wikipedia. The article was created by user:Lampman at 04:04 UTC, August 17, 2009. ...

English Wikipedia still holds the title for most articles over any other language edition of Wikipedia, but others are seeing impressive growth. German Wikipedia will shortly push through its first 1,000,000 articles and French won’t be far behind. Currently at just over 13.7 million articles in all languages, we expect to reach 14,000,000 before the end of 2009. ...

Clamor for copyright reform grows in Canada

Canada's Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage are conducting a consultation on copyright reform, soliciting comments until September 13. Of particular interest to OAN are comments calling for an "open" copyright system or an end to Crown copyright. See Michael Geist's tallies of the submissions so far (1, 2, 3). For examples, see comments by the Canadian Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities ("more practical access to orphan works ... [e]liminate Crown copyright") or by the Green Party of Canada ("Crown copyright and public domain must be reformed to build a healthy information commons").

20 year anniversary of early OA journal

August 16 was the 20-year anniversary of the announcement of The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, an early OA journal. PACS Review went on to publish 42 issues from 1900 to 1998; the archives are still OA. See reflections by Charles Bailey and Walt Crawford.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Google Books adds OA, CC-licensed books

Xian Ke, Bringing the power of Creative Commons to Google Books, Inside Google Books, August 13, 2009.

Today, we're launching an initiative to help authors and publishers discover new audiences for books they've made available for free under Creative Commons (CC) licenses. Rightsholders who want to distribute their CC-licensed books more widely can choose to allow readers around the world to download, use, and share their work via Google Books. ...

If you're a rightsholder interested in distributing your CC-licensed book on Google Books, you have a few different options. If you're already part of our Partner Program, you can make your book available under CC by updating account settings. If not, you can sign up as a partner. You can select from one of seven Creative Commons options, and usage permissions will vary depending on the license.

We've marked books that rightsholders have made available under a CC license with a matching logo on the book's left hand navigation bar. People can download these books in their entirety and pass them along: to friends, classmates, teachers, and so on. ...

This is just the beginning of this initiative. As authors and publishers tell us which works they want to share on Google Books under CC licenses, we'll be turning on the option to restrict your search to books you can share. In addition, representatives of the Book Rights Registry intend to allow rightsholders to distribute CC-licensed works for free (pending court approval of the settlement).