Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, September 05, 2009

OATP down on Monday

Connotea will be down on Monday for maintenance and repairs.  That means that the OA tracking project will also be down, since it depends on Connotea. 

The Connotea developers hope it will be back online later the same day. 

Despite the interruption, OATP users should welcome this development.  It should fix the problems we've been experiencing since June.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Housekeeping: Out for Labor Day

Since Peter started at Harvard, I've aimed to update OAN every weekday. I'm taking off Monday for Labor Day, and so probably won't post again until Monday. Have a nice weekend!

Repositories for New Zealand's research institutes

Amanda Curnow, Shared Research Repository Project, The Room of Infinite Diligence, August 27, 2009.

... Recently there has been an initiative in New Zealand to provide an open access repository hosting service for Crown Research Institutes, and other content providers such as government departments who may not have the resources to do so themselves. It is called the Shared Research Repository Project and the initiative is funded by the Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST) and developed by Digital NZ, with the National Library of NZ being the pilot participant. ...

It is yet to go live, but watch out for it when it does. ...

New transparency tool on NIH-funded projects

National Institutes of Health, New NIH Tool Makes Funding Data, Research Results and Products Searchable, press release, September 4, 2009.

Comprehensive funding information for NIH grants and contracts is now available on the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT) thanks to a new, user-friendly system called the RePORT Expenditures and Results, or RePORTER. RePORTER combines NIH project databases and funding records, PubMed abstracts, full-text articles from PubMed Central, and information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with a robust search engine, allowing users to locate descriptions and funding details on NIH-funded projects along with research results that cite the NIH support. ...

User-defined searches allow the public to refine, export and analyze results and provide insights into NIH spending, as well as research results across NIH-funded projects, institutions, investigators or scientific concepts. ...

NIH's goal is to provide users the ability to save favorite searches, set alerts for new grants, publications and patents, and even export the entire RePORTER database. ...

Utrecht U. adopts policy recommending OA

Utrecht University formulates Open Access Policy, Igitur Newsletter, September 2009.

In April, the Utrecht University Board met with the various faculty Deans to discuss a policy paper on the topic of Open Access, the international movement which calls for unrestricted public access to all publicly financed research. As a result of the discussion, the following policy statement was agreed upon:

“Utrecht University believes that the results of publicly financed research should, in principle, be freely accessible for everyone. Therefore, Utrecht University recommends that the publications of Utrecht scholars be deposited into the Utrecht repository, the Igitur Archive, so that as many publications as possible may be made openly accessible. In concrete terms, this means that Utrecht University will stimulate the delivery of the publisher versions of publications via Metis to the Igitur Archive. These publications will also be made freely accessible if permitted by the publisher. In addition, during licensing negotiations with publishers, Utrecht University will make it clear that we place a high priority on increasing public access to information via repositories. Utrecht University will carry out this policy in various national and international forums.” ...

The recent development of a policy statement by Utrecht University is a clear step forward in our support of Open Access. In the fourth quarter of 2009, Igitur will contact the university faculties in order to determine together the best way to implement this policy.

RePEc: more than 25 million downloads

Christian Zimmermann, RePEc in August 2009, The RePEc Blog, September 3, 2009.

The quietest month of the year still brought some important news. RePEc now carries bibliographic information about 1000 journals and 300?000 working papers. We counted 647,942 file downloads and 2,213,814 abstract views for the month. For working papers, this adds up to 25 million downloads since we started counting!

In terms of developments, the RePEc Input Service now also allows journals that for some reason cannot open their own RePEc archive to index their articles in RePEc. Also, EconPapers allows users to download bibliographic data in various formats for their own databases. ...

During August 2009, the following archives joined RePEc: Sam Houston State University, arXiv [Quantitative Finance section], National Insurance Institute of Israel, University of Rome Sapienza (II), Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, EPFL (II), BBVA, Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, Queens University of Charlotte. ...

Project Gutenberg Canada on copyright reform

Canada's Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage are conducting a consultation on copyright reform, soliciting comments until September 13. (See our past posts: 1, 2.) Project Gutenberg Canada has filed a submission. Executive summary of the recommendations:

  1. A "Safe Harbour" provision for works more than 75 years old where the life dates of the authors are not known
  2. No extensions of copyright durations
  3. Explicit assignment to the Public Domain of those photographs that were in the Public Domain in 1997
  4. 75 year copyright for works with more than 15 authors
  5. Enhanced protection of the Public Domain
    1. The Copyright Act be renamed the Copyright and Public Domain Act
    2. Explicit recognition of the Public Domain
    3. The creation of a Public Domain Commissioner

Deadline for Google Books comments extended

The judge presiding over the Google Books settlement has extended the deadline for objections and amicus briefs, previously scheduled for today, due to technical issues. The new deadline for submissions is Tuesday, September 8 at 10 am ET. The court's electronic filing system will be down for maintenance until Tuesday morning.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The case for standardized open licenses

Mike Linksvayer, Does your sharing scale?, Creative Commons, September 2, 2009.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick is perhaps the most prolific blogger on the ill impact of overly restrictive legal regimes ...

So it’s a little disappointing to read Masnick write:

I don’t use any of their licenses, because I don’t necessarily see the point. We’ve declared in the past that the content here is free for anyone to do what they want with it, and thus I feel no need for a Creative Commons license.

The need arises from the reality that sharing without standardized legal tools doesn’t scale. It doesn’t scale socially — if I wasn’t a regular Techdirt reader I wouldn’t know that Masnick had declared Techdirt content is free for anyone and for any purpose ... nor depending on wording would I know what that meant. It doesn’t scale technically — there’s no way for software such as search engines to recognize ad hoc declarations. It doesn’t scale legally — any community or institution that requires legal certainty (eg due to risk that the community’s work will be suppressed or that the institution will be financially liable) will avoid ad hoc declarations.

It’s no surprise that in the more developed field of free and open source software (which has a 10+ year head start on free culture/open content) anyone who claims that making an ad hoc declaration is good enough and did not release their code under an established license would be laughed at and their code not allowed in other projects, distributions, and repositories, not to mention getting no attention from IBM, Google, Red Hat and thousands of other corporate contributors to and adopters of open source software. ...

OA in Canada's copyright consultation

Canada's Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage are conducting a consultation on copyright reform, soliciting comments until September 13. (See our past post.) Heather Morrison has posted her submission:

Heather Morrison, Canadian copyright consultation, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 31, 2009.

... Canada's copyright laws do not fit academia. Most scholarly research is supported by research grants (in turn supported by public funding) and/or academic salaries. Our need is to publish as widely as possible, for maximum impact of our work and to advance our careers. The optimum dissemination approach for academia is open access to scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. Canadian academics need strong support for copyright laws that facilitate sharing, for example by strengthening fair dealing provisions, eliminating Crown copyright, eliminating automatic copyright registration, and shortening the timeline before copyrighted work enters the public domain. It is important to ensure that any copyright provisions designed for other sectors not hinder advances in scholarly knowledge. ...

Looking for repository success stories

DuraSpace, the foundation behind the Fedora and DSpace repository software platforms, is looking for repository success stories to highlight as part of the upcoming Open Access Week (October 19-23, 2009). Entries will be accepted at the contest Web site beginning until September 28. The best stories win a gift certificate to

Beta testers needed for new OCS

The Public Knowledge Project is looking for beta testers for the upcoming version of its free conference management/publishing software, Open Conference Systems.

Study of humanities and OA released

The National Humanities Alliance has released its study on publishing in the social sciences and humanities. (See our past post.) From the study's executive summary:

... The "Discussions and conclusions" section of this report articulates the finding that a shift to an entirely new funding model in the pure form of Open Access (author/producer pays) in which the costs of publishing research articles in journals are paid for by authors or a funding agency, and readers have access free online, is not currently a sustainable option for any of this group of journals based on the costs provided. The sources of external funding required for such a model are also not clear and may not be available even as broadly as in STM disciplines. ...

The section of the report that covers "Questions requiring fuller answers" includes a brief discussion of core issues that the results of this study have been unable to address adequately. Topics here include the differences between STM and HSS journals and which Open Access model(s) are sustainable for HSS publishers. ...

[T]opics identified for further investigation ... include: ...

  • Is the ‘gold’ Open Access model sustainable for a sub-set of existing HSS publishers?
  • Where would the money come from to support ‘gold’ OA in HSS journals?
  • Are other ‘non-gold’ Open Access models sustainable for HSS publishers and if so which and how?
  • If HSS articles are posted to OA repositories (‘green’ OA) how long should the embargo period be?
  • Are results from Open Access experiments helpful in the understanding of society and association publishers of HSS journals? ...

Comment. A cursory review of the study shows there's a lot of thought-provoking stuff here. But a major flaw make the OA analysis suspect: The study consistently conflates "gold OA" with "author-pays", when in fact, more than 70% of gold OA journals do not charge author-side fees. The study does cite Willinsky's "nine flavors" of OA and PLoS' philanthropic underwriting, but it offers no serious review of any revenue models for gold OA other than author fees.

See also Heather Morrison's comments.

OA advocacy checklist for libraries

Alma Swan has prepared an OA advocacy checklist for research libraries for the Digital Libraries à la Carte conference (Tilburg, The Netherlands, July 28-August 5, 2009). The 2-page document includes bulleted lists of suggestions like "Add DOAJ content to your library catalogue", "Demonstrate how to deposit [in a repository]", and "Make the case for a mandatory policy".

More on A2K as a human right

Lea Bishop Shaver, The Right to Science and Culture, working paper, March 6, 2009. Abstract:
Over the past three decades, protections for intellectual property have dramatically expanded, both domestically and internationally. Today, economists and legal scholars widely agree that patent and copyright protections are higher than ideal. Excessive protectionism constrains individual liberty, limits the diffusion of innovation, impedes economic growth, and results in higher prices for consumers. International IP law, however, poses a significant barrier to reform. A network of multilateral and bilateral trade treaties operates as a one-way ratchet, promoting ever-higher protections and constraining the ability of domestic policymakers to impose sensible limits.

One possible route out of this dilemma may be found at Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifies that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” To date, there has been little to no jurisprudence or legal scholarship interpreting this rather obscure provision of international law. Following accepted methods for the interpretation of human rights treaties, this work revisits the historical record to uncover Article 27's intended meaning and scope, examines relevant national and regional jurisprudence and UN agency practice, and looks to scholarly discussion of related and similar rights provisions.

Drawing on this interpretative analysis, the article identifies the concrete steps States must take—domestically and internationally—to limit intellectual property protections in order to fulfill their human rights treaty obligations. In so doing, I suggest that the right to science and culture, properly understood, can provide an important rhetorical and legal tool with which to counterbalance the protectionist push and open up new possibilities for sensible IP reform.

Library scholarship not widely OA

Doug Way, The Open Access Availability of Library and Information Science Literature, College & Research Libraries, preprint, August 27, 2009. Abstract:
To examine the open access availability of Library and Information Science (LIS) research, a study was conducted using Google Scholar to search for articles from was 20 top LIS journals. The study examined whether Google Scholar was able to find any links to full text, if open access versions of the articles were available and where these articles were being hosted. The results showed the archiving of articles is not a regular practice in the field, articles are not being deposited in institutional or subject repositories at a high rate and the overall the percentage of available open access articles in LIS was similar to the findings in previous studies. In addition, the study found that Google Scholar is an effective tool for finding known LIS articles.
From the article:

... Of the 922 articles examined, OA versions were found for 253 articles. ...

The percentage of available OA articles is the same, though, as Matsubayashi, et. al.'s findings in their study of the biomedical literature. ...

If professionals in LIS are unwilling to archive their works in repositories, it should not be surprising that repositories face difficulties in recruiting content. ...

Providing access to information is a basic tenet of librarianship. Ranganathan’s classic work, The Five Laws of Library Science, calls upon libraries to make information widely available and easily accessible to all people. While Ranganthan’s work referred to books, these principles hold true regardless of the format of the information and can be seen in the field’s support of the OA movement. Yet this study has found there is a seeming contradiction in the lack of archiving of articles appearing in the top LIS journals. This is in spite of the fact that a previous study found that 90% of these journals allow some form of self-archiving. ...

Update. See also T. Scott Plutchak's comments:

... His results show that Google Scholar is not a completely reliable means for identifying OA versions of articles. ... [T]he specific numbers that he presents should be approached sceptically. ...

Despite these quibbles, the larger point that Way makes is indisputable -- for all of the advocacy work that librarians have done in support of various OA initiatives, they have not done a very good job of making their own research output widely available and easily discoverable. Our advocacy efforts would be more persuasive if we were taking a more aggressive leadership role within our own field.

New chair of NEH favors OA

Scott Jaschik, The Humanities and the NEH, Inside Higher Ed, September 2, 2009.

The National Endowment for the Humanities doesn't need "radical change," but may see some subtle shifts in emphasis, according to James A. Leach, the new chairman, who discussed his plans with Inside Higher Ed in this podcast interview. ...

Leach served in Congress for 30 years, representing an Iowa district as a Republican.

Among other topics he discussed:

  • The importance of promoting public access to government records. He said that declassification systems shouldn't be used to delay the work of scholars, and that fewer documents should be classified in the first place. ...
  • In discussions of digitization of scholarship and the push to require free online access to such work that receives federal support, Leach said he understands the importance of copyright, but that he leans "toward open access" and wants "maximum availability" of scholarship. ...


Harvard launches its repository

Harvard University Library, Harvard's DASH for Open Access, press release, September 1, 2009.

Harvard's leadership in open access to scholarship took a significant step forward this week with the public launch of DASH—or Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard—a University-wide, open-access repository. ...

DASH has its roots in the February 2008 open-access vote in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. ...

To date, Harvard Law School, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education have joined FAS in supporting a comprehensive policy of open access. DASH fulfills the promise made in these four open-access votes.

Still a beta, DASH is a joint project of the [Office for Scholarly Communication] and the Office for Information Systems (OIS), both of which are strategic programs of the Harvard University Library. DASH is based on the open-source DSpace repository platform. Software customizations will continue throughout the coming academic year.

DASH is also intended to serve as a local digital home for a wide and growing array of other scholarly content produced at the University. Non-faculty researchers and students are already afforded deposit privileges, and DASH will eventually have collection spaces for each of the 10 schools at Harvard. ...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September SOAN

I just mailed the September issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the BMJ model of selling access to abridgments or summaries in order support full-text OA.

The roundup section briefly notes 154 OA developments from August.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

More on Bloomsbury Academic

Frances Pinter, Frances Pinter on the (Academic) Value of Sharing, GOOD Magazine, August 27, 2009. Pinter is the Publisher of Bloomsbury Academic.

... Bloomsbury Academic is a very new imprint. We started it last September and the business model is a very simple one: We want to give academics what they want and expect from a quality academic publishing house. Firstly, that means all the pre-publication work—selection of peer review, editing, formatting—and then, coming closer to publication, we are talking about the marketing function. At the time of the publication itself, we are putting the work online with a Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial license at the same time we are producing the print copy. Looking at the post-publication phase, we are going to be keeping books in print for as long as there is a demand. We have a lot of options at our disposal for print: we can publish it in the conventional way or, if it’s a slow seller for a small audience, then we can start out with print on demand. That allows us to reduce the risk of holding large amounts of books in warehouses. So we are trying to marry the old with the new by using digital technologies, and by using creative commons licensing, but also giving the academic what they want, which is a quality publication.

So much of academic output is now available on the web, and when you talk to academics they are not 100 percent happy with how difficult it is becoming to find their works. ...

In this period of transition there is a lot of investment required in experimenting with new technologies. And with the experimenting of new technologies, we have to make sure the recognition and the openness is absolutely essential and part of it. Many of the big companies have got the resources to do this, but they are also the companies that have the biggest investments in the old ways of doing things. The smaller companies don’t have the money, but they have the inclination. With Bloomsbury Academic, I’m extremely fortunate because I’m working with a company that hasn’t been known in the past for its academic publishing, it doesn’t have a huge infrastructure for academic publishing, but is still one of the 10 largest companies in the United Kingdom in publishing terms. The general publishing infrastructure is all there, so we can take a new path without having to jettison the old way of doing things, and we can set up our systems to be open from scratch. ...

See also our past posts on Bloomsbury Academic.

New Texas cancer institute leaning toward OA

Elizabeth Bassett, New Texas cancer institute plans high-impact research, Fort Worth Business Press, August 31, 2009.

... The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT, created by the Texas Legislature in 2007, is an organization uniquely positioned to change the way research and prevention of cancer are done in the state, [executive director William] Gimson said. ...

So far in CPRIT’s short history, many peer review committees have been set up, drawing on cancer talent nationwide, to ensure only the best grants are funded, Gimson said. The organization just recently put out two requests for applications and will accept these smaller, less-complex grants through this fall with the intention of awarding some funding in January and February of 2010, he said. By mid-September applications can be submitted online in a paperless process, and more requests for applications will be posted as the organization gains more momentum, he said. ...

[Chief scientific officer Alfred] Gilman also said he would likely favor open access to data sets and information that result from various CPRIT projects. While no guidelines are in place yet, sharing data and knowledge with other researchers is expanding access to knowledge and could potentially avoid redundancies in research. ...

Making open licenses permanent

Timothy K. Armstrong, Shrinking the Commons: Termination of Copyright Licenses and Transfers for the Benefit of the Public, working paper, September 1, 2009. Abstract:

[U.S.] Federal law limits the free alienability of copyright rights to prevent powerful transferees from forcing authors into unremunerative bargains. The limiting mechanism is a statutory provision that permits authors or their heirs, at their sole election, to terminate any transfer or license of any copyright interest during a defined period. Indeed, the applicable provisions of the Copyright Act go so far as to invalidate purported waivers by authors of their statutory termination powers.

These statutory provisions may constitute an impediment to the effective grant of rights for the benefit of the public under widely used "open content" licensing arrangements, such as the GNU General Public License ("GPL") for software or the Creative Commons family of licenses for other sorts of expressive works. Although recent case law suggests that such open-source or open-content licensing arrangements should be analyzed under the same rules that govern other copyright licenses, doing so necessarily raises the possibility of termination of the license. If GPL or Creative Commons-type licenses are subject to later termination by authors (or their heirs), and this termination power cannot validly be waived, then users of such works must confront the possibility that the licenses may be revoked in the future and the works effectively withdrawn from public use, with potentially chaotic results.

Although a number of judge-made doctrines may be invoked to restrict termination of a license granted for the benefit of the public, the better course would be for Congress to enact new legislation expressly authorizing authors to make a nonwaiveable, irrevocable dedication of their works, in whole or in part, to the use and benefit of the public - a possibility that the Patent Act expressly recognizes, but the Copyright Act presently does not.

5 more U.S. libraries join SCOAP3, edging closer to goal

SCOAP3 support in the U.S. passes the 75% mark, SCOAP3 News, September 1, 2009.

Five more U.S. libraries have signed the SCOAP3 Expression of Interest: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo, the University of Michigan, and the Utah State University. With these new partners, SCOAP3 has received pledges for a total of 2.7 Million dollars from leading U.S. libraries and library consortia.

Worldwide, SCOAP3 has received pledges for 6.5 Million Euros, 65% of its funding envelope, from partners in 22 countries. ...

U. Montréal opens its theses

Daniel Baril, L'UdeM prend les devants avec le dépôt électronique des mémoires et des thèses, UdeMNouvelles, August 31, 2009. Read it in the original French or in Google's English. (Thanks to Olivier Charbonneau.)Rough translation (errors mine):

Following the pilot project conducted in 2008-2009 at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Management, the University of Montréal will adopt the electronic deposit of theses and dissertations for all its schools. From 1 October, the electronic version will be the only form accepted by the establishment.

This adoption follows a recommendation from the Committee on Electronic Theses, established at the Faculté des études supérieures et postdoctorales (FESP). ... Among Canadian research universities in Canada, the University of Montréal is the third to make electronic filing mandatory.

"Electronic filing offers many benefits, in particular the dissemination of research both within and outside the University," says Louise Beliveau, Assistant Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Dean of the FESP. "The increased and easier accessibility is a gain for both the student and the university."

The electronic version will actually be available in full on the Internet and the document will have a permanent URL. On the university's Web site, the document will benefit from free access from the Papyrus repository and, the text being fully indexed, it will be possible to locate on the Web by keywords and to navigate in the document. The electronic version also facilitates the inclusion of data other than text (be it audio or visual) and the integration of links in the bibliography to the articles cited. ...

Over 80% of the 215 students who participated in the pilot noted that the procedure was simple and easy to use. ...

The waiting period to access the thesis or dissertation is also greatly reduced. "With paper deposit, the document was not on the shelves until nine months after graduation," says Richard Dumont, head of libraries. "With electronic deposit, it is available from the moment the diploma is issued." This delay was mainly due to the time of transportation and processing of paper copies and to microfilming the documents, a process that will be abandoned.

It is emphasized that the student retains her copyright while granting the University, as was the case with the traditional deposit, a non-exclusive right of distribution; students can also obtain a delay of distribution in cases of patent application or publication.

Theses and dissertations deposited since 2003 will be made accessible in the same way.

Technical difficulties

Since Peter started at Harvard, OATP has become the feeder system for OAN. But Connotea, the service which powers OATP, was inaccessible for most of Monday (at least to me). We'll see if things are any better Tuesday; if not, I'll work around it.

Meanwhile, the OATP Twitter bridge is still available, if you want to read what was tagged before the site went down.