Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 18, 2009

Print-on-demand for public domain Google books

Norman Oder, Google Signs Print-on-Demand Deal for Two Million Public Domain Titles, Library Journal, September 17, 2009.

Google and On Demand Books (ODB), the maker of the Espresso Book Machine® (EBM), have signed a deal to provide print-on-demand (PoD) access to more than two million public-domain titles (published before 1923) in the Google digital files.

The deal also presages potential PoD access to millions more in-copyright “orphan works” should the Google Book Search settlement be approved.

The EBM, which its makers call “an ATM for books,” is already located at several bookstores and libraries. This deal likely heralds demand for more of the machines, which cost about $100,000 (according to the AP) but also can be leased. ...

The AP reports a recommended $8 price, with a dollar from each sale going to ODB and a dollar to Google, which will donate that commission to “charities and other nonprofit causes.” ...

EBM users can already access more than one million public-domain books through the Open Content Alliance (OCA) and additional titles via various publishers, and numerous individual publishers. ...

Update. See also the press release from On Demand Books and the blog post from Google Books.

Publishing without paper

Paul Graham, Post-Medium Publishing, Paul Graham, September 2009.

... Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics. ...

Now that the medium is evaporating, publishers have nothing left to sell. Some seem to think they're going to sell content—that they were always in the content business, really. But they weren't, and it's unclear whether anyone could be.

There have always been people in the business of selling information, but that has historically been a distinct business from publishing. And the business of selling information to consumers has always been a marginal one. When I was a kid there were people who used to sell newsletters containing stock tips, printed on colored paper that made them hard for the copiers of the day to reproduce. That is a different world, both culturally and economically, from the one publishers currently inhabit.

People will pay for information they think they can make money from. That's why they paid for those stock tip newsletters, and why companies pay now for Bloomberg terminals and Economist Intelligence Unit reports. But will people pay for information otherwise? History offers little encouragement. ...

I don't know exactly what the future will look like, but I'm not too worried about it. This sort of change tends to create as many good things as it kills. Indeed, the really interesting question is not what will happen to existing forms, but what new forms will appear. ...

Mobile resources from museums

Center for History and New Media, CHNM Labs Report on Mobile Usage in Museums, press release, September 17, 2009.

CHNM Labs released a new research report today, Mobile for Museums. Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the report assesses how art museums are incorporating mobile technologies into visitor experiences and offers replicable mobile prototypes based on those findings.

A survey of the field shows that for many years art museums have been at the forefront of offering their visitors learning experiences that extend beyond traditional exhibit labels. That trend continues as art museums add cell phone tours, podcasts, and platform-specific applications in an effort to capitalize on the commonly-owned portable devices—iPods, MP3 players, Blackberries, cell phones—that visitors already carry in their pockets.

CHNM found that while all genres of museums are very interested in offering content and unique experiences using mobiles, their biggest challenge is working with small budgets and a small staff, limiting their ability to develop content for mobiles.

To address these needs, Mobile for Museums offers recommendations and free, replicable prototypes based on this research on how to economically provide mobile users with positive experiences in and outside a museum.

These prototypes include:

  • New plugins for the Omeka software package allowing institutions to use already-created collections content and re-purpose it with plugins for use inside the gallery ...
  • Website design optimized for cross-platform mobile browsers ...
  • A cross-platform application built in PhoneGap that harnesses the functionality native to a mobile device ...

Finally, the report site includes a dynamic Resources section, with a Yahoo Pipe of feeds from museum-related websites discussing mobile topics. A public Zotero group offers a growing, annotated bibliography of current resources, and is open for all to join and to contribute other research in the field. ...

Nature plans more hybrid, OA journals

Steven Inchcoombe, NPG's annual letter to customers (2009), Nature Publishing Group, September 17, 2009. (Thanks to Information World Review.)

... The increase in funder support for open access and enhancements in publishing technology enable NPG to undertake an exciting new publishing endeavour. In April 2010 we will introduce Nature Communications, an online-only peer-reviewed journal offering rapid publication for high-quality research across the biological, chemical and physical sciences. Nature Communications will have a mixed business model and authors will be offered a choice of access models for their research papers - either traditional subscription access or open access through payment of an article processing charge (APC). We plan to introduce several open access journals in our academic and society journal program in 2010, the first of which will be Cell Death & Disease in January. ...

Alongside our longstanding reputation for quality, we are committed to fair and transparent pricing. In setting our pricing for 2010 we have consulted with our customers and our Library Committee. Last year we committed to cap price increases on NPG-owned journals at no more than 7% a year for three years, beginning with 2009 list prices. We also moved to protect our customers from currency fluctuations, by determining prices locally in each of the four currencies (USD, GBP, EURO, YEN). In light of the current economic climate, we have adjusted our price increases for the coming year. 2010 site license list prices for NPG-owned journals will increase by an average of 3.5%. ...

See also our past post on Cell Death & Disease.

PMC Canada to launch during OA Week

Canadian Institutes of Health Research, PMC Canada: Making Canadian health research accessible to all, press release, September 16, 2009.

Canadians will soon have access to the latest health research findings with the launch of PubMed Central Canada (PMC Canada). Building on the successful PubMed Central archive developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PMC Canada will help accelerate the creation of knowledge and facilitate its use by providing a freely accessible, Canada-based archive of peer-reviewed health science literature.

PMC Canada is the result of a three-way partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Research Council's Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It will be part of the larger PubMed Central International network, which currently includes the U.S. PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central. ...

PMC Canada will support CIHR's Policy on Access to Research Outputs, which requires that all peer-reviewed publications resulting from CIHR funding be freely accessible online within six months of publication. This archive will provide CIHR researchers an outlet to deposit their peer-reviewed publications and allow them to reach a much broader audience, which has the potential to increase the value and impact of their research.

The first phase of PMC Canada will be launched during Open Access Week - October 19-23, 2009. It will include a manuscript submission system to enable CIHR researchers to deposit articles that are accepted for publication by peer-reviewed journals. ...

See also our past posts on PMC Canada.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monetizing OA/OER a priority at The Open U.

The Open University last month released its strategic priorities for 2009-10. Among the 5 business areas:
OU Freemium — new businesses deriving income from open educational resources (OER) and associated services. This business area was previously called "OU for Free" and has been re-titled to stress the need to monetise OER in order to create a sustainable business model. It includes OpenLearn, SocialLearn, iTunesU and Open Research Online.
N.B. Open Research Online is the university's OA institutional repository.

Database of university copyright ownership policies

This summer, Creative Commons started compiling a database of university copyright ownership policies. An analysis is forthcoming, but several American universities are already listed, and the database is a wiki, so users can add others. The entries consider ownership policies with regard to creative works, courseware, materials, and student works, as well as whether the university has an OA policy.

Canadian copyright consultation winds down

The Canadian government's consultation on copyright reform reached its deadline for submissions this week.

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

Statements of support for FRPAA

Several organizations have released statements of support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA, S.1373), the U.S. legislation which would provide OA to funded research government-wide:


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Criticism of progress on digitization in Canada

Michael Geist, Has Someone Hit the Delete Key on Canada's Digitization Strategy?, Michael Geist, September 12, 2009.

... The attention on Google Book Search is understandable, yet it has distracted from the broader question of government supported digitization efforts. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) noted that many countries have not been content to leave the digitization of their culture and heritage to Google, instead embarking on plans to create their own digital libraries.

Canada was once thought to be part of this group - national digitization working groups were established and a strategy seemed imminent - yet plans have languished to the point that it feels as if someone has hit the delete key on the prospect of a comprehensive Canadian digital library. ...

By comparison [to Europeana], Canada seems stuck at the digitization starting gate. Library and Archives Canada was given responsibility for the issue but was unable to muster the necessary support for a comprehensive plan. The Department of Canadian Heritage, which would seem like a natural fit for a strategy designed to foster access to Canadian works, has funded a handful of small digitization efforts but has shown little interest in crafting a vision similar to Europeana.

Digitization law and policies have also gone missing-in-action. The national copyright consultation wraps up next week, but the digitization issue has scarcely been raised. ...

Guide to OA policies in Portuguese

Eloy Rodrigues, Kit de Políticas Open Access, Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal, posted on August 19, 2009.

A guide in Portuguese to OA policies for research institutions and funders.

See also our past posts on RCAAP.

State of OA in Portugal

Ricardo Saraiva, Open Access in Portugal, Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal, posted on August 19, 2009. Abstract:

This report describes the present situation in Portugal concerning Open Access (OA) in scientific publishing. It presents a comprehensive portrait of the Portuguese initiatives related to OA, such as the implementation of open access institutional repositories at various Portuguese universities or research institutes.

This document is commissioned within the RCAAP project and is a deliverable (D30) of the project. The study of the current situation of OA in Portugal is also related with SELL (Southern European Libraries Link) initiative, to assess the situation on southern countries, and will primarily function as a basis for discussion at a seminar which the final aim will be to establish a group of actions in the SELL countries (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey) for promoting Open Access to scientific information.

The report starts by providing some contextual background on Open Access and the Portuguese reality related with research and scientific publication. A brief history and evolution of Open Access initiatives in Portugal in the last six years, and the description of the current situation of Portuguese OA repositories and OA journals, constitute the main sections of this reports.

Finally, the report presents some conclusions and recommendations.

From the conclusions:

... As revealed in this study, the number of Portuguese scientific journals is low, many are still published in printed form, and consequently the number of OA journals is also low. ...

Concerning institutional repositories, there was a significant progress on the last years. ... At present time almost all Portuguese universities with significant research output have already or are creating their own institutional repository. ...

In general, the percentage of the institutional research output archived in those repositories is still relatively small (less than 10%). The most successful repositories, like RepositóriUM, from Minho University, are associated with institutional self-archiving policies, requiring, encouraging and/or rewarding deposition of publications. ...

See also our past posts on RCAAP.

Clinical trials: inadequate reporting, publication biases continue

Joseph S. Ross, et al., Trial Publication after Registration in ClinicalTrials.Gov: A Cross-Sectional Analysis, PLoS Medicine, September 8, 2009. Editors' summary:

Background: People assume that whenever they are ill, health care professionals will make sure they get the best available treatment. But how do clinicians know which treatment is most appropriate? In the past, clinicians used their own experience to make treatment decisions. Nowadays, they rely on evidence-based medicine—the systematic review and appraisal of the results of clinical trials, studies that investigate the efficacy and safety of medical interventions in people. However, evidence-based medicine can only be effective if all the results from clinical trials are published promptly in medical journals. Unfortunately, the results of trials in which a new drug did not perform better than existing drugs or in which it had unwanted side effects often remain unpublished or only appear in the public domain many years after the drug has been approved for clinical use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other governmental bodies.

Why Was This Study Done?: The extent of this “selective” publication, which can impair evidence-based clinical practice, remains unclear but is thought to be substantial. In this study, the researchers investigate the problem of selective publication by systematically examining the extent of publication of the results of trials registered in, a Web-based registry of US and international clinical trials. was established in 2000 by the US National Library of Medicine in response to the 1997 FDA Modernization Act. This act required preregistration of all trials of new drugs to provide the public with information about trials in which they might be able to participate. Mandatory data elements for registration in initially included the trial's title, the condition studied in the trial, the trial design, and the intervention studied. In September 2007, the FDA Amendments Act expanded the mandatory requirements for registration in by making it necessary, for example, to report the trial start date and to report primary and secondary outcomes (the effect of the intervention on predefined clinical measurements) in the registry within 2 years of trial completion.

What Did the Researchers Do and Find?: The researchers identified 7,515 trials that were registered within after December 31, 1999 (excluding phase I, safety trials), and whose record indicated trial completion by June 8, 2007. Most of these trials reported all the mandatory data elements that were required by before the FDA Amendments Act but reporting of optional data elements was less complete. For example, only two-thirds of the trials reported their primary outcome. Next, the researchers randomly selected 10% of the trials and, after excluding trials whose completion date was after December 31, 2005 (to allow at least two years for publication), determined the publication status of this subsample by systematically searching MEDLINE (an online database of articles published in selected medical and scientific journals). Fewer than half of the trials in the subsample had been published, and the citation for only a third of these publications had been entered into Only 40% of industry-sponsored trials had been published compared to 56% of nonindustry/nongovernment-sponsored trials, a difference that is unlikely to have occurred by chance. Finally, 61% of trials with a completion date before 2004 had been published, but only 42% of trials completed during 2005 had been published.

What Do These Findings Mean?: These findings indicate that, over the period studied, critical trial information was not included in the registry. The FDA Amendments Act should remedy some of these shortcomings but only if the accuracy and completeness of the information in is carefully monitored. These findings also reveal that registration in does not guarantee that trial results will appear in a timely manner in the scientific literature. However, they do not address the reasons for selective publication (which may be, in part, because it is harder to publish negative results than positive results), and they are potentially limited by the methods used to discover whether trial results had been published. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the FDA, trial sponsors, and the scientific community all need to make a firm commitment to minimize the selective publication of trial results to ensure that patients and clinicians have access to the information they need to make fully informed treatment decisions.

Sylvain Mathieu, et al., Comparison of Registered and Published Primary Outcomes in Randomized Controlled Trials, Journal of the American Medical Association, September 2, 2009. Only this abstract is OA, at least so far:

Context: As of 2005, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors required investigators to register their trials prior to participant enrollment as a precondition for publishing the trial's findings in member journals.

Objective: To assess the proportion of registered trials with results recently published in journals with high impact factors; to compare the primary outcomes specified in trial registries with those reported in the published articles; and to determine whether primary outcome reporting bias favored significant outcomes.

Data Sources and Study Selection: MEDLINE via PubMed was searched for reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in 3 medical areas (cardiology, rheumatology, and gastroenterology) indexed in 2008 in the 10 general medical journals and specialty journals with the highest impact factors.

Data Extraction: For each included article, we obtained the trial registration information using a standardized data extraction form.

Results: Of the 323 included trials, 147 (45.5%) were adequately registered (ie, registered before the end of the trial, with the primary outcome clearly specified). Trial registration was lacking for 89 published reports (27.6%), 45 trials (13.9%) were registered after the completion of the study, 39 (12%) were registered with no or an unclear description of the primary outcome, and 3 (0.9%) were registered after the completion of the study and had an unclear description of the primary outcome. Among articles with trials adequately registered, 31% (46 of 147) showed some evidence of discrepancies between the outcomes registered and the outcomes published. The influence of these discrepancies could be assessed in only half of them and in these statistically significant results were favored in 82.6% (19 of 23).

Conclusion: Comparison of the primary outcomes of RCTs registered with their subsequent publication indicated that selective outcome reporting is prevalent.

Also see coverage by Nature News (subscription required) and Science Progress.

Anthropology repository shutting down

Alex Golub, Shuttering Mana'o, Open Access Anthropology, August 25, 2009.

... I wanted to drop a line with the sad news that I am shuttering the Mana'o repository.

I think it was a great idea to get the repository started, but with a heavy heart I have to admit that it was a bridge too far for me -- at this point in my career I simply do not have the time to devote to the project that it needs and deserves. Those of you have have followed the ups and downs (mostly down) of the server realize that in saying this I'm just accepting a fait d'accompli: its been down for quite a while. ...

I am not yet ready for the repository to give up the ghost. If people have any ideas about how to roll its content over into other repositories, or if someone would like to take it on, then please let me know ...

See also our past posts on Mana'o.

Update. See also comments by Dorothea Salo:

... Dr. Golub's mistake isn't that he wound up needing a rescue; it's that he didn't anticipate and plan for a handoff from the beginning.

It isn't just Mana'o, I'm afraid. How many disciplinary and institutional repositories have done succession planning? If not, why not? Do it. Now. It is flagrantly irresponsible not to. ...

Social network for scientists adds repository feature

Ijad Madisch, Self-Archiving Repository goes online, ResearchGATE Blog, September 15, 2009.

We have now launched our Self-Archiving Repository! This project makes full-text articles available to the public, for free – the first application of its kind worldwide.

Currently, there is no way for researchers to access millions of publications in their full version online. We are now changing this by enabling users to upload their published research directly to their profile pages (a system called the “green route” to Open Access). Our publication index, containing meta data for 35 million publications, will be automatically matched with the SHERPA RoMEO data set of journal and publisher’s self-archiving agreements. As a result, authors will know which versions of their articles they can legally upload. ...

See also this comment by Lorenz Khazaleh at

... I asked Claudia Saalbach from ReseachGATE, and she confirmed that they “do not plan to charge the user for our service". But they “hope to get first revenue from our scientific job board, which was launched a week ago.”

ResearchGATE was launched in May last year and has already 140 000 members ...

PMC adds option to search for embargoed articles

Marla Fogelman, PubMed Central® Releases New Search Option for Embargoed Articles, NLM Technical Bulletin, September 10, 2009.

Finding embargoed article citations in PubMed Central (PMC) is now as easy as 1-2-3! With the implementation of a new PMC search option, you can easily retrieve both the citations for embargoed articles and their corresponding PMC reference numbers, known as PMCIDs. Because articles under embargo do not show up during a regular PMC search, this new feature is particularly valuable for authors and publishers who must submit PMCIDs as proof of compliance with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy.

To locate the new search option from the PMC homepage, click on Advanced search ... Next, click on the Limits tab at the top of the PMC search page ... Once you are on the Limits page, click in the field, "Show both free and embargoed articles." and enter your search and click Go ... Next, take a look at the search results on the Summary display page, where you can now see three tabs, "All," "Free," and "Embargoed," as well as the number of articles in each of these categories. These display features will allow you to obtain an immediate view of the number of Free vs. Embargoed articles within your initial search result. ... Finally, click on the "Embargoed" tab at the top of the Results Page. ... [Y]ou will then be able to find the PMCID at the bottom of an article citation, as well as the date on which the article itself becomes publicly available or "Free in PMC." ...

OA recommended for developing countries

Denise Nicholson, Tips for Developing Countries when reviewing Copyright Laws, African Copyright & Access to Knowledge Project, September 9, 2009.

International intellectual property agreements allow limitations and exceptions to be adopted in national copyright laws. Here are some tips for developing countries when reviewing their copyright laws:

  • ... Do not include protection for non-original databases. (It had little or no positive impact for rightsholders in the EU and created problems for users)". Original databases are protected by copyright like any original work. ...
  • Promote Open Access, Open Source Software & Open Licensing (e.g. Creative Commons, etc.)
  • Create and populate Open Access Institutional Repositories/Research Archives to showcase African research.
  • Encourage authors not to sign over all their rights to publishers – encourage them to retain rights to enable them to place their works in open access institutional repositories, on personal blogs or to include in teaching materials. Encourage them to make use of an Author’s Addendum. ...

Law journals' copyright policies

Benjamin J. Keele, Balancing Copyright Privileges in Law Journal Publication Agreements: An Empirical Study, working paper, self-archived September 11, 2009. Abstract:
This study examines forty-nine law journal publication agreements and finds that a minority of journals ask authors to transfer copyright. Most journals also permit authors to self-archive articles with some conditions. The study recommends journals make their agreements publicly available and use licenses instead of copyright transfers.

Indian publications in OA journals

Mohammad Hanief Bhat, Open access publishing in Indian premier research institutions, Information Research, September 2009. Abstract:

Introduction. Publishing research findings in open access journals is a means of enhancing visibility and consequently increasing the impact of publications. This study provides an overview of open access publishing in premier research institutes of India.

Method. The publication output of each institution from 2003 to 2007 was ascertained through Scopus and the name of source journals along with the number of publications recorded. All 4232 journal titles were searched in the Directory of Open Access Journals and then using the Google search engine to find out which journals are openly accessible.

Analysis. The data are tabulated and analysed in a systematic way to reveal findings in accordance with desired objectives.

Results. The 17,516 research articles are contributed by the five institutions and appear in 4232 journals. The Indian Institute of Science publishes 8.26% of its research output in open access journals, All India Institute of Medical Sciences 19.37%, Baba Atomic Research Centre 4.84%, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi 3.04% and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur 3.26%.

Conclusions. The study reveals that a small portion of research publications of Indian research institutes is published in open access journals, the majority in journals of Indian origin. The medical institutions are contributing more of their publications to open access journals compared to other institutions.

Cornell launches an OA fund

Following on the compact to support OA journals (which Cornell signed) and on Harvard's OA fund to implement it, Cornell is launching an OA fund.

George Lowery, New funds help faculty publish in open-access journals, Cornell Chronicle, September 15, 2009.

Cornell University Library and the Office of the Provost are contributing $25,000 each for a pilot program to pay publication fees in open-access journals for Cornell faculty, researchers, staff and students. ...

The Cornell Open-Access Publication (COAP) Fund will underwrite processing fees for scholarly peer-reviewed articles in open-access journals for which funds are not otherwise available. Cornell faculty, postdoctoral researchers, staff or student authors can apply for COAP funding of up to $3,000. ...

The details of the fund are largely the same as Harvard's. A few areas where they differ:
  • The Cornell fund starts with a fixed amount ($50,000) and states that funding will be "first-come, first-served". (Harvard hasn't announced how much money it's committing.)
  • The Cornell fund specifically calls itself as a "pilot project" with the possibility to be continued.
  • Cornell encourages, but doesn't require, that the funded publication be deposited in a Cornell repository. (Harvard requires it.)


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harvard launches an OA fund

On the heels of the Harvard-led compact to support OA journals:

Stuart Shieber, Harvard’s new open-access fund, The Occasional Pamphlet, September 15, 2009.

Harvard’s participation in the open-access compact is being managed by the Office for Scholarly Communication, which has set up an open-access fund—the Harvard Open-Access Publishing Equity (HOPE) fund—consistent with the compact. Through HOPE, Harvard will reimburse eligible authors for open-access processing fees. Initially, members of the four Harvard faculties—Arts and Sciences, Education, Government, and Law—that have formally adopted open-access policies will be eligible to make use of the fund, with other faculties becoming eligible as they develop open-access policies. More information about Harvard’s fund can be found at the OSC web site.

From the HOPE fund site:

Faculty, researchers, staff, and students may request reimbursement for articles connected with their research activities at [the eligible] schools. ...

Eligible fees must be based on a publication's standard fee schedule that is independent of the author's institution.

The venue of publication must be an established open-access journal, that is, a journal that does not charge readers or their institutions for unfettered access to the peer-reviewed articles that it publishes. Journals with a hybrid open-access model or delayed open-access model are not eligible. To be eligible, a journal must meet these additional requirements:

We trust requesters to make appropriate decisions about the quality of the publication venue and the value of its services in relation to the fees it charges. ...

Articles for which alternative funding is available are not eligible for reimbursement. This includes articles funded by a gift or a grant from a granting agency, foundation, or other institution (including Harvard itself) that allows granted funds to be used for article processing fees ...

There is a nominal limit on the total reimbursement per article of $3,000, ...

[A]uthors may receive reimbursement for up to a total of $3,000 per academic year for all article processing fees. ...

[S]hould demand for funds exceed expectations, we may limit access to funds on a first-come-first-served basis. ...

You'll also need to make sure that you have deposited a copy of the article in the DASH repository before the reimbursement can be made. ...

See also this interview with Shieber from Harvard University Library Notes.

Comments. Kudos to Harvard for (again) putting its money where its mouth is.

  • Tying eligibility for funding to the school's adoption of an OA policy, and to the individual's actual self-archiving of the funded article, are strong moves.
  • The fund's requirements for journals are right-headed and reasonable.
  • Including staff and students -- not just faculty -- in eligibility is laudable and forward-looking.


5 major American universities commit to support OA journals

A Compact for Open-Access Publication, press release, September 14, 2009.

Five of the nation's premier institutions of higher learning—Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley—today announced their joint commitment to a compact for open-access publication. ...

Since open-access journals do not charge subscription or other access fees, they must cover their operating expenses through other sources, including subventions, in-kind support, or, in a sizable minority of cases, processing fees paid by or on behalf of authors for submission to or publication in the journal. While academic research institutions support traditional journals by paying their subscription fees, no analogous means of support has existed to underwrite the growing roster of fee-based open-access journals.

Stuart Shieber, Harvard's James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science and Director of the University's Office for Scholarly Communication, is the author of the five-member compact. According to Shieber, "Universities and funding agencies ought to provide equitable support for open-access publishing by subsidizing the processing fees that faculty incur when contributing to open-access publications. Right now, these fees are relatively rare. But if the research community supports open-access publishing and it gains in importance as we believe that it will, those fees could aggregate substantially over time. The compact ensures that support is available to eliminate these processing fees as a disincentive to open-access publishing."

The compact supports equity of the business models by committing each university to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication fees for open-access journal articles written by its faculty for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds.

Additional universities are encouraged to visit the compact web site and sign on. ...

See also coverage by Library Journal, The Wired Campus, and Inside Higher Ed. More information:

  • Of the initial compact signatories, only Berkeley previously had an OA fund. Berkeley's existing fund, though, was established as a pilot; at least three-quarters of the initial funding already have been obligated. The compact FAQ says that "the mechanisms developed by compact institutions would not be short-term, experimental deployments but programs with an expectation of continuity for multiple years."
  • Of the initial compact signatories, only Harvard and MIT have mandatory self-archiving policies; only MIT's is university-wide. Stevan Harnad criticizes this as putting the cart before the horse. The compact FAQ notes that signatories may choose to place conditions on implementing the compact, such as "prior establishment of an open-access policy at the institution".
  • According to the compact FAQ, the goal is to support journals that provide OA to all of their research: "hybrid open access journals ... would not be expected to be eligible". (Update. Note that the Berkeley fund currently includes hybrid journals.)
  • In addition, the compact FAQ establishes a loophole for grant-funded research: "a compact institution may reasonably expect that ... the funding agency should be responsible for payment of the publication charge, and the article would not be eligible for underwriting by the institution whether or not the funding agency actually covers the particular charge."

See also our past post on this proposal.

Update. Harvard has launched an OA fund to implement its commitments under the compact.

Update. See also my comments:

... I don’t see why the compact couldn’t have been a commitment to fund OA journals in general rather than to fund publication charges at OA journals.

Update. Cornell launched an OA fund.

Update. See also further comments by Stevan Harnad (1, 2).

Update. Also see comments by Jason Baird Jackson and Philip Davis.

Update. Also see comments on Law Librarian Blog.


Even PLoS confuses libre with gratis OA

A few days ago, PLoS Medicine posted an announcement that, as part of celebrations for the journal's 5th anniversary, it was holding a contest for best OA article in medicine from the past 5 years, with a list of nominees. Today, the original announcement had been pulled and this update was posted on the journal's blog:

Susan Jones, PLoS Medicine’s 5th anniversary competition – update, Speaking of Medicine, September 15, 2009.

We are currently running a competition to find the best open access medicine paper of the past 5 years — many thanks to all of you who have voted. Unfortunately, it has now come to our attention that one of the articles shortlisted was not an open access paper, but instead was free access. So, we’ve had to suspend voting temporarily and we’ll be relaunching the competition as soon as possible. We would like to unreservedly apologise to all those who have already cast their votes and reassure you that you’ll be able to cast your vote again. Although free access is a step in the right direction, it differs from open access, because true open access means that you can not only read articles for free, but can download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) any way you wish. Open access is a core principle of PLoS; this problem illustrates how easy it is to fall foul of this important distinction but serves to remind us about the key difference between free and open access that we’re seeking to highlight.

Nature to launch a new OA journal

Nature Publishing Group, Introducing Cell Death & Disease - a new open access journal for 2010, press release, September 14, 2009.

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and the Associazione Differenziamento e Morte Cellulare (ADMC) today announce a new open access journal, Cell Death & Disease. Launching in January 2010, Cell Death & Disease will explore the area of cell death from a translational medicine perspective. The journal is now accepting submissions.

Cell Death & Disease is a sister journal to the well-established and highly respected journal Cell Death & Disease (2008 impact factor 7.548)*. ...

Cell Death & Disease will be online only and will make all content freely available to all researchers worldwide. An article-processing charge of £2,000 / $3,000 / €2,400 will be levied per article accepted for publication. ...

PLoS ONE recognized for publishing innovation

The OA journal PLoS ONE won the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers' 2009 award for Publishing Innovation. The award was announced at the ALPSP annual conference (Oxford, September 9-11, 2009).


Sorry for the radio silence yesterday. I was traveling and thought I'd have a chance to blog, but didn't. (As always, though, OATP marches on.) I'll do my best to catch up and keep you current.