Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, October 02, 2009

More activities for OA Week

Here's more of what to expect for the upcoming international Open Access Week (October 19-23, 2009): See also our past posts on OA Week.

New drug industry guidelines on clinical trial info

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) new Principles on Conduct of Clinical Trials and Communication of Clinical Trial Results took effect on October 1. (Thanks to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog.) The voluntary guidelines describe ethical standards for industry-sponsored clinical trials.

... America’s pharmaceutical research companies are committed to the transparency of clinical trials that are sponsored by our member companies. We recognize that there are important public health benefits associated with making appropriate clinical trial information widely available to healthcare practitioners, patients, and others. Such disclosure must maintain protections for individual privacy, intellectual property, and contract rights, as well as conform to legislation and current national practices in patent law.

Availability of information about clinical trials and their results in a timely manner is often critical to communicate important new information to the medical profession, patients and the public. ...

We commit to the timely submission and registration on a public database of summary information about all clinical trials that we conduct involving the use of our marketed or investigational products in patients ... regardless of outcome. In addition, if information from any clinical trial is felt to be of significant medical importance, then we will work with investigators to publish the data. ...

We seek to provide investigators with meaningful access to clinical data from the studies in which they participate. ... Sponsors will make a summary of the study results available to the investigators. In addition any investigator who participated in the conduct of a multi-site clinical trial will be able to review relevant statistical tables, figures, and reports for the entire study at the sponsor’s facilities, or other mutually agreeable location. ...

This summary could be the primary manuscript submitted for publication, a slide presentation, or a synopsis of the sponsor’s Clinical Study Report (CSR).

Investigators who participated in the conduct of a multi-site clinical trial and are interested in more extensive data displays will be able to review data for the entire study at the sponsor’s facility or other mutually agreeable location in response to a reasonable scientific inquiry. Investigators who are authors of study-related manuscripts will be given all study data needed to support the publication. ...

Investigators are encouraged to communicate a summary of the trial results, as appropriate, to their research participants after conclusion of the trial. As research sponsors, we will support investigators in this regard. ...

If requested by a medical journal when reviewing a submitted manuscript for publication, the clinical trial sponsor will provide a synopsis of the clinical trial protocol and/or prespecified plan for data analysis with the understanding that such documents are confidential and should be returned to the sponsor. ...

For clinical trials subject to the FDAAA, companies should list the data elements required by the statute [when registering the trial]. In addition, companies should consider providing the FDAAA data elements for all other clinical trials covered in these Principles, except if providing such information could jeopardize the intellectual property protection with respect to the product. ...

As a general matter, if the company acts as the sponsor of a clinical trial, it should work with the investigator to publish or disclose results from clinical trials of drugs. ...

For purposes of investigator access to data, relevance refers to data from the trial and is determined by the study design and pre-stated research objectives. Simply stated, investigators will be given access to any tables, figures, and reports they need from the study that are related to the hypothesis being tested or explored or which are needed in order to understand the results of the study. ...

500,000 public domain books available digitize-on-demand

The New York Public Library and Kirtas Technologies Partner to Make 500,000 Public-Domain Books Available to the World, press release, September 29, 2009.

... Through their Digitize-on-Demand program, Kirtas Technologies has partnered with The New York Public Library to make 500,000 public domain works from The Library’s collections available (to anyone in the world). ...

Using existing information from NYPL’s catalog records, Kirtas will make the library’s public domain books available for sale through its retail site before they are ever digitized. Customers can search for a desired title on and place an order for that book. When the order is placed, only then is it pulled from the shelf, digitized and made available as a high-quality reprint or digital file.

What makes this approach to digitization unique is that NYPL incurs no up-front printing, production or storage costs. It also provides the library with a self-funding, commercial model helping it to sustain its digitization programs in the future. Unlike other free or low-cost digitization programs, the library retains the rights and ownership to their own digitized content. ...

Kirtas currently has 13 partnerships with universities and public libraries to make special collections available for sale online. ...

Via email, Jonathan Pace of NYPL tells me that the digitized books will "ultimately" be OA: "We don't have a specific timeline, but we are currently looking into it."

See also our past posts on Kirtas.

Open access roundup

October issue of SOAN

I just mailed the October issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at ten challenges facing OA journals.  The roundup section briefly notes 177 OA developments from September. 

UpdateCorrection:  I tried and failed to mail the October issue.  I'm having trouble with my ISP and can't send any email at all.  I'm sure it's temporary, and my ISP simply found the perfect time to let the gremlins out.  In the meantime you can read the online edition of the newsletter, which is identical to the email edition.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Support for FRPAA from provosts and libraries

Two recent statements of support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA, S.1373), the U.S. legislation which would provide OA to publicly-funded research government-wide: See also my past post on statements of support for FRPAA.

Open access roundup

Here's a new feature I'm trying out. The aim is to distill some of the news that comes across the Open Access Tracking Project every day, but that doesn't require as extensive coverage as our full posts. Let me know what you think. —Gavin

Update on the growth of OA

Heather Morrison, Dramatic Growth of Open Access: September 30, 2009, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, September 30, 2009.
This issue of The Dramatic Growth of Open Access features a few key quotable numbers to illustrate the growth and current extent of open access: more than 4,000 fully open access, peer reviewed journals in DOAJ, growing by 2 titles per day; close to 1,500 open access repositories listed in OpenDOAR, adding a new repository every business day; over 30 million free publications through Scientific Commons, growing by more than 20 thousands items per day; more than 20% of the world's medical literature is freely available 2 years after publication, and close to 10% is freely available immediately on publication; 1 more journal decides to submit all or most content to PMC every business day, and growth of open access journals in PMC is one new journal every other business day. The number of open access mandate policies is well over a hundred, and growing rapidly - but also likely understated. If you have a policy, please be sure to register with ROARMAP. This quarter saw some minor setbacks. Most notable (but still small) is a decrease in free content through Highwire Press. ...

IRs for research assessment

Colin Smith, Institutional repositories and the REF, Open Research Online, September 30, 2009.

As many people reading this post will know, HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) have recently published their second consultation on the assessment and funding of research. This document, which sets out proposals for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), has helped cement in my mind the areas in which institutional repositories (Open Research Online [ORO], in the case of us here at the Open University) will play a crucial role.

The first, and perhaps least exciting role that institutional repositories (IRs) can and should play in the REF is an administrative one. So, the physical gathering together of publications for the submission process itself. Last time, for the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008, we (the Open University) were one of few institutions, I believe, to use our IR to populate HEFCE’s spreadsheet. I imagine, given that IRs are now much more mature and prevalent, that this will be more common-place across institutions for the REF. ...

Maximising citations is now in the interest of the REF-submitted researcher… and this is the second role that IRs can play. ... [F]or those still sceptical about the citation advantage of open access, is that really a reason not to deposit in your IR? Even if there is only a small chance that your paper may pick up just one extra citation, surely that is worth the minute it takes to deposit the paper in your IR? There is nothing to lose by depositing, but potential citations to lose by not. To me, it’s a no-brainer.

Finally, I want to talk about impact. Not impact in the context of citations, but impact of research to society, the economy… to UK plc… beyond the realms of academic circles. This, according to HEFCE, will constitute 25% of the assessment in the REF. Not only does research need to create that impact in the first place, but we also need to be able to evidence it in our REF submissions. In my mind, this is rapidy becoming the most important aspect for the institutional repository to affect. Specifically, what proportion of those people in UK industry and society will have access to the academic journals, books, and proceedings in which you publish? How will they get to know about the (hopefully) world-leading research you are producing? And thus, how will that knowledge be transferred to society, for the benefit of the economy and UK plc, as HEFCE are so keen to see? Well, one way is to make sure as much of your research as possible is made openly available through your IR. ...

See also our past posts on the Research Assessment Exercise and the Research Excellence Framework.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New U.S. bill proposes OER mandate

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) last week introduced the Open College Textbook Act (S. 1714). (Thanks to TechLaw.) The bill has two main parts:

  • Authorizes $15 million for grants to develop open textbooks for college courses. The grants would be managed by the Department of Education, with a peer review process involving the National Science Foundation. Funding would be available to create new open textbooks, update existing open textbooks, or adapt traditional textbooks. The resulting works would have to be available OA: free online and under an open license.
  • Requires that "educational materials such as curricula and textbooks created through grants distributed by Federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, for use in elementary, secondary, or postsecondary courses shall be licensed under an open license" and "made available free of charge".

Also see Durbin's press release on the bill.

Comment. Is this the first federal legislation to define "open license"?

See also our past posts on Sen. Durbin, or our past post on a similar piece of legislation in the House, the LOW COST Act.


Leaders call for OA to agricultural info. in India

T. V. Padma, Agricultural research 'should be open access', SciDev.Net, September 29, 2009.

Providing open access to agricultural research in India will help drive development and reduce poverty, says Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science. ...

He was speaking at a meeting on open access in agriculture, held at the International Centre for Crop Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, this month (7–8 September). ...

Stevan Harnad, Canada research chair in cognitive sciences at the University of Montreal, Quebec, pointed out at the meeting that universities and libraries subscribe to only a fraction of the roughly 25,000 peer-reviewed journals that are published worldwide, in all languages and all disciplines.

This means "research is having only a fraction of its potential usage and impact".

India's Agricultural Research Service Scientists' Forum (ARSSF) agrees that the country's crop research journals should be made open access. Sridhar Gutam, ARSSF joint secretary, told SciDev.Net that it is time the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) took a policy decision on open access journals.

In January, India launched 'AgroPedia', an online repository of agricultural information.

Gutam says that there is a broad understanding among the ICRISAT meeting participants that an open access agricultural research publications repository will be created within AgroPedia, where participants will be able to deposit their research articles.

Penn may form OA committee

This was alluded to in the Daily Pennsylvanian column which we linked to yesterday, but here's official confirmation that the University of Pennsylvania may form a group to consider OA:

Minutes from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, September 23, 2009:

... [Vice Provost and Director of Libraries H. Carton Rogers] outlined various current models used for open access publishing, and the growing interest from the government and numerous universities in the open access movement. He suggested that the increased visibility and accessibility that comes with open access publishing benefits authors as well as readers and is a way to make the research and scholarship happening at Penn more widely available to the global community of scholars. Vice Provost for Research Steve Fluharty also announced that Provost Vincent Price would be interested in forming a faculty committee to address Open Access issues in the Penn context....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey, why aren't we part of COPE?

Two recent comments on the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity, where students from schools not participating in the compact call on their universities to do so:

Danny Crichton, On open access, Stanford’s leadership falters, The Stanford Daily, September 29, 2009.

... The five schools that joined the compact are Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, MIT and our rivals across the Bay, Berkeley. Stanford’s name is quite conspicuously absent from this list. Our school has been one of the leaders of this movement for many years, and thus, it is discouraging to see that other schools are carrying the torch for this necessary push. ...

With the announcement of this new consortium, Stanford appears to be trending behind its peer institutions in this battle over publishing. ...

Our motto at Stanford is “The Wind of Freedom Blows.” Let us take that motto to heart and open up the best research on Earth. ...

Lindsey Stull, Strengthening shoulders, The Daily Pennsylvanian, September 29, 2009.

... [The University of Pennsylvania]'s name is noticeably lacking from the compact. According to Vice Provost for Research Steven Fluharty, the Provost's Office and the University Libraries plan to work together to determine the optimal way for the school to implement an open-access policy. Emphasizing the diversity present in Penn scholarship, Fluharty stressed that "one size is not going to fit all." He estimates that a committee charged with finding a solution to this issue will spend the next four to six months developing recommendations for a policy.

While universities should clearly seek models that best suit their own interests, this every-man-for-himself plan, in which institutions individually adopt conflicting policies, leaves much to be desired. Practically, it could mean myriad logistical difficulties for journals concerning how they cover publication costs. ...

Instead, researchers, institutions and publishers should come together to create a comprehensive plan for the future of open access. ...

Also see comments by Parker Higgins of Students for Free Culture.

See also our past post on COPE.

Georgia building a statewide IR

On September 24, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced its latest National Leadership Grants. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Among the grants is $850,000 to Georgia Tech to develop a statewide IR:
The Georgia Institute of Technology, in partnership with the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, Valdosta State University, Albany State University, North Georgia College and State University, and the College of Coastal Georgia, will build a statewide institutional repository (IR) called the GALILEO Knowledge Repository. The partners will also host a national symposium on statewide and consortial repositories, create instructional materials, conduct consortial IR training, and offer consulting services. This project will advance scholarly communication by expanding the use of IRs by U.S. colleges and universities and by increasing the number of professionals with knowledge and skills in managing consortial IRs.
Several of the other grants ($17.9 million in all) are also related to OA; see the full list, especially the "Advancing Digital Resources" category.

New OA textbook intiatives from Florida

Two related OA textbooks initiatives from Florida:
  • In May, Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill (HB 7121) which created the Florida Distance Learning Consortium. The bill tasked the new consortium with, among other things, developing an "instructional content repository" and a "plan for promoting and increasing the use of open access textbooks as a method for reducing textbook costs".

    That bill gave birth to the Orange Grove educational repository and the Open Acess Textbooks Task Force. The task force held its first meeting in July. The bill requires that the consortium submit the plan by March 2010.

  • On September 23, the consortium announced a collaboration with the University Press of Florida, creating Orange Grove Text Plus. OGT+ is an OA imprint of the press which uses the repository as its publishing platform. The imprint launched with 89 textbooks and 21 monographs from the press' backlist, and plans to add more.

U. Virginia debates an OA mandate

U.Va. Faculty Senate Weighs Access to Scholarly Articles, UVA Today, September 28, 2009.

The University of Virginia Faculty Senate discussed how to make scholarly articles more accessible when it met Wednesday in the Rotunda Dome Room.

Edmund Kitch, a law professor, and Brian Pusser, a professor at the Curry School of Education and chairman of the senate's Task Force on Scholarly Publication and Authors' Rights, presented a draft resolution on open access to scholarship with the intention that senators vote on it at their November meeting.

Under the proposed resolution, U.Va. faculty members would assign to the rector and Board of Visitors "a nonexclusive, irrevocable, non-commercial global license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of her or his scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided the articles are not sold for profit."

The policy would apply to all scholarly articles written by faculty members while at U.Va., except pieces that were written before the policy is adopted and remain under "incompatible" licensing agreements. All other articles would be turned over to the provost's office in electronic form and made generally available no sooner than 12 months after their journal publication. ...

Madelyn Wessel, special adviser to the University librarian and a member of the task force, said the current resolution is based on a similar policy at Harvard University. ...

See also our past post on the proposed mandate or all past posts on UVa.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Croatia's OA journal platform

Jadranka Stojanovski, Jelka Petrak, and Bojan Macan, The Croatian national open access journal platform, Learned Publishing, October 2009. Abstract:
Until recently, Croatian scientific journals were accessible only in print form and only to a relatively small audience. A national online journals platform was therefore planned to offer publishers a simple tool for building online versions of their journals and to make them open access. The platform, named Hrčak, was launched in 2006, supported by governmental funds. It currently includes 170 open access (OA) journals. Most journals include backfiles from 2006 onwards; the average archived period is 6.3 years. 56.5% of the journals come from the fields of social sciences and humanities. Metadata from the Hrčak platform are regularly harvested by OA repositories. To increase the number of Croatian journals covered by relevant bibliographic and full-text databases, Hrčak has forged links with Elsevier, Thomson Reuters and EBSCO. So far, the main achievements include assisting publishers in the process of electronic publishing, and improving accessibility to Croatian scientific output.
See also our past post on Hrčak.

OA textbooks from college bookstores

Jeff Young, College Bookstores Hope to Turn Their Web Sites Into E-Book Portals, The Wired Campus, September 24, 2009.

College bookstores are taking steps to turn their Web sites into e-book portals, hoping to stay relevant as publishers make a push to electronic textbooks.

A project announced this week by bookstore associations in the United States and Canada will bring a library of downloadable e-books to participating stores. A few stores in Canada are experimenting with the system this fall, and some U.S. stores will try the system starting this spring.

... [T]he groups -- the National Association of College Stores and the Canadian Campus Retail Associates Inc. -- have pooled their resources to develop a shared system. Each store can integrate it into its own Web site, to let students buy and download an electronic text in just a few clicks ...

So far the groups' collection is tiny -- just about 200 titles. ... [T]his first set of books is free to students, either because the books are out of copyright or because the publishers have agreed to make them free for now.

Anyone can download the free books from participating stores ...

Also see the NACS press release.