Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, November 13, 2009

Open access roundup

  • A "manifesto" released by OCLC Research calls on academic libraries to "offer alternative scholarly publishing and dissemination platforms that are integrated with appropriate repositories and preservation services", among other things.
  • HathiTrust released its October newsletter.
  • "For economically poor countries," writes Barbara Kirsop, "the development of the fastest, lowest cost route to open access is a ‘no brainer’. ... The developing world urgently needs the establishment and filling of IRs right now."
  • Lower subscription costs at two hybrid OA Nature Publishing Group journals "will not be enough to keep libraries and funders like the Wellcome Trust from asking NPG for more transparency", argues Bernd-Christoph Kaemper. "If we had data to actually calculate revenue per article, we would see that it has risen sharply [since 2006]."

Study of journal policies in Chile

ONG Derechos Digitales, Las publicaciones necesitan mejorar sus condiciones de acceso al público, press release, November 13, 2009. Read it in the original Spanish or Google's translation. Excerpt of an unofficial translation; errors mine:

Journals available only on paper, small print runs, heavy concentration in the capital city, and highly restrictive licenses are some of the major problems that Chilean academic publications have with their publishing policies, particularly those concerning access for their readers, according to a study released at the Santiago Book Fair by ONG Derechos Digitales.

"Proper publishing policies can achieve a wider distribution, access and use of the journal's contents by the scientific community, academics and students," said Alberto Cerda Silva, lead researcher on the study "Publishing Policies of Academic Publications in Chile", which reviewed 267 national publications. The study focused on the policies of submission, dissemination, distribution and content licensing for academic publications. Some results were: ...

  • Nearly a fifth of the journals are available only on paper. Although most of the journals are available in print and online, 21.7% of publications are available exclusively on paper, an obstacle to remote access.
  • All rights reserved. ... 22 journals have adopted some of the Creative Commons licenses. The vast majority of journals are distributed with all rights reserved. ...

Interview on the German OA petition

Richard Poynder, German petition takes Open Access movement by surprise, Open and Shut?, November 13, 2009. An interview with Lars Fischer, author of the OA petition to the German parliament (English translation).

... [Q:] ... [W]hy did you start the petition?

[A:] ... The petition began with something called the Heidelberg Appeal, which was effectively a smear against Open Access. I learned that many scientists were as outraged as I was about the falsehoods in that document.

Because of that I prepared a draft that began a lively discussion in my blog. A few months later, during "Open Access Week" I submitted my text to the Bundestag server, where it was published last Monday. ...

[Q:] How does the petition process work: As I understand it if you get 50,000 signatures by December 22nd it gets debated in the German Parliament? Is that right?

[A:] The goal is to get as many signatures as possible. The Bundestag FAQ says that if 50,000 signatures are reached within three weeks, the petition will be discussed publicly in the Bundestag Petition Committee, in a session where I'm entitled to take part. But even if fewer people sign, every accepted petition will be reviewed by two members of the Committee, so every vote counts.

Actually, other petitions have been accepted with far less than 50,000 votes, notably a dark sky petition this year, which had about 8,000 signatures. As far as I understand it, a hearing in the committee may lead to a legislative initiative, which will then be voted on by the Bundestag. ...

[Q:] What exactly are you proposing?

[A:] My proposal would require publications that came out of taxpayer-funded research to be available to the public. I also propose establishing a central digital repository that is searchable in a number of different ways. ...

[Q:] Would I be right in thinking you are proposing that Germany introduce a scheme similar to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandate (which includes a 12-month embargo on authors making their papers freely available), or something different?

[A:] This is the basic idea. I think it is best to stick to what is known to be working. There may be some differences due to the different structure of research funding. Personally I’m no fan of an embargo, though. ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open access roundup

Times Higher Ed. feature on OA; editorial calls for mandates

The November 12 issue of Times Higher Education contains a lengthy feature on OA, as well as an editorial calling for institutional OA mandates:

Citing hybrid uptake, Nature lowers subscription costs on 2 journals

Nature Publishing Group, Open Access uptake prompts 9% price reduction for The EMBO Journal and EMBO reports, press release, November 12, 2009.

Prices for site licence access to The EMBO Journal and EMBO reports will be reduced by 9% in 2010, reflecting the increased publication of Open Access content in 2008. Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) announced the decision today, following ratification by the EMBO Council.

"We've taken into account all of the relevant data in reaching this decision, including the number of Open Access articles published in 2008," said David Hoole, Head of Content Licensing, NPG. "This change reflects the recent growth in the amount of Open Access content in both journals and the corresponding partial coverage of publication costs by author charges." ...

For the 2011 subscription year onwards, both the site licence price and author fees will be considered in an effort to achieve equitable distribution of the costs of publication. This evaluation will involve an in-depth review of all factors relevant to the publication process, including the proportion of Open Access content and authors' ability to pay for Open Access and other publication-related costs. ...

NPG has implemented hybrid models across many of its academic journals, and expects those titles to show price reductions in due course, as the volume of open access increases. ...

Preparing for open science

Liz Lyon, Open science at web-scale: Optimising participation and predictive potential, report for JISC, November 10, 2009. From the executive summary:

This report has attempted to draw together and synthesise evidence and opinion associated with data-intensive open science from a wide range of sources. The potential impact of data-intensive open science on research practice and research outcomes, is both substantive and far-reaching. There are implications for funding organisations, for research and information communities and for higher education institutions.

The original specification for the work was highly selective in its choice of areas to study, and this Report addresses only three of these areas in any depth:

  • open science including open notebook science : making methodologies, data and results available on the Internet, through transparent working practices
  • citizen science including volunteer computing : where volunteers who may not have scientific training, perform or manage research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation
  • predictive science : data-driven science which enables the forecasting, anticipation or prediction of specific outcomes. ...

In addition, the Report addresses data informatics and the supporting role of libraries for these particular aspects of open science. ...

The report is positioned as a consultative document, which it is hoped will stimulate and contribute to community discussion in the UK, but also fuel the open science debate on the global stage. Whilst many questions have been asked here, they will require fuller articulation and investigation in other fora. The economic implications will require detailed analysis and the societal benefits should be reviewed and evaluated. ...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Open access roundup

Free culture charter calls for OA

Participants in the Free Culture Forum (Barcelona, October 29-November 1, 2009) developed this Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge:

We are in the midst of a revolution in the way that knowledge and culture are created, accessed and transformed. ...

In spite of these transformations, the entertainment industry, most communications service providers governments and international bodies still base the sources of their advantages and profits on control of content and tools and on managing scarcity. This leads to restrictions on citizens’ rights to education, access to information, culture, science and technology; freedom of expression; inviolability of communications and privacy. They put the protection of private interests above the public interest, holding back the development of society in general.

Today’s institutions, industries, structures or conventions will not survive into the future unless they adapt to these changes. ...

We have identified gaps that exist in national regulations and international treaties concerning the dissemination of culture and knowledge, both in private, contractual relations and in international public policy. We propose reforms which we believe are necessary to overcome these flaws. These weaknesses of existing regulations and treaties are detrimental to the public interest and to a modern, democratic cultural industry.

In this context, the public interest is best served by supporting and ensuring continued creation of intellectual works of significant societal value, and to ensure all citizens have unfettered access to such works for a wide variety of uses. ...

  • Publicly funded research, and intellectual and cultural work should be made available freely to the general public. ...

Open Access publications assure access to the results of scientific research, for scientists as well as the general public; they boost the possibilities for learning and they enable diverse research disciplines to discover and use each other’s results. Universities and research centres therefore should embrace the Open Access model for the publication of research results. ...

Signatories include the P2P Foundation, Consumers International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, David Bollier, Knowledge Ecology International, Free Knowledge Institute, Amelia Andersdotter (Swedish Pirate Party MEP-elect), Creative Commons Spain, and Students for Free Culture.

NZ faculty attitudes on IRs

Rowena Cullen and Brenda Chawner, National Survey: Perceptions of New Zealand Academic Staff Towards Institutional Repositories, September 2009, OARiNZ, September 24, 2009.

... A research project at the Victoria University of Wellington collected data from a large study of the implementation and use of IRs in New Zealand in 2008. The project addressed a number of research questions regarding the purpose and scope of the repositories being established by New Zealand tertiary institutions and their libraries. It also asked about the acceptability of the IR concept to the New Zealand academic community.

As a part of this project, a questionnaire was sent to academic staff at New Zealand universities and polytechnics exploring their attitudes towards the concept of IRs, as well as the motivators and barriers that might lead them to deposit their own material or use this resource in their research. The resulting data are drawn from responses of academic staff who could be expected to be active researchers, based on a random sample drawn from each of the eight universities and twelve of the larger polytechnics.

The main findings of this study were:

  • Awareness of the concept of institutional repositories was relatively high. A total of 345 (63.5%) respondents stated they were aware of the concept, with 198 answering no (3 non-responses). However, a smaller percentage was aware of their own institution’s repository; over 54% were unaware of the existence of a repository at their institution. In many cases, the No response did not correlate with the actual existence of an IR in the institution.
  • The chief reasons for depositing clearly reflected an altruistic intent in making work available. There was less support for the personal benefits resulting from this enhanced access to a researcher’s work in the form of increased recognition and reputation.
  • Concerns about copyright, while high, are not excessively high and concerns about plagiarism are lower than concerns about the time required to deposit items in a repository. The most significant barriers are still related to awareness of the repository and lack of encouragement to deposit. ...

Academics’ use of IRs in New Zealand is still fairly low. While 239 individuals (44.3%) reported the existence of an IR at their institution, only 131 (24%) have ever deposited in it ...

U. Adelaide launches an OA + POD press

Jacqueline Dutton, University's e-press recasts publishing model, The Australian, November 11, 2009.

On October 23 the University of Adelaide finally joined the other Group of Eight universities in launching its own press. ...

The Australian National University e-press provided the best example for Adelaide University's new venture: maximum exposure of its own scholars' monographs, leading to more citations and therefore more recognition by research funding bodies. So the ANU model, offering free access to its publications in their entirety online, and the option to purchase texts through a print-on-demand service, was adopted. Despite the unorthodoxy of giving away something valuable in a capitalist society, it makes sense when the goals are so clear. ...

With six re-editions already available, and more than a dozen titles in the pipeline from areas including law, French, electronic engineering, neurosurgery, history, politics, geography and vascular surgery, UAP has made an impressive debut, unhampered by difficult economic times, because its products are free. ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Open access roundup

Business leaders back OA mandates

Committee for Economic Development Releases Report on Improving Research, Teaching, and Learning in The Digital Age, press release, November 6, 2009.

Colleges and universities should embrace the concept of increased openness in the use and sharing of information to improve higher education. That is the core recommendation of Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, a new report from the Committee for Economic Development (CED). The report was produced by CED’s Digital Connections Council (DCC), a group of information technology experts that advises CED’s business leaders on cutting-edge technologies. ...

Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education examines the impact of openness on colleges and universities. The report identifies some of the potential gains from making higher education more open and recommends actions that policy makers and institutions of higher education can take to harness its benefits. ...

The following are among the key recommendations of Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education:

Governments should: ...

  • Maintain and extend policies increasing access to government funded research and facilitating the non-commercial use of materials for educational purposes.

Colleges and universities should: ...

  • Establish open-source digital repositories and require faculty to provide the institution with a non-exclusive license to the products of their research. ...

The report specifically supports the NIH policy, as well as expanding the NIH policy to all non-classified research at other federal agencies.

See also our past post on the draft report, released last month.

Nobelists call for FRPAA

Alliance for Taxpayer Access, Nobel Prize-winning scientists urge Congress to act to ensure free online access to federally funded research results, press release, November 10, 2009.

“For America to obtain an optimal return on our investment in science, publicly funded research must be shared as broadly as possible,” is the message that forty one Nobel Prize-winning scientists in medicine, physics, and chemistry gave to Congress in an open letter delivered yesterday. The letter marks the fourth time in five years that leading scientists have called on Congress to ensure free, timely access to the results of federally funded research – this time asking leaders to support the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S.1373).

The Nobel Prize-winners write:

As the pursuit of science is increasingly conducted in a digital world, we need policies that ensure that the opportunities the Internet presents for new research tools and techniques to be employed can be fully exploited. The removal of access barriers and the enabling of expanded use of research findings has the potential to dramatically transform how we approach issues of vital importance to the public, such as biomedicine, climate change, and energy research. As scientists, and as taxpayers too, we support FRPAA and urge its passage.

The bi-partisan Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), introduced by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), would deliver online public access to the published results of research funded through eleven U.S. agencies and departments, requiring that peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from publicly funded research be made available in an online repository no later than six months after publication. ...

The number of Nobelist signatories on this letter (41) is an increase from past letters: 33 in 2008, 26 in 2007, and 25 in 2004. The signatories include two of the three 2009 laureates in medicine.


New OA journals

OA journal announcements, conversions, and launches spotted in the past week:


Yesterday Open Access News passed the milestone of 18,000 posts. Thanks for reading what we're writing.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Open access roundup

Do OA publisher memberships save universities money?

Philip Davis, Open Access Memberships: Are Libraries Paying Too Much?, The Scholarly Kitchen, November 9, 2009.

Do open access (OA) membership fees save institutions money? In the case of Columbia University, the answer is clearly, “No.”

A talk titled, “Cost/Benefit Analysis of BioMed Central Membership at a Large Medical Institution,” was presented last Friday afternoon at the 2009 Charleston Conference [Charleston, S.C., November 4-7, 2009] by Susan Klimley, the Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian in the Health Sciences Library at Columbia University.

What motivated Klimley to undertake such a study was seeing her BMC membership fees rise each year by 8%, and then by 10% in 2009. Klimley’s materials budget has been flat for the last five consecutive years, and in January she was told that she needed to trim an additional 10%.

This is a familiar story for many research libraries in the United States.

Until this year, her library was paying BMC almost $10,000 as a supporter member, which entitled Columbia authors to receive a 15% discount on author processing charges (APC). ...

Klimley worked under three possible cost/benefit models where payment was attributed to the first author, last author, and corresponding author. In each of these calculations she discovered that Columbia was paying more money to BMC under their membership model than if their authors had paid full price. ...

Guide to studies of journal business models

Knowledge Exchange publishes brochure on Comparison of various studies on journal business models, press release, November 9, 2009.

Knowledge Exchange has now released a brochure in which the differences in outcomes from these various studies on costs and benefits of various journal business models are explained. This briefing paper also looks at the outcomes of the broadly cited RIN study and various national studies performed by John Houghton.

An important difference between the studies is that early studies considered only the costs incurred in publishing traditional journals made available for purchase on a subscription or licensing business model. As the open access business model became available, some studies also covered the cost of making research articles available in open access journals. More recent studies have taken a broader perspective, looking at the position of journal publishers in the market and their business models in the context of the economic benefits from research dissemination.

Dr Wim Liebrand, director of SURF says, “The present debate on Open Access is centred around optimal access, achieving maximum impact at an affordable costs. It is very important to be able to have an objective informed discussion on the real costs and benefits of various journal business models. This concise brochure contributes to this discussion by offering an overview of the various studies on journal business models.”

Authors' publication decisions and OA

Phillip Edwards, Opportunity knocks: Authors' writing and publishing decisions when manuscripts are solicited, presented at the Society for Social Studies of Science annual meeting (Washington, D.C., October 28-31, 2009). Abstract:
In recent years, mechanisms for distributing scholarly products have increased dramatically in variety, and the ways in which scholars make decisions about where to publish or how to distribute the products of their work have become increasingly unclear. The study discussed in this paper employs a contextualized approach to investigating scholars' work practices related to scholarly communication, borrowing concepts and representational techniques from managerial decision-making research. Existing [science & technology studies] research largely ignores the role that authors' solicited manuscripts play within the larger scholarly communication system; this study approaches these solicited manuscripts as part of a larger portfolio of scholarly work that an author uses to represent his or her academic productivity. Faculty members in the fields of communication and biological sciences at a large, public research university in the United States were selected to participate. Starting from their curricula vitae, in-depth interviews and sorting activities were used to elicit narratives about individuals’ attitudes and practices from their own publishing histories as well as their use of networked tools to distribute their scholarship. Participants spoke about two classes of communication decisions that were qualitatively different: (1) decisions associated with manuscripts that were solicited by 'notable' editors or peers and (2) self-directed decisions about where to publish written reports emerging directly from their scholarship. In both cases, peer review and audience analysis played substantial roles in influencing scholars' decisions; however, the relative 'openness' or 'closedness' of the written products under both sets of conditions varied considerably. Finally, this paper considers the implications of these "opportunity" and "problem" decision stimuli for "gold" and "green" open access initiatives.

UK groups to collaborate on studies of OA

Transitions in Scholarly Communications, press release, November 2, 2009.

The scholarly communications landscape has been transformed over the past few years, in the UK and across the world. ... There are shared ambitions for significantly enhanced access, but no consensus on how best to achieve it.

Understanding the nature and implications of these changes, and the interrelationships between them, is thus of critical importance if we are to exploit the potential of new technologies and services to the full. The Research Information Network (RIN), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), the Publishers Association (PA), the British Library (BL), Research Libraries UK (RLUK), the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), SPARC Europe, Research Councils UK (RCUK), Universities UK (UUK), the Wellcome Trust and others have been working to this end. They are now seeking to establish a joint portfolio of work to underpin and facilitate transitions over the next few years.

The joint portfolio will focus intially on four projects, though more may follow

  • Transitions to e-only publication ...
  • Gaps in access, which will investigate the extent to which journal articles and other research outputs are available, or not, to different parts of the research and other communities which could make use of them; and to identify priorities in seeking to fill gaps in access, barriers to filling them, and actions that might be taken to that end;
  • Dynamics of improving access to research papers, which will provide evidence for a better understand[ing of] the dynamics of the transitions needed to reach a selection of plausible end-points, and the costs, benefits, opportunities and risks that this entails. Transition is understood to relate to changes in practice, business models and organisational culture within the relevant constituencies, and any new entrants, over defined timeframes. The end-points, to be defined in advance of the project, will be associated with four broad models: open access journals (gold OA); open access repositories (green OA); extensions to licensing; and transactional solutions.The project will be founded on a comparative description of the transitions that (i) are taking place now, and (ii) would need to take place over the next five years, in order to reach each of the selected end-points. There will also be an analysis of the drivers and mechanisms underlying these transitions, and associated costs and benefits (both cash and non-cash).
  • Futures for scholarly communications, which will seek to develop a series of challenging scenarios for scholarly communications in ten years' time ...

The bodies listed above will work together on these projects with the aim of building a common understanding of the incentives, constraints, costs and benefits associated with the shared goals of widening access to research outputs; and of promoting the continuing development of a scholarly communications system that is sustainable, efficient and effective in meeting the needs and aspirations of the research community in the UK and globally.

Each body will also share information about other projects that they undertake related to those shared goals.