Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, November 20, 2009

Open access roundup

Oberlin adopts an OA mandate

Oberlin College Faculty Unanimously Endorses Open Access, press release, November 20, 2009.

The Oberlin College General Faculty unanimously endorsed on November 18 a resolution to make their scholarly articles openly accessible on the Internet. As a result of the measure, the rich scholarly output of the Oberlin faculty will become available to a much broader national and international audience. The Oberlin resolution is similar to policies passed at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Kansas, and Trinity University. ...

Under the new policy, Oberlin faculty and professional staff will make their peer-reviewed, scholarly articles openly accessible in a digital archive managed by the Oberlin College Library as part of the OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons. Oberlin authors may opt out of the policy for a specific article if they are not in a position to sign journal publishing agreements that are compatible with the policy, or for other reasons. The resolution also creates an institutional license that gives Oberlin College the legal right to make the articles accessible on the Internet through the digital archive. The resolution further encourages, but does not require, authors to submit publications other than peer-reviewed articles in the same manner. ...

Adopted at the recommendation of the General Faculty Library Committee, the policy calls for the committee, in consultation with a faculty council, to establish procedures for carrying out the policy and to monitor its implementation. Policy implementation will be coordinated by a scholarly communications officer, a member of the library staff designated by the director of libraries. ...

The Oberlin College Student Senate recently endorsed the national “Student Statement on the Right to Research,” which expresses a similar commitment to making scholarly research information openly accessible.


OA data: recent discussion and announcements

Report on faculty, repositories and OA

Primary Research Group has published The Survey of Higher Education Faculty: Use of Digital Repositories and Views on Open Access, press release, November 2009.

The Survey of Higher Education Faculty: Use of Digital Repositories and Views on Open Access (ISBN 1-57440-137-8) presents data on how higher education faculty in the United States and Canada view the growing digital repository/open access movement. The report helps to answer questions such as: Who cooperates with requests from librarians and who does not? Who gives their articles to repositories? Who among faculty sympathizes with the aims of open access? How many scholars have had a publication fee paid for them by their library or academic department?

The report presents the results of a survey of more than 550 higher education faculty in the United States and Canada. Data is presented in the aggregate and for 12 criteria including academic field, size of college, type of college, academic title and other factors.

Just a few of the report's many findings are that:

  • 13% of the faculty in the sample had ever used a college's institutional digital repository for scholarly research purposes.
  • Use was greatest by faculty at specialized colleges, of whom 40% had used a digital repository at some time for research purposes
  • About 28% said that they sympathize and try to help out by providing open access to their research materials as much as they possibly can.
  • Although the tenured are less likely than the untenured to have heard of digital repositories, they are roughly twice as likely to have actually contributed an article to one of them.
  • 74.62% of the faculty of the sample understood the meaning of the term 'open access'. Individuals on the left wing of the political spectrum were more likely than those on the right wing to understand this term.
  • Older faculty were more likely than younger faculty to be mystified by open access and digital repositories. Almost 43% of faculty between the ages of 50 and 59 did not know what digital repositories or open access really were. ...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New OA journals

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

The German petition, OA and the public

Cornelius Puschmann, Why Open Access means Open Research: lessons from the German Open Access petition, Cornelius Puschmann’s Blog, November 18, 2009.

... A few weeks ago, science blogger Lars Fischer started an e-petition on the website of the Bundestag (German parliament) calling for Open Access to publications based on research that is publicly funded. To date, the petition has been signed by over 11,000 people, making it the most-endorsed open petition currently in the system (the vote ends on November 22nd has apparently been extended to December 22nd). ...

The striking thing about the petition is not that it gives precise policy recommendations (it doesn’t) or contains meticulous explanations of what Open Access is (it doesn’t), but that is has attracted popular support extending well beyond the “usual suspects” from the OA scene.

How did that happen?

While I can’t provide absolute proof, I think the short answer is the Social Web. Fisher’s petition was scooped up by people who ordinarily have little to do with the Open Access community, which consists mostly of librarians and academics, but who are very much invested into the idea of Openness in other contexts: open (government) data, no censorship of the Internet, digital privacy rights etc. There is a budding political movement in Germany and elsewhere and the petition was interpreted as congruent with the goals of this movement and therefore spread with according speed. It was featured on, which is frequently ranked as Germany’s most popular blog, and one prolific supporter is social media personality Sascha Lobo, who placed a banner on his website calling for support of the petition. ...

Lars makes this point in the interview with Richard Poynder:

As far as I see it, Open Access has always been treated — even by its supporters — as a niche topic for experts. But that is wrong. It is an issue that in the long run concerns everyone, and many people understand that.

My opinion (and not just mine) is that Open Access should be treated as the broad societal issue it really is, not just as a nifty way for libraries to save money or researchers to communicate more effectively. ...

If you get the Internet, Open Access is a no-brainer – in a sense the success of the petition has already proven that point. Social media appeals to people who use the Net as their primary source of information and who accordingly believe that information should be free. In other words, they believe in Open Access, even without knowing Peter Suber or having read the Berlin Declaration.

Maybe we should start talking to these people.

How to sustain OA databases?

Access denied?, editorial, Nature, November 19, 2009.

Every weekday, thousands of researchers around the world access the Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR), which contains the most reliable and up-to-date genomic information available on the most widely used model organism in the plant kingdom. But now, to those users' horror, TAIR faces collapse: the US National Science Foundation (NSF) is phasing out funding after 10 years as the data resource's sole supporter.

TAIR's plight is emblematic of a broader crisis facing many of the world's biological databases and repositories. Research funding agencies recognize that such infrastructures are crucial to the ongoing conduct of science, yet few are willing to finance them indefinitely. ...

Advertising and sponsorship are unlikely to bring in enough money to pay the experts needed to maintain such resources. And the superficially plausible idea of charging subscription fees is effectively unworkable for facilities such as TAIR, because the producers and consumers of data are essentially the same community. Scientists provide data and resources for free, because sharing benefits everyone. However, they would be considerably less likely to deposit the fruits of their labour if this synergy was removed from the equation. ...

The problem is acute even for modest resources. Two examples are the kidney database EuReGene and the mouse-embryo database EURExpress, both of which were launched with funds from the European Commission that have run out in recent months. The databases are currently being maintained on a hand-to-mouth basis, and the scientists who built them don't know where to turn for maintenance money. Yet the European Commission's investment will have been wasted if the databases disappear.

It is time for a whole new approach. Front-line biology cannot function without these resources, so solutions must be found at both national and international levels.

Governments must ensure that at least one of their national funding agencies has money specifically set aside for the long-term support of bioresource infrastructures. ...

But action is also needed on the international front. ... What is required is an international cost-sharing organization that could fund competitively selected infrastructures, large and small. ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Open access roundup

WIPO's OA patent database expands

WIPO Launches Enhanced Patent Information Service, press release, November 17, 2009.

[The World Intellectual Property Organization] has launched an enhanced online patent information service that will improve public access to information on patents filed and granted around the world. WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE®, which currently hosts data on more than 1.6 million international patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), has been extended to include several collections of national and regional patent information.

In this first phase, WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE® includes the patent data collections of eight patent offices: African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Cuba, Israel, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa and Vietnam. WIPO has been working closely with these patent offices to ensure the data collections are fully searchable.

The expansion of WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE® data collection makes it possible to conduct high-quality, detailed and free-of-charge searches of the patent information of the participating offices. Many of these collections had previously not been digitized and were not easily searchable. ...

More on the revised Google Book Settlement and OA

Gavin Baker, Nitpicking the Google Books Settlement 2.0, A Journal of Insignificant Inquiry, November 18, 2009.
... Speaking of orphan works, the Unclaimed Works Fiduciary is a trustee with one hand tied. As I reported for OAN, the UWF — an independent agent entrusted to manage the works of rightsholders who haven’t claimed their works under the settlement — doesn’t have all the powers of an actual rightsholder. Whereas a rightsholder is guaranteed under the settlement the options to, e.g., set a zero price for her work, to apply a Creative Commons license, or to remove DRM, the UWF isn’t guaranteed those same options. In fact, the UWF can only exercise those options with the approval of the Book Rights Registry, which is run by publisher and author representatives. So if the UWF came to the conclusion that the best fiduciary interest of its absentee rightsholders was represented by making their works freely available, it would not necessarily be able to do so. Given the growing suggestions that making a book freely available often has no discernible negative consequence on sales revenues for that book, and in some cases may even increase sales, the settlement should not exclude that option.
On the topic of access generally, also see: Fred von Lohmann, Google Books Settlement 2.0: Evaluating Access, Electronic Frontier Foundation, November 17, 2009.

Expanded study of law journals' copyright policies

Benjamin J.Keele, Examining law journal publication agreements for copyright transfers and self-archiving rights, working paper, self-archived November 18, 2009. Abstract:
This study examines 78 law journal publication agreements and finds that a minority of journals ask authors to transfer copyright. Most journals also permit author to self-archive articles with some conditions. The study recommends journals make their agreements publicly available and use licenses instead of copyright transfers.
See also our past past on an earlier version of the study.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Open access roundup

MIT grad students lobby for FRPAA in DC

Ana Lyons, GSC Takes Graduate Student Welfare Bill To Washington D.C., The Tech, November 17, 2009.

MIT’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) recently added national policy to its otherwise campus-based advocacy agenda, pushing for tax exemption of graduate student stipends, open access to federally funded published research, and higher caps on H1-B visas for advanced-degree holders to members of Congress earlier this fall. ...

The GSC also felt that the pending Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S. 1373) was worth lobbying for. By making federally funded research over $100 million dollars open access, it would “enhance advanced research access and ensure that taxpayer-funded research is available to those who paid for it.” ...

Executive members of MIT’s GSC travelled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for graduate student stipend tax exemptions, lifting the H1-B visa cap, and implementing open access publication policies for federally funded research as part of the [National Association of Graduate-Professional Students]’s annual “Legislative Action Days” from last September 30 to October 2. ...

[President Alex Hamilton] Chan, Vice President Kevin A. McComber, and Alex J. Evans represented MIT’s GSC lobbying interests at the annual event and independently presented their support for the three issues to the offices of eleven Congressmen. ...

Chan said the GSC chose to focus on the stipend tax exemption, open access publications, and H1-B visa reform compared to the other suggested issues because they were among the most relevant to graduate student life at MIT and best aligned with the current legislative activity on Capital Hill. ...

McComber also pointed out that “one of the big expenses [for MIT libraries] is journal subscriptions,” making federally funded research open access appealing to MIT grad students and taxpayers alike.

“Publishers are commanding a very unhealthy sum in this area,” said Chan.

Solidifying their platform on these lobbying issues, the GSC signed “The Student Statement on the Right to Research” on the Federal Research Public Access Act and plans to continue lobbying efforts in the spring. ...

Guide on legal status of data in the Netherlands

The legal status of raw data: a guide for research practice, SURF, November 16, 2009.

The opportunities opened up by ICT and the Internet are making access to research results and data broader and more open. It is increasingly possible to add to the text of a publication by enriching it with other materials, including the relevant research data. By making that data accessible, it becomes easier to verify research results and to reproduce and reuse them.

But when reusing raw research data, it is important to know the legal status of the material. Sometimes, the consent of the “author” (i.e. the “maker”) of the data is required; however, some actions involving data can be carried out without consent.

SURFdirect wishes to clarify the legal protection applying to research data for researchers who need to know what they can do with other people’s data. That information will also allow researchers to determine whether they also need to protect their own research data.

As part of the SURFshare programme, SURFdirect requested the Centre for Intellectual Property Law (CIER) to explain the rules under which research data may be protected. The report provides an overview of the current situation on the basis of the most important legislation and case law. It consists of three sections, dealing successively with intellectual property (copyright, database right, and protection of non-original writings), privacy, and liability.

A brief guide is also provided to enable researchers to determine whether consent is required in order to reuse someone else’s research data.

The guide and the brief user's guide are in English and address the context of Dutch law.

Some papers are cited more after being made OA

Samson C. Soong, Measuring Citation Advantages of Open Accessibility, D-Lib Magazine, November/December 2009.

... This article describes a study, involving a set of articles published in scholarly journals by faculty members of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) that have also been deposited in the HKUST Institutional Repository. The study was conducted to measure the actual effect of their open accessibility on citation rates. ...

A total of 50 archived journal articles that already have 10 or more citation counts in Scopus were randomly selected for inclusion in this study. ...

Each "full item record" in the Repository includes fields on "date.accessioned" and "date.available" which help to ascertain when a full-text journal article was actually added to the Repository and made openly accessible. Elsevier's Scopus database was then searched to get the citation counts of these 50 articles in each of the years since they were published, including the years after these articles were deposited in the HKUST IR. ...

The absolute citation counts were used to derive two average-per-year citation counts, before and after the articles are made openly accessible through the IR. ...

Of the 50 articles included in the study, 29 (or 58%) have had a higher average-citation-rate after they have been deposited in the IR and made openly accessible than they had prior to being available in the IR. The rest of the open access articles, or 42 %, have not yet experienced a similar increase in the average-citation-rate. ...

Much bigger increases for some articles suggest that the subject areas of these articles matter to a large extent. For instance, a number of articles in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in this study stand out in particular. ...

Dutch science foundation creates €5 million OA fund

NWO too goes for Open Access to publications, SURF, October 30, 2009.

... The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has announced that it is in favour of Open Access. This was reported in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper for 27 October 2009.

According to the report: “The NWO wants scientific and scholarly publications to be freely accessible to everyone on the Internet. The organisation will provide five million euros to cover the cost of this kind of publication. This is a major policy shift for the NWO. Moreover, NWO chairman Jos Engelen has made an urgent appeal to leading scientists and scholars not to publish their articles in the established journals but to place them in an Internet journal.” ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Revised Google Book settlement: what it means for OA

Google and the plaintiffs in the Google Book settlement released their revised settlement on November 13; see the proposed Supplemental Notice. The change most directly related to OA is this:

... The Amended Settlement provides that the Registry will facilitate Rightsholders’ wishes to allow their works to be made available through alternative licenses for Consumer Purchase, including through a Creative Commons license. ... The Amended Settlement also clarifies that Rightsholders are free to set the Consumer Purchase price of their Books at zero. ...

Some other changes also may be of interest:

  • Rightsholders can negotiate with Google to change the restrictions on their included works (e.g. to remove the DRM).
  • The Book Rights Registry can allow more than one free terminal per public library building.

Also of note is that many international books will be excluded. Whereas the original settlement included any books under copyright in the U.S. (effectively, any book published anywhere in the world), the amended settlement only includes books published in the U.S., UK, Canada or Australia, or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The revised settlement also establishes an independent fiduciary agent to manage unclaimed works (where no rightsholder has stepped forward to manage the options under the settlement and claim payments). The Unclaimed Works Fiduciary is meant to act as a proxy for absentee rightsholders, but it doesn't have all the abilities of an actual rightsholder. Instead, the revised settlement enumerates some specific abilities for the Unclaimed Works Fiduciary, and provides that the fiduciary also can act "otherwise as the Board of Directors of the Registry deems appropriate".

The abilities enumerated seem to not include the options to set the price at zero, apply a CC license, or remove DRM restrictions. In other words, the Unclaimed Works Fiduciary apparently does not have the ability to make orphan works OA without the agreement of the Registry board (which is composed of publisher and author representatives). I've put in a question to the parties' press contacts to confirm or clarify this.

The plaintiffs' memo proposes a 45-day period for class members to respond, with an extra week for the U.S. Department of Justice, and the final fairness hearing two weeks subsequent. (That schedule would start after the judge grants preliminary approval to the revised settlement, which hasn't happened yet.)

See also: For more information, including the many aspects to the amended settlement which aren't discussed here, see the tag on the Open Access Tracking Project.


EFF calls for study of OA at WIPO

Gwen Hinze, EFF Statement to WIPO CDIP 4, A2k, November 16, 2009.

As some may know, WIPO's Committee on Development and IP is meeting in Geneva this week, 16-20 November 2009, to work on the establishment of a work plan to implement the WIPO Development Agenda. Following is EFF's statement delivered to CDIP 4 this afternoon. ...

WIPO could undertake ... a survey of the various Open and Public Access policies being considered in the US, Europe, Australia, Brazil and Canada, to assist Member States to identify how the outputs of publicly funded research could be managed to best promote innovation in science and education. ...

Report on global access to knowledge

Association for Progressive Communications, Do you have a right to online knowledge? Report shows open internet in danger, press release, November 16, 2009.

A new report that reveals how vulnerable the internet as we know it is, has just been published by two global civil society organisations.

The annual report, called Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), was released today by the Association for Progressive Communications and Dutch funder Hivos. GISWatch 2009 is entitled Access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy. ...

Key issues impacting on access to online information and knowledge are unpacked in the report, including discussions on intellectual property rights, knowledge rights, open standards and access to educational materials and libraries.

The report also offers an institutional overview and a reflection on indicators that track access to information and knowledge. 48 country reports – ten more than last year’s report – analyse the status of access to online information and knowledge in countries as diverse as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Mexico, Switzerland and Kazakhstan, while regional overviews offer a bird’s eye perspective on regional trends in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Europe. ...

See especially:

Case study of an early institutional mandate

Tom Cochrane, Mandates: An Australian Example at the Queensland University of Technology, November 4, 2009. Essay based on a presentation at the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, June 17-19, 2009).

This presentation is intended to describe a situation where an open access mandate was developed and implemented at an institutional level, in this case, an Australian University. ...

At Queensland University of Technology a mandate was developed and put in place by early 2004. Although we were not aware of it at the time, it was in fact the first university to develop an institution-wide mandate worldwide. Interesting observations can be made about its effect over a five year period of implementation. ...

[T]he policy was taken through the university research committee, which in turn recommended to the supreme academic decision making body, The University Academic Board, the policy which established the ePrint Repository for research outputs at QUT. ...

[W]hen the Library sought guidance about how much to use the fact that there was a mandate, we chose in the initial stages not to push that too strongly, but to simply move on to the next researcher if there was any particular issue. ...

The second significant feature was the “access statistics” feature which would indicate for any given period the top 50 authors, and the top 50 papers. In this way QUT authors had the ability to understand at least one simple metric about the extent of their impact.

I know this has worked significantly. I know this because one of our top researchers, and a leading figure in the humanities in Australia, and an initial sceptic (but not opponent) of the mandate policy, was observed within two years gleefully announcing to a colleague that he had been in the top position for downloads that week. ...

See also our past post on the workshop.

Study on submission fees for OA journals

Mark Ware, Open Access Submission Fees, putting down a marker, November 4, 2009.

Mark Ware Consulting has been commissioned by Knowledge Exchange, a partnership of JISC (UK), SURF (Netherlands), DEFF (Denmark) and DfG (Germany), to conduct a study into the feasibility of submission fees in open access journals (i.e. as distinct from publication fees).

An open access business model based on submission charges could have real advantages over OA based (solely) on publication charges. For example, at present and under gold OA, authors have an incentive to submit their paper to an unrealistically prestigious journal or conference, since there is no cost to them, their paper might be accepted, and even if it is not, they will receive good feedback from senior reviewers. They can then re-submit the paper to less and less prestigious journals or conferences until it is accepted. There is little cost to them but great cost to the wider scholarly communications community. An approach based on submission charges may also introduce a greater level of competition into the scholarly communication domain by more closely relating payments to services provided. It might also provide a better OA model for high-rejection-rate journals where otherwise the publication charge has to cover the costs of peer review of all the rejected papers.

There may be, however, risks in a model based on submission charges, for example funders may find it difficult to develop an acceptable mechanism to limit the payments they are called on to make. For their part, publishers may be reluctant to deter potential authors by introducing a fee not required by their competitors. ...

The study will involve reviewing the literature and looking at the past experience of journals using submission charges, and then exploring possible models and testing these through consultation with major stakeholders including research funders, publishers, libraries and infrastructure providers, universities and researchers (as editors, peer reviewers, readers and authors). ...

Ware also writes:
At this stage I would like to make contact with journals or publishers (whether OA or otherwise) with any history of charging submission fees, with a view to learning from their experience. If anyone on the list has such experience they would be willing to share with this project, do please contact me in the first instance via email at