Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I'll be out Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. (As always, the Open Access Tracking Project continues apace.) Happy holidays!


Open access roundup

OA data: recent discussion and announcements

Optimism for OA book study in Uganda

National Book Trust of Uganda, Commercial Publishers experiment with Open Access, press release, November 17, 2009.

... The difficulty in accessing learning materials for cash strapped Ugandan students is the subject of a research investigation by NABOTU. The research is exploring ways through which content providers such as commercial publishers can make available online some of their content under a flexible license such as creative commons. The research is also looking at what business models would guarantee income streams for the publishers. ...

NABOTU set up a publishing experiment at the beginning of 2009 attracting one commercial publisher and an NGO. The two have now published some of their books on the Internet, available for free downloading, sharing and reading. Fountain Publishers Ltd has three titles under a creative commons license including: Genocide by denial, handbook on decentralization in Uganda and funding and implementing universal access. FEMRITE has two fiction titles including: the invisible weevil and farming ashes.

Early reports from the two companies show that the books have been well received in Uganda and abroad. The books have been downloaded many times in different countries including Uganda. The companies are optimistic about the potential of the internet for business expansion. NABOTU is currently tracking the impact of the free downloads on sales figures for each of the titles to ascertain the viability of a free access business model. ...

SciELO adopts CC licenses

SciELO Brazil adopts Creative Commons attribution of access and use, Virtual Health Library Newsletter, November 16, 2009.

Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) has become the most important collection of scientific periodicals of developing countries in line with the international open access movement. In its eleven years of operation SciELO has been progressively improving online publication methodologies and technologies thus keeping up with the international state of the art methods and technology for open access.

After a long process of analysis and consultations with experts, scientific editors and members of the Advisory Committee of the SciELO Brasil collection, the Creative Commons (CC) Licensing, with the minimum standard "Attribution – Non-commercial Use" (CC-BY-NC) was formally adopted by the SciELO collection for all of its content, and with the possibility for the editors to adopt the BY license with broader attribution.

The decision has been implemented in the Brazilian collection and should be extended progressively to all the SciELO Network of national and thematic collections of open access scientific periodicals. The management of intellectual property rights for the SciELO collection content started formally in September 2009, when Creative Commons was adopted. ...

In order to implement the Creative Commons license, SciELO Brasil editors received a letter on the adoption of the standard CC-BY-NC license for all the periodicals that are indexed in the collection, with an option to adopt the CC-BY license which is less restrictive and more in line with the open access movement.

Of the 197 editors, ten accepted SciELO’s suggestion and adopted the CC-BY license: ...

Once the Creative Commons license has been fully implemented in the SciELO Brasil collection, the license will be extended in the coming months to the other SciELO-certified collections with the support of the network coordinators.

The implementation of the Creative Commons license requires the adaptation of the procedures adopted by SciELO Brasil to the scenario of each country. The idea is to finalize the license implementation process in all certified collections by the end of 2010. ...

National Academies: data and method should be public

Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age, National Academies Press, November 2009. A report of the National Academies' Committee on Ensuring the Utility and Integrity of Research Data in a Digital Age, published in book form last week. From the summary:

... Advances in knowledge depend on the open flow of information. Only if data and research results are shared can other researchers check the accuracy of the data, verify analyses and conclusions, and build on previous work. Furthermore, openness enables the results of research to be incorporated into socially beneficial goods and services and into public policies, improving the quality of life and the welfare of society.

Despite the many benefits arising from the open availability of research data and results, many data are not publicly accessible, or their release is delayed, for a variety of reasons. ...

Legitimate reasons may exist for keeping some data private or delaying their release, but the default assumption should be that research data, methods (including the techniques, procedures, and tools that have been used to collect, generate, or analyze data, such as models, computer code, and input data), and other information integral to a publicly reported result will be publicly accessible when results are reported, at no more than the cost of fulfilling a user request. This assumption underlies the following principle of accessibility:

Data Access and Sharing Principle: Research data, methods, and other information integral to publicly reported results should be publicly accessible.

Although this principle applies throughout research, in some cases the open dissemination of research data may not be possible or advisable. ... Nevertheless, the main objective of the research enterprise must be to implement policies and promote practices that allow this principle to be realized as fully as possible.

This principle has important implications for researchers.

Recommendation 5: All researchers should make research data, methods, and other information integral to their publicly reported results publicly accessible in a timely manner to allow verification of published findings and to enable other researchers to build on published results, except in unusual cases in which there are compelling reasons for not releasing data. In these cases, researchers should explain in a publicly accessible manner why the data are being withheld from release. ...

Recommendation 6: In research fields that currently lack standards for sharing research data, such standards should be developed through a process that involves researchers, research institutions, research sponsors, professional societies, journals, representatives of other research fields, and representatives of public interest organizations, as appropriate for each particular field. ...

Recommendation 7: Research institutions, research sponsors, professional societies, and journals should promote the sharing of research data through such means as publication policies, public recognition of outstanding data-sharing efforts, and funding.

Recommendation 8: Research institutions should establish clear policies regarding the management of and access to research data and ensure that these policies are communicated to researchers. Institutional policies should cover the mutual responsibilities of researchers and the institution in cases in which access to data is requested or demanded by outside organizations or individuals. ...

€5 million project on OA repositories: OpenAIRE

Danielle Venton, OpenAIRE: archive access anytime, anywhere, International Science Grid This Week, November 25, 2009.

... Formally embracing the open access ethic, the European Commission has decided to require that results from research it funds in some fields — such as health, energy, environment, information and communication technologies, research infrastructures, social sciences and humanities — become freely available. Authors will deposit a copy of their articles in a “digital repository,” a kind of electronic library accessible through the Web.

While many institutions or subjects have their own, pre-existing repositories for published documents, these are not comprehensively linked and searchable. And some institutions hosting EC-funded researchers are without digital libraries for keeping research papers.

Stepping in to provide this open access e-infrastructure is the OpenAIRE project, which will be launched on the first of December, 2009. The project will run for three years in its first phase. OpenAIRE’s proposal, with a budget of about €5 million, was approved in September after the EC put out a call for a project that would create the e-Infrastructure to disseminate scientific results to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

Researchers approaching OpenAIRE with a document will first be directed to the repository of their home institute, if one exists. If the researcher is in a discipline which has a repository structure for the entire discipline (the high energy physics community, for example, frequently uses they will be directed there. If the document is still without a home, the researcher will use an “orphan” repository, hosted at CERN, which will provide everyone a chance to submit their results — which would otherwise be lost.

OpenAIRE technology is based on two technologies: DNET, developed by the DRIVER consortium, will connect the existing repositories, while the orphan repository technology is based on Invenio, a digital library software that has been developed by the CERN Document Server team in the IT department at CERN over the past 15 years — serving the basis for CDS. Other partners, about 35 in total, will provide service help to users. OpenAIRE will therefore be not just a technical infrastructure, but a human one as well.

“Ideally, each researcher will have a help desk in their own member state,” says Salvatore Mele, Open Access Project Leader at CERN, also working for OpenAIRE. ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Open access roundup

Publisher responses to Nobelist FRPAA support

Rebecca Trager, Nobel laureates appeal for open access, Chemistry World, November 17, 2009.

A group of 41 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, including 16 chemists, are urging the US Congress to require the results of federally funded research to be made freely available online - a position opposed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). ...

[O]pponents say publishers deserve compensation for the value that their peer review process brings to government-funded research. ACS spokesperson Glenn Ruskin says the bill would simply take this value conferred by publishers without compensation, and make it much harder for scientific journals to sustain operations.

'Someone has to coordinate the input and critiques of the peer review community,' Ruskin says. 'The Nobel laureates are very idealistic in thinking about this, yet our approach is perhaps more practical.'

Around 40 per cent of the 34,000 peer reviewed articles published annually across ACS journals result from federal funding. ...

Robert Curl, who won the chemistry Nobel in 1996 and signed the letter to Congress, agrees that 'knowledge should be freely transmitted,' but acknowledges that mandatory open access is a 'big problem' because it would greatly reduce the revenue stream to cover publication expenses.

Curl suggests that institutions could pay a substantial annual fee for a licence for their employees to publish in existing open access journals. But this wouldn't make it any less expensive for individuals or research institutions to gain access to the information in the peer reviewed journals of ACS and other scientific organisations.

Hamish Johnston, Nobel laureates call for open access,, November 19, 2009.

... 41 Nobel laureates are backing open access, and have written to members of the US Congress to ask them to support a bill calling for the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). The group includes four physicists — Sheldon Glashow, John Mather, Douglas Osheroff and David Politzer. ...

But are we well down that road already?

Over the past few years you may have noticed that more and more papers published in prestigious journals such as Nature and Science appear on the open access arXiv preprint server immediately after being published. I don’t know if this is done with the publisher’s blessing, but I’m guessing that it is tolerated in the hope of avoiding the sort of legislation that the US laureates are calling for.

So what about our journals here at [Institute of Physics] Publishing?

We have an open access journal called the New Journal of Physics, which fits the bill as far as the laureates are concerned. Physicists pay to publish their papers, and if the entire industry went this way, funding would have to be diverted from libraries to the researchers themselves.

Access to most of our other journals is restricted to subscribers — but most articles are open access for 30 days after publication. And I’m told that IOP Publishing is happy for authors to post the text of accepted papers on arXiv, but not the final version that appears in the journal.

So it looks to me like open access publishing is possible already — just make sure you pop your accepted manuscript onto arXiv and the Feds will be happy.

But is this sustainable — if the accepted versions of papers are freely available, why would a scientist pay to publish or a university library bother to subscribe? ...

No significant difference between OA, TA journal policies on animal studies

S. A. Rands, Ethical policies on animal experiments are not compromised by whether a journal is freely accessible or charges for publication, animal, June 29, 2009. Abstract:
The advent of the open access (OA) movement in publishing has been instrumental in causing a shift in the accessibility of research findings published in academic journals. The adoption of OA and other online publication models means that the results of scientific research published in journals using a free access (FA) framework are now available, free of charge, to anyone with access to the Internet. FA journals typically require a payment from the authors of a manuscript, which has raised concerns about the quality of work published in them; accepting payment from an author may compromise a journal’s acceptance criteria. This study addresses whether journal policy on the treatment of animals is influenced by whether a journal follows a FA publishing model, and whether a requirement to pay for publication has an influence. A random sample of 332 biomedical journals listed in the ISI Web of Knowledge and Directory of Open Access Journals databases were assessed for whether they had an ethical policy on publishing animal studies, and what form of publication framework they used (103 of the journals followed a FA framework; 101 charged in some way for publication). Only 135 (40.7%) of the journals surveyed demanded that submissions comply with a pre-defined ethical stance. FA journals are just as likely to have an ethical policy on the treatment and presentation of animal studies as ‘traditional’, non-FA journals (significance of there being a difference: P = 0.98), and there is no relationship between policy and whether an author is required to pay for publication (significance of there being a difference: P = 0.57). Older journals are more likely to have an ethical policy (P = 0.03). There is, therefore, no obvious compromise shown by FA journals in the explicit policies on reporting studies involving animals. However, since anyone can read published FA studies online, FA journals that do not have an explicit policy about publishing animal research are urged to consider adopting one.

More criticism of OA publisher Bentham

Jonathan A. Eisen, For $&%# sake, Bentham Open Journals, leave me alone, The Tree of Life, November 19, 2009.

For crying out loud, I am still getting crappy spammy mail from various "Bentham Open" journals. The most annoying part to me of Bentham Open is that they try to make it seem that anything published in an Open Access journal is better than anything published in a non Open Access journal. While I personally believe publishing in an OA manner is great, lying about the benefits of OA is not a good thing. ...

[Bentham suggests that] the crappiest, most boring, most idiotic article in an OA journal will receive "massive international exposure" and "high citations." ...

Philip Davis, Giving Open Access a Bad Name, The Scholarly Kitchen, November 23, 2009.

... On Thursday, a professor of mine received a solicitation to have him serve as Editor-in-Chief of The Open Communication Journal. For a professor in a department of communication, the first sentence should have been a clue that this publisher should hire a copy-editor. But if you read on, the financial ties between the new post and the publisher should raise some serious concerns about Bentham’s ability to separate editorial decision-making with their business model:

In recognition of your outstanding reputation and contribution in the field of Biology. We are pleased to propose your name as the Editor-in-Chief of “The Open Communication Journal”. After the selection your role as the journal’s Editor-in-Chief will be to solicit and submit a minimum number of ten manuscripts to the journal each year [...] For all the manuscripts that you submit to the journal, for the first ten that are published, we will pay you an annual royalty of 5% of all fees received on these manuscripts.

The editorial board boasts an astounding 169 names, with the expectation that board members will publish regularly in the journal. And to provide an incentive for their contributions, Bentham promises to waive their article processing fees:

We expect that Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editors, Co-Editors in an Open Access Journal will submit at least one article per year which will be published ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE. Beside, each and every submission from Editor-in-Chief will be published free of cost. ...

Types of repositories and their challenges

Chris Armbruster and Laurent Romary, Comparing Repository Types: Challenges and Barriers for Subject-Based Repositories, Research Repositories, National Repository Systems and Institutional Repositories in Serving Scholarly Communication, working paper, November 23, 2009. Abstract:

After two decades of repository development, some conclusions may be drawn as to which type of repository and what kind of service best supports digital scholarly communication, and thus the production of new knowledge.

Four types of publication repository may be distinguished, namely the subject-based repository, research repository, national repository system and institutional repository.

Two important shifts in the role of repositories may be noted. With regard to content, a well-defined and high quality corpus is essential. This implies that repository services are likely to be most successful when constructed with the user and reader uppermost in mind. With regard to service, high value to specific scholarly communities is essential. This implies that repositories are likely to be most useful to scholars when they offer dedicated services supporting the production of new knowledge.

Along these lines, challenges and barriers to repository development may be identified in three key dimensions: a) identification and deposit of content; b) access and use of services; and c) preservation of content and sustainability of service. An indicative comparison of challenges and barriers in some major world regions such as Europe, North America and East Asia plus Australia is offered in conclusion.

The authors invite comments.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New England university presidents call for FRPAA

Alliance for Taxpayer Access, New England University Presidents Back Bill for Public Access, press release, November 23, 2009.

The Presidents of six public universities in New England have issued a letter of support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (S.1373), demonstrating that commitment to public access to publicly funded research resides at the top-most level of research institution administration. Together, these six land-grant universities enroll over 100,000 students, confer ~17% of the bachelor’s and 20% of the doctoral degrees in New England, and invest more than $700 million annually on research with the support of federal grants. ...

The letter, available in full text at [link], is signed by the Presidents of the University of Connecticut, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, and University of Vermont. ...

The New England Presidents’ letter is one of many being issued in strong support of the Federal Research Public Access Act from within the higher education community. Forty one Nobel Prize-winning scientists, the presidents of 57 liberal arts colleges, the chief academic and research officers from universities in the Western states, and individual institutions have recently voiced their commitment to public access to research and the success of this bill. ...

U. Virginia continues debating OA mandate

Prateek Vasireddy, Faculty approves MESALC master’s, The Cavalier Daily, November 23, 2009.

... [D]ebate still continued about the scholarly copyright resolution [in the University of Virginia Faculty Senate].

If the proposal is adopted, all faculty members would have to ask their publishers to agree to release unmodified versions of their articles to be placed in a public University repository. Faculty members unable or unwilling to do so could e-mail a University official to ask for a waiver.

Though many faculty members support the resolution, there is enough disagreement across departments that the Senate may in fact modify the resolution to reach a stronger consensus among Senate members, Chair Ann Hamric said.

“A simple majority vote would not provide the legitimacy that transformative legislation requires,” Task Force Chair Brian Pusser said. “We hope to keep up [the dialogue] and bring another resolution to the Senate.”

One common concern among faculty members is that the waiver process will pose another bureaucratic obstacle that could interfere with faculty’s ability to pursue teaching and research, Task Force Member Ed Kitch said.

The resolution also highlights the larger issue of allowing open access to scholarly work. Many professors disagree about the extent to which open access should be implemented.

Specifically, History Prof. Allan Megill said he believes that small journals in the humanities should still require readers to pay small fees to download articles to compensate for the journals’ publishing costs.

“We do not have people that could pay to subsidize us, not like the [National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation],” he said. “Forty-two percent of revenue comes from electronic access, so those pennies that are paid … fund the journal.”

While these concerns address all fields and research areas, other concerns have been more discipline-specific.

For example, the physics department already has access to open repositories but has encountered publishers who are reluctant to release article copyrights.

Meanwhile, professors from departments such as art history and architecture — where figures and drawings are often critical to their work — are worried that the repository versions of articles may not be useful, because they may not include graphics or formatting found in journal versions.

Spanish, Italian & Portuguese department members, meanwhile, are skeptical about how the resolution requires that participation be mandatory, though it includes an option to sign a waiver. Some faculty members noted that it would be more useful to simply have a resolution whereby participation is optional.

“Opt-in or opt-out is something we need to talk about,” Pusser said. “But the reason we chose opt-out was to build that critical mass [of faculty support], to make it routine.”

Pusser said the currently proposed waiver process should easily allow faculty to opt out, and their lack of participation should not endanger any individual publications. ...

2 OA mandates at Brigham Young U.

David Wiley, Two Units in BYU Adopt Open Access Policies, iterating toward openness , November 23, 2009.

Two units at Brigham Young University have adopted open access policies – both the Harold B. Lee Library faculty and the faculty in my own department, Instructional Psychology and Technology, voted to adopt the policies earlier this month. IP&T’s policy was based on the HBLL policy, which was based on existing OA policies at other universities. ...

For those who are interested, here’s the text of the IP&T policy:

... Each Instructional Psychology and Technology Department faculty member grants to Brigham Young University permission to make scholarly articles to which he or she has made substantial intellectual contributions publicly available as part of the Harold B. Lee Library’s ScholarsArchive system, or its successor ...

The term “scholarly articles” includes articles prepared for presentation or publication, whether in electronic or print media. ...

The IP&T Department Chair or the Chair’s designate shall waive application of the policy to a particular article upon written request by a Faculty member explaining the need. The IP&T Chair, in consultation with the faculty, will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the faculty. This policy will be formally reviewed two years after implementation, by September 30, 2011.

As of the date of publication, each faculty member will make available an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article at no charge to a designated representative of the University Librarian’s Office in appropriate formats (such as PDF) specified by the University Librarian’s Office.

See also: Peter included BYU in his January newsletter's list of "mandate proposals known to be under discussion".