Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, December 04, 2009

Open access roundup

OA site targets scholarly journal market

Allan Maurer, brings new model to online content publishing, TechJournal South, December 1, 2009.

One problem with sites that support themselves and their content providers solely with advertising is that they tend to run search engine bait to attract traffic and you “End up with nothing but articles on Britany Spears,” says publisher and serial entrepreneur Bob Butler. Butler’s new site,, live only 90 days, has already made it to the top five sites nominated for Mashable’s Open Web Access Awards in the “Best Site for Publisher’s” category. Bringing unique technology to the table, Best Thinking creates a new model for combining open access with quality content. ...

Butler’s executive summary for Best Thinking notes, “Websites like, and Google’s Knol have proven that open access content communities can generate huge amounts of low cost content, collectively generating over 5 million pieces of knowledge-based content and over 100 million monthly unique visitors.”

But the advertising only business model, technology of those sites, and the use of anonymous content providers by sites such as Wikipedia, do not product quality good enough for features or journal articles on a par with traditional publishing.

The idea behind Best Thinking, Butler explains, is to use unique technology to marry the two ...

Butler says he’s looking at two primary markets. Journal quality content targets the $44 billion scientific, technical and medical journal publishing business, while feature article content targets the estimated $155 billion general interest and news publication market, plus specialized blogging sites that need feature content. ...

Rather than looking solely to advertising for revenue, the site will also make money from content syndication, affiliate programs, subscriptions in which authors pay to keep their topics and pages free of ads, credentials verifications, additional bandwidth with storage, speaker bureau fees, and commissions on author content sales. ...

Asian medical journals support OA

Singapore Declaration on Equitable Access to Health Information in the Western Pacific Region, adopted at the International Forum on Academic Medical Publishing (Singapore, November 6, 2009).

We, the participants in the Joint Meeting of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) and the Western Pacific Region Index Medicus (WPRIM) held in Singapore from November 4 to 5, 2009:

Considering ...

That inequitable access to quality health information could result in poor health planning and healthcare delivery which adversely affect the health conditions of the public; ...

That the Western Pacific Region Index Medicus (WPRIM), the Global Health Library (GHL), and the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) are important collaborative initiatives which are vital instruments to ensure the global accessibility and dissemination of quality health information in the Western Pacific Region;


Our commitment to free and universal dissemination and access to quality health information through the WPRIM and the GHL; ...

Call On

Member States of the Western Pacific Region, in collaboration with stakeholders from the private sector, to formulate and implement policies that endorse free and equitable access to quality health information;

Stakeholders from the public and private sectors, national and international organizations, to support WPRIM and the GHL in order to ensure the free and global accessibility of health research done in the Western Pacific Region; ...

Case study of an institutional OA fund

Stephen Pinfield, Paying for open access? Institutional funding streams and OA publication charges, Learned Publishing, January 2010. Abstract:
An increasing number of research funders are introducing open access (OA) policies. At the same time, publishers are introducing OA publication options. Research institutions need to consider how to respond to these developments, including the possible introduction of institutionally co-ordinated funds for payment of OA publication charges. This paper describes the international background to the issue of institutional OA funds and summarizes the current UK situation, presenting recently gathered data from UK institutions. It then reports on work carried out by the University of Nottingham to introduce and manage an institutional OA fund. Early usage data of the Nottingham fund are presented. The paper outlines lessons learned from the Nottingham experience, then goes on to suggest a number of ways in which institutions and other agencies can take developments forward.
From the article:

... The University of Nottingham set up an institutional OA fund in 2006. ...

Usage of the fund is still relatively low. Data is available for three financial years (running from 1 August to 31 July): 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09, and includes funding provided by Wellcome and BMC pre-payments. Over this period there have been a total of 210 payments made from the fund: 31 in 2006–07, 79 in 2007–08 and 100 in 2008–09. Of the 210 payments, 103 (49.0%) were articles published in BMC journals. Nottingham authors publish in the region of 4,000 journal articles per year, so the proportion of articles for 2008–09 which were provided with funding was only around 2.5% of University output. However, there is some anecdotal evidence which would suggest that a significant number of OA fees were paid by other means, including direct grants.

Over the three financial years, the total of the payments made was £233,581: in 2006–07, £28,597; in 2007–08, £84,370; in 2008–09, £120,614. Of the total payments of £233,581, £106,566 (45.6%) was for BMC articles. £45,000 of the overall total was contributed by the Wellcome Trust for the use of its grant-holders (and managed as part of the general central fund). The average (mean) cost per article across all three years was £1,112 (the averages change little over the three-year period). The mean for BMC articles was £1,035 (most BMC charges were at a discounted rate for pre-payment), and non-BMC articles £1,187. ...

Payments were made to a total of 26 publishers over the three financial years. In the majority of cases, there are only a small numbers of articles for each publisher. Apart from BMC, only five publishers received payments for more than five articles: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (9 articles), Elsevier (9), Oxford University Press (9), Public Library of Science (6), and Springer (10). Of the per-article prices charged by the 26 publishers, the highest was £2,975, and the lowest, £347. The price charged by the publisher averaged across this sample of publishers was £1,358. Although there was a cluster of learned society publishers making comparatively low charges, the mean charge for society publishers from this sample as a whole, £1,242, was only a little lower than the overall average. ...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

December SOAN

I just mailed the December 2009 issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at the OA implications of the amended version of the Google book settlement.  The roundup section briefly notes 150 OA developments from November.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Open access roundup

BMJ, Oxford join OASPA

OASPA Welcomes the BMJ and OUP, press release, December 1, 2009.

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA, is pleased to announce two new members, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) and Oxford University Press (OUP).

OASPA President, Caroline Sutton is pleased to welcome the new members stating: “OASPA’s mission is to support and represent the interests of Open Access (OA) journals publishers globally in all scientific, technical, medical and scholarly disciplines. These publishers represent important perspectives within Open Access publishing that will enrich our exchange of information and support OASPA’s work to set industry standards and advance business and publishing models, among other things. As a leading publication in the medical field, British Medical Journal (BMJ) was early to adopt free online access to original research, while Oxford University Press (OUP)’s openness in sharing details of the economics of its full and hybrid open access journals has played a valuable role in allowing the economic viability of open access models to be assessed.”

BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee views BMJ’s membership as a reflection of the journal’s long-time commitment to Open Access: “The BMJ has been an active supporter of open access from the outset. The journal provides immediate worldwide free access to the full text of its peer reviewed research articles and has done so since 1998. The BMJ was one of the first journals to sign up with PubMed Central and continues to deposit research articles with PubMed Central from the day of publication. The BMJ was also a pioneer in letting authors retain the copyright to their work. We are delighted to be joining OASPA.”

“Oxford Journals is committed to fair and sustainable pricing models and we see open access as one means of achieving this,” explained Martin Richardson, Managing Director of OUP’s Journals Division. “We support the OASPA’s desire to share experiences and best practice for open access publishing, so we’re pleased to be able to join its community.”

The BMJ and OUP bring OASPA’s membership to 29 Full Members and 24 Associate Members, with additional membership applications pending. The organization looks to expand membership further during 2010.

South African academy recommends OA for books

Scholarly Books: Their Production, Use and Evaluation in South Africa Today, report by the Academy of Science of South Africa, August 2009.

... Recommendation No 3: that some form of organised and sustainable national book publishing support system be established to create a climate in which book-publishing decisions can be freed of purely commercial considerations. This could be linked to a system of regionalised and/or partially centralised consortial infrastructure to support the publishing of scholarly books and journals, which could include components for distribution and logistical infrastructure, co-publishing or other platforms for international marketing and promotion, and a national internet platform for open access publications. Alignment with library and repository functions at institutional and other levels could enhance the development of new kinds of organisations centrally focused on the core mission of scholarship. ...

Recommendation No 4: that the principle of maximising open access, already recommended by the Academy for scholarly journals, be extended as far as possible (with careful attention to sustainable business models) to books published (or co-published) in South Africa, with the adoption of formats and technology platforms compatible with bibiliometric requirements such as citation indexing and information-rich online features. ...

Top medical journal backs away from OA

Glenda Proctor, No longer free for all, Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 16, 2009.

On Mar. 29, 1995, the Canadian Medical Association became the first national medical association in the world with a presence on the Internet, and CMAJ has been with us from the start of that journey. Since then, we have been committed to providing readers with free, full-text access to all of our content. Unfortunately, recent and ongoing economic realities dictate that we will no longer be able to do so.

Beginning January 2010, non-members of the CMA will have to pay for access to some of the content on The resulting revenue from subscriptions should help to mitigate our current deficit.

As CMAJ Editor-in-Chief Dr. Paul Hébert explains in his accompanying letter, this decision was far from easy.

The harsh economic reality is that CMAJ, like many others in the publishing industry, has experienced a considerable decline in advertising revenue over the past two years. This loss necessitated an extensive examination of other business models to adequately address today’s economic challenges. Controlled access will allow us to sell electronic subscriptions and further diversify our revenue streams. ...

Paul C. Hébert, No longer free for all, Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 16, 2009.

Since the Canadian Medical Association Journal went online in the mid-1990s, the Canadian Medical Association has provided unrestricted access to all CMAJ content. However, given the changing economic times, we can no longer afford to do so. As of January 2010, some content will be restricted to CMA members, subscribers and pay-per-view readers.

This was a difficult decision, because we believe that scientific information should be accessible to all. The CMA, our editorial team and many past editors of CMAJ have strongly endorsed open access.

Online, CMAJ is publishing more content, with new articles posted weekly and news pieces added almost daily. However, we have experienced a perfect storm involving rising editorial costs to handle the extra content, and dramatic decreases in advertising. ...

Ideally, medical information that saves lives and reduces harm should not be up for sale — at least not to the end-user. Such material should be treated as a public good and paid for by the public, which is why research will remain free of charge. Editorials, news, clinical images, abstracts and previously published articles will also remain accessible to all readers. Access to reviews, analysis, practice, commentaries, humanities and supplements will be restricted to members of CMA, although these items will become free of charge 12 months after publication.

As part of our commitment to the dissemination of knowledge, readers in most developing countries will be offered free access through the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) of the World Health Organization and through Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA). ...

Vote expected early 2010 on U. Virginia OA policy

Roxana Mullafiroze, Faculty debate copyrighted works resolution, C-Ville, December 1, 2009.

Over one year after UVA’s Faculty Senate formed its Task Force on Scholarly Publications and Authors’ Rights, debate continues on a resolution regarding copyrights and faculty publications. Though this resolution was expected to be voted on at the Senate’s last meeting of the semester on November 20, lack of consensus pushed the vote back until next semester. ...

The Task Force consulted a variety of disciplines and schools throughout the process and found two main areas of dissatisfaction: the mandatory nature of the resolution and the implementation of the repository. These concerns came up at the November 20 meeting. A common theme appeared to be a desire for a discipline-specific approach to the issue. For example, representatives from the Physics and Mathematics departments explained that much of their research is collaborative with non-UVA faculty, and as such, coordinating publication contracts across multiple institutions would be difficult and an added burden.

Another concern comes from faculty in the School of Architecture and the department of Art History. While the repository would be text-only, professors from these disciplines rely on illustrations to convey their work. Thus, they would be forced to opt out of the open access network. The next step for the Task Force is to consider the comments from the Senate meeting and to draft a new resolution, perhaps with the assistance of those faculty members in opposition. The Task Force expects to present an updated resolution that is quite different when the Senate reconvenes in February 2010.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Unbundling access and affordability?

Richard Poynder, Open Access: Who pays? How much?, Open and Shut? , November 26, 2009. Description:

Last month the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) launched a new guide called Who pays for Open Access? The guide, says SPARC, is intended to provide, "an overview of income models currently in use to support open-access journals, including a description of each model along with examples of journals currently employing it."

The guide is a useful and informative document penned by the well-regarded publishing consultant Raym Crow. On reading it, however, I found myself wondering whether it might not signal a change in SPARC's mission, or at least its priorities — one of several issues I raised with SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph.

While Joseph emphatically denies that the mission of SPARC has changed, she concedes that the guide could give the impression that it no longer expects Open Access (OA) to reduce the costs of scholarly publishing. Since SPARC was created to try and resolve the so-called serials crisis, this is perhaps unfortunate.

Joseph's answers to my questions also left me wondering about the likely outcome of the transition to OA, and whether the OA movement is in danger of losing sight of the need not only to solve the access problem, but to also resolve the financial conundrum at the heart of the current crisis in scholarly communication: That is, how does one create a cost-effective system for disseminating research in a networked world. The promise of the OA movement was that it would lower the costs of scholarly communication. But will it?

New OA journals

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

Declaration on science and sharing

The University of Manchester, "Need not greed", say Nobel Prize winners, press release, November 26, 2009.

Some of the world's leading names in science and ethics - including two Nobel Prize winners - have challenged society to rethink attitudes to the commercialisation of scientific knowledge in a ‘Manifesto’ published today.

The renowned group of 50 signatories is led by moral philosopher Professor John Harris and Nobel Prize winning biologist Professor Sir John Sulston, both from the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (iSEI) at The University of Manchester.

Nobel Laureate and Chair of the Brooks World Poverty Institute at The University of Manchester, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, is also among the signatories.

The ‘Manchester Manifesto’ calls for a reassessment of the current system of patents and intellectual property regulated by national and international laws.

According to Professors Harris and Sulston, the system is in desperate need of change because it excludes poorer people from access to essential medicines and expertise. ...

Professor Harris, who is the Director of iSEI said: "The Manchester Manifesto is a first attempt to answer the question ‘Who Owns Science?’.

"And from our work, it is clear that the existing model, while serving some necessary purposes, also impedes achievement of core scientific goals.

"In many cases access to scientific knowledge and products has been cut off, stopping the benefits of science in its tracks.

"The system restricts the flow of information and it can hinder innovation through the costly and complicated nature of the system. ..."

From the manifesto:

... There is a basic public interest in access to knowledge. ...

Restrictions on access to information at any stage of the innovative process obstruct the flow of scientific information and thereby impede scientific progress. Such restrictions are also contrary to the needs of scientific inquiry and are inimical to openness and transparency. ...

It is not only the intellectual property system that restricts participation in innovation; there is also all too often a lack of strategies to encourage openness of communication, participation in research, and sharing of information and products that result from science and innovation. ...

Scientific information, freely and openly communicated, adds to the body of knowledge and understanding upon which the progress of humanity depends. Information must remain available to science and this depends on open communication and dissemination of information, including that used in innovation. ...

It is clear that the dominant existing model of innovation, while serving some necessary purposes for the current operation of innovation, also impedes achievement of core scientific goals in a number of ways. In many cases it restricts access to scientific knowledge and products, thereby limiting the public benefits of science; it can restrict the flow of information, thereby inhibiting the progress of science; and it may hinder innovation through the costly and complicated nature of the system. Limited improvements may be achieved through modification of the current IP system, but consideration of alternative models is urgently required. ...

See also our past post on the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation.

OA commitment at U. Guelph school

School of Environmental Sciences establishes open access policy, press release, November 26, 2009.

... Researchers in the [University of Guelph] School of Environmental Sciences commit to making the best possible effort to publish in venues providing unrestricted public access to their works. They will endeavour to secure the right to self-archive their published materials, and will deposit these works in the Atrium [IR].

The School of Environmental Sciences grants the University of Guelph Library the non-exclusive right to make their scholarly publications accessible through self-archiving in the Atrium institutional repository subject to copyright restrictions.

This policy applies to all appropriate scholarly and professional work produced as a member of the School of Environmental Sciences produced as of the date of the adoption of this policy. Retrospective deposit is encouraged. Co-authored works should be included with the permission of the other author(s). Examples of works include:

  • Scholarly and professional articles
  • Substantive presentations, including slides and text
  • Books/book chapters
  • Reports
  • Substantive pedagogical materials such as online tutorials

Works should be deposited in the Atrium as soon as is possible, recognizing that some publishers may impose an embargo period.

This policy is effective as of 11/05/2009 and will be assessed a year after implementation.

According to ROARMAP, this is the first non-library institutional or departmental OA commitment in Canada. (The libraries at Calgary and York have policies for their staff.)