Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, December 11, 2009

Open access roundup

First White House round of questions on public access

Diane DiEuliis and Robynn Sturm, Policy Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Implementation, OSTP Blog, December 10, 2009.

... One of our nation’s most important assets is the trove of data produced by federally funded scientists and published in scholarly journals. The question that this Forum will address is: To what extent and under what circumstances should such research articles—funded by taxpayers but with value added by scholarly publishers—be made freely available on the Internet? ...

In the first phase of this forum (Dec. 10th-20th) we want to focus on the topic of Implementation. Among the questions we’d like to have you, the public and various stakeholders, consider are:

  • Who should enact public access policies? Many agencies fund research the results of which ultimately appear in scholarly journals. The National Institutes of Health requires that research funded by its grants be made available to the public online at no charge within 12 months after publication. Which other Federal agencies may be good candidates to adopt public access policies? Are there objective reasons why some should promulgate public access policies and others not? What criteria are appropriate to consider when an agency weighs the potential costs (including administrative and management burdens) and benefits of increased public access?
  • How should a public access policy be designed?
    1. Timing. At what point in time should peer-reviewed papers be made public via a public access policy relative to the date a publisher releases the final version? Are there empirical data to support an optimal length of time? Different fields of science advance at different rates—a factor that can influence the short- and long-term value of new findings to scientists, publishers and others. Should the delay period be the same or vary across disciplines? If it should vary, what should be the minimum or maximum length of time between publication and public release for various disciplines? Should the delay period be the same or vary for levels of access (e.g. final peer reviewed manuscript or final published article, access under fair use versus alternative license)?
    2. Version. What version of the paper should be made public under a public access policy (e.g., the author’s peer-reviewed manuscript or the final published version)? What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of different versions of a scientific paper?
    3. Mandatory v. Voluntary. The NIH mandatory policy was enacted after a voluntary policy at the agency failed to generate high levels of participation. Are there other approaches to increasing participation that would have advantages over mandatory participation?
    4. Other. What other structural characteristics of a public access policy ought to be taken into account to best accommodate the needs and interests of authors, primary and secondary publishers, libraries, universities, the federal government, users of scientific literature and the public?

We invite your comments and in particular encourage you to be specific in your thoughts and proposals, providing empirical data and specific supporting examples whenever possible so this discussion can generate maximum practical value. ...

Germany to create digital library, will join Europeana

Culture a Mouse Click Away in Digital Library, German Missions in the United States, December 3, 2009.

Rummaging through archives, visiting museums, or learning about the latest research results – you can do it all from the comfort of your home. The German Digital Library, whose creation the German Cabinet approved on December 2, will make it possible.

The stocks and collections of more than 30,000 archives, libraries, museums, and many other institutions will be digitally recorded in the German Digital Library and made available online. ...

The German Digital Library – in German, Die Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek or DDB, for short – will give the general public, not just specialists, access to culture and science. The new portal will make scientific information and cultural documents accessible to everyone from home through a mere mouse click.

The new portal is to be launched in 2011. The German Digital Library will then be permanently integrated into the European Digital Library, called "Europeana." ...

[Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media Bernd Neumann] Neumann was especially pleased that, with the German Digital Library, digital control over German cultural heritage would remain in the hands of the public sector. Also with a view to preserving copyrights, he said that the German Digital Library was an appropriate response to the move by Google to permanently acquire the digital rights to large library stocks for a one-time sum.

The German Digital Library is a joint project of the federal, state, and local governments. The Federal Government is financing development of the main infrastructure with funds from Stimulus Program II. The funds for the continued operation starting in 2011 will be provided on a matching basis by the federal and state governments.

Columbia U. joins COPE, will create OA fund

Columbia University Commits to Open-Access Publication Compact, press release, December 11, 2009.

Columbia University has joined several leading institutions of higher learning in a commitment to a Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity. Other signatories to the compact are Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley.

The compact commits signatories to the timely establishment of mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication fees for open access journal articles authored by researchers without alternative funding. The effort around the compact arose as a result of discussions within the university community about providing sustainable, efficient, and effective business models for journal publishing. "The growth of this new strategy for support for high quality scholarly communication in the expanding number of open access journals requires our participation and support," said Jim Neal, Columbia’s Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian. ...

Following from the compact commitment, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is establishing a fund to help support Columbia faculty, staff, and students who wish to publish in OA journals. The Libraries are currently formulating policy and eligibility requirements for the fund, which will be administered by the Scholarly Communication Program, based at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS). ...

See also our past post on Columbia joining COPE.


26 OA mandates at one stroke

Last year, Finland's 26 universities of Applied Sciences launched a consortial OA repository ( and in October they adopted a joint OA mandate.  Excerpt:

After 1 January 2010, the Universities of Applied Sciences will require all teachers and researchers who work at the universities to save a copy of their research essays that are published in scientific publications, or a university publication series, in the open electronic library, Theseus....


Update.  Although there are 28 members of ARENE ry, only 26 participate in Theseus, and only 26 have adopted the OA mandate.  The 26 with mandates are those governed by the Finnish Ministry of Education.  One institution, the police academy at Tampere, is governed by the Ministry of Interior, and one, the Åland University of Applied Sciences, is in Mariehamn, an autonomous territory.  (Thanks to Anna-Kaisa Sjölund for these details.) 


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Open access roundup

Profile of an OA, multimedia monograph

Sarah Ngu, Dangerously Democratic, The Eye, December 10, 2009.

Great books have always been an interactive conversation between the author and reader. But Columbia anthropology professor Neni Panourgia’s new project takes the concept of an “interactive conversation” a step further. The recent online release of “Dangerous Citizens: The Greek Left and the Terror of the State” by far exceeds the publication of the book by the same name (published this September) in being revolutionary. Instead of being your average Kindle e-book or online PDF, the new Web site is a freely accessed interactive, multimedia text that exemplifies an exciting but problematic pathway for published scholarship. ...

A collaboration with [the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship], an organization dedicated to enhancing scholarly communication with new media, allowed Panourgia infinite room to include additional archival material, unpublished memoirs, and conversational side notes. For example, readers seeking more information about events referenced online can follow hypertext links explaining various events or leading them to videos. Other media features include interviews, songs, interactive maps (a Google map that allows users to upload pictures), and chronologies, all of which heighten the interaction between text and reader. ...

In the traditional publishing model, academics submit articles for free to a subscription-based journal, which, after editing and peer-reviewing the articles, publishes them online or in print. This limits the size of the audience and speed of dissemination due to the associated fee. Although the creative features of “Dangerous Citizens” are powerful, the fact that it’s freely accessible is perhaps even more remarkable. Open-access scholarship, due to its low distribution costs, increases readership and publicity, both of which are needed in the highly specialized field of academia. Publicity through free, online versions has empirically translated into higher sales of the printed work, which is why more and more publishers like National Academies Press are releasing their publications online for free. This is the business model that Panourgia is following, one of the many models that are being debated in the world of publishing, especially among academic journals who store the bulk of academic knowledge.

But who’ll pay? According to Kathryn Pope, head of the Scholarly Communication Program at CDRS, while distribution costs of digital scholarship remain low, production costs are still rather high. The most successful model is the author-pay model, in which the author pays a processing fee with his submission. In another model, a university subsidizes the production costs of an article that one of its own faculty members publishes, which Columbia University did for “Dangerous Citizens.” ...

Details on Obama inquiry on public access

OSTP to Launch Public Forum to Discuss Options for Improving Public Access to Results of Federally Funded Research, OSTP Blog, December 9, 2009.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, OSTP will launch a public consultation on Public Access Policy. The Administration is seeking public input on access to publicly-funded research results, such as those that appear in academic and scholarly journal articles. Currently, the National Institutes of Health require that research funded by its grants be made available to the public online at no charge within 12 months of publication. The Administration is seeking views as to whether this policy should be extended to other science agencies and, if so, how it should be implemented.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and the White House Open Government Initiative is launching a “Public Access Policy Forum” to invite public participation in thinking through what the Federal government’s policy should be with regard to public access to published federally-funded research results. To that end, OSTP will conduct an interactive, online discussion beginning Thursday, December 10. We will focus on three major areas of interest:

  • Implementation (Dec. 10 to 20): Which Federal agencies are good candidates to adopt Public Access policies? What variables (field of science, proportion of research funded by public or private entities, etc.) should affect how public access is implemented at various agencies, including the maximum length of time between publication and public release?
  • Features and Technology (Dec. 21 to Dec 31): In what format should the data be submitted in order to make it easy to search and retrieve information, and to make it easy for others to link to it? Are there existing digital standards for archiving and interoperability to maximize public benefit? How are these anticipated to change.
  • Management (Jan. 1 to Jan. 7): What are the best mechanisms to ensure compliance? What would be the best metrics of success? What are the best examples of usability in the private sector (both domestic and international)? Should those who access papers be given the opportunity to comment or provide feedback?

Each of these topics will form the basis of a blog posting that will appear at and will be open for comment on the OSTP blog.

We want your input! ...

See also our past post on the consultation.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Another unanimous vote for OA

The faculty of the University of Northern Colorado Libraries unanimously adopted this OA resolution on December 2, 2009. (Thanks to Jayati Chaudhuri and Wendy Highby.) Excerpt:

We, the faculty of University Libraries of the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) resolve the following:

  1. To disseminate our scholarship as broadly as possible. We endeavor to make our scholarly work openly accessible in conformance with open access principles. Whenever possible, we make our scholarship available in digital format, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
  1. To deposit our scholarly work in our institutional repository, Digital UNC at the earliest possible opportunity.
  1. To seek publishers whose policies allow us to make our research freely available online. When a publisher’s policies do not allow us to make our research freely available online, we resolve to engage in good faith negotiations with the publisher to allow deposit of peer-reviewed, pre- or post-print versions of our scholarly work in Digital UNC. This resolution, however, gives us the latitude and individual discretion to publish where we deem necessary, given our career goals, intended audience, and other reasonable factors....

Comment. By my count, this is the 5th OA policy adopted by library faculty and the 18th OA policy adopted by a unanimous faculty vote. Kudos to all involved.

How well-indexed are OA business journals?

Katharine Ball, The Indexing of Scholarly Open Access Business Journals, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Winter 2009.

... The purpose of this study is to focus on the business and management field and assess the extent to which scholarly open access journals in this discipline are currently being indexed by both commercial and non-commercial indexing services. ...

For this study, the sample of scholarly open access journals selected are those 83 business and management journals listed in DOAJ in May, 2009. ...

With the larger, mainstream commercial databases, Ebsco’s Business Source Complete is the only one that indexes a significant number of the DOAJ sample. It indexes 27 of the journals (33%), most of which have been added in the last few years. ...

ABI/Inform and IBSS index 11% of the DOAJ open access business titles, Scopus 10%, and Wilson Business Periodicals Index only 2%. ...

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has article level indexing of 36 of the 83 journals ...

Google Scholar is the best-known, free database for finding journal articles. It is also the most comprehensive source for retrieving articles from open source journals. Of the DOAJ sample, only 6% were not included, an estimated 16% were indexed selectively, and an estimated 78% were indexed comprehensively.

Open J-Gate (Informatics India) is the largest directory of open access journal titles and has extensive article-level indexing. It currently indexes 51 (61%) of the sample business OA titles from DOAJ. ...

In order to increase the visibility and reputation of open access journals, OA publishers can use OAI-PMH so that OA indexing services such as Open J-Gate and DOAJ can include their articles. They can also work with Google Scholar to ensure that its web crawler can identify and harvest their articles. On the commercial indexing front, they need to more actively promote their journal titles to database providers and their journal selection committees. For non-English language journals, publishers might want to consider having parallel English language titles and English language abstracts. ...

New OA journals

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

State of OA in Greece

Panos Georgiou and Fiori Papadatou, Scholarly Publishing & Open Access in Greece: 2009 Report, report for Hellenic Academic Libraries Link, October 23, 2009.

... Today 20 out of the 33 academic institutions in Greece operate an IR. The academic institutions that do not have an IR are either very small or recently established.

Most IRs host not only the scientific publications of the academic institutions but also journal archives, digitized special collections of the institution etc.

There are 28 e-journals most of them published either by academic institutions or by societies and in their majority the journals are OA. Another 32 journals are published societies in both print and electronic format by societies, where the electronic version is OA. There are further 40 digital journal archives and again most of them are OA. ...

The Obama administration wants OA for federally-funded research

The Obama administration is calling for public comments on ways to enhance access to federally-funded research.  From today's announcement:

With this notice, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within the Executive Office of the President, requests input from the community regarding enhancing public access to archived publications resulting from research funded by Federal science and technology agencies. This RFI [Request for Information] will be active from December 10, 2009 to January 7, 2010. Respondents are invited to respond online via the Public Access Policy Forum...or may submit responses via electronic mail. Responses will be re-posted on the online forum. Instructions and a timetable for daily blog topics during this period are described at [the White House Open Government Initiative web site]....

[T]he Administration is dedicated to maximizing the return on Federal investments made in R&D. Consistent with this policy, the Administration is exploring ways to leverage Federal investments to increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness. The results of government-funded research can take many forms, including data sets, technical reports, and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, among others. This RFI focuses on approaches that would enhance the public's access to scholarly publications resulting from research conducted by employees of a Federal agency or from research funded by a Federal agency....

The Executive Branch is considering ways to enhance public access to peer reviewed papers arising from all federal science and technology agencies. One potential model, implemented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)...requires that all investigators funded by the NIH submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscript upon acceptance for publication no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. Articles collected under the NIH Public Access Policy are archived in PubMed Central and linked to related scientific information contained in other NIH databases....

The NIH model has a variety of features that can be evaluated, and there are other ways to offer the public enhanced access to peer- reviewed scholarly publications. The best models may [be] influenced by agency mission, the culture and rate of scientific development of the discipline, funding to develop archival capabilities, and research funding mechanisms....

Input is welcome on any aspect of expanding public access to peer reviewed publications arising from federal research. Questions that individuals may wish to address include, but are not limited to, the following (please respond to questions individually)....[PS: Here omitting the nine questions; but anyone submitting a comment should read and address them.]


  • This is big.  We already have important momentum in Congress for FRPAA.  The question here is about separate action from the White House.  What OA policies should President Obama direct funding agencies to adopt?  This is the first major opening to supplement legislative action with executive action to advance public access to publicly-funded research.  It's also the first explicit sign that President Obama supports the OA policy at the NIH and wants something similar at other federal agencies.
  • Don't forget that FRPAA has to stand in line behind healthcare reform, financial regulation, and climate change.  This is the perfect time to open a new front from the executive branch.  Also don't forget that the federal funding agencies belong to the executive branch and are subject to executive order.
  • Comments are due January 7.  Please write one and spread the word, not necessarily in that order.  As far as I can tell, comments from non-citizens addressing the nine questions are as welcome as comments from US citizens. 
  • You can be sure that the publishing lobby will be writing comments.  It's vital that the research community be heard as well, loud and clear.

Update.  For those who want to post their comment(s) to the forum (rather than by email), and/or follow the discussion at the forum, the discussion has begun at the OSTP blog.

Update (1/11/10).  The deadline for comments has been extended until January 21, 2010.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Open access roundup

Report: access still a barrier

Overcoming barriers: access to research information, announcement, December 4, 2009.

This [Research Information Network] report ?nds that many researchers are encountering difficulties in getting access to the content they need and that this is having a significant impact on their research. ...

The report’s key ?nding is that access is still a major concern for researchers. Although researchers report having no problems ?nding content in this age of electronic information, gaining access is another matter due to the complexity of licensing arrangements, restrictions placed on researchers accessing content outside of their own institution and the laws protecting public and private sector information. This means that research into important information resources can be missing. Researchers report that they are frustrated by this lack of immediate access and that this slows their progress, hinders collaborative work and may well affect the quality and integrity of work produced. ...

Also see coverage in Information World Review.

U. Ottawa adopts OA strategy, joins COPE

University of Ottawa among North American leaders as it launches open access program, press release, December 8, 2009.

The University of Ottawa is the first Canadian university to adopt a comprehensive open access program that supports free and unrestricted access to scholarly research.

The University’s new program includes:

  • a commitment to make the University’s scholarly publications available online at no charge through the University’s repository, uO Research;
  • an author fund to help researchers defray open access fees charged by publishers;
  • a fund to support the creation of digital educational materials organized as courses and available to everyone online at no charge ;
  • support for the University of Ottawa Press’s commitment to publishing a collection of open access books; and
  • a research grant to support further research on the open access movement.

The University of Ottawa also becomes the first Canadian university to join the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE) ...

For more information on the University of Ottawa’s open access program, visit [ink].

  • Although Michael Geist describes the strategy as including a mandate, it doesn't appear to. The plan doesn't seem to mention either a commitment/obligation to self-archive or a university-wide license. (If I'm wrong, please let me know.)
  • The implementation of the COPE fund differs from those of Harvard, etc.: most notably, it allows funds to be used for hybrid OA journals.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Open access roundup

More on the U.S. House Science roundtable

Siân Harris, Industry tackles polarisation in access debate, Research Information, December 2009/January 2010.

... [Fred Dylla, executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics] has been involved in another example of a project to try to find common ground on the subject of access – the US House Science and Technology Committee Roundtable on public access, which quietly began meeting over the summer. The lack of publicity was aimed at avoiding the political pressure that usually characterises such discussions.

Although this group was facilitated by the US government, policy makers have not been involved in the discussions and they did not set any agenda or goals. ‘It’s the academic community arguing with itself and so it shouldn’t have government interference,’ pointed out Dylla. “Government acted as a facilitator then withdrew and will listen to our recommendations.”

The group includes representatives from across the industry – publishers, the academic community and libraries – and the many different viewpoints on open access are represented. The people involved have to come to the discussions as ‘knowledgeable individuals’ rather than as employees of their parent companies.

‘We hope to come up with recommendations that should satisfy the middle ground. We are still deliberating but the first part of the activity has been a success,’ reported Dylla. ‘We sat down and examined our differences – and the common ground.’

From these initial discussions the group agreed that economic pressures are stressing all sectors, and that scholarly publications are too important for scholarship to allow disruptive and unsuitable transitions in business models. It also agreed that polarisation in the debate has generated more pronouncements than documented evidence.

‘The consensus is that the publishing industry will evolve rapidly in the next five years and that predictions are unreliable,’ he said, adding that changes made to reach the goal of expanded access, interoperability and reuse should be incremental and based on a “do no harm” principle.

The group feels that governments should act as partners and facilitators, but not tell the industry what to do. ‘Government mandates tend to be one size fits all. This doesn’t work. Weekly journals are not the same as quarterlies. Science journals are very different from humanities,’ explained Dylla. ...

See also our past post on the roundtable.

OA and the climate data controversy

Jonathan Gray, Climate Change, Climate Sceptics and Open Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Blog, December 5, 2009.

... The recent illegally obtained emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (so-called ‘Climategate’) and the subsequent accusations of secrecy and malpractice from climate change sceptics have provoked debate in the media about the openness and availability of datasets related to climate change.

Partly in response to accusations of secrecy and falsification of key datasets from sceptics, the UK Met Office announced today they will be publishing new climate datasets. Earlier the Telegraph reported:

Sceptics alleged that emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the university show scientists were willing to manipulate data to show global warming.

They also complain that the raw data for the climate models was not made available to the public. ...

This evening, the BBC reported:

Meanwhile, the Met Office said it would publish all the data from weather stations worldwide, which it said proved climate change was caused by humans. ...

It has written to 188 countries for permission to publish the material, dating back 160 years from more than 1,000 weather stations.

As [the University of East Anglia] said in an announcement from the end of November, over 95% of the CRU climate data is already available and permission to publish the remaining data will have to be sought from each of the relevant National Meteorological Services (NMSs) around the world on a case by case basis. Professor Davies of UEA, suggests there are partly commercial reasons for this:

We are grateful for the necessary support of the Met Office in requesting the permissions for releasing the information but understand that responses may take several months and that some countries may refuse permission due to the economic value of the data.

An editorial piece in Nature from a couple of days ago suggests:

Researchers are barred from publicly releasing meteorological data from many countries owing to contractual restrictions. Moreover, in countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the national meteorological services will provide data sets only when researchers specifically request them, and only after a significant delay. The lack of standard formats can also make it hard to compare and integrate data from different sources. Every aspect of this situation needs to change: if the current episode does not spur meteorological services to improve researchers’ ease of access, governments should force them to do so. ...

While it is important to remember, as Cameron Neylon notes, that proper interpretation of climate change data requires significant background knowledge and a thorough grounding in relevant scientific literature and tools, nevertheless it is clear that there is an increasing demand from interested non-expert non-scientists to access and reuse climate data. ...

Judy Curry, On the credibility of climate research, Climate Audit, November 22, 2009.

... [E]ven if the hacked emails from HADCRU end up to be much ado about nothing in the context of any actual misfeasance that impacts the climate data records, the damage to the public credibility of climate research is likely to be significant. In my opinion, there are two broader issues raised by these emails that are impeding the public credibility of climate research: lack of transparency in climate data, and “tribalism” in some segments of the climate research community that is impeding peer review and the assessment process.

1. Transparency. Climate data needs to be publicly available and well documented. This includes metadata that explains how the data were treated and manipulated, what assumptions were made in assembling the data sets, and what data was omitted and why. This would seem to be an obvious and simple requirement, but the need for such transparency has only been voiced recently as the policy relevance of climate data has increased. ... [G]iven the growing policy relevance of climate data, increasingly higher standards must be applied to the transparency and availability of climate data and metadata. These standards should be clarified, applied and enforced by the relevant national funding agencies and professional societies that publish scientific journals. ...

I have some sympathy for Phil Jones’ concern of not wanting to lose control of his personal research agenda by having to take the time to respond to all the queries and requests regarding his dataset, but the receipt of large amounts of public funding pretty much obligates CRU to respond to these requests. The number of such requests would be drastically diminished if all relevant and available data and metadata were made publicly accessible, and if requests [under public records laws] were honored ...

But the broader issue is the need to increase the public credibility of climate science. This requires publicly available data and metadata ...