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The public comment period on the Obama administration's consultation on OA for federally-funded research expires this Wednesday. The original deadline was January 7, but was extended until January 21.
All signs suggest that the Obama administration is willing to generalize the NIH policy in some form and extend it across the federal government. Show your support for this move! You know that opponents are showing their opposition.
And please spread the word to others who might write comments.
To understand my answer, first allow me to recap a little history. When Gavin came aboard two years ago, there was already more OA news than one person could cover alone, and with his help we made a substantial gain on adequacy. But soon there was too much news for two people to cover together.
If the problem was to cover the news comprehensively, one solution was to add more people. But it was clear that OAN was already too long. We couldn't capture everything, but what we did capture was too much for people to read. The rapid growth of the OA movement made both problems worse because it made the inadequacy and volume of the blog grow at the same time. (That's why I had to keep reminding myself that this was a side effect of success.)
So there were two problems to solve --enlarge the scope and reduce the volume. To solve both at once I decided that we needed a very different kind of alert service, and launched the OA tracking project (OATP) as a scalable alternative. OATP is more comprehensive than a large blog because it is crowdsourced and distributes the labor to all who want to take part. It's leaner than a large blog because most of its news alerts are just citations, links, and brief descriptions.
I could look for other news bloggers to do what Gavin and I had been doing. But that would replicate one or both of the problems that plagued OAN.
You knew I was going to say this: the future of OAN is OATP.
I'll continue to blog, but only sporadically. OAN will continue to exist, but its output will be greatly reduced. Meantime, OATP is a daily, comprehensive source of OA-related news. OATP's austere format doesn't do what good blogs do. But it supports good bloggers in doing what good bloggers do. Bloggers can be selective in what they cover in depth, knowing that OATP is taking care of breadth. And when they do cover the news in depth, OATP itself will point us to their coverage.
OATP is still in Phase 1, with relatively few taggers and most of them using just one tag (the one official project tag, oa.new). In Phase 2, which I hope to roll out later this year, we'll have more taggers, more of them will use "subtopic tags", it will be easier for taggers to avoid adding duplicates to the project feed, it will be easier for taggers to use convergent rather than divergent tags, and it will be easier for users to subscribe to versions of the feed covering just the subtopics they care to follow.
As I note in the sidebar to the right,
Please take part, as a reader, a tagger, or both.
If you've had a widget on your blog running the headlines from OAN, please replace it with a widget running the headlines from the OATP.
Am I deliberately steering readers away from my blog? Not exactly. I'll keep blogging, at a low level, and will appreciate any eyeballs that linger here. But I am deliberately recommending another news source over my own. I'm doing it to be useful: it's a better way to track new developments. It's not a better way to comment thoughtfully on new developments. But it doesn't interfere with any of the existing ways to comment thoughtfully on new developments, and it will helps all of us find the thoughtful comments people are moved to make.
Gavin Baker joined Open Access News as assistant editor in February 2008, two weeks shy of two years ago. When he started, there was already too much news for me to cover alone. His help was indispensable to the blog and to me personally. After July 2009, when I took a new position and had to curtail my own blogging, he carried virtually the whole, still-growing load at OAN on his own. Today is his last day, and OAN will not be the same.
Gavin was highly qualified for this job on Day One. As I described his background in my blog post introducing him to my readers (February 3, 2008):
In the past two years, his understanding of this topic and the worldwide campaign behind it grew even further, embodied in a daily stream of succinct posts. Behind the scenes he was skilled and dogged at the time-consuming tasks required to blog well: finding the relevant policies of the journals, publishers, projects, institutions, or countries we were covering; discovering whether a development in the news was really new; deciphering gibberish and PR-speak and restating it clearly; gaining access to articles that were not OA; understanding stories or documents not written in English; finding URLs for items to which we'd like to link; and reading long documents in order to select the most relevant excerpts. When a news article or press release was vague on a point important to us and our readers, Gavin often took the initiative to ask the right questions and track down people who might be in a position to answer.
His work at OAN --as well as the OA tracking project-- has been valuable to me, our readers, and the wider OA movement. I'm grateful to him and wish him the best in the next chapters of his life and career, starting with graduate school in the fall.
Postscript 1. For an idea of what he's been up to, see his article, Open access: Advice on working with faculty senates, published just this week in the January issue of College & Research Libraries News.
Postscript 2. I'll soon post more on the future of OAN itself.
For the past two years, my work on Open Access News has been funded by SPARC. My funding ends today, and with it my tenure at OAN.
I'll leave it to Peter to say what becomes of OAN from here. The Open Access Tracking Project, which we launched last year, continues. (Anticipating this moment was one motivation behind the project: anyone can contribute to the OATP feed, allowing the workload to be distributed.)
I give my sincerest thanks to Peter and to SPARC for affording me this incredible opportunity. There are few better ways to engage so deeply and globally with the topic of open access. I've learned so much.
I hope my work has also been useful to you, our readers. It has been a challenge and a privilege to make sense of the world of open access and communicate it to you. Thank you for your support and engagement.
As for me, I intend to begin work on my Ph.D. in the fall. Until then, I'm available to work on new projects: if you have any ideas, please contact me.
Thanks for reading, and for all you do.
Keep in touch,
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIDCR Launches the FaceBase Consortium, press release, October 5, 2009.
Draft of an Open Data Commons Attribution License, Open Data Commons, January 11, 2010.
U.S. House Science and Technology Committee, Report Finds Common Ground in Efforts to Balance Public Access, Scholarly Publishing, press release, January 13, 2010.
David Crotty, Going Legit: The Difficult Path from Piracy to Partnership, The Scholarly Kitchen, January 13, 2010.
Maney Publishing launches open access model, press release, January 15, 2010.
SPARC honors Optical Society of America as a pioneer in scholarly publishing innovation, press release, January 14, 2010.
OA journal announcements, launches, and conversions spotted in the past week:
Eric Pfanner, France Offers Google Its Books in Exchange for Tax, New York Times, January 14, 2010.
The report is available here (in French).
Jeff Good, LSA Data Sharing Resolution, Cyberling Blog, January 11, 2010.
American Library Association and Association of College and Research Libraries response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy consultation on public access, January 12, 2010.
Also see the press release.
Gavin Baker, Open access: Advice on working with faculty senates, College & Research Libraries News, January 2010.
Canadian Association of Research Libraries, CARL Produces Data Management Awareness Toolkit, press release, January 8, 2010.
Phoebe Ayers, 2009 in Review, The Wikipedia Signpost, January 11, 2010.
Joseph Juma Musakali, Bridging the digital divide through open access, SciDev.Net, January 6, 2010.
The National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB) has released its Strategic Plan 2010-2013. Excerpt:
Phillip Larson, Public Access Policy Forum Enters “Bonus” Round, OSTP Blog, January 11, 2010.
The Scholarly Publishing Roundtable --a US group consisting mostly of librarians, publishers, and provosts-- today released its recommendations on OA for publicly-funded research. The group's "core recommendation" calls for OA, and calls for it across the federal government, but stops short of calling for an OA mandate:
Here are the group's eight specific recommendations:
One of the group's background principles is that "the results of research need to be published and maintained in ways that maximize the possibilities for creative reuse and interoperation among sites that host them." You don't have to squint too hard to see that as an endorsement of libre OA.
Update. In my message posting news of the report to the SPARC Open Access Forum, I mistakenly said that Elsevier and PLoS did not sign the final report. I should have said that YS Chi and Mark Patterson did not sign the final report. The members of the panel agreed to participate as individuals, not as representatives of their employers. I regret the error.
Update (1/19/10). I was wrong to criticize Wiley-Blackwell's Health and Social Care in the Community (HSCC) for not following its own policy to deposit articles by NIH-funded authors in PMC. In the period since the NIH policy became mandatory, HSCC has had two submissions based on NIH funding. In the first case it deposited the manuscript in PMC within six days of receipt. The second paper was received very recently and is still in process. (Thanks to Cliff Morgan for the correction.) My apologies to HSCC and Wiley-Blackwell.
Heather Morrison has also posted a correction.
Richard Poynder, Open Access: Counting Gold, Open and Shut?, January 8, 2010.
Mike Cook, Project Gutenberg Ends One Year And Starts Another, Project Gutenberg News, January 9, 2010.