Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Comments to Obama administration due in 5 days

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.

If you haven't already submitted a comment, use your weekend to write one and send it off no later than Wednesday.  You can submit your comment by email or through the OSTP blog

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. 

Housekeeping: Future of OAN

Now that Gavin has departed, and my time is still occupied with other OA work, what will become of Open Access News?

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,  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,

You can read the OATP feed on a blog-like web page or subscribe to it by RSS, email, or Twitter.  You can also help build the feed by tagging new developments you encounter.

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.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Housekeeping: Good bye to Gavin Baker

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):

Gavin is the founder of the Open Students, the only blog about OA directed to students.  He's also the force behind The Right to Research, the SPARC web site on the student campaign for OA, and the author of some first-rate blog posts (one, two, three), presentations (one, two, three), and articles on OA.  When he was still a student, he co-founded the Florida chapter of Free Culture, and organized a successful campaign to get the University of Florida Student Senate to adopt a strong resolution in support of OA.  It's no surprise that when SPARC honored the student campaign for OA with its Innovator Award in December 2007, it singled out five students as notable agents of change and named Gavin "The Professional".  He was interviewed last week in Library Journal Academic Newswire.

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. 


Housekeeping: Farewell

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,


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Open access roundup

New OA database on facial genetics

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIDCR Launches the FaceBase Consortium, press release, October 5, 2009.

... The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced today it has issued the first 11 research and technology grants of its new FaceBase Consortium. The five-year initiative will systematically compile the biological instructions to construct the middle region of the human face and precisely define the genetics underlying its common developmental disorders, such as cleft lip and palate. The mid-face includes the nose, upper lip, and the palate, or roof of the mouth.

As a key part of the initiative, a one-stop, encyclopedic database of head and skull, or craniofacial, development will be created and maintained to allow scientists to mine the riches of the information enabling them to more rapidly and effectively generate hypotheses and accelerate the pace of their research. The database, called FaceBase, will be free and publicly accessible to the scientific community. Its organizers anticipate that FaceBase will have a prototype ready within the next year and a fully functioning database soon after. ...

New draft attribution data license

Draft of an Open Data Commons Attribution License, Open Data Commons, January 11, 2010.

Open Data Commons are happy to announce the first draft of an attribution license for data/databases.

A commentable version of the text is available here.

Feedback is actively sought and we would be grateful for any assistance in circulating this announcement to relevant communities and networks.

The license is heavily based on the Open Database License (ODbL), though obviously without the share-alike provisions! ...

The present plan is to start out with this first comments round based ending around the start of February. Based on the feedback received we will then assess how many further rounds of revision and consultation will be needed.

Some particular questions that it would be good to have feedback on:

  • Is there any irrelevant matter that can be cut from the license (shorter is better!)
  • Is attribution wanted for produced works (at the moment it is)
  • What flexibility in attribution format/requirements should be supported

The drafting of this license has been prompted by a clear need in several communities for an open license for data/databases that provides for attribution but does not impose share-alike requirements. ...

House Science Committee on roundtable report

U.S. House Science and Technology Committee, Report Finds Common Ground in Efforts to Balance Public Access, Scholarly Publishing, press release, January 13, 2010.

... [U.S. House of Representatives] Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) offered the following statement:

The Committee on Science and Technology hosted a Scholarly Publishing Roundtable in June of 2009 to bring together key stakeholders from the academic and publishing communities. To allow a more frank and productive discussion, the Committee asked that Members come to the table with their deep expertise and their own viewpoints, but not as representatives of their home institutions or organizations.

I applaud this group for taking such a thoughtful approach to a difficult and divisive issue. After the group met at the event hosted by the Committee, the members of the roundtable volunteered to continue meeting on their own to produce a report that would be useful to Congress, the White House and the agencies.

I believe these recommendations strike a good balance by allowing public access to the results of research paid for with federal funds, while preserving the high quality and editorial integrity of scholarly publishing so critical to the scientists and seasoned science writers on whose expertise we all depend.

Our collective goal is to advance both scholarship and public access. I commend the members of this group for putting aside self interest to reach a compromise that will benefit us all.

Is Mendeley heading for copyright trouble?

David Crotty, Going Legit: The Difficult Path from Piracy to Partnership, The Scholarly Kitchen, January 13, 2010.

... Mendeley [is] the current market leader for potential filesharing of scholarly papers and materials. ... The problem is that they’ve built filesharing into their system with little to no oversight over copyright infringement. Since Mendeley claims it has 8 million research papers uploaded to its site, if you’re a scholarly publisher, it’s likely that your copyrighted material is already hosted on their servers.

I first met with representatives from Mendeley back in late 2008, and was fairly stunned at their apparent naïveté towards copyright law and the legal precedents that had been set in cases involving music sites (particularly since one of their major backers is the founder of Last.FM). Their FAQ and terms of service at the time were clearly offering the sorts of infringement inducements that got Grokster in so much legal trouble, and after some correspondence with Victor Henning, Mendeley changed the language on these pages to better reflect copyright law and leave the company some hope of a safe harbor defense. The big problem they still haven’t resolved is the fact that all uploading and downloading takes place through the company’s servers. ... Mendeley not only connects users through their servers but actually hosts and redistributes the potentially infringing files. ...

Maney launches hybrid option for 39 journals

Maney Publishing launches open access model, press release, January 15, 2010.

Maney Publishing is pleased to announce the launch of a new open access (OA) business model, MORE OpenChoice. Twenty-four materials science and engineering journals and fifteen health science titles are initially included in MORE OpenChoice, with the intention to expand this to humanities journals in the future.

MORE OpenChoice represents a new business model which will co-exist with Maney’s traditional subscription business ...

Gaynor Redvers-Mutton, Business Development Manager at Maney Publishing, is leading the open access project: "We have priced our article charge competitively to help to stimulate the OA market and offer our authors real choice. ..."

Optical Society is newest SPARC Innovator

SPARC honors Optical Society of America as a pioneer in scholarly publishing innovation, press release, January 14, 2010.

With the launch of Optics Express in 1997, the Optical Society of America (OSA) created an open-access journal that has stood the test of time to become a both a scientific and financial success. The journal, now entering its second decade of publication, is consistently ranked among the top titles in its field. And, it has proved to be such a successful financial venture that the Society is this year rolling out three more publications that follow the same open-access business model.

For being a shining example of community-driven creativity and innovation in scholarly communications, the Optical Society of America has been named the first SPARC Innovator of 2010. ...

Optics Express publishes original, peer-reviewed articles in all fields of optical science and technology twice a month – within an average of 47 days after article acceptance. The quick turnaround, along with creative ways to highlight content – such as electronic cover images for every issue and Focus issues – have made Optics Express a sought-after publishing destination for authors and a top journal in the field. OSA is introducing three new journals under the Optics Express brand and publishing model over the next year: Biomedical Optic Express, Optical Material Express and Energy Express. ...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Open access roundup

More on French digitization plans

Eric Pfanner, France Offers Google Its Books in Exchange for Tax, New York Times, January 14, 2010.

As France drags its cultural past and present into the digital future, it is coming around to the idea that the job will require support from a company often viewed with deep suspicion here: Google. ...

Last year, unconfirmed reports that the National Library of France was considering working with Google on scanning millions of books caused an outcry. In response, President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged €750 million, or $1.1 billion, to bolster France’s own efforts to digitize libraries and cultural archives.

As an expert panel published its recommendations on how to go about that, the culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, said this week that he hoped to move beyond the “passionate reflexes” that have sometimes inflamed French attitudes toward Google and other U.S. Internet companies. ...

The panel proposed a partnership in which taxpayer money would be used to scan books from the national library and other public institutions; those would form the backbone of an upgraded version of the government’s existing digital book project, called Gallica. To add other works, the report recommended working with private companies like Google, whose digital book archive is by far the most comprehensive. Works could then be made available on both sites.

Mr. Mitterrand said he planned to visit Google headquarters in California to negotiate on several sticking points. To participate, Mr. Mitterrand said, Google would have to depart from its practice of striking exclusive arrangements with institutions that participate in its book program, which include a municipal library in Lyon. He also insisted on greater respect for French copyright traditions, which can sometimes be more restrictive than American practices. ...

The government report lamented the shortcomings of Gallica, which has been archiving works that are no longer under copyright. While Google has scanned more than 10 million books, the study says, Gallica has only 145,000 in its database. Even some French classics are apparently unavailable on Gallica ...

Google welcomed the proposal for a partnership, saying it was “in line with the spirit of cooperation we’ve always tried to promote.” ...

The report is available here (in French).

Linguistics society debates data sharing

Jeff Good, LSA Data Sharing Resolution, Cyberling Blog, January 11, 2010.

At the recently concluded Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) in Baltimore, the following resolution on Data Sharing was passed by those at the Business Meeting. It will soon be sent along to the whole membership of the Society for their vote. The resolution was put forth by the LSA's Technology Advisory Committee.

Whereas modern computing technology has the potential of advancing linguistic science by enabling linguists to work with datasets at a scale previously unimaginable; and

Whereas this will only be possible if such data are made available and standards ensuring interoperability are followed; and

Whereas data collected, curated, and annotated by linguists forms the empirical base of our field; ...

Therefore, be it resolved at the annual business meeting on 8 January 2010 that the Linguistic Society of America encourages members and other working linguists to:

  • make the full data sets behind publications available, subject to all relevant ethical and legal concerns; ...
  • work towards assigning academic credit for the creation and maintenance of linguistic databases and computational tools; and
  • when serving as reviewers, expect full data sets to be published (again subject to legal and ethical considerations) and expect claims to be tested against relevant publicly available datasets.

The resolution passed in the Business Meeting by a comfortable enough margin that no vote count was required. ...

After the resolution was presented at the Business Meeting, the LSA Ethics Committee decided it would discuss the resolution on its Ethics Discussion Blog in the near future, specifically to address what ethical issues it raises.

U.S. libraries call for public access

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.

... The ALA and ACRL have long believed that ensuring public access to the fruits of federally funded research is a logical, feasible, and widely beneficial goal. ...

All federal agencies funding significant research should adopt public access policies. This is important in a wide variety of disciplines, as new research in many fields can have an immediate impact on the public good. It is also necessary to establish consistent expectations and conditions for the management of grants and resulting output, saving institutions and principal investigators valuable time.

Based on the initial experience of low manuscript deposit rates under a voluntary NIH Public Access Policy, mandatory policies are necessary to ensure compliance and routine uptake of such submissions.

We urge a short embargo period and recommend a 6-month maximum to bring U.S. policy into alignment with policies already in place in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. ...

The authorized repository should provide support for converting the file to a standard mark-up language, such as the currently preferred XML, if the file is not submitted in that format. PDF, a document format in ubiquitous use, does not support robust searching, linking, text-mining, or reformatting over the long-term, nor does it provide full accessibility for the blind and reading impaired. ...

Also see the press release.

How to pass a campus OA policy

Gavin Baker, Open access: Advice on working with faculty senates, College & Research Libraries News, January 2010.

Tim Hackman’s October 2009 Scholarly Communication column, “What’s the opposite of a pyrrhic victory?,” discussed the failure of the University of Maryland to adopt an open access policy. Responding to the advice in Hackman’s piece, this column offers some suggestions on the process of proposing a policy at your institution. ...

My overall advice: consider your endeavor a political one. Yours won’t involve street demonstrations or smoke-filled backrooms (probably), but it certainly will involve making friends and changing minds. Politics is not only about logic and reasoning, but also emotion and relationships. Be prepared for it.

One theme echoed by Hackman and others who have proposed open access policies is to not overestimate faculty’s understanding of open access. To the contrary, expect to spend considerable time and effort informing faculty and responding to their questions and concerns. ...

Message control is key to any political endeavor. Formulating clear, succinct messages —and sticking to them—ensures that your most effective and favorable arguments will be communicated.

I’ve seen myriad different arguments for open access, some of them extraneous, confusing, or even antithetical to faculty interests. Be ever mindful of your audience. Speak their language and tailor your message to their concerns. ...

Small or private informational meetings, proceeding at a deliberate pace, help to avoid triggering alarms or making anyone feel they have been left behind. ...

As you proceed, be aware of the fault lines and diversity within your institution. The proposal shouldn’t come toward a vote with anyone feeling, “People like me weren’t consulted.” ...

At all stages, exhibit confidence in your proposal. Without being untruthful, always focus on the positive aspects; let critics do their own work. But always be willing to hear concerns, and be patient in addressing them. ...

Finally, one principle of politics is: never take a vote unless you know you will win it. If possible, do a “whip count” in advance to ensure your proposal has sufficient support to pass. Lobby waverers until they’re prepared to vote for the proposal, and delay a vote until then. ...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Open access roundup

Data management in Canada: new toolkit

Canadian Association of Research Libraries, CARL Produces Data Management Awareness Toolkit, press release, January 8, 2010.

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) is pleased to announce the availability of Research Data: Unseen Opportunities. The purpose of the toolkit is to enable research library directors to raise awareness of the issues of data management with administrators and researchers on campus.

The purpose of the toolkit is to enable research library directors to raise awareness of the issues of data management with administrators and researchers on campus.

Data are valuable assets that in some cases have an unlimited potential for reuse. The awareness toolkit underscores the need to ensure that research data are managed throughout the data lifecycle so that they are understandable and usable. ...

Research Data: Unseen Opportunities provides readers with a general understanding of the current state of research data in Canada and internationally. It is organized into seven sections: The Big Picture; Major Benefits of Data Management; Current Context; Case Studies; Gaps in Data Stewardship in Canada; Data Management Policies in Canada; Responses to Faculty/Administrative Concerns; What Can Be Done on Campus? ...

Wikipedia in 2009

Phoebe Ayers, 2009 in Review, The Wikipedia Signpost, January 11, 2010.

2009 was Wikipedia's ninth year, and the sixth year for the Wikimedia Foundation. ... 2009 saw major growth of the Wikimedia Foundation, global outreach and partnership activities, and more major grants and fundraising than ever before. At the same time, questions were raised over the health of the Wikipedia community, and debates over quality, content and sustainability continued.

The number of Wikipedia articles continued to grow, with the English Wikipedia passing 3,000,000 articles in mid-August, and the German Wikipedia passing the milestone of 1,000,000 articles in December. Commons also passed 4,000,000 files in March and then 5,000,000 files in September. ... Several new projects were also created, including the Pontic Greek Wikipedia, the Finnish Wikiversity, the Sorani Wikipedia, the Western Panjabi Wikipedia, the Mirandese Wikipedia, the Acehnese Wikipedia and the Turkish Wikinews. ...

Several new chapters were founded in 2009 ...

One of the largest and furthest-reaching debates this year was over the future of licensing on the projects. ... The switch [to Creative Commons] was approved ...

2009 saw a new focus on partnerships with cultural organizations, or "GLAM" organizations (short for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). Following on the heels of the German Bundesarchiv donation in late 2008, there were several large donations of images in 2009 from external organizations, including the Deutsche Fotothek, Antweb, and the Mary Rose Trust. ...

Relationships with archives took on a negative tone in July, when the National Portrait Gallery in the UK threatened a lawsuit towards an individual Wikipedian over images from the NPG that had been placed on Commons. ...

Outside organizations continued to use Wikimedia content for new applications as well ...

Two major grant-funded projects to improve the usability of MediaWiki began in 2009 ...

In other technical news, the mobile gateway for Wikipedia,, was launched and refined. ...

The Wikimedia Foundation grew this year, taking on new projects and hiring a number of new employees ...

The Foundation received several major grants in 2009 ...

At the end of 2009, the annual fundraiser was held. ... [T]he fundraiser resulted in over $8,000,000 in donations ...

Florence Devouard, former Board chair, was honored for her work on the Board with a Knighthood from the French government. ...

OA for Africa

Joseph Juma Musakali, Bridging the digital divide through open access, SciDev.Net, January 6, 2010.

Publishing scientific findings and accessing the research of others is an essential part of the academic process, particularly to encourage debate and foster innovation.

But many research institutions in Africa cannot afford to subscribe to many scientific journals, making it hard for scientists to keep up with research. Some institutions cannot even afford to promote and share the results of their research. Only a few people see their results and much of the research findings on the continent are going unnoticed.

The open access movement removes barriers to academic literature and offers opportunities to participate in the wider research and teaching community, ensuring that Africa does not end up on the wrong side of the 'digital divide'.

African higher education institutions can make use of open access in several ways — but they must also address the vital, underpinning role of information and communications technology (ICT). ...

Netherlands plans to digitize everything

The National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB) has released its Strategic Plan 2010-2013. Excerpt:

Strategic priority 1: As a national library, the KB wishes to offer everyone everywhere digital access to everything published in and about the Netherlands. ...

Main aims ...

  • We digitise all Dutch books, newspapers and periodicals from 1470. ...
  • We make agreements about copyright in order to guarantee free access to our collections. ...

The KB in 2013: ...

  • We offer a service for digitisation on demand (digitisation of texts from the paper collection on request) in order to meet the wishes of individual customers. ...
  • 10% of all Dutch books, newspapers and periodicals have been digitised (60 million pages by the KB, 13 million by third parties).
  • We keep a digitisation register that prevents possible overlap of digitisation activities by other institutions. ...
  • We have concluded an umbrella agreement with the NUV (Dutch Publishers Association) about the access to digital and digitised publications of Dutch publishers including the orphaned works (publications of which the right holders are not known). ...

Last chance to comment on White House consultation

Phillip Larson, Public Access Policy Forum Enters “Bonus” Round, OSTP Blog, January 11, 2010.

... [W]e have launched a two-week bonus period for all of you who signed off for the holidays. Therefore, all three phases of the Forum will remain open through January 21st.

In hopes that you will continue to build and respond to the thoughtful comments of your peers, we ask you to visit the Public Access Policy Forum portion of our blog to see all relevant posts and submit your comments in the appropriate forum:

In addition, be sure to check out the many comments and proposals submitted to our inbox, to which you are also welcome to submit comments or documents. ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

OA across the federal government, hold the mandate

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:

Each federal research funding agency should expeditiously but carefully develop and implement an explicit public access policy that brings about free public access to the results of the research that it funds as soon as possible after those results have been published in a peer?reviewed journal.

Here are the group's eight specific recommendations:

  1. Agencies should work in full and open consultation with all stakeholders, as well as with OSTP, to develop their public access policies.
  2. Agencies should establish specific embargo periods between publication and public access. An embargo period of between zero (for open access journals) and twelve months currently reflects such a balance for many science disciplines. For other fields a longer embargo period may be necessary.
  3. Policies should be guided by the need to foster interoperability....
  4. Every effort should be made to have the version of record (VoR) as the version to which free access is provided. If the VoR is not included in a public access database, the article version or reference that is
    included should contain links back to the VoR on the publisher’s site.
  5. Government agencies should extend the reach of their public access policies through voluntary collaborations with nongovernmental stakeholders...[such as] publishers, universities, and other entities husbanding the results of research, within and beyond the U.S.
  6. Policies should foster innovation in the research and educational use of scholarly publications.
  7. Government public access policies should address the need to resolve the challenges of long?term digital preservation.
  8. OSTP should establish a public access advisory committee....

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.

Youngsuk "YS" Chi, who became CEO of Elsevier's Science & Technology (S&T) Division last month, toward the end of the group's deliberations, did not sign the final report:

Primarily, I have a fundamental concern that the report supports an overly expansive role of
government and advocates approaches to the business of scholarly publishing that I believe are
overly prescriptive.

Mark Patterson, the Director of Publishing at PLoS, did not sign the report either:

The result is a set of recommendations that will significantly improve the currently limited access to federally funded research, but stops far short of recognizing and endorsing the opportunities to unleash the full potential of online communication to transform access to and use of scholarly literature.


  • There's a lot to like here:  the endorsement of OA at every federal funding agency, the endorsement of OA for the published editions of peer-reviewed articles, and the endorsement of libre OA and not merely gratis OA. 
  • The group neither calls for an OA mandate nor offers an argument against OA mandates.  It should have done one or the other.  By doing neither, it appears to ignore both the arguments in support of mandates and the evidence of their effectiveness.  If it weren't for this odd omission, the report would come very close to endorsing FRPAA, or even a stronger, libre version of FRPAA.  But FRPAA would require agencies to provide OA, even if, like this report, it would leave them free to go their own ways on most other policy details.  Some members of the group didn't like the way the NIH enhances the articles on deposit in PubMed Central; but that doesn't explain the group's skittishness about OA mandates.  (Clearly an agency could require OA to the author manuscripts or published editions without further enhancement.)  Even though PMC is OAI-compliant, some thought PubMed Central could do more to be interoperable with "external databases"; but that doesn't explain the skittishness about OA mandates either.  (Clearly an agency could mandate OA in a repository as interoperable as the technology allows.)  Beyond this, the group does not criticize the NIH policy, and it does not criticize FRPAA at all, leaving us in the dark about what, if anything, might be wrong with these mandatory approaches to OA for publicly-funded research.
  • I can't explain why the group didn't offer an argument against mandates, once it decided not to endorse them.  But there are some clues in the text about why it decided not to endorse them.  One is that it wants OA to the Version of Record (the published edition), and it knows, and often remarks, that a funding agency cannot mandate OA to the published edition.  Another clue is that it seems to prefer that the OA texts be hosted by publishers at their own sites, even though it would allow them to be hosted by government or institutional repositories.  But even together, these don't address, let alone outweigh, the arguments for mandates, and we all would have been better served by an argument whose premises and reasoning were open to inspection.
  • The problem with publisher-hosted OA is that it's uncertain.  Just as a funding agency can't compel publishers to provide OA to the published edition, it can't compel them to provide OA from their own sites.  In the absence of a binding policy, publisher willingness to host OA copies would be contingent, and highly variable.  (As a sign of the passive-aggressive forgetfulness we might face:  Just last month, Heather Morrison pointed out that Wiley-Blackwell's Health and Social Care in the Community has agreed to deposit articles by NIH-funded authors in PMC, but has a compliance rate of exactly 0%.)  [See the second update below.]
  • I'm one who agrees that the published edition is generally more useful than the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript, although I'd add:  unless the published edition is only available in PDF.  But even if all the editions we're talking about are in HTML or XML, assured OA to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript is far more useful to research than untrustworthy (flaky, selective, temporary, late) OA to the published edition.  If we can have assured OA to the published edition, and in a use-friendly format, wonderful; I want it.  But if we can't, we should put assured OA ahead of OA to the published edition. 
  • One more clue as to why the group may have decided not to endorse OA mandates:  The only working scientists on the panel were either in library science or had become publishers.  I respect all the participants, but the panel omitted a significant, probably the most significant, stakeholder group.

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.


I'll be out tomorrow, but the Open Access Tracking Project remains active, as always. Happy World's Fair Use Day!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Open access roundup

Measuring the growth of gold OA

Richard Poynder, Open Access: Counting Gold, Open and Shut?, January 8, 2010.

Is Gold Open Access growing? If so, how quickly? More importantly, how accurately is the Open Access movement able to measure its growth? ...

In 2009, said [Peter] Suber, [the Directory of Open Access Journals] "added 723 peer-reviewed OA journals, representing 19% growth over the previous year. [In 2008] it grew by 812 journals or 27%. ..."

[But] seeking to measure the growth of Gold OA by counting the number of journals in the DOAJ is a deeply flawed approach.

For instance, as Suber suggests — and publishing consultant Alma Swan confirms — the DOAJ registry (in Swan's words) "merely reflects the pace at which the Lund people add them." ...

When I contacted the Lund team they confirmed that they have been struggling to keep up ...

So how do we measure it? Bo-Christer Björk, who is based at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland, has been doing some work on this. ...

Instead of using DOAJ he has been using Ullrich's Periodicals Directory for his IT-barometer study. As he explains: "We undertook a search for peer reviewed, scholarly journals, with a particular start year, and then searched for all journals versus Open Access journals." ...

[Björk's] graph suggests that the percentage of new journals created as OA journals in 2007 was 32%. ...

The truth of the matter, concludes Swan, is that — whatever source one uses — trying to measure the growth of Gold OA by counting journals "is an unsatisfactory methodology". ...

In short, the OA movement really needs to abandon its fixation on counting journals and concentrate on papers. "The best way to measure growth would be by number of Gold articles published each year," says Swan. ...

[Björk's] figures suggest that the overall percentage of articles published as Gold OA in 2008 was 9.3% ...

Björk's figures, we should note, also include papers published as Hybrid OA (24% of his Gold OA total). ...

Nevertheless, since Björk's main focus is on taking a snapshot of the current situation, rather than measuring the growth of Gold OA, his figures don't take us much further forward if our aim is to track growth over time.

So we are left with the question we began with: Is Gold OA growing? If so, how quickly, and is that growth accelerating? "I have no evidence to show any acceleration in growth, " says Björk. "On the contrary it seems that growth has been relatively stable, after a short expansive period when BioMed Central and PLoS were founded"

In short, we simply don't know how fast Gold OA is growing, or even if it is growing. ...

2009 at Project Gutenberg

Mike Cook, Project Gutenberg Ends One Year And Starts Another, Project Gutenberg News, January 9, 2010.

Noon, January 6, 2010, is the end of [Project Gutenberg's] calendar production year number 39 and the beginning of our 40th year, though our 40 years of calendar time won’t be complete until July 5, 2011.

In 2009 we saw our 35,000th internally produced eBook go out, and our 25,000 in English, our 1,500th in French, 600th in German and 500th in Finnish. We also saw Dutch and Chinese pass 400 eBooks. ...

The total original Project Gutenberg eBooks equals about the number of books in the average U.S. public library. ...