Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #69
January 2, 2004
Read this issue online
Open access in 2003
I know that momentum for open access built tremendously in 2003 because keeping up with it has left me little time to take stock and gain perspective. But even this early in the new year I can offer these observations:
* 2003 was the year that research funders realized that if research is important enough to fund, then it's important enough to share. Open access isn't just an abstract public good; it's a concrete way to make literature more useful and thereby to increase the return on investment that funders make in research. In the Bethesda Statement, major private funders committed to open access. The Wellcome Trust, which participated in the Bethesda meeting, issued its own separate public endorsement of OA soon after. In the Berlin Declaration, major public funders from Germany and France committed to open access, along with some of the most important public funders from Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Norway. We saw independent support for OA by public research funders in Australia, Canada, Holland, India, and the UK. The United States is conspicuously late for this party. The Sabo bill, introduced in 2003, shows some legislative interest in the U.S., but not yet enough for a national commitment and not yet sufficiently precise to promote OA without needlessly alienating other stakeholders and their friends in Congress.
* 2003 was the year that the Public Library of Science became a publisher. It made a huge splash with the launch of _PLoS Biology_. The combination of exemplary research and exemplary PR made the launch an event to which science organizations of all kinds had to respond.
* 2003 was the year that objections to OA shifted from ignorant (OA bypasses peer review, OA violates copyright) to skeptical, from belligerent to curious, from dismissive to constructive. Scientists, journals, and organizations not yet committed to OA make it clear that they appreciate and even desire the benefits of OA. But they ask whether the business model for OA journals is sustainable and whether it leaves anyone out. These are good questions, and fortunately the answers are amenable to empirical investigation. In that sense, the debate has finally shifted from ideology to science. Many independent researchers are gathering evidence, with the help of cooperative journals willing to share their business data. Many skeptics are on record as willing to examine the evidence. Even society publishers are joining the investigation, thanks in part to an ALPSP public statement urging societies to experiment, not merely to await the experiments of others. This empirical turn is a very positive development. It's exactly how important change ought to take place in science and scholarship. The only downside is that the growing interest in studying the track record of OA resources focuses one-sidedly on OA journals and overlooks or deemphasizes OA archives. Let's hope that this is because the economic sustainability of OA archives is less open to doubt, and therefore less in need of investigation. It would be ironic and regrettable if this inexpensive, useful, and sustainable avenue to OA were neglected by users simply because it was neglected by skeptical investigators.
* 2003 was the year that exorbitant price increases and oppressive bundling requirements, especially at Elsevier, pushed major research libraries beyond anger to cancellation. Yes, they are captive markets; yes, faculty demand for journals makes cancellation normally unthinkable; yes, they have swallowed intolerable price increases in the past. But it was clear that this couldn't last, and the dam finally broke. Three important financial analysts concluded that the commercial journal business model is not sustainable. This was proved in practice at schools as diverse as Cornell and North Carolina State, which cancelled hundreds of Elsevier titles with strong faculty support. When the UK House of Commons Science and Technology committee announced an investigation of journal prices and accessibility, most observers immediately concluded that this would harm Elsevier. These developments are only indirectly relevant to open access, since OA progress depends on OA initiatives, not Elsevier setbacks. But as prices get worse and cancellations grow, the interest in OA as a solution also grows.
* The Lund Directory of Open Access Journals launched in 2003, an event that will appear more and more important as time goes on. Not only does it give us a quick and increasingly accurate measure of the number of peer-reviewed OA journals, but it helps scholars find OA journals in their fields. Authors who support OA need this information in order to know where to submit their work. Readers need this information to know what to monitor, where monitoring is easy. DOAJ is providing a host of useful auxiliary services, including metadata records for library catalogs and (coming soon) full-text searching of participating journals. We need an equally comprehensive, up-to-date, and useful directory of open-access, OAI-compliant archives.
I link to most of these events in my Timeline of the Open Access Movement. Have a look at it while your memory is still fresh, and let me know if I've omitted any of the landmark developments from 2003.
The surge for open access this year is not just our own wishful thinking. Three prominent science journals noted it as well:
* The December 19 issue of _Science Magazine_ lists seven "breakthroughs of the year" and "areas to watch in 2004". Open access is one of them:Open sesame. Will 2004 be the year scientists open their hearts --and their wallets-- to open-access scientific journals? A slew of publishers will launch experiments in which authors will pay publication charges and journals will make their papers freely accessible over the Internet. Advocates say that the author-pays approach will speed the flow of scientific information, but critics predict that the business model will be a flop, particularly outside the relatively flush biomedical sciences.
* The December 18 issue of _Nature_ highlights five major science stories from 2003, including the rise of open access:Will the scientific literature in future be dominated by journals that do not charge their readers? That is the goal of the 'open-access' movement, which argues that the costs of publishing should be borne up front by those who fund research, rather than those who want to read about it. Open-access journals, which charge publication fees, have been proliferating over the past few years. October saw the launch of the most prominent, Public Library of Science Biology, which is competing for top biology papers with Nature, Science and Cell.
* The December 15 issue of _The Scientist_ lists the top five science stories of 2003. Again, open access was one of them:The Public Library of Science published the inaugural issue of PLoS Biology in October, and BioMed Central, an open-access publisher and a partner of The Scientist, received official UK funding support in June.
* The _Wall Street Journal_ included open access among the top 10 health stories of 2003.Why should Americans pay to see the results of research underwritten by their tax dollars, open-access proponents argue? Their aim instead is to make that information available free to everyone on the Internet. And in doing so, they threaten established journal publishers. Critical to making open access succeed is instilling it with the same kind of quality peer review found in hard-copy journals.
Mark Ingebretsen, The Daily Scan, Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2003. (Online access only for subscribers.)
* LIS News included open access among the top 10 library stories of 2003.New efforts in noncommercial publishing, such as Public Library of Science Biology, allowed heavyweights like Cornell to hit Elsevier and other for-profit publishers where it hurts. The Open Source movement has also been focused on libraries.
* Two of the year's major open-access developments occurred in December:
(1) On December 10, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the prices and accessibility of scientific journals, including the question whether the government should support open-access journals. Committee Chairman Ian Gibson told _The Scientist_, "If research is funded by public money, then it should be available to the public for free."
UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee
Committee press release on its inquiry
For press coverage of the inquiry, see the "new bibliography" section below.
(2) The UN World Summit on the Information Society met in Geneva December 10-12, and approved a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action that contained explicit endorsements of open access to scientific information.
From the Declaration of Principles:[Paragraph 28] We strive to promote universal access with equal opportunities for all to scientific knowledge and the creation and dissemination of scientific and technical information, including open access initiatives for scientific publishing.
From the Plan of Action:
[Paragraph C3.i] Encourage initiatives to facilitate access, including free and affordable access to open access journals and books, and open archives for scientific information.
[Paragraph C7.b] Promote electronic publishing, differential pricing and open access initiatives to make scientific information affordable and accessible in all countries on an equitable basis.
WSIS home page
Declaration of Principles, final draft (December 12, 2003)
Plan of Action, final draft (December 12, 2003)
Past coverage of WSIS in the newsletter and blog
The effort to write meaningful endorsements of open access into the final WSIS documents was lead by the Scientific Information Working Group, which was in turn lead by the indefatigable Francis Muguet. (Disclosure: I'm on the steering committee for this working group.)
For some background on why open access may be mentioned in the final documents less prominently than you'd like, and less prominently than it was in earlier drafts, see Francis Muguet's Activity Report of October 24, 2003.
For press coverage of the WSIS endorsement of open access, see the "new bibliography" section below. Most of the news coverage on WSIS ignored the open access issue, and focused on bigger issues such as freedom of speech and the digital divide. David Dickson of SciDev.Net was an exception, filing a series of helpful reports on the discussion and evolving language of the open-access endorsement.
The many-copy problem and the many-copy solution
As soon as we provide open access to an article, we should expect copies to proliferate around the world. The archive or journal where the article first appeared will make back-ups and may have mirror sites. The Internet Archive and Wayback Machine will make and store copies. Google and many other search engines will put copies in their cache. Readers who find the article especially important for their teaching or research might post copies to their own web sites. Others will circulate copies as email attachments. Readers will have offline copies on their hard drives, produced by their browsers, page-change alert programs, locally searchable databases, or other applications. Many users will make and keep printouts.
Insofar as this proliferation causes trouble, let me call it the many-copy problem. Insofar as it solves problems, let me call it the many-copy solution. Open access undoubtedly triggers both.
In the spirit of giving good news first, here's a sketch the many-copy solution.
* The proliferation of copies shows that copying is physically or technically possible. In the case of open-access literature, copying is also legally permissible. When it is both, then licensing agreements and software to enforce them haven't locked up the content and made it uncopyable. The proliferation of permissible copies shows that the technical and legal freedom to make and distribute copies is intact, which is a key part of the free exchange of information.
* The proliferation of copies is insurance against disaster. If one copy is deleted or corrupted, the other copies will likely survive. This fact was made a deliberate preservation strategy by LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe), a P2P network of self-correcting archive mirrors.
* The proliferation of copies is a hedge against censorship, not just deletion and corruption. When the Bush administration started pruning government-controlled web sites, removing valid science that might help terrorists, and valid science that might support abortion-choice advocates, it was serenely unaware that copies of the same files existed elsewhere on the net. It doesn't matter whether the censor is trying to save lives or distort science. You can only remove the copies you control and the copies you know about. Open access increases the odds that these aren't the only copies online, let alone offline in printouts and hard drives.
Bush administration deletions of information that might help terrorists
Bush administration deletions of information that might help abortion-rights advocates
Bush administration deletions of information that might help critics of its Iraq policy
* The proliferation of copies not only increases the chances that a copy will survive disaster, uncensored, but that *open-access* copies will survive. This is one reason why BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science deposit copies of all their published articles in PubMed Central. The PMC copies help assure that the articles will remain OA even if the original journals die, are bought out, or change their access policies.
* A journal might refuse to publish an article unless the author removes the preprint from an open-access archive. This is not a copyright issue, since the author was the copyright holder at the time the article was deposited in the archive. But the journal can refuse any submission, and this power gives it leverage over authors who want to be published. Authors can try to negotiate to keep the preprint accessible, which will work at a growing number of journals. But even if negotiations fail, authors can simply comply with the journal's demand. Thanks to the many-copy solution, other open-access copies are likely to exist elsewhere. Authors, like censors, can only remove the copies they control and the copies they know about, and journals cannot expect them to do any more than that.
* The proliferation of copies increases the likelihood that at least one of them will be indexed by a search engine in your standard toolkit. Some online journals have terrible search engines for their content. Some archives are not OAI-compliant and cannot benefit from cross-archive OAI search engines. But most open-access copies in the surface (as opposed to "deep") web will be crawled by Google and other major search engines. Some will be indexed by Scirus, OAI-specific engines, and other specialized academic search engines. There is no single index that marks the "finish line" for content trying to become visible and discoverable. But every new copy increases the number of pathways between readers and copies, and increases the odds that a random reader will discover a copy by entering relevant terms into his or her favorite search engine, no matter how provincial or peculiar he, she, or it may be.
* Finally, the proliferation of copies speeds access and thereby supports the basic function of open access, which is to accelerate research. If all copies of an article had to be served from a central location, with no caching or storage on local machines, no printing, and no forwarding, then literature might be nearly as difficult to reach and share as it was in the era of print. In this sense, open access doesn't one-sidedly cause the proliferation of copies; the relationship is reciprocal. Open access triggers copying by permitting it, while copying improves access by multiplying access points and cutting delays.
What about the many-copy *problem*? How can the proliferation of copies cause trouble?
* Copies interfere with the measurement of traffic and usage. A given archive or journal might measure usage very well. But if there is an unknown number of copies elsewhere on the net, and an unknown percentage of readers are using those other copies, then the local measurements will be inaccurate to an unknown degree. We might know that all verified counts are undercounts, but we won't know by how much.
If we had perfect indices of the entire net or perfect spybots in every browser, then the proliferation of copies would be compatible with perfect measurement of traffic and usage. Perfect indices are very desirable, and perfect spybots very undesirable. But we're very far from both, and there are good reasons to think that the desirable method of achieving this goal will always be out of reach, even if (big if) we continually approach completeness as an asymptote.
Or, perhaps a perfect index of the net is not even desirable. It would only solve the measurement problem if it counted all copies in use. But then it would have to count even offline copies on hard drives, threatening the private exchange and storage of information. At some point, improving our usage metrics will violate privacy and protecting privacy will thwart usage metrics.
What if open-access articles carried code to report back to a scientometric counting station now and then? (This is possible; Microsoft already does something similar to see whether copies of licensed MS apps are in use in more than one location at once.) Copying the file would also copy the code with it, at least in the absence of a fairly sophisticated hack. However, even if the code only reported anonymized traffic and usage data, many users would worry that it would report more, invade privacy, and compromise anonymous inquiry. Open-source code would help allay fears, but would it help enough? Either way, we're likely to see closed-source versions of this code become common. It's too useful to Jack Valenti and John Ashcroft.
Note that the proliferation of copies only hinders metrics that count downloads, search hits, and other forms of usage. It does not affect the count of citations or impact measurements based on citation counts. Of course, automated citation counts might fail too, e.g. because an article citing my work is offline or invisible to the counter. But if so, the fault does not lie with the many-copy problem.
* The proliferation of copies harms what we could call *dynamic* works --works that are periodically revised or updated. Even if each update carries a revision date, and all copies carry the revision date, a reader will not know whether there is a more recent copy elsewhere.
When I maintained a list of links to sites in philosophy, I dated every revision of the file. But I was frustrated when other philosophers used copies, rather than links, to share it with students or colleagues. They would invariably fail to keep their copies up-to-date. The result was that readers who consulted their copies rather than my original would think that I was slow to update the file --or slower than I really was.
If the dynamic work is an article or book, then readers of out-of-date copies will think the author is guilty of errors or omissions that have been corrected in newer versions.
While I consent to open access for all my online writings, I do try to control the copying of my dynamic works. When I find out-of-date copies on the web, I ask the host to bring them up-to-date or take them down. I consent to mirrors of my dynamic works only when I am confident that the mirror will remain in synch with the original.
* The proliferation of copies makes it more difficult to know when the version of an article you're reading is the same version approved by a journal's peer-review process. The text might give no indication. It might say that it was approved, but it might be an altered copy of a version that was truly approved, or a fraudulent copy that was never approved.
For better or worse, we're refining our rules of thumb for deciding when to trust online content. One rule might be, "If the copy doesn't say where it was refereed, then assume it was never refereed." (It might be an honest preprint or it might be a fraud.) This particular rule may err too far on the side of skepticism, for we all know peer-reviewed papers on author web sites that show no sign of their approval by a peer-review process. The question is how the many-copy problem interferes with our attempt to make the rule more discriminating and less crude.
One way to deal with the authentication problem is for the journal that conducted peer review to host its own copy of the approved article. If you distrust the copy you're reading, then visit the source and read an authenticated copy, or run file-comparison software across the authenticated and questionable copies. Of course most readers cannot use this method unless the journal version is open-access.
Another approach is encryption, used in _Surfaces_, an early peer-reviewed, open-access journal edited by Jean-Claude Guédon. With encryption, receiving an authenticated copy of an article is as easy as receiving an authenticated signature or credit card payment. (I still don't understand why this powerful idea from 1991 has not been more widely imitated or criticized. Is it because there's little urgency to solve the authentication problem itself?)
(stopped publishing in 1999)
How Surfaces used encryption
Another approach is to let articles carry their metadata with them. Metadata fields could indicate not only authorship and date, but whether the article was refereed and where. Embedded metadata would not be as secure as encryption, but more convenient for the reader and less likely than "self-reporting code" to aggravate the suspicions of suspicious users. (It might be hacked by would-be plagiarists, but not by authentication-seeking readers.) On the other hand, if you find yourself asking whether to trust the metadata that accompany an article, then they haven't solved the authentication problem.
* Postscript: I can't resist pointing out that just this month, Emerald introduced digital signatures in order to authenticate transactions with scholarly journals. But it has a much more retrograde purpose in mind than the open-access distribution of authenticated copies of refereed articles. Emerald will use the system to let authors transfer copyright through an online form. Quoting John Peters, Emerald's editorial and author relations director: "For the first time Authors will be able to assign copyright online resulting in a more efficient article submission process, much shorter time to publication, and of course, [somehow, despite the access fee] the widest possible dissemination of their work."
What's the ullage of your library?
What percentage of the journals or articles needed by the faculty at your university are unavailable except by interlibrary loan or private emails to lucky colleagues elsewhere? Let's call this the "ullage" of the library, after the word for the empty space at the top of a wine bottle. The ullage of a library is the gap between what is directly available and what is needed.
I bring this up, of course, because rising journal prices increase ullage, and spreading open access decreases ullage.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) library has made a start in measuring the ullage at 13 major research libraries in the U.S. Instead of looking at all the journals that an institution might need, it looked only at the ISI list of the 100 most-cited journals for 2002. Fair enough, since we can assume that all research institutions would want access to these journals. Instead of counting any kind of subscription, it counted only electronic subscriptions revealed on the library web sites. This seems to be a methodological shortcut to save counting time, but insofar as research universities want electronic access to their most-used titles, it should not distort the measurement.
Kathy Varjabedian published the resulting bar charts on in the December 2003 issue of the _LANL Research Library Newsletter_.
Bottom line: even the best-stocked research libraries have regrettable ullage. If we look at all the e-journals studied, then the best-stocked library is at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, which holds 98% of them. For this body of literature, it has a ullage of 2%. If we look only at the journals outside clinical medicine (a fairer measurement for universities without medical schools), the best-stocked library is Princeton's, which holds only 70% of the titles. It has a ullage of 30%.
* Postscript: There are two ways to bring ullage to zero. We could provide open access to still-needed resources or find enough money to buy access to them. Because OA isn't the only way to do solve the problem, ullage doesn't measure the progress of OA so much as the itch that OA or money can scratch. We could say that ullage measures the problem, not the solution, but we have to bear in mind that it only measures the reader-side problem (need without access). We need another way to measure the author-side problem (contribution without audience or impact).
Erratum: I misread the LANL article. Princeton has 70 of the *70* most-cited journals outside medicine, not 70 out of 100. Hence it has a ullage of 0. The figure I cited for the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is correct. I apologize for the error and thank Greg Price for alerting me to it.
Coming up later this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in January
* January 1 is the first day on which the ERIC Clearinghouses will go without federal funding. Most have found one form of support or another from private-sector institutions.
* January 1 is the first day of the one-year open-access experiment at the Company of Biologists (COB). All three COB journals will use the Walker-Prosser model in which authors of accepted papers have the option to buy open access to them by paying the journal's expenses in conducting peer review and preparing the electronic editions. For some initial period, COB will even subsidize the processing fee. If the experiment is successful, COB will extend it or some variation on it into 2005.
* January 1 marks the beginning of the BMC institutional memberships for 17 Australian universities, thanks to an agreement arranged by the Committee of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).
* Notable conferences
Open Access Publishing Conference (sponsored by National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Emory University)
Atlanta, January 7, 2004
ALA Midwinter Meeting.
San Diego, January 9-14, 2004
--Includes a session sponsored by SPARC and ACRL on Open Access:
Getting from Here to There (Saturday, January 10, 2004, 4:30-6:00 pm)
--Includes an open forum on "Libraries and the Information Commons",
(Saturday, January 10, 2004, 2:00 - 4:00, San Diego Conference Center 30E)
--Includes a panel discussion, "Two Sides of One Coin: Scholarly Communication
System-wide and at the Local Campus --the UCSD Experience", sponsored by the
ALCTS Scholarly Communication Discussion Group (Monday, January 12, 2004,
9:30-11:00 am, San Diego Convention Center 29D)
IDLELO: The First African Conference on the Digital Commons
Cape Town, January 12-16, 2004
Strengthening Editors and Scientists Capabilities in Electronic Publishing
Valparaiso, Chile, January 14-15, 2004
Online access to qualitative data: opportunities and challenges (sponsored by the Economic and Social Data Service)
London, January 15, 2004
ICSTI Technical Meeting: Economic Models for Scientific Information, Production and Distribution (by invitation only)
Paris, January 15-16, 2004
A Future for UK Theses (sponsored by JISC, the British Library, the University of London Library, and Robert Gordon University)
January 22, 2004
* Other OA-related conferences
Best of the blog: new developments
A selection of open-access developments since the last issue of the newsletter, taken from the Open Access News blog, which I write with other contributors and update daily. I give both the item URL and blog posting URL so that you can read the original story as well as what I or another blog contributor had to say about it.
* The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the prices and accessibility of scientific journals, including the question whether the government should support open-access journals.
The committee requests written evidence from the public on the topics of its inquiry. All submissions are due by February 12, 2003. They must be in a certain form to be accepted by the committee.
Stevan Harnad launched a thread on the American Scientist Open Access Forum to provide evidence favoring the government support of open access.
Anon., Telecoms, oils help FTSE to slightly higher close, Reuters, December 12, 2003.
Pat Hagan, UK probes scientific publications, The Scientist, December 12, 2003.
Richard Wray, Reed Elsevier at risk as MPs look into science publishing market, The Guardian, December 12, 2003.
Nick Hasell, Larger capitalisation shares - Reed Elsevier, Reuters, mm02, London Times, December 13, 2003.
Martin Flanagan, FTSE finishes week on downbeat note, Business.Scotsman.com, December 13, 2003.
Library Journal Academic Newswire, UK to Conduct Inquiry on STM Publishing in 2004, December 18, 2003.
World Governments throw their weight behind Open Access, BioMed Central Update, December 23, 2003.
Chris Johnston, Call to put research free on websites, Times Higher Education Supplement, December 19, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers). Mostly on Stevan Harnad's written testimony to the UK House Committee.
* The Elsevier boycott and cancellations continued.
Librarians at North Carolina State University receive strong support from the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, and the Student Senate to cancel ScienceDirect if negotiations with Elsevier don't produce an acceptable outcome.
The University of Iowa is also considering of cancelling ScienceDirect.
Elsevier tried to put a good face on the dramatically mounting dissatisfaction, saying that most negotiations with subscribers were going well and the cancellations are about removing duplicates and shifting from print to electronic, notably failing to address the angry public statements from libraries and universities.
Anon., After failed negotiations, CU Library cancels Elsevier journal package, Cornell Chronicle, December 11, 2003.
Dan Carnevale, Libraries With Tight Budgets Renew Complaints About Elsevier's Online Pricing, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 19, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers).
The Faculty Senate at Cornell University has adopted a strongly worded resolution supporting its library in cancelling hundreds of Elsevier journals.
* Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) ended a pilot project that gave the public free online access to research reports created at taxpayer expenses by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). As a result, some of the CRS reports are OA and some are not. Somehow the non-OA reports find their way to a private-sector publisher which produces its own editions and sells them to the public and even to federal agencies outside the loop. Ney is the chairman of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over the CRS.
Also see the editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal for December 16, Ney Says Nay.
Also see the editorial in the Toledo Blade for December 22.
An internal memo from CRS, obtained by Secrecy News, argues against a blanket policy of open access to its reports.
* Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is leading a group of senators in urging the Library of Congress to provide more information through THOMAS for the general public.
* The University of Virginia Library and Cornell University released FEDORA version 1.2, an upgrade to the open-source repository software.
* The National Library of Medicine announced the release of DOCLINE 2.0, software that will direct PubMed users to open-access editions of articles, when they exist, at PubMed Central or the publisher's website.
* Investec is the latest financial analyst to join PNB Paribas and Citigroup Smith Barney in thinking that competition from open-access journals, the growing wave of cancellations by university libraries, and the imminent UK inquiry into journal prices and accessibility, should worry investors in commercial journal publishers like Elsevier and Taylor & Francis.
* On December 18, JISC announced a £150,000 grant program to encourage publishers to convert their journals to open access.
* The Public Library of Science is offering individual memberships to those who make a a tax-deductible contribution of $25 or more.
* Google made a modest start at indexing printed books. This is less relevant for what it is today than for what it might become.
* JISC is looking for business models to promote the preservation and online accessibility of theses and dissertations in the UK. It will share the work to date in a London conference on January 22, 2004.
* In the last quarter of 2003, MedlinePlus tied with one other federal government web site for the highest ratings from online users. Congratulations MedlinePlus!
* The AfCS-Nature Signalling Gateway launched the Molecules Pages, an open-access, peer-reviewed database of information about proteins, gathering its contents from many other sites around the net.
* The upcoming ICSTI meeting, "Economic Models for Scientific Information, Production and Distribution" (Paris, January 15-16, 2004) is limited to 50 ICSTI members and invitees. But there are still a few slots open, and I have ICSTI's permission to post this wider invitation. If you'd like an application, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Alastair Dryburgh, moderator of the Economics of Open Access discussion forum, launched the Dryburgh Associates Newsletter on academic, business, and professional publishing. Alastair predicts that each issue will contain something on open access.
* The National Library of Medicine Gateway added two new databases to its collection: OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man) and HSDB (Hazardous Substances Data Bank).
* On December 8, Elsevier announced that it was phasing out three of its science portals, BioMedNet, ChemWeb, and ElsevierEngineering. On December 10, Chemical and Engineering News wondered whether the axe would also fall on the Chemistry Preprint Server, one of Elsevier's few experiments with open-access eprint archiving.
* The U.S. Geological Survey and private-sector partner TopoZone have launched The National Map project, which will provide open access to geospatial data about the United State and related open-source tools for serving the data online.
* Joan Conger has created a list of links to collections of open access journals. The list summarizes suggestions to a recent ERIL discussion thread and remains open to additions and corrections.
* BioMed Central has launched a new pair of OA journals, BMC Medicine and BMC Biology.
* PubMed Central has an email list for announcements and other PMC news. Because it's two years old and still a fairly well-kept secret, PMC will soon publicize the list on its web site. New subscribers must sign up through the web form.
* Seventeen Australian universities have become institutional members of BioMed Central, thanks to an agreement between BMC and the Committee of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). The memberships begin January 1, 2004.
* The Berlin Declaration web site added instructions for "[g]overnments, universities, research institutions, funding agencies, foundations, libraries, museums, archives, learned societies and professional associations" that would like to add their signatures. (Just send an email to Peter Gruss at email@example.com.)
* On December 4, the Interacademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) issued a statement on Access to Scientific Information. It does not mention open access, but endorses various flavors of it (OA after an embargo period, OA archiving, OA to "databases obtained by intergovernmental organizations").
* JISC has launched a grant program for journals willing to adopt the open-access business model and waive processing fees for UK authors for one year.
* A good thread began at the ERIL list on library cataloguing of journal records from the Directory of Open Access Journals. (The ERIL list archive is readable only by subscribers.)
Joan Conger created a web page summarizing this discussion thread.
* In October PubMed Central (or a portion of it) became OAI-compliant. This has enabled it to offer new services such as XML to its OA articles and data files associated with articles.
Best of the blog: new bibliography
A selection of articles on open access published since the last issue of the newsletter, taken from the Open Access News blog.
* Anon., Can Author Fees Revive Competition in STM? Library Journal Academic Newswire, December 2, 2003. On Mark McCabe's research on the economics of open access.
* Anon., Details on New ERIC Model Include Delay, Enhancements, Library Journal, December 11, 2003.
* Anon., Editorial, Nucelic Acids Research, vol. 32 (2004). An unsigned editorial endorsing open access.
* Anon., How to Digitize Eight Million Books: A Conversation with Michael Keller, The Book and the Computer, December 15, 2003.
* Anon., It's a Movement: Open access gaining momentum, Outsell's e-Briefs, December 12, 2003 (not online).
* Australian Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), ARROW: Australian Research Repositories Online to the World, December 2. (Version 1.3 of the Project Public Description.)
* Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, Version 52.
* Bruno Bauer & Helmut Dollfuß, BioMed Central - The Open Access Publisher in Österreich, Online-Mitteilungen, November 2003.
* Guy Berger, WSIS and the big picture, Mail & Guardian, December 30, 2003.
* Pieter Bolman, Chairman's Corner, Professional Scholarly Publishing Bulletin, Fall 2003. On the effectiveness of OA archiving. Bolman is the Director of STM relations at Elsevier Science.
* Loriano Bonora, The Evolution of Scientific Publishing and the JHEP Model, Jekyll, December 2003.
* Leslie Chan, Associate Director of Bioline International, interviewed at WSIS on the "equitable access" and "open access" terminology used at WSIS, and the importance of open access to developing countries.
* Heting Chu and Thomas Krichel, NEP: Current Awareness Service of the RePEc Digital Library, D-Lib Magazine, December 2003.
* Walt Crawford, Scholarly Article Access, Cites & Insights, January 2004.
* Michelle Delio, Copyright Doesn't Cover This Site, Wired News, December 16, 2003. Nurturing open-access art at the University of Maine.
* David Dickson, UN meeting urged to back open access science, SciDev.Net, December 7, 2003.
* David Dickson, WSIS hears plea for open access, SciDev.Net, December 11, 2003.
* David Dickson, ICSU defends 'universal and equitable' access to data, SciDev.Net, December 12, 2003.
* David Dickson, Information summit endorses key role of 'e-science', SciDev.Net., December 14, 2003.
* David Dickson, The challenges of 'e-science', SciDev.Net, December 15, 2003. On the open-access discussion at WSIS.
* Helen Doyle, Andy Gass, and Debra Lappin, A Changing Landscape, PLoS Biology, December 22, 2003.
* Daniel Dupont, NECTAR for Your Health: Revamping U.S. medical research means unifying data, Scientific American, January 2004. On NIH's NECTAR (National Electronic Clinical Trials and Research Network) project to accelerate research and discovery in medicine.
* Janice El-Bayoumi and Lisa Charlong, Exploring Electronic Theses and Dissertation Issues, an analysis apparently prepared for the University of New Brunswick and then posted online.
* Stevan Harnad, The Golden and Green Roads to Open Access, AmSci Open Access Forum, November 14, 2003. A preprint responding to Pritpal Tamber, Fiona Godlee, Peter Newmark's recent article on open access in The Lancet.
* Stevan Harnad, Maximizing university research impact through self-archiving, Jekyll, December 2003.
* The International HapMap Consortium, The International HapMap Project, Nature, 426 (December 18, 2003) pp. 789-796. Report of a major OA project.
* Dick Kaser, The Politics of Open Access, Information Today, December 2003.
* Eli Kintish, New publishing method aims at greater access, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 20, 2003.
* Rob Kling, Lisa B. Spector, Joanna Fortuna, The real stakes of virtual publishing: The transformation of E-Biomed into PubMed central, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, November 6, 2003 (received November 29, 2001).
* Nancy Kranich, Libraries and the Information Commons. A discussion paper for participants in the open forum on Libraries and the Information Commons (Saturday, January 10, 2004, 2:00 - 4:00, San Diego Conference Center 30E) at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.
* Gerry McKiernan, Open Access and Retrieval: Liberating the Scholarly Literature, in David Fowler (ed.), E-Serials Collection Management: Transitions, Trends, and Technicalities, Haworth Information Press, 2004, pp. 197-220.
* Christoph Meier, Publizistisches Experiment: Das neue Journal "PLoS Biology", Online-Mitteilungen, November 2003.
* Barbara Meredith, PSP Outreach Campaign Enters New Phase, Professional Scholarly Publishing Bulletin, Fall 2003, pp. 1-2. On the PSP campaign to defend conventional journals against "an aggressive media blitz by some supporters of the recently announced [journal from the] Public Library of Science."
* Larry Mongin, Yueyu Fu, and Javed Mostafa, Open Archives Data Service Prototype and Automated Subject Indexing Using D-Lib Archive Content As a Testbed, D-Lib Magazine, December 2003.
* Susanna Mornati, Open Archives in Italia: una piattaforma nazionale, Proceedings Biblioteche digitali per la ricerca e la didattica : esperienze e prospettive, 2003.
* Dennis Nicholson, The European Open Archives Forum, OCLC Systems & Services, 19, 4 (2003) pp. 141-143.
* Richard T. O’Grady, Open Access? Open Wallets! BioScience Magazine, November 2003.
* Peter Murray-Rust and Henry Rzepa on XML for scientific publishing, OCLC Systems & Services, 19, 4 (2003) pp. 162-169.
* Mauro Scanu, In the free web of science, Jekyll, December 2003.
* David Shulenburger, "The High Cost of Scholarly Journals (And What To Do About It)", Change Magazine, November/December 2003 (not online).
* Abby Smith, Changing Scholarly Communication, CLIR Issues, November/December 2003.
* Mike Thelwall and Gareth Harries, Do the Web sites of higher rated scholars have significantly more online impact? Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, October 28, 2003.
* Elisabetta Tola, Hinari and Agora: free access to scientific information for poor countries, Jekyll, December 2003.
* John Unsworth, Not-so-Modest Proposals: What do we want our system of scholarly communication to look like in 2010? A presentation at the CIC Summit on Scholarly Communication, December 2, 2003.
* Harold Varmus and five co-authors, Public Health: Grand Challenges in Global Health, Science, 302, 5644 (October 17, 2003) pp. 398-99. The first OA article from a non-OA journal deposited in PubMed Central under PMC's new program to archive individual articles.
* Stuart Weibel Interviews Tim Berners-Lee, OCLC, July 29, 2003. Berners-Lee talks about open access, among other topics.
* Bonita Wilson, Open Access and the Public Domain, D-Lib Magazine, December 2003.
* The presentations from the DASER Summit (Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 21-23, 2003) are being put online. DASER = Digital Archives for Science and Engineering Resources.
* The presentations from the RLG Members' Forums, To Have and to Hold: Metadata and Institutional Repositories (Washington and Chicago, December 9 and 12, 2003) are now online.
* The presentations from the recent CODATA / ERPANET Workshop on the Selection, Appraisal, and Retention of Scientific Data (Lisbon, December 15-17, 2003) are now online.
* The presentations from the recent ALPSP conference, Digitising your journal backfiles: a practical approach (London, December 1, 2003) are now online.
* The November issue of the INASP Newsletter covered a handful of networking and knowledge-sharing initiatives, primarily in Africa.
* The November issue of Serials contains the presentations from the conference, The Open Archives Initiative: Application and Exploitation (London, May 14, 2003). Unfortunately and ironically, not even abstracts are free online, except when authors have individually archived their papers.
Presentations known to be openly accessible elsewhere
* The presentations from the conference, Open Access to Scientific and Technical Information: State of the Art and Future Trends (Paris, January 23-24, 2003) have been published in Vol. 23, Nos. 2-3, of Information Systems & Use. Unfortunately, the journal edition only provides free online access to the table of contents and abstracts. See the conference web site for streaming audio/video of the presentations and, in some cases, the PPT slides.
* The last issue OCLC Systems & Services for 2003 is devoted to how "XML and its related technologies can help to fulfil the promise of e-journals."
* A new issues of Open Access Now appeared on December 15.
In the last issue I said, "Conference presentations are usually OA." This is probably wrong. At least it suggests a pattern where I don't know enough to suggest a pattern. In some disciplines conference presentations are traditionally OA, and in some disciplines they are not, and in both kinds of disciplines there are exceptions. The situation seems too messy for a simple generalization. I was relying too much on my disciplinary point of view, contrary to my own advice on other matters.
While I'm on the subject, here's an advocate of open access to conference presentations.
For software to gather, organize, and disseminate conference presentations, see the list maintained by SPARC.
* Here's how Thomson Derwent Databases describes its featured "open access license":
http://thomsonderwent.com/support/oal/An Open Access License gives you the freedom to access [our databases] without worrying about online costs. You simply pay a set fee per year covering all connect hour, online display, offline print, and SDI (Alert) charges.
The web site directs questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* I've added 21 new conferences to my conference page since the last issue. Tomorrow I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.
* Blogger is still not working. To provide email delivery of the postings to the Open Access News blog, I need another blog-to-email or RSS-to-email tool. I welcome your suggestions.
This is the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (ISSN 1546-7821), written by Peter Suber and published by SPARC. The views I express in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SPARC.
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