Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #93
January 2, 2006
Read this issue online
The U.S. CURES Act would mandate OA
Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) has introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate that would mandate OA to the bulk of federally-funded medical research. Called the American Center for CURES Act of 2005 (S.2104), it's co-sponsored by Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and Thomas Carper (D-DE). The bipartisan bill was announced on December 7 and formally introduced on December 14.
The CURES Act would create a new agency within the NIH, the American Center for Cures, whose primary mission would be to translate fundamental research into therapies. The bill is large and covers a lot of territory but for our purposes the critical part is Section 499H, which contains the OA mandate and related provisions. The OA mandate covers research funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the NIH, and is not limited to the NIH or to the new American Center for Cures. Over half of the non-classified research funded by the federal government is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The bill goes beyond the NIH public-access policy in several important ways.
(1) It requires free online access and does not merely request it.
(2) It requires deposit at the time of acceptance by a journal.
(3) It shortens to six months the permissible delay or embargo between deposit and free online access. When the bill was first announced, the maximum delay was only four months. But the number drifted up to six in order to harmonize with other OA legislation in the pipeline. (Watch this space!)
(4) It extends the OA policy beyond the NIH to the other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research.
(5) It explicitly says that non-compliance may be a ground for the funding agency to refuse future funding.
(6) It explicitly relies on the existing government purpose license (45 CFR 74.36) instead of publisher consent as the legal basis for disseminating the research results. The NIH acknowledges that the license exists but decided to rely instead on publisher consent, at least for now. By shifting from publisher consent to the regulatory license, the CURES Act will not accommodate publisher resistance. This key step is needed to insure that protecting publishers does not take priority over public health.
The only difference from the NIH policy that I consider a step backward rather than a step forward is that the CURES Act does not offer to let grantees use grant funds to pay the processing fees charged by some OA journals.
There are several large similarities to the NIH policy. Public access would be provided by PubMed Central, although the articles could be deposited in other repositories as well. The CURES Act would apply only to the author's final peer-reviewed manuscript, not to the published version, although publishers would have the option to replace the former with the latter if they wished. The Act applies to government employees as well as government grantees. The Act applies to research supported in whole or in part by public money from the relevant agencies.
In addition to mandating OA for federally-funded medical research, the Act would mandate that NIH-funded clinical drug trials taking place in the U.S. register in an OA registry and deposit their data in an OA database. Any organization submitting a clinical trial protocol to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would have to register the trial in the registry, even if the trial received no federal funding. NIH grantees who do not comply risk loss of funding, while non-grantees who do not comply risk fines of up to $1 million.
The bill is excellent. The public-access provisions fix everything that is wrong with the NIH policy and extend it beyond the NIH to the other major medical research agencies. The only stronger OA policy put forward by a public funding agency is the draft policy released for comment last June by the Research Councils UK (RCUK). The draft RCUK policy stronger because it applies to all government funded research, not just medical research; it relies on distributed institutional repositories, not a central repository; and it lets authors use grant funds to pay processing fees at journals that charge processing fees. But we haven't seen the final form of the RCUK policy. The CURES Act hasn't been adopted, merely proposed, but we do know its final form and, at least for now, it would make the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the worldwide leader in providing public access to publicly-funded medical research.
The CURES Act has had remarkably little press coverage. The reason is not that OA is insignificant to the press and public. The bulk of the bill is devoted to its breakthrough healthcare provisions and they are getting equally little coverage. (The OA provisions are such a small part of the whole package that they aren't even mentioned in Senator Lieberman's summary.) Members of Congress, including the bill's sponsors, and the reporters who cover them, have been preoccupied by the more urgent business of renewing, blocking, or modifying the Patriot Act.
The THOMAS entry on the CURES Act, including the text of the bill and a log of Congressional actions.
(the final colon is part of the URL)
CURES Act, summary, December 7, 2005
CURES Act, section by section breakdown, December 7, 2005
Quotations in support of the CURES Act, December 7, 2005
Senator Lieberman's press release announcing the bill, December 7, 2005
Senator Lieberman's speech on the floor of the Senate introducing the bill, December 14, 2005
PDF of the Congressional Record
Government purpose license, 45 CFR 74.36
Press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, December 7, 2005
Press release from five library groups, December 21, 2005. The groups signing this statement are the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), American Library Association (ALA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA).
Here's some news coverage of the CURES Act:
Anon., New NIH center would tackle common diseases, ResearchResearch, December 16, 2005.
Ana Radelat had two very brief stories on the CURES Act in Mississippi papers: six sentences in the Hattiesburg American and two sentences in the Clarion Ledger, both on December 11.
New NIH Translational Research Center Proposed By Sens. Lieberman, Cochran, Research Policy Alert, December 7, 2005.
John Brummett, At the mercy of a dysfunctional Congress, Pahrump Valley Times, November 25, 2005.
Long before Sen. Lieberman introduced the CURES Act, the US Mayors Conference adopted a resolution endorsing the launch of an American Center for Cures, June 29, 2004. The resolution does not mention the public-access provisions,
Open access in 2005
* 2005 was the best year to date for university actions in support of OA. We saw major OA policies or resolutions in 2005 from (in alphabetical order) Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis, Lund University, Oregon State University, University of Bielefeld, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Kansas, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Wisconson. Before 2005, Queensland University of Technology, University of Minho, and the University of Southampton Department of ECS were alone in mandating OA to their research outputs, but in 2005 they were joined by CERN and the University of Zurich. The Eprints Institutional Self-Archiving Policy Registry now lists 17 institutions with strong self-archiving policies, most of them added in 2005 as a result of the Berlin3 meeting. The 19 major research universities in the UK's Russell Group endorsed OA in June, and all UK institutions did so through Universities UK three months later.
* 2005 was the year that funding agency OA policies made the transition from proposal to practice. The NIH policy took effect on May 2 and the Wellcome Trust policy took effect on October 1. The RCUK policy won't take effect until 2006, but was drafted, released for public comment, and revised in 2005. (See Predictions for 2006, below, for more.) In 2004, the OECD recommended public access to publicly-funded research data and in 2005 extended the recommendation to research literature.
The OA policies at universities and funding agencies are even more important together than they are individually. Since only authors can make OA happen, it's very important that institutions in a position to enlighten, assist, or nudge authors wake up to their own interests in doing so. We're now seeing this from employers and funders, the two institutions in the best position to influence author decisions. It's equally important that the percentage of authors who would willingly comply with an OA mandate from their employer or funder, according to a Key Perspectives report in May 2005, is over 81% this year, up over 10 points from last year.
* It's no surprise, then, that we're seeing an increase in author knowledge of OA and author actions in pursuit of it. In the same Key Perspectives report, Alma Swan and Sheridan Brown found that the rate of OA archiving in institutional repositories doubled since their 2004 survey, and that the rate of OA archiving in disciplinary repositories rose by 60%. The CIBER team also found an increase in OA activity since last year. Authors who said they knew "quite a lot" about OA rose 10 points over 2004, and authors who knew nothing at all about it dropped 25 points. The percentage of authors who had published in OA journals rose 11 points to 29%.
* OA archiving continued to worry some publishers, who fear that it will undermine subscriptions. However, publishers have so far been unable to provide evidence that their fears are justified, and 2005 was the year in which we saw strong counter-evidence that archiving is either harmless or helpful to journals. If OA archiving undermined subscriptions, the effect would show first or show most in physics, where OA archiving is most widespread and longstanding. But Key Perspectives reported in May that the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd (IOPP) were unable to identify any subscriptions lost in the 14 years of arXiv's existence. Both publishers support OA archiving by accepting submissions directly from arXiv, which encourages authors to deposit their preprints there. In 1999, the APS went so far as to help launch an arXiv mirror at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and in 2005 we learned that the IOPP is the process of launching an arXiv mirror of its own. Publishers who fear OA archiving, but who have less experience with it than the APS and IOPP, have a new burden to meet if they want to show that it harms subscriptions, especially if they want to stop experiments, like archiving mandates from funders, that would generate new evidence in other fields.
* OA journals picked up speed in 2005. PLoS actually launched more new journals in 2005 (three) than in 2004 (two). Hindawi launched, acquired, or converted even more, moving into a leadership position in OA publishing with PLoS and BMC. I haven't counted the number of subscription-based journals that converted to OA during 2005, but it's at least a dozen, and therefore at least as large as the number of conversions in all previous years combined (see postscript below). The author-choice OA model made more gains in 2005 than in any previous year: Blackwell introduced Online Open in February, Oxford introduced Oxford Open in May, and Springer strengthened its existing Open Choice model in October. In December all three publishers struck a deal with the Wellcome Trust to provide immediate OA to articles based on WT-funded research (more in Top Stories below). Springer even created a new position, Director of Open Access, for which it hired Jan Velterop, former publisher of BMC. The American Institute of Physics Author Select program was announced in 2004 but published its first OA article in October 2005. The number of publishers putting all or most of their emphasis on OA journals has grown meteorically. Some are very small but their proliferation is a sign of fecundity. Apart from BMC, PLoS, and Hindawi, we have (in alphabetical order) ADHO, Allied Academies, Bepress, Copernicus, DiPP, ElectraPress, Flying Publisher, HSRC Press, ICAAP, Internet Scientific Publications, JMIR, Libertas Academica, Library Publishing Media, MedRounds Publications, MedKnow Publications, ODINPubAfrica, and Petroleum Journals Online. If you count Highwire, then there's another heavyweight to add to the list.
PLoS and BMC earned some stunning impact factors in 2005; five BMC journals ranked in the top five journals in their specialties, and PLoS Biology, in its first year with an impact factor, scored a 13.9, making it the number one journal in the category of general biology. BMC and PLoS are among the first to argue that impact factors are misused and misleading, but their own high scores show that journals don't need to charge subscriptions or demand the author's copyright in order to deliver high impact and high prestige.
* 2005 was the first year in which draft treaties explicitly mandated OA to publicly-funded research. The Medical Research and Development Treaty was submitted to the World Health Organization in February and a draft of the Access to Knowledge (A2K) Treaty was released for the WIPO Development Agenda in May. (Disclosure: I participated in the drafting of each.) Previously we had only the OECD ministerial-level agreement on OA to research data in 2004, and the WSIS Phase 1 documents in 2003. If you plot these over time, the OA-related international agreements are becoming more substantive, more specific, and more wide-ranging.
* 2005 was another big year for OA to data. One very active front was access to clinical drug trial data. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) first made OA to clinical trial data a condition of publishing articles about clinical trials in 2004, but it strengthened and clarified its requirements in 2005. The FACT Act (Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act), was introduced by Senators Grassley and Dodd in early 2005, and Senator Lieberman introduced the CURES Act last month; both would mandate OA to clinical trials data. PLoS Clinical Trials issued its first call for papers. Beyond clinical trials, more journals, like Nature, are now requiring OA to data files as a condition of publishing articles. (It's noteworthy that Nature and the ICMJE journals are not OA; for them, mandating OA to data is a significant concession that OA is in the interests of science even if some publishers have to give top priority to the bottom line.) While there were OA databases launched or lauded in nearly field of science, 2005 was a particularly big year for OA to geospatial data. The Electronic Geophysical Year published the Declaration for a Geoscience Information Commons and the Open Knowledge Foundation Network published a manifesto calling for Open Access to State-Collected Geospatial Data. OA geospatial tools like Google Earth provided material assistance after Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake but also raised security alarms from a handful of countries worried about automated spying. In genomics, the HapMap is the biggest OA breakthrough since the Human Genome Project.
* In 2005 we saw more profit-seeking (or "surplus"-seeking) businesses demand that the government stop providing public access to publicly-funded information. This is a demand to profit at the expense of taxpayers or a demand that taxpayers pay twice in order to guarantee a revenue stream for a private-sector organization. In support of their demand, the organizations argue that free information from the government is unfair competition, as if what they really wanted was a free market. The leading example was the American Chemical Society's attempt to shut down or scale back PubChem, the OA database launched by the NIH. Congress denied the ACS request to defund PubChem and now the ACS and NIH are working out the terms of their coexistence, with the NIH holding all the cards. AccuWeather was at least as brazen as the ACS, wanting to repackage and sell government-collected weather data to the public without "competition" from the National Weather Service. AccuWeather even paid Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) to introduce a bill in Congress to protect the company's revenue stream from government OA. I'm glad to say that the Santorum bill doesn't appear to be going anywhere. You can criticize these demands as harmful in their substance and dishonest in their rhetoric, but you can't dismiss them as losing propositions. In 2002 a trade association of publishers (Software & Information Industry Association) successfully used similar arguments to persuade Congress to kill PubScience. These arguments might succeed again if we are not paying attention.
* 2005 saw OA projects take to wikis in order to collect, organize, and share their information. Ari Friedman launched his self-archiving wiki in June and Arthur Sale launched his AuseAccess (Australian repositories) wiki in November. Individual OA projects with wikis --not all of them open to the public-- include DigiWiki, DSpace, NDLTD, Ockham, Open Source Anthropology, Science Commons, the University of Maine Commons, Wex, Wikibooks, Wikilaw, and the WSIS Scientific Information Working Group. The Open Business wiki collects business models for open content enterprises and includes some OA projects.
We also saw the rise of mutant wikis designed to take the most distinctive feature of traditional wikis --open contributions from anyone-- and combine it with more rigorous forms of quality control and peer review. Wex limits contributions to approved contributors. Digital Universe will allow contributions from anyone but subject them to review by hand-picked experts. Wikipedia is adopting a number of measures to limit headline-grabbing inaccuracies: freezing a stable edition, not letting unregistered users start new pages, introducing time-delays before edits take effect on high-traffic pages. OA doesn't at all depend on wiki-like ease of editing or wiki-like freedom from expert peer review. But the more wikis incorporate serious quality controls --innovative or traditional-- they more they are likely to become important vehicles for OA scholarship.
* 2005 saw the rise of social indexing (social bookmarking, social tagging, folksonomies) for online scholarship. The trend started with services like del.icio.us and Flickr, which were not specifically academic, but these quickly gave rise to CiteULike and Connotea, the two leading tools for making and sharing tags on works of web-based scholarship. The Library Thing and Amazon allow online tagging of print books, and Google Base allows tagging of all its projects. Folksonomy tagging services work best for OA content even if they can in principle apply to any kind of content. They provide a layer of indexing beyond search-engine indexing; they cost the publisher nothing; they harness collective intelligence; they improve over time; and after a certain point they lend themselves to integration with the semantic web. So their advent is significant as a low-cost and powerful way to enhance OA literature. Like good search engines before them, they also undercut the argument that conventional indexing, which is still largely limited to conventional journals, is so unique and useful that it's a reason to publish in conventional journals.
* The discussion of OA has always favored journals, listservs, newsletters, and blogs. In fact, the first print book on OA was probably Okerson and O'Donnell's, _Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads_ (ARL, 1995), which is a collection of listserv postings by and about Stevan Harnad's subversive proposal for OA archiving. But in the 10 years since that collection appeared, OA discussion has made very few appearances in books. In 2005, however, OA reappeared in books, in force. John Willinsky published _The Access Principle_ (MIT Press) and Francis André published _Libre accès aux savoirs_ (Futuribles). Anthologies on OA were announced by Chandos, Middlebury, and CLACSO. Polimetrica launched an entire book series on OA. We saw a book-length study of author attitudes from Key Perspectives, a book-length report on OA journals by the Kaufman-Wills group, a book-length bibliography of OA by Charles W. Bailey, Jr., and more book-length studies of OA to data from the National Academies of Sciences. New books on OA are in the works from at least three OA activists, including myself.
My take on the timing: 1995 was a good time for a book on the tantalizing possibility of OA. But the next 10 years were full of development, accomplishment, adoption, and refinement. Change was taking place too quickly for a book, but not too quickly for more bite-sized contributions to the conversation. By 2005, if not a few years earlier, we had reached a plateau of what could be called understanding without consensus. The concept of OA was widely implemented and no longer hypothetical or quixotic, even if OA was still far from the default method of dissemination. The objections were well-answered even if they did not disappear. There were enough supporters to assure continued momentum, even if there were also enough dissenters to assure continued contention. The stakeholders who cared about it, either from hope or fear, were numerous enough to interest book publishers.
* Ignorance and misunderstanding have always been obstacles to OA, but for at least two years now a single misunderstanding has been a major player. We need a name for the mistake of thinking that a mandate to deposit work in an OA repository is really a mandate to submit work to an OA journal. Sometimes the mistake is to think that a mandate to deposit work in an OA repository is really a mandate to phase out subscription-based journals in favor of OA journals. Let's call it the Journal-Archive Mixup (JAM). In 2004 most publishers with an opinion about the NIH public-access policy made JAM in their responses to it, and were repeatedly corrected by OA activists and the NIH itself. The UK government made JAM in response to the OA recommendations by House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and was repeatedly corrected by journalists, OA activists, and the House of Commons. Both episodes should have driven a stake through heart of JAM, but they stopped it only temporarily. JAM arose again in 2005, walked the land, and struck terror (or at least tried to strike terror) in the hearts of people who would actually benefit from OA archiving. In 2005 JAM was seen at a handful of journal publishers, the UK Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation (one of those criticized and corrected for making JAM the previous year), Members of Parliament like Ed Vaizey from Oxfordshire, and the leaders of the Royal Society. The persistence of JAM is about careless reading, even if it's also about interest and strategy. Fortunately, most of the JAM-makers don't have to read subtle manuscripts, understand them, and decide whether they are worthy of publication. Unfortunately, they do have to read policies (some, like the RCUK draft, not subtle), understand them, and decide whether they are worthy of adoption.
* 2005 was definitely the biggest year to date for book scanning and digitization. In fact, the book-scanning news, even when it was not about OA, swamped the OA news and persuaded many people that it really was about OA. Google got more headlines than all the other projects combined but it was far from alone. The other big projects in 2005 were the Open Content Alliance (including the Internet Archive, Yahoo, and Microsoft), the EU (i2010 Digital Libraries Project), the Library of Congress, Amazon, the Million Book Project, and some private scanning projects by individual book publishers. Together, the projects drew attention to the value of indexing all information, the fuzziness of fair use, the evidence that free online full-text increases net sales of print editions (at least for some kinds of books), and the urgency of protecting the public domain from further shrinkage and encroachments. They invited readers to dream about free online searching of all the world's book literature, which even critics acknowledge will be an unprecedented boon to scholarship and education. They forced lawyers to acknowledge that copyright law had no ready classification for the act of copying full texts without permission but only using them to display fair-use excerpts. They divided authors into those who thought that Google snippets were invaluable free advertising and those who thought they were piratical threats to profit and control. Then they divided publishes into the same two camps. They forced OA activists to acknowledge that free online book searching, and free even online book reading, might approach 100% faster than progress toward OA for journals. (More in Predictions for 2006, below.) They also brought access issues to a much larger public than OA activists could ever persuade to care about peer-reviewed journal literature. If anyone still tried to look knowing at parties by dismissing the internet as spam, pornography, and teenage drivel, the book-scanning projects finally shut them up.
There were two big misunderstandings of Google's book-scanning projects that were individually bigger than JAM in their inexcusable sloppiness, even if smaller for hard-core OA interests: (1) that Google's opt-out Library project was the same thing as its opt-in Publisher project and (2) that the the Google Library program would reprint or republish the copyrighted books that it only proposed to index.
* The textbook pricing crisis joined the journal pricing crisis on the radar of a growing number of universities, policy-makers, and news organizations. Serious initiatives to produce OA textbooks multiplied and now include BookPower, California Open Source Textbook Project, CommonText, Free High School Science Texts, Libertas Academica,
Medical Approaches, MedRounds Publications, next\text, Open Textbook Project, Potto Project, and Wikibooks. We even have a searchable portal from Textbook Revolution. Textbook authors usually expect royalties, which may be why we're not seeing conversions from TA textbooks to OA. Instead we're seeing new textbooks that are OA from birth, from a new generation of authors with a new set of priorities.
* The term "open access" is starting to seep out into the general scholarly culture that isn't working for OA so much as simply using it. I've seen this from a special perspective as one who routinely searches for new OA developments. About five years ago, OA news was very difficult to find. New developments were scarce, reports or news stories about them were even scarcer, and there was no generally accepted term to use in a search. Ever since the BOAI popularized the term "open acces" in 2002, this aspect of life has been easier. But during 2005 finding OA-related news became hard again, or at least it became more time-consuming to weed out the true positives from the false positives. One reason is that the term is now used for many other purposes, like power-grid and cable TV interoperability, wifi hot spots, and even a new method for scheduling doctor appointments. But another reason is directly related to our success. Search hits now bring up someone's recommendation of "an open access article about spinal cord injury" or a discussion of "an open access article about hydrological modelling". But if you read the references, you find that they are really about spinal cord injuries or hydrological modelling, not OA. Of course it's good that there are more OA articles to recommend and discuss, and good that more people are mentioning that articles are OA when they recommend or discuss them. But five years ago, finding relevant new developments meant reading 20-30 times more than turned out to be relevant. In the past few years this Chaff Ratio dropped to 2-3. But now it's rising again to 4-5.
* Postscript: Which was the first TA journal to convert to OA?
In preparing this review of 2005, I was struck by Richard Roberts' claim that Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), published by Oxford University Press (OUP) was the first subscription-based journal to convert to full OA. NAR's conversion took effect in 2005. But it didn't seem right to me that 2005 was the first year in which any journals had ever converted.
Investigating further, I got caught up in the question what counts as a conversion to OA. To take NAR as an example, it announced its partial conversion in August 2003, to take effect in January 2004. Then it announced its full conversion in June 2004 to take effect in January 2005. So do you date its conversion in 2003, 2004, or 2005?
Nucleic Acids Research
NAR's August 2003 announcement of its January 2004 conversion
NAR's June 2004 announcement of its January 2005 conversion
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), converted to full OA in January 2004.
Environmental Health Perspectives
EHP's December 2003 announcement of its January 2004 conversion
BTW, it's possible that EHP will convert back. In September the NIEHS asked for public comment on the possibility of privatizing the journal. Whether EHP continues as OA after privatization would depend entirely on the policies of its next publisher. Although the comment period on privatization ended on October 28, the NIEHS has not yet made a decision, according to a message from editor Thomas Goehl in the December issue.
Whether NAR converted to full OA before EHP depends on when you date the NAR conversion. If 2003, yes; if 2004, it ties with EHP; if 2005, no.
But the question is moot, since neither journal was the first to convert. Ulrich Pöschl said in the September 2004 issue of _Research Information_ that the European Geosciences Union (EGU) started to convert all its journals to OA "long before" the Berlin Declaration in October 2003. (I don't have conversion dates for any of the 11 individual EGU journals, but I'd like to get them sometime.)
European Geosciences Union
If a subscription-based journal changes its name and publisher at the same time that it drops subscriptions and switches to OA, then is it one journal undergoing a conversion or two journals in succession? If it counts as a conversion, then the three earliest conversions I can find are all of this type.
In July 2000 Henry Hagedorn resigned as editor of the Archives of Insect Biochemistry & Physiology (Wiley-Liss) in order to form the OA Journal of Insect Science (University of Arizona library). Early in 2001, a handful of editors of Topology and Its Applications (Elsevier) resigned in order to create the OA Algebraic and Geometric Topology (University of Warwick and International Press). Finally, over a nine month period in 2001, forty editors of Machine Learning (Kluwer) resigned from the editorial board; one of them, Leslie Pack Kaelbling, created the OA Journal of Machine Learning Research (MIT Press). For details on all three, see my list of journal declarations of independence.
No matter how you slice it, subscription-based journals went green before they went gold, just as born-gold journals preceded gold converts. While there were certainly some conversions before 2005, there were more in 2005 than in all preceding years combined.
As long as I'm on the subject of journal conversions, here are two guides, one from 2004 and one from 2005.
Raym Crow and Howard Goldstein, Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-based Journal to Open Access, Open Society Institute, Edition 3, February 2004.
Jan Velterop, Guide to Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Societies, Open Society Institute, July 2005. (Focused on helping society publishers convert their journals to OA.)
* PPS. Here are some related year-end reviews by others:
StevenB, Top Stories of 2005 For Academic Librarians, ACRLog, December 30, 2005.
Top Ten Stories that Shaped 2005, LIS News, December 30, 2005.
Michael Geist, Canada A to Z 2005 review, P2Pnet, December 27, 2005.
* PPPS. Before your memory of the past year fades, have a look at my timeline. Let me know if I've omitted anything significant from the section on 2005.
Predictions for 2006
In looking over my predictions for 2004 and 2005, I see many more hits than misses. But in almost every case where my predictions were unfulfilled or only partially fulfilled, I don't believe that I misjudged what was coming so much as the timing of when it would come. I may still be proved wrong, of course, but I believe those predictions picked out real trends that are still emerging. Call this stubbornness if you like, but I call it another prediction. One of my present predictions is that my past predictions will continue to be fulfilled.
Predictions for 2005
Predictions for 2004
Here are some new ones:
* The rapid recent growth in knowledge of OA, deposits in OA archives, submissions to OA journals, launch of new OA archives, and the launch and conversion of new OA journals, will all continue. In 2006 our trajectory will still be up, not down or even levelling off. There's a lot of ignorance still to conquer and many individuals and institutions hard at work to conquer it. If 5-10% of scholars publish 80% of the papers (a guess on which I'd like to find good data), then the important crossover target for OA is to get the attention of the most productive 5-10% of scholars. We're not there yet, although we're way beyond it for scholars in general and by the end of 2006 we'll be even closer. Note that this is not progress toward a simple finish line, but progress toward a new equilibrium with its own dynamic possibilities for further change. When we reach the crossover point, OA will be the default and progress will accelerate even further.
* 2006 will be a major year for funding agency OA policies and in at least three ways. First, nascent policies will take effect. The RCUK policy, drafted in 2005, will be finalized and take effect in 2006. If the Ukrainian government ministries comply with last month's directive from Parliament to mandate OA to publicly funded research, their policies should appear in 2006. Second, weak policies will be strengthened. The NIH's own Public Access Working Group recommended strengthening the NIH policy and the CURES Act now before the Senate is one way to do that. A second bill to be introduced shortly will also have this effect. Recent signs suggest that the final form of the RCUK policy will be weaker than the draft released last June, and it isn't hard to predict strenuous efforts to strengthen it. Third, other governments will start to adopt their own OA policies for publicly-funded research, at least in countries with strong local support for OA. I expect to see movement in Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, and Sweden --not to mention the US, UK, and Ukraine. Many public funders around the world have been waiting to see how the pioneers fared and in 2006 this will be much clearer. (In an upcoming issue, I plan to summarize what I think are the main lessons from the pioneering policies.)
In fact, OA to taxpayer-funded research will have such momentum and buzz that OA advocates will have to remind people that there are also compelling arguments for OA to non-taxpayer-funded research. The Wellcome Trust and university policies show that OA policies don't depend on public funding, but we'll find that more and more people will need this reminder.
* Many of the publishers who agreed to permit postprint archiving had two beliefs, one of which was false at the time (that repositories are ghettoes where content is hard to find), and one of which is becoming false (that authors will not archive their postprints in large numbers). The first belief underestimated OAI interoperability and crawling by Google and Yahoo, and the second underestimated the incentives and mandates from funders and universities. Because these beliefs are giving way, some publishers will look for ways to revoke their consent to postprint archiving. If they can't bring themselves to ban postprint archiving, or to retreat from blanket permission to case-by-case permission, then they may put embargoes on it, as Nature has done. Unfortunately, many publishers will feel pressure to move in this direction because of a third belief that is either false or so far contradicted by the evidence (that OA archiving will undermine subscriptions). If publishers do not scale back their permission for postprint archiving, it will be because of two countervailing pressures: fear of alienating authors and fear of handing a competitive advantage to journals that continue to offer blanket permission. I hope but do not predict that a third factor will carry weight: the growing evidence that OA archiving in physics is harmless to journals or even helpful to them (see OA in 2005, above). These competing pressures will net out differently at different journals and responses will be far from uniform.
* Different publishers will continue to take just about every conceivable position in the landscape, from strong support for OA to strong aversion. (This is worth noting if only to help us get past the view that publishers are monolithic or that there are just two "sides" in this evolving array of options.) Some will experiment with scaling up OA, trying out author-choice hybrid models, sponsorships, and even full conversions of individual titles. Some will experiment with scaling down OA, trying out embargoes on self-archiving or resistance to funder OA mandates. Some will stick with subscriptions and continue to raise prices rise faster than inflation and faster than library budgets. Even if they believe their price increases are necessary to meet rising costs, some will and some won't publicly acknowledge the harm this causes to their customers and the long-term survival of their business model. Some will look for ways to reduce prices and some will put short-term profits (or surpluses) ahead of long-term survival, and continue accelerating into a brick wall. As subscribers drop away, some journals will acknowledge the role played by exorbitant prices and oppressive licenses, and some will continue to scapegoat library budgets, exchange rates, and OA archiving. Some will continue to ask for government hand-outs in the form of increased library budgets for public universities, even while they call on governments to "let the market work" and end public access to publicly-funded research.
* It will start to sink in that fewer than half of OA journals charge author-side fees and that many more subscription-based journals do so than OA journals (first documented in the October report from the Kaufman-Wills group). What will this mean in practice? People will stop talking about "the OA business model" for journals as if there were just one. People will talk less about how OA journals might exclude indigent authors and compromise on peer review and talk more about how toll-access journals do so. We'll start to document the range of models actually in use for OA journals and learn as much about them as we now know about the model that charges author-side processing fees. We'll get more creative in finding models that suit the range of niches, which differ significantly by discipline and by nation. We'll see OA journals use multiple sources of revenue or subsidies, allowing even those that charge author-side fees to lower their fees.
* In the November SOAN, I predicted that we'll "see the curve for OA public-domain books, starting about now, rise more quickly than the curve for OA journal articles. The public-domain book curve could cross the journal curve in less than a year, keep climbing, and reach roughly 100% ages before the journal curve reaches 100%." I reaffirm this prediction. This upsets the expectation that journal articles are the low-hanging fruit of OA and that books hang higher on the tree. It forces us to distinguish books on which authors earn revenue (copyrighted books with sufficient sales) from all other books (low-sales research monographs and all public-domain books). Above all, it gets us thinking about the staggering possibilities of a world in which all or even most public-domain books are OA. The consequences for research and education will start to be felt quickly, more in the humanities than the sciences. Policy-makers and other important non-academic stakeholders will learn much more than they ever knew or would have known about OA and its benefits, which will boost the campaign for OA to journal literature.
* The book-scanning projects will highlight OA business models that depend on advertising, institutional subsidies, and philanthropy. Although variations on all three themes already exists in the world of OA journals (as well as the world of TA journals), there will be renewed interest in how they work, how they can be improved, and how they can be extended to other niches and fields where they are currently scarce.
* Open file formats (primarily the Open Document Format or ODF) will enter the conversation about OA. I doubt that anyone will insist that OA be redefined to require open file formats, but we'll hear arguments that OA with open file formats is "better OA" or more conducive than OA with proprietary file formats to author freedom, reader freedom, interoperability, long-term preservation, and cost savings.
(My position in a nutshell: open formats are superior for scholarship and OA for all the reasons listed and I hope we move toward them. But the definition of OA should be agnostic about file formats just as it's agnostic about methods of peer review and journal business models. OA is a kind of access, not a kind of file format, and OA to a PDF or DOC file is still OA.)
* We'll see far more serious scholarly use of blogs, wikis, RSS, P2P, and folksonomies --all of them OA. This is just a case of a more general phenomenon that we've seen with cell phones, wifi, and the internet itself. Truly useful technologies migrate from the margins to the center as they outgrow the stigma of being trendy.
* From the start, the web has been vastly more convenient than print. But for serious scholarship, the web has also been much less adequate in volume and average quality. Over time, however, the volume of serious scholarship online has steadily grown and its average quality has increased in proportion (diluting the drek). The web's convenience is attracting more and better content to the web. We often forget that it could have been the other way around: the superiority of brick and mortar libraries could have kept serious researchers and serious research away from the web. It will be very hard to say when crossover occurs, that is, when the volume and quality of serious research on the web (free or priced) matches that of the best print libraries. But it's clear that some disciplines will get there before others. If there's a gray zone when it's arguable that we're there, then most disciplines are already in the gray zone. But during 2006, this judgment will be less and less controversial and more and more conventional. That will be the beginning of a new awakening. The web is not an upstart newcomer racing to catch up. The web has arrived. The web and libraries will each be superior to the other in some valuable respects, and only people who deny half of this two-sided truth will be behind the times --and needlessly hampering their research.
* The new micropayment experiments at Random House and Amazon will trigger more talk about affordable rather than free ejournals. The talk will trigger familiar responses: yes, affordable is better than expensive, but free is better than affordable. Low prices can make individual journals affordable but they cannot make the full range of journals affordable because they do not scale with the explosive growth in published knowledge. Low prices, just like high prices, require DRM and password protection to exclude unpaying visitors, and thereby exclude search engines and other software that mediates serious research. Finally, micropayments for microcontent is a scam if it induces people to pay for fragments that they could use for free under fair use. But despite this, voices from different camps will talk about micropayments as an alternative to both OA and high-priced journals.
* More journals and publishers will offer free services, like current awareness, email alerts, or RSS feeds returning results of user-customized keyword searches. This will be useful, of course, but the reverse of what's needed. These journals will give users a free service to draw attention to priced articles rather than a priced service to help cover the costs of OA articles. But which would users actually have, free services and priced articles or free articles and priced services? Fewer journals than in the first set, but more journals than in the past, will try the experiments we really need to see: giving away the peer-reviewed articles (cheerful even in the face of high-volume OA archiving) and charging for new kinds of added value.
* If there is another catastrophic terrorist attack, then another objection to OA will emerge from the dark corners where it has lurked since September 11, 2001: that the free circulation of knowledge, like other formerly basic freedoms, is a luxury that we can no longer afford. Friends of OA will point out studies showing that OA helps security-related research (like every other kind of research), helps mitigate the harmful consequences of disasters, and doesn't reveal more than determined attackers can learn by other means. But this will have no effect. One reason is that the new objection will not be limited to OA circulation but will include toll-access circulation and print library access. Friends of knowledge (OA and TA proponents in coalition) will argue that the attempt to suppress knowledge erects the apparatus of censorship and hurts ordinary citizens without effectively blocking knowledge to aggressive inquirers, whether they are benign researchers or malign attackers. But this argument will be equally ineffectual. Panic will have its day, again, and it will be years before judicious policies take its place. The free circulation of knowledge will take a hit, not as collateral damage or from friendly fire. It will be deliberately targeted by officials who say they are defending our freedom.
* Postscript. Here are some related predictions for 2006 by others.
Heather Morrison, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Dec. 31, 2005 Update & 2006 Predictions, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, December 31, 2005.
Carmen Holotescu, Predictii 2006: eLearning, tehnologii Web, IT, eLearningBlog, December 30, 2005.
John Blossom, Investing in Users: 2006 Forecast Preview, Shore Communications Commentary, December 26, 2005.
Jeremy Frumkin, Digital Library predications for 2006, December 27, 2005.
Top stories from December 2005
This is 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. For other developments, the blog archive is browseable and searchable.
Here are the top stories from December:
* Ukrainian Parliament recommends an OA mandate to publicly-funded research.
* CERN launches an OA task force.
* Science Commons launches NeuroCommons.
* New evidence confirms the OA impact advantage in 10 fields.
* Wellcome Trust strikes a deal with three publishers.
* OA policy continues to stir controversy in the UK.
* Ukrainian Parliament recommends an OA mandate to publicly-funded research.
On December 1, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a resolution identifying OA as a national priority. The resolution asks the appropriate government ministers to launch OA repositories, create OA "national electronic information resources especially with scientific-technical and economical information" and make deposit in an OA repository a condition of state-funded research grants. This is analogous to the Congressional action in July 2004 directing the NIH to develop an OA policy. As we know, there can be serious slippage between the legislative instruction and the final policy. But the Ukrainian Parliament is to be congratulated for taking the right step. Now the Ukrainian government ministers have the opportunity to write a policy with the full backing of Parliament that embodies the public interest in OA.
* CERN launches an OA task force.
On December 14, CERN launched an OA task force to coordinate actions by a group of physics publishers, laboratories, and learned societies, funding agencies, and individual researchers. The task force mandate is to bring about action, not resolutions, and to do so by 2007. In its public statement, CERN noted that its research output was already OA through its institutional repository, but said that "this is only a partial solution. We wish for the publishing and archiving systems to converge for a more efficient solution which will benefit the global particle physics community."
* Science Commons launches NeuroCommons.
NeuroCommons is an innovative OA experiment on many fronts at once. It will launch the first OA repository for neurological research, integrate OA literature and OA data, use appropriate OA licenses for both, make cutting-edge use of Semantic Web technology and multiple ontologies, coordinate the OA activities of researchers, funders, and publishers, deliberately cultivate a research community as an intrinsic part of the research, and mark the first Science Commons project funded by a private company (Teranode).
Science Commons is the scientifically-focused arm of Creative Commons.
Science Commons' press release, December 12, 2005.
Teranode's press release, December 12, 2005.
M.L. Baker, New Brain Trust to Work Like the Web, CIO Insight, December 12, 2005.
Paul Krill, Semantic Web eyed for life sciences data, InfoWorld, December 9, 2005.
For more on the convergence of OA and the semantic web, see Francesca Di Donato, Designing a Semantic Web Path to e-Science, in Giovanni Tummarello and Paolo Bouquet (eds.), Proceedings SWAP2005 - Semantic Web Applications and Perspectives, Trento (Italy), 2005. Self-archived December 11, 2005.
* New evidence confirms the OA impact advantage in 10 fields.
Chawki Hajjem, Stevan Harnad, and Yves Gingras released an important research result in mid-December confirming and extending the evidence that OA increases citation impact. The best summary is this excerpt from the abstract:
In 2001, Lawrence found that articles in computer science that were openly accessible (OA) on the Web were cited substantially more than those that were not. We have since replicated this effect in physics. To further test its cross-disciplinary generality, we used 1,307,038 articles published across 12 years (1992-2003) in 10 disciplines (Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Health, Political Science, Economics, Education, Law, Business, Management)....The overall percentage of OA (relative to total OA + NOA) articles varies from 5%-16% (depending on discipline, year and country) and is slowly climbing annually....Comparing OA and NOA articles in the same journal/year, OA articles have consistently more citations, the advantage varying from 25%-250% by discipline and year....
Chawki Hajjem, Stevan Harnad, and Yves Gingras, Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact, IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 2005. Self-archived December 16, 2005.
Also see two related articles by some of the same researchers and released on the same day:
C. Hajjem, Y. Gingras, T. Brody, L. Carr, and S. Harnad, Open Access to Research Increases Citation Impact, Technical Report, Institut des sciences cognitives, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2005. Self-archived December 16, 2005.
K. Antelman, N. Bakkalbasi, D. Goodman, C. Hajjem, and S. Harnad, Evaluation of Algorithm Performance on Identifying OA, Technical Report, North Carolina State University Libraries, North Carolina State University, 2005. Self-archived December 16, 2005.
* Wellcome Trust strikes a deal with three publishers.
Blackwell, Oxford, and Springer have agree to provide immediate OA to accepted articles based on research funded by the Wellcome Trust (WT). The costs of publication will be covered by the WT, which estimates that this will take about 1% of its annual research budget.
It's no accident that all three publishers offer the author-choice OA hybrid model for at least some of their journals. Blackwell offers "Online Open" for 80 of its 805 journals, Oxford offers "Oxford Open" for 42 of its 180 journals, and Springer offers "Open Choice" for all of its 1200+ journals. I can't tell from any of the public statements whether the new deal applies to all journals published by the three publishers or only to the subset offering the author-choice OA model.
Since October 1, 2005, the WT has mandated that all WT-funded research be deposited in PubMed Central. The new deal does not, therefore, create OA to any WT-funded research for the first time. Instead, it insures that some WT research is OA from both PubMed Central and the publisher sites.
Although the deal was initiated by the WT, all three publishers are apparently willing to strike a similar deal with any other research funding agency. As the program expands, I'd to see the NIH take part. Like the WT, it's willing to pay the processing fees at OA journals, though it doesn't say so as often or as prominently as it calls for deposits in PubMed Central. Another publisher who should consider joining is the American Institute of Physics, whose Author Select option is analogous to the hybrid models offered by Blackwell, Oxford, and Springer.
I like the evidence that immediate or no-embargo OA is important to research funders. I'd like to see the NIH and RCUK act as boldly on the same interest.
I also like the way the WT is paying publication costs as a matter of course rather than merely permitting authors to make this use of grant funds and leaving authors to decide whether OA journal processing fees are worth the money. The WT policy not only means more systematic and dependable support for OA journals, but more reliable controls on fee inflation. If processing fees at OA journals rise to unacceptable levels (say, to reflect prestige rather than just costs), the WT will have more bargaining power than any author acting alone and probably more than any group of authors who could be persuaded to act in concert.
Wellcome Trust press release, December 15, 2005.
Richard Wray, Wellcome boost for open access, The Guardian, December 15, 2005.
* OA policy continues to stir controversy in the UK.
The Royal Society public statement on OA in November triggered a controversy that carried over into December. For example, on December 7, 63 Fellows of the Royal Society issued an open letter dissenting from the Royal society statement and strongly endorsing OA. The same day, Society president Martin Rees issued a public reply to the Fellows confirming that he misunderstands the RCUK policy and bizarrely suggesting OA advocates have a financial interest in OA and that dissenting Fellows are under the control of OA advocates. On December 15, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee hosted a debate on OA. Ostensibly about the committee's OA recommendations from July 2004, it was very much, but obliquely, about the draft RCUK policy which embodies the best of those recommendations. In 2004 the UK government rejected the committee recommendations but said that the independent RCUK was free to adopt them. In December, however, David Prosser of SPARC Europe discovered that the original government rejection of the recommendations was tainted by the unbalanced advice heard by Lord David Sainsbury, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation for the UK. Prosser used the UK Freedom of Information Act to discover how often Sainsbury met with publishers and researchers in the past two years. Sainsbury met with OA opponents roughly twice as often as with OA proponents, met with the Reed Elsevier CEO three times more often than with any other stakeholder, and his office undertook no independent analysis of OA.
Fred Friend, UK Parliamentary Debate on Scientific Publications, December 16, 2005. An email posting to SOAF.
Richard Poynder, A Real Tragedy, Open and Shut, December 16, 2005. An interview with Nobel laureate and OA defender, Richard Roberts, on OA and the Royal Society position statement.
On December 15, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee hosted a debate on nits July 2004 report, Scientific Publications: Free for All?
--The webcast (select December 15 and Westminster Hall)
Richard Poynder, Not written in the stars, Open and Shut, December 14, 2005. The most detailed and comprehensive article to date on the Royal Society's 11/24 position statement on OA and the controversy it has spawned.
David Prosser of SPARC Europe used the UK Freedom of Information Act to discover how often Lord David Sainsbury met with publishers and researchers in the past two years.
Stephen Pincock, Royal Soc. attacked on open access, The Scientist, December 9, 2005.
Subbiah Arunachalam, Indian science academies support open access, SciDev.net, December 8, 2005. Contrasting the Indian science academies with the Royal Society.
Donald MacLeod, Science academy defends open access policy, The Guardian, December 8, 2005.
Stevan Harnad's December 14 comments on Martin Rees' December 7 letter.
Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, publicly released his December 7 response to the open letter written by Fellows of the Royal Society in support of open access.
December 7 on BBC's Radio4, John Sudworth interviewed Robin Lovell-Badge, head of genetics at the National Institute for Medical Research and a Fellow of the Royal Society, about OA and the 11/24 Royal Society position statement. The interview starts 45 minutes and 51 seconds into the program.
Donald MacLeod, Royal Society attacked for 'negative' open access stance, The Guardian, December 7, 2005.
Forty-six Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS), including five Nobel laureates, signed an open letter (December 7) to the Royal Society dissenting from its November 24 position statement on OA. The letter remains open for more signatures. As I go to press, the letter has 63 signatures.
Sophie Rovner, Royal Society Is Cautious About Open Access, Chemical & Engineering News, December 5, 2005.
Coming up later this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in January.
* January 20, 2006, replies are due on the EU consultation for i2010 Digital Libraries project.
* Sometime in January, ParisTech will launch large portal of open courseware.
* Sometime in January, Congoo will launch and start offering registered users free online access to selected toll-access publications.
* Notable conferences this month
From Research to Practice: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in LIS Education (2006 ALISE Annual Conference) (OA is among the topics)
San Antonio, January 16-19, 2006
Joint Workshop on Future-proofing Institutional Websites (sponsored by the Wellcome Trust Library)
London, January 19-20, 2006
ALA Midwinter Meeting
San Antonio, January 20-25, 2006
--Authors and Authority: Perspectives on Negotiating Licenses and Copyright, a SPARC-ARL forum, January 21, 2005, 4-6 pm, Hilton Palacio del Rio, Salon Del Rey (Central & South).
--A session sponsored by the ALCTS Scholarly Communications discussion group, Monday, January 23, 2006, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, Room 211.
ALPSP briefing: Digitisation initiatives (topics include Google and the OCA)
London, January 25, 2006
Seminar on access to scientific and technical information (sponsored by the Senegal Academy of Science and Technology)
Dakar, January 30-31, 2006
Open Repositories 2006 (Sponsored by Australia's APSR, the ARROW project, MAMS, Macquarie University, and the University of Technology Sydney)
Sydney, January 31 - February 3, 2006
* Other OA-related conferences
In my last issue I said that, "Google conceded that it didn't have a fair-use defense in Europe, and Sally Morris of the ALPSP conceded that Google did have a fair-use defense in the US."
Although I was accurately paraphrasing my source, it turns out that the statement is misleading or false. My source was a November 24 story in Information World Review.
Quoting Sally (with permission): "Please allow me to correct a total misrepresentation. I was completely misquoted (originally by 'The Bookseller') as expressing the view that in the US, Google had the law on their side in their mass digitisation project; this has been picked up elsewhere, including by you, Peter....[T]his is diametrically opposed to both my and ALPSP's view (frequently publicly expressed)! What I actually said, as you can probably work out, is that in the US Google *think* they have the law on their side, whereas in Europe they do not appear to think so (however, I did also scrupulously point out that Google had subsequently contacted me to state that despite the impression we had gained in Frankfurt, they did not, in fact, accept any difference in the European legal situation...)"
* I've added 15 new conferences to the conference page since the last issue. In the next few days I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.
* I'm looking for a free or donated search engine better than the one I'm using now for the blog and newsletter. In particular, I'd like one that supports boolean searches and date filters.
Here's the WebSideStory (formerly Atomz) search engine I'm using now.
* PubSub times out when reading my RSS and Atom feeds, with the consequence that the blog postings from Open Access News are not available to the large number of PubSub readers. Do any of you have suggestions on how to tweak my feeds to make them load faster?
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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