Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #71
March 2, 2004

Read this issue online

Objection-reply:  Whether the upfront payment model corrupts peer review at open-access journals

Commercial publishers used to object to OA journals on the ground that they bypassed peer review.  But that was clearly false.  The latest refinement of the objection is that peer review at OA journals cannot be trusted.  It must be compromised or corrupted by the business model, which covers expenses by charging an upfront fee on accepted articles.  Such journals will have an incentive, the argument goes, to accept any paper from a paying author.

(1) Do OA journals have an incentive to accept more papers in order to collect more processing fees?

There's an important distinction to recognize right here at the threshold.  An OA journal that really wanted to generate more revenue by accepting more papers could keep its peer-review standard high and accept more excellent papers or it could lower its standard and accept more weak papers. 

Even though the objection focuses on the second possibility, let's consider the first one briefly before moving on.  OA journals are free of the space or volume constraints on print journals, and those with a large number of excellent submissions could certainly respond by publishing more of them.  If they do, then you could criticize them for aggravating information overload or praise them for taking advantage of the new medium.  But you couldn't complain that they were compromising peer review.  They would increase the quantity of high-quality literature, not decrease the quality of any literature.

(2) Now consider the second alternative.  Will OA journals have an incentive to lower their standard and accept weak papers?

OA journals could collect more fees this way, sure, just as you could collect fees by juggling at a subway station.  But that is very far from creating a real *incentive* to do so.

Only an incredibly short-sighted publisher would lower its standard in exchange for processing fees.  The reason is simply that OA journals, like traditional journals, depend on their reputation for quality in order to attract authors and readers.  Any plan to increase revenue by decreasing quality would be self-subverting and short-term at best.

But perhaps some OA publishers are short-sighted in just this way, and will undermine their long-term business model for short-term gain.  It's possible.  After all, some conventional publishers are short-sighted enough to raise their prices until libraries cancel their titles by the hundreds.  But if some OA publishers are short-sighted in this way, then the objection has to shift.  The problem would not be that the OA business model compromises peer review, since the OA business model would be satisfied even better by a steady stream of excellent papers.  The problem would be that some publishers are foolish and some journals low in quality, which is certainly true, on both sides of the OA line.

Just as OA journals with a large number of excellent submissions are free to publish long issues, those with a small number are free to publish short issues.  They are under no pressure to accept weak submissions just to fill an allotted space or to give subscribers their money's worth.  There is no allotted space and there are no subscribers.  In this sense, they are better insulated than conventional journals against pressures to lower their standard.

(3) Processing fees barely cover a journal's expenses.  Some OA journals break even and some lose money.  Once an OA journal is successfully launched, the idea is for the processing fee on an article to cover the costs of reviewing and publishing that article, with a little left over to subsidize the review of rejected papers and the publication of accepted papers by authors who received fee waivers because of economic hardship. 

Even if there's another increment built in to the fee, for modest profit, it is much lower than the profit margins seen at commercial publishers.  As Jan Velterop, the publisher of BioMed Central, likes to say:  there can be profit in OA publishing, but it will be much more in line with the value added by the publisher.  BMC isn't in the black yet.  But even when it is, its journals would lose much more by accepting weak papers than they would gain from collecting their fees.

Commercial journals publicly justify price hikes by pointing to the growing number of published articles.  But this gives them the same incentive that they impute to OA journals.  They could increase their revenue by accepting more articles.  If they don't have enough excellent submissions, they could increase their revenue by lowering their standard. 

It may be that some journals in some circumstances will be tempted to lower their quality in exchange for a short-term bump in revenue.  But if so, it's much more likely at high-profit journals, where the additional articles could justify a significant price hike, than at OA journals, where the fees barely cover their expenses.

(4) Some OA journals, especially those with high rejection rates, are considering a separate submission fee that would cover the cost of peer review, even for rejected papers.  This would make the processing fee for accepted articles independent of the journal's rejection rate and help keep it as low as possible. 

One objection to submission fees is that they would deter submissions.  Maybe they would.  But would they corrupt peer review?  Clearly not.  They would be paid by both accepted and rejected articles.  A journal could not increase its revenue from submission fees by lowering its peer-review standard and accepting more submissions.  On the contrary, a journal could only increase its revenue from submission fees by attracting more submissions, which requires a reputation for excellence.

(5) Traditional journals face conflicts of interest, for example, when authors work for advertisers, subscribers, funders, or other institutions that support the journal.  These conflicts are routine and experienced editors are accustomed to dealing with them.  Journals have formal and informal firewalls to insulate business decisions from scientific decisions.  Conventional and OA journals have the same interests and problems in this respect and there's no reason to think one kind of journal is more vigilant or virtuous than the other kind.

There are many ways to build this firewall.  For example at PLoS, every article is seen by at least one academic editor who does not work for PLoS, is not paid by PLoS, and who has no financial stake in the outcome.  At both PLoS and BMC, article referees do not know whether authors have requested fee waivers, let alone whether the waivers have been approved.  So they cannot tell whether accepting the article will bring any revenue to the journal.  As for editors, at PLoS they are like referees in this regard; at BMC they can know if they ask but they don't ask.  They are more concerned about the quality of the articles they are vetting than the finances of the author, which are dealt with by others in the enterprise.

Both PLoS Biology and BMC's Journal of Biology have Nobel laureates on their editorial board.  The Executive Director of PLoS is Vivien Siegel, who came from Cell.  The Editor of BMC's JBiol is Theodora Bloom, who came from Nature, and the Editor-in-Chief is Martin Raff, one of the 10 most-cited scientists in the UK.  It's preposterous to suggest that these scientists don't take peer review seriously or that they let a journal's business model alter their scientific judgment.

All this shows what really needs no demonstration:  the rigor of peer review is independent of the price, medium, and funding model of a journal.  OA may threaten the profits and market position of some publishers, but it does not threaten the quality of published science.

* Postscript.  I thank Barbara Cohen, Senior Editor at the Public Library of Science, and Jan Velterop, Publisher of BioMed Central, for phone and email interviews that helped me write this story.


Top 10 priorities for the OAI community

On February 12-14, I was in Geneva for the third CERN Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative and spoke on the priorities for the OAI community.  Here's a version of what I said. 

I've put the items in natural clusters rather than priority order, and some of them go beyond the area of overlap between OAI issues and OA issues.

Most of these priorities can be summarized in one:  OAI-compliant archives are already here and already useful; so let's get serious about filling them up and taking advantage of the benefits they offer.

(1) Stimulate preprint archiving by killing or documenting the Ingelfinger Rule.

This is the rule adopted at some journals to bar the consideration of articles that have previously been published or publicized.  It's named after Franz Ingelfinger, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Many researchers in all fields are deterred from preprint archiving by fear that it will disqualify them from publishing the same article later in a journal.  Most of their fears are groundless.  But we can only answer their fears by killing the rule or by documenting where it is and is not still in force.  Moreover, if we know where it is in force, then we know where to direct our requests that it be modified at least to permit preprint archiving.

Note to journals:  You can help the cause by making clear on your web site whether or not you follow the Ingelfinger rule. 

(2) Stimulate postprint archiving by making it a condition of research funding.

In exchange for funding, grantees should agree to provide OA to the results of the funded research.  This could be done through OA journals or OA archives.  Both public and private funding agencies have an interest in adopting this policy, since OA will increase the return on their investment in research.  Public funding agencies have the additional rationale that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay a second fee for access to taxpayer-funded research.

For details and qualifications, see my lists of what private and public funding agencies can do to promote open access.

(3) Persuade more OA journals to follow the example of PLoS and BMC and deposit all their articles in OAI archives.

PLoS and BMC deposit their articles in PubMed Central.  One benefit is sharing metatada for resource discovery.  Another is reassuring users that the articles will survive, and survive in OA form, even if the journals die out, are bought up, or change their access policies.  A third benefit is building a critical mass of literature in the interoperable OAI network, which will bring in more authors, more readers, and more developers who can create data services for the network.

(4) Persuade more publishers to follow the example of Inderscience and archive metadata for all their publications, even if the publications are not open-access and even if they are not digital.

This is more effective and less expensive than conventional forms of marketing, at least for research publications.  It could be done for journals, books, software, music, and movies.  Since it promotes products without undermining sales, publishers will have an incentive to pay the costs of doing it both prospectively for new works and retroactively for older ones.  The benefit for publishers is inexpensive promotion; the benefit for the rest of us, again, is to build a critical mass of literature in the OAI network that will attract more authors, readers, and developers.


The Inderscience OAI repository

(5) Persuade more universities to follow the example of Queensland University of Technology, and make deposit in the institutional repository an expectation for all theses, all preprints, and (with a few exceptions) all postprint publications by all faculty.

One way to go beyond the QUT policy is to enforce it for junior faculty through the promotion and tenure committee and enforce it for senior faculty through the deans who give out merit raises.

Another way is to let deposit in any open-access, OAI-compliant archive suffice.  This will allow physicists to deposit once in arXiv, for example, and spare them to the need to deposit again in their institutional archive.  It will let co-authors from different institutions deposit once rather than many times, if this is their preference.

The QUT policy

(6) Archive raw and semi-raw data, not just articles that interpret or analyze data.

Live up to the principles of the OECD's recent Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding (January 30, 2003), signed by ministerial representatives of 34 nations.

There are frontiers beyond mere OA to data, for example, describing data files with metadata, viewing them in a browser, and querying them even in rudimentary ways without the original application.  We should work on adding all these layers of functionality.  But while we work on them, we should at least make the data files OA through OAI-compliant archives.

The OECD's Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding

(7) Design and build what Jean-Claude Guédon calls an Open Access Citation Index.

With all the measurable data available to us about OA resources, we should be able to craft a measurement of usage and impact that is more nuanced and more accurate than the ISI impact factor, more fair to new journals and other new vehicles of scholarship, more timely, more automated, and less expensive.

The natural place to start is with tools like Tim Brody's Citebase, which rates articles according to several impact measurements including citations to the author and citations to the articles themselves.


But in addition to citations and other directly countable parameters of online files, there are promising research projects that use text mining to unearth hidden relationships among texts expressing something very close to what we mean when we talk about impact, influence, or authority within a field.

Jon Kleinberg's work at Cornell

The Knowledge Discovery Laboratory work at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Just last week (February 25) ISI Web of Knowledge and NEC Citeseer announced that they were joining forces to create a Web Citation Index.  The WCI will measure the citation impact of online scholarship, specifically including OA scholarship.  It will cover OA journals and OA archives, and index journal articles, preprints, conference proceedings, technical reports. Some but not all of the results will be available to users free of charge.

Also see this news story by Barbara Quint on the Web Citation Index

(8) Nurture the development of sophisticated auxiliary tools.

For example, we need software to automate the metadata description of a text.  It will be a long time before this will replace human describers.  But in the meantime software could take the first whack at it and then turn it over to a human to review or correct.  We need software to automate the submission or deposit of new content.  We need software to automate reference linking.  We need OAI-compliant archives to support RSS feeds of new resources, or new resources that meet certain conditions e.g. based on type, set membership, or keyword.

(9) Create a directory of OAI data providers as comprehensive, up-to-date, and useful as the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Archives or data providers need such a list so that they only have to sign up in one place in order to guarantee that they will be noticed and harvested.  OAI service providers need to know what is eligible for harvesting.  Authors need to know where they can deposit their work.

There may be a good reason not to make registration mandatory.  But I don't care if the list isn't official as long as it's sufficient.

Until we have a single, sufficient list, here's my list of the better lists.

(10) Use OAI archives to provide open access to more and more of the literature for which permission is either granted or not needed.

Most public domain literature is not even digitized.  What is digitized, even what is under a Creative Commons license, is rarely on deposit in open-access, OAI-compliant archives.  Therefore, we have a lot of work to do.

* Postscript.  It was an honor to speak at CERN, the birthplace of the web.  By chance, I also spoke on Valentine's Day and the second birthday of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.  If Tim Berners-Lee and CERN had not released the WWW technology into the public domain (April 30, 1992), then open access would be the fringe idea of a few dreamers.

CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication:  Implementing the benefits of OAI
Geneva, February 12-14, 2004

Video of most of the speakers and most of the conference presentations are now online.


The scaling argument

Open-access literature has four key properties:  it's digital, it's online, it's free of charge, and it's free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.  There are many arguments for OA, but these four properties support an important argument that's seldom heard:  open access scales better than toll access.

The background here is the continuing explosion of knowledge.  We suffered from information overload even in the age of print.  It has accelerated since the birth of the internet, but it would have accelerated anyway.  It seems to be accelerating now at an accelerating rate.

Will our methods of disseminating knowledge keep pace with the rate of discovery and publication?  Or will they function as an artificial brake on the growth of knowledge itself and our ability to find and assimilate it?

Print literature is expensive to purchase, store, and search.  All three problems are aggravated as the volume of literature grows.  When the literature is digital but not online, then purchase, storage, and searching all become easier, and they become easier again when the digital literature moves online.  Then we can store it in multiple sites around the world, distribute the costs and labor of maintenance, reach the distributed sites as if they were sectors of our own hard drives, and search across them as if they were one.  When the literature is digital and online but priced, then it's locked away behind passwords, which excludes non-paying users and most search engines.  Even when it's searchable, it's no longer affordable.  However, when it's digital, online, and free of price and permission barriers, then finally it scales.  We can search it, store it, and afford it, and growth in its volume no longer raises insuperable financial or ergonomic hurdles.

Most universities already have trouble storing their print literature.  But all have trouble paying for journals, whether print or electronic.  None can buy access to all the priced journals their faculty need to keep up in their fields.  If affluent universities like the University of California, the University of Connecticut, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, MIT, the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Stanford cannot afford the current array of journals, then the current system does not scale.  It would not scale even if knowledge grew at a slower rate.  But knowledge will continue to grow, probably at an exponential rate.  If we do not find a dissemination and access paradigm that scales up more efficiently, and soon, then researchers will be publishing more and more for fewer and fewer.

But we have such a paradigm.  OA scales.  It greatly reduces the costs of production, distribution, and storage, and of course access and usage are free of charge.  OA accommodates growth on a gigantic scale and, best of all, supports more effective tools for searching, sorting, indexing, filtering, mining, and alerting --the tools for coping with information overload.

Using these tools to find what we need when we need it is the only solution to information overload compatible with the growth of knowledge.  In a toll-access future, we'll have to cope by doing without access to a growing percentage of the published literature, curtailing the publication of otherwise worthy research, or simply shutting our eyes. 

One lesson:  don't ask merely how bad the serials crisis is or how bad information overload is.  Ask how bad both will become, as knowledge continues its explosive growth, if we don't fundamentally change our methods of funding, distribution, and access.  There will be scaling problems even with OA, but there's no doubt that OA scales better, on every parameter, than the current toll-access system. 

* Postscript.  In the January issue of SOAN, I cited Los Alamos data showing that the best-stocked of 13 major U.S. research libraries subscribed to only 70 of the 100 most-cited journals outside medicine.  (Medical journals were excluded because some of the 13 research universities did not have medical schools.)  In rough shorthand, then, we can say that outside medicine the best-stocked university serials library in the U.S. already falls at least 30% short of what its patrons need.  (I called this gap "ullage" after the empty space at the top of a wine bottle.)  If the ullage at leading libraries is 30% today, then can you imagine the texture of research when the ullage is 50%?  When it is 75%?  If knowledge continues to grow and we fail to take advantage of distribution and access methods that scale with its growth, these ullage numbers are inevitable.

What's the ullage of your library?


Coming up later this month

Here are some important OA-related events coming up in March

* The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee starts to take oral evidence in its inquiry into journal prices and accessibility.  The deadline for submitting written evidence passed on February 12.

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee

The committee press release on its inquiry

The first session of oral testimony was yesterday (March 1) and the next will be on March 8.  Yesterday the committee heard from Blackwell, Nature, Wiley, and Elsevier.  Next week it will hear from IoP, ALPSP, Oxford, Axiope, PLoS, and BMC.

* Last July, the House Appropriations Committee asked the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to write a report on how to "ensure that taxpayer-funded research remains in the public domain".  The original deadline for the report was yesterday (March 1, 2004), but it has apparently been extended.  If I learn the new deadline, I'll post it to the blog.

Here's the language in which the committee commissioned the report:

The Committee is concerned by reports that there has been a significant change in the availability of research data internationally and a dramatic rise in medical research data subscription costs. NLM is encouraged to examine how the consolidation of for-profit biomedical research publishers, with their increased subscription charges, has restricted access to vital research information to not-for-profit libraries. The Committee would like a report by March 1, 2004, about potential remedies to ensure that taxpayer-funded research remains in the public domain and steps that can be taken to alleviate this restrictive trend in information technology.


* Notable conferences this month

Electronic Publishing Strategy (a training workshop from ALPSP)
London, March 2, 2004

International Symposium on Digital Libraries and Knowledge Communities in Networked Information Society (DLKC'04)
Tsukuba, Japan, March 2-5, 2004

Building Collaborative eResearch Environments (a JISC Consultation Workshop)
Warwick, March 5, 2004

The Future of Scientific Publishing (sponsored by EUSIDIC, Elsevier Science, IOS Press, Swets Information Services, and IBM Business Consulting Services)
Rotterdam, March 7-9, 2004

Email as a publishing medium (sponsored by the Electronic Publishing Specialist Group of the British Computer Society)
London, March 10, 2004

DSpace User Group Meeting
Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 10-11, 2004

Reality Publishing (sponsored by the American Medical Publishers Association) (open access is among the topics)
Philadelphia, March 14, 2004

Workshop on Resource Sharing in Digital Libraries (sponsored by APEC)
Taipei, March 16-19, 2004

Preserving the Knowledge Base of Science (sponsored by ALPSP, FST, and DPC)
London, March 17, 2004

2004 CONSER Summit on Serials in the Digital Environment
Alexandria, Virginia, March 18-19, 2004

2004 International Conference on Digital Archive Technologies (ICDAT2004)
Taipei, March 18-19, 2004

ePrints UK Oxford Workshop
Oxford, March 22, 2004

Internet Commons Congress
Washington, D.C., March 24-25, 2004

Scholarship-Friendly Publishing (sponsored by ALPSP)
London, March 26, 2004

UK Serials Group 27th Annual Conference and Exhibition (topics include open access)
March 39-31, 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 Committee on Science and Technology launched its inquiry into journal prices and availability.  It accepted written testimony until February 12 and yesterday began taking oral testimony.

Anon., UK to Investigate Journal Pricing, Research Information, February 2004.

Aslib invited its members to send evidence for inclusion in its testimony.

As I prepare to mail this issue, news stories are starting to appear on yesterday's session of oral testimony.  I'll blog these and perhaps give them fuller coverage in the next issue.  But in the meantime, see David Hencke, Science journal publishers defend profits, The Guardian, March 2, 2004.

Several friends and foes of OA submitted written evidence to the committee before the February 12 deadline.  Some put their statements online, but the committee asked them to hold off until the same evidence could be presented orally.  I blogged these submissions until I saw that they were disappearing.  I'll blog them again when the committee gives its approval and the links become more reliable.  In the meantime, here are the "last known addresses" of the written submissions that I've learned about:

From the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP)
(Currently accessible only to ALPSP members.  It should become public soon.)

From the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
(Currently just a brief cover page.  The testimony itself should join it soon.)

From Alexei Koudinov, Part 1, "Editorial and Publisher Corruption"
Part 2, "The Future of Scientific Publications"

From Elsevier, "Elsevier's comments on evolutions in scientific, technical and medical publishing and reflections on possible implications of Open Access journals for the UK" 
(The full text is publicly available now because Elsevier reformatted its committee testimony as a position paper.)

Elsevier's summary of the testimony or position paper

Jan Velterop's point-by-point response to the Elsevier testimony

The following pro-OA organizations submitted written testimony that is either not yet online or online at private URLs until the committee approves making them public.  Watch the blog to see when they become available to the public.

--Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and various U.S. library associations
--SPARC Europe
--BioMed Central (BMC)
--International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI)
--Public Library of Science (PLoS)
--The Civil Society Working Group on Scientific Information from the World Summit on the Information Society

* Previous Elsevier cancellations continued to generate news and discussion, and new ones joined the old ones. 

On Thursday, February 19, Elsevier Chairman Morris Tabaksblat and CEO Crispin Davis publicly defended their business model from the "threat" of OA journals, an event that was about as widely reported by financial journalists as the cancellations themselves.  This was important for several reasons:  (1) it brought mainstream news attention to OA itself, not just to the pricing crisis, which differ as much as solutions and problems, (2) it showed that most financial journalists believe that OA threatens Elsevier's journal profits even if Elsevier top guns deny it, (3) it showed Elsevier on the defensive and confirmed the momentum for OA, and (4) it showed Elsevier making a cynical mix of arguments, some respectable even if answerable, e.g. that the OA journal business model needs further testing; some based on spin and FUD, e.g. that OA will reduce quality; and some transparently absurd and desperate, e.g. that OA will reduce access.

Anon., Libraries take a stand, Harvard University Gazette, Feburary 5, 2004, p.10-11.

The MIT Libraries decided not to accept the three-year renewal packages on offer from Wiley and Elsevier and released a public statement explaining why.

Michael Miller, Fac Sen discusses journal fees, The Stanford Daily, February 6, 2004.  Stanford discusses how to respond to the serials crisis.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Love affair with Reed begins to cool, Financial Times, February 9, 2004.

On February 9 the University of Connecticut Faculty Senate adopted a resolution condemning Elsevier business practices and calling on faculty to do their part as authors, referees, and editors, to support journals that support their interest in access to scholarly literature.

Patrick Barrett, Reed revels in bumper profits, The Guardian, February 19, 2004.

Richard Wray, Open access threat to Reed's publishing empire, The Guardian, February 19, 2004.

Adams Patrick, Reed Elsevier profits jump, Reuters UK, February 19, 2004.

Christopher A. Reed, Just Say No to Exploitative Publishers of Science Journals, Chronicle of Hgher Education, February 20, 2004.

Dan Milmo, Reed forced to bite the free access bullet, The Guardian, February 20, 2004.

Russell Hotten, Reed Elsevier wards off threats as scientists keep publishing, Times Online, February 20, 2004.

Tim Burt, Reed shrugs off threat from free net rival, Financial Times, February 20, 2004.

Raymond Snoddy, Publisher's profits come with a blurb of warning, Times Online, February 20, 2004.

Chuck Slothower, University Libraries to cut several serial subscriptions, Oregon Daily Emerald, February 21, 2004.

Ryan Sands, Fac Sen addresses costly journals, The Stanford Daily, February 20, 2004.

William Destler, Changes in Access to Journals Published by Reed Elsevier, February 20, 2004.  A memo to the faculty of the University of Maryland on the need to cutback Elsevier titles.

Jason Nissé, Business View, The Independent, February 22, 2004.

Ray Delgado, Faculty Senate approves resolution encouraging boycott of some pricey journals, Stanford Report, February 25, 2004.

Anon., Reed Elsevier downgraded to 'hold', New Ratings, February 25, 2004.

Megan Greenwell, CU Senate Postpones Resolution Yet Again, Columbia Spectator, March 1, 2004.

* More citizens awakened to the alarming prospect that the database bill churning through Congress might pass and give copyright-like protection to facts.

Andrea Foster, Legal Scholars Oppose Bill That Would Prevent Reuse of Information From Databases, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2004.

Public Knowledge set up a web form allowing Americans to send members of Congress a fax opposing the database bill.

The American Library Association did the same.

Lee Strickland, Breaking News on the Database Front, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, December/January, 2004.

Brandy Karl, How the Current Congressional Database Protection Bill Would Go Beyond Current Law, and Why It is Unconstitutional and Misguided, Writ, February 11, 2004.

* There was more news about the Treasury Department ruling that trade embargoes apply to scientific publications, including a decision by the American Chemical Society to defy the government ruling.

Potter Wickware, US pressures publishers to honor trade embargoes , Nature Medicine, February 2004.

Also see the editorial, Trading Scientific Freedom, in the same issue of Nature Medicine.

The AAP Professional and Scholarly Publishers Division (PSP) released a public letter criticizing the U.S. Treasury Department for applying trade embargoes to scientific publications.

On February 9, at the invitation of the IEEE, David Mills addressed a "summit" of scholarly publishers on the intersection of U.S. trade law and freedom of the press. Mills is the Treasury Department official in charge of licensing U.S. journals to edit articles by citizens of Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and other embargoed nations.

Lila Guterman, Chemical Society Lifts Moratorium on Publishing Papers From Embargoed Countries, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 2004.  On the decision by the American Chemical Society to edit and publish articles by authors from embargoed nations.

Kevin Coughlin, Chemists to accept reports from Iran, Newark Star-Ledger, February 19, 2004.

Geoff Brumfiel, Publishers split over response to US trade embargo ruling, Nature, February 19, 2004.

Mary Curtius, U.S. Embargos [sic] Extended to Editing Articles, Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2004.

Sophie Rovner, ACS Ends Limited Publishing Moratorium, Chemical and Engineering News 82, 8 (February 23, 2004) 6.

Society lifts publishing ban on nations facing U.S. sanctions, Nature, 427, 770, February 26, 2004.

Adam Liptak, Treasury Department Is Warning Publishers of the Perils of Criminal Editing of the Enemy, New York Times, February 28, 2004.

* The momentum for OA has created a market for expensive analyses of the journal industry. 

Leigh Watson Healy, Revolution in the Land of the Giants, Outsell, January 22, 2004. The latest Competitor Assessment for the STM industry by Outsell, which is selling the 36 page PDF file for $1,095.

Christine Lamb, Open Access Publishing Models: Opportunity or Threat to Scholarly and Academic Publishers, Shore Communications, February 9, 2004. The 28 page report costs $397, and considerably more for yearly updates and on-phone or on-site advisory services.

* Cornell University launched Internet-First University Press, an open-access book publisher built on Cornell's DSpace institutional repository.

Also see Scott Carlson, Cornell Tries a New Publishing Model: Scholarship on Demand, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2004.

Penn State is considering similar projects, including OA textbooks.  See Elizabeth Thomas, Schools make scholarly texts available on Web, The Daily Pennsylvanian, February 6, 2004.

Also see Josh Pontrelli, Penn State explores merit of online publications, The Digital Collegian, February 12, 2004.

The news from Cornell and Penn State combines interestingly with protests over rapidly rising prices for textbooks.  For example, on January 29 the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) released a report accusing book publishers of greedy practices that have precipitated a textbook pricing crisis.

* PLoS has created a web page for PLoS Medicine, the new OA journal it plans to launch this fall.

* Thomson ISI and NEC's CiteSeer are joining forces to create a new Web Citation Index.

* On February 24, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) released the IFLA Statement on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research Documentation, an important endorsement of open access.

* Starting January 1, 2005, BioMed Central will change the way it calculates institutional membership fees for renewing members.

* The European Geosciences Union signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge.

* In May, Future-Drugs will launch Therapy, a new peer-reviewed journal using a standard toll-access model for reviews and drug reports and the Walker-Prosser model of author's choice OA for research articles.

* Oxford University Press is encouraged by the results of its OA experiment with Nucleic Acids Research, and will continue it.

* The three founders of the Public Library of Science --Pat Brown, Mike Eisen, and Harold Varmus-- were nominated for Wired Rave Awards, in the "scientist" category. Winners will be announced March 15 in the online edition of Wired Magazine.

* The DOAJ introduced a few improvements. (1) It's now OpenURL-compliant. (2) It has tweaked the user interface and added a useful subject tree. (3) It has tweaked its OAI server, adding DOAJ subject terms and LCC codes to the records and making each top-level subject a set.

* Jon Kleinberg, professor of computer science, is studying the propagation of influence by studying email lists, blog networks, and the arXiv repository of scientific eprints.

* The JORUM+ Project released an eight-volume scoping study. The project will create an OA repository for learning materials.

* As part of a free trade deal with the U.S., Australia has agreed to extend the term of Australian copyright 20 years, pirating from the Australian public domain just as the Bono Act pirated from the U.S. public domain.

* SwetsWise Online Content has recruited 10 new publishers, including BioMed Central.

* The winter issue of the Scix Newsletter previewed the SciX Open Publishing Services (SOPS) software, which creates and maintains OAI-compliant repositories, manages electronic journals and conference proceedings, and supports the MS Office Task Pane, Office Smart Tags, citation management software, and RSS feeds.  SOPS will go open source later this year.

* SAIL e-prints (Search, Alert, Impact and Link) is an e-prints repository interface which searches some 60 open access repositories in the sciences.

* JISC is willing to award funding up to £30,000 for a study to forecast a delivery, management and access model for eprints and open-access journals within further and higher education. Applications are due by noon on March 10, 2004.

* A grassroots effort started to question the Democratic candidates for President about reversing the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

Some follow-up on this effort.

* The Institute of Physics has eliminated the registration requirement for entering IoP Select, the open-access subset of its published articles.

* Stephen Wolfram is now providing free online access to the full text of his long, controversial, best-selling book, A New Kind of Science.

* The U.S. government launched a new OA journal in January, Preventing Chronic Disease.  It charges no processing fees. 

* On February 4, participants in a science editing conference in Chile drafted and released the Valparaiso Declaration for Improved Scientific Communication in the Electronic Medium.

* On January 28, the University of Technology in Sydney launched a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Portal: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies. At the same time it launched UTSePress, an all-electronic and apparently all-OA press chaired by UTS University Librarian, Alex Byrne.

* In January the American Association of Publishers (AAP) released a public statement opposing the Sabo bill.

* In January an exemplary self-archiving policy took effect at Queensland University of Technology.  It simply expects that with a few exceptions "the total publicly available research and scholarly output of the University is to be located" in the institution's OA repository.

* On December 31, 2003, the entire editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms resigned in order to protest the high price charged by the publisher (Elsevier). On January 21, 2004, the same board then launched a new journal, Transactions on Algorithms (not yet online), published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The editors wrote a public statement explaining their resignation.

The public statement is brief and relies on Donald Knuth's much longer analysis of the open-access alternative from October 2003.

Brock Read, Editorial Board of Scientific Journal Quits, Accusing Elsevier of Price-Gouging, covers, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2004.

See my list of other mass editor resignations or "declarations of independence"


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. 

* Kofi Annan, Science for All Nations, Science Magazine, February 13, 2004. The Secretary-General of the United Nations on the importance of access to science in the least developed nations.

* Anon., Initiatives to Provide Free Journal Access to Less-Privileged Countries, Science Editor, January/February 2004.

* Anon., Open Access: A New Model of Scholarly Publishing, Currents, 5, 2 (Winter 2004).

* Association of American Publishers (AAP), Copyright and Public Access to Federally-Funded Scientific Research: The Erroneous Premise of Open-Access Advocates and H.R. 2613 [the Sabo bill], January 2004.

* Richard N. Armstrong, Editorial, Biochemistry, January 6, 2004.  Inviting ACS members to make their views known on whether this ACS journals should adopt an OA business model.

* Rudy M. Baum, The Open-Access Myth, Chemical and Engineering News, February 23, 2004.

* Valerie Bence and Charles Oppenheim, The role of academic journal publications in the UK Research Assessment Exercise, Learned Publishing, January 2004.

* Theodora Bloom, Editorial, Journal of Biology, January 16, 2004.  On the progress made during 2003 by open access, BioMed Central, and the BMC Journal of Biology.

* Niels Boeing, Journale zu Servern, Freitag, February 6, 2004.  An introduction to OA.

* David Bollier, Who Owns the Sky? Reviving the Commons, In These Times, February 27, 2004.

* Patrick Brown, Vantage Point: Free online scientific journals make sense, Stanford Report, February 26, 2004.  See the Donald Kennedy piece below for a counterpoint.

* Barbara Cohen, PLoS Medicine, PLoS Biology, February 2004.  On the autumn launch of PLoS Medicine.

* John Cox, Where Are the Industry, the Profession and the Art Headed? Charleston Advisor, January 2004.  On publisher mergers and their implications for scholarly publishing and OA.

* Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, Kenneth R. Fulton, and Diane M. Sullenberger, Results of a PNAS author survey on an open access option for publication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101, 5 (February 3, 2004) p. 1111.

* Walt Crawford, Library Access to Scholarship, Cites & Insights, March 2004.

* Walt Crawford, OpenURL Meets Open Access, American Libraries, February 2004.

* Elizabeth D'Antonio-Gan, Open Access and the STM Publishing Crisis: A Medical Librarian's View, Charleston Advisor, January 2004.

* Elizabeth D'Antonio-Gan, Review of BioMed Central, Charleston Advisor, January 2004.

* Philip M. Davis, Fair Publisher Pricing, Confidentiality Clauses and a Proposal to Even the Economic Playing Field, D-Lib Magazine, February 2004.

* Catherine D. DeAngelis and Robert A. Musacchio, Access to JAMA, JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association, January 21, 2004.

* Tori DeAngelis, Debating access to scientific data, APA Monitor on Psychology, February 2004.

* Tori DeAngelis, Data sharing: a different animal, APA Monitor on Psychology, February 2004.

* eclectic librarian, open access publications in library science, February 4, 2004.  A blog posting with links.

* Henk Ellermann, OAI and OA-X:  Yet Another Introduction, In Between, February 5, 2004.  On an experimental extension to the OAI protocol to permit full-text searching.

* Mohamed Gad-el Hak, Publish or Perish - An Ailing Enterprise, Physics Today, 57, 3 (March 2004) pp. 61-62.
http://physicstoday.org/vol-57/iss-3/p61.html http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2004_02_22_fosblogarchive.html#a107773462279208853

* Lorrin R. Garson, Communicating Original Research in Chemistry and Related Sciences, Accounts of Chemical Research, February 10, 2004.

* Mark R. Graczynski and Lynn Moses, Open access publishing - Panacea or Trojan Horse?  Medical Science Monitor 10, ED1-3, January 2004.

* Klaus Graf, Open Access für Archivalien, Archivalia, February 17, 2004. Reflections on OA for cultural heritage archives, including reflections on copyright issues.  (In German.)

* Klaus Graf, Urheberrecht für Autoren - FAQ.  Advice on German copyright law for authors seeking open access for their work.  (In German.)

* Les Grivell, Access for All?  EMBO Reports, 5, 3 (2004) pp. 222-225.

* T. H. and A-M. B., 2003, année du libre accès à l'information scientifique, Captain Doc, January 2004.  (In French.)

* ICSU and WFEO, Harnessing Science and Technology for Sustainable Development: Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements, February 2004.  A position paper arguing that OA is needed to solve the "looming water crisis".

* Peter Jacsó, Proxy Searching of Non-Searchable and Poorly Searchable Open Access Archives of Digital Scholarly Journals, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2911 (2003) pp. 552-555.

* Donald Kennedy, Vantage Point: Subscription journals are here to stay, Stanford Report, February 26, 2004.  See the Patrick Brown piece above for a counterpoint.

* Guha Krishnaswami and David S. Chi, Clinical and Molecular Allergy: a new open access journal that addresses rapidly evolving information in the field of allergy and immunology, Clinical and Molecular Allergy, 2, 1, 2004.

* Stig Larsén, Open Access! Sydsvenskan, February 20, 2004. In Swedish.

* Brian Lavoie, The Open Archival Information System Reference Model: Introductory Guide, OCLC, February 24, 2004.

* Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis, Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright: The Role of Theory, Empirics, and Network Effects, AEI-Brookings Joint Center, January 2004.  On the economic argument for Eric Eldred, against copyright extension.

* Rodrigo Lopez et al., Public services from the European Bioinformatics Institute, Briefings in Bioinformatics, December 2003. 

* George S. Machovec, Open Access and Scholarly Publishing, Charleston Advisor, January 2004. Introduction to a special issue devoted to open access.

* Jayne Marks and Timo Hannay, Evolving scholarly communication, Learned Publishing, January 2004.

* Mike Martin, Iridescent Software Illuminates Research Data, NewsFactor, January 27, 2004.  On Iridiscent, sophisticated text analysis software optimized for reading OA Medline abstracts.

* Lee Miller, Author/Institution Self-Archiving and the Future of Peer-Reviewed Journals, Science Editor, September/October 2003. Lee's summary of Harnad's keynote address and subsequent Q&A at the Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting (Pittsburgh, May 2-6, 2003).

* Cliff Morgan, Metadata for STM journal publishers: a review of the current scene, Learned Publishing, January 2004.

* Kenneth Olden and Thomas J. Goehl, EHP Moves to Open Access, Environmental Health Perspectives, January 2003.

*  Outsell, Open Access Rumblings, February 13, 2004.

* David Ozonoff, The World of Open Access Journals Journal of Urban Health, December 2003.

* T. Scott Plutchak, Embracing open access, Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2004.  An editorial.

* Eva Pressl, Information Needs Are Legitimate, IFLA Net, February 17, 2004. An interview with IFLA President, Kay Raseroka, on the IFLA participation in the World Summit on the Information Society.

* David C. Prosser, Between a rock and a hard place: the big squeeze for small publishers, Learned Publishing, January 2004.

* The Public Library of Science, Publishing Open-Access Journals, PLoS, February 2004.
* Barbara Quint, The Great Divide, Searcher, February 4, 2004.  Endorsing OA but noting its downside for libraries.

* Barbara Quint, OECD Ministers Support Open Access for Publicly Funded Research Data, Information Today, February 9, 2004.

* Barbara Quint, Thomson ISI to Track Web-Based Scholarship with NEC?s CiteSeer, Information Today, March 1, 2004.

* Sandy Starr, The Creative Commons, Spiked, February 18, 2004.

* Peter Suber, Open Access Builds Momentum, ARL Bimonthly Report 232, February 2004. Adapted by the Report editors, G. Jaia Barrett and Kaylyn Hipps, from the opening essay in SOAN for 1/2/04.

* Roy Tennant, The Expanding World of OAI, Library Journal, February 15, 2004.

* Patricia L. Thibodeau and Carla J. Funk, Quality Information for Improved Health, PLoS Biology, February 2004. A profile of the Medical Library Association and its commitment to open access.

* Mauro Vihinen, Signal transduction-related bioinformatics services, Briefings in Bioinformatics, December 2003.  Reviewing "open-access databases and software" available to the cellular signalling research community.

* Mark Ware, Pathfinder Research on Web-based Repositories: Final Report, Publisher and Library/Learning Solutions, January 2004.

* Cindy Yee, Open-access journals debated, The Duke University Chronicle, February 4, 2004.

* A new issue of Open Access Now was published on February 16.

* The presentations from the ICSTI Technical Meeting: Economic Models for Scientific Information, Production and Distribution (Paris, January 15-16, 2004) were freely available online for one week.  Now the presentations are only accessible to ICSTI members and only a short summary for the general public.

* The presentations from the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication: Implementing the benefits of OAI (Geneva, February 12-14, 2004), are now online. For most presentations, there are both PPT slides and video online.
(See "Top 10 priorities for the OAI community" above for a version of my talk at this meeting.)

* The presentations from the meeting, National Policies on Open Access Provision for University Research Output (Southampton, February 19, 2004), are now online.

* Abstracts of the presentations at the recent meeting, IDLELO: The First African Conference on the Digital Commons (Cape Town, January 12-16, 2004), are now online.

* The presentations from the workshops, To Have and to Hold: Metadata and Institutional Repositories (Washington and Chicago, December 9 and 12, 2003), are now online.



* I've added 14 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.

* In the last issue I asked whether SOAN was too long and, if so, what I should cut.  Your response was clear:  100% of those responding said to cut nothing.  A good number of you were passionate and articulate about the usefulness of every section.  I thank you all.  I appreciate the fact that busy people are willing to receive this much material every month on open access.  I may have to shorten it anyway, somehow, one day, to keep my life in balance.  But for now it will remain as it has been.  If any of you have further thoughts on the length or format of SOAN, I'd always be glad to hear them.


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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Peter Suber

SOAN is an open-access publication under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.  Users may freely copy, distribute, and display its contents, but must give credit to the author.  To read the full license, visit

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