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     April 1, 2002

When is government data good enough to use and disseminate?

The Data Quality Act (DQA) is a federal statute adopted under the Clinton Administration and due to take effect October 1, 2002.  The law allows "affected persons" to criticize scientific information or data disseminated by any federal agency and used in its rule-making.  If the criticisms are valid, then the agencies must correct their information and delete the old information from their web sites and publications.  Agencies will determine on their own when the criticisms are valid.  While each agency will have its own evaluation procedure, all must follow guidelines handed down by the present, Bush-era Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  These guidelines contain a presumption in favor of peer-reviewed information, but the presumption is rebuttable in special circumstances.

Proponents of the DQA argue that it will improve the quality of all government regulations that depend on empirical data, including those that protect food, drugs, and the environment.  Opponents worry that it will give businesses an incentive to criticize the data underlying regulations they dislike and create a blizzard of paperwork, procedural objections, and statistical sophistry to supplement traditional forms of lobbying.

The DQA is in the news now because the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) met on March 21-22 to discuss its implications for science, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met on May 19-22 to start designing its evaluation procedure under the OMB guidelines.  Unfortunately, I've found only a little on the NAS meeting and nothing on the EPA meeting.  An upcoming conference of the Computing Research Association lists the DQA among more notorious statutes (DMCA, PATRIOT, UCITA) that may "collide" with the freedom of research.

The DQA evaluation procedure cannot be called peer review, because the critiques it must evaluate may come from uncredentialed protesters with a commercial or political interest in the outcome, rather than scientific peers, and because the procedures for evaluating these critiques are designed by a political branch of government.  But neither can the evaluation procedure be considered mere voting or lobbying on scientific matters, because the critiques will be evaluated by scientific panels and because the guidelines generally (but not always) defer to peer review.  The DQA won't censor information but it will determine which information is good enough to be the basis of federal regulations and good enough to be disseminated by the government.  In that sense it will affect the scope, content, quality, and corrigibility of government FOS in the United States.

DQA, full text of the statute (very short)

OMB Guidelines for federal agencies to write their own procedures under the DQA

Andrew Revkin, Law Revises Standards for Scientific Study

Questions for further investigation raised by the National Academy of Sciences about DQA

Agenda for the National Academy of Sciences meeting on the DQA on March 21-22

Agenda for the American Bar Association meeting on the DQA on April 19

Agenda for the Computing Research Association meeting on July 14-16
(scroll down to Workshop III on July 16)

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (a pro-business group) repository of comments on the DQA

Criticism of DQA by Robert Gellman
("The whole process is guaranteed to be meaningless.  It is Washington at its worst.  Take a disagreement and turn it into a procedural nightmare that will resolve nothing and take forever.")

* Postscript.  Normally we keep science uncontaminated by commercial and political interests by putting it under the control of scientists.  But if science is to inform law, which it should, then there must be a science-law interface which cannot itself be put under the control of scientists.  The "last mile problem" in making sure that legal regulations are grounded in sound science is to design this science-law interface so that lawmakers are politically accountable without giving them cause to distort the science which is not.  Is this a contradiction?  What's the best that a democracy can do here?  Does the DQA do it?

* PPS.  Is the DQA likely to bring better science to lawmakers or bring commercial and political corruption to the science used by lawmakers?  Here are two harbingers of the DQA in action to help you judge.

1.  A challenge to the classification of dioxin as a "known carcinogen" (using provisions of the Public Health Act analogous to the DQA)

2.  A challenge to data on global warming (using the DQA, even though it is not yet in effect, and the OMB guidelines to the DQA)



* IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy are collaborating on a Science Grid.  Grid computing makes data storage and processing power available to users the way the electricity grid makes electrical power available to consumers.  The Science Grid will store about 1.3 petabytes of data (equivalent to 200 times the content of the Library of Congress), and support computation at more than 10 trillion calculations per second.  U.S. scientists should have access to the grid by 2004.

* The Louvre is digitizing its entire collection and putting it online free of charge.  It hopes to have 165,000 works online by 2003.  The online collection will include more than 130,000 drawings too fragile for public display.
(Thanks to ResearchBuzz.)

* A beta or "first internet test version" of the Scientific Information Service (SIS) is now online.  SIS is a free online archive of biomedical research methods that make animal experimentation unnecessary.  It also includes related biomedical information and research results.  SIS is funded by the European Commission.
(Thanks to EuroCrisNews.)

* The UK's Re:source (Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries) has given £22,500 to the National Council on Archives to fund Phase 2 of the Access to Archives (A2A) project, which makes nine centuries' worth of archival content from around the UK freely available online.

* In a new pilot project, journal articles and data published by Ovid will be available to 100 clinicians throughout England on a palmtop device, Ovid@Hand.

* Bentley Systems has released Digital InterPlot, software to create engineering plots and convert them to web-compatible formats.  This allows the online publishing and archiving of engineering content.

* In 1991, a student in an English course at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln wrote two essays containing intimate details of her private life.  Without her knowledge or consent, her professor posted the essays to the internet in 1995.  She discovered them in 1997 and filed suit against the university in 1998.  She recently won a ruling that her suit is not barred by a statute of limitations.  She is suing the university for negligence in its supervision of her English professor.  (PS:   One principle of the Budapest Open Access Initiative holds that no literature should be freely accessible online without the author's consent.  We were thinking that authors should make the decision whether to give away their writings or try to earn money from them.  We weren't thinking about author privacy, but clearly the author-consent principle applies here as well.)


New on the net

* The Text Encoding Initiative has approved and released version 4 of its Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange (FOSN for 8/7/01, 8/23/01).  Version 3 has been in use since 1994.  The new version is a very extensive document providing XML tags to mark nearly every conceivable aspect of a text that might have to be identified or processed by software.  The online edition of version 4 conforms to its own guidelines and contains the tags necessary to process it with existing XML tools.


Share your thoughts

* The European Commission invites expressions of interest to help shape the agenda for the  Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).  The earlier Framework Progammes not only funded research and technological development, but funded ways to make their results freely available online.  Expressions of interest in FP6 will be accepted until June 7.
(Thanks to EuroCrisNews.)


In other publications

* In the April issue of _Information Today_, Richard Poynder interviews Elsevier CEO Derk Haank.  Some highlights.  (1) Haank explains the rapid rise in journal prices through exchange rates and a vicious circle in which library cancellations force publishers to recoup their costs from a smaller subscriber base.  Elsevier profit margins are decreasing.  (2) His response to frustrated librarians and researchers is to deliver more for the price, not to decrease the price.  "The long-term solution today...lies in converting people to our electronic products, and then delivering a service where people say, 'Wow!'  If we can do this, then the money that our customers spend with us will be perceived as reasonable."  (3) He describes the ScienceDirect licence as "too good to be true for users".  (4) What does he think of the Budapest Open Access Initiative?  "We consider open archiving to be in line with our policy of open linking, which we have always supported."  But doesn't this confuse standards of interoperability with free online access?  Perhaps, but "[i]f people feel unhappy and want to develop alternatives, that is always possible. But is it wise?"  He is confident that open-access journals will not be able to cover their costs.  (4) He implies that Elsevier allows author self-archiving of refereed postprints, but in fact it only allows the self-archiving of unrefereed preprints.  (5) He asks:  if users are employed by institutions that pay for their access to online journals, regardless of how much the institution has to pay and regardless of how many fellow researchers must do without, "[w]hat more would they want?"

* The April issue of _CLIRinghouse_ is devoted to advice on "How to Ensure Quality When Investing in Digital Collections".

* The April issue of _Learned Publishing_ is contains many FOS-related articles:

Fytton Rowland, What do users want?
(Argues that different disciplines have different responses to FOS in part because they differ in their percentages of journal readers employed outside the academy.  He also argues, as have Jean-Claude Guédon and others, that researchers have an interest in FOS as readers that they do not have as authors.)

Kent Anderson, The useful archive
(How moving archives online makes them more active and useful both for publishers and readers.)

Keith Silver, Pressing the 'send' key --preferential journal access in developing countries
(Reviews the major initiatives to provide free online access to developing countries, tries to disentangle charitable motivations from PR, and explores ways for the various initiatives to coordinate with one another to make their projects more useful for end users.)

Walt Crawford, Free electronic refereed journals:  getting past the arc of enthusiasm.
(Tracks 104 free online refereed journals from 1995, and finds that more than half are still publishing.  While this is a survival rate he finds promising, very few are included among ISI's indexed journals and very few can be called significant in their fields.  However, their survival rate proves that the economics can work.  "It's not easy, but it can work.  It does work....Libraries should pay attention to those journals and librarians should be part of the efforts to expand the field.  It is not a total solution, but it is one counterbalance to the power of the international journal publishers.")

Emily McElroy, Dos and don't for electronic journal management:  some advice for publishers
(Recommendations from librarians to publishers of ejournals, based on a recent survey.  We'd all be better off if publishers would adopt these recommendations.)

Carol Hansen Montgomery, Print to electronic:  measuring the operational and economic implications of an electronic journal collection
(What does it really cost libraries to migrate from print journals to an all-electronic collection?)

Lara Carim, Serial killers:  how great is the e-print threat to periodical publishers?
(Tries to explain why online preprint archives have not disrupted traditional journals.  They are more central to some disciplines than others, they do not use formal peer review, and they lack the "brand" of established journals.  They will become more significant, and threatening, as we develop widely recognized metrics that measure the impact of individual articles rather than whole journals.)

* In a story in the March 29 _HERO_ (Higher Education and Research Opportunities in the UK), an anonymous author summarizes Stevan Harnad's Self-Archiving Initiative and the Open Society Institute's Budapest Open Access Initiative, and challenges journal publishers to respond.  He/she suspects that it's too late even for nimble and long overdue publisher action to contain the FOS genie now that it is out of the bottle.

* In an editorial in the March 26 _Taipei Times_ Lai Ting-ming criticizes western publishers for selling textbooks to third world students at first world prices.  There is a "textbook pricing crisis" in developing countries, which is most commonly solved by illicit photocopying.  (PS:  The serials pricing crisis is best solved by turning to FOS.  But the same solution isn't immediately available for textbooks because most textbook authors do not consent to give away their contents.)
(Thanks to LIS News.)

* In the March 25 _Forbes_, Karen Southwick interviews John Seely Brown, former head of Xerox PARC and co-author of _The Social Life of Information_.
(Thanks to LIS News.)

* In a March 25 open letter to the Judiciary Subcommittee of the Georgia House of Representatives, Barbara Simons and Eugene Spafford urge the legislators not to adopt a bill (SB214) that "would allow a producer or publisher of a database unprecedented control over uses of information, including the downstream use of facts.  As facts are the building blocks of knowledge and support innovation and the advancement of knowledge in the public and private sectors, we have concluded that SB214 would have a 'chilling effect' on the U.S. scientific research enterprise."
(Thanks to Red Rock Eater.)

* The March issues of the _High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine_ contains several FOS-related articles:

Luisella Goldschmidt-Clermont, Communication Patterns in High-Energy Physics
(Argues in favor of a system for exchanging preprints that takes advantage of modern advances in rapid communication.  If this sounds like old hat, the reason is that Goldschmidt-Clermont envisioned and inspired the online preprint exchanges we see to day in so many disciplines.  She wrote this article in February 1965,and for complex reasons it has not been published until now.  For the past 37 years it has circulated as a preprint, guiding the work of many network engineers and science librarians, including her own subsequent work.  Goldschmidt-Clermont was for many years the Senior Scientific Information Officer at CERN and a consultant to SLAC and MIT.)

Jens Vigen, New Communication Channels:  Electronic Clones, but Probably the First Steps Toward a New Paradigm
(Explains why Goldschmidt-Clermont's article, above, had to wait 37 years for publication and describes the role she has played in various FOS initiatives.)

Heath O'Connell, Physicists Thriving with Paperless Publishing
(Describes the history of online publishing in high energy physics back to 1974.)

Bernd Wegner and Michael Jost, EMIS 2001:  A Portal to Mathematics in Progress
(Describe the recent and ongoing emergence of the European Mathematical Information Service.)

Renato Spigler, Peer Reviewing and Electronic Publishing
(Compares and evaluates different methods of using the web to facilitate the peer review of ejournals.)

* In the latest (undated) issue of the _Journal of Electronic Publishing_, there are several FOS-related articles.

Julie Martin and David Coleman, Change the Metaphor:  The Archive as an Ecosystem
(Online archives are continuously changing.  Their utility and future depend on how we conceptualize them, and we should conceptualize them more as dynamic ecosystems than as passive repositories.)

Heather Joseph, An Economic Model for Web Enhancements to a Print Journal
(An FOS success story from a society publisher.  "By July 1999, the journal found that by increasing its income from other sources and reducing the dependency on institutional subscriptions, it was indeed possible to consider offering the electronic journal free electronically.")

Susan Lukesh, Revolutions and Images and the Development of Knowledge:  Implications for Research Libraries and Publishers of Scholarly Communications
(Considers FOS the "fourth revolution" in the dissemination of knowledge, which she traces it to the writings of Stevan Harnad, and explores its similarities to the third revolution, the Gutenberg press.)

* In the early spring issue of _Cites and Insights_, Walt Crawford responds to Donald Hawkins on ebooks, recent web filtering developments, and the last batch of papers from the Text-e symposium.

* In the Winter 2002 issue of _Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship_, Leila Fernandez summarizes the results of survey of York University scientists on their satisfaction with various current awareness (CA) services.  I'm fascinated by the possibilities for CA, and therefore appreciated these details on what the York scientists use and what they like.  Even those using paper CA (like browsing journal TOCs in the library) are enthusiastic about the possibilities for electronic CA when more of the relevant literature is online.  Most thought the services to digest online scholarship for CA had not yet realized their full potential.

* In an issue of the _Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal_ that appeared in November 2001, F. Gregory Lastowka argues that free online access need not infringe or threaten copyright.  However, current copyright law tends to presume that copyright holders wish to limit access to their work, and that reading, copying, and printing without paying are infringements.  Consequently, it overprotects online content and disregards and entire class of copyright holders.  In Section VIII of his article, Lastowka shows how large the class of disregarded copyright holders is, through a brief overview of the many kinds of free content on the internet.  In Section IX he offers some suggestions for amending the DMCA to help (consensual) free access thrive alongside paid and limited access.


Following up

To see past coverage of these stories in FOSN, use the search engine at the FOSN archive.

* More on the SSSCA/CBDTPA

Proponents (Hilary Rosen) and opponents (Senator Maria Cantwell, Intel's Les Vadasz, EFF founder Mitch Kapor) debated the CBDTPA in Arizona.

Rep. Adam Schiff plans to introduce a bill in the House to match the CBDTPA in the Senate.

Schiff has sent an open letter to other members of the House, inviting co-sponsors to his bill.
(Thanks to Politech.)

Dan Gilmour has had enough.  His message to content companies:  "I'm not a thief.  I'm a customer.  When you treat me like a thief, I won't be your customer."

Richard Forno compares Fritz Hollings and Jack Valenti to the Taliban.  "CBDTPA would effectively compel a huge, dynamic industry --comprised of large and small companies, individuals, and academic researchers-- to redefine itself simply to preserve the obsolete business models of the American entertainment industry....It's high time that the entertainment companies learn that if they treat their customers as criminals, they'll not only have fewer customers, but many more criminals to contend with. How's that for economic growth?"
(Thanks to C-FIT.)

Alex Salkever condemns the CBDTPA in a commentary for _Business Week_.  "[T]he proposed cure [for online piracy] is far worse than the disease....[T]he entertainment industry is hell-bent on stifling technology, rather than using it in ways that eventually could become highly profitable."
(Thanks to Current Cites.)

Jeremy Bowers has written an intelligent satire of the CBDTPA, highlighting its barefaced absurdity.
(Thanks to C-FIT.)

Why do Democrats tend to support the CBDTPA and Republicans oppose it?  Follow the money, says Glen Reynolds.  He itemizes exactly how much each Democrat co-sponsor of the bill received from the entertainment industry in 2000.  And he notes the irony.  The democrats usually defend consumers against corporations, but the CBDTPA "is a complete sellout to corporate interests".  He expects that even if Republicans don't point out this hypocrisy in the next elections, voters will see it for themselves.
(Thanks to Politech.)

Michael Fraase has written a very thorough backgrounder on the CBDTPA, covering the different media affected, the relevant history of copyright law, and the money flowing to the U.S. Senators co-sponsoring the bill.
(Thanks to Politech.)

* Jason Thomas argues that markets can give Hollywood all it wants and is entitled to get, but that Hollywood prefers the certainty of legislation to the hard work and uncertainty of markets.

* Paul Boutin puts the CBDTPA on the "axis of evil for technology".  Boutin interviews tech people on standards-setting committees, and concludes that there are [in this sector] three major objections to the CBDTPA:  (1) the FCC will not only design hardware, but design the hardware/software DRM standard, (2) the standard may depend on watermarking digital content, which will not work, and (3) the standard will favor mass-market entertainment.

* Jacob Heilbrunn calls the CBDTPA "Big Brother tactics".  In addition to a routine list of the problems with the bill, he argues that Hollywood can't be trusted to deliver high-quality digital content even if it gets the copy protection scheme it says it needs.
(Thanks to Red Rock Eater.)

* More on filtering and the CIPA trial

Coverage of the trial (in roughly chronological order)

The Australian Broadcasting Authority has released its report on the effectiveness of internet filters.
(Thanks to Politech.)

The American Library Association (which opposes CIPA) has prepared a press kit on the issues.

While U.S. citizens fight compulsory filtering in public libraries, German citizens fight compulsory filters for the general public, implemented through ISPs.
Opponents of the filtering have set up this online petition.
(Thanks to Politech.)

* More on the Google-Scientology case

Dave Winer describes the problem and blames the DMCA.  "We're getting the first real demo of a nightmarish scenario --a constitutional one, set up by the DMCA.  And it looks like it's going to get much worse before it gets better."

Critics of scientology and Google's action have tried to buy adwords through Google's advertising program and use their ads to express their criticism.  Google is rejecting these ads.
(Thanks to Politech.)

* More on government deletion of online information

The government has now deleted 50 year old records of cold war intelligence.  Historians have protested that the deletions cannot serve present-day national security.  An official for the National Archives said the records had been erroneously released in the first place.
(Thanks to Politech.)

* More on the Andrew Bunner DeCSS case

The DVD Copy Control Association petitioned the California Supreme Court to bring California law into accord with the federal ruling in the 2600 Magazine case.  This would require overturning the California Court of Appeals' decision that source code was pure speech for the purpose of First Amendment protection.  That ruling acquitted Andrew Bunner for posting the DeCSS source code to the net.

* More on the Elcomsoft/Sklyarov case

Elcomsoft lawyers filed another motion to dismiss the charges against them.

Jason Hoppin reviews the issues in the case.


Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)

* The Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI) is a free online archive disseminating scientific information in biomedicine, the social sciences, history, and Dutch language and literature.  It also provides information on Dutch researchers in all fields and their research projects.
(Thanks to EuroCrisNews.)



* In the last issue I said that the individual subscription price for Oxford Reference Online was $250/year.  Bob Gaskins writes to say that he has subscribed for only $89/year.  The lesson is either that Oxford should change its web site or that you shouldn't pay retail.  Thanks, Bob.



If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.

* New Developments in Digital Libraries
Ciudad Real, Spain, April 2-3

* The New Information Order and the Future of the Archive
Edinburgh, March 20-23

* Copyright Management in Higher Education:  Ownership, Access and Control
Adelphi, Maryland, April 4-5

* Global Knowledge Partnership Annual Meeting
Addis Ababa, April 4-5

* What Scholars Need to Know to Publish Today:  Digital Writing and Access for Readers
Albany, New York, April 8

* International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and Computing
Las Vegas, April 8-10

* E-Content 2002.  Dreams and Realities. [On eBooks]
London, April 10

* NetLab and Friends:  10 Years of Digital Library Development
Lund, April 10-12

* E-Content 2002 (on ebooks)
London, April 11

* Censorship and Free Access to Information in Libraries and on the Internet
Copenhagen, April 11

* International Learned Journals Seminar:  We Can't Go On Like This:  The Future of Journals
London, April 12

* SIAM International Conference on Data Mining
Arlington, Virginia, April 11-13

* Creating access to information:  EBLIDA workshop on getting a better deal from your information licences
The Hague, April 12

* Copyright in the Private Sector:  An Engine of Free Expression or a Tool of Private Censorship?
New York, April 15

* Licensing Electronic Resources to Libraries
Philadelphia, April 15

* United Kingdom Serials Group Annual Conference and Exhibition
University of Warwick, April 15- 17

* Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy
San Francisco, April 16-19

* EDUCAUSE Networking 2002
Washington, D.C., April 17-18

* Museums and the Web 2002
Boston, April 17-20

* Legal Guidelines for Use of Intellectual Property in Higher Education
Oneonta, NY, April 19

* OCLC Institute. Steering by Standards.  (A series of satellite videoconferences.)
OAIS, April 19.  Metadata standards in the future, May 29.

* Information, Knowledges and Society: Challenges of A New Era
Havana, April 22-26

* Current Awareness Services on the Net
Toronto, April 22 - June 3

* DAI Institute on The State of Digital Preservation:  An International Perspective
Washington, D.C., April 24-25

* CLIR Sponsors' Symposium:  New Challenges, New Solutions:  Libraries for the Future
Washington, D.C., April 26

* The European Library:  The Gate to Europe's Knowledge:  Milestone Conference
Frankfurt am Main, April 29-30

* WebSearch University
Stamford CT, April 30 - May 1; Washington DC, September 23-24; Chicago, Octeober 22-23; Dallas, November 19-20.

* Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting
San Diego, May 4-7

* Pacific-Asia Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
Taipei, May 6-8

* DLM-Forum 2002.  Access and Preservation of Electronic Information.  Best Practices and Solutions.
Barcelona, May 7-8

* ContentWorld 2002 [mostly for commercial content]
San Jose, California, May 13-16

* National Conference for Digital Government Research
Los Angeles, May 19-22

* Libraries in the Digital Age 2002
Dubrovnik, May 21-26

* CAiSE '02.  Advanced Information Systems Engineering
Toronto, May 27-31

* Workshop on Personalization Techniques in Electronic Publishing on the Web:  Trends and Perspectives
Malaga, Spain, May 28

* Society for Scholarly Publishing (AAP)
Boston, May 29-31

* Off and Wall and Online:  Providing Web Access to Cultural Collections
Lexington, Massachusetts, May 30-31

* Advancing Knowledge:  Expanding Horizons for Information Science
Toronto, May 30 - June 1

* Electronic Theses and Dissertations 2002
Provo, Utah, May 30 - June 1


The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.


This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).

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Peter Suber

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