Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #97
May 2, 2006

Read this issue online

Another OA mandate:  The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006

Earlier today, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA) in the US Senate.  This is giant step forward for OA, even bigger than the CURES Act that Senator Lieberman introduced in December 2005.

Like CURES, FRPAA will mandate OA and limit embargoes to six months.  Unlike CURES, it will not be limited to medical research and will not mandate deposit in a central repository.  It will apply to all federal funding agencies above a certain size.  It instructs each agency to develop its own policy, under certain guidelines laid down in the bill.  Some of those agencies might choose to launch central repositories but others might choose to mandate deposit (for example) in the author's institutional repository.  Finally, while CURES was mostly about translating fundamental medical research into therapies, with a small but important provision on OA, FRPAA is all about OA.  Here are some details, citing the bill by section number in parentheses.

* FRPAA applies to all federal funding agencies that spend more than $100 million/year on research grants to non-employees ("extramural" research) (Section 4.a).  At the moment, 11 agencies fall into this category:  the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the cabinet-level Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation. 

While the breadth of disciplines doesn't extend to the humanities or social sciences (beyond economics), it's much wider than medicine alone.  Also note that by covering the Department of Health and Human Services, FRPAA covers the NIH.

Remember that in George Bush's state of the union address on January 31, 2006, he proposed spending an additional $146 billion on science over the next 10 years, including $50 billion to double the budgets of the NSF, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.  If Congress adopts these budget increases, they will directly expand the size of the federal commitment to OA --assuming that Congress also adopts the FRPAA.

* Agencies will have one year from the adoption of the bill to develop their OA policies (4.a). 

* Agencies may host their own OA repositories (4.b.6.A), the way NIH hosts PMC, or they may ask grantees to deposit their work in any OA repository meeting the agency's conditions of open access, interoperability, and long-term preservation (4.b.6.B). 

* FRPAA applies to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript (4.b.1), which must incorporate all changes introduced by the peer-review process (4.b.2).  Publishers will have the option to replace the author's manuscript with the final published version (4.b.3.A), at least when the agency decides that the published version advances the agency's "goals...for functionality and interoperability" (4.b.3.B).

* FRPAA applies to manuscripts arising from "research supported, in whole or in part from funding by the Federal Government" (4.b.1).  Hence it applies to projects with multiple sources of funding, provided that at least one is covered by FRPAA.  It applies to manuscripts with multiple authors, provided that at least one is covered by FRPAA.

* Agencies must insure free online access to these manuscripts "as soon as practicable, but not later than 6 months after publication in peer-reviewed journals" (4.b.4).

* Agency policies must apply to agency employees as well as agency grantees (4.c.1).  In the former case, the resulting articles will be in the public domain from birth, labelled as such, and released to the public immediately upon publication (4.c.2).

* The OA mandate does not apply to lab notes, preliminary data analyses, personal notes, phone logs (4.d.1), classified research, revenue-producing publications like books, patentable discoveries (4.d.2), or work not submitted to journals or not accepted for publication (4.d.3). 

* Agencies will maintain OA bibliographies of publications resulting from their funded research, with active links from citations to OA editions (4.b.5).

* Nothing in the bill modifies patent or copyright law (4.e).

* Instead of (or perhaps simply before) relying on copyright-holder consent as the legal basis for disseminating copies of the articles, the agencies must "make effective use of any law or guidance relating to the creation and reservation of a Government license that provides for the reproduction, publication, release, or other uses of a final manuscript for Federal purposes" (4.c.3). 

This section does not give agencies a license but asks them to use existing statutory or regulatory licenses as fully as possible.  It's relevant, then, that there are two such licenses on which agencies may rely:  2 CFR 215.36(a) and 45 CFR 74.36(a).

Don't let the technical detail of this section disguise its importance.  The NIH  recognized the existence of a government license to provide OA to NIH-funded research, but deliberately decided not to use it.  Instead, it relied on publisher consent, with the effect that it accommodated, if not invited, publisher resistance.  By relying on government licenses instead, FRPAA makes publisher dissent irrelevant.

The 2 CFR 215.36(a) government license.
--HTML edition:
--PDF edition: 

The 45 CFR 74.36(a) government license.
--HTML edition:
--PDF edition:

* Once a year, no later than October 1, the agency heads will report on their public-access policy to the Senate (4.f.1).  They must assess the effectiveness of their policies in providing free online access to the agency's research output (4.f.2.A), list the published papers to which the policy applies (4.f.2.B), list the papers made freely available under the policy (4.f.2.C), and a report on the delays or embargoes between journal publication and free online access under the agency policy (4.f.2.D).  All these reports and lists must themselves be OA (4.f.3).

* Here's how the bill describes its rationale:  "Congress finds that the Federal Government funds basic and applied research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries that result from the research, if shared and effectively disseminated, will advance science and improve the lives and welfare of people of the United States and around the world" (2.1).  Moreover, "the Internet makes it possible for this information to be promptly available to every scientist, physician, educator, and citizen at home, in school, or in a library" (2.2).

* The FRPAA is certainly the strongest OA policy proposed to date in the US.  It's comparable in strength to the draft RCUK policy (June 2005), though different in several details.  I'd be delighted if it passed.  But for completeness, let me point out three ways in which it could be even stronger. 

(1)  FRPAA contains no provision to let grantees use grant money to pay processing fees charged by OA journals.  This is regrettable.  Funders should support OA journals as well as OA archiving.  Long-term, we will need both, especially if subscription-based journals decline.  The CURES bill has the same regrettable omission. 

(2) FRPAA is silent on the timing of deposit, as opposed to the timing of OA release.  By contrast, CURES requires deposit at the time an article is accepted by a journal.  CURES has the advantage on this score, and we can hope that FRPAA will adopt its approach before much longer.  If authors deposit their articles upon acceptance, then repositories can release the metadata immediately (to jumpstart awareness, discoverability, and impact), and release the full text after the author-requested embargo, or six months, whichever comes first.

(3) FRPAA is silent on the consequences of non-compliance.  The CURES bill, by contrast, explicitly says that non-compliance may be a ground for the funding agency to refuse future funding.  Again, CURES has the advantage here.

However, the fact that FRPAA doesn't address these issues doesn't mean that the resulting OA policies won't address them.  The covered agencies are free under the guidelines to let grantees use grant funds to pay OA journal processing fees, to require deposit at the time of publication, and to impose a sanction on non-compliance.  But because the agencies are also free to go the other way, we'll have to lobby each agency separately and probably settle for a mix in which some policies are better than others.

* While the FRPAA covers many agencies, if we focus on its consequences for the NIH, then we have to see it as the *fifth* recent sign that the NIH's weak request may become a strong requirement.  On November 15, 2005, the agency's own Public Access Working Group (PAWG) recommended that the request for public access be upgraded to a requirement and that the permissible delay be shortened from 12 months to 6 months.  On December 7, 2005, Senator Lieberman introduced the CURES Act, which would have the same effect.  On February 8, 2006, the NLM Board of Regents endorsed the November 2005 PAWG recommendations in a letter to NIH Director Elias Zerhouni.  On April 4, 2006, Zerhouni told the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies that "it seems the voluntary policy is just not enough" to achieve the agency's goals (more below in the Top Stories section).  And now FRPAA.

* What about the hundreds of smaller federal funding agencies not covered by FRPAA?  First, if we change policy at the giant agencies, it will be easy to change policy at the smaller ones, if they don't change their policies on their own.  Second, many federal agencies would like to adopt an OA policy but don't want to get too far ahead of Congress.  They need a green light.  Adopting FRPAA would be more than enough.  The intriguing possibility is that the mere introduction of the bill might give a green light to some agencies that are already prepared to act.

* This is a superb bill.  It's informed by the arguments for OA and the shortcomings of the NIH policy.  It's one more sign that legislators, in the US and abroad, are not treating the NIH policy as a precedent but taking every opportunity to improve upon it:  going beyond a request to a requirement, beyond long or indefinite embargoes to firm deadlines, beyond biomedicine to all disciplines, beyond publisher consent to a federal purpose license that does not accommodate publisher resistance, and at least possibly, beyond central to distributed archiving.  FRPAA strengthens the NIH policy and extends the strong new policy to all the major research-funding agencies in the federal government.  It adds momentum to the CURES Act and the lesser but potent pressures on the NIH to convert its request to a requirement.  It will give taxpayers access to the non-classified research they fund with their taxes.  It will make a very large and useful body of research even more useful than it already is by sharing it with all who can apply or build upon it.  In both respects it will increase the return on the taxpayers' enormous investment in this research. 

* What are the chances that FRPAA will pass?  It's hard to say, but here are three signs in its favor.  (1) Cornyn and Lieberman demonstrate that there is bipartisan support for the idea.   Cornyn is a conservative Republican and Lieberman a moderate Democrat.  (2) The boldest ideas in the bill, the access mandate and six month deadline, were approved by both Houses of Congress in the June 2004 instructions to the NIH and reaffirmed by every review panel since.  (3) Since the NIH policy was adopted in its weakened form, Congress has seen no evidence of harm to journals and abundant evidence of low participation by researchers.  The case for a mandate has only grown stronger since Congress asked for a mandate in June 2004.

BTW, the NIH policy took effect one year ago today.  That's why Cornyn and Lieberman decided to introduce the bill today.  They are deliberately building on the momentum of the NIH policy and taking it considerably further.

* If you're a US citizen, ask the members of your Congressional delegation to support the CURES Act and the FRPAA. 

Whether you're a US citizen or not, you can also phone, fax, or email Senators Cornyn and Lieberman to thank them for introducing this bill.

Sen. Cornyn's Senate home page

Sen. Lieberman's Senate home page

If your organization supports OA, then issue a public statement endorsing FRPAA and send copies to your members and the media.  (Also send me a copy and I'll publicize it through the blog and forum.)

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access urges universities and libraries to contact it for tools to help inform your campus and users about the FRPAA.  Contact Jennifer Heffelfinger at <jennifer [at] taxpayeracess.org>.

* Follow Open Access News for news and comment on the bill.  Obviously there isn't much yet.

See Sen. Cornyn's press release on the bill.

Rick Weiss, Government Health Researchers Pressed to Share Data at No Charge, Washington Post, March 10, 2006.

Anon., Congress considers mandatory NIH public access policy with 6-month window, INKlings, Dec-Jan, 2006.


Top stories from April 2006

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 April.  I normally limit this section to five stories, but April was such a heavy news month that I have to run seven.

     * EC report calls for OA to publicly-funded research.
     * Microsoft introduces Microsoft Live Academic Search
     * The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is developing an OA policy.
     * Elias Zerhouni admits that NIH may need an OA mandate.
     * The RCUK gives two clues to its recent thinking.
     * Biodiversity conference calls for OA to biodiversity data.
     * Eprints and DSpace add buttons for email eprints.

* EC report calls for OA to publicly-funded research.

The European Commission released its lengthy (108 pp.) and long-awaited report on STM publishing and OA in Europe.  (The report is dated January 2006 but wasn't released until late March or early April.)  The key recommendation, A1, calls for a mandate to publicly-funded research:

RECOMMENDATION A1. GUARANTEE PUBLIC ACCESS TO PUBLICLY-FUNDED RESEARCH RESULTS SHORTLY AFTER PUBLICATION. Research funding agencies have a central role in determining researchers’ publishing practices. Following the lead of the NIH and other institutions, they should promote and support the archiving of publications in open repositories, after a (possibly domain-specific) time period to be discussed with publishers. This archiving could become a condition for funding. The following actions could be taken at the European level: (i) Establish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives, and (ii) Explore with Member States and with European research and academic associations whether and how such policies and open repositories could be implemented.

This is big.  If the EC adopts the recommendation, it would mark the largest victory to date for the worldwide OA movement.  Like the FRPAA (lead story, above) it would just about make OA the default for new research.  But the recommendation may have large, good consequences even before we see how it might be implemented.  It should help strengthen the draft OA policy from the RCUK, which was exemplary when released for comment in June 2005 but which seems to be weakening under the onslaught of publisher lobbying (more in the Top Stories section, below).  It should trigger the adoption of more OA policies at the national level across Europe, to match those already in force in Finland and Germany, and it should pressure the nascent European Research Council to mandate OA to ERC-funded research.  It should give all governments inside and outside Europe the courage to defend the public interest by providing public access to publicly-funded research, rather than compromising it in order to benefit a private industry.

But A1 isn't the only OA-related recommendation.  A2 calls for a "level-playing field" between OA and non-OA business models.  When the UK government used this language in rejecting the House of Commons recommendations (November 2004), it meant that it shouldn't endorse OA.  The EC report means that we should "allow for experimentation and competition between various possible business models, which means allocating money to libraries to subscribe to reader or library-pay journals but also to authors to pay for publication costs in author-pay journals, and to researchers in the reader-pay model."

Recommendation A3 asks us to go beyond impact factors to more comprehensive and nuanced ways of measuring journal quality.  In particular, it asks us to use "quality of dissemination" criteria which would include permission for OA archiving.

Recommendation B1 would improve competition in the journal market, in order to reduce prices, and B2 would scrutinize publisher mergers, in order to reduce anti-competitive practices.  B3 would eliminate the value-added tax on ejournals (OA and non-OA).

Recommendation C1 calls for an Advisory Committee to gather stakeholder opinions, meet twice a year, follow new developments, and report to the EC.  The EC loves committees, so this will probably happen even if nothing else happens.

The EC is soliciting comments on the report.  Please send yours to <rtd-scientific-publication [at] cec.eu.int> by June 1, 2006.

Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe.  Dated January 2006 but apparently not released until late March or early April, 2006.  The group of authors and investigators was led by Mathias Dewatripont of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
--HTML splash page on the report
--PDF of the text itself

The underlying inquiry was announced in June 2004.

There has been remarkably little news coverage of this story, given its magnitude.  Apart from a few stories in the academic press, and even fewer in the mainstream press, this is a case in which bloggers are carrying the ball.

Tom Abate, European report calls for 'free science' via the Net, The Tech Chronicles, April 27, 2006.

European Report on Open Access to Scientific Publications, SHERPA News, 2006.

Stephen Pincock, Will EU beat UK in open access? TheScientist, April 21, 2006.

European Panel Endorses Broad Open-Access Policy for Research, News Blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education, April 19, 2006.

The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM)  issued a press release "welcoming" the EC report but not supporting any of its recommendations (April 19, 2006).

Dan Milmo, Publishers watch in fear as a new world comes into view, The Guardian, April 19, 2006.

Report Says Scientific Publishing Needs Reform, Greenhouse Associates, April 2006.

European Panel Endorses Broad Open-Access Policy for Research, Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, April 19, 2006.

Jonathan Gitlin, European research to be open access, Nobel Intent, April 19, 2006.

Richard Sietmann, Open Access: EU-Konsultation zum wissenschaftlichen Publikationswesen, Heise Online, April 12, 2006.

BioMed Central welcomes EC report on Europe's scientific publication system, a BMC press release, April 11, 2006.

Robin Peek, European Commission Releases Key Scientific Publishing Report, Information Today, April 10, 2006.

Stevan Harnad, Optimizing the European Commission's Recommendation for Open Access Archiving of Publicly-Funded Research, Open Access Archivangelism, April 8, 2006.

* Microsoft introduces Microsoft Live Academic Search

Microsoft has launched an academic search engine to compete with Google Scholar (GS).  So far the chief OA connection is that it indexes arXiv and CiteSeer.  I've seen reviewers criticize it for not indexing more OA repositories, but be assured that others are coming.  This is a beta and it only gives a taste of what Microsoft has in mind.

In addition to indexing CiteSeer, Microsoft Live Academic (MLA) borrows a cool feature from CiteSeer:  click on an author's name to see other work by that person (or others with the same name).  CiteSeer's Lee Giles worked with Microsoft on the new project.

The MLA beta is limited to scholarship in three fields:  computer science, engineering, and physics.  But it will add new fields, and new content in existing fields, continuously. 

By default the hits are in the left column and metadata on the highlighted hit is in the right.  When the article has an abstract, it appears in the right column as well, to help you judge your hits without the delay of clicking through.  It's handy, but if it's not your style, you can close the preview pane.  Microsoft gives publishers three options for an abstract (basically, all, some, or none), but insists that if an article is not OA, then users should at least see part of an abstract.  Another good idea.

MLA offers six sorting options, including relevance, date, author, and journal.  The relevance measure will eventually include an "authoritativeness" element based on citation counts.  You can control how much information you see on each hit by adjusting a slider bar.  All hits are in one scrollable list, so there's no delay while clicking through to the next page.  Another nice idea.  When you see a hit you'd like to put aside for later consideration, one click puts it on your personal Windows Live page.

Like GS, MLA searches both OA and non-OA content.  When a search brings up non-OA article, users who click through will probably face a roadblock or pay-per-view screen.  Like GS, MLA supports OpenURL, so that if your library cooperates with the Microsoft, and if you run your search from an authenticated IP within your institution, then you can click through to non-OA but prepaid full text.  Like GS, MLA doesn't (yet) flag the OA articles as OA.  Like GS, MLA displays no ads and has no revenue plan so far except to earn a larger share of scholar eyeballs.

Unlike GS, MLA has released its list of scholarly sources.  Unlike GS, it relies on publisher feeds rather than a crawler to gather content for its index.  Unlike GS, it supports macros that let users build customized vertical search engines and RSS alert feeds; moreover, the API is free for non-commercial use.

Is GS feeling competitive heat?  The MLA preview pane lets users export citations in two major formats (BibTex and EndNote).  On April 20, GS added a feature allowing citation export in four formats (Bibtex, EndNote, RefWorks, and Refman).

Here's an oddity.  MLA doesn't work for me in the Microsoft browser (on a machine running Windows XP).  When I run a search, I get a blank page every time.  I talked to someone at Microsoft about the problem who recommended that I try Firefox instead.  No joke, and of course it worked perfectly.  I won't name the Microsofty to avoid getting him in trouble. 

Disclosure:  I was one of many people MS consulted about academic search, starting last November.

Microsoft Live Academic (MLA)

Microsoft Live Academic blog

Microsoft press releasing announcing the launch, April 11, 2006.

Here are some of the early reviews and news stories.

Elsa Wenzel, Google Scholar beta, ZDNet, May 2, 2006.  A comparison of Google Scholar and Microsoft Live Academic Search.

Doug Payne, Microsoft launches Google Scholar rival, TheScientist, April 25, 2006.

Sarah Weinman, Open access to all: publishers quake in boots, GalleyCat, April 20, 2006.

Fred Stutzman, The Coming Academic Search War, Unit Structures, April 20, 2006.

On April 20, Google Scholar announced a series of new features. 

Barbara Quint, Microsoft Offers Alternative to Google Scholar: Windows Live Academic Search, Information Today Newsbreaks, April 17, 2006.

Barbara Quint, Windows Live Academic Search: The Details, Information Today Newsbreaks, April 17, 2006.

John Blossom, Microsoft's Windows Live Academic Joins Search for Scholarly Publishing Content, Shore ContentBlogger, April 14, 2006.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., A Simple Search Hit Comparison for Google Scholar, OAIster, and Windows Live Academic Search, Digital Koans, April 13, 2006.

John Blossom, Microsoft's Windows Live Academic Joins Search for Scholarly Publishing Content, Shore Communications ContenteBlogger, April 13, 2006.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. Windows Live Academic Search Is Up,  Digital Koans, April 12, 2006.

Chris Sherman, Microsoft Launches Windows Live Academic Search, Search Engine Watch, April 12, 2006.

Ed Pentz, the Executive Director of CrossRef, sent a memo to the CrossRef members on April 12 describing how 10 CrossRef member publishers were helping Microsoft set terms for publisher participation in MAS and providing full-text for indexing.  CrossRef itself is providing DOIs and metadata.

Scott Carlson, Challenging Google, Microsoft Unveils a Search Tool for Online Scholarly Articles, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 12, 2006.

Gary Price, Microsoft Launches Academic Search Beta, ResourceShelf, April 12, 2006.

Dean Giustini, "Academic Search" and Librarians in the new information economy, UBC Google Scholar Blog.Folio, April 11, 2006.

Ben Charny, Microsoft Graduates Its Scholarly Search Engine, Google Watch, April 11, 2006.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Microsoft Academic Search, DigitalKoans, April 10, 2006.

Dean Giustini, Critiquing Microsoft Life Academic Search, UBC Academic Search - Google Scholar Blog, April 9, 2006.

Gary Price, Look for the Release of Microsoft Live Academic Search This Tuesday, ResourceShelf, April 9, 2006.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Microsoft readies search services to rival Google, IDG News Service, April 7, 2006.

Chris, Windows Live Search goes Academic, Live Side, March 31, 2006.

* The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is developing an OA policy.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is developing an OA policy for peer-reviewed articles based on CIHR-funded research.  At the same time it will develop an OA policy for physical specimens and structured data.  The CIHR is the largest public agency funding medical research in Canada.

Send your comments to the CIHR by May 15, 2006.

Take the CIHR's online survey by May 15, 2006.

The CIHR won't be the first Canadian government agency with an OA policy, but it will be the largest.  The first Canadian research funder to endorse OA was the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, October 2004, and the first Canadian research funder to launch its own OA repository and encourage OA for the research it funds was the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), December 23, 2005.

* Elias Zerhouni admits that NIH may need an OA mandate.

On April 4, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni testified before the NIH-appropriating subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.  Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) pointed out the low compliance rate for the NIH public-access policy and asked what we could do to improve it.  According to an observer present for the testimony, Zerhouni responded that "it seems the voluntary policy is just not enough" and that he will have to review the recommendations of the NLM Board of Regents.  Those recommendations, of course, included a shift from a request to a mandate.  At the same time, however, Zerhouni said the 6 to 12 month embargo is "a different issue" and affects the economic viability of publishing and peer review.  He called the 6-12 month period "the sweet spot" and said "I don't think we should do anything at the expense of peer review."

There are two nuggets of good news here.  First, Zerhouni thinks a mandate may be necessary and, contrary to appearances, even easier to adopt than a shorter embargo.  Second, there's good evidence that the "sweet spot" for biomedical journals is considerably shorter than six months, giving us a fair chance to answer his doubts.

Janet Coleman, NIH Public Access Embargo Period: Where is the "Sweet Spot"? Research Policy Alert, April 18, 2006.

Susan R. Morrissey, NIH Panel Reaffirms Public-Access Policy, Chemical and Engineering News, April 14, 2006.

Janet Coleman, NIH Public Access Discussions with Publishers Proceeding, but Obstacles Remain, Research Policy Alert, April 13, 2006.

Key Advisory Group Reaffirms That Nih Public Access Policy Should Be 6 Months And Mandatory, a press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), April 13, 2006.

* The RCUK gives two clues to its recent thinking.

The RCUK dropped two clues in April to its recent thinking about its draft OA policy.

On April 24, it released a report, Science in Society Strategy, outlining its strategic aims for the near future.  The fourth aim is to "[i]ncrease public awareness of...Research Council funded research" and to do so "by working in partnership with expert deliverers such as...regional science centres to ensure that the public have open access to the outcomes of Research Councils' investment in world-leading research."  That looks positive for OA.

Two days later, however, the RCUK announced that it was undertaking a study of journal publishing with the RIN (Research Information Network) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry).  It did not say that it would delay the final draft of its OA policy until the study was complete and digested, but we know that publisher lobbyists and minority voices within the RCUK itself have been calling for delay.  It appears that the voices calling for delay have prevailed.  The problem is not that a study might uncover evidence harmful to the case for OA.  On the contrary, the problem is that the so many studies have been done already, supporting the case for OA, that this new one looks like nothing more than a pretext for delay.   Remember that the RCUK's draft OA policy is already based on extensive fact-finding from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and summarized in its lengthy report, Scientific Publications: Free For All?  The only relevant evidence not yet unearthed by previous studies is on the consequences of high-volume OA archiving for journal subscriptions --outside physics, where we already know that high-volume OA archiving is either harmless or helpful to journal subscriptions. But we cannot gather evidence on this question until we stimulate high-volume OA archiving in a field other than physics, e.g. by adopting something like the RCUK's draft OA policy.  Hence, insofar as the new study really does delay the implementation of the RCUK policy, then it proceeds in the absence of the only empirical evidence that now matters.  My recommendation:  adopt the policy now, monitor the effects, and be prepared to amend as needed.

* Biodiversity conference calls for OA to biodiversity data.

The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Curtiba, Brazil, March 20-31, 2006) adopted a statement endorsing OA for biodiversity data.  From the statement:

The COP [Conference of the Parties] invites parties and other governments, as appropriate, to provide free and open access to all past, present, and future public-good research results, assessments, maps and databases on biodiversity, in accordance with national and international legislation.  It also requests parties, and invites other governments and donors, to continue providing financial and technical support to develop national and regional CHMs [Clearing House Mechanisms].

Conference of the Parties - COP Background and Status (including 104 documents from the COP 8 Curtiba meeting)

Mike Shanahan and Luisa Massarani, PanAfrica: 'Breakthrough' Reached On Access to Biodiversity Data, SciDev.Net, April 7, 2006.

Donat Agosti, Decision on open access at the 8th COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity, April 4, 2006.

Report Of The Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group On Access And Benefit-Sharing On The Work Of Its Fourth Meeting, Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Eighth meeting, Curitiba, Brazil, 20-31 March 2006.  Items 9 and 17 of the provisional agenda.

* Business leaders endorse OA to publicly-funded research

The pro-business Committee for Economic Development (CED) issued a report supporting the NIH policy and calling for it to be strengthened and extended to other federal funding agencies.  The report was prepared by CED's Digital Connections Council (DCC), chaired by Paul Horn, Senior VP for Research at IBM.  From the report:

In order to foster open innovation, the Council recommends not only that the NIH should continue their efforts to expand the dissemination of the research they support, but also that other federally funded, unclassified research should be made broadly available. Consistent with the position it has taken in its earlier reports, the Council recommends that any legislation or regulation regarding intellectual property rights be weighed with a presumption against the granting of new rights. The burden of proof should be on proponents of new rights to demonstrate with rigorous analysis the necessity of such an extension, because of the benefits to society of further innovation through greater access to technology. Finally, the Council suggests that the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund research into alternative compensation methods, similar to those created to facilitate the growth of radio, to reward creators of digital information products and accommodate the changes brought about by the digitization and growth of the Internet.

The Committee for Economic Development has issued a new report, Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation: Harnessing the Benefits of Openness, April 2006.

CED press release, April 17, 2006

Committee for Economic Development home page

* Eprints and DSpace add buttons for email eprints.

This is a useful innovation that neutralizes most of the ordinary disadvantage of "dark" (non-OA) deposits in OA repositories.  The major repository software packages have  long since been able to give dark deposits visible, OA metadata.  Now Eprints and DSpace can also remove most of the barriers to email access as well. Users who find an article by virtue of its metadata, say, in a search engine, can request a copy of the text by email almost as easily as clicking to open an OA file. If the author consents to share the file, then she can do so with another simple click at her end. Streamlined email access is not as good as open online repository access, but it's much better than cumbersome email access. Basically, this feature makes it easier for everyone to live with dark deposits, which we want to do whenever we have to live with embargoes on OA.  As Stevan Harnad has been arguing for some time, this innovation lets funders and universities mandate immediate dark deposits in OA repositories, which publishers should not oppose, and merely encourage rather than require the eventual switch-over to OA.

The feature for Eprints

The feature for DSpace


Coming up later this month

Here are some important OA-related events coming up in May.

* May 15, 2006.  Comments due on the plan by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to develop an OA policy for CIHR-funded research.

*  Sometime in May.  PLoS Clinical Trials officially launches.  Some preview articles are already online.

* June 1, 2006.  Comments due on the EC's report on scientific publication markets in Europe, recommending a "guarantee" for OA to publicly-funded research.  Send comments to <rtd-scientific-publication [at] cec.eu.int>.  For the report itself see the following.

* Notable conferences this month

VTLS International Users' Group Meeting
Chattanooga, May 3-5, 2006

American Institute of Physics' Convocation of Society Editors and Symposium on the History and Future of Society Journals (OA is among the topics)
[no web site yet}
College Park, Maryland, May 4, 2006

Mile High Views: Surveying the Serials Vista (21st Annual NASIG Conference) (OA is among the topics)
Denver, May 4-7, 2006

Fedora Content Model Workshop
Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany, May 5, 2006

Open Access and Information Management: International Workshop (sponsored by the Information Management Committee, NATO Research & Technology Organisation)
Oslo, May 10, 2006

Enabling Interaction and Quality: 8th International Conference on Current Research Information Systems
Bergen, Norway. May 11-13, 2006

Archive Ouverte, Libre Access: Quelle Mise en Place?
Champs-sur-Marne, May 12, 2006

L'information scientifique : les impacts du libre accès (ACFAS 2006)
Montreal, May 15, 2006

Openness: Code, science and content: Making collaborative creativity sustainable (10th First Monday conference) (OA is among the topics)
Chicago, May 15-17, 2006

Le biblioteche per la libertà d'accesso all'informazione
Bologna, May 18-19, 2006

JISC Information Environment and Digital Repositories Workshop (a preconference workshop for WWW2006, below)
Edinburgh, May 22, 2006

Fifteenth International World Wide Web Conference (sponsored by the International World Wide Web Conference Committee)
Edinburgh, May 22-26, 2006

Archiving 2006
Ottawa, May 23-26, 2006

Transforming Academic Practice – The Production of Knowledge as a Public Good (Session U3 at the Annual Meeting at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences) (OA is among the topics)
Toronto, May 30, 2006

Legal Aspects of e-Repositories and e-Collections Conference
Coventry, May 31 - June 1, 2006

* Other OA-related conferences



In my article last month on the new OA policy from Germany's DFG, I tried to list all the national-level OA policies that had gone beyond proposal to adoption and asked readers to let me know if I omitted any.

Thanks to Kimmo Kuusela for reminding me that Finland has a policy encouraging OA to publicly-funded research (March 18, 2005).

I'm especially embarrassed because I blogged the Finnish policy on March 22, 2005.



* I've added 22 new conferences to my 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.


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.

To unsubscribe, send any message to <SPARC-OANews-off@arl.org>.

Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested colleagues.  If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, see the instructions for subscribing at either of the first two sites below.

SPARC home page for the Open Access Newsletter and Open Access Forum

Peter Suber's page of related information, including the newsletter editorial position

Newsletter, archived back issues

Forum, archived postings

Conferences Related to the Open Access Movement

Timeline of the Open Access Movement

Open Access Overview

Open Access News blog

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

Return to the Newsletter archive