Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #157
May 2, 2011
by Peter Suber
Read this issue online
SOAN is published and sponsored by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
Free Offline Access: A Primer on OA' (OA Prime)
In the shorthand definition I like to use, OA literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Most definitional squabbles focus on the fourth clause. Drop it and you have gratis OA. Keep it and you have libre OA.
Here I want to focus on the second clause. Imagine a body of literature that is OA in every respect except that it's offline. It's still digital, free of charge, and allows unrestricted use, but it's on a thumb drive rather than a network. If you had that thumb drive in your pocket or plugged into your machine, you'd have free *offline* access rather than free *online* access to that literature. If OA literature must be online, then this isn't OA. But it's interesting enough to name and discuss in its own right. Let's call it OA Prime (OA').
Here are 10 fairly obvious ways in which OA' is inferior to OA proper.
1. An OA' corpus won't be as current as the OA corpus. You may have many or most of the articles you care to read. But if the collection on your thumb drive was updated last month, then it won't include literature posted last week, yesterday, or this morning. You might be able to update your collection at will. But with OA', the burden is on you, while with OA proper the burden is distributed among all the providers with something to provide.
2. OA' won't give you all the benefits of dynamic works like wikis, blogs, discussion forums, tag libraries, RSS feeds, articles with comment sections, and many OA textbooks. Either you won't know whether you're reading the latest version or you will know that you're not.
3. Search will be limited to what's in your offline collection. You won't be able to search other offline collections until you get your hands on them. Likewise, if you have many thumb drives, you might have to run many separate searches to find what you already have. OA' literature is less visible than OA literature, even to those who who already have copies of what they want to search.
We could solve this problem by indexing offline collections. We could share the offline indices as widely as possible. We could even put them online for online search. The hitch is that while you could find what you wanted, you couldn't immediately read what you found. OA' literature less retrievable than OA literature.
Notice that the second case creates the interesting twist of providing OA metadata for OA' literature. We'd treat offline digital objects --collections of literature-- the same way we now treat offline analog objects, like archaeological or biological specimens. They would need an online digital representation or metadata simulacrum in order to be made searchable by people who don't have local access.
4. To keep two or machines in synch, or two or more people, someone must physically carry a physical object from one to the other. We'd give up the considerable benefits of automation and the speed of light and return to effort and sneakernet.
5. Collaboration will be limited to people who share your offline collection. In an email conversation with a colleague about a new article, you couldn't just send a URL and assume that your colleague would be able to click through to the text. In that respect OA' would be like TA. You could attach the article to your email, but that would move at least one step from OA' back to OA itself. OA proper carries the significant benefit that all users with internet connections have real-time access to the same literature, but OA' does not. Hence, OA proper supports more effective alerts, sharing, discussion, and collaboration.
6. Variation: You could only mash up OA' resources if you could pull them together on the same physical device or machine. For example, OA articles in PubMed Central link to relevant parts of other OA databases hosted by NIH. If PMC and those databases were separate OA' collections, this kind of cross-referencing, interlinking, or mashing up would not be possible. For the same reason, the firewalls between OA' collections would inhibit creative thinking about mashups and the synergies of connecting what we already have.
7. If you need something on someone else's thumb drive, you must find the person and negotiate. The info may be OA' for that person. But even if the drive belongs to a friend, your friend may be out of town or busy. Then there are all those non-friends. Content that is OA' for people possessing copies may carry a price for everyone else, or by chance just for an unlucky subset including you. You won't even know until you hunt down a possessor, shake hands, and start talking.
(Digression: I see the point of building the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. I do. I'm glad it exists and I'm glad it's just 800 miles from the north pole. But in a post-apocalyptic world when my neighbors and I need seeds for crops that will grow in our latitude, how do we get to Svalbard? And would the vault give seeds to any road warrior who shows up?)
8. Most usage metrics will become obsolete. What we now call downloads will be mere "reads", and no online turnstile or panopitcon will be able to count them. Individual thumb drives could carry software to count local reads, but each tally would be a vast undercount of total usage. Even if the tallies could be aggregated, the uncertainty of aggregating them all (or the certainty of not aggregating them all) would make the totals inaccurate and nearly useless.
9. OA' literature could be modified in desirable or undesirable ways, more or less ad lib. Plagiarists could reprint your articles under their names, and you might never know it. Incompetents and mischief-makers could modify an essay of yours to add to subtract the word "not", and you might never know it. The mangled copies could circulate for indefinitely long times to indefinitely large populations without competition from correct copies. OA proper allows authors to post correct copies accessible to anyone making an effort to find them.
This disadvantage has a flip side that counts as an advantage, at least when it's lawful. You could reprint a PDF-only article in HTML, XML, EPUB, or any other useful format. You could make all texts usable by read-aloud software for the visually impaired. You could translate a text into another language. Users could enjoy the benefits of fair use and escape its intimidating vagueness. Currently this vagueness chills many legitimate exercises of fair use, and in practice makes fair use inseparable from fear of liability and pressure to err on the side of nonuse or pressure to seek permission. OA' could remove the chill.
The same minus and plus could be extended to collections. One OA' collection on biology could underplay or even deny evolution and go uncorrected for its possessors for arbitrarily long. Another OA' collection on biology could focus on the science, omit religion, and go unassailed by creationists for arbitrarily long.
10. You might leave your thumb drive at home when going to work. You might lose it completely. You might drop it in the garbage disposal. Your dog might eat it.
Nothing on this list should be surprising. Think of it as a subset of the reasons why we love the internet and why we've been working for OA proper all these years.
However, it only takes a moment to see that OA' has some strengths of its own. Some may even be surprising. Here are 10 advantages to match the 10 disadvantages above.
1. You won't always have stable or adequate connectivity. You may be in an undeveloped region of the world or an underdeveloped region of the developed world. Offline access can be your deliverance.
Since 2000, WiderNet and the eGranary Digital Library have been delivering OA' on CDs and other physical media to bandwidth-poor parts of the world where OA itself would be impractical or useless.
eGranary is far from obsolete or out of business. It recently delivered 2 TB of OA' literature and software to institutions in Zambia, and installed an OA' library in Liberia running on a 12 volt battery.
2. You won't always have connectivity at all. You may be traveling on a 20th century plane, train, or bus. You may be unable to find a wifi connection, free of charge, in a quiet place, right now. Your ISP tower may be taken down by an ice storm. Your power plant may be shorted out by a tsunami. You may have exceeded your three strikes and been exiled from cyberspace.
Survivalists are already putting important information on CDs for offline access in case a global catastrophe brings down the net.
You may think survivalists are kooks. (All right, some of them are kooks.) But this project could be called offline preservation rather than survivalism. (Are librarians kooks?) Offline preservationists are taking out an insurance policy that covers us all. And there's nothing kooky about planning for a power-plant explosion, oil shortage, brownout, virus, cyberwar, ice storm, or tsunami.
Even today, even in good weather, even on the connected side of the digital divide, not everybody who wants connectivity has connectivity. Think about the public libraries in affluent countries providing internet access to patrons who don't have it elsewhere.
Likewise, there's nothing kooky about planning for censorship from your government, ISP, or employer. (More in #5 below.)
3. You won't always want connectivity. Think about when you go offline precisely to be unavailable. Or when you want no distractions or interruptions but still want to read. Or when skynet wants to pass your coordinates to a cyborg.
4. OA' literature is more secure. Lots of copies keep stuff safe. Of course the LOCKSS advantage also applies online. But there are two points to make here. First, the LOCKSS advantage will reappear offline, since any useful digital file will beget copies. Second, lots of offline copies keep stuff safer than lots of online copies, even if it's harder to find a copy when you need one.
If an OA provider runs out of funding as the result of a recession (NCBI's Sequence Read Archive, Austria's thesis repository) or lobbying (PubScience certainly, PubChem nearly), the same fate needn't befall OA'. On the contrary, OA' is insurance against that kind of defunding. Defunded OA literature can circulate as OA' literature until it can be uploaded again as OA. Even then it can continue as OA' to protect against future budget crises, defunding campaigns, or interruptions of service.
5. Sneakernet may be slower and more cumbersome than online networks, but it allows users to read, copy, and redistribute digital files without leaving digital fingerprints. It allows anonymous inquiry. (Remember print libraries?)
There's a corollary that I won't call an advantage, but I'll list it here for those who would: If your thumb drive includes copyrighted works without permission, your use of them will be undetectable and your swaps with others will be undetectable. Your offline P2P network will be slower than its online counterparts but less visible to tracking and less subject to takedown. If OA' takes the chill off fair use, it also takes the chill off outright infringement. Users would always have libre OA (that is, libre OA'), if not in law then in practice.
A related corollary counts as a compelling advantage: Swapping thumb drives of OA' literature bypasses censors and surveillance in oppressive countries.
6. OA' circulates less widely than OA proper, but in some circumstances this is an advantage. Authors wouldn't deliberately limit the circulation of their work this way unless they were targeting an underground audience. But some authors target an underground audience. New work that goes straight to OA', like movies going straight to video, would bypasses network-wide access (OA or TA) and be visible only to the intersecting circles of readers who swap physical devices. If Wikileaks circulated this way, it could reach the major newspapers and other media megaphones before it reached authorities who might want to interfere. (Wikileaks had its own methods for accomplishing the same end.) When I was in school, there was a movement of underground poetry that used the print equivalent of this deliberately limited circulation, even when wider forms of circulation were available. For authors with the standard hope of wide circuluation, this aspect of OA' needn't be a disadvantage; they only have to make their new work OA proper at roughly the same time they make it OA'.
7. Every new increment of OA literature can become a new increment of OA' literature. All we need is the connect-time and physical memory for a download. All our work for OA does double duty as work for OA'. The cost of shifting from OA to OA' will always be small compared to the cost of OA itself. Even at scale when the download costs are non-trivial (more below), we can have OA and OA' for close to the price of OA alone. If we're already committed to delivering OA, then OA' is almost a freebie we can put to use at will.
8. OA' literature can be certified free of viruses and malware. It isn't safe by default, but it can be made safe and kept safe. Once clean, OA' literature, data, and software can be kept in virtual quarantine, and read only by machines which themselves never communicate online. It can be both a cause and effect of safe computing.
Similarly, OA' can be free of DRM. It isn't free of DRM by default, but once freed it can be kept free.
9. A study at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center found that medical residents with a thumb drive of links to "landmark scientific articles related to the subspecialties of internal medicine" read more of the articles than residents without the thumb drive. "90% agreed or strongly agreed that the USB syllabus stimulated them to read more primary literature. When asked whether the USB syllabus helped them to take better care of patients, 88% agreed or strongly agreed....Self-reported original articles read by housestaff increased from 3.4 per month at baseline to 4.5 per month by the end of the nine-month study period....45% increased their self-reported reading of original medical papers by more than three articles per month...." For copyright reasons, the investigators couldn't pre-load the thumb drives with the full-text articles. But once connected, users could download full-texts and read them offline.
If offline links can improve reading and research when users must first connect, click through, and download, then it seems that offline full-texts would trigger at least the same level of improvement.
10. Text and data-mining are faster on OA' files than OA files. Your processor and software have faster access to offline files than online files. This is why we already convert OA files to OA' files for large-scale processing even when we have access to fast networks.
For years BioMed Central has allowed users to download its entire corpus of peer-reviewed OA articles for offline use, such as text-mining. It knows that OA is not enough. For serious text-mining of a large corpus, users need file-access speeds only possible offline.
The downloadable BMC corpus not only acknowledges that OA' is superior to OA for intensive user processing, but that OA easily converts to OA'. I put this OA' advantage right up there with evading surveillance and censorship .
Because we can have OA' essentially at will, once we have OA, we needn't weigh up their strengths and weaknesses as if we had to choose just one form of free access. There are already serious, research-driven OA' projects, from eGranary to the BMC downloadable corpus. It's easy to predict that these projects will only grow, and will appeal to users in every niche where the strengths of OA' outweigh the weaknesses.
OA' isn't for everyone. On the contrary, for most people most of the time, OA will be far more useful. But when we need OA', it won't take much more effort than we've already given to OA, and we won't have to choose between them until we have an end use in mind.
Systematic OA' might have no business model and depend entirely on motivated volunteerism. Or a given project might be kickstarted with a grant and then spread virally. Or it might generate revenue with an efficient update service. It might supplement the update service with a Netflix-style delivery and swapping service. The update and delivery service could be Netflix-style in old postal form or in the new online streaming form.
Something like this is inevitable, driven in part by the advantages of OA' and in part by the steadily shrinking size and cost of memory. You can already carry your favorite 10,000 songs in your pocket. Before long you'll be able to carry your field's canonical literature in your pocket, or the canon plus the additions suggested by your 10,000 closest friends.
Consider BioMed Central's downloadable corpus again. When I checked last week, it consisted of 90,912 articles and the downloadable zip file was 1.7 GB.
Let's play with some numbers. By a common industry estimate, peer-reviewed scholarly journals publish 1.5 million new articles every year. If we assume that the average article is the same size as the average BMC article, then a zipped version of those 1.5 million articles would only require 28 GB. Amazon sells 32 GB thumb drives for about $50.
(BTW, the survivalists I mentioned above originally needed 4 CDs for their 13 GB of data. Today they could put it all on one smallish thumb drive.)
Amazon also sells 128 GB thumb drives for about $250. One of those would hold 1,499,994 zipped research articles. Let's round that off to 1.5 million. That's the total annual world output of peer-reviewed research literature in your pocket, and offline, for the cost of 3-5 hardback books.
Last month Sony released a 1 TB memory card "about the size of an iPhone". It's designed for video cameras, but could be your personal mirror of all the literature you might ever want to read or mine.
The new Sony card would hold more than 35 years' worth of the whole planet's journal literature. Actually it would hold much more, since the annual volume from years past is smaller than the annual volume today. But let's be conservative and ignore that.
If we assume that the literature in your field is only 5% of the total, a high estimate even for polymaths, and if you could download just the literature in your field, then you'd only need 1.4 GB to hold one year's worth. A 1 TB memory card could hold more than 700 years' worth of that literature.
If you don't know what to do with all that extra memory, you could unzip the files to speed up processing. Or you could supplement the journal literature with book literature. Or you could throw in your favorite 10,000 songs so that you don't have to carry two memory hoards.
And how long will it before you can put a 10 TB or 100 TB of solid-state memory in your pocket? Or as Geoffrey Nunberg put it last year, how long before you can fit everything ever written into your eyeglass frames?
You get the idea. Even today we have the technology, if not the permissions, for you to carry your field's research literature in your pocket. If you want multidisciplinary search and access, you could also carry all the literature from the neighboring half-dozen fields. With periodic updates you could top it off with recent articles, comments, and revisions.
If you're a researcher and could have this for essentially the cost of the thumb drive, would you want one? If you're library, would you want a set for lending and a set for the vault?
Is it starting to sound useful yet? Of course I'm neglecting the step of actually downloading all that literature when most of it is not OA. We don't have to imagine that the value of OA' depends on violating copyrights. We only have to recognize that the value of OA' rises as more literature becomes libre OA and free for downloading and reuse without infringement.
Properly conceived, an OA' collection isn't a pirated version of TA literature, but an offline version of OA literature. In that sense, permissions are not a problem. Instead, the problem shifts to the actual downloading. If you want just a field-specific selection, then we should add the selection problem to the download problem. These problems are non-trivial but solvable.
Consider the analogous problem of providing OA to work in the public domain. Permissions are not a problem there either. But for work that is in print and offline, the job of digitizing, uploading, and hosting is non-trivial. Around the world we're pouring enormous energy and money into those jobs.
Selecting and downloading OA literature into useful OA' collections is a smaller problem. It's solvable and worth solving. We could solve it in small versions today, at will, each in our own way, and work up to larger and larger solutions collaboratively. When will that start?
* Postscript. I started thinking these thoughts when two streams of rumination converged. I worry about reliable connectivity, and I marvel that the 8 GB memory card in my phone is about as big as my fingernail. I live in rural village of 900 people on the coast of Maine. Like most people who live here, I consider its beauty and undeveloped character part of its deep appeal, even if I'm often reminded of the trade-offs. Compared to the more developed world, there may be no noise, pollution, crime, or billboards. But broadband is scarce, and even stable dialup connections are scarce. We're within driving distance of every modern convenience, but driving distance from connectivity isn't really connectivity. Service isn't missing here, just uneven. Some neighbors have good broadband. It all depends on what hilltop you can see from your roof, or how close you live to a cable laid to serve larger populations elsewhere. The best connection I can buy is slow every day and down in bad weather. I spend about a week every month traveling to more developed parts of the world where connectivity is fast and trouble-free. If you live in one of those areas, you may not worry about connectivity, let alone apocalypse or skynet. (You may even think yourselves lucky, but you probably don't get to watch a blue heron fishing on the shoreline of a mirror-smooth estuary while you drink your morning coffee.) However, the surprising strengths of OA' don't appeal only to the disconnected. You may worry about surveillance, censorship, or text-mining.
For the work I do, and from the place where I do it, occasional and unpredictable lack of connectivity is a bigger problem than occasional and unpredictable lack of OA to the pieces I want to read. If a service would deliver me an updated, intelligently compiled, multi-GB thumbdrive every morning, like a print newspaper, with even 50% of the resources I'm likely to need that day, and if I could afford it, I'd pay for it. Or if I could make a one-time purchase of a thumb drive with all the literature in my field up to, say, 2010, with or without an update service, and if I could afford it, I'd pay for it.
Five years ago in SOAN
See SOAN for May 2, 2006
* The lead essay in that issue: "Another OA mandate: The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006"
Excerpt: "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 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...are not treating the NIH policy as a precedent but taking every opportunity to improve upon it: going beyond a request to a requirement [at this time the NIH policy was still just a request], 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...."
* From the other top stories in that issue:
EC report calls for OA to publicly-funded research
Excerpt: "The European Commission released its lengthy (108 pp.) and long-awaited report on...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...."
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is developing an OA policy
Excerpt: "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."
Elias Zerhouni admits that NIH may need an OA mandate
Excerpt: "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...."
Business leaders endorse OA to publicly-funded research
Excerpt: "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...."
Eprints and DSpace add buttons for email eprints
Excerpt: "This is a useful innovation that neutralizes most of the ordinary disadvantage of "dark" (non-OA) deposits in OA repositories....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....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...."
Ten years ago in SOAN
Ten years ago, SOAN was called FOSN (Free Online Scholarship Newsletter) and came out several times a month. Here are excerpts from three issues 10 years ago this month.
* See FOSN for April 28, 2001
Excerpt: "As I've noted in earlier issues, _Nature_ is hosting a debate on free online scientific journal literature. If you visited the debate in early April when it began, then you should visit again. On April 26, Steven Harnad posted one of the most important contributions to date. Summarizing much of his earlier work in this movement, Harnad calls for a Self-Archiving Initiative in which scientists put pre-prints on their own institutional web sites, continue to submit to peer-reviewed print journals, and then put post-prints on their own web sites."
Excerpt: "Yale University Press plans to put its books online for readers to read free of charge. Readers may conduct full-text searches without paying, but will have to pay if they wish to copy or print anything. The online texts will be managed by ebrary.com....In March ebrary announced a similar agreement with Cambridge University Press and Palgrave. It has previously announced agreements with Amsterdam University Press and Taylor and Francis....Random House, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill have investments in ebrary. Are these for-profit academic print publishers just hedging their bets? Or have they discovered, as National Academy Press has, that inspiring hardcopy purchases through free online browsing will do more to sustain their current business models than to undermine them?"
* See FOSN for May 7, 2001
Excerpt: "Amazon has new service called the honor system. One use for it is to support online publications that can't survive on ad revenue and can't persuade enough readers to pay subscription fees. The online publication puts an Amazon honor system icon on its page. Users with means and good will click on it, go to an Amazon page describing the service, enter the amount of their donation, and click to transfer funds from their credit cards to the publication. Amazon has 29 million customers with credit card information stored in its computers....I don't know of any online academic journals using Amazon's honor system. If you do, let me know about them and I'll try to interview the editors to see how it's working."
Excerpt: "_Editor and Publisher_ is an 117 year old print magazine covering the North American newspaper industry. Its May 1 issue reports on a survey showing that free online news does not diminish revenues for print newspapers, but on the contrary tends to stimulate sales...."
* See FOSN for May 11, 2001
Excerpt: "Suppose the editors of print journal are unhappy with their for-profit publisher and the exorbitant price it charges subscribers. What can they do about it? They can try to negotiate, but if the publisher owns the journal title and copyright, then it may refuse to budge. How about walking away? Imagine all the members of editorial board resigning from their jobs and forming a new journal with the same mission and a different title....This is what happened in November 1999 with the _Journal of Logic Programming_. After 16 months of fruitless negotiation with its publisher, Elsevier Science, the entire 50-person editorial board resigned and created a new journal, _Theory and Practice of Logic Programming_ (TPLP), published by Cambridge University Press at 60% of the price of the Elsevier journal. TPLP will appear both in print and on the web. One hitch was that the original journal was the official publication of the Association for Logic Programming (ALP). This problem was elegantly solved when the ALP simply dropped the old journal and adopted the new one. To gain leverage during the negotiations, Maurice Bruynooghe resigned as editor-in-chief and the ALP refused to name a successor unless Elsevier lowered the subscription price. Elsevier refused to lower the price and offered the editor's job to other members of the editorial board. Board members maintained solidarity and rejected the offers. The final obstacle was getting the new journal into a critical number of research libraries. Enter SPARC...[which] made _Theory and Practice of Logic Programming_ a partner on April 30...."
In the April issue, I attributed a study by Gale Moore to "Richard Gale". I regret the error can't even guess where "Richard" came from.
Here's what happened, or what I noticed, since the last issue of the newsletter, emphasizing action and policy over scholarship and opinion. I put the most important items first, with double asterisks, and otherwise cluster them loosely by topic. I thank Katharine Dunn for her assistance in restating some of these developments for Roundup.
For a more comprehensive picture of recent OA developments, see --and help build-- the project feed of the OA Tracking Project.
Remember that, starting last month, the Roundup section will contain more quotations and fewer restatements. When I can find clear and concise quotations that tell the gist of the story, I'll use them to save time and minimize inaccuracy.
** Lafayette College adopted an OA policy. "Each faculty member grants to Lafayette College permission to make available his or her scholarly articles in the College's institutional repository as allowed by copyright agreements....The Provost or the Provost’s designate will waive application of the resolution for a particular article or for all articles by a particular author upon written request by a faculty member...."
* The University Senate at the University of Maryland created a task force to draft an OA policy. (PS: This comes two years after Maryland's faculty voted down an OA policy; see my SOAN article at the time, <http://goo.gl/MHHtI>.)
* The University of Pennsylvania Faculty Senate Executive Committee (SEC) hear an update from Senior Vice Provost for Research Steve Fluharty on the university's draft Statement of Principles for Scholarly Articles. "Dr. Fluharty stated that Penn started looking at Open Access in the fall of 2008 and charged a committee to recommend guidelines in fall of 2009. He reported that the Open Access committee developed a draft policy in the spring of 2010 and solicited feedback from all 12 schools this past academic year. He explained that the Open Access committee preferred a Statement of Principles rather than a policy; to advocate and promote this as a voluntary program to disseminate research and scholarship as widely as possible. He reviewed the Open Access committee recommendations: participating faculty would grant Penn nonexclusive permission to make publicly available scholarly articles for open dissemination; faculty will provide a digital copy of the final version of the scholarly article to the Penn Libraries no later than the date of publication; Penn Libraries will deposit in Penn Scholarly Commons and/or similar open access repositories; faculty may request an embargo period not to exceed 12 months; the Open Access program is voluntary and faculty participation will be monitored and the guidelines reviewed periodically. Dr. Fluharty reported that the University is willing to put resources into this program once the guidelines are adopted. SEC members had a robust discussion on the ambiguous wording in the draft Statement of Principles for Scholarly Articles document....SEC members unanimously agreed that a vote of support for the draft Statement of Principles be tabled until the May SEC meeting to allow time to make wording changes to the document to ensure that the language is clear and encourages participation."
* The final report of Denmark's Open Access Committee made 16 recommendations. "[A]s far as possible there should be Open Access to the results of publicly funded research via green Open Access....This parallel publishing could be put into practice with a limited deferred period, during which the articles would solely be accessible in the journals....Recommendation 1. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation establishes an Open Access policy....Recommendation 2. Research councils and foundations establish Open Access policies....Recommendation 3. Universities and other research institutions implement and promote Open Access policies....Recommendation 8. Danish scientific publishers and scientific associations prepare discussion paper on scientific monographs' transition to Open Access.... Recommendation 15. National planning of open access to and long-term preservation of primary research data...."
* The Green Party of England & Wales issued a statement in support of OA: "We support the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, and will strongly encourage results from publicly funded research to be published in Open Access journals where appropriate. Subsidies will be given towards any extra publishing costs."
* The new coalition agreement between Germany's Green Party and Social Democratic Party endorses OA. From Google's English: "[W]e want to establish maximum transparency and universal access to scientific data. For this we will develop together with the universities and university libraries in the country is an open-access strategy. We examine how the principle can be implemented, all publicly funded and free of all make the country commissioned research to the public...."
* The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) released a major statement on OA. "IFLA will work with global organizations and fora such as UN, UNESCO, WHO, WIPO, WSIS and others in promoting and advocating open access to publicly funded research, educational resources and cultural heritage....IFLA will establish partnerships with and provide support to organizations, programmes, initiatives and services that are promoting of Open Access, such as SPARC (US/Europe/Japan), COAR, OASPA, Bioline International & DOAJ, among others....Open access is a central pillar of IFLA's Strategic Plan 2010-2015....IFLA will advise its member associations in regard to:  promoting open access in national policies;  stimulating library members to promote open access in their communities and to implement measures to enlarge the impact of open access;  enriching the local and national information infrastructure in order to stimulate open access;  assistance in the work for national policies regarding open access to knowledge, as well as to publicly funded research and cultural heritage;  supporting organizations, programmes, initiatives and services that are working for the promotion of open access. Together with partners as SPARC, EIFL and LIBER, IFLA will also provide its member associations with advocacy material and practical guidelines in line with the recommendations....IFLA will develop a transition plan that specifies the steps to be taken to transform IFLA's publications into open access....."
* JISC, the UK Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG), SPARC, SPARC Europe, and the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) released statements opposing publisher attempts (in the language of the SPARC-COAR statement) to "negotiate individually with universities and research institutes, seeking to increase embargo periods for authors depositing pre-prints of their articles into repositories, and requesting embargo periods that go beyond what is already stated in the publishers' own policies. We strongly urge institutions not to enter into individual agreements with publishers that supersede the existing policies of the publisher or any previous licensing agreements. We also call on the publishers not to further hinder the deposit -and accessibility- of pre-prints with additional restrictions, regulations and policies....We...[speak] out against this and any other practice that result in a lengthening of delays for accessing articles in repositories, and urge other organizations concerned with ensuring timely access to scholarly articles to do the same...."
* The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) released a statement opposing the growing practice of universities trying to negotiate OA deposit rights in institutional repositories at the same time they negotiate site licenses for subscription journals. "STM publishers are of the view that content license negotiations deal appropriately with questions about the scope of content that will be accessible for each institutional subscriber as well as the scope of usage rights and relative costs for such accessibility and rights. These negotiations are often complex....We hold the view that conflating author rights issues and institutional content licenses serves only to add greater complexity and possible legal uncertainty to such licenses without adding meaningful benefits for authors. The publishing community has a strong track record of responsiveness to authors with respect to scholarly use and re-use and journal publishing agreements generally address, and have addressed for many years, issues about scholarly use and re-use by authors of their own work, including questions about compliance with research funder policies such as the NIH...." (PS: Kevin Smith has a very good comment on the STM statement.)
* The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) added the following to its front page: "STM has adopted the following policy statements on access.... Publishers are committed to wide dissemination and unrestricted access to their content; the services that publishers provide must be paid for in some way.  STM supports any and all models of access that are sustainable, and that ensure the integrity and permanence of the scholarly record on which progress is built.  STM does not support unfunded mandates that constrain scholarly authors or affect the sustainability of the publishing enterprise."
* Portugal's Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal (RCAAP) released an Open Access Policies Kit "to support the formulation and implementation of open access institutions,...based on analysis and adaptation of good practice nationally and internationally...."
* UNESCO is building a Global Open Access Portal (GOAP) designed "to be the first destination for users seeking information on OA."
* Three months after posting it, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) took down its policy on disclosing clinical drug trial data. CIHR's explanation that the policy was superseded by a general policy on the ethics of research on human subjects is not persuading many critics and observers.
* A recent article in the Dalhousie University student paper listed ways in which the university libraries are working for OA. "This spring, the Libraries put forward a proposal to establish an Open Access Author Fund at Dalhousie, which would defray or cover article processing fees....Dal Libraries have just become a "supporting member" of these two major ejournal publishers [BioMed Central and SpringerOpen]....Dal Libraries also manage DalSpace, an open access institutional repository that collects, preserves and distributes digital content produced by members of the Dalhousie community...."
* Demand Progress launched a petition calling for an OA mandate at the US National Science Foundation.
* The US Copyright Office sent an open letter to the US Senate Judiciary Committee supporting Judge Denny Chin's rejection of the Google book settlement, and urging Congress to legislate on the policy questions, such as orphan works, that belong more to Congress than the Courts.
* Congress is about to defund and shut down a handful of pioneering federal websites, including data.gov, providing open data from the government. (PS: They are being cut to save money when many of them provide precisely the data needed to make intelligent decisions on how to save money.)
* The Sunlight Foundation sent an open letter to Congress to protect open-data initiatives from fatal budget cuts.
* SCOAP3 moved into its long-awaited implementation phase. "[R]epresentatives from institutions in the global SCOAP3 partnership convened to assess the progress of this Open Access initiative. Large publishers in the field, APS, Elsevier, IOPp, SISSA and Springer,...[announced] their intention to participate in a SCOAP3 tender aiming to convert to Open Access the high-quality peer-reviewed literature in the field, conditional on reassurances concerning the long-term sustainability of SCOAP3. SCOAP3 partners reaffirmed the importance of a mutual understanding with the publishing industry on price reduction of large subscription packages for partner libraries in countries that are part of the initiative. All presentations, transcripts and videos are available on the SCOAP3 web site....The meeting reached consensus to move SCOAP3 towards an operational phase. A first concrete step will be the start of a tendering process, conditional on further countries and partners joining the SCOAP3 consortium. A steering committee, representing the broad cross-section of the SCOAP3 partnership, is being formed to steer the initiative through this and the following phases. A technical working group will assess opportunities for price reduction for partner libraries...." (PS: Also see my SOAN article from last December on how close SCOAP3 came to pulling the plug instead of moving on to the implementation phase, <http://goo.gl/mgape>.)
* Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, endorsed SCOAP3 at a public talk in Geneva, saying that it "will show us a passable way into the future of scientific publishing that others can follow.”
* Biology Open (BiO) is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Company of Biologists. Add it to the list of new journals imitating PLoS ONE. "The journal aims to provide rapid publication for peer reviewed, scientifically sound observations and valid conclusions in these allied fields....By focusing on the timely publication of sound research rather than that with perceived impact or importance, BIOLOGY OPEN is designed to facilitate dialogue and build a valuable body of work supporting the efforts of the research community. The impact of each paper will be decided by the community through usage and discussion. The journal will also consider useful reports of negative results. Authors will be able to submit direct or benefit from our manuscript rapid-transfer system if their original submission was to one of The Company of Biologists' flagship journals, DEVELOPMENT, DISEASE MODELS & MECHANISMS, JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE and THE JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY. Accepted articles will be published immediately online and all articles will be deposited in PubMed Central...."
* Optical Materials Express is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Optical Society (OSA). In addition to OA, "the journal will offer...free color figures, movies, animations, and live reference links. HTML with MathML (XHTML) versions of each article, suitable for viewing on a range of electronic devices, are published along with the formatted PDF...."
* The Journal for Artistic Research a new peer-reviewed OA journal. "The Journal is underpinned by the Research Catalogue (RC), a searchable, documentary database of artistic research work and its exposition, that functions as an inclusive, open-ended, bottom-up research tool supporting the development of the Journal's academic contributions...."
* Translational Psychiatry is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Nature Publishing Group. Authors may choose between CC-BY-NC-SA and CC-BY-NC-ND licenses.
* Sensate ("A Journal for Experiments in Critical Media Practice") is a new peer-reviewed OA journal funded in part by the generous support of the Provostial Funds Committee, Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Harvard University.
* The International Journal of Research in Computer Application & Management is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.
* The International Journal of Research in Commerce, Economics & Management is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.
* International Journal of Advances in Engineering & Technology is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.
* Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics and Information Technology is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.
* Health and Interprofessional Practice is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by Pacific University.
* Anatomy Research International is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from Hindawi.
* The Aswan Heart Centre Science and Practice Series is a new peer-reviewed journal from Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (BQFJ).
* Therapeutic Hypothermia and Temperature Management is a new peer-reviewed hybrid OA journal from Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
* The South African Journal of Communication Disorders (SAJCD) converted to OA after 63 years of TA publication. SAJCD is sponsored by the South African Speech Language and Hearing Association.
* The Emergency Health Threats Forum selected Co-Action Publishing has been selected by "to assume ownership and publication" of its OA journal, Emergency Health Threats Journal (EHT-J).
* Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal converted to OA and changed its name to Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development. It's published by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
* Sixteen pharmacology journals from Adis, a subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer, added hybrid OA options.
* The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association adopted a hybrid option. Articles not published under the OA option will become after a one-year delay. JAMIA is published by BMJ.
* RBM ("A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage") now provides OA to its complete backfile.
* The American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society joined the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).
* Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) launched a new funding program for scholarly journals. The application deadline is June 30.
* EIFL announced two grants to support OA journal publishing in Lithuania and Serbia.
* Edition Open Access is a new OA publishing initiative from Research Library of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. "[T]his initiative...will facilitate rapid publication of scholarly editions of primary Sources, article-length Essays, conference Proceedings and monographs and thematic Studies. Usage rights are in accord with the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities....Convenient access is offered by:  Printed copies at an affordable price (about $25)... Free PDF download...[and 3] Free ePub download...."
* The University of Salamanaca published the Guía de Buenas Prácticas para Revistas Académicas de Acceso Abierto (Guide to Good Practice for Open Access Academic Journals) by Alejandra Rojas and Sandra Rivera. From Google's English: "The purpose of this guide is to support editorial work on an open access journal for compliance and quality standards required by the indexing services both locally and internationally. We have identified for this purpose, major publishing standards and best practices compiled guaranteed to raise your visibility journals and have better chances of being accepted indexes, databases and directories...."
* The US National Library of Medicine issued a public invitation for interested individuals and organizations "to participate in the development of a Recommended Practice that will provide guidance on the presentation and identification of electronic journals, an undertaking of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)....In the fall of 2010, NISO established a working group known as PIE-J, to create a set of best practices to provide guidance to publishers, platform providers, and others involved in the e-journal supply chain regarding the display and presentation of journals online. NISO has created a virtual Interest Group to provide input to the PIE-J Working Group and serve as the sounding board and mechanism for commenting on the early drafts of the proposed best practices...." The invitation is to join that virtual interest group. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/news/e_journals_niso.html
* At the University of North Carolina-Greensboro libraries, a package of 350 OA journals used less often EBSCO's Academic Search Premier "but ahead of comprehensive journal packages for Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, Elsevier, Taylor and Francis, Sage, OUP, CUP, JSTOR, Project Muse, and hundreds more....Here's a little background on how it happened....One of the keys to increasing usage of open-access titles is to make sure that this important group of resources is easily accessible through the library's discovery tools. When [we] created the nation's first link resolver (Journal Finder) in 2000, we quickly realized its potential for promoting free and open-access journals. In the days before DOAJ and similar sites, it was somewhat laborious to track down open-access titles and add them to Journal Finder's knowledge base. But because the product was shared by nearly 50 institutions, it seemed worth the effort....In evaluating the overall usage patterns of Journal Finder users, it is clear that our investment in harvesting open-access titles has paid off...."
* David Solomon found that Elsevier's Operative Techniques in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery charges for access to its masthead and instructions for authors. From Solomon: "Elsevier, Inc is charging 31.50 (USD) each for access not only to the articles, but the masthead, the listing of the editorial board, table of contents, and even the instructions for authors. Thinking this had to be an oversight, I sent the following query to their support page....'I would appreciate knowing if this is an error or you really intend to charge potential authors $31.50 to get a copy of the instructions for authors.' This is what they wrote back: '...Thank you for contacting Elsevier's e-Helpdesk Support. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. ScienceDirect is an online database for institutions, we do not have a way to give complimentary access to users....' "
+ Repositories and databases
* The Qucosa (QUality COntent of SAxony) consortial repository opened up to "all interested authors".
* The Norwegian Open Research Archive (NORA) added five OA repositories to the set it has been harvesting.
* arXiv announced new sources of financial support, new efforts to monitor expenses, a new governance system, new software for display and access, new metadata initiatives, a new method for depositing datasets, and a new project to associate deposited articles with their data.
* UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) reports that the percentage of annual deposits that are libre OA, and not merely gratis OA, rose from 7% in 2001 to 33% in 2009.
* France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) launched Isidore, an OA portal for the humanities and social sciences.
* The Legal Information Institute of India (LII of India) launched in New Delhi and became the 34th member of the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM).
* VifabioDOC (virtuelle Fachbibliothek Biologie) is a new disciplinary repository for biology.
* Klaus Graf compiled a list of disciplinary repositories hosted in German-speaking countries.
* The University of St. Andrews released a summary of its services and practices to support deposits in the institutional repository, including its integration of the IR and the Current Research Information System (CRIS).
* E-LIS, the OA repository for library and information science, migrated from EPrints to DSpace. It's still hosted by CILEA (Consorzio Interuniversitario Lombardo per L’Elaborazione Automatica).
* The Deutsche Initiative für Netzwerkinformation (DINI) released an English translation of the third or 2010 edition of the DINI certificate for scholarly repositories. "The certificate describes technical, organisational and legal aspects that should be considered in the process of setting up and operating a scholarly repository service and puts considerable interest in Open Access....The latest edition of the DINI certificate addresses particularly the following aspects:  The growing importance of the "golden road" to Open Access.  The increased demand for interoperability with comprehensive services.  The growing technical virtualization of Document and Publication Services (hosting of services).  A comprehensive view of the scientific and scholarly research processes...."
* The UK Repositories Support Project released a briefing paper to help DSpace and EPrints repositories in the UK comply with the OpenAIRE guidelines. "The RSP has also developed an add-on for EPrints which has been tested by the community. For DSpace, the RSP points to general guidance produced by FECYT in Spain and an add-on developed by the Portuguese RCAAP projects."
* Les Carr looked at the usage stats for the Southampton ECS repository and found that "[o]nly 0.93% of the browser downloads occur on mobile devices...The use of mobiles that we are seeing for accessing research outputs in repositories is less than 1/4 of the general use of mobile Internet. An obvious reason for that is the unpalatable mixture of PDF pages and small devices, but popular applications like Mekentoshj's Papers and Mendeley for iPhone seem to indicate that an attractive mobile experience should be possible...."
* The International Music Score Library Project, a collection of OA sheet music, "lost its domain name due to a complaint sent by the UK's Music Publishers Association to the site's registrar, GoDaddy. The notice incorrectly claimed that IMSLP's copy of Rachmaninoff's The Bells infringed copyright....GoDaddy then took down all of imslp.org, meaning none of the 37,000+ works available in IMSLP's music library could be accessed at that domain. Even as IMSLP staff scrambled to contest the takedown, users were being directed to domains that were still hosting the IMSLP site and its music library. Other users were posting IMSLP's IP address as well, giving the access to the whole library, including the allegedly infringing piece...."
* BioMed Central and the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) announced a partnership to create the UK Clinical Trials Gateway (UKCTG). "The information will be taken from a variety of national registers that are publicly available, allowing you to search a number of different international trial registries. This means that it can include trials that may be run from other countries but which have part of the study taking place in the UK....One important aspect of the UKCTG is the lay summary where the trials have been translated from high-level medical language into a more friendly version, making the trial information much more accessible for patients, trialists and casual readers alike...."
* Peter A.G. Sandercock and colleagues launched the International Stroke Trial database. "We aimed to make individual patient data from the International Stroke Trial (IST), one of the largest randomised trials ever conducted in acute stroke, available for public use, to facilitate the planning of future trials and to permit additional secondary analyses...."
* "The Medicines Patent Pool, an initiative aiming at increasing access to HIV drugs through voluntary licences of patented drugs,...launched a new database of patent information on HIV medicines. The database was developed with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and national and regional patent offices....The database is the most accessible publicly available patent status information on HIV medicines in developing countries...[and] covers 67 developing countries and 23 HIV medicines...."
* GeoIQ launched GeoIQ Connect, which allows users to view and analyze OA data from multiple sources stored in the cloud. The tool connects both to traditional (MySQL) or non-traditional databases.
* Wall Street Economists launched Economic Predictions, a non-profit OA web site. "The goal of the project is to promote the knowledge, development and accuracy of economic research and financial journalism...."
* "EDINA and the ISSN International Centre...announce[d] the Beta release of PEPRS, the e-journals preservation registry service. This is the product of JISC-funded project activity, and provides freely available means to discover which e-journals are being preserved by the leading archival organisations - highlighting those e-journals for which no arrangement is on record...."
* The Bard College Visual Resources Center launched the Modern Art Iraq Archive (MAIA). "The MAIA project documents works of art from the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad that have been lost, stolen or destroyed during the US invasion of Iraq. Because there is very little surviving documentation on these artworks, MAIA was built as an open access database that allows scholars and other interested individuals to provide information about these lost holdings, as well as help locate their current whereabouts. Images of the works are often presented without titles, dates or artist names...."
* The Data Staging Repository (or DataStaR) is a versatile new data repository under construction at Cornell University. DataStaR "is intended to support collaboration and data sharing among researchers during the research process, and to promote publishing or archiving data and high-quality metadata to discipline-specific data centers and/or institutional repositories. Researchers may store and share data with selected colleagues, select a repository for data publication, create high quality metadata in the formats required by external repositories and Cornell's institutional repository, and obtain help from data librarians with any of these tasks. To facilitate cross-domain interoperability and flexibility in metadata management, [it employs] semantic web technologies...."
* Dustin Lang and David Hogg searched the web and found 2,476 amateur OA photos of Comet 17P/Holmes, the brightest object in the sky for a short time in October 2007. "Lang and Hogg use these images to work out an accurate orbit of Comet 17P/Holmes, a significant achievement given that the data is taken from an ordinary web search and its provenance is entirely unknown...."
* BMC Research Notes and BioSharing released the first version of their "recommendations for domain-specific data file standards, making it easier for researchers to find information about the optimum, interoperable formats for their data...."
* Norway released a draft open data license for public sector information, the Norsk lisens for offentlige data (NLOD).
* Creative Commons released plaintext versions of its core 3.0 (unported) licenses and CC0. "For most works, plaintext legalcode doesn't matter as linking directly to the deeds (say with the copy-paste output you get with the license chooser) is good enough, even ideal. And it's important to note that the XHTML licenses are still the canonical versions. But for some projects plaintext legalcode may be a very good thing. For example, it is traditional practice in free and open source software projects to bundle your licenses along with your project...."
+ Books and digitization
* Indiana University, the University of Illinois, and the HathiTrust launched the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) to develop "cutting-edge software tools and cyberinfrastructure to enable advanced computational access to the growing digital record of human knowledge. [The HTRC] will enable open access for nonprofit and educational users to published works in the public domain (as well as limited access to works under copyright) stored within HathiTrust....The center will break new ground in the areas of text mining and non-consumptive research, allowing scholars to fully utilize content of the HathiTrust Library while preventing intellectual property misuse within the confines of current U.S. copyright law...."
* The HathiTrust released OA copies of a series of OP publications from the Society of American Archivists. "The publications were digitized by Google in its various large-scale conversion partnerships with research universities. SAA authorized HathiTrust to release the publications under a Creative Commons license, making them freely and openly accessible in digital form...."
* The MIT Libraries joined the HathiTrust.
* An Israeli author filed suit again Google Books in an Israeli court, "with a request to recognize it as a class-action lawsuit. The petitioner, Yonatan Brauner, the author of "Things you see from there" (in Hebrew), claims that the project infringes authors' copyright "on the greatest scale in human history". Brauner claims that Google continuously scans, collects, copies, and makes publicly available millions of books, thereby grossly and systematically infringing copyright without first obtaining the authors' consent...."
* France's Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) appointed the Jouve Group to lead a team of partners in digitizing "more than 70,000 works per year, of which around 70% will come from the print collections of the BnF and 30% from the collections of partner libraries....[A]at least 10% of documents will be provided in an ePub version, compatible with mobile e-readers. The documents will enrich Gallica, the BnF’s digital library (gallica.bnf.fr)...."
* Bali may be the first nation to have its entire literature become OA. "With the help of the Internet Archive and Ron Jenkins, a theater professor at Wesleyan University, the Balinese are leading the world as the first culture to have their entire literature go online. The documents are centuries-old lontar palm leaves incised on both sides with a sharp knife and then blackened with soot. As of today 477 lontars have been scanned and uploaded to the Internet Archive...."
* Spain's Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC, National Research Council) launched Libros CSIC, "a new project developed by the CSIC Publication Department...with the aim of facilitating the access to the electronic edition of a selection of our editorial production. Users can browse here the catalog of the CSIC available electronic format, download free eBooks, and buy other titles through our different distribution partners and vendors...."
* JISC and several university partners launched Connected Histories, an OA resource to provide "a single point of access to a wide range of distributed digital resources relating to early modern and nineteenth-century British history...."
* "The University of Michigan Library announced the opening to the public of 2,231 searchable keyed-text editions of books from Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). ECCO is an important research database that includes every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom during the 18th century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas. ECCO contains more than 32 million pages of text and over 205,000 individual volumes, all fully searchable. ECCO is published by Gale, part of Cengage Learning...[which] is permitting the release of the keyed texts in support of the Library's commitment to the creation of open access cultural heritage archives."
* The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and American Heritage Publishing launched the National Portal to Historic Collections, a searchable OA platform for museum collections.
* The BABEL Working Group launched Punctum Books, "a new open-access and print-on-demand book series, directed by Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Nicola Masciandaro (Brooklyn College, CUNY), that aims to promote radically creative modes of writing and inquiry across a whimsical para-humanities-assemblage...."
* The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed publishers who differed in their willingness to accept revised versions of OA dissertations for publication as monographs.
* "TextbookRebellion.org, a national campaign to promote alternatives to sky-high priced college textbooks, launched [in April] with a website and tools for individuals and groups to get involved and organize local rebellions on their campuses. Through an online petition drive, social media and campus events, the Textbook Rebellion aims to raise awareness of the textbook affordability crisis and a growing number of alternatives that relieve students of the perennial problem of spiraling textbook costs. Chief among the new options are open textbooks that are licensed to be free online and affordable in print and digital formats....[Textbook Rebellion is] sponsored by the Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups)...and Flat World Knowledge...."
* The Utah Open Textbooks Project "released the first version of a calculator that provides an interactive way to explore the best case scenario [for using OA textbooks when] you want to provide a printed book to every student....It turns out there are many, many ways to use open textbooks that are actually more expensive than traditional textbooks. We’ve learned several lessons this past year about what contributes to costs, where and how to print...."
* Random House invested in Flat World Knowledge, the world's largest publisher of OA textbooks.
+ Studies and surveys
* A major new report ("Heading for the Open Road: Costs and Benefits of transitions in Scholarly Communications," April 2011) from JISC, PRC, RIN, RLUK, and the Wellcome Trust recommends green and gold OA as complementary parts of a cost-effective transition to OA in the UK over the next five years. From the press release: "The report suggests that policymakers who are seeking to promote increases in access should encourage the use of existing subject and institutional repositories, but avoid pushing for reductions in embargo periods, which might put at risk the sustainability of the underlying scholarly publishing system. They should also promote and facilitate a transition to open access publishing (Gold open access) while seeking to ensure that the average level of charges for publication does not exceed c.£2000...." From the executive summary: "We have compared...estimates of benefits [from five scenarios for improving research access] with their respective costs in order to calculate benefit-cost ratios (BCRs)....The modelling confirms...that the Green scenario would provide a cost-effective route to improving access, with relatively high BCRs....The Green scenario involves a relatively high risk to the scholarly publishing system as a whole, since it could give rise to significant levels of subscription cancellations, rendering some journals and publishers unviable. However, the risks to the transition and BCR are not thought to be as great as for other scenarios....The Gold scenario presents a relatively low risk to the scholarly publishing system as a whole, since it offers a viable alternative business model. There are, however, slightly greater risks with respect to the transition (for funders, academic research institutions and publishers) and relatively high risks associated with achieving the BCR....Our judgement is that the two open access routes [out of the five studied] offer the greatest potential to policy-makers in promoting access. Both have positive, and potentially high, BCRs. The Green scenario appears capable of providing increases in access comparable to or greater than other scenarios, and since the infrastructure for Green has largely already been built, increasing access by this route is especially cost-effective. These gains, however, come with increased risks to the scholarly publishing system in the form of potential subscription cancellations, and thus the risk that the scenario is not self-sustaining. Of the two open access routes, our view is that the Gold route is preferable in the long-run, given (i) its underlying sustainability; (ii) the advantages of the author-side business model in terms of improved transparency and lower barriers to market entry, which point to improved economic efficiency; and (iii) (depending on the level of the APC) the potential to achieve both higher BCRs and lower net costs for the UK in general and for its universities in particular....Set against those considerations, the scale of the costs and the benefits depends on the future level of APCs, which it may be hard for policy-makers to influence; and there are higher transition costs in the transition to Gold compared with Green...."
* The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) welcomed the "Open Road" report (above) because it concluded that green OA carries the risk of triggering the cancellation of TA journals. (PS: The report also concluded that "[T]he risks [from green OA] to the transition and [benefit-cost ratios] are not thought to be as great as for other scenarios.") "Commenting on the report, Michael Mabe, CEO of STM said: "These results largely echo STM's views about the viability of differing routes to greater access....The free availability of repository versions of articles potentially undermines the very processes that validated the repository documents in the first place, and we see no future in this 'nobody pays' model. STM supports all and any models of access that are sustainable and ensure the integrity and permanence of the scholarly record on which progress is based, including Gold open access."
* Ted Bergstrom and Preston McAfee posted the April 2011 edition of the summary statistics from their Journal Cost Effectiveness calculator. This edition uses subscription prices for 2010 and page counts for 2004-2008.
* The Association of American Publishers (AAP) Professional/Scholarly Publishing division (PSP) released its Analysis of the 2009 AAP Industry Statistics Report on scholarly journal publishing. "As in past years, the two largest open access publishers did not submit data on their publishing programs so the analysis covers open access patterns across a universe where paid circulation, rather than the author-pays model, is the principal source of revenue....In 2008, 11.7% of all reporting titles offered open access in some form compared with 9.1% in 2007. Among journals reporting in 2009, 788 offered some form of open access, representing 13.7% of the total, thus showing modest but consistent growth over the three years. In 2009, the vast majority, 585 (74.2%), offered a hybrid model....The growth has been in the hybrid model (297 titles in 2007 to 552 in 2008 to 585 in 2009) and - even more significantly - in the delayed access model (72 titles in 2007 increasing to 86 in 2008 increasing again to 192 in 2009)...."
* Sandra Miguel et al. published a (TA) study taking a new approach to measuring OA visibility and impact by discipline and region. Among the findings: "From the perspective of the international directory DOAJ, the Social Sciences have the greatest percentage (39%) of gold road journals, ahead of Health Sciences (24%), Physical Sciences (20%), and Life Sciences (14%). In contrast, SCOPUS shows a lesser presence of the gold road in all the fields, reaching just 12% of the journals in Life Sciences and in Health Sciences...This leads us to the question of in which thematic categories are the OA journals most concentrated, regardless of whether they belong to the gold or the green road?...At first glance, one can see a fairly balanced distribution among the disciplinary groups with respect to journal access. The percentage that ascribes to OA is near 50% in most cases....In all the disciplinary groups, the green road widely surpasses the percentage of gold road access, with a difference close to 30% in nearly all cases....This finding reveals that from the standpoint of the journals themselves, the green road has great potential for expansion that is perhaps not being taken advantage of by the authors. This is a finding of relevance for authors as well as for the persons responsible for repositories and institutional policies....The peripheral and emerging regions have greater proportions of gold road texts, and publication in green journals is almost inexistent....The gold road journals have no visibility and, for the most part, belong to the fourth quartile regardless of the geographic area of origin....If OA really has some influence by citation advantage, the gold road that is allowing free access to “real” articles should be reaching greater visibility. Conversely, the results demonstrate that these journals (gold road) are less visible as compared to green road journals that achieve greater visibility when in fact only 10 to 20% of their items are self-archived...." http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.21532
* J.J. Meerpohl and colleagues studied the extent to which pediatric journals implemented best-practice recommendations. Among the findings: "Despite evidence showing benefits of these recommendations, the proportion of endorsing journals has been moderate to low and varied considerably for different recommendations. About half of pediatric journals indexed in the Journal Citation Report referred to the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) but only about a quarter recommended registration of trials. We aimed to investigate to what extent pediatric open-access (OA) journals endorse these recommendations. We hypothesized that a high proportion of these journals have adopted recommendations on good publication practice since OA electronic publishing has been associated with a number of editorial innovations aiming at improved access and transparency....Pediatric OA journals mentioned certain recommendations such as the Uniform Requirements or trial registration more frequently than conventional journals; however, endorsement is still only moderate...."
* The 2001 journal pricing survey from Library Journal shows that prices continue to rise faster than inflation, while the average serials budget actually declined. "During the recession there was a reduction in cost for most commodities and goods --with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropping in 2009 and only increasing 1.6 percent in 2010. During that same period, serials prices continued to rise at well above the CPI (four to five percent)....Between 2009 and 2010, data from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) showed a slight decrease of $37,000 annually in the average expenditures for serials. Considering that price inflation would have required a four to five percent increase to hold subscriptions steady, obviously, serials were cancelled...."
* Heather Morrison reports that 98% of the peer-reviewed OA journals listed in Ulrich's are still "active", compared to 88% for peer-reviewed journals overall.
* Liu Xue-li and colleagues found a "highly positive" correlation between downloads and citations for nine years' worth of Chinese ophthalmology journals.
* Dominique Babini reviewed a decade of progress on OA in Latin America and the Caribbean. "Results show a leading position of universities from Brazil; strong presence of universities from México, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela; and presence of universities from Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Uruguay." http://goo.gl/R9UNS
* The London School of Economics released a handbook on maximizing the impact of research, especially in the social sciences. "In the past, there has been no one source of systematic advice on how to maximize the academic impacts of your research in terms of citations and other measures of influence. And almost no sources at all have helped researchers to achieve greater visibility and impacts with audiences outside the university....This Handbook remedies this key gap and opens the door to researchers achieving a more professional and focused approach to their research from the outset....Publishing some form of an academic’s research on the open web or storing it in a university's online depository is essential to ensure that readers beyond academia can gain easy access to research...."
* JISC funded Evidence Base at Birmingham City University to "develop methods of improving deposit into institutional repositories." The Birmingham launched a survey to help it learn what is and is not working. "We are keen to look more widely for examples of what might be working to encourage deposit into repositories. This might include technical solutions, new processes, advocacy, training etc. As well as discovering what is working to encourage deposit into your repository, we are also interested in finding out what perhaps isn't working yet and how further work could possibly help this be realised...."
* California Polytechnic State University released a report on the last three years of its institutional repository. "Academic Year 2009-2010 marked the third --and final-- year of Provost funding for the DigitalCommons@CalPoly....Faculty certified the value delivered by DigitalCommons service to Cal Poly by unanimously passing [February 9, 2010] the Academic Senate Resolution AS-701-10 'Resolution on Faculty Participation in DigitalCommons@CalPoly', stating 'that Cal Poly Academic Senate recommends campus-wide faculty participation in the University repository to enhance global access and availability of research, scholarship and creative activities.' DigitalCommons surpassed 300,000 downloads in September 2010...."
* Ithaka released the results of its 2010 Library Survey. Among the findings: "Open access was a popular strategy among respondents, but its impact was difficult to measure. The rising price of materials continues to be a concern at all types of academic libraries. A majority of respondents (64%) said that high prices constrain their ability to provide the materials that the faculty members at their institutions demand....A large majority (83%) of respondents agreed with the statement: "Academic libraries should take an active role in educating faculty members about open access." Moreover, they agree that open access journals that are linked from their website are part of their research collections....Of responding library directors with an institutional repository, 53% see providing open access to materials as the key function of their repository, though the percentage of respondents who agreed with this statement was much higher among doctoral institutions (at 66%)...."
* A new study from ROI Communication found that companies with an "open communication culture...in which information flows freely and is easily accessible to both insiders and to the public at large....show a return on assets six times higher than companies with low engagement levels...."
+ Software and tools
* Stuart Lewis released the SWORD PHP library, version 1.0.
* Villanova University released an alpha version of the source code for its digital library management software, VuDL (http://vudl.org).
* The California Digital Library (CDL) released "version 3.0 of XTF (http://xtf.cdlib.org/), an open source...software application that supports the search, browse and display of heterogeneous digital content...."
* The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and CollabRX launched the Targeted Therapy Finder, an OA web site "to help patients get more personalized treatments and provide doctors with more timely cancer research information....The melanoma tool is powered by expert knowledge from an open source database set up by CollabRX called Cancer Commons....As part of their collaboration, ASCO is also providing CollabRx with access to all of its published melanoma content, including data presented at the society’s annual meetings, and study results described in peer-reviewed journals...."
* Peter Murray-Rust announced the release of OASCAR4. "OSCAR (Open Source Chemistry Analysis Routines) is an open source extensible system for the automated annotation of chemistry in scientific articles. It can be used to identify chemical names, reaction names, ontology terms, enzymes and chemical prefixes and adjectives. In addition, where possible, any chemical names detected will be annotated with structures derived either by lookup, or name-to-structure parsing using OPSIN or with identifiers from the ChEBI('Chemical Entities of Biological Interest') ontology....OSCAR4, focuses on providing a core library that facilitates integration with other tools...."
* The OA journal, Sustainability, released "new visualization tools that make it easier for researchers to observe, compare, and manipulate the vast amounts of data being generated by the sustainability community....The first Featured Dataset utilizes a Motion Chart visualization tool (developed using Google Visualization API), which offers an interactive way to discover and visualize data by plotting up to four variables over time...."
* TalkMiner is a new search engine for searching the slides within a video of a lecture or slide presentation. It automatically detects and slides, converts the images to text, and indexes the text.
* The Open Access group and its discussions at Linkedin are now open to the public. They were formerly private.
* The Open Knowledge Foundation launched a discussion list on open data in the Czech Republic.
* Elsevier laid down 2collab.
+ Awards and milestones
* Robert "Bob" Frost died on March 26, 2011. He was an associate professor at the U of Michigan's School of Information, grandson of the poet Robert Frost, and a supporter of OA. In December 2006, Frost and his wife Margaret Hedstrom created the Frost Open-Access Fund from royalties he received from his grandfather's poetry. "Their reasoning is that it is through continued public interest in the poet's work that they receive royalties, and therefore the public should benefit. The fund will support such things as workshops and special initiatives by students and faculty that look closely at open access to information and issues related to the public domain." The poetry would have entered in the public domain in 2012, but the Bono Act extended its life under copyright until 2032. "Although the annual royalties will now directly benefit [the U of Michigan School of Information], the professors wonder just how long heirs should collect royalties instead of seeing original works turn over to the public." The fund welcomes contributions in his memory.
* The OA Tracking Project (OATP) turned two years on April 16, 2011.
* The Open Access Directory (OAD) turned three years old April 30, 2011.
* The Open Access Directory (OAD) launched a list of courses about OA.
* The Open Access Directory (OAD) launched a list of publishers of OA books.
* Open Journal Systems now has over 9000 OJS installations around the world.
* EIFL collected numbers on the growth of OA journals in the 23 eIFL developing and transition countries.
* In March, RePEc added 15 new archives and passed several milestones: 40,000,000 downloads on IDEAS, 2,000,000 downloads through NEP, 900,000 works listed online, 600,000 abstracts listed, 1,250 journals listed. It also officially launched its Plagiarism Committee.
* E-Ciencia passed the milestone of 100,000 deposits, twice the number it had at the end of 2008. E-Ciencia is the consortial repository for "all universities in the Consorcio Madroño (Universidad de Alcalá, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Universidad Carlos III, Universidad Complutense, UNED, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Universidad Rey Juan Carlos), the CSIC and the Ministry of Education of the Community of Madrid."
* The institutional repository at the University of Liège passed the milestone of 60,000 deposits, "of which over 36,000 (60%) are provided with full text versions (50% of them available on open access)...."
* Archimer, the institutional repository of France's Ifremer Research Institute passed the milestone of 10,000 deposits.
* The Open Data Challenge calls on "designers, developers, journalists, researchers and others to people to come up with something useful, valuable or interesting for European citizens, built using open data....The competition is open for 60 days - from 5th April until 5th June midnight. The winners will be selected by an all star cast of open data gurus - and announced in mid June at the European Digital Assembly in Brussels...." The challenge is sponsored by a wide coalition including the Open Knowledge Foundation, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and The Guardian.
* The University of Brunel "has been shortlisted in two categories for the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2011. The University Library has been nominated in the Outstanding Library Team category....The Library also plays a major role in the dissemination of the University's research work, investing in e-resources and managing the Institutional Repository, the Research Publications database and the Open Access Publishing Fund...."
* I was given the 2011 L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award from the American Library Association.
* EIFL "provided financial support to 11...national and institutional open access advocacy campaigns...: five projects in Africa (Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Sudan and Zimbabwe) and six projects in Eastern Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine). Among them seven projects are national advocacy campaigns (Botswana, Estonia, Ghana, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine) and four projects are institutional advocacy campaigns (Latvia, Malawi, Sudan and Zimbabwe)...."
* Uganda became an EIFL Partner Country. "When David Bukenya, board Chairman, shares his thoughts on why the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) and its 19 members decided to join EIFL there is a sense of urgency to his tone....CUUL, formed in 2001, is interested in working with all EIFL programmes. They would like to partner with us to foster and assist in increasing the list of available commercial e-resources, engaging in consortium management capacity building, increasing the use of FOSS in their libraries, and expanding awareness about and knowledge of open access and copyright...."
* The Gates Foundation gave Creative Commons a grant "to provide support to successful applicants of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (C3T) grant program with our partnering organizations Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (OLI), CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC)...."
* SSRN has "been working on extracting references from all SSRN papers for 5 years as part of the CiteReader project that SSRN has undertaken with our development firm, ITX Corp. We have created a system to extract references and footnotes from PDF files on SSRN and to have that extracted data proofread by human beings. While this project is not yet complete, we are now announcing the release of over 6.7 million references extracted from the reference sections of over 182,000 papers on the SSRN site as well as over 4.2 million citations that we have linked to SSRN papers...."
* Germany's open-access.net launched a YouTube channel and kicked it off with two short introductions to OA in German and English. "The films [are] sponsored by the German Research Foundation, DFG, [and] are licensed under CC BY 3.0 Unported...."
* "The Oyez Project has joined with IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law to launch OyezToday, a new iPhone app full of information and media related to the current U.S. Supreme Court docket. OyezToday is free and available through the App Store. iPad and Android phone versions will soon follow...."
* The Association for Psychological Science called on its members "to support the Association's mission to deploy the power of Wikipedia to represent scientific psychology as fully and as accurately as possible and thereby to promote the free teaching of psychology worldwide."
* "The Modern Language Association has created an office of scholarly communication and named...Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a professor of media studies at Pomona College and co-founder of MediaCommons...[to] lead the new office.
* Spain's RECOLECTA project translated the SHERPA RoMEO database into Spanish. "Further data on Spanish and other Hispanic publishers will follow at a later date."
* Bohdan Zograf translated the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing into Belorussian.
* Samir K Brahmachari, the Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), explained why CSIR can't provide OA to its Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) as planned. "[T]he TKDL would remain available only to various patent offices who have entered into bilateral access and non-disclosure agreements with them. When asked how researchers could ensure they were not encroaching on TK when filing patent applications, the DG said there was no possibility at present of allowing researchers or innovators access to the TKDL, as, and I paraphrase, ‘lawyers would somehow find a way out of it.’ In fact, it appears that TKDL would be willing to open up the database, if only someone could come up with a model that keeps lawyers out of the system, and ensures that they are unable to access any data. Clearly, the TKDL is worried that the moment information from the database becomes available, lawyers will eventually work around the [prior art embodied in the] existing information to meet the requirements of inventive step for obtaining a patent grant...."
Coming this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in May.
* May 31, 2011. Deadline for submitting essays and videos to the Law.Gov Report contest from Public.Resource.Org.