Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #73
May 3, 2004

Read this issue online

The Credit Suisse report

On April 6, 2004, Credit Suisse First Boston published a 48 page financial analysis of the STM journal industry by Simon Mays-Smith and four co-authors.  As far as I can tell it's not online --hence I provide no link-- but I'd be glad to be corrected.  Here's my summary of its important conclusions, not for investors but for scientists and scholars interested in OA.

* There are "three pillars" of STM publisher profits:  copyright, peer review, and bundling.  STM publishers won't be in trouble until one or more of them starts to fall.  The first two are secure but the third is teetering.

* Taxpayers and governments pay for scientific journal research three times over:  (1) through research grants to scientists, (2) through university subsidies that pay the salaries of researchers, editors, and referees, and (3) through university subsidies that pay for journal subscriptions.  This is not sustainable.  Eventually taxpayers and governments will wake up to what is happening and put an end to it.  But governments outside the UK are doing nothing to shift to a more sustainable model, and the UK government will probably do nothing before 2005.

* Elsevier has higher profit margins on low-quality, low-submission journals than on high-quality, high-submission journals.  The lower rejection rates of the former bring down the cost per published paper without forcing a reduction in the price.  This is a reason for Elsevier to encourage bundling i.e. to reduce the freedom of librarians to cancel low-quality journals.  It's also a reason why recent cancellations of the Big Deal will cut into Elsevier profit margins.  (PS:  It's also a reason why the Elsevier business model, not the OA business model, contains built-in incentives to lower quality.)

* As profit margins decline, Elsevier will not have room to compensate by raising prices.  Its prices are already so high relative to its rivals that further increases will trigger more cancellations and increase interest in open access.

* It's true that Elsevier's cost per article for libraries has "fallen dramatically" in the past five years, and that it is now lower than that of many other publishers.  But this is due to bundling, not to price reductions.  Moreover, it is irrelevant to libraries, which complain that Elsevier titles take a share of their serials budgets well beyond their impact, quality, or usage. 

* Open access archiving is not a good substitute for journal publishing because it does not perform peer review.  (PS:  This is the only sign in the report that the authors just didn't get OA.  OA archiving is not intended to replace journal publishing and its advocates do not want to eliminate peer review.)

* OA benefits from the fact that more and more funding agencies endorse and support it.  But this gain is largely neutralized by the fact that many of the same funding agencies, and most universities, only reward researchers who publish in a certain set of high-impact journals.  It does not seem that this will change any time soon.

* OA journals have lower costs per article than toll-access journals, but this savings is more than offset by the revenue per article generated by toll-access journals.

* OA will not "undermine" or "destroy" the STM publishers, but it will reduce their profit margins and future growth.  OA threatens lower-impact toll-access journals more than higher-impact toll-access journals, but this is the bulk of the toll-access journal market.

* Three other factors that will slow the adoption of OA:  (1) those who benefit financially from OA cannot easily act in unison and gain little by acting alone, (2) most authors transfer copyright to journals, and (3) a large number of journals still use the Ingelfinger rule, the in-house rule prohibiting "prior publication" of submissions. 


The case for OAI in the age of Google

Why don't more faculty deposit their eprints in open-access, OAI-compliant (OA-OAI) archives?  This is a mystery.  Two explanations we can rule out right away are opposition to open access and opposition to OAI metadata sharing.  These never come up when faculty are asked about their archiving inertia, which only makes the mystery even more puzzling. 

When asked about archiving inertia, some faculty say that putting an eprint on a personal web site is just as good as putting it in an OAI-compliant archive.  Google will find an eprint on a personal web site and make it visible to those who might need it for their research.  Let's look at this one more closely.  *Is* Google just as good?  How strong is the case for OAI archiving in the age of Google?

For this purpose, let me use the name "Google" to represent not only Google itself but any Google rival or future iteration of Google that improves on Google's famously effective relevancy algorithm and wide scope.  In short, let "Google" be our name for the state of the art in indexing by mainstream search engines.

So, is Google good enough?  If not, why not? 

(1) If we only care about open access itself, then it's true that putting an eprint on a personal or institutional web site is good enough.  It's open access. 

Against this, the Bethesda and Berlin definitions of "open access" require deposit in a certain kind of repository.  But I've argued (for example in SOAN for 8/4/03) that this is a mistake.  It confuses OA itself with one vehicle for delivering OA or one enhancement to literature that is already OA through a different vehicle.  The BOAI was more accurate in making deposit or archiving one of the means to OA, not part of the concept or definition of OA.  If we're talking about OA itself, then an eprint on an author's web site can be OA.

How should we define "open access"?  (SOAN for 8/4/03)

To forestall objections, let me add that I've also argued (for example in SOAN for 3/2/04) that OA journals should not rest with making their articles OA but should also deposit them in them in OAI-compliant archives.  Archiving is desirable both for creating OA and for enhancing literature that is already OA.  But that doesn't make it part of the definition of OA. 

Top 10 priorities for the OAI community (SOAN for 3/2/04)
(See priority #3.)

(2) The OA-OAI proponent might concede that eprints on personal web sites can be OA.  "But OA-OAI archiving enhances visibility more than Google indexing does."

The Google reply:  This may have been true once, but it's less true or untrue today.  There are two reasons why:  Google is very good and getting better, and many more people turn to Google before they turn to OAI search tools.  The second reason is peculiar.  It means that Google's popularity gives it one kind of visibility-increasing advantage even over superior search tools --if there could be superior search tools under our stipulations.  Even if OAI tools would do a better job than Google if they were as popular as Google, Google's surpassing popularity gives it a self-nourishing advantage.  (BTW, this same self-nourishing advantage should help the real Google withstand the coming onslaught from an improved Yahoo and an imminent Microsoft entry.)

(3) This actually answers another argument that might be made for OAI archiving, but let's make the argument explicit anyway.  "Scholars doing serious scholarly research look in specialized scholarly tools and resources before they look in Google." 

The Google reply:  again, this might have been true once, and perhaps it ought to be true now, but either it's becoming untrue or it's already untrue.

Working researchers certainly do use Google even if they also use specialized scholarly tools.  Moreover, unfortunately, in the period before scholars used Google for serious research, they weren't using OAI tools instead.  Google and OAI tools are both rising in usage.

Two years ago (April 2002) a study by DK Associates showed that professional analytic and organic chemists turned first to ChemWeb and second to Google.  It's impressive that Google occupied such an exalted position among such serious researchers that early in its evolution.  The same study showed that chemists in management and development positions used Google first and ChemWeb second.

Since then, Google has improved its algorithms, its index size, and its popularity --and Elsevier has decided to discontinue ChemWeb.  I haven't seen a more recent study, but I wouldn't be surprised if Google was #1 among working chemists today. 

In his February 2004 keynote at the NFAIS annual meeting (p. 8), John Regazzi reported, "In a survey for this lecture, librarians and scientists were asked to name the top scientific and medical search resources that they use or are aware of.  The difference is startling.  Librarians named Science Direct, ISI Web of Science, and Medline, while scientists named Google, Yahoo, and PubMed (librarians also named PubMed)."  Regazzi is Elsevier's Managing Director of Market Development.

(Thanks to Carol Tenopir for citing the Regazzi lecture in her article, "Is Google the Competition?" Library Journal, April 1, 2004, and to Randy Reichert for citing it in an STLQ blog posting, April 22, 2004.)

(4) "Archiving will give an eprint a permanent or persistent URL."  Compared to eprints on personal web sites, eprints in OAI archives rarely move.  When scholars change institutions or retire, they usually change web sites, with the effect of breaking links that point to their work e.g. in search engines, bibliographies, footnotes, and other indices around the world.  This is a reason to favor archives over personal web sites.

Google reply:  True, but Google has a large and useful cache that greatly mitigates the damage of link rot. 

Archiving will give an eprint other kinds of longevity, not just URL longevity.  Those who maintain OAI-compliant repositories take steps to assure long-term access and preservation.  Maintainers of personal web pages rarely take these steps, and regular back-ups are not enough.  This is also true.  In fact, it's the main reason why the Bethesda and Berlin statements wanted to make archiving an essential part of the provision of OA.  (Again, I agree that taking steps toward preservation is valuable, even critical; I only object to making preservation part of the definition of OA rather than a valuable, even critical, enhancement of content that might already be OA.)

(5) "OAI-compliant searching tools refresh their indices faster than Google." 

Google reply:  But this is not quite true.  Google refreshes its index for different kinds of content at different rates, and assigns a slow rate to most scholarly pages.  But eprints at sites that Google already rates highly are refreshed at a much faster rate.  On the other side, the refresh rate at OAI-compliant data services is up to the service providers.  At least this means that when we want to refresh the index often, we can do so, and we needn't hire expensive experts in "search engine optimization" in order to scam the Google index in a way that might not work next week.

(6) "OAI tools rest on a standardized metadata schema and therefore support field searching (e.g. on 'author' or 'title')."

Google reply:  True, but the Google syntax does a lot of this and over time will do a lot more.

Here's a variation on the OAI argument:  if users search for articles by their citations, rather than by content-based keywords, then OAI tools will help them more than Google will.  I owe this argument to the EPrints Handbook.

The Google reply:  It's true that OAI tools will provide better visibility to those who search by citations.  But talented Google searchers will prefer to search by content-based keywords, not by citations.  If they do, then they will likely find the same articles by a different route, though they will be combined with all the other articles that also satisfy the keywords.  Insofar as the size of the hit list is a problem, see the next OAI argument.

(7)  "OAI archiving reduces information overload."  When you search across OAI-compliant archives for research literature, you find only research literature.  But when you search in Google, you get commodities with the same names, popular literature on scientific topics, scientific name-dropping, crackpot hallucinations, and much more that you definitely don't want. 

Google reply:  This is true, but it overlooks the Google relevancy algorithm.  In Google, you may get more hits than you could ever scan, and many of them will be worse than useless, but Google's PageRank algorithm does a pretty good job of putting the ones you want near the top.  Just as it doesn't matter how deep the ocean is, as long as you can swim, it doesn't matter how many hits your search returns, as long as the ones you want float to the top.  Moreover, skillful users know how to tweak their search strings to narrow the results and improve their relevancy.  Finally, remember, the Google algorithm (in fact and ex hypothesi) is improving all the time.  We don't have to say that the Google algorithm is perfect, merely that a good algorithm can neutralize much of the advantage of a smaller or more focused index and that this one is good and getting better.

Judge for yourself.  Here are some terms from different academic fields and their Google hit tallies as of April 18, 2004.  Run some of them and see whether any non-academic sites make it near the top of the list.  Then tweak the search to refine the list.  "Poincare conjecture" (2.8 thousand), "third-wave feminism" (3.9 thousand), "proto Indo-European" (12 thousand), "categorical imperative" (25.4 thousand), "valence electron" (27.2 thousand), "battle of Hastings" (39.7 thousand), "collateral estoppel" (46.9 thousand), "obsessive compulsive" (304 thousand), "black hole" (2.7 million), "inflation" (4.9 million), and "protein" (26.8 million).  The general terms toward the end of the list get the most hits.  But it's easy to conjoin them with other terms in order to reduce the hit list and improve relevancy.  For example, try "black hole" plus "event horizon" (41.8 thousand), "inflation" plus "junk bond" (6.6 thousand), or "protein" plus "chirality" (47.8 thousand).

On the other side, any improvements that come to the Google algorithm could also in principle come to the OAI search tools.  That would give the OAI tools a twofold strategy for reducing information overload --intelligent sorting and smaller or more focused indices.  But even then, Google could claim a twofold strategy for finding what you want --the same intelligent sorting but yoked to a larger and more wide-ranging index.  In short, the same small OAI indices that some cite as an advantage in reducing overload can always be seen as limitations on the search for what you want.

Here's a variation on the same OAI argument:  "If you're searching for an unusual author name or term in Google, you'll probably find what you want.  But if you're searching for a common term or name, then OAI searches will probably shorten your search."

I owe this argument to a participant in David Prosser's workshop on filling OAI archives at the CERN OAI meeting in February --a participant whose name unfortunately I do not know.  If you are searching for "John Anderson", "piano", or "chess", Google will be less useful than if you are searching for "Spiro Agnew", "sackbut" or "43-man squamish". 

(8) I'm out of OAI virtues that might surpass Google virtues.  Are there any Google virtues that might surpass OAI virtues?  Here's one:  a gigantic index.  But as we just saw, this advantage competes with the advantage of the smaller and more focused OAI indices.  For some searches, a wide scope (plus a good relevancy algorithm) is more useful than a manageable hit list (plus a good inclusion policy), while for other searches the reverse is true.

Another place where Google has the advantage is full-text indexing.  So far, OAI tools only search metadata.  The very welcome 0AI reply is that full-text indexing is coming.  For one approach to it, see the work on the OA-X protocol.

* Sub-total.  For every OAI virtue, there is some Google counterpart.  This doesn't mean that the Google counterparts are superior or even equivalent.  That will depend on variables such as your search skill, your search goal, and the year (remember, what we're calling Google is always improving). 

I know you want me to choose between them but I'm not going to do it.  If their merits really depend on your needs and circumstances, however, then this is already a kind of victory for Google, at least insofar as it means that putting an eprint on your personal web site won't *always* be worse, or won't be *much* worse, than depositing it in an OA-OAI archive.  (If you're sorry that I'm not choosing between them, then here's a clue to my personal position:  It was very difficult to bring myself to write out the previous sentence.)

Note how we have confirmed the wisdom of a general practice within the OA movement.  If we provide OA to our eprints, then services to index and preserve them will come along after the fact.  Depositing eprints in OAI-compliant archives makes those eprints fodder for all future OAI-compliant data services.  Depositing eprints on a personal web site makes them fodder for all future iterations and rivals of Google.  We don't have to wait for these services to emerge, or to reach a certain level of adequacy, before we provide OA to our eprints.  On the contrary, we should provide OA to our work right now and let evolving data services compete to improve upon the visibility and longevity of our work for the rest of time.

OA-OAI archiving has all the virtues we've always seen in it, especially for metadata sharing and interoperability.  Google's strengths don't subtract from that, and won't even as they continue to grow.

Notice that some of the virtues of OA-OAI archiving --such as persistent URLs and preservation-- have little to do with searching and visibility and nothing to do with metadata harvesting or interoperability.  But this is certainly not a flaw in OA-OAI archiving.  On the contrary; it means that it has virtues beyond providing OA and content visibility.

But this is key:  OA-OAI archiving and Google indexing are completely compatible.  We can do both, and we should.  That's the main reason why I'm not going to choose between them. 

If the OA-OAI archive where you might want to deposit your eprint is in the deep web, then the Google crawler would not normally find it.  To get the benefit of Google indexing on top of OAI indexing, you'd have to deposit the eprint in an archive and put another copy somewhere on the surface web, such as your personal web site. 

An exciting series of new developments is greatly improving on the compatibility between OAI archiving and Google indexing.  Basically, they give you the benefit of both with only a single deposit. 

For example, Yahoo and OAIster have struck a deal by which OAIster feeds Yahoo the rich metadata it harvests from its large set of OAI-compliant archives.  The content in those archives is still searchable with OAI tools, such as OAIster itself, but is now also searchable through Yahoo.  Yahoo gains some new content and new metadata for some old content.  It is also spared the need to crawl an increasingly large and useful corpus of literature.  OAIster gains a new layer of Yahoo visibility for some of its content, better Yahoo indexing for all its content, and more frequent and guaranteed refreshment within the Yahoo index.

Last month, OCLC launched a program to harvest DSpace repositories (which are OAI-compliant) and make their metadata available in a non-OAI format for re-harvesting by non-OAI services like Google.  The OCLC tool will make these DSpace repositories indexable by nearly any search engine but Google is apparently the first to take advantage of it.  A test project will use the OCLC tool to help Google index the contents of 17 DSpace repositories from universities around the world.

Ironically, these new Google-OAI bridges do not make the two forms of visibility-enhancement more equivalent.  On the contrary, they tilt the advantage toward OAI archiving.  These bridge tools give some content the benefit of both worlds, but the only content to get this dual benefit is on deposit in OAI-compliant archives.  Content nowhere but a personal web site only gets the Google half of the benefit.

* On the Yahoo-OAIster collaboration

OAIster press release (March 10, 2004)

* On the OCLC-DSpace-Google collaboration

The OCLC press release (April 9, 2004)

OCLC project page

The OCLC tool is not the first to serve this general purpose.  DP9 is an open-source tool from the Old Dominion University Digital Library Group that lets general search engines like Google and Yahoo index OAI-compliant archives.  It's at least three years old.

Jeffrey R. Young, Google Teams Up with 17 Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials, Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Update, April 9, 2004.

Donald MacLeod, Google launches research archive project, The Guardian, April 13, 2004.

Sharon Cantor, Google plans scholarly search tool, Daily Pennsylvanian, April 21, 2004.

Alix Cody, Google, colleges team up to provide research tools, The Dartmouth Online, April 27, 2004.

* Postscript.  Just last week, CrossRef and Google announced a collaboration that deserves mention here even if the fact that it does not make use of OAI-compliant archives puts it in a different category.  The collaboration lets Google index full-text peer-reviewed research articles from nine participating publishers, such as the American Physical Society, Blackwell, the Institute of Physics, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford, and Wiley.  The resulting searches will be free of charge for users, and cover both current and back issues.

The CrossRef-Google press release (April 28, 2004). 

EContent has an unsigned note on the CrossRef-Google deal in its April 30 issue.

Just a week earlier we saw the announcement of Amazon's very useful A9 search engine, which integrates Google searches of the web with Amazon Search Inside the Book, combining them in one clean interface.  Just as the imminent, unannounced Microsoft search engine will integrate web searching with the domain Microsoft controls --your hard drive-- A9 integrates web searching with the domain it controls --the growing number of full-text books from participating publishers. 

* PPS.  From my "Predictions for 2004" (SOAN for 2/2/04):

"Large, for-profit, non-academic search engines like Google, Yahoo, and the new Microsoft contender will realize that OA is in their interest and join the alliance fighting for it.  They might even join the ranks of those funding it.  OA will give them a larger and more useful body of content to index for searching.  That means it will bring in more traffic and enable them to sell more advertising.  The only obstacle:  none will want to go first, for all the new OA content they fund will immediately be indexable by the others."

As I read the news, both halves of this prediction are coming true.  On the one hand, mainstream, non-academic search engines are looking for ways to index scholarly content.  Starting with OAI-compliant archives and CrossRef-compliant publications is a natural, both because the data are well-structured and because one negotiation can open the door to many sources.  On the other hand, search engines want some quasi-exclusive access to this new content or else their rivals will have equal access to the benefit of their investment.  So while Google can eventually strike a similar deal with OAIster, and can already index the surface-web content in OAIster, Yahoo is the only search engine to benefit from the direct OAIster feed of metadata.  Similarly, Google will have some kind of exclusive access to the CrossRef content --just as it has with the 1,000,000+ documents in IEEE Xplore and just as it plans to have for the public-domain books from the Stanford library it will pay to digitize through Project Ocean.  The only trend in the other direction is the OCLC tool, which will make DSpace metadata equally available to all indexing services.  OCLC deserves our thanks for this openness, Google deserves congratulations for seizing the opportunity first, and the other search engines should jump on the bandwagon ASAP.


Two distractions

Proponents of open access should focus their energy on delivering open access.  Success may not be easy, but at least we can hope that preserving this focus is easy.  However, there are two related distractions nowadays that are making it difficult.

(1) Don't be distracted by the wrong problem.

The problem is to provide OA, through journals and archives, not to undermine publishers who are not providing OA.  The problem is to deliver on our vision of what we think is good, not to torpedo those who aren't helping us. 

There are many dysfunctions in the current journal system --for researchers, for libraries, for universities, and for funding agencies.  Analyzing these dysfunctions is relevant and useful if it reminds us of the problems we are trying to solve and if we remain focused on building solutions.  But if we let our focus drift to the problem of undermining the publishing models that we think created these dysfunctions, or the publishers themselves, then we risk losing our own effectiveness.

There are two reasons.  First, providing OA does not require publisher setbacks.  Second, undermining toll-access (TA) publishers does not necessarily advance OA. 

We know that providing OA does not require publisher setbacks because some publishers are providing OA and others are considering experiments with it.  The same conclusion follows from the fact that OA and TA can coexist, as we know from present experience.  We can discuss the long-term prospects for their coexistence, but it seems very likely that they will coexist for the indefinite future while only their proportions will vary.  OA progress is entirely compatible with TA survival. 

TA publishers are not the enemy.  They are only unpersuaded.  Even when they are opposed, and not merely unpersuaded, they are only enemies if they have the power to stop OA.  No publisher has this power, or at least not by virtue of publishing under a TA business model.  If we have enemies, they are those who can obstruct progress to OA.  The only people who fit this description are friends of OA who are distracted from providing OA by other work or other priorities.

One mistake is to aim at undermining the current model rather than constructing the alternative.  Another mistake is to think that all publishers are alike.  A third mistake, which follows from the first two, is to alienate publishers who might become allies, or who are already becoming allies.

If OA and TA can coexist, then it's clear that advancing OA needn't undermine TA and that undermining TA needn't advance OA.  If they cannot coexist, then one day we'll find that out.  But the most constructive and effective way to find out is to work for OA and observe the consequences.  Even if providing OA is inseparable from undermining TA, there is still an important difference of accent.  We have to be motivated by what we love and want to build, by the good alternative we envision and its good consequences for science and scholarship.  Otherwise we risk distraction and open ourselves to burnout and ennervation.  But of course, in the meantime it's just enlightened self-interest to preserve the option of recruiting new allies.

(2) Don't be distracted by public debate.

Even more than in the previous section, here I want to make a nuanced and two-sided point.  Public debate can be very valuable but it can also lead us to forget the primary goal and waste energy.

When publishers object to OA, it's tempting to pause in what we are doing to answer them.  If we have time and good answers, then this can be very helpful.  Public debate helps the undecided.  If we let misunderstandings go uncorrected or objections go unanswered, then we may lose a chance to persuade the unpersuaded and recruit another ally.  Moreover, converting existing journals would be progress.  It would be better than having to launch all OA journals from scratch. 

But to pause in what we are doing to answer objections can lead us to interrupt the primary work in favor of the secondary.  If you don't have time to do both --for example, research that you will provide to the world in some OA form and writing a letter to the editor in response to an objection to OA-- then stick to the primary work of delivering OA.  It helps the cause at least as much. 

One mistake is to let secondary work interrupt primary work.  Another mistake is to let critics set the agenda.  Most objections to OA, for example, come from TA publishers and most of these objections point to alleged problems with OA journals.  But it doesn't follow that those alleged problems are suddenly "the front" which must be addressed in order to make progress.  OA archiving is a path of equal value and greater convenience.  We should pursue it regardless of how we deal with publisher objections to OA journals.  Moreover, delivering OA is more important than persuading publishers to join us in delivering OA, and we should pursue it regardless of how we deal with publisher objections to OA. 

The latter is the most delicate point:  it's true that we could always use more allies, but it's false that we need existing publishers to deliver OA.  We should conduct ourselves so that we always invite and welcome new allies, but at the same time we must give primary attention to the primary task of providing OA.

Some publishers will never be persuaded, and some are telling us through their public objections that they are not yet persuaded.  That's all right.  They don't need to be persuaded for us to continue our work.  We can provide OA without their consent, cooperation, or assistance.  One constructive response is simply to get back to work on delivering OA. 

I don't want to draw a false distinction between persuading and doing.  Persuading is part of doing --because the job is large and we need allies to do it.  Likewise, doing is part of persuading --because the best argument that OA is feasible is to deliver it, the best argument that it is valuable is to use it, and the best argument that it is sustainable is to build it and watch it survive. 

I'm perfectly willing to turn the tables here and have TA publishers take the same attitude toward objections from the side of OA.  They have the same dual interest in getting their work done and recruiting new allies to share in it.  Sometimes this makes public debate a good investment of energy and sometimes it doesn't.

I believe in public debate even when it doesn't recruit allies.  It's a courtesy that we owe our critics.  It's also an intrinsic part of intellectual honesty.  If we have beliefs on which we're willing to take public action, then we should be willing to defend them in public and show how they deal with evidence and respond to criticism.  If we admit that we are fallible, then we need to check our enthusiasms and commitments against other thoughtful judgments.  I haven't changed my mind about any of this.  For example, I often engage in public debate and make my own attempts at public persuasion.  I've tried to persuade subscription-based journals to experiment with OA (most recently in my last issue, SOAN for 4/2/04), and I continue to make this appeal.  I've answered publisher objections (for example, SOAN for 11/2/03, 12/2/03, 3/2/04) and, time permitting, will continue to do so in the future.  I merely want to remind us of a few truths that we are tempted to forget when we are most driven to participate in public debate.  Helping the undecided will help the cause but it can also interrupt primary work with secondary work and shift the focus from our agenda to a critic's agenda.  Answering objections will help the cause but it can also lead us to false beliefs about whose cooperation is necessary to build OA.  Persuading unpersuaded publishers is not necessary, just as it is not useless; it is only helpful.  The unpersuaded are not enemies.  Persuasion can fail while OA succeeds.  We don't need unanimity; we need OA.


Coming up later this month

* Notable conferences in May (yes, this is an unusually long list)

Workshop on Open Access
Chennai, India, May 2-4 and 6-8, 2004 (same workshop offered twice)

Scholarly Publishing at the Crossroads
Brandeis University, May 4, 2004

Introduction to Journals Finance (sponsored by ALPSP)
London, May 5, 2004

E-Journal Technical Update (from UKSG)
Glasgow, May 6, 2004

Open Source and Free Software: Concepts, Controversies, and Solutions (not normally on point, but the morning session on May 11 is on Education and Public Knowledge: Open Access, Open Content)
Toronto, May 9-11, 2004

Impacts of changes in publisher provision of electronic journals - licensing and pricing issues (sponsored by EAOLUG)
Cambridge, May 11, 2004

Open Access 2004 (more on open networks than free online access to research literature)
Stockholm, May 11-12, 2004

Berlin 2:  Open Access:  Steps Toward Implementation of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities
Geneva, May 12-13, 2004

ePrints UK Edinburgh Workshop
Edinburgh, May 14, 2004

Technical and Economic Challenges of Scientific Information: STM Content Access, Linking and Archiving (public portion of otherwise private ICSTI 2004 General Assembly) (open access is among the topics)
London, May 17, 2004

Symposium:  Seize the E-Journal:  Models for Archiving (a symposium following the 2004 meeting of the Medical Library Association)
Washington, D.C., May 21-26, 2004

ePrints UK Nottingham Workshop
Nottingham, May 24, 2004

14th Intensive Course in STM Journals Management (sponsored by the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers; the course is not likely to offer instruction on OA business models)
Noodwijkerhout, The Netherlands, May 24-28, 2004

Sharing Information --African Perspectives (sponsored by SCOLMA)
London, May 25, 2004

Data Futures:  Building on 30 Years of Advocacy (annual conference of the International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology)
Madison, Wisconsin, May 25-28, 2004

* Other OA-related conferences


Best of the blog:  new developments

A selection of open-access developments since the last issue of the newsletter, taken from the Open Access News blog, which I write with other contributors and update daily.  I give both the item URL and blog posting URL so that you can read the original story as well as what I or another blog contributor had to say about it. 

* On April 21, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee held another session of oral evidence.  The committee heard from Lynne Brindley (British Library), Peter Fox (Cambridge University Library), Frederick Friend (JISC and University College London), Di Martin (University of Hertfordshire), Jane Carr (Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society), James Crabbe (Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading), Nigel Hitchin (Mathematics, Oxford), D.F. Williams (Tissue Engineering, University of Liverpool), and John Fry (Microbial Ecology, Cardiff University).

The uncorrected transcript of the April 21 testimony.

Francis Muguet, who chairs the WSIS Working Group on Scientific Information, posted a comment to the working group web site expressing his disappointment with the evidence in the April 21 session.

Richard Wray, Academics blame VAT for holding back internet publishing, The Guardian, April 22, 2004.

Robert Walgate, UK risks 'losing science data', The Scientist, April 22, 2004.

Tom Roper, Why is the open accesss debate not conducted openly? An April 23 posting to his blog. Roper asks why the CILIP, CURL, and SCONUL submissions to the UK inquiry are not yet online for public reading.

Also see Roper's April 26 update.

* The U.S. Treasury Department lifted the trade embargo on scientific journals editing articles by citizens of embargoed nations, but publishers and free-speech advocates pointed to a host of remaining problems.

IEEE Scores First Amendment Victory for Scholarly Publishing, April 5, 2004.  A press release from the IEEE.

Anon., Ban Is Eased on Editing Foreign Work, New York Times, April 5, 2004.

Lila Guterman, U.S. Lifts Policy That Restricted Publishing in Journals by Scholars in Embargoed Countries, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2004.

Jeanine Aversa, U.S. OKs Editing of Foreign Manuscripts, Associated Press, April 5, 2004.

John Dudley Miller, US reverses journal embargo, The Scientist, April 7, 2004.

Sophie Rovner, Government ends editing embargo, Chemical & Engineering News, April 7, 2004.

Stephen H. Miles, U.S. Blockade of a Conference in Cuba, Science, April 9, 2004.

Association of American University Presses, First Amendment Problems Remain in Wake of Latest OFAC Pronouncement, April 5, 2004.

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, U.S. Eases the Squeeze on 'Sanctioned' Authors, Science Magazine, April 9, 2004.

Donald Kennedy, A Welcome Retreat at Treasury, Science Magazine, April 9, 2004.

Jean Kumagai and William Sweet, U.S. Treasury Department Issues Free Press Ruling, IEEE Spectrum, April 12, 2004.

Free Expression Network, Editing a Scientific Manuscript Is Not 'Trading with the Enemy', April 12, 2004.

Robin Peek, OFAC Removes Editorial Restrictions from IEEE, Information Today, April 19, 2004.

Toni Feder, US Government Backs Off From Imposing Restrictions on Publishers, Physics Today, May 2004.

* The Nature debate on open access now has an RSS feed.

* Oxford University Press and the Ishikawa Natural Medicinal Products Research Center announced that they would co-publish a new OA journal, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

* Bowkers has enhanced UlrichsWeb.com to let users limit searchecs to OA journals.  It also flags OA journals with a special icon when they come up in unlimited searches.  Unfortunately, UlrichsWeb is only searchable by paying customers.

* In late April, the journal tally at the Directory of Open Access Journals finally broke the 1,000 mark. As I write, it's 1,072.

* The Russian Duma adopted a copyright reform measure retroacatively extending the term of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author's death.

* Tim Brody enhanced his Institutional Archives Registry so that it now organizes OAI-compliant archives by country, type (e.g. institutional, disciplinary, e-theses), and the software on which they are built. Of course the registry continues to provide a graphic for each archive showing its growth over time.

* The National Library of Medicine and the American College of Physicians Foundation launched the Rx Project, a program encouraging physicians to "prescribe" peer-reviewed, consumer-friendly, open-access literature to patients who are ready to read it.

* JISC is offering up to £40,000 to fund "a technical appraisal of the LOCKSS system and its potential UK applications." Proposals are due by May 20.

* Indiana University has launched an OA repository for sheet music.

* There's a good discussion thread on LibLicense about an alternative funding model for OA journals proposed by David Goodman. The basic idea is that the publisher drops subscriptions and provides OA, authors pay processing fees per accepted article, and (the new part) libraries and other former subscribers are "invited to contribute, at a suggested amount of about 3/4 of the current rate (with the proviso that any library that can contribute only a smaller amount is welcome to do so)."

* Michael Froomkin launched Copyright Experiences, a "wiki...intended to let legal academics (and other interested parties) share information about copyright experiences with law journals and other legal publishers."

* On April 6, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) released its draft plan for the national Collection of Last Resort (CLR), a collection designed "to provide comprehensive, timely, permanent public access to U.S. Government publications in all formats."

* BioMed Central now publishes open-access conference proceedings as supplements to its open-access journals.

* The Public Library of Science has announced that PLoS Medicine, its second open-access journal, is now accepting submissions. The first issue will appear sometime this fall.

* A Japanese team announced the most comprehensive and detailed annotation of human genes, the open-access H-Invitational Database.

* The Old Dominion University Digital Library Research Group launched two new projects using the OAI metadata harvesting protocol, Digital Library GRID and mod_oai.

Digital Library GRID


* Peter Levine at the University of Maryland would like to "launch a peer-reviewed [open-access] journal for high-quality research on the community [surrounding the university]."  Peter's specialization is research about communities by community members, both to produce useful knowledge and to promote civic engagement.

* OCLC launched a project to harvest metadata from participating DSpace repositories and make it available in a non-OAI format for reharvesting by non-OAI services like Google.

* Clifford Lynch will receive the ALA's 2004 Lippincott Award, which "recognizes an individual for distinguished service to the profession of librarianship."  Congratulations to Cliff!

* BMC launched a new journal called Biomedical Digital Libraries.

* The Nature Publishing Group launched a new journal on methodology called Nature Methods. It's not OA, but it's offering free subscriptions to chemists and life scientists from North America, Europe, or the UK "who qualify". It's not clear who qualifies, even from the web site.

* ALPSP announced the ALPSP/Charlesworth Awards for 2004 and called for nominations, including self-nominations. The deadline for ALPSP awards is June 1. The deadline for ALPSP/Charlesworth awards is June 11.

* Research Blogs launched on  April 8, a communal blog for M.A. and Ph.D. students writing theses and dissertations, sponsored by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.

* The Prometheus network of image archives has triggered controversy by claiming that it offers "open access" while restricting user rights even further than "fair use" and threatening criminal punishments for copyright violations.

* Tilburg University added a very nice feature to its institutional repository.  With one click, the author of a preprint in the repository can generate a letter to the publisher asking permission to add the postprint in the repository.  Backend software automatically addresses the letter to the right human contact at the publisher, provides a full citation to the article, and inserts a letter explaining that "If I do not hear from you within thirty days I will assume that you have no objections...."

* The U.S. National Academies now provides free online access to their research reports and journals to over 100 developing countries.  While this looks like progress, it may be a retreat from a policy of full open access.  (I'm still investigating this and welcome leads.)

* The Indian National Science Academy has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

* In December 2003, NMS Communications claimed a trademark on the phrase "Open Access" for its product of the same name.  It's not likely that NMS lawyers will try to limit the use of the phrase, which demonstrably antedated their product, and if they did, it's not likely that they would succeed.

* NASA has found a way to release its software under the GPL even though it is uncopyrightable as a matter of law.  It's good news that it will be released under the GPL, but ominous that other agencies could use the same trick to license their uncopyrightable content under less generous terms.

* PhysicsWeb has launched a series of RSS feeds, one on physics news, one on products and press releases, one on jobs, and one on events.

* Effective January 1, 2004, the journal Compositio Mathematica moved from Kluwer to the London Mathematical Society in response to a long series of unwanted price increases at Kluwer.

For other examples, see my catalog of journal "declarations of independence".

* On October 24, 2003, Gabrielle von Roten, President of the Conference of German-Swiss University Libraries (Konferenz Deutschschweizer Hochschulbibliotheken), sent an open letter (in German) to the Conference of Rectors of the same universities, describing the scholarly communication crisis and calling on the rectors to adopt remedial measures, including mandatory deposit of eprints in OA institutional repositories.


Best of the blog:  new bibliography

A selection of articles on open access published since the last issue of the newsletter, taken from the Open Access News blog. 

* David Akin, Righting copywrongs, The Globe and Mail, April 10, 2004.  Summarizes Lessig's experience convincing Penguin and Amazon.com to release Free Culture as a free download under a Creative Commons license.

* Rick Anderson, Open access in the real world: Confronting economic and legal reality, C&RL News, April 2004.

* Anon., Access to research data is critical to science, the European Commission's Research Headlines, April 21, 2004.

* Anon., Google Teams up with Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials, April 13, 2004.

* Anon., Re-launch of African Journals OnLine (AJOL), INASP Newsletter, March 2004.

* Anon., Scopus to challenge Web of Science? Access, March 2004.

* Anon., UC joins effort for access to scholarship, UC Berkeley News, April 8, 2004.

* Chris Awre, The JISC's FAIR Programme: disclosing and sharing institutional assets, Learned Publishing, April 2004.

* Chris Awre, Report on the 3rd OAI Workshop, D-Lib Magazine, April 2004.

* Marcus Banks, Connections between open access publishing and access to gray literature, Journal of the Medical Library Association, April 2004.

* Naomi S. Baron, Rethinking written culture, Language Sciences, January 2004.

* Martin Terre Blanche, Free online journals, Collaborative Learning Environments, April 2, 2004.  Seeking OA sources for a student research project on research colloboration.

* Tania Bubela and Timothy Caulfield, Medical research, the media and open access, Canadian Medical Association Journal, April 27, 2004.

* Steve Buckingham, Data's Future Shock, Nature, April 15, 2004.

* Simon Caulkin, Wellcome:  'Online science journals 30 pc cheaper', The Observer, May 2, 2004.

* Catherine Candee, Fat Cat Publishers Breaking the System, Syllabus Magazine, May 1, 2004.

* Valentina Comba, Open Archives Initiative (OAI) 3 Workshop, Library Hi Tech News, 21, 3, 2004.

* Robin Cover, Delivering Classics Resources with TEI-XML, Open Source, and Creative Commons Licenses, Cover Pages, April 28, 2004.

* Crispin Davis, Why the sci-mag barons are right, The Observer, April 18, 2004.  The Elsevier CEO defends his company's business model for scholarly journals.

* DigiCULT Technology Watch, Emerging Technologies for the Cultural and Scientific Heritage Sector, February 2004.  Touching on OA issues among many others.

* Suhail Doi, Re: Open access publishing - Panacea or Trojan horse, Medical Science Monitor, April 2004.  A letter to the editor.

* Helen Doyle, Andy Gass, Rebecca Kennison, Who Pays for Open Access? PLoS Biology, April 13, 2004.

* Miriam A. Drake, Institutional Repositories: Hidden Treasures, Searcher, May 2004.

* Henk Ellermann, Google Searches Repositories: So What Does Google Search For?, In Between, April 12, 2004.

* Victoria Stagg Elliott, Journal free for all: The electronic future of scientific publishing, American Medical News, April 19, 2004.

* Howard Falk, The revolt against journal publishers, The Electronic Library, 22, 2 (2004).

* Andrea Foster, Scholar Sues for Free Online Access to Out-of-Print Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 9, 2004.  On Kahle v. Ashcroft.

* Stéphane Foucart, Le "libre accès" aux résultats de la recherche bouleverse le monde des revues savantes, Le Monde, April 16, 2004.

* Dror Feitelson and Uri Yovel, Predictive ranking of computer scientists using CiteSeer data, Journal of Documentation, 60, 1 (2004) pp. 44-61.

* Beth Flanningan, Libraries join fight for greater research access, Georgia State University Villager, March 23, 2004.

* Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim, and Steve Probets, RoMEO studies 5: IPR issues facing OAI data and service providers, The Electronic Library, 22, 2 (2004).

* Jim Giles, Publishers go head-to-head over search tool, Nature, April 15, 2004.  On the ISI-Citeseer collaboration and Elsevier's Scopus.

* Paul Ginsparg, Scholarly Information Architecture, 1989-2015, Data Science Journal, February 2004.

* Jonah Goldberg, JSTOR and Gate Keepers, National Review Online, April 11, 2004.  A blog posting with follow-up from correspondents on JSTOR, toll access, and open access.

* Klaus Graf, Eprint Archives, Archivalia, April 23, 2004. 

* Jason M. Griffey, The Perils of Strong Copyright: The American Library Association and Free Culture, April 2004.

* Wendy Grossman, Can we? May we? Will we? The Inquirer, April 30, 2004.  On Brewster Kahle's vision of digitizing all human knowledge, storing it online forever, and making it OA.

* Sara Gwynn, Journal access programmes in African university libraries, INASP Newsletter, March 2004.

* John B. Hawley, Is free affordable? Nature, April 15, 2004.

* Stephen R. Heller, Thermo Data on the Web, Today's Chemist at Work, April 2004.

* Adam Hodgkin, A topsy turvy e-world, The Bookseller, April 1, 2004.  Arguing that OA to primary literature may help publishers by stimulating the market for priced secondary literature.

I'm indebted to Adam Hodgkin.  He's the first author of an article about OA to heed my "call to authors" to provide OA to their OA-related articles.

* Jennifer L. Holberg and Marcy Taylor, Getting the Profession We Want, or A Few Thoughts on the Crisis in Scholarly Publishing, Pedagogy 4, 1 (2004) pp. 1-7.

* Jonas Holmström, The Return on Investment of Electronic Journals - It Is a Matter of Time, D-Lib Magazine, April 2004.

* Carol Ann Hughes, EScholarship at the University of California: a case study in sustainable innovation for open access, New Library World, 105, 3 (2004) pp. 118-124.

* Philip Hunter and Marieke Guy, Metadata for harvesting: the Open Archives Initiative, and how to find things on the Web, The Electronic Library, 22, 2 (2004).

* IWR Staff, Open access sets UKSG alight, VNUNet.com, April 8, 2004.

* Peter Jacso, The Future of Citation Indexing - Interview with Dr. Eugene Garfield.  Unabridged edition of interview published in January 2004 issue of Online.

* Vincent Kiernan, Professors Are Unhappy With Limitations of Online Resources, Survey Finds, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2004.

* Michele Langlois and four co-authors, Restrictions impeding web-based courses: a survey of publisher's variation in authorising access to high quality on-line literature, BMC Medical Education, April 7, 2004.

* Tracey Logan, File-sharing [of texts] to bypass censorship, BBC News, April 9, 2004.

* Donald MacLeod, Google launches research archive project, The Guardian, April 13, 2004.

* Farhad Manjoo, The mouse who would be king, Salon, April 8, 2004.  A review of Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture and Siva Vaidhyanatha's The Anarchist in the Library.

* Susan K. Martin, A Wedge in the Door of Scholarly Communication, Portal, April 2004.

* Gerry McKiernan, E-profile: Open Archives Initiative Data Providers. Part I: General, Library Hi Tech News, 21, 3, 2004.

* Norm Medeiros, Of budgets and boycotts: the battle over open access publishing, OCLC Systems and Services, 2004.

* Ira Mellman, How journals can 'realistically' boost access, Nature, April 8, 2004.

* Marie Meyer, Open Access ignoring lessons of dot-com bubble, Nature, April 22, 2004.

* Dan Milmo, Reed expects US recovery to lift business division, The Guardian, April 29, 2004.

* Tara Moore, UC Teams Up With Nonprofit Science Journal Publisher, The Daily Online Californian, April 2, 2004.

* Robert E. Mrak and W. Sue T. Griffin, Welcome to the Journal of Neuroinflammation, April 20, 2004.  Editorial introducing a new OA journal.

* Katja Mruck and Gudrun Gersmann (eds.), Elektronisches Publizieren & Open Access, Zentrum für Historische Sozialforschung, 2004. An anthology of essays.

* Nature Neuroscience has published supplement, Scaling up Neuroscience, all of whose articles are OA, May 2004.

* Sheila Nomathemba Ndlovu, 'Building the African Library' Workshop, INASP Newsletter, March 2004.

* Bruce Neville, Scholarly journals take a new form, Daily Lobo (student newspaper at the University of New Mexico), April 15, 2004.

* Jill O'Neill, Barbara Bauldock, and Bonnie Lawlor, MetaDiversity III: Global Access for Biodiversity Through Integrated Systems, NFAIS, April 2004.  Proposals for creating a global information resource, some of them proposing to make it OA.

* Open Access Now published an issue on April 12.

* Alexander Osipovich, Virtual Archive, Moscow Times, April 16-24, 2004. An overview of the open-access Fundamental Digital Library of Russian Literature and Folklore.

* Bobby Pickering, BioMed Central hits out at open access 'myths', VNUNet.com, April 8, 2004.

* John T. Prince et al, The need for a public proteomics repository, Nature Biotechnology 22, 471-472 (2004).  On OA to proteomics data.

* Barbara Quint, Dialog's New AeroBase File Uses Federal Data Source, Information Today, April 19, 2004.

* Martin Richardson and Claire Saxby, Experimenting with Open Access publishing, Nature, April 8, 2004.

* Frank Russo and Ray Greek, The Back and Forth On Open Access, The Scientist April 26, 2004.  Two letters to the editor.

* Vinod Scaria, Open Access to Scholarly Communication: New Perspective for Health Professionals and Scholars, Plexus, March 26, 2004.

* Allan Scherlen, Seeing the Sites: Latin American Studies Online: A Review of Free Peer-Reviewed Journals, Serials Review, Spring 2004.

* Deborah Schmidle and Barbara Via, Physician Heal Thyself: The Library and Information Science Serials Crisis, Portal, April 2004.

* Gerhard Schneider, Open Access als Prinzip wissenschaftlicher Publikation, German-language text of a lecture to a library conference in Leipzig, March 23, 2004.

* Bill Schwert, Catherine Cocks, and Eric Merkel-Sobotta, three letters to the editor in response to Christopher Reed's February 20 article, Just Say No to Exploitative Publishers of Science Journals, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 9, 2004.

* Mike Shanahan, Open-access journals are impacting science community, SciDev.Net, April 16, 2004.

* Sanford J. Shattil, Open access, yes! Open excess, no!, Blood Journal, May 1, 2004.

* Johan Steenbakkers, Treasuring the Digital Records of Science: Archiving E-Journals at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, RLG DigiNews, April 2004.

* Peter Suber, Promoting Open Access in the Humanities, a preprint based on a January 3, 2004, presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association in San Francisco.

* Thomas D. Sullivan, Practicing the Liberty He Preaches, New York Times, April 29, 2004.  On Lawrence Lessig's _Free Culture_.

* Mitra Taj, Library cuts new books from budget, Arizona Daily Wildcat, April 9, 2004.

* James Testa and Marie E. McVeigh, The Impact of Open Access Journals, Thomson ISI, April 15, 2004.

Anon., Thomson ISI Releases Open Access Journals Information, EContent, April 16, 2004.

Alison McCook, Open access journals rank well, The Scientist, April 27, 2004.

* Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo, The Web Library, Information Today, 2004.  A priced book with an accompanying OA web site on free online resources in many fields.

* Lee van Orsdel and and Kathleen Born, Periodicals Price Survey 2004: Closing in on Open Access, Library Journal, April 15, 2004.

* Leo Waaijers, Open Access needs to get 'back to basics', Nature, April 23, 2004.

* Thomas J. Walker, Open access by the article: an idea whose time has come?  Nature, April 15, 2004.

* Wellcome Trust, Costs and Business Models in Scientific Research Publishing, April 29, 2004.  A major defense by a major research funder of the major funding model for OA journals.

Katie Mantell, Open access 'can cut costs by up to 30 per cent', SciDev.Net, April 30, 2004.

Mark Walport, The paperless revolution in knowledge, Financial Times, April 30, 2004.

* Tom Wilson, Editorial, Information Research, April 2004.  Asking readers to comment on the possibility that shift from full OA to partial OA.

* Jeffrey R. Young, Google Teams Up with 17 Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials, Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Update, April 9, 2004.

* Most of the presentations from the Workshop on Scholarly Communication as a Commons (Bloomington, Indiana, March 31 - April 2), are now online.

* The presentations from the DSpace User Group Meeting (Cambridge, March 10-11, 2004) are now online.

* The presentations from the ALPSP conference, Scholarship-Friendly Publishing (London, March 26, 2004) are now online.



* I've added 24 new conferences to the conference page since the last issue.  In the next few days I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.

* The Open Access News blog now uses a Creative Commons attribution license, the same license I use for the newsletter and the same that the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central use for their open-access journals.

* I'm so frustrated with the quality of Bloglet that I've removed the sign-up box from the blog sidebar, though you can still find it on the blog's "about" page.  I subscribe to the Bloglet email feed myself in order to monitor its quality and I see that its postings are corrupted almost every day.  If you can't regularly read the Open Access News blog on the web, then I strongly recommend reading the RSS feed through a news aggregator rather than the Bloglet email feed. 


This is the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (ISSN 1546-7821), written by Peter Suber and published by SPARC.  The views I express in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SPARC.

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Peter Suber

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