Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) NewsletterMay 23, 2002
More on the big koan: self-archiving
Following my essay in the last issue on why FOS progress has been slow, our discussion forum received many thoughtful postings. Have a look.
There are two primary paths to FOS: open-access journals and self-archiving. Progress along both paths has been slower than our opportunities would allow. However, it's easier to explain slow movement along the first path than along the second. All eight of the points in my essay apply to open-access journals, but only a few apply to self-archiving --namely, that scholars tend not to understand the problem, that they tend to misunderstand the solution, and that slow progress itself has created a vicious circle in which relatively few institutions have created eprints archives.
If you want to deepen the discussion, focus on why self-archiving isn't spreading more rapidly than it is. Creating an archive is now painless with free software, maintaining an archive takes minimal effort, hosting one takes server space that any university could donate without noticing, and the benefits are immediate and cumulative.
Moreover, there is a network effect. One telephone is useless, but every new telephone makes every existing telephone more useful. The situation is similar though not quite so stark with eprints archives. One eprints archive is useful for the authors who deposit their papers in it and for the readers who happen to need access to those papers. But readers are much more likely to find what they need as more archives join the network of distributed archives. Cross-archive search engines make it unnecessary for readers to know which archives exist, where they are located, or what they contain. Researchers using these search engines will notice that they find what they are looking for more often as more archives join the system. As more readers and researchers find the body of archived literature useful, more will turn to it in their research, multiplying the benefits for authors as well. Every new archive makes every existing archive more useful.
That is one more reason for every university and laboratory to start an archive, in case there weren't enough reasons already. Think of it like a matching grant. If your employer matches your charitable contributions, you have a rare chance to amplify your donations. In this case, the network effect matches your FOS contribution. When your institution participates in self-archiving, the gain to all users is greater than the set of papers in your archive.
So if it's easy, free, useful, and ready right now, why isn't it spreading faster?
Self-Archiving FAQ(In case your institution's administrators or tech people are misled about the simplicity or legality of self-archiving.)
Eprints software, for creating OAI-compliant archives for self-archiving(To get started now.)
You can advance the cause of self-archiving if you are a scholar or represent a university, library, journal, publisher, foundation, learned society, or government. Here's how.(No more excuses. It's not just an opportunity for other people to seize.)
FOS discussion forum(Anyone may read; only subscribers may post; subscription is free.)
More on the big koan: open-access journals
Here are two news stories about BioMed Central (BMC). My comments on them appear inconsistent. But I'll argue that an aspect of the big koan explains this deceptive appearance.
(1) BMC has launched the _Journal of Biology_, a new open-access journal which it hopes will challenge _Nature_, _Science_, and _Cell_. JBiol will have a distinguished editorial board headed by Martin Raff, whom ISI ranks as one of the 10 most cited scientists in the UK. The board will include three Nobel laureates, Harold Varmus, Michael Brown, and Joseph Goldstein, and two former editors at _Nature_, Theodora Bloom and Peter Newmark. The first issue will appear in June.
This is an exactly what the serials landscape needs today. There is no reason why the world's most eminent scientists can't work for an open-access journal, although there is a suspicion that this is somehow unnatural. Nobody quite admits to holding the belief that journal quality requires price barriers, or that filtering readers by wealth helps a journal filter manuscripts by quality, but the belief has a widespread underground existence just the same. It's a holdover from the days when the internet was dominated by hobbyists, and serious academics looked smart for saying, "you get what you pay for". Although the web has moved on, and pockets of free content have long since proved their quality and reliability, this long-refuted belief may still lurk in the subconscious minds of people who are otherwise wide awake and informed. It may also arise from confusing two different gate-keeping functions, one to block unworthy manuscripts from publication and one to block non-subscribers from reading. But if anyone still needs proof that superlative editors and superlative quality control are compatible with open access to the resulting papers, JBiol is providing it.
I applaud the launch of an open-access journal with a world-class editorial board. Still, I long for the day when open access will be so ordinary that the launch of an open-access journal with a merely competent board will garner the interest and respect accorded to other competent journals.
Journal of Biology
BMC press release
(2) BMC has created a web page of "pioneering authors" whose support for open-access publishing has advanced a revolution that "will be felt by the whole world-wide scientific community". The page is an alphabetical database of authors who have published in BMC journals.
It would be easy to draw the conclusion that BMC is simply blowing its own horn here, and that was my first impression. But in fact the list is useful for two reasons. First, these authors do deserve thanks for their willingness to publish in new journals. If there is a vicious circle dissuading first-rate authors from submitting their work to new journals until the journals are well-respected, when the journals cannot become well-respected without first-rate submissions, then these authors have proved their willingness to break the circle. If you have doubts without evidence, then you might think it more likely that these authors are second-rate than both first-rate and courageous. But here's where the second virtue of the list comes in. You can search it and satisfy yourself that it includes scientists who are significant by any standard. The list is searchable by author, institution, and nation.
* Postscript. My comments on these two stories seem inconsistent. In one I'm saying that the quality of open-access journals can be as high as as the quality of any traditional journal. In the other I'm thanking authors for their willingness to publish in open-access journals. It appears that open-access journals are strong enough to praise and weak enough to cosset.
But I stand by both sets of comments. Their juxtaposition highlights the difference between quality and prestige, or real excellence and known or reputed excellence. The difference matters because the incentive for authors to submit their work to a given journal is much more a function of the journal's prestige than its quality, at least when the two differ.
Prestige takes time to cultivate, but quality can exist from birth. Because open-access journals are new, even those excellent from birth must take time to earn prestige proportional to their quality. This gap between their quality and prestige can deter submissions, which in turn will delay the closing of the gap. All new journals face this gap and the vicious circle it creates. There may be many creative ways to break the circle, but BMC is using two of them here. One is to make a journal self-evidently excellent from birth and use this fact to recruit submissions. Another is to find authors willing to submit their work to open-access journals even before the prestige gap is closed, and then to thank them publicly for their insight and courage.
More on the big koan: Macchiavelli
In _The Future of Ideas_, Lawrence Lessig quotes the following passage from Macchiavelli. It goes a long way to answer the big koan.
"Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is indifferent partly from fear and partly because they are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience."
(From _The Prince_, W. W. Norton, 1992, at p. 17. Quoted by Lessig, Random House, 2001, at p. 6.)
* I'm still investigating a handful of possible new hosts for the FOS Newsletter and discussion forum. Please forgive any ads that Topica may insert into the newsletter before I finish picking a new host and making the move.
* In March the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore hosted two workshops on electronic publishing and interoperable open archives. The workshops addressed editors and support staff of Indian non-profit STM journals, and focused on the advantages, economics, technology, and nuts and bolts of electronic publishing, especially in open archives. "The overarching concern behind the idea of the workshops is the urgent need to increase visibility of Indian journals by making them available on the Internet in formats that take advantage of search and retrieval procedures."
Workshops home page(Thanks to Leslie Chan.)
The Workshops' useful page of FOS links, still under construction
* BioOne is producing a free online book in collaboration with the American Society of Plant Biologists. The book will summarize the state of current knowledge on the plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. Containing 100 invited chapters, it will eventually link all gene names to sequence databases as well as link citations to abstracts and sections to one another.
BioOne(The BioOne "news" page is not up to date.)
New on the net
* The papers presented at the recent "Access and Preservation of Electronic Information" conference (Barcelona, May 7-8) are now online.
* The Open Content Network is an emerging P2P content delivery system for any kind of digital content in the public domain, from music and film to software and scholarship. Supporters can help the cause by donating bandwidth and diskspace to the network. (PS: The generality of the service makes me suppose that it could distribute scholarly texts, although the site doesn't mention this possibility. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who uses the network for scholarly purposes.)(Thanks to Info Anarchy.)
Share your thoughts
* The American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) is sponsoring an essay contest on the topic, "International Digital Libraries and Information Science and Technology Advances in Developing Countries". Authors of the six winning papers will be awarded two-year ASIST memberships and be invited to present their papers at ASIST's November conference in Philadelphia. The submission deadline is July 31.
* LITC and JISC are conducting a study of commercial "library portal" software. The study directors would welcome comments from librarians or others who have evaluated any of these packages. To share your thoughts, write to Andrew Cox, <coxam [at] SBU.AC.UK>
In other publications
* The June issue of Walt Crawford's _Cites & Insights_ is now online. Walt discusses his work on OpenURL support in RLG's Eureka (and other RLG news), the COWLZ preservation initiative (in which FOSN is participating), Tim O'Reilly's predictions for our technological future, the demise of _The Future of Print Media Journal_, reviews of four essays on the significance of blogging, reviews of a handful of other "good stuff" (including three of my recent FOSN essays), and his thoughts on mandating web filters in public libraries.
* In the May/June _Online_, Terence Huwe describes the University of California's Labor Research Web and argues that flat web portals have advantages and potential that sophisticated web designers often overlook.
* The May 23 _Serials eNews_ contains a summary of the discussion on LibLicense and other discussion lists of the true costs of publishing electronic journals (see FOSN for 4/29/02).
* In the May 20 _Information Today_, Barbara Quint reports on BioMed Central's recent partnership with SPARC and its recruitment of distinguished institutional members like the National Institutes of Health (see FOSN for 5/15/02).
* The May 20 _Pandia Search Engine News_ has an anonymous review of five free online academic search directories: the Librarian's Index to the Internet, InfoMine, the Resource Discovery Network, and Academic Info.(Thanks to Gary Price's VASND.)
* In the May 20 _Wired_, Michelle Delio describes James Burke's Knowledge Web, an ambitious project to show how pieces of knowledge are connected to one another.
* In the May 20 _Tech Central Station_, Howard Feinberg reports on the survival of bad scientific ideas after their retraction or invalidation. A 1998 study by John Budd showed that 235 scientific articles "retracted due to error, misconduct, failure to replicate results or other reasons" had been cited 2,034 times after their retraction, and that most of the citing papers did not mention the retraction. Feinberg uses the Budd study to set up a discussion of the recent fiasco at _Nature_, in which a paper was withdrawn after publication by the editors who faced intensive lobbying both scientific and non-scientific. (PS: Will FOS aggravate the problem of overlooking retractions, by keeping old studies circulating forever in the Google cache and Wayback Machine? Or will it mitigate the problem, by allowing more intelligent searching and indexing?)
* In the May 16 _Chronicle of Higher Education_, Jeffrey Young reports that the Public Library of Science (PLoS) boycott was "a bust". Few journals complied, and few signatories boycotted those that did not comply. The PLoS organizers admit this, but express disappointment that non-profit learned societies were not better friends to the cause. Quoting Mike Eisen, one of the PLoS founders: "I think that even the society publishers who in principle supported us were acting like businessmen rather than scientists." Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of _Science_ and former president Stanford University, defended the non-profit publishers: "We're thinking like nonprofit organizations that are trying to balance [economic needs with service to the community]....We think we serve our community quite well." PLoS hasn't given up. If existing journals won't convert to open access, then PLoS will launch a new generation of open-access journals. The PLoS journals will cover their costs with author (or author-sponsor) fees of about $500 per accepted paper. The first of the new journals will appear in January 2003.
* In a May 15 story for _Planet eBook_, Sam Vaknin reviews some emerging technologies and practices that stretch the ways in which books and ebooks are used, owned, copied, and even defined.
* In a May 15 posting to _Slashdot_, Jason Haas interviews Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of _Copyright and Copywrongs_ (NYU Press, 2001). Vaidhyanathan talks about the DMCA, the CBDTPA, and his upcoming book on P2P and encryption.(Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)
* In a May 14 story, Reuters reports that analysts are pessimistic about the ebook market. The only optimists seem to be Adobe and Microsoft, the largest companies trying to make and sell them. Quoting David Card from Jupiter Media Metrix: "We haven't issued forecasts for the industry in two years because the market's going nowhere. E-books were a dumb idea. I am very negative on this market."
* The _Journal of Digital Information_ has posted some accepted papers on FOS-related topics to its web site. They will be published in the next issue.
J. van Ossenbruggen and two co-authors, "Hypermedia and the Semantic Web: A Research Agenda"
C. Lueg, "Enabling Dissemination of User-Specific Information in the Usenet Framework"
J. Clark and seven co-authors, "Digital Archive Network for Anthropology"
X. Liu and six co-authors, "Federated Searching Interface Techniques for Heterogeneous OAI Repositories"
* The May issue of _D-Lib Magazine_ is now online. It contains the following FOS-related articles.
Rachel Heery and Harry Wagner, "A Metadata Registry for the Semantic Web"
Michael Wright and two co-authors, "Meta-Design of a Community Digital Library"
William LeFurgy, "Levels of Service for Digital Repositories"
Robert Sullivan, "Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights: A Digital Library Context"
William Kilbride, "FISH Launches New Web Site" (FISH = Forum on Information Standards in Heritage; see FOSN for 4/8/02.)
David Germano, "The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library" (See FOSN for 4/22/02.)
Mary E. Jackson, "Scholars Portal Project Launched" (See FOSN for 5/15/02.)
Richard Rinehart, "Archiving the Avant Garde: Documenting and Preserving Variable Media Art"
Mary Lee, "Remaking Libraries for the Global Knowledge Renaissance"
Carol Priestley, "African Journals Online" (See FOSN for 12/19/01.)
* The Spring edition of _Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship_ Stephanie Bianchi reviews PubMed, and calls it "one of the world's greatest Databases".
* The American Library Association has released the 2002 edition of its annual report, _U.S. Serials Services Price Index_. This year's report was prepared by Nancy Chaffin and Ajaye Bloomstone.
Barbara Albee and Brenda Dingley give a brief summary of the report in the latest _American Libraries_.
* Ernest Miller and Joan Feigenbaum have put a paper online (apparently a preprint) arguing that copying "is necessary for normal use" of digital works and is therefore a poor predictor of intent to infringe. Copyright law in the digital age, then, should stop focusing on the right to control copying and shift to the right to control public distribution.(Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)
* The National Academy Press has published _Access to Research Data in the 21st Century: An Ongoing Dialogue Among Interested Parties; Report of a Workshop_. This 66 page booklet is available free online as well as in a priced, print edition. The book is a report of a workshop on the 1999 Shelby Amendment, which requires researchers to make all the data generated by federally funded research available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Chapter 5 considers methods of making data public without using the cumbersome FOAI, for example, free online access together with the software required to read the data.
Following up (new developments in continuing stories)
To see past coverage of these stories in FOSN, use the search engine at the FOSN archive.
* More on the Creative Commons
It has now launched.
News coverage of its launch.
Berkman Center summary of issues facing the Creative Commons.
Berkman Center report on how artists are responding to the Creative Commons.
* More on the Elcomsoft/Sklyarov case
The BNA _Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal_ has a careful analysis of Judge Whyte's recent ruling against Elcomsoft's constitutional arguments.
Judge Whyte has set the trial date for August 26.
* More on the CBDTPA
In _Business Week_, Jane Black reviews the ominous consequences of the CBDTPA for the open source movement.
* More on the DMCA
At the recent information commons conference in Washington DC, Rep. Rick Boucher outlined his plan to amend the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA (FOSN for 5/15/02). He has now put the text of his talk online.
Reports on Boucher's plan to submit a Digital Fair Use Bill of Rights to amend the DMCA.
Friends of the DMCA recently gathered in Washington to toast each other and the law that advances their interests.
* More on the DeCSS cases
After 2600 Magazine lost its previous appeal before a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, it asked the entire panel of Second Circuit judges to review the decision. The court just said no, in a one-line ruling. 2600 was convicted not only of distributing the DeCSS source code, but of linking to sites that also did so. The magazine has 90 days to decide whether to file an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Andrew Bunner (the DeCSS defendant who has so far won, in contrast to 2600 Magazine which has so far lost) will soon argue his case before the California Supreme Court. Two months ago, the DVD CCA appealed its defeat to the California Supreme Court and yesterday Bunner filed his reply brief. He is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the First Amendment Project.
* More on the Eldred case
The Berkman Center has posted the Eldred brief and all the pro-Eldred amicus briefs to its web site.
The Berkman Center has also created a home page for news on the Eldred case.
The _Chronicle of Higher Education_ reports on the many law professors writing amicus briefs on behalf of Eric Eldred. In addition to the constitutional arguments, some of these briefs make the case that copyright extension harms education and research.
Yale Law School used the Eldred case for its recent Moot Court competition. Eldred won. LawMeme describes the real and moot court versions of the case, and links to the moot court briefs.
Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)
* Scott Nicholson has a web page on "bibliomining", which he describes as a "combination of data mining, bibliometrics, statistics, and reporting tools used to extract patterns of behavior-based artifacts from library systems."(Thanks to Gary Price's VASND.)
* EBSCO has a free online database of publishers' license agreements.(Thanks to Library News Daily.)
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum. (Conferences marked by two asterisks are new since the last issue.)
* Libraries in the Digital Age 2002Dubrovnik, May 21-26
* Taking the Plunge: Moving from Print to Electronic JournalsLondon, May 22
* Online Submission and Peer Review. Sponsored by the Journals Committee of the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the AAP.New York, May 22
* CAiSE '02. Advanced Information Systems EngineeringToronto, May 27-31
* Workshop on Personalization Techniques in Electronic Publishing on the Web: Trends and PerspectivesMalaga, Spain, May 28
* Applications of Metadata. Sponsored by the Electronic Publishing Specialist Group of the British Computer Society.London, May 29
* Society for Scholarly Publishing (AAP)Boston, May 29-31
* Fair Use SeminarPortland, Oregon, May 30
* Off the Wall and Online: Providing Web Access to Cultural CollectionsLexington, Massachusetts, May 30-31
* Multimedia Content and Tools: Towards Information and Knowledge SystemsLondon, May 30-31
* Advancing Knowledge: Expanding Horizons for Information ScienceToronto, May 30 - June 1
* Electronic Theses and Dissertations 2002Provo, Utah, May 30 - June 1
* International Association of Technological University Libraries Annual Conference: Partnerships, Consortia, and 21st Century Library ScienceKansas City, June 2-6
* Digital Behavior: European Forum on Digital Content Creation, Management, and DistributionCologne, June 4-8
* DELOS Workshop on Evaluation of Digital Libraries: Testbeds, Measurements, and MetricsBudapest, June 6-7
* Social Implicatoins of Information and Communication TechnologyRaleigh, North Carolina, June 6-8
* Electronic Resources and the Social Role of Libraries in the FutureSudak, Ukraine, June 8-16
* First International Semantic Web ConferenceSardinia, June 9-12
* Frontiers of Ownership in the Digital Economy: Information Patents, Database Protection and the Politics of KnowledgeParis, June 10-11
* IASSIST 2002: Accelerating Access, Collaboration, and DisseminationUniversity of Connecticut, June 11-15
** Building our Cultural Heritage --ElectronicallyAtlanta, June 17
* The Commons in an Age of Globalisation. Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common PropertyVictoria Falls, Zimbabwe, June 17-21
* Informing Science and IT EducationCork, June 19-21
* 8th International Conference of European University Information SystemsPorto, June 19-22
* Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers: Exploiting the Online Environment for Maximum AdvantageBirmingham, June 20-21
* Transforming Serials: The Revolution ContinuesWilliamsburg, Virginia, June 20-23
* Delivering Content to Universities and Colleges: The Challenges of the New Information Environment. Sponsored by JISC, PA, and ALPSP.London, June 21
* Choices and Strategies for Preservation of the Collective MemoryBolzano, Italy, June 25-29
* CIG Seminar: REVEALed: The Truth Behind the National Database of Resources in Accessible FormatsLondon, June 26
* 4th International JISC/CNI ConferenceEdinburgh, June 26-27
* Digitisation Summer School for Cultural Heritage ProfessionalsGlasgow, June 30 - July 5
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
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Copyright (c) 2002, Peter Suber