Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #74
June 2, 2004

Read this issue online

Elsevier permits postprint archiving

In a May 27 email to Stevan Harnad, Karen Hunter announced an important change of policy at Elsevier.  The world's largest publisher of scientific and scholarly journals now permits postprint archiving.   Elsevier authors may now provide open access to the final editions of their full-text articles by posting them to their personal web sites or their institutional repositories.  They may not deposit them to repositories elsewhere.  The archived or OA edition must be author-made, not Elsevier's PDF or HTML, and must include a link either to the journal's home page or the article's DOI.  Hunter is Elsevier's Senior Vice President for Strategy.

The new policy is not yet spelled out on the Elsevier web site or copyright transfer agreements, but the updates will follow shortly. 

See Stevan Harnad's listserv announcement, quoting Karen Hunter's email with comments of his own.

Yes, this is the breakthrough that it seems to be.  We may disagree about how well it matches public definitions of "open access", how it weighs against other Elsevier policies, or even how much it was foreshadowed by earlier Elsevier actions.  But there is no question that it marks significant progress for OA.  Permission for postprint archiving is all that authors need to provide OA to the final, peer-reviewed editions of their own work.  Elsevier deserves our thanks for adopting this most helpful policy.

How important are the limitations on the policy?  If authors cannot provide OA to Elsevier's own HTML or PDF, then they will not be able to provide OA to the "official" version of the article.  This hardly matters if authors can provide OA to the final edition of the text.  Scholars will not refuse to read the OA edition, but will they refuse to cite it?   From the standpoint of OA, it doesn't matter.  Will authors be prohibited from adding the final pagination to their own editions?  The policy doesn't say so, although many authors will not be bothered.

How important is it that Elsevier will not allow authors to deposit their postprints in OA repositories outside their own institutions?  This restriction rules out deposit in arXiv and PubMed Central, for example, though only for postprints.  On the one hand, as long as the final version of the full-text is OA through the author's institutional repository, and as long as the repository is interoperable with other repositories through the OAI protocol, then all OAI-compliant data services can find it and share it.  Moreover, an increasing number of non-0AI services, like Google and Yahoo, will also be able to find it and share it.  But does Elsevier's restriction mean that when users find a copy in the author's institutional repository, they are not free to make and redistribute their own copies?  If so, the restriction would be inconsistent with most public definitions of "open access", inconsistent with the usage policies of most institutional repositories, and unenforceable.

A policy-change that supports OA archiving does not entail policy-changes that ameliorate high prices, inflexible bundling terms, or harsh negotiating tactics.  And it is not a ground for overlooking any policies that hinder the access to published research.  Individual scholars and institutions will have to decide for themselves how these pluses and minuses net out.  However, if Elsevier authors want free online access to their work, this opportunity makes it possible, regardless of every other policy and practice at Elsevier.  By helping authors without helping libraries, Elsevier may challenge institutions that support OA only in order to help libraries.  But the breakthrough is that Elsevier is now helping authors by removing access barriers to their work.

Until now, Elsevier permitted preprint archiving but not postprint archiving.  That is, it did not to ask authors of published articles to remove their preprints from the web, at least when the preprints differed from the postprints. 

Its position on postprint archiving was complex and in some ways unclear.  Authors could put their postprints on non-public directories within their employer's web site.  Authors could not update their OA preprints to match the texts of their published postprints.  Authors who wanted to put their postprints on a public, OA server had to ask Elsevier case by case for permission.  This is the clear part of the older policy. 

See Elsevier's page on rights retained by authors (checked May 31, 2004)

Also see Elsevier's page on electronic preprints (checked May 31, 2004)

However, at a time when the Elsevier web site described the same policy against postprint archiving that it describes today, Derk Haank gave an interview to Richard Poynder in which he proudly described a much more liberal archiving policy (Information Today, April 2002).  At the time, Haank was the Elsevier CEO.

[Haank] "We consider open archiving to be in line with our policy of open linking, which we have always supported. As a founding father of CrossRef, we realize that other initiatives like open archiving could be another means to the same end...."

[Poynder] "You imply that open archiving is the same as CrossRef, but CrossRef assumes that linked articles are all behind a financial firewall.  Open archiving, by contrast, depends on researchers self-archiving their articles on the Web so that anyone can access them at no cost.  Supposing an academic wants to publish a paper in one of your journals, but to self-archive it on the Web as well.  Would that be acceptable to Elsevier?"

[Haank] "You can put your paper on your own Web site if you want. The only thing we insist on is that if we publish your article you don't publish it in a Springer or Wiley journal, too. In fact, I believe we have the most liberal copyright policy available."

This interview made it unclear whether Elsevier permitted postprint OA without case-by-case permission, whether it permitted postprint OA through archives or only personal web sites, and whether authors should follow the policy on the company web site or the policy articulated in public by the CEO.  When I wrote to Haank for clarification, he did not reply. 

Other highly-placed Elsevier officers used the conservative web-site edition of the policy in their public statements, not the liberal Haank version.  For example, Jeffrey Young cited the conservative version of the policy in a July 5, 2002, article for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  His source was Arie Jongejan, CEO of Elsevier's Science and Technology Division.  Young's paraphrase:  "Elsevier does allow its authors to publish their papers in institutional repositories or other noncommercial archives, provided that the authors ask permission first.  [Jongejan] says that fewer than 5 percent of authors ask."

Another sign that Elsevier's upper management was not uniformly friendly to OA archiving was Pieter Bolman's column ("Chairman's Corner") in the Fall 2003 issue of the Professional Scholarly Publishing Bulletin.  At the time Bolman was the Vice President and Director of STM Relations at Elsevier.  In the column Bolman questioned both the practicality and the legality of OA archiving.

I really don't know whether Haank meant to assert such a liberal policy in his conversation with Poynder.  Even if he did, I don't know whether he was the only one in the company at the time to support wider OA archiving or whether his support outlived his tenure at the company and affected the recent decision to liberalize the policy.

However, one reading of the events is that Elsevier always opposed OA journals, at least for itself, but did not always oppose OA archiving.  The new policy could be the blossoming of a seed planted in 2002 or before.

I don't want to put a cynical reading on the new policy permitting OA archiving.  On the contrary, I want to celebrate it.  But it's not cynical to wonder how the change could be in Elsevier's interest.  What might Elsevier have been thinking? 

Here's one possibility:  The new policy gives it an edge over most other publishers.  If Elsevier permits postprint archiving, then it is suddenly more advantageous to authors than before.  (Authors take note:  this is true.)  This will help Elsevier journals in the competition for high-quality submissions, at least against journals that do not permit postprint archiving.  If other journals follow suit, then (Elsevier may be hoping) either they will do it late, giving Elsevier a period of unanswered competitive advantage, or they will do it with fewer resources to survive a decline in subscriptions that might --or might not-- result.  If Elsevier's own subscriptions decline more than it can absorb, then it can always change its archiving policy.  If postprint archiving does not cause a decline in subscriptions, then Elsevier has found a costless way to attract authors and get a jump on most of its competitors.

Pre-authorized postprint archiving is a real, if little-noticed, area of common ground between OA advocates and subscription-based journal publishers.  As I put it in the February SOAN, 2004 may be the year that "journal self-interest will join author and reader self-interest" in fueling new progress toward OA.

Two recent reports support Elsevier in thinking along these lines --if indeed it was thinking along these lines.  The new CIBER report on what authors want shows that most senior researchers know very little about OA.  A February report from JISC and OSI shows that when authors do learn about OA, they support it in very large majorities.  Put the two together and they suggest that demand for OA will grow roughly in proportion to familiarity with the concept.  Since the viral growth in familiarity with OA cannot be stopped, it is prudent for any publisher to position itself to appeal to this growing constituency, the sooner the better. 

CIBER report on what authors want (dated March 18, 2004, but released in May 2004)

JISC/OSI authors survey, February 2004
(I discuss these two reports further in the essay on author primacy, below.)

Here's another possibility:  By lending its weight to OA archiving, and helping it spread, Elsevier might be hoping to reduce the demand for OA journals.  But will any amount of OA archiving reduce the demand for OA journals?  Nobody knows.  It might satisfy some of the stakeholders who have been working for OA.  But it would not negate any of the benefits or undercut any of the arguments for OA journals.  For example, it would not turn their business models from sustainable to unsustainable or reduce the integrity of their peer review.  My guess is that even rapidly spreading OA archiving will do little to reduce the drive for OA journals.

Let me conclude by making two appeals.

* Appeal to authors:  Don't let your other quarrels with Elsevier distort your understanding of what just happened.  By all means weigh this development against the other advantages and disadvantages of submitting your work to Elsevier journals.  But don't prejudge the outcome by failing to take account of changing circumstances.  The new policy lets you provide free online access to your work, even if it doesn't solve other problems.  It's an opportunity worth seizing, even if you are dedicated to solving some of the other problems the new policy does not address.

* Appeal to publishers:  Consider following suit.  If you allow postprint archiving, then you can support OA without converting your business model.  You can provide this kind of OA immediately and let other OA-related policy changes depend on the results of experiments now under way at OA and hybrid journals.  You can match and neutralize the incentive Elsevier just created for authors to submit their work to Elsevier journals.


"It's the authors, stupid!"

Of all the groups that want open access to scientific and scholarly research literature, only one is in a position to deliver it:  authors.  There are three reasons why:

If you support OA, then the good news is that authors don't need anyone else's permission or cooperation to provide OA to their own work.  The bad news is that research authors are notoriously anarchical and do not act as a bloc.  If you oppose OA, then simply switch the good news and the bad.

So even though readers, libraries, universities, foundations, and governments want OA for their own reasons, most of what they can do to promote OA takes the form of guiding, helping, or nudging authors.  In this sense, authors have primacy in the campaign for OA, and the single largest obstacle to OA is author inertia or omission.

Once we recognize this, we will focus on four author-centric strategies for achieving OA:

  1. Educate authors about OA
  2. Help authors provide OA to their work
  3. Remove disincentives for authors to provide OA to their work
  4. Create incentives for authors to provide OA to their work

Let's consider these in order.

(1) Educate authors about OA

Author inertia or omission is not a sign of opposition.  Usually it is a sign of ignorance or inattention.  Most scientists and scholars are too preoccupied with their research to know what open access is --even today, after years of rising public recognition.  This is harmful to OA, to science, and to the authors themselves, but it’s hard to criticize directly.  Research faculty are good at what they do because they are absorbed in their projects and have extraordinary talents for shutting out distractions.  We're coping here with a side-effect of this strength, not with a simple weakness.

A new CIBER study shows that 82% of senior researchers (4,000 thousand in 97 countries) knew "nothing" or just "a little" about OA.  Even if the numbers are better for junior faculty, we clearly have a long way to go just to educate the scientists and scholars themselves.

Talk to your colleagues about OA.  Talk them on campus and at conferences.  Talk to them to them in writing through the journals and newsletters that serve your field.  Talk to your students, the authors of tomorrow.

If you have provided OA to your own work, talk to your colleagues about your experience.  Firsthand testimonials from trusted colleagues are much more effective than policy arguments, even good policy arguments.  They are also more effective with this audience than advice from librarians or university administrators, even good advice.  The chief problem is getting the attention of busy colleagues and showing them that this matters for their research impact and career.  Only researchers can do this for other researchers. 

A surprising number of OA converts --I'm one-- didn't go beyond understanding to enthusiasm until they provided OA to their own writings and saw for themselves, sometimes suddenly, the signs of rising impact.  There is a discernible increase in email from serious readers, inclusions in course syllabi, links from online indices, invitations to important conferences, and citations from other publications.  When you experience this in your own case, it's anecdotal but compelling.  When you hear it from a trusted colleague, it makes a difference. 

If you don't have time for sustained campaigning, then at least respond to misunderstandings.  Don't let damaging myths circulate without correction.  When someone says that OA bypasses peer review or violates copyright, correct them.  When someone says that OA is naive because "there's no free lunch", point out that no OA advocate ever said that providing OA was without expense.  (The question is whether there are better ways to cover those expenses than by charging readers or their libraries for access.)

The best compendium of common myths about OA, decisively corrected, is by BioMed Central.

Let's say that x is the percentage of publishing scientists and scholars who have already provided OA to at least some of their writings.  To jumpstart progress significantly, we don't need x to rise to 100 or even 50.  We need the percentage of publishing scientists and scholars *who have heard about the benefits of OA firsthand from a trusted colleague* to rise to 2x.  If 5-10% of university faculty publish 80% of the articles, then a slight widening of the current circle will encompass a critical mass of authors.

Many scholars are not at all ignorant of OA, but say they are just too busy to take the steps to provide it for their own research articles.  I'm sympathetic, because full-time teacher-researchers *are* very busy.  But I'm not very sympathetic.  Scholars who have time to do research and write it up don't begrudge this time, because this is work they love.  But if they get this far, then they always find time for follow-up steps that they do not love:  submitting the articles to journals and responding to referee comments.  Finally, they always seem to have time to bring their published articles to the attention of department chairs, deans, promotion and tenure committees, and colleagues in the field.  Scholars find the time for these steps because they are passionate about their research, because they want to share it with others, and (for the unloved steps) because they see the connection between them and career-building. 

Providing OA to our work is career-building.  The benefits to others are significant, but dwelling on them might have drawn attention away from the strong self-interest that authors have in OA.  Get the attention of your colleagues and make this point.  OA is about barrier-free sharing of research results with colleagues worldwide.  This enlarges our audience and increases our impact.  Anyone who takes half an hour to email an updated bibliography to the department chair or to snail-mail offprints to colleagues on other campuses should take five minutes to deposit a new article in an open-access archive or institutional repository.  Enlighten your colleagues.

(2) Help authors provide OA to their work

Even when scholars see the connection between OA and research impact, they have to set priorities.  It's not surprising that they give new research priority over enhancing the dissemination of old research, or that they give work with near deadlines priority over work with no deadlines.  Here is where concrete help comes in. 

Librarians can help faculty members deposit their work in an open-access, OAI-compliant archive, such as the university's institutional repository.  It doesn't matter whether authors need help because they are too busy, because they are intimidated by metadata, or because their past work is voluminous or pre-digital.  Librarians can help them digitize and deposit it.  In most cases, student library workers can help in the same way.

Universities can help by providing the funds to pay librarians or student workers to provide this kind of help.  They can help by paying the processing fees charged by OA journals when funding agencies will not do so.  They can help by offering workshops on how authors can retain the rights they need to authorize OA.  They can help by suggesting model language for authors to use in copyright transfer agreements. 

(3) Remove disincentives for authors to provide OA to their work

When Franz Ingelfinger was the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, he adopted a policy not to accept any article that had previously been published or publicized elsewhere.  As the policy spread to other journals, it became known as the Ingelfinger Rule.  It seems to be in decline nowadays, but it's hard to tell because many journals do not say explicitly on their web sites whether or not they follow the rule.  The rule, and the uncertainty about where it applies, deter authors from depositing their preprints in OA archives.  Researchers who proudly disregard the risk that their work will offend church and state flee from the risk that preprint archiving will disqualify their work for later publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The best way for journals to remove this disincentive is to abandon or modify the Ingelfinger Rule and to say so publicly.  Journals only have to modify the rule enough to let authors take advantage of online preprint exchanges.  They can still refuse to consider submissions that have been formally published elsewhere.  The second best way for journals to remove this disincentive is to make their policies clear and explicit on their web sites so that authors can make informed decisions about the risks.  Authors in fields where the rule is rare, or who have no plans to submit their work to journals where it is still in force, will then have the confidence to provide OA to their preprints.

Promotion and tenure committees (P&T committees) create a disincentive for submitting work to OA journals when they only reward work published in a certain set of high-impact journals.  The problem is that most OA journals are new and don't yet have impact factors.  When a committee makes impact factor a necessary condition for review, then it discriminates against new journals, even excellent new journals.  It not only discriminates against new journals trying out a new business and distribution model, but against journals exploring a new research niche or methodology.  The problem is not the committee's attempt to weed out the second-rate.  The problem is doing it badly, with a crude criterion, so that the committee also rules out much that is first-rate.

Administrators who understand this problem can set policy for their P&T committees.  Faculty who understand this problem can volunteer to serve on the committee. 

Foundations that fund research are often as blinkered as P&T committees, even if the same foundations try to support OA through other policies.  If they tend to award grants only to applicants who have published in the usual small set of high-impact journals, then they deter authors from publishing in OA journals, even while they show support by offering to pay the processing fees charged by OA journals.

(4) Create incentives for authors to provide OA to their work

Universities can create an incentive by requiring OA to all the research articles that faculty would like the P&T committee to consider.  Because this can be done through OA archives, it is compatible with publishing the same articles in conventional, subscription-based journals.  The policy needn't limit the freedom of authors to publish in any journal that will accept their work.

Funding agencies, public and private, can create an incentive for authors by requiring OA to the results of the funded research.  They should let authors choose between OA archives and OA journals, and should make reasonable exceptions, e.g. for classified research and patentable discoveries.

Authors would not oppose these steps.  A February 2004 study by JISC and OSI found (pp. 56-57) that when authors are asked "how they would feel if their employer or funding body required them to deposit copies of their published articles in one or more [open-access] repositories...[t]he vast majority, even of the non-OA author group, said they *would do so willingly*." (Italics in original.)

Finally, we could provide a significant incentive for authors if we could make OA journals as prestigious as conventional journals of the same quality.  Unfortunately, it's easier to control a journal's actual excellence than its reputed excellence, and prestige is all about reputed excellence.  One way to boost prestige is to recruit eminent scholars to serve on the editorial board, a method used effectively by PLoS Biology and BMC's Journal of Biology.  Another way is for eminent scholars who are beyond the reach of myopic P&T committees to submit new, excellent work to OA journals.  This will tend to break the vicious circle by which new OA journals need excellent submissions to build prestige, and need prestige to attract excellent submissions.

* Conclusion.  I've argued for author primacy, but only for achieving OA, not necessarily for any other purpose.  For example, I make no claim that authors are the only ones to benefit from OA or that their reasons for wanting it are the only reasons for wanting it.  Nor do I claim that it's more important for authors to solve their problems (in achieving visibility and impact) than for other stakeholders to solve their problems (libraries regaining control of their serials budgets, funders increasing the return on their investment in research, or taxpayers gaining access to the results of taxpayer-funded research).  Nor do I claim that OA is more effective in helping authors advance their interests than it is in helping, say, libraries, foundations, or democratic governments advance theirs.  Since OA will serve the interests of many groups in many ways, there is no need to rank or choose among these interests.  Let's just work for OA and advance all their interests at the same time.

But thinking about how to achieve OA is different from thinking about who benefits or by how much.  It's when we think about how to achieve OA that we must recognize the primacy of authors.  Many groups suffer from dysfunctions in the current system of scholarly communication, but authors are at the frontline of control over the solution.  Author decisions will affect the degree to which we achieve OA and the rate at which we achieve it.

It does not follow that we should only appeal to authors.  Rather, we should focus first on authors and the institutions in a position to influence authors.  If we limit our appeal to authors, then we will sacrifice the power of a wide partnership of stakeholders, not to mention powerful ways to influence authors themselves.  If we overlook authors, or focus first on another group, like publishers, then we will miss precious opportunities to realize the benefits of OA for everyone.


Providing open access to past research articles, starting with the most important

This is a short version of a new idea.  I have a longer version online.

Here's the gist of the idea:  First, an authoritative scholar or organization compiles a bibliography of the most important previously published research articles on a subject of urgent public interest, such as the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS.  Second, a hard-working soul asks the journals that published those articles to provide open access to them retroactively.

Let's say that the person compiling the list of articles is the "bibliographer".  It won't be hard to find a credible bibliographer.  It could be a scholar with a track record in the field or a respected organization like the International AIDS Society.

Let's say that the person who contacts the journals is the "facilitator".  The facilitator might be a volunteer, but I expect that the work will be extensive and that foundations will be willing to fund it.  The facilitator will have many tasks.  First ascertain which articles from the bibliography are already OA and temporarily put them to one side.  Then organize the remaining articles by journal.  Contact each journal, identify the articles it published from the list, and ask it to provide OA to those articles.  As needed, explain the request, answer questions, and negotiate details.

Some journals will accept these OA invitations and some will not.  When the responses are in, the bibliographer and facilitator, or the organizations sponsoring them, will publicly thank the participating journals and produce a revised online version of the bibliography with links to OA versions of its articles.

For lack of a better term, let me call these projects "unbinding projects".  I imagine they will be tried first in medicine, where the public good is easily seen, the need is urgent, and OA is familiar.  However, the strategy is general and could be applied wherever there is clear social utility in accelerating the pace of research.  OA to the most important papers on artificial photosynthesis, fuel-efficient engines, or pollution-scrubbing smokestacks will advance R&D on these beneficial technologies.  Will a non-medical journal feel the same force from an unbinding request as a medical journal?  We won't know until we try, but it seems safe to assume that journals publishing important articles on (say) wind power will be the same journals most receptive to the message that accelerating research on wind power is an important public good.

Why would journals agree to participate?  Mainly because participation would cost them very little, would significantly advance the public interest, and would bring them recognition as first-rate journals that they should be able to translate into new submissions, advertising, and subscriptions.  Because unbinding projects only use previously published articles, the journals will already have paid the costs of soliciting, vetting, editing, preparing, and publishing the articles (in most cases, electronic versions of the articles) and will already have recovered these costs through subscription and licensing fees.  They will only have to make copies of the electronic files, place them in a barrier-free directory of their web sites, or in a suitable OA repository elsewhere, and perhaps add some boilerplate text about their OA status and new links from the tables of contents.

An unbinding project does not ask a journal to accept or publish new articles, to convert to an OA business model, or (where it is the copyright holder) to release articles into the public domain.  Journals needn't worry that this kind of OA, even if extensive, would cause subscribers to cancel.  That may be a worry with a general policy to provide OA to all new articles, or to all past articles after an embargo period, but it does not arise with the selective, unpredictable, and retroactive opening of access to articles that turn out to be landmarks in their field.

Articles from journals that elect not to participate in an unbinding project will not be included in the final bibliography.  The project sponsors will draw no public attention to any journal's decision not to participate.  The purpose of an unbinding project is to open up research on important subjects and applaud those who help, not to pressure or embarrass anyone who does not.  However, there may be ways to recognize the important work of authors on the original bibliography, even if the project cannot link to OA editions of their work.  See my full exposition of the idea for details.

Unbinding projects will provide true OA to participating articles, even if they will not convert whole journals to OA.  For this reason, some OA proponents may find them insufficient.  My reply:  yes, of course they are insufficient.  This is one step on one front in a large campaign on many fronts.  The small scale of unbinding projects is exactly why journals might accept them.  They will deliver OA to a critical body of literature not otherwise targeted by OA initiatives.  And they won't interfere with progress toward OA through other initiatives or on other fronts.

An unbinding request is limited in scope and risk, making it easy for journals to assess and accept.  It is a frank business proposition, with true benefits for a journal to weigh against the costs.  It invites deliberation, not confrontation, and moves the OA question from sometimes obstreperous debates to the quiet of the journal's business office. Finally, it is likely that many journals will see it as a win-win proposition, agree to it whole-heartedly, and thereby enlarge the body of OA research literature, make their own important articles more useful, and accelerate research on  matters of vital public need.

* Postscript.  I'm interested in improving the article before I publish it and welcome your suggestions.  See the long version, however, before sending your thoughts.

But above all, I'm interested in hearing from organizations that might want to implement an unbinding project.  I want to publicize any projects that get off the ground.  And until it becomes too time-consuming, I'm willing to help bibliographers find facilitators and help facilitators find funding.


Coming up later this month

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

* Notable conferences this month

Changing Research Practices in the Digital Information and Communication Environment (sponsored by Australia's National Scholarly Communications Forum)
Canberra, June 1, 2004

Toward New Economies of Information Access:  Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting 2004 (sponsored by the AAP's SSP)
San Francisco, June 2-4, 2004

Free Bitflows: Cultures of Access and Politics of Dissemination
Vienna, June 3-4, 2004

Canadian Association of Learned Journals / Association canadienne des revues savantes, 2004 Congress
Winnipeg, June 3-4, 2004

Distributing knowledge worldwide through better scholarly communication (7th International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations, sponsored by the NDLTD)
Lexington, Kentucky, June 3-5, 2004

Institutional Repositories:  Revealing Our Strengths (co-sponsored by OLMS, SPARC, and CARL) (a webcast costing $150 per connection license)
June 10, 2004

Colleges, Code, and Copyright:  The impact of digital networks and technological controls on copyright and the dissemination of information in higher education
Adelphi, Maryland, June 10-11, 2004

Wizards of OS 3:  The Future of the Digital Commons
Berlin, June 10-12, 2004

The Digital Library and e-Publishing for Science, Technology, and Medicine (sponsored by TICER)
Geneva, June 13-18, 2004

Electronic publication of archaeological journals (sponsored by the Council for British Archaeology and the Society of Antiquaries of London)
London, June 14, 2004

A Day in the Life of an E-Resources Publisher (open access is among the topics)
[I'm looking for a more official URL.]
Oxford, June 15, 2004

E-Journal Technical Update (from UKSG)
Oxford, June 16, 2004

Fine-Line Publishing: Creating the Finest Publications Using the Thinnest Resources (sponsored by SNAP)
Washington, D.C., June 17, 2004

NASIG 2004 Annual Conference (open access is among the topics)
Milwaukee, June 17-20, 2004

Knowledge Held Hostage:  Scholarly versus Corporate Rights In The Digital Age
Philadelphia, June 18, 2004

Introduction to Journals Publishing (sponsored by ALPSP)
London, June 23, 2004

Building Digital Bridges:  Linking Cultures, Commerce, and Science (ICCC 8th International Conference on Electronic Publishing)
Brasilia, June 23-26, 2004

Institutional Repositories and Their Impact on Scholarly Publishing (PALS Conference 04)
London, June 24, 2004

American Library Association 2004 Annual Conference
Orlando, Florida, June 24-30, 2004

Libre Accès et publication scientifique : la nécessaire implication des chercheurs
La Rochelle, June 25, 2004

2004 Annual Meeting of the Association of American University Presses (open access is among the topics)
Vancouver, June 26-29, 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. 

* Google extended its reach into the world of electronic scholarship with several important announcements.

Barbara Quint, CrossRef Search Uses Google to Provide Full-Text Access, Information Today, May 3, 2004.

Mark Chillingworth, Google refines scientific search with CrossRef pilot, Information World Review, May 10, 2004.

Extenza press release announcing Google indexing of Extenza ejournals, May 11, 2004.

Ingenta press release announcing Google indexing of Ingenta ejournals, May 14, 2004.

Jeffrey Young, Libraries Aim to Widen Google's Eyes, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 21, 2004.

Robin Peek, Googling DSpace, Information Today, June 2004.

* The last session of oral evidence in the UK inquiry took place on May 5.  The House Committee is now preparing its report.

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has posted the uncorrected transcript of the oral testimony from May 5. The witnesses in this transcript are Keith O'Nions (Director General of the Research Councils), Rama Thirunamachandran (Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer, Higher Education Funding Council for England), and John Wood (Research Councils UK).

Richard Poynder, U.K. Academics and Librarians Disagree Over Open Access Publishing, Information Today, May 3, 2004.

Anon., UK Parliament's STM Inquiry Continues: Librarians "Wimps"? Library Journal, April 12, 2004.

Anon., UK STM Inquiry Hears Library Concerns Over Bundling, Library Journal, April 12, 2004.

* The W3photo Project is creating photo archives with OA images and OA image metadata.

* Project Euclid has announced that it will host Probability Surveys, a new, OA journal from the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

* The University of California Libraries adopted a policy (May 13, 2004) for the cataloging, linking, and management of OA resources. The policy includes criteria for what counts as an OA resource (based primarily on the BOAI) and procedures for nominating and approving OA resources for cataloging. Faculty who want a certain OA resource to be catalogued may fill out an online request form.

* The Society for Neuroscience's Brain Information Group launched the OA Neuroscience Database Gateway, which provides a unified interface to 76 independent databases.

* The Harvard University Library added a collection, Women Working 1870-1930, to its Open Collections Project.

* On May 26, the Open Access News blog celebrated its second birthday.

* On May 25, Australia's eight leading research universities (the Group of Eight) released a public statement endorsing open access to scholarly information.

* PubMed Central provided free online access to the backfiles of more journals:  the Canadian Veterinary Journal, the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, Harm Reduction Journal,  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, and Retrovirology.

* Mazarin is a new, open-source, searchable interface to the OA texts at Project Gutenberg.

* The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) introduced an OA option for authors.  "PNAS authors may opt to pay a $1000 surcharge to make their articles available for free via PNAS Online and PubMed Central immediately upon publication."  After December 31, 2005, PNAS will assess the experiment and decide whether to continue it.

Also see editor Nicholas Cozzarelli's editorial in the May 27 issue, An open access option for PNAS.

* Seventeen literary scholars launched Nines, a "publishing environment" and portal of peer-reviewed, open-access scholarship on 19th century British and American literature.

* A new study by the Rand Corporation concludes that the U.S. federal government took too much open-access information off government web sites after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Also see Sarita Chourey, Feds map risks of GIS: Guidelines seek balance between security, access, Federal Computer Week, May 31, 2004.

* On May 11, an alliance of twelve major US government science agencies launched Science.gov version 2.0, a portal to 47 million pages of OA science in government databases.  The major enhancement over 1.0 is relevance ranking in the site search engine.

See also Paula Hane, Science.gov 2.0 Launches with New Relevance Ranking Technology, Information Today, May 24, 2004.

* The Canadian Research Knowledge Network incorporated on April 1, and will take over the work formerly done by the Canadian National Site Licensing Project.  THE CRKN describes its mission as "expanding access to scholarly research in digital formats for the benefit of academic researchers nation-wide."

* The Digital Library Research Group at Old Dominion University released Kepler version 1.2. Kepler is open-source software for making open-access, OAI-compliant "archivelets".  An archivelet is an archive for the research output of a single person.

* Laval University Library released Archimede, new open-source software for building and maintaining an open-access, OAI-compliant eprint archive.

* The Australian government responded to the recommendations of three recent reports on research infrastructure and innovation.

* At the Berlin 2 meeting (Geneva, May 12-13), CERN signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Also see Richard Sietmann, CERN unterstützt Open Access, Heise Online, May 24, 2004.

* The US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revised its draft regulations to reform the way federal agencies use peer review before releasing scientific information to the public.  The comment period on the revision ended May 28.

* The Italian Alliance Against Cancer (Alleanza contro il cancro, or ACC) purchased institutional memberships in BioMed Central for all nine Italian oncology institutes in the alliance.

* NASA and the USGS are pooling their collected data to launch an OA database on the magnetic properties of the Earth's rocks.  The unified database is not yet online.

* The European Bioinformatics Institute launched Genome Reviews, an OA "standardized resource for completely sequenced genomes."

* The Open Access Communication for Science (OACS) research project now has a web site. The project is lead by Bo-Christer Björk of the Swedish school of Economics and Business Administration (HANKEN) and funded by the Academy of Finland.

* Four first-rate liberal arts colleges in Minnesota (Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Macalester, and St. Olaf) separately refused three-year renewals of ScienceDirect.  In their joint press release explaining why, they strongly endorse open access.

Also see Anon., Four Small Minnesota Colleges Say No to the "Big Deal", Library Journal, May 25, 2004.

* Charles W. Bailey, Jr. issued Version 53 of his monumental Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography.

* The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) launched a three-year fundraising campaign to build an endowment to assure its long-term survival as a peer-reviewed, open-access encyclopedia.

* Finland's National Electronic Library has negotiated institutional memberships in BioMed Central for every university, polytechnic, and research institute in the country.

* Vikas Kamat asked Eugene Garfield whether he thought that OA journals would "dilute the quality of scholarship?" Garfield's reply: "I have tried to avoid public comment on the Open Access issue. But a simple answer to your question is NO!!"

* Lawrence Lessig and Jeffrey Knowles discussed Kahle v. Ashcroft on NPR on M ay 6, 2004.

* On April 14, David Goodman proposed a new funding model for OA journals on the LibLicense discussion list. We blogged it on April 21, and on May 7 UKSG Serials eNews published extensive excerpts from the discussion.

* Michael Leach started a good thread on the DSpace-General list by asking whether anyone had written an authoring module for DSpace that would let the author click a button in order to submit a finished preprint to given journal (whose submission specs were already coded into the system) --and click another button in order to deposit the preprint in the institutional or disciplinary repository.

* Eric Lease Morgan created a working demo of a search engine for full-text articles published in OA journals. He calls it DOAJI Search. Currently it searches a 19-title subset of the journals catalogued by the Lund DOAJ.

DOAJI Search was named "nice web site" of the month by the June issue of Internet Resources Newsletter.

* The Berkeley Electronic Press and Engineering Conferences International launched the ECI Symposium Series, a collection of open-access articles, conference presentations, data sets, and other digital resources. In the future, some conference organizers may limit access to their proceedings to conference particpants; but ECI has not yet decided whether to offer that option and in the meantimne the default is OA.

* Librarians can help the plaintiffs in Kahle v. Ashcroft by identifying works in their collections that were published between 1964 and 1977 and that would enter the public domain immediately if the lawsuit succeeds.

* Invitrogen now offers open access to its Gateway and related cloning technologies for use in the NIH Mammalian Gene Collection Program.

* J.D. Lasica is offering OA to the chapters of his book in progress, Darknet:  Remixing the Future of Movies, Music and Television, to be published by John Wiley & Sons.

* The U.S. Department of Agriculture hosts a searchable OA database of agricultural exporters.

* Elsevier transferred ChemWeb.com to ChemIndustry.com effective April 8, 2004.


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. 

* AKM Adam, Openness, Publication, and Scholarship, AKMA's Random Thoughts, May 28, 2004.  A blog posting.

* Scott Allen, News from Boston's medical and scientific community, Boston Globe, May 25, 2004. On the upcoming launch of PLoS Medicine.

* Anon., Editorial, Journal of Biology 3, 5 (2004).  On JBiol's OA strategy.

* Anon., First Person:  Harold Varmus, The Scientist, May 24, 2004.  An interview.

* Anon., Open Access Cuts Cost 30%, Says UK-Based Study, Library Journal, April 12, 2004.

* Anon., OpenCourseWare spreading worldwide, MIT Tech Talk, May 5, 2004.

* Anon., Research should be free on web, London Times, May 11, 2004.

* Anon., UK STM Inquiry Oral Evidence Sessions Wrap Up, Library Journal, May 18, 2004.

* Mohd Aqil, Open access publishing: a boon for scientific community, Medical Science Monitor, May 2004.  A letter to the editor.

* Chris Awre, Seeing is Believing: The JISC Information Environment Presentation Programme, Ariadne, April 2004.
* Kevin G Becker et al, The Genetic Association Database, Nature Genetics 36 (2004) pp. 431-432.

* Theodore Bergstrom and Carl Bergstrom, Can 'author pays' journals compete with 'reader pays'? Nature, May 20, 2004.

* A. Malcolm Campbell, Open Access: A PLoS for Education, PLoS Biology, May 2004.

* Mary Case, Information Access Alliance: Challenging anticompetitive behavior in academic publishing, College & Research Libraries News, June 2004.

* Suw Charman, Something for Nothing: The Free Culture AudioBook Project, Chocolate and Vodka, May 24, 2004.

* Mark Chillingworth, JISC seeks common ground with information providers, Information World Review, May 6, 2004.

* Linda Cicero, At What Cost?  Stanford Magazine, June 2004.

* Walt Crawford, "Library Access to Scholarship" and "Library Access Perspective" from Cites & Insights, June 2004.

* Walt Crawford, Journals Revisited: A Survivable Future, American Libraries, May 2004.

* Blaise Cronin, Scholars and Scripts, Eyeballs and Epistemes: What it Means to Publish.  The PPT slides from his April 29, 2004, public lecture at OCLC.

* Phil Cross, Debra Hiom and Emma Place, The ePrints UK Workshop, Ariadne, April 2004.

* A. Jamie Cuticchia & Gregg W. Silk, Bioinformatics needs a software archive, Nature, May 20, 2004.

* Jeffrey Darlington, A National Archive of Datasets, Ariadne, April 2004.

* Marlène Delhaye, Une alternative aux revues commerciales : les revues en Accès Ouvert, BiblioAcid, March 2004.  (PS:  I omit the other OA-related articles from this issue because they are French translations of English-language articles previously cited in SOAN.)

* Tim DiLauro, Choosing the components of a digital infrastructure, First Monday, May 2004.

* Helen Doyle, Andy Gass, and Rebecca Kennison, Open Access and Scientific Societies, PLoS Biology, May 2004.

* Helen Doyle, Public Library of Science (PLoS):  Committed to Making the World's Scientific and Medical Literature A Public Resource, ASIDIC Newsletter, Spring 2004.

* Miriam Drake, Access to Government-Funded Information, ASIDIC Newsletter, Spring 2004.

* James Fallows, The Twilight of the Information Middlemen, New York Times, May 16, 2004.

* J. Carlos Fernández-Molina, Contractual and technological approaches for protecting digital works: their relationship with copyright limitations, Online Information Review, 28, 2 (2004) pp. 148-157.

* Richard C. Flagan and Philip Hopke, Open access to the Aerosol Science and Technology archive, Aerosol Science and Technology, February 2004.

* Christian Flatz, Wandel im Publikationswesen?  Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, May 28, 2004.

* Kenneth R. Foster, Call for action to protect free exchange of ideas, Nature, May 27, 2004.

* Kristian W. Fried and Dieter Lenoir, EPA Environmental Science Database: Not Only for Americans, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 43, 20 (2004) 2597.

* Jeanne Galvin, The Next Step in Scholarly Communication: Is the Traditional Journal Dead? Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, Spring 2004.

* Peter Givler, The Defendant is Charged with Good Editing, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 21, 2004.  On the trade embargo on scientific editing.

* Klaus Graf, Open Access und Edition, Archivalia, May 31, 2004.

* Daniel Greenstein, Not so quiet on a Western front, Nature, May 28, 2004.

* Sarah Hall, Research boss wary over web publishing, The Guardian, May 6, 2004.

* Stevan Harnad and eight co-authors, The green and the gold roads to Open Access, Nature, May 17, 2004.

* Stevan Harnad, Letter to the Editor: Accelerating the Transition to the Optimal and Inevitable, Information Today, May 11, 2004.

* Siân Harris, Q&A Eric van Amerongen, Research Information, April 2004.

* John Haynes, Can Open Access be viable? The Institute of Physics' experience, Nature, May 7, 2004.

* J. Michael Homan and Linda A. Watson, STM publishing meets NIH digital archive: librarian service on the PubMed Central National Advisory Committee, Reference Services Review, 32, 1 (2004) pp. 83-88.

* Carol Hoover, Open access publishing - an idea whose time has come, Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library Newsletter, May 2004.

* John K. Iglehart, Global Health Policy And Free Access To Information, Health Affairs, May/June, 2004.

* Binu V. John, Affordability of medical journal subscriptions in developing countries, The Lancet, April 20, 2004.  A letter to the editor.

* Richard Johnson, Open Access: Unlocking the Value of Scientific Research, a preprint based on his presentation at the conference, The New Challenge for Research Libraries: Collection Management and Stratedgic Access to Digital Resources conference (University of Oklahoma Libraries, March 4-5, 2004).

* Arie Jongejan, The formula works, so don't tinker with it, Financial Times, May 26, 2004.

Also see the letter to the editor responding to this article:  Tony Delamothe, 'Author pays' model raises hope of freely available research, Financial Times, May 29, 2004.

See a second letter to the editor, David Prosser, Academic libraries back open access publishing system, Financial Times, May 29, 2004

* Arie Jongejan, Publishers Resist Revolution, Times Higher Education Supplement, May 7, 2004.

* Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, HINARI: bridging the global information divide, BMJ, May 15, 2004.

Also see the letter to the editor responding to this article:  Barbara E. Kirsop, Leslie Chan, Subbiah Arunachalam, Open Access Archives for the global distribution of research publications, BMJ, May 26, 2004.

* Eva Keller, Wenn der 'Peer' den Daumen hebt, Duz Magazin, April 2004.  Not online.

* Michael Keller, Casting Forward; Collection Development After Mass Digitization or Doing One's Part: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, Charleston Advisor, April 2004.

* Jon Kleinberg, Analysing the scientific literature in its online context, Nature, April 29, 2004.

* Richard Koman, Free the Orphans: A Look at the Case of Kahle v. Ashcroft, O'Reilly Network, May 6, 2004.

* Charles Lowe, Owning Knowledge: New Intersections of Intellectual Property, Technology, and Academia, Kairosnews, May 4, 2004.  A blog posting.

* Nicole Lücke, Ein Freigeist lehrt das Fürchten, Duz Magazin, April 2004.  Not online.

* Morag Mackie, Filling Institutional Repositories: Practical strategies from the DAEDALUS Project, Ariadne, April 2004.

* John Marburger, Creating the Infrastructure to Improve the Public's Health, OSTP, May 20, 2004.

* Susan Mayor, Open access could reduce cost of scientific publishing, BMJ, May 8, 2004.

* Gerry McKiernan, SCI-5: Ecological and Environmental Data, Science & Technology Libraries, 23, 4 (2003) pp. 95-104. Profiling five OA sources of ecological and environmental data.

* Neil McLean and Clifford Lynch, Interoperability between Library Information Services and Learning Environments – Bridging the Gaps, IMS Global Learning Consortium and the Coalition for Networked Information, May 10, 2004.

* Paul Miller, Towards the Digital Aquifer: Introducing the Common Information Environment, Ariadne, April 2004.

* Malcolm Moffat, EEVL News: EEVL, VLEs, Institutional and Library Portals, Ariadne, April 2004.

* Heather Morrison, Professional Library & Information Associations Should Rise to the Challenge of Promoting Open Access and Lead by Example, Library Hi Tech News, 21, 4 (2004) pp. 8-10.

* Open Access Now published a new issue on May 10.

* Manoj Pandey, Steven Heys and Albert Lowenfels, World Journal of Surgical Oncology: One year of Open Access publishing, World Journal of Surgical Oncology, May 12, 2004.

* Vivienne Parry, A toenail in the door, The Guardian, May 6, 2004.

* Robin Peek, The Free-Access Debate Flourishes, Information Today, May 2004.  (Not online.)

* Ed Pentz, CrossRef launches CrossRef Search, powered By Google, Nature, April 29, 2004.

* Bobby Pickering, Medical Journals to get open access rival, Information World Review, May 22, 2004.

* Bobby Pickering, Thomson ISI cites an equal impact, Information World Review, May 13, 2004.

* Bobby Pickering, Wellcome says OA will reduce publishing costs, Information World Review, May 12, 2004.

* George Porter, Commentary: The Crisis In Scholary Communication, Sci-Tech Library Question, May 14, 2004.  A blog posting.

* Andy Powell and Phil Barker, RDN/LTSN Partnerships: Learning resource discovery based on the LOM and the OAI-PMH, Ariadne, April 2004.

* James Pringle, Do Open Access journals have impact? Nature, May 7, 2004.

* David Prosser, The view from Europe: Creating international change, College & Research Libraries News, May 2004.

* John Quackenbush, Data standards for 'omic' science, Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004)  pp. 613-614.

* P.V. Ramachandran and Vinod Scaria, Open Access Publishing in the Developing World: making a difference, Journal of Orthopaedics, 1, 1 (2004).

* Peter Rees, Will Banking Data Improve Research Output? Research Information, April 2004.

* Dana Roth, Electrochemical Journals, AIP's Scitation, Cost-Effectiveness, the Sci-Tech Library Question, May 28, 2004.  A blog posting.

* Ian Rowlands, Dave Nicholas, and Paul Huntingdon, Scholarly Communication in the Digital Environment: What Do Authors Want? CIBER, March 18, 2004.  (Though dated in March, it was released in May.)

* Wendy Sawahel, Arab science 'needs more electronic databases', SciDev.Net, May 21, 2004.

* Edwin Sequeira, PubMed Central, ASIDIC Newsletter, Spring 2004.

* Byron Spice, CMU's 'Million Books' on the Web project makes slow, steady progress, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 21, 2004.

* Susanne Stracke-Neumann, Der nach den Worten gräbt, Duz Magazin, April 2004.  Not online.

* Peter Suber, Unbinding Past Medical Journals: A proposal for providing open access to past research articles, starting with the most important.  A preprint.

Also see Alf Eaton's chart of eligible articles on HIV/AIDS indexed in PubMed.

* Mark Walport, Everyone's a Winner, Times Higher Education Supplement, May 7, 2004.

* Tilmann Warnecke, Der Preis der großen Freiheit, Duz Magazin, April 2004.  Not online.

* Donald J. Waters, Building on success, forging new ground: The question of sustainability, First Monday, May 2004.

* Paul Wheatley, Institutional Repositories in the Context of Digital Preservation, Digital Preservation Coalition, Technology Watch Series Report 04-02, 2004.

* Peter Williams and four co-authors, Information for the public about disease: usability issues in the development of the National Electronic Library for Communicable Diseases, ASLIB Proceedings, 1, 2 (2004) pp. 99-103.

* Stephen Wills, Mathematics Journals:  food for thought and links.

* Les Carr and Subbiah Arunachalam wrote separate reports on the Open Access Workshops in Chennai, India (May 2-4 and 6-8, 2004).

* The presentations from the CNI Spring 2004 Task Force Meeting (Alexandria, Virginia, April 15-16, 2004) are now online. Many are on OA-related topics.

* The presentations from the Second Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication, Towards a New Publishing Environment (Lund, April 26-28, 2004) are now online. Nearly all of them address OA issues.

* The presentations from the conference, Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and Its Implications (Washington, D.C., May 19-20, 2003) have been online since January 6. But they've now been published as an OA book by the National Academies Press. Moreover, the Steering Committee has written a summary of the workshop which has been released as a separate OA book from the NAP.

* The presentations from the 2003 CODATA / ERPANET Workshop on the Selection, Appraisal, and Retention of Scientific Data (Lisbon, December 15-17) were put online in December 2003, but have now been reissued as a Final Report.

* The Berlin Declaration follow-up conference, 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) is now over. Its presentations are now online and so is its Roadmap Proposal for moving forward, written by Robert Schlögl and Theresa Velden.

* The presentations from the TSO workshop, Publishing for Accessibility (London, April 28, 2004) are now online.



* I've added 34 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.

* If you follow the Open Access News blog through its RSS feed, then consider upgrading to the new FeedBurner version of my feed.  The switch should be transparent to you.  But it will help me greatly, since I can monitor traffic and usage on the FeedBurner feed and cannot do so on my existing RSS feed.  I'm not abandoning my old feed (based on a script by Mark Pilgrim).  I can't; the new one is built on the old one. 

FeedBurner version of RSS feed for the Open Access News blog


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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