Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #75
July 2, 2004

Read this issue online

Elsevier's new postprint archiving policy, continued

Last month I praised and thanked Elsevier for adopting its new policy permitting postprint archiving.  I've been hearing about it ever since.

A quick look at my mail would suggest that OA proponents are dividing on the helpfulness and significance of the new policy.  But a slower read suggests that there are fewer disagreements here than meet the eye, even though when all is said and clarified, there are still some disagreements.  Let me try to untangle some of the controversies.

(1) Is Elsevier providing open access?

No.  It's letting authors provide OA.  (This is assuming that the new policy lets authors provide full OA, not just near-OA.  More on this in section 8 below.)  Elsevier is letting authors have OA if they want it, but authors have to take the next step.  Elsevier is only providing the opportunity. 

The bad news is that authors have been slow to seize existing archiving opportunities.  The good news is that if authors do act, then they can have OA even if no one else lifts a finger.

For recent evidence that it's hard to persuade authors to deposit their work in institutional archives, even when the archives exist and the permissions have been cleared, see Andrea Foster's article in the June 25, 2004, Chronicle of Higher Education.

For more on the primacy of author-actions for achieving OA, see my article from last month's issue, abridged and edited for the Nature OA debate.

Because Elsevier didn't previously provide the same wide-open door for authors, we're a lot further along than we were before.  But because authors need to be stirred to action, we still have a long way to go.

(2) Is it really necessary to get publisher permission for postprint archiving?

Yes and no.  It depends on whether the author has already transferred copyright to the publisher.  If so, then postprint archiving requires the publisher's permission; if not, then the author's own permission suffices. 

The author never needs the publisher's permission if the author retains copyright (or the right of postprint archiving).  The same is true if the author is willing to archive the preprint and the corrigenda (the differences between the preprint and the postprint) rather than the actual postprint.  Thinking of the preprint+corrigenda method, I've often said myself that authors can achieve OA to their own writings without anyone else's permission or cooperation.  So I'm not surprised that some readers were thinking of it when they said that authors don't need Elsevier's permission for archiving the postprints of their Elsevier articles.  The rub is that preprint+corrigenda archiving is not the same as "postprint archiving", even if it's a close second.  It's much less convenient for both authors and readers.  We can disagree about how much true postprint archiving is worth, compared to the next best thing, but we should agree that it requires the consent of the copyright holder.

Should authors of research articles transfer copyright to publishers, making it necessary to get their publishers' permission to archive their own articles?  No, but that's another story for another day.

If you are an Elsevier author, then you will have transferred copyright to Elsevier.  If you want to provide OA to your postprint, and not just OA to the preprint+corrigenda, then you'll need Elsevier's permission.  Starting now, you'll have it, and you'll know that you have it when you submit your work to an Elsevier journal.

Adding Elsevier's 1800 journals to those that already permitted postprint archiving brings the percentage of journals with this policy up to 83%.  This is according to Stevan Harnad's journal-level supplement to Project SHERPA's publisher-level data on copyright and archiving policies.

(3) Why praise Elsevier for acting in self-interest?

I stand by my analysis last month that Elsevier gains from adopting its new policy.  This is not a cynical interpretation; on the contrary, it acknowledges that OA really has benefits to offer even subscription-based publishers.  Elsevier journals are now more attractive to authors than journals that don't preauthorize postprint archiving.  Until all publishers adopt the same policy, every publisher who follows suit will reap the same advantage in attracting submissions.

When I said that Elsevier deserves our thanks, I didn't mean "thanks for making a sacrifice for our sakes".  I meant "thanks for seeing that this was in your interest" or "thanks for finally acting on your interest" or "thanks for seeing that, in the tug of interests pro and con, this policy deserved a try" or simply "thanks for helping OA even if you're also helping yourself".

Let's not hold a double standard.  It's in the interest of BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science to offer OA, yet we praise them for doing so.  Elsevier took a step in the same direction and deserves a measure of praise.  Let's not adopt the theory that OA has to be a sacrifice for the provider before we praise it. 

Some of my correspondents overlooked the fact that my praise was highly qualified.  Preauthorized postprint archiving is good for authors who want OA, and to that extent good for OA.  It doesn't live up to the public definitions of "open access" (more below).  It doesn't help libraries that want OA as relief from exorbitantly priced journals.  It doesn't necessarily trump other reasons authors might have for shunning Elsevier journals. 

One question I received in several forms was this:  What if this admittedly welcome step helps Elsevier's economic health and academic reputation?  Couldn't that be a net loss for the coalition of stakeholders working for OA?  Yes, it could.  But praising one policy is entirely compatible with criticizing other policies.  Let's be vigilant and aggressive about Elsevier's pricing policies, bundling terms, and negotiating tactics.  But at the same time, let's be accurate and honest about what helps OA.

(4) If postprint archiving becomes widespread, what's left to do?

I didn't address this last month, but I've seen disagreements swirling around the question.  Let's suppose that most other publishers adopt a similar policy and that most authors seize the opportunity.  What if 80-90% of authors start providing OA to their postprints?  Will we have reached our goal? 

It depends on your goal.  If you want OA to the literature, then we'll essentially have reached the goal.  We'll only have to tweak 80% into 100%.

If you want the kind of OA that helps libraries, not just the kind that helps authors and readers, then we either have to wait for a compliance rate very close to 100% or we have to shift our attention (which shouldn't have lagged) to OA journals.  Widespread postprint archiving probably isn't enough to justify libraries in cancelling the expensive subscriptions that are breaking their budgets. 

We don't know what widespread postprint archiving will do to subscription-based journals.  It has not killed them in physics, but we don't know yet whether this kind of coexistence will transfer from physics to other fields.  We do know that widespread archiving will not "kill journals" without qualification, because it will not kill OA journals.  Hence we do not have to worry that the success of the OA vehicle that doesn't perform peer review (the OA archive) will kill the OA vehicle that does perform peer review (the OA journal).  However, let's assume that widespread postprint archiving will harm some subscription-based journals and not others.  In that case, we'll have a reason to continue our campaign for OA journals.

In short, we'll have at least two reasons to continue to work for OA journals even in a world of widespread OA archiving:  first, to help libraries solve the pricing crisis, and second, to ensure the survival of peer-review providers.  (BTW, this is compatible with the view that in the continuing evolution of scholarly communication peer review needn't be provided by "journals".)

(5) Is the new Elsevier policy a big step or a small one?

Compared to what?  If we compare the new Elsevier policy to what authors need to provide OA to their own work, then it's a big step.  It's just about everything authors need.  (If there's an exception, see section 8 below.)  If we compare it to what libraries need to cancel expensive journals, or what the entire range of stakeholders need to reform scholarly communication, then it's small. 

If we compare it to Elsevier's previous policy, then it's somewhere in the middle.  Previously Elsevier required case-by-case requests for postprint archiving, but it routinely granted them.  If we put the accent on the elimination of the permission barrier, then the step is large.  If we put the accent on the "yea rate", then it's smaller.

We may agree on all three of these judgments --that from these three standpoints the policy-change is large, small, and middling.  But we might still disagree on the preferred standard of comparison because we disagree in our goals.  Any step that is large for authors but small for libraries will bring out these differences.

(6) Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Some OA proponents acknowledge that Elsevier's policy is helpful as far as it goes, but they want to focus on what this policy doesn't do, what remains to be done, or other Elsevier policies that are clearly harmful.  OK.  This is a matter of accent again.  We can agree on all the facts.

I have no objection if someone wants to acknowledge the benefits of this step for authors and then focus attention and energy elsewhere, wants to question or dispute these benefits, or wants to disregard the whole set of issues.  But I do object if someone acknowledges the benefits but wants us to deny them in the name of strategy.  I have a very different picture of strategy.  I think it's good strategy to show that we are just as willing to acknowledge positive steps as negative ones.  It's good strategy to show that we welcome positive steps, and do not merely demand them as our right.  It's good strategy to mean what we say and to say what we mean.

(7) Is the apparent helpfulness of the policy a deceptive appearance?

Some say "yes".  Some who say "yes" seem to assert this line of reasoning:  "This policy seems good but must really be bad, since it comes from a bad company."  This an odd line to take in the face of a change of policy that seems to be for the good.  Do you judge the policy by the company or the company by the policy?

Some assert a slightly different line of reasoning:  "This company has been bad in the past and continues to be bad on other fronts.  Therefore what looks like a good step might really be bad.  We have to be careful here and look very closely."  If the conclusion is that we should be suspicious, I can accept that.  The question is whether we use suspicion as shorthand for dismissal or as a goad to look more closely.  If we look more closely, then the question is what we find when we look.

I've corresponded with several readers who called for suspicion.  But I haven't yet found anyone who is ready to say that the new policy is really harmful to OA and only appears to be helpful.  If you think it is really harmful, I'd like to hear your thoughts, either privately or through our forum. 

SPARC Open Access Forum

(8) Is this full OA or just an approximation?

Elsevier allows deposit in some OA archives but not in others, for example, in your institutional repository but not in a disciplinary archive.  Yet one part of every public definition of OA is the freedom to make and distribute copies.  Can readers of a properly archived copy of an Elsevier postprint make a copy and deposit it where Elsevier doesn't want it to go?  Can readers make copies at all? 

I pointed out these problems in my article last month and don't disagree with anyone who wants to withhold the label of "open access" from this policy.  At least the policy permits postprint archiving.  While I want to save the term "open access" from dilution, I also want to acknowledge forward steps when they occur, even if they stop short of full OA (which for me is the BOAI definition). 

In any case, any final decision about whether Elsevier's policy permits full OA depends on how Elsevier clarifies the policy.  For this, see the next section.

(9) How should we interpret the new policy?  What does it actually permit?

Elsevier still hasn't posted an official version of the new policy.  When it does, I hope it will clarify the following points. 

* Karen Hunter's May 27 email on the new policy said that authors could post the final version of the text in a "Word or Tex file, not a PDF or HTML downloaded from ScienceDirect".  Everyone understands that authors won't be allowed to post the Elsevier-published PDF or HTML.  But I've seen some listserv postings and journalists say that authors will be restricted to Word or Tex files.  My reading is that authors could use any format, even PDF or HTML, provided they don't use copies of Elsevier's own files.  Which reading is right?

* Elsevier's June 3 press release said that the author's archived postprint may not be "used for commercial purposes -- such as systematic distribution...."  What does this mean?  It's clear enough that authors cannot sell access to their postprints (not that they would want to) and that other publishers may not sell access to copies of the postprints.  But depositing the postprint in an institutional repository, which the policy specifically allows, is already a kind of "systematic distribution".  What kind of systematic distribution is the policy trying to disallow? 

Note that if the criterion here is so vague that authors can't apply it themselves, then they'll have to check with Elsevier case by case, negating the benefit of permitting postprint archiving in advance.

* The same press release said that the archived postprints could not be "used for commercial purposes -- such as...creating links for commercial customers to articles."  What does this mean?  One journalist has said that it bars all links to the archived postprint.  Another says it only bars links from "centralized databases".  A third says it only bars links from commercial sources.  If the policy trying to bar some kinds of links, then what kinds exactly?  Does Elsevier want to bar authors from linking to their own postprints (say) from their home pages or listserv messages?  Does it want to bar people beyond the author's control from linking to the author's copy of the postprint?  Does it want to bar search engines from crawling archives and offering links on their hit pages?

* Elsevier's "Practical Guide" to how authors may use their Elsevier articles (undated except as 2004) says that authors may put their postprints "on pre-print servers and the authors' personal or institutional Web sites."  By including pre-print servers, this version of the policy embraces archives like arXiv and CogPrints, not just institutional repositories.  This would be a welcome addition, but will it make the next cut?  It seems inconsistent with the Karen Hunter email, which limited the permission to institutional repositories and personal web sites.

* Some have read the Elsevier language about the "final version of the text" as excluding charts, images, and other non-textual elements.  I read it to include everything in the final edition of the article, and merely to exclude the Elsevier-produced file with its special look and feel.  Which reading is correct?

My praise for the new policy rests on some guesswork about how these questions will be resolved.  If I misunderstood the policy, or if it's clarified in the wrong direction, I promise to curb my enthusiasm.

Elsevier permits postprint archiving, my article from SOAN for 6/2/04

Elsevier's page on rights retained by authors
Not yet updated to reflect the new policy.  Checked July 2, 2004.

Elsevier's page on electronic preprints
Not yet updated to reflect the new policy.  Checked July 2, 2004.

Karen Hunter's May 27 email first disclosing the new policy

Elsevier's June 3 press release on the new policy

Elsevier's document, Ways to Use Journal Articles Published by Elsevier:  A Practical Guide (2004)
See esp. Section 2 on "how authors can reuse their own articles"

* Postscript.  One point I made last month was that Elsevier doesn't have, and needn't have, the same position on OA archiving that it has on OA journals.  While Elsevier was receiving wide press coverage for its new support for OA archiving, CEO Crispin Davis reiterated the company's position on OA journals for the company's in-house newsletter.  His critique was summarized by Richard Wray in the June 30 issue of The Guardian.

Richard Wray, Open access jeopardises academic publishers, Reed chief warns, The Guardian, June 30, 2004.
("The rise of open access publishing of scientific research could jeopardise the entire academic publishing industry, according to the chief executive of Reed Elsevier....Sir Crispin Davis warned that [OA journals] 'could jeopardise the stable, scalable and affordable system of publishing that currently exists.' ")

It's no contradiction for Elsevier to permit OA archiving and oppose OA journals, just as OA archiving might take off first in physics and OA journals take off first in biomedicine.  While archives and journals can both provide genuine OA, they offer different sets of benefits that appeal to different constituencies in different ways.  Sometimes this is a disadvantage:  the success of OA archiving in physics is slow to translate to other disciplines.  But sometimes it's an advantage:  Elsevier's opposition to OA journals doesn't stop it from supporting OA archiving. 
The problem is not inconsistency, but the deplorably weak arguments Elsevier uses to attack OA journals.  The best compendium of these arguments, and the best answers to them, is by BMC.

However, the Davis argument summarized by Wray on June 30 contains a point of interest that may be new in Elsevier's rhetoric.  It is starting to acknowledge that one of Elsevier's objections to OA journals is based on the company's economic interest and survival.  This is credible.  It's only when Elsevier praises its own service as "stable, scalable, and affordable", or pretends to represent the interests of science, that its arguments conspicuously miss the target.  Could it be that Elsevier is starting to make the argument that its own survival as a company is in the interest of science?  If so, then it would be easy to answer.  Certain services, like peer review, are indispensable, but no particular publisher is indispensable.  We don't need Elsevier for science any more than we need Disney for entertainment or Microsoft for software. 

The differences between OA archiving and OA journals mean that Elsevier's helpful new policy on the former needn't moderate any of its arguments against the latter.  But it would be a shame if the good will that Elsevier created or could create with its archiving policy were squandered through overblown denunciations of OA journals that are daily proving their viability, quality, and impact.


No more "best of the blog"

I'm trying something new with this issue.  Instead of two long sections summarizing the OA-related news and bibliography from the previous month, I'm writing one section that is much more selective. 

There were several problems with the old way of doing things.  The "best of the blog" sections --new developments and new bibliography-- were so long that few people read them through.  The sections did succeed in including just about everything OA-related from the previous month, but they did little to isolate or highlight the more important developments.  Finally, they added little to the blog archives, which are online, open to all, organized chronologically, browseable and searchable.

My new experiment is to identify about five developments from the previous month and give them special attention.  In some months I'll pick more and in others I'll pick fewer.  (This month I've picked six.)  For each of the developments, I'll write a few sentences and link to a good number of pertinent examples, news stories, or related sites.  As before, I'll link both to original sources and to the blog postings about them, so that you can see both.

I haven't forgotten that in the February 2004 issue I conducted a reader survey about the length of SOAN.  The result was that 100% of those responding urged me to cut nothing.  When I reported these results in March, I explained that, despite the support for SOAN's comprehensiveness, "I may have to shorten it anyway".  The time has come to try a new approach, partly to shorten each issue and partly to give a more useful appraisal of recent OA-related news.

It's an experiment and I welcome your feedback.  If it's not serving you well, then I can make further changes or even switch back to the original format.

For the first installment, see the next section.


Major OA developments in June 2004

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

Here are the major stories from June:

* Elsevier allows postprint archiving.
* The DOAJ offers article-level searching.
* The European Commission launched a study of the journal publishing system for European research.
* There is a growing call for OA to drug-trial data.
* Google and Yahoo continue to index scholarly literature wherever it may be found.
* Southampton research is confirming that OA increases impact.

* Elsevier allows postprint archiving. This story broke in May, and I wrote about it in the June issue of SOAN.  But it continued to attract attention from researchers, libraries, and the press.  For my thoughts on some of the responses, see the lead story above.  Here are the major news stories about it from the last month:

Richard Wray, Reed allows academics free web access, The Guardian, June 3, 2004.

Elsevier press release, June 3

Lucy Sherriff, Reed says yes to science on the Web, The Register, June 3, 2004.

Saeed Shah, Reed Elsevier gives in on free research, Independent, June 4, 2004.

Robin Peek, Elsevier Allows Open Access Self-Archiving, Information Today, June 7, 2004.

Mark Chillingworth, Elsevier allows article publishing on personal and institutional sites, Information World Review, June 8, 2004.

Beyond capitalism? An unsigned editorial in The Economist, June 10, 2004

Anon., Elsevier Articles Can Be Posted On Personal/Institutional Sites, Library Journal, June 25, 2004.

Beyond Elsevier, a major journal and a major publisher also took the step of preauthorizing postprint archiving, at least in some circumstances.  These two decisions were not related to the Elsevier decision, although I expect to see some Elsevier competitors match Elsevier's new policy very soon.  If they don't, authors who care about OA and who can't find an OA journal in their research niche will favor Elsevier over publishers that do not allow postprint archiving.

The California Law Review now allows postprint archiving.  It's one of the first law reviews to do so.  Interestingly, it continues to hold the Ingelfinger rule (or to block preprint archiving).  Unlike Elsevier, which lets authors put up the final version of the text as long as it isn't Elsevier's own PDF, the CLR insists that the OA edition be its own PDF.

The California Law Review changed its postprint archiving policy in response to a November 2003 open letter from Dan Hunter of the Wharton School.

The Johns Hopkins University Press now allows postprint archiving as well.  The OA postprint can appear on the author's personal or departmental web site.  It may only appear in the institutional repository if that repository doesn't "directly compete" with JHUP or Project Muse.  The distinction between personal, departmental, and institutional sites is tenuous at best.  JH presumably wants to judge for itself whether an institutional repository "directly competes" with JH, requiring authors to return to case-by-case requests for institutional archiving and negating the benefit of advanced permission. 

* The DOAJ offers article-level searching.

Until now the DOAJ only allowed searching on journal titles.  Now it supports full-text searching on the article level for participating journals.  Not all DOAJ-listed journals participate yet, but the number grows every day. 

This is the first time that we've been able to search open-access journals at the article level, across multiple publishers, and limit our searches to open-access journals.  Previously we've been able to search the OA journals of a single publisher, search across publishers but without limiting ourselves to OA journals, and search across OA repositories rather than OA journals.

All the articles in DOAJ-indexed journals are already open-access and already searchable.  But making them searchable from the same box, and omitting all other content, creates efficiencies that will benefit and attract researchers.  This enhances their visibility of these articles in two ways --by making them easier to find and by bringing more researchers to a place where they are to be found.


DOAJ press release, June 3, 2004.

Stephen Pincock, Tool allows open-access search, The Scientist, June 7, 2004.

In the Stephen Pincock article (above) I was quoted as saying that the DOAJ article-level searching is useful in part for making OA articles even more visible than they were before.  I said that OA was "closer to the minimum than the maximum of what we should expect in the digital age."  Thinking that this might puzzle or alarm some readers, I wrote an elaboration for SOAF.

Katie Mantell, Finding open access articles becomes easier, SciDev.Net, June 10, 2004.

Alexei Koudinov, editor of the OA journal, Neurobiology of Lipids (NoL), has shown the flexibility of the new DOAJ service by adding a DOAJ article-level search box to the NoL web site.  It defaults to searching NoL but also enables users to search any other OA journal participating in the DOAJ article-level search program.

The DOAJ news tended to overshadow a very closely related development.  Eric Lease Morgan wrote his own article-level search engine for DOAJ-indexed journals.  He calls it DOAJI Search ("DOAJI" is for "DOAJ Index").  Launched in May, it was named "nice web site" of the month by the June issue of Internet Resources Newsletter.

DOAJI Search

DOAJI Search named nice web site of the month by the June issue of Internet Resources Newsletter. http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/irn117/irn117.html#nice

I see no problem with multiple search engines indexing the same body of content.  On the contrary.  It serves users better by introducing competition, by increasing the odds that one of them will be around when you need it, and perhaps by differentiating and offering unique services to users with different needs.

* The European Commission launched a study of the journal publishing system for European research.

Like the inquiry launched by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee earlier in the year, the European inquiry focuses on dysfunctions in the journal publishing system.  OA comes up only secondarily as one among many possible solutions.  But this is a very good way to focus the inquiry.  Researchers may want OA primarily to increase their impact as authors and to accelerate their research as readers.  But universities, libraries, funding agencies, and governments want it for other reasons, in part to solve the journal pricing crisis, in part to increase the return on their investment in research, and in part to provide public access to publicly-funded research. 

Will the EC inquiry take oral and written testimony, as the UK inquiry did?  Will it be more susceptible to  lobbying by the gigantic European publishers?  Will it increase pressure on other governments to launch their own inquiries? 

Right now the majority of science journals are published by European companies, but the majority of science articles are written by U.S. scientists.  Will the inquiry transcend regional issues and see that opening up access to scientific literature has worldwide benefits?  Or if it adds a regional thread to the inquiry, will it nevertheless see benefits to non-European scientists as a net advantage of OA?

EC press release, June 15, 2004

Richard Wray, EC inquiry puts pressure on Reed, The Guardian, June 18, 2004.

Anon., Commission launches review Europe's scientific publications system, Cordis News, June 16, 2004.

On June 17, Credit Suisse First Boston released a report (not online) analyzing the effect of the new European inquiry on Reed Elsevier.  From Elsevier's point of view, the good news is that the inquiry is part of a larger plan to double EU spending on scientific research (from 5 to 10 billion Euros/year), which will result in many more research articles.  Increasing the number of articles published is a venerable justification for journal price increases.  The bad news is that the EU already seems to accept that libraries face a pricing crisis, that academics face an access crisis, and that OA is part of the solution.  If so, this could endanger Elsevier's 35% profit margins on STM journals.  While the EU may not have the power to change the structure of journal publishing in the member countries, the reports from the UK and EU inquiries may stimulate policy changes in the way research is funded in the US, which comprises more than 50% of the STM journal market.

In a related development, the June 16 draft text of the EU constitution calls for "a European research area in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely".

* There is a growing call for OA to drug-trial data.

The basic idea is to protect public health by making negative results as easy to find as positive results.  Company advertising and peer-reviewed journals both currently emphasize the positive, often to the detriment of patients.  The idea of an OA data registry has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and by two major drug companies, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline. 

This is a winner.  The medical associations, the patient-advocacy groups, and the drug companies are championing one of our causes.  While they build industry support for the OA data registry, they are building support for the principle that public health requires public access to medical research. 

Barry Meier, Medicine's Data Gap:  Selective Disclosure; Two Studies, Two Results, And a Debate Over a Drug, New York Times, June 3, 2004.

Barry Meier, Medical Journals Weigh Plan for Full Drug-Trial Disclosure, New York Times, June 15, 2004.

Barry Meier, A.M.A. Urges Disclosure on Drug Trials, New York Times, June 16, 2004.

Barry Meier, Merck Backs U.S. Database to Track Drug Trials, New York Times, June 18, 2004

GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to provide open access to its drug trial data.

Laura Landro, How to find the latest results of clinical trials, San Francisco Chronicle, June 17, 2004.  (Originally in the Wall Street Journal.)

Brian Gorman, Clinical Trials Controversy, Fool.com, June 21, 2004.

Rick Whiting, Drugmakers Respond To Calls For Public Database Of Trials, Information Week, June 25, 2004.

Victoria Stagg Elliott, Drug controversies prompt call for clinical trial registry, American Medical News, July 5, 2004.

* Google and Yahoo continue to index scholarly literature wherever it may be found.

This too is an older story, but it continued to make news in June.  Mainstream (non-academic), for-profit search engines see the need to index scholarly literature.  It is very useful content, it attracts a new class of users, and it thereby increases traffic and advertising profits.  Google and Yahoo lead the field in seizing this opportunity.  They are striking deals to index scholarly content whether it's OA or priced, whether it's OAI-complaint or not, and whether it's in the deep internet or on the surface.  When they index priced literature, they offer free full-text searching (or they try).  When a priced article appears among the search returns, non-subscribers cannot click through to full-text, though they can often click through to a pay-per-view form.  In these ways, Google and Yahoo are improving the visibility of both OA and priced scholarly literature.

Robin Peek, Googling DSpace, Information Today, June 2004 (not online).

Péter Jascó reviews the CrossRef Search Pilot in his column, Péter's Digital Reference Shelf, Thomson Gale, June 2004.

Also see Jascó's supplement to this review, presenting "some findings of [his] research about the significant differences between searching the publishers' archives through their native search engines and through Google's special index".

Paula Hane, The Latest on Factiva, Ingenta, Google, and More, Information Today, June 3, 2004.

Barbara Quint, Ingenta Beta Tests New Interface, Information Today, June 7, 2004.

(PS:  All ingenta journals will participate in Google indexing except those that opt out.  Barbara Quint reports that the only ones to opt out are the eight journals from E. Schweizerbart Science Publishers.  Can anyone explain Schweizerbart's thinking?)

Anon., Yahoo's collaboration with OAIster, Research Information, June 2004.

Anon., Google's collaboration with CrossRef, Research Information, June 2004.

Dave Gershman, U-M [University of Michigan] wises up to Google, Yahoo, Mlive.com, June 20, 2004.

Katie Hafner, Old Search Engine, the Library, Tries to Fit Into a Google World, New York Times, June 21, 2004.

* Southampton research is confirming that OA increases impact.

Tim Brody is a doctoral student at Southampton University who has been doing some very exciting research on the impact of OA articles, under the guidance of his research supervisors Les Carr and Stevan Harnad.  As soon as the results started to come clear, Les, Stevan and others urged Tim to get them ready for publication.  Tim presented a version of the results orally in Lund, Sweden, in late April, and Stevan linked to a PPT slide summarizing them in his May 17 article for the Nature OA debate.  But the fuller, published versions didn't arrive until June. 

While ISI has compared the citation impact of articles in select OA journals with articles in select non-OA journals, Harnad and Brody's study in D-Lib compared the citation impact of articles in non-OA journals that had been self-archived by their authors with the citation impact of articles from the same journals that had not been self-archived.  The data for physics are already analyzed and show that the OA-archived articles are cited 2.5 to 5.5 times more often than the non-archived articles published in the same journals in the same year.  These results for physics are only part of a larger study across all the disciplines using a 10-year sample of 14 million articles.  The results for other disciplines will be reported as they become available.

This is important work.  It's the first major study since the famous Lawrence paper documenting the proposition that OA increases impact.  It's also the first to go beyond Lawrence in scope and method in order to answer doubts raised about his thesis.  By confirming that OA increases impact, it gives authors the best of reasons to provide OA to their own work.

Stevan Harnad and Tim Brody, Comparing the Impact of Open Access (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals, D-Lib Magazine, June 2004.

Sara Kjellberg, What is Digitometrics?  An interview with Tim Brody, ScieCom Info, June 7, 2004.

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


Coming up later this month

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

* July 1, 2004, is the deadline for publicly-funded libraries to have filters.  The deadline was postponed by a court for one year from the original deadline.  This is the start of the enforcement of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Here's how two libraries prepared for compliance.

CIPA, which takes effect on July 1, must be distinguished from COPA (Child Online Protection Act), which the Supreme Court ruled probably unconstitutional on June 29, upholding an injunction on its enforcement and sending it back to a lower court for a full trial.

* July 12, 2004, INASP with 15 allies like BIREME, BMJ, and the WHO, will launch the "Health Information Review, 1995-2015:  Access to Health Information".

The review will be based in part on the WHO draft World Report on Knowledge for Better Health

For more details, see the INASP page on the review.

Also see the program for the launch meeting in London, "Can we achieve 'Health Information for All by 2015'?"

* In mid-July 2004, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is expected to issue the report on its recent inquiry into journal prices and availability.

* Notable conferences this month

How to Evaluate Journals as Potential Open Access Candidates (sponsored by ALPSP)
London, July 1-2, 2004

The future of scholarship in the digital age; JISC/CNI meeting 2004 (topics include instutional repositories)
Brighton, July 8-9, 2004

Health Information Forum: Launch of Global Review on Access to Health Information
London, July 12, 2004

Museums, Libraries, and Archives: Summer Institute for Knowledge Sharing
Boston, July 12-15, 2004

Pan-European Portals Conference 2004
Nottingham, July 18-20, 2004

2004 E.Journal Summit (sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and PNAS) (by invitation only) (open access is among the topics)
[no web site yet]
Washington, D.C., July 20, 2004

The Virtual Chase: In Hot Pursuit of Electronic Solutions (WiLSWorld Conference 2004) (OA is among the topics)
Madison, July 27-28, 2004

INDEST-NCSI Training Workshop on Institutional Repositories
Bangalore, July 27-29, 2004

* Other OA-related conferences



In the June issue, I attributed a CIBER report to ALPSP.  I actually cited, or mis-cited, the report twice in that issue, once in the article on Elsevier's postprint archiving policy and once in the article on the primacy of authors.  Here's the correct citation:

Ian Rowlands, Dave Nicholas, and Paul Huntingdon, "Scholarly Communication in the Digital Environment:  What Do Authors Want?  Findings of an international survey of author opinion:  project report," CIBER, March 18, 2004.

CIBER stands for Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research.



* I've added 18 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 Earlham server that hosts the Open Access News blog and the archive of this newsletter was down several times during the past month.  I apologize for the interruptions of service.  If you visited any of my OA-related pages and got an error message, please come back!  The pages are still online and still at their old addresses. 

* I've had more reader complaints about Bloglet, the service that generates email versions of the postings to the Open Access News blog.  I don't run Bloglet and I would use another blog-to-email service if I could find one.  I recommend that readers having trouble with the Bloglet service read the blog on the web or through the blog's RSS feed. 

Open Access News blog, web edition

RSS feed for the OAN blog

If you're frustrated with Bloglet but intimidated by RSS, here's a good introduction to RSS.

* I put my "Open Access Overview" online on June 21.  I've been concerned that our recent progress has brought the concept of OA to the attention of many new people, most of whom have no place to turn for a brief, accurate introduction. Either they find mere lists of links or essay-length analyses that don't start at the beginning. Now that the overview is online I'll keep revising it and adding useful links. I've also linked to it from the blog sidebar to make it easy to find. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Please don't use my Guide to the Open Access Movement to introduce the concept of OA to newcomers.  It's much too long.  Besides, it's very much out of date and I don't anticipate getting the time to update it.  Even if I could, it is intended to be more of an encyclopedia than a primer.


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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