Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #123
July 2, 2008
by Peter Suber

Read this issue online


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Open access and the last-mile problem for knowledge

After Hurricane Katrina hit the US gulf coast in August 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bought 11,000 mobile homes for $431 million and shipped them to Arkansas for the evacuees.  Six months later the homes were still sitting unused in an Arkansas cow pasture because federal rules --ironically, FEMA rules-- prohibited the use of mobile homes in a flood plain.

In September 2005, Britain donated $5.3 worth of military rations to Americans displaced by Katrina.  A month later the food was still sitting on a tarmac at Little Rock Air Force Base while officials tried to figure out whether US rules banning British beef allowed them to distribute the food to the needy.  Meantime, the US was paying $16,000/month to store the food, and its expiration date was approaching fast.

When Cyclone Nargis hit the cost of Burma in May 2008, dozens of governments around the world shipped relief supplies to the country.  At first the Burmese junta refused to accept the aid; then it accepted the aid but not aid workers; then it accepted aid and air workers but not ships or helicopters.  Even after allowing aid into the country, much of it was stolen by the Burmese military and much was delayed on airport tarmacs or offshore until it was unusable.  On June 5, more than a month after the disaster, a carrier group of four US ships returned to the US after being denied permission to unload its relief supplies.

You could call this the "tarmac problem" for disaster relief.  Or you could use a telecom analogy and call it a disastrous version of the last-mile problem. 

In telecommunications the "last-mile problem" is the problem of connecting individual homes and businesses to the fat pipes connecting cities.  Because individual homes and businesses are in different locations, hooking up each one individually is expensive and difficult.  The term is now used in just about every industry in which reaching actual customers is more difficult than reaching some location, like a store or warehouse, close to customers.

We're facing a last-mile problem for knowledge.  We're pretty good at doing research, writing it up, vetting it, publishing it, and getting it to locations (physical libraries and web sites) close to users.  We could be better at all those things, but any problems we encounter along the way are early- or mid-course problems.  The last-mile problem is the one at the end of the process:  making individualized connections to all the individual users who need to read that research.

The last-mile problem for knowledge is not new.  Indeed, for all of human history until recently it has been inseparable from knowledge itself and all our technologies for sharing it.  It's only of interest today because the internet and OA give us unprecedented means for solving it, or at least for closing the gap significantly.

The problem is not that librarians "warehouse" knowledge in the pejorative sense of that term.  On the contrary, they go out of their way to help users find and retrieve what the library has to offer, and often do the same for much beyond the library as well.  The problem is to make individualized connections between knowledge, wherever it lies, and users, wherever they are.  Even a well-stocked and well-organized library staffed by well-trained librarians can only solve a subset of that problem and connect a subset of users with a subset of knowledge. 

A journal is many things, for example a collection, a periodical, a brand, and a peer-review filter.  But it's also a tarmac.  It's not the final destination for new research, just a landing place close to the final destination.  If the articles inside only reach the journal and not the readers beyond, or if they only reach some but not all of the readers who need to read them, then every player up and down the chain of scholarly communication is frustrated:  authors, author funders, author employers, editors, referees, publishers, librarians, and readers.

It helps to distinguish two reader-side stages of the last-mile problem for knowledge.  Stage One is getting access to texts or data, and Stage Two is getting answers to questions.  The first treats scholarly communication as a delivery system.  When there's a problem, it's the failure to complete the delivery.  The second treats scholarly communication as a knowledge system.   When there's a problem, it's the failure to convey understanding. 

Consider the difference between a conference lecture and the question period afterwards.  The lecture is accessible to the people in the room, even unavoidable to them.  There's no Stage One problem.  But not even a good speaker can customize the talk for every member of the audience.  For some listeners, the talk may be in the wrong language, at the wrong speed, at the wrong level of abstraction, or on the wrong subtopics.  It may presuppose too much background or too little.  It can still leave an unclosed gap between the speaker's knowledge and a given listener's understanding.  The Q&A period can close that gap, at least when people with questions actually ask them and people with answers, perhaps the speaker, actually answer them. 

Unfortunately, most existing knowledge isn't even as close to us as the conference lecture, let alone the individualized answer to our question.  That's one reason, by the way, why Plato preferred speech to writing.   Speakers are interactive and can close knowledge gaps in real-time Q&A, while writers are generally unavailable for interrogation about their writings, sometimes for the good reason that they are dead.  Plato had a point:  speech usually surpasses writing at solving the Stage Two problem.  But the reverse is true for the Stage One problem.  If we had to depend on live speakers for transmitting knowledge, when knowledgeable speakers were few and far between, then Stage One of the last-mile problem would be much more difficult than it already is. 

* First things first:  Stage One.

You solve the last-mile problem for a published journal article when you put your hands on a hardcopy or display a digital copy on a screen in front of your face.  This requires open access (OA) or money to pay for toll access (TA). 

Acknowledging that money solves the problem, at least for some researchers, is just as important as acknowledging its limitations as a solution.  It works for lucky individuals who have the money or who work at institutions that have the money.  The snag, of course, is that all of us are unlucky for some priced literature, and most of us are unlucky for most of it. 

The fact that the money solution doesn't work for everyone is the chief reason why the last-mile problem is a problem.  Paying to make individualized connections for *some* individuals is clearly feasible and clearly affordable.  But the problem is to make individualized connections for all individuals, or all those who need connections.  Money just doesn't scale to the size of this problem.  If the supply of published knowledge were fixed, money might have a chance to catch up with the demand.  But the supply is growing exponentially and money to buy access to it is not.  Inevitably, then, as the volume of TA literature grows, the percentage of it accessible to the average researcher declines, and the faster the volume of TA literature grows, the faster the accessible percentage declines.  If all literature put a price on access, or if money were the only solution to the last-mile problem, the problem would worsen every year.

OA is the only solution that scales to the full size of the problem and keeps pace with the growth of published knowledge.  No matter how fast the OA literature grows, you'll only need an internet connection to have access to all of it. 

Until the 19th century, mailed letters were like scholarly journals:  the costs were paid by readers or recipients.  Senders could send mail without charge, but recipients had to pay to pick up their mail from the post office.  If they couldn't pay, they had to do without.  They often had to do without, creating a last-mile problem begging for a solution.  Rowland Hill introduced the postage stamp in 1837 precisely to shift costs from recipients to senders.  The sender-pays model made the system scale for the first time, triggered an explosion in the use of mail, and solved the last-mile problem.

When I say that the money solution doesn't scale, I mean money to pay for access to published literature, not money to do the research or publish the literature in the first place.  That is, I mean money to solve the last-mile problem, not money to solve one of the early- or mid-course problems.  Hence, the conclusion that the OA solution works better than the money solution doesn't imply that publishing can be made costless, any more than mail delivery can be made costless.  The question raised by OA is not whether the production costs can be reduced to zero, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers, creating access barriers, and aggravating the last-mile problem.

Non-OA publishers, even those who lobby hard against OA policies, want to solve the last-mile problem as much as anyone.  Non-profit or for-profit, green or gray, they have nothing to gain by leaving end-users disconnected from the knowledge they publish.  The difference is that they want to steer stakeholders toward the money solution, not the OA solution.  That's why Elsevier's Crispin Davis used to argue "that the government needs to lay down guidelines on the proportion of university funds that should be set aside for the acquisition of books and journals, or even increase funding to ensure that universities can buy all the material they need...."

If the telecom version of the last-mile problem had to be solved with copper wire or optic fiber, it would be much more difficult and expensive than it need be.  Wireless connectivity solves the last-mile problem at a stroke for everyone with the right equipment.  OA is the analogue of wireless in the last-mile problem for knowledge.  OA solves the Stage One problem at a stroke for everyone with an internet connection.  Wireless and OA are revolutionary shortcuts that make connections to individual users without the need for individualized labor and expense.

If OA doesn't solve the problem for literally everyone, it's only because we haven't finished solving the telecom version of the last-mile problem.  If both the money and OA solutions leave some people out, at least the OA solution will leave out fewer and fewer people as the digital divide continues to shrink, and the money solution will leave out more and more people as the volume of TA literature continues to grow.

* Stage Two

Suppose you have a question.  You're lucky if some careful, curious researchers have already asked the same question and done some of the needed research.  You're luckier if some of them have taken the research far enough to answer the question, write up their answers, win the approval of peer reviewers, and publish them.  You're even luckier if there's a scientific consensus on the right answer to your question and that among the published papers on it, at least one is up to date, written in your language, and written at your level of understanding.  You're even luckier if the Stage One problem has been solved and, thanks to OA or money, you have access to at least one of the enlightening papers which meets all your conditions.

It may look like this scenario goes about as far as it can to close the gap between you and existing knowledge.  But it leaves some nagging parts of what I'm calling Stage Two of the last-mile problem.  How do you go beyond access to answers?  We grant that you're darned lucky, and that if you could find one of the enlightening papers, then you could retrieve it, and if you could read it, then you could understand it.  But not all published papers meet your conditions for an enlightening paper.  In fact, nearly all of them don't.  How do you know that an enlightening paper even exists?  When you go looking, how can you find one that meets your conditions, and distinguish it from other papers which happen to use the same keywords or even address the same question? 

Without solutions to these problems, you might as well be trapped in a maze knee-deep in conflicting maps thrown over the wall by people trying their utmost to be helpful.

For people with less luck, Stage Two problems are more numerous and more difficult.  How do you do find a good answer when there's no consensus?  When there *is* a consensus answer, how do you learn what it is when papers describing it are mixed together in your search results with papers describing discredited answers?  How do you learn the consensus answer when there isn't a good paper in your language or at your level of understanding, or when the best papers use terms you'd never think to use in your search query?  How do you get answers when nobody has yet posed the question exactly as you have posed it, and when partial answers lie scattered in dozens or hundreds of different papers in different journals in different languages and even different fields? 

To solve these problems, access to the papers is necessary but not sufficient.  But while OA is only part of the solution to the Stage Two problem, it's a precondition to most other parts of the solution.  No tools yet suffice to solve the Stage Two problem, and maybe no tools ever will.  But the tools that help us inch toward a solution presuppose OA literature and data the way telescopes presuppose open access to the sky.  In fact, one of the primary benefits of OA is to provide the inputs to a new generation of sophisticated tools to facilitate research, discovery, and analysis.  Whatever methods we use to attack Stage Two problems, OA will streamline our solutions and lack of OA will limit their scope and slow us down.

We already have some means to help us solve the Stage Two problem.  Some are fairly mature and some are very rudimentary, but in every case talented people are working hard to improve them.  I'm thinking of means to learn about the existence of relevant new work (alert systems), find the texts and the passages we need (search engines), find work already found by colleagues (tagging and social networking systems), find articles similar to ones we know to be relevant (recommendation systems), find articles in our own language (machine translation), navigate to cited sources (reference linking), navigate to different versions of cited sources or other relevant destinations (multiple-resolution hyperlinks), convert a text to speech when we can't read the screen (voice readers), paraphrase articles we don't have time to read (text summarizers), digest larger volumes of literature than we could ever read (text mining), combine independent resources to create new synergies and utility (mash-ups), find information relevant to our questions even when we don't know the relevant keywords (semantic web), distill uncopyrightable facts from natural-language texts and enter them into queryable OA databases (knowledge extraction), pose our search queries in our own words and sometimes even get back direct answers rather than mere pointers to literature that may contain answers (natural language search engines).

Most Stage Two problems can only be solved with human judgment.  But that doesn't rule out the possibility of technologies to lend us a hand.  The reason is simply that we are building technologies that harness human judgments, at least when those judgments are digital, online, and accessible to the tools.  Stage Two solutions don't require machine-generated answers to our questions or magical forms of artificial intelligence.  They only require barrier-free access to human-generated answers, human evaluations of those answers, and human evaluations of the evaluations.  Tools to do these jobs are multiplying, they are improving, and they are interconnecting so that the output of one is the input to another.  We don't have to predict the future in order to know that this kind of incremental, recursive progress can continue indefinitely, just as the compounding of mathematical functions can continue indefinitely. 

As long as the last-mile problem remains unsolved, rapidly growing human knowledge will coexist with rapidly growing unmet demand for that knowledge.  As long as the problem remains unsolved, the uses we make of recorded knowledge will fall far short of its usefulness. 

It's staggering to think about what could happen if the knowledge we have painstakingly discovered, articulated, tested, refined, validated, gathered, and delivered to the tarmac were systematically distributed to all who need it.  Imagine if what was known became more widely known, especially among those who could put it to use.  Imagine if we became even 10% more effective at using what we know.



Here's what happened, or what I noticed, since the last issue of the newsletter, emphasizing action and policy over scholarship and opinion.  I put the most important items first, with double asterisks, and otherwise cluster them loosely by topic.  Most of the time I link to blog posts at Open Access News (where I am now assisted by Gavin Baker), not to the sources themselves, because I only want to use one link per item and the blog posts usually bring many relevant links together.

** The Stanford School of Education adopted an OA mandate, by a unanimous faculty vote.  The Stanford policy is modeled closely on the two OA mandates at Harvard.

** The University of Helsinki adopted an OA mandate.

** The University of California is moving forward with its draft OA mandate (under consideration since January 2006), hoping to learn lessons from the simplicity and unanimous faculty support for the Harvard OA mandates.

** A representative of the Harvard Medical School told Library Journal, "I think we’re going to be the next school to go for OA."

** The University of Calgary launched Open Access Authors Fund to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals.

** The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released guidelines on the release of scientific data from federally funded research projects.  The guidelines essentially call for mandating open data.  They also ask 15 major funding agencies to write policies in conformity with the guidelines and submit progress reports by the end of this month.  Congress asked OSTP to write the guidelines in the COMPETES Act of 2007.

** The Autonomous Community Government of Madrid adopted an OA mandate, requiring the results of the research it funds to be deposited in any of Spain's "e-ciencia" OA repositories.

** The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) adopted an OA mandate, which took effect yesterday.  OICR hasn't yet released the text of the policy, but has announced that it "builds on" the OA policy of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

** Canada's National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is developing an OA policy which will resemble that of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

** EuroHORCs (European Heads of Research Councils) recommended a "minimal" OA position, which includes mandating OA for publicly-funded research, and urged member institutions to go beyond the minimum.  EuroHORCs represents all the major public funding agencies in 23 European countries.

** The European Science Foundation (ESF) and EuroHORCs issued a joint statement recommending OA mandates to European funding agencies.  The ESF represents 77 members organizations from 30 European countries.

** The European Commission's ePSIplus program called on the EC to provide OA to public sector information.

** The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a new Recommendation of the Council for Enhanced Access and More Effective Use of Public Sector Information.

** The OECD 2008 Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy (Seoul, June 17-18, 2008) resulted in two Seoul Declarations, one by the ministers and one by civil society organizations in attendance.  The civil society declaration called for OA to publicly-funded research.

** The Alliance of German Science Organizations announced plans to launch a digital information initiative which includes support for green OA, gold OA, and open data.

* The Canadian Library Association (CLA) released the final version of its Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries.  It calls for a mandate OA for publicly-funded research, and regards embargo periods as a temporary compromise.

* The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) called for an OA mandate for publicly-funded research in its submission to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

* A new Russian government policy requires OA for abstracts and metadata of research publications based on theses and dissertations.  It also requires that the publications themselves be digital and online, but not that they be OA.

* The UK Food Standards Agency is considering an OA policy, and has been since 2004.  It now faces lobbying resistance from food manufacturers.

* Sweden's OpenAcess.se, the National Library of Sweden, Lund University Libraries, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet are developing a plan for retroactive OA to the major papers of Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine.

* The University of Glamorgan posted a draft OA policy which would encourage but not require OA.  If approved, the policy would take effect in January 2010.

* Caltech grad students are drafting an opt-out OA policy with a requirement to retain the rights needed to authorize OA.

* The Australian government is seeking public comments on two initiatives, (1) a National Innovation System and (2) a consultation paper on a new research assessment exercise.  Both have already elicited comments in support of a national OA policy.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accepted public comments for one week on access to environmental information.

* Human Genomics and Proteomics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal on human genomics and proteomics, systems biology, and personalized medicine.  It's first title in the series of OA journals co-published by Sage and Hindawi.

* The Annals of Pediatric Cardiology is a new peer-reviewed, no-fee OA journal published by the Pediatric Cardiac Society of India and Medknow.

* The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Association of Cutaneous Surgeons of India and Medknow.

* i-Medjat is a new OA journal of Egyptology published in French by the Unité de Recherche-Action Guadeloupe.

* Trivium is a new OA journal publishing articles on humanities and social sciences in French and German, published by the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme.

* e-Polymers is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the European Polymer Federation.

* The Journal of Optometry is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Spanish General Council of Optometry.

* Crítica Bibliotecológica: Revista de las Ciencias de la Información Documental is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of library science.

* Beiträge und Reportagen aus den Informationswissenschaften (BRaIn) is a forthcoming peer-reviewed OA journal from the U of Potsdam Department of Information Sciences.

* aspeers is a new, peer-reviewed OA journal of American studies, edited (mostly) by graduate students in American studies at the University of Leipzig.

* Molecular Brain is a new OA, peer-reviewed journal from BioMed Central on the molecular, cellular, and systems level of the nervous system.

* The June issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, a special issue on HIV, is available OA.

* Krisis, a peer-reviewed Dutch philosophy journal, converted to OA in January after 27 years of publication.

* Computational Linguistics will convert to OA, starting with the first issue of 2009.  CL is owned by the Association for Computational Linguistics and published by MIT Press.

* The International African Institute and Edinburgh University Press announced that their journal Africa: Journal of the International African Institute will be available free to libraries and non-profit research and educational institutions in some countries in Africa.

* Taylor & Francis launched a new peer-reviewed journal, The Sixties.  It's not OA, but it offers free online access to members of the press.

* Five more US labs and universities have joined the CERN SCOAP3 project:  Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the Thomas Jefferson Laboratory at the US Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and Northwestern University.

* JISC joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.

* The Dutch Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (UKB) joined the CERN SCOAP3 project.

* The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) wrote a letter of support for the CERN SCOAP3 project.

* The new Publications Agreements FAQ from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) makes clear that ACRL authors may elect to use CC license (any CC license) for their work. 

* The Code4Lib Journal adopted the Creative Commons Attribution license for its articles.

* The DOAJ added 59 new journals since May 19.

* Heather Morrison reports that over the past year, the DOAJ has added new titles at the rate of two titles per day, nearly double the rate last year at this time. 

* The SPARC Europe OA seals started to appear next to approved journals in the DOAJ.

* The Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology decided to allow authors to self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints.  The snag is that authors must label them as "preprints".

* The TA Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy supports immediate OA for NIH-funded research.

* The PLoS community journals improved their impact factors in 2007.

* BioMed Central journals improved their impact factors in 2007, with the median increasing from 2.77 to 2.91, and the number of titles with IF's over 3.0 increasing from 8 to 17, and the number with IF's over 4.0 increasing from 4 to 8.

* Its first impact factor ranks the OA journal Documenta Mathematica 13th of over 200 journals in mathematics.  DM is not run by a publisher or learned society, but by volunteer mathematicians. 

* The OA Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) improved its impact factor in 2007, continuing as the #2 ranked journal in the category of medical informatics.

* Oxford University Press now automatically deposits all Oxford Open articles in PubMed Central.

* The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature issued a statement recognizing digital publications, including OA publications, as legitimate sources of new zoological nomenclature.

* Nature launched a free online supplement on quantum coherence.

* The American Veterinary Medical Association has released an OA collection of articles on disaster preparedness and response.

* The University of Pretoria launched an institutional repository, UPSpace.

* Aberystwyth University officially launched CADAIR, its institutional repository.

* Portugal's University of Coimbra launched an institutional repository, Estudo Geral.

* India's Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai (IMSc) launched an institutional repository.

* The Theropod Archives is a collection of OA papers and, where no OA version is available, citations to papers about theropods.

* The OA Czech Digital Mathematics Library released a beta edition.

* The Center for Government Studies and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis officially launched PolicyArchive, the first OA repository for public policy research.

* The Spanish government launched Agrega, an OER portal and repository for primary and secondary education.

* The Atlanta University Center launched the OA Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of the Historically Black College and University, a joint project of by HBCU Library Alliance, HBCU institutions, the Southeastern Library Network, and Cornell University.

* JISC launched a repository to hold the papers of the committees at King's College London.

* The UK's Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) launched the Digital Repositories e-Science Network (DReSNet).

* The contents of the Dutch repository network (DAREnet) were added to the national science portal (NARCIS).

* Four European research institutions officially launched the LiquidPub project.

* The OA WorldWideScience.org portal announced a major expansion.

* RePEc released data showing that women economists are represented in RePEc below their level of representation in the field.

* Public.Resource.Org provided OA to some legislative histories from the 67th and 68th Congress, compiled by the General Accounting Office but not previously available to the public except in commercial versions from Thomson West.  PRO has proposed doing the same with legislative histories of other sessions of Congress, and the GAO is considering the proposal. 

* Public.Resource.Org launched JURIS, an OA database of federal case law originally created by the Air Force at public expense and nearly deleted when the Air Force signed on with a fee-based provider.

* The World Health Organization is accepting public comments on the proposal that "the findings of all clinical trials must be made publicly available".

* GlaxoSmithKline donated genomic profiling data for over 300 cancer cell lines for OA through caBIG, the National Cancer Institute's cancer Bioinformatics Grid.

* FictionDB, the database of information on genre novels (authors, new releases, pseudonyms, series, reviews, book detail) started offering its basic features free of charge.  Premium features are still available only to subscribers.

* The Open Access Directory opened five new lists for community editing and enlargement:  Services to support repository managers, Wikis about OA, FAQs about OA, Calls for papers, and Calls for proposals.

* The Public Knowledge Project and Athabasca University Press will collaborate on the Open Monograph Press.

* Computers and Composition Digital Press is a new "open access, peer-reviewed, online press" jointly supported by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Miami University, and Ohio State University and affiliated with the Institute for the Future of the Book.

* The Society of Biblical Literature and the Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo Oriente, Universidad Católica Argentina, announced a series of OA monographs on the Ancient Near East.

* Potsdam University Press has announced that all its books on economics will be published simultaneously in RePEc

* A group of volunteers digitized, proofread, and provided OA to the House Judiciary Committee’s Report on the Copyright Act of 1976.

* David Solomon released an OA abridgment of his book, Developing Open Access Electronic Journals: A Practical Guide (Chandos, 2008).

* Google, Carnegie Mellon, and others digitized a raft of US copyright renewal records and made them open to search engines.  The new index enables Google, Open Content Alliance, and other digitizers to prove that certain books are in the public domain and provide OA to their digital editions.

* Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that it will open up, slightly, to allow contributions from users.

* Cory Doctorow's new novel, Little Brother, entered its second month on the NYTimes best-seller list.  Like his earlier novels, it's available in both an OA and a TA edition.

* Kylie Pappalardo and the Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project released a comprehensive, book-length guide for scholarly authors, Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment.

* The Research Information Network and Key Perspectives released a new study on data sharing in the UK.  The study recommends (among other things) open data mandates, strategies to facilitate data re-use, and the avoidance of PDF for data files.

* The Strategic Content Alliance and Ithaka released a major report on sustainable business models for online academic resources, including OA resources.

* The UK National Commission for UNESCO release a report on "journal access programmes" like HINARI and PERI.  The report urges society publishers to participate in a journal access program, but makes no recommendation on OA itself.

* Researchers at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid released the results of their survey of UCM faculty attitudes toward OA.

* Charles Bailey investigated the access policies of journals published by the ALA.  Inspired by Charles' detective work, Klaus Graf investigated the five leading library journals in Germany and Gavin Baker looked into journals published by the state chapters of the ALA.

* SPARC named the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences the SPARC Innovator for 2008.

* PANGAEA, an open data repository for environmental and geoscience data, won a 21st Century Achievement Award, in the Environment category, from the Computerworld Honors Program.

* David Lipman is one of 29 finalists for a 2008 Service to America Medal or "Sammie".  The Sammies are presented every year by the non-profit, non-partisan Partnership for Public Service to outstanding employees of the US federal government.  Lipman, the Director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, is being recognized for his work in developing PubMed Central.

* The Shared Digital Repository Project of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation now contains more than 1,122,000 books and more than 791,000 journal volumes.

* RePEc passed the milestones of 90,000,000 cumulative abstract views for working papers, 20,000,000 cumulative downloads through IDEAS, 1,000,000 cumulative downloads through NEP, and 180,000 working papers available online.

* The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network, the registry of open-knowledge packages, passed the milestone of 200 packages.

* Fedora released version 3.0 Beta 2.

* The Open Archives Initiative released the beta version of the ORE specifications and user guides.

* The JISC Foresite project released the Java and Python code for constructing and manipulating OAI-ORE Resource Maps.  The Foresight software builds Resource Maps of journals held by JSTOR, sends them through the SWORD interface to DSpace repositories, where they become records referring to the original JSTOR content.

* MediaSpaces released version 0.2 of the OAI2LOD Server, software to expose OAI-compliant repositories according to the Linked Data guidelines.

* EDINA announced the launch of EM-Loader, a new tool to motivate repository deposits by creating personal publication lists and (partially) to automate them by use of the SWORD Deposit API.

* Microsoft released the first beta version of its Word add-in for producing files compatible with the NLM DTD format.

* DRIVER released version 1.0 of D-NET, its software infrastructure.

* ChemSpider added a text editor, as a step toward wikification.  Users will eventually be able to add descriptions to individual records.

* The Open Knowledge Foundation is looking for help in producing a series of public domain calculators.

* The Public Knowledge Project posted two calls for feedback: one on suggestions for new OA journal editors/publishers, the other on use cases of PKP software.

* Gary Olson proposed a certification process for online sites that don't offer their own forms of peer review.

* The EThOSnet Project released an update to its EThOS toolkit

* Charles W. Bailey Jr. released version 72 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites and organizes over 3,250 print and online articles, books, and other sources on scholarly electronic publishing.

* The Smithsonian Institution joined The Commons on Flickr, with an initial set of 800+ images.

* Three more companies joined the OA 1000 Genomes Project:  454 Life Sciences, Applied Biosystems, and Illumina Inc.

* COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain, is accepting applications for new network members.

* The European Library launched a YouTube Channel.

* Stanford launched a YouTube channel.

* Sweden's Open Access Information project created an OAScience channel at YouTube.  It currently contains 12 short interviews, in Swedish and English, made at the the Fourth Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication (Lund, April 21-23, 2008).

* LibriVox released its 1,500th OA audio book.

* Francis Collins, the man most responsible for OA to the results of the Human Genome Project, announced his resignation as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

* Jonathan Eisen is providing OA to the 35 peer-reviewed journal articles by his father, Howard Eisen, a researcher at the NIH specializing in hormone receptors.

* The Open Knowledge Definition was translated into Italian.

* Open Conference Systems is now available in Catalan.

* Oregon rescinded its claim that the state statutes were copyrighted.

* The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released a plan for the "open access" publication of the papers of the US Founding Fathers.  But the plan is to make a digital edition of the papers available by subscription from the University of Virginia Press' Rotunda System.  (Congress required NARA to develop a plan for the "online publication" of the papers.)

* The Associated Press started selling "quotation licenses", charging $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. 


Coming this month

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

* July 4, 2008.  Deadline for comments to the World Health Organization on the proposal that "the findings of all clinical trials must be made publicly available".

* July 9, 2008.  Deadline for comments to ClinicalTrials.gov on the mockup for registering clinical drug trials as required by the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007.

* July 31, 2008.  Deadline for 15 US federal agencies to submit progress reports to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on their policies for the release of scientific results.  The policies must conform to principles developed by the OSTP for public access to data produced in research by agency-employed scientists .

* OA-related conferences in July 2008

* Other OA-related conferences



I've introduced a "Hot" tag for entries on the Open Access News blog.  The idea is to help people who are too busy to read the full volume of OAN stories.

At the moment, I don't plan to tag hot items retroactively.  Just don't assume that there were no important stories before June 27, 2008!

View the hot stories online

RSS feed of hot stories

Email feed of hot stories

Audio feed of hot stories (for Jott users, hear a computerized voice read the hot stories over the phone)


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 or other sponsors.

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