Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #114
October 2, 2007
by Peter Suber

Read this issue online


SOAN is published and sponsored by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

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Flipping a journal to open access

Mark Rowse was the CEO of Ingenta when Paula Hane interviewed him for Information Today in December 2003.  During the interview he sketched an elegant idea:

Imagine a publisher that has already licensed content to all the library consortia in the U.S. The publisher could, at a stroke, say that the license will now confer rights for the academics in those institutions to submit content rather than to access content. The publisher would have successfully flipped its business model completely, to being an open access business. So I think it's possible to see a transition from where we are now to a completely open access world without fundamentally destroying the existing scholarly publishing business.

See Paula Hane, Stable and Poised for Growth, Information Today, December 2003.

Rowse didn't elaborate on the idea in the interview.  But I was so intrigued when I reread it recently, that I started to elaborate it on my own.  Then I had the even better idea to call Rowse and hear how he would put flesh on these bones himself.

I interviewed him by phone on September 6 and followed up by email when finishing my draft.  This is his idea in my words. 

Let's start with Rowse's assumption that a journal is selling subscriptions (licensing content) to all library consortia in the US.  It's hard to imagine this happening, and we'll make the assumption more realistic in a minute.  But let's assume it for now in order introduce complexity slowly rather than quickly.  In fact, let's assume the journal currently sells subscriptions to all libraries (not just library consortia) in the world (not just in the US). 

Let's also assume that all researchers are affiliated with a subscribing institution.  But again, since this is false, we'll have to make the assumption more realistic later.

And let's make one semi-realistic assumption:  that the journal charges no color or page fees.  All the journal revenue is from reader-side subscription fees, and none from author-side fees.

Now what does it mean for a journal to "flip its business model"?  There are four primary elements:

(1) The journal converts from toll-access (TA) to open-access (OA).  All the articles it publishes after that point are OA from birth. 

(2) It pays its bills by charging a publication fee on accepted articles.  The fee is sometimes paid by authors, sometimes by the author's funder or employer, and sometimes waived.

The most straightforward version of Rowse's idea applies only to fee-based OA journals, but in a minute I'll consider some ways to adapt it to no-fee OA journals.

(3) The journal waives the publication fee for authors affiliated with an institution that pays what used to be called a subscription. 

(4) The same institutions that formerly paid subscriptions pay the same amounts to the same journal, at least at first.  But both the journal and the paying institutions put a new interpretation on the payments:  they are now OA publication fees for a group of authors rather than TA subscription fees for a group of readers.

Under our simplifying assumptions, all researchers already have pre-paid access as readers, because they are all affiliated with institutions that pay subscriptions.  After the journal flips its business model, they all have open access.  From the standpoint of reader access, nothing changes except perhaps the number of clicks or keystrokes required for access.  We shift from pre-paid access (access is priced but someone is paying on our behalf) to open access (access is not priced), but end users don't notice the difference except in the freedom from the hassle of authentication.

Likewise, all authors already have a no-fee route to publication, since the journal doesn't levy page or color charges.  After the journal flips its business model, they all still have a no-fee route to publication, but for a different reason:  the journal now charges author-side publication fees but waives them for authors from paying institutions, and we're supposing that all authors are affiliated with paying institutions.  In effect, the journal adopts a fee-based model, but waives the fee for everyone.  Hence, from the standpoint of author access, nothing changes either.

Nor has anything changed from the standpoint of journal revenue.  The same institutions that formerly paid subscriptions are still sending the same amounts to the same accounts.  We're just changing the name of the payments from subscription fees to publication fees.  If the journal was breaking even, running at a loss, or making a profit before, then it's doing the same now.

(For now let's also assume that OA and TA publishing cost the same.  However, if OA publishing costs less, which I believe, then the difference makes flipping even more attractive.  The savings could show up in reduced fees for institutions, more frequent waivers for unsubsidized authors, or both.)

Flipping the business model is a simple act because, under our assumptions, it changes almost nothing.  It's like changing the way we interpret an optical illusion.  Suddenly the drawing that looked concave looks convex.  Nothing has changed but our interpretation of what's going on.

But now let's move to a more realistic assumption in which pre-flip subscriptions cover only 70% (rather than 100%) of the world's researchers.  Under the new assumption, 100% of researchers have no-fee access to the pre-flip journal as authors, but only 70% have pre-paid or no-fee access as readers.  In this world, flipping the business model will change nothing for the lucky 70% affiliated with fee-paying institutions:  they will still have no-fee access as readers and will still be able to publish in the journal without facing a publication fee.  But the flip will significantly change things for the 30%:  they will gain no-fee access as readers, for the first time, and they will face publication fees as authors, also for the first time.  As readers they will see access barriers fall, and as authors they will see them rise.  The percentage of readers with no-fee access will rise from 70% to 100%, but the percentage of authors with no-fee access will drop from 100% to 70%.

I picked the numbers 70 and 30 out of a hat.  For a journal with much lower circulation, say, reaching only 5% of the world's researchers, then the flip would cause much larger disparities.  The flip would remove access barriers for 95% of readers and add publication fees for 95% of authors.

Even under realistic circulation numbers, nothing will change for the journal, at least at first.  If the revenue it had before was adequate (or inadequate), it will still be adequate (or inadequate).  But after the flip, the journal may notice some drift.  Some institutions that formerly paid subscription fees may not want to pay publication fees.  They may decide that their faculty don't publish in the journal often enough to justify the expense.  And conversely, some institutions that formerly didn't subscribe may want to start paying publication fees.  These losses and gains may not cancel each other out.

What kinds of journals are best situated to flip their business models without losing revenue?  If a journal has roughly as many authors as readers at subscribing institutions, then those institutions will be most likely to continue their payments after the journal flips, and therefore to keep the journal revenue at pre-flip levels.

To see the logic of this, imagine an extreme version of the opposite situation.  If all a journal's readers are at Harvard and all its authors at Stanford, then flipping would be attractive to Harvard (it could stop paying and still have free access for its readers) but unattractive to Stanford (it would have to shoulder the whole burden alone).  However, if an institution has roughly as many authors as readers, then it's likely to see the value in paying for author uploads instead of reader downloads. 

The basic idea remains simple even if we make the math more complicated and realistic.  For example, if there are fewer authors than readers overall, and hence fewer authors than readers at the average paying institution, but if the publication fee per author is higher than the subscription fee per reader, then it still follows that the more that reading and writing institutions overlap, the more likely it is that the paying institutions will think it worthwhile to keep paying after the flip.

For most well-established, high-quality journals there's already a good match between the institutions where readers are located and the institutions where authors are located.  For them, the flip can promote research and protect revenue at the same time.

If the number of authors or readers at an institution grows, that will not break the match.  Only if the number of authors declines will that undermine the match and make the institution less willing to pay.  But Rowse points out that the same is true today.  If a university closes down a department (reducing both authors and readers in that field), then it's less likely to keep paying for journals in that field.

It's easy for a journal to measure the extent of the match between its reading and writing institutions.  Simply calculate the percentage of published authors who are affiliated with subscribing institutions.  Even journals that are quite sure they would never flip their business model should do the calculation.  The door may be open, and that's a fact worth knowing.

Society journals with a good match between their reading and writing institutions may worry that flipping their business model would eliminate one incentive for individual scholars to join up.  Rowse points out that they could replace the old incentive (a free or discounted journal subscription) with a new one, such as fast-track review.  I can add another possibility, inspired by the American Society of Plant Biology:  waive the publication fee for society members who are not affiliated with paying institutions.

On the other hand, the smaller the overlap between the reading and writing institutions, or the closer the journal gets to the Harvard/Stanford (read-only / write-only) model, the more it is likely to lose paying institutions after the flip. 

Here's where we see the advantages for a publisher to flip many journals at once, which we could call a bundled flip.  If a publisher flips many journals at once, and waives the publication fees at all the flipped journals for all authors at all paying institutions, then more institutions would have an incentive to pay.  The more journals in the bundled flip, the more the reading and writing institutions will overlap, and hence the more the reading/subscribing institutions will have an incentive to keep paying.  Likewise, the more journals in the bundled flip, the more nonpaying institutions will have an incentive to start paying.  For publishers of many journals, the more they are willing to flip at once, the more likely it is that post-flip business would be better than pre-flip business.

The door may be open for most successful TA journals.  If there's already a good match between a journal's reading and writing institutions, then it can flip on its own.  If not, it can flip as part of a suite of journals from the same publisher.

Rowse points out that the benefits of flipping are reserved for the bold.  One advantage of a flip is to give up the overhead of TA publishing --print, subscription management, user authentication, licensing, and perhaps even marketing.  If a publisher went halfway by flipping some titles and not others, or if a single journal flipped but kept its TA overhead in readiness to flip back, then it would not realize all the possible savings.

Finally, Rowse argues that bold journals or publishers willing to make the flip may be rewarded by a virtuous circle.  Flipping will create OA, which will increase readership, which will usually increase submissions (from spreading exposure, rising impact factor, or both).  If submissions increase, then more institutions will have an incentive to pay publication fees, which would increase journal revenue, permit more fee waivers, and/or allow the journal to reduce fees for everyone.

That's the idea in a nutshell.  Here are some thoughts of my own.

* Flipping is attractive because it produces full OA in a way that can be safe for publishers.  Even if you think that publisher safety doesn't matter, or that safe business models are already common, this is still a welcome new option. 

Hybrid OA journals are also safe for publishers, since the publisher continues to receive subscription revenue while testing the market for fee-based OA.  But hybrid OA journals generally have low uptake and produce little OA.  Flipping could be at least as safe for publishers and more beneficial, since it would provide OA for every article in a journal.  Moreover, some percentage of authors (namely, those affiliated with paying institutions) would face no publication fees.

Flipping also gives institutions an incentive to pay.  Hybrid OA journals create no such incentive and leave most authors to pay publication fees out of pocket or plead for case-by-case subventions.  That's clearly part of the reason why hybrid OA journals have such low uptake.

* Flipping also enjoys the general advantage that journal conversions have over brand new launches.  When successful TA journals convert to OA, they bring their readership, reputation, impact factors, and prestige with them.  They don't get caught in the vicious circle of needing good submissions to generate prestige and needing prestige to attract good submissions.

* It's possible to imagine an inverted hybrid journal:  one that is OA by default but willing to publish TA articles for authors who couldn't pay publication fees.  Flipping, however, doesn't lend itself to these inverted hybrids.  If a flipped journal wanted to publish some TA articles for authors who couldn't pay publication fees, it would have to support all the publishing overhead required for TA publication, cutting into the financial advantages of the flip. 

A flipped journal with a good surplus could afford to offer an inverted hybrid option.  But if it had a good surplus, then it could lower its publication fees or waive them more often.  That would eliminate publication barriers for authors, make the inverted hybrid option unnecessary, and still assure that all its articles would be OA.

* The virtuous circle Rowse sketches is very likely.  If journals find revenues going up after a flip, and use them to reduce fees or increase fee waivers, then they will continue to stimulate submissions and keep the circle turning. 

Here's another side effect.  Because different journals publish different papers, they compete much less for readers than they do for authors.  If you need to read a certain paper, then it doesn't matter that another journal in the same research niche is less expensive or even OA.  In a subscription world, this makes every journal a mini-monopoly shielded from the market forces that would normally make prices competitive and affordable.  But in a world in which payments represent authors rather than readers, we can have a healthy market that keeps prices competitive.  If a journal charges much higher publication fees than a journal of comparable quality and prestige in the same field, then submissions and money will go elsewhere, at least more readily than they do today for journals charging higher subscription prices than their peers.  Flipping payments from reader-sponsors to author-sponsors will expose journals to price competition, for nearly the first time, and do so without making journals any more fungible or less distinctive than they are today.

* The CERN plan to convert TA journals in particle physics to OA is the closest thing I've seen to a Rowsean flip.  In brief, the CERN plan is to get TA journals in the field to agree to convert to OA at the same time that the subscribing institutions agree to replace their subscription fees with publication fees, which CERN expects to be lower than the earlier subscription fees.  Because CERN dominates particle physics the way no other institution dominates any other field, it was able to use its unmatched convening power to bring all the players together, make the case for the win-win logic of flipping, and create a consortium, SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics), which is currently working out the details.  The pre-flip planning assures participating journals that the institutions now paying will continue to pay after the flip.  The lesson is to enhance the flip planning for a journal or publisher with this kind of wider disciplinary planning whenever possible.  It will not only reduce risk for the journals, but improve the economics in the same way that a bundled flip creates more incentives for paying institutions than a single journal flip.


CERN's OA plan

My discussions of the CERN plan in earlier issues of SOAN

It doesn't matter whether we see Rowse's idea and the CERN plan as the same or merely variations on a theme.  Insofar as they differ, they show that there's more than one way convert TA journals to OA and keep revenue flowing from the institutions that formerly paid subscriptions.  There may be an even larger family of solutions here awaiting exploration.

* Universities might act together to persuade publishers to flip their journals.  If a consortium of universities now paying subscription fees would be willing to continue paying publication fees, they could approach a publisher and ask it to flip its journals.  The lure for the publisher would be the assurance of large-scale participation.  In return for this assurance, the universities could sweeten the deal for themselves by offering to pay (say) 75% of what they now pay, rather than 100%.  This reflects the fact that increased participation increases publisher revenue and allows it to lower publication fees.  Universities could make the deal even more appealing to publishers if they could recruit some non-subscribing institutions to join the consortium.

* There are a couple of ways in which a flipped journal could become a no-fee OA journal.  This matters to me because the chief drawback to the flipping model, for real-world journals that don't already reach all researchers, is that it introduces publication fees for some percentage of authors (namely, those not affiliated with paying institutions), and many of those authors will not have funders or employers willing to pay the fees on their behalf. 

One way to flip toward a no-fee journal is to start with a standard flip and rely at first on publication fees.  But the journal could then solicit subsidies from institutions with more authors than readers or from institutions wanting the prestige of hosting the journal.  If the subsidies sufficed to cover its expenses, then it could drop publication fees and become a no-fee OA journal. 

This is advantageous even if the subsidies don't suffice to replace publication fees.  Any level of subsidy would let the journal reduce its publication fees, waive them more often, or both.  The more it reduced its fees, the more institutions it could find who would be willing to pay them.  This could in turn create in a net increase in revenue, which would allow it to lower the fees even further.

If a journal looks for subsidies before rather than after the flip, and if it finds enough, then it could convert directly to OA without a flip.  If it doesn't find enough, then it could flip, supplement its subsidies with publication fees, and keep its fees low while looking for additional subsidies.

Another variation is a double flip:  first flip subscription fees to publication fees (download payments become upload payments), and then, sooner or later, flip publication fees to institutional subsidies (payments for specific articles or authors become payments to support general operating expenses).  The second flip in this process is not as novel as it may appear.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is in the middle of something very similar right now.  To build an endowment to cover its expenses, it's asking institutions to make payments that resemble "flipped subscriptions":  institutions make annual payments, as they would for subscription or publication fees, but when SEP has raised enough money, the payments stop and the encyclopedia is OA, no-fee, and self-sustaining. 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP)

SEP's fund-raising strategy

* For real-world TA journals that don't already reach all researchers, flipping will remove fee barriers for all readers and add fee barriers for some authors.  It will always be a net gain for researchers qua readers.  Whether it's a net gain for researchers qua authors will depend on at least five variables:  (1) the number of authors not affiliated with paying institutions, (2) the size of the publication fee facing those authors, (3) the willingness of funding agencies to pay those fees for grantees, (4) the willingness of universities not paying institution-wide fees to pay fees for individual faculty on a case-by-case basis, and (5) the willingness of flipped journals to waive their fees in cases of economic hardship.  Depending on the values of these variables, some flips will impose fees on a majority of authors and some will impose fees on a minority.  In principle, both kinds of flip could be safe for the publisher.

When high-circulation journals flip, they mitigate this problem by reducing the number of authors in category #1 (authors not affiliated with paying institutions).  When low-circulation journals flip, they aggravate this problem by increasing the number of such authors.

This problem is the only drawback I can see to a flip.  But publication fees needn't be higher at flipped journals than at born-OA journals and OA converts using the publication fee business model.  In fact, the Rowsean virtuous circle may allow flipped journals to set their publication fees even lower.  In addition, flipped journals would waive their publication fee for all authors from paying institutions, and the number of authors receiving waivers should be well above average for the class of fee-based OA journals, equalled only by the few with successful institutional membership programs.  In any case, it would be inconsistent to welcome the launch of new fee-based OA journals and not welcome flipped journals. 

* In short, flipping has many attractions, and its only drawback is shared by other fee-based OA journals (which comprise about 47% of all OA journals) and may be less burdensome than at most other fee-based OA journals.  I definitely like the idea enough to hope that some journals and publishers will try it out.  We could all learn more from those who did, and while we were learning, the journal would be OA. 

Where are the journals and publishers curious enough to do the math and bold enough to take the first steps?

* Postscript.  Mark Rowse left Ingenta in October 2005, though he is still on the board.  The company has been called Publishing Technologies since February 2007 when it merged with Vista.  In addition to serving on the board, he's involved in various publishing startups and thinking about how to bring Web 2.0 thinking to academic publishing.  I interviewed him once before (August 8, 2002), on OA topics but not on flipping business models.



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 my blog posts, not to the sources themselves, because I only want to use one link per item and my blog posts usually bring many relevant links together. 

** The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET) issued a strong draft OA mandate and called for public comments.

** The UK Arts & Humanities Research Council announced its long-awaited OA mandate, making it the sixth of the seven Research Councils UK to adopt an OA policy and the sixth to adopt a mandate.

** The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced its long-awaited OA mandate.

** WIPO adopted 45 reform proposals that will modify the organization's mission and advance access to knowledge.

** The director of Columbia University Press, James Jordan, resigned from the Executive Council of the AAP's Professional and Scholarly Publishing to protest its launch of PRISM.

** Cambridge University Press publicly dissociated itself from PRISM.  CEO Stephen Bourne wrote, in a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education, that "PRISM's message is oversimplistic and ill-judged, with the unwelcome consequence of creating tension between the publishing community and the proponents of open access."

** The University of Chicago Press dissociated itself from PRISM.  Nawin Gupta, the UCP journals manager, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that UCP "does not support or endorse the spin that is being put at the PRISM site" and that he questions "whether PRISM really reflects the overall membership of the PSP in any way." UCP is the largest university press in the US and a member of the AAP/PSP Executive Council, which launched PRISM.

** Oxford University Press publicly distanced itself from PRISM, declaring that  it had no intention of signing the PRISM Principles.

** The Nature Publishing Group distanced itself from PRISM, making clear that it is not a member of the coalition and was not consulted about its launch.

** The Pennsylvania State University Press distanced itself from PRISM.  Its director, Sanford Thatcher, made clear that he does not endorse PRISM even though his press is a member of the AAP/PSP.

** Tom Wilson resigned from the editorial board of the International Journal of Information Management, a journal he founded, because Elsevier, its publisher, supports PRISM.  He also resigned from Education for Information, published by IOS Press, for the same reason.

** Rockefeller University Press publicly asked to be removed from the list of signatories to the DC Principles Coalition, a group that campaigns against national OA policies.  (RUP had earlier dissociated itself from PRISM.)

** The Harvard University Faculty Council approved a plan to make OA archiving the default for all research articles produced by faculty.  The plan still has to be approved by the faculty.

** Elsevier launched OncologySTAT, a portal offering free online access to 101 of its oncology journals.  Free registration is required.  The site also provides free summaries of articles published in journals from other publishers.

* The Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) decided to encourage rather than require OA for RGC-funded research.  The decision was made in June, announced to Hong Kong universities in August, and made public through OAN in September.

* The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (CBCRA) decided to encourage rather than require OA for CBCRA-funded research.  The policy was adopted in April.

* India's National Knowledge Commission (NKC) released the Report of the Working Group on Open Access and Open Educational Resources.  It recommends an OA mandate for publicly-funded research, public funding for OA digitization projects, and a funding model to support OA journals.

* The Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC) issued a new position paper reiterating the need for OA mandates in Europe.

* The final report from an NSF-JISC workshop strongly endorses an OA mandate for publicly-funded research.

* Eve Gray wrote a policy paper for the Open Society Institute containing recommendations for research dissemination policy in South Africa, including an OA mandate for publicly-funded research.

* PRISM revised the front page and "about" page of its web site, reducing their polemical temperature.  It dropped the claim that government OA policies lead to censorship but not the claim that it undermines peer review and "open[s] the floodgates to non-peer reviewed junk science".  Nor did it add the disclaimer requested by Rockefeller University Press, "indicating that the views presented on the site do not necessarily reflect those of all members of the AAP."

* When PRISM revised its web site without adding the disclaimer requested by Rockefeller University Press ("indicating that the views presented on the [PRISM] site do not necessarily reflect those of all members of the AAP"), RUP distributed a second open letter repeating its request for the disclaimer.

* About one month after launching PRISM (and four days after revising the PRISM web site, above), the AAP's Professional/Scholarly Publishing division removed all mention of it from its front page.  It did not, however, take down the PRISM web site itself.

* Last year, when Jim Giles received a leaked copy of Eric Dezenhall's proposal to the AAP, he used it to write a major article for Nature (January 24, 2007).  Last month he released the proposal itself to accompany a new article for NewScientist about Dezenhall, the AAP, and PRISM.

* The Copyright Alliance, borrowing language from PRISM, publicly objected that the bill now in Congress to strengthen the NIH policy would violate copyright, not apparently noticing that bill requires that "the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law."

* SPARC, ARL, and the ALA released an important joint brief, Mandatory Public Access to Federally Funded Research Does Not Violate Copyright Obligations.

* SPARC published a letter to help member libraries conduct campus conversations about the misinformation in the PRISM campaign.

* The ARL published an issue brief on PRISM, answering its fears and objections about OA.

* Springer released a public statement on the NIH policy and the debate surrounding it.  It supports gold OA and calls for a "respectful" debate with all stakeholders, which appears to be a polite (i.e. consistent) rebuke to PRISM.

* The University of California supported an OA mandate at the NIH in an open letter from Provost Wyatt Hume to Senator Diane Feinstein.

* The Alliance for Taxpayer Access issued an alert, asking Americans to ask their Senators to support an OA mandate at the NIH and offering some talking points.

* The Alliance for Taxpayer Access released a webcast on The importance of public access to publicly funded research for patient advocates.

* The American Library Association created an action alert to simplify the process of asking US Senators to support the strengthening of the NIH policy.

* Many organizations and bloggers urged US citizens to ask their Senators to support an OA mandate at the NIH.  September 28 was the informal deadline for this contact in order to be sure that Senators got the message before completing the appropriations process for fiscal 2008 --just in case the Senate completed the process on time.  (However, the appropriations process has been delayed, again, and there may be future opportunities to get this message to Senators.)

* While progress continued on an OA mandate at the NIH, John Cornyn's office told Wired News that the Senator had no timetable for re-introducing FRPAA in the current session of Congress.

* The Biosciences Federation, representing 50+ society publishers in the UK, issued a Position statement on Open Access.  It supports OA journals if publishers can have revenue guarantees, and OA repositories if OA journals already exist.

* The CNRS' Institut de physique nucléaire et de physique des particules (IN2P3) agreed to pay the publication fees for French physicists who publish OA articles in the Journal of High Energy Physics.

* Sweden's Knowledge Foundation (KK Stiftelsen) gave the OpenAccess.se project 2.5 million SEK for a series of OA projects in 2008-2009.

* Childhoods Today is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth at the University of Sheffield.

* People, Place and Policy Online is a new peer-reviewed OA journal  from Sheffield Hallam University.

* Advances in Engineering Education is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the American Society for Engineering Education.  It encourages multimedia and charges a publication fee of only $75.

* The Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace is a new peer-reviewed OA journal published by the Plowshares Project, a peace studies collaborative of Earlham, Goshen, and Manchester Colleges.

* Linguistic Issues in Language Technology is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from Stanford's CSLI Publications.

* Reflexions is a new OA journal published by the University of Liege.

* John Reidelbach counted them up and found that 18 of the 44 journals published by the American Bar Association are OA.

* Nature launched a free online supplement on Neglected Diseases.

* Nature launched a free online supplement on Ageing.

* The OA Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology created OA to its full back run.

* The Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons (SLS) converted Laparoscopy Today to OA, and provided OA to the full back run.

* The Canadian Journal of Sociology will convert to OA, starting in January 2008.

* The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) agreed to pay the publishing fees when HHMI-funded researchers publish in Springer's hybrid OA journals.

* BioMed Central announced its partnership with WebCite.

* BioMed Central started to let users post BMC articles to social networking sites.

* PLoS consolidated two of its journals, folding PLoS Clinical Trials into PLoS ONE.  At the same time it launched the PLoS Hub for Clinical Trials, the first in a series of topic-oriented hubs of OA research and networking.

* Topaz, the software underlying PLoS ONE, took steps to generalize beyond PLoS ONE and offer the same interactive tools to other journals.

* Peter Murray-Rust discovered that Oxford University Press was charging for access to one of his OA papers.  OUP acknowledged the error and promised to fix the problem.  He then discovered a similar problem at Ingenta.

* AnthroSource made it official that it's moving from the University of California Press to Wiley-Blackwell.

* Four New Zealand universities launched a consortial OA repository.

* The Open University officially launched an institutional repository, Open Research Online.

* University College Dublin and partners launched the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive Repository (IVRLA).

* Tom Scott launched OwnTerms, an OA repository of standard form contracts.

* The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is expanding to cover many other fields.  One of the 16 fields in its forthcoming Humanities Research Network will be the Philosophy Research Network (PRN).

* The self-archiving mandate at the University of Southampton Department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) has a compliance rate between 80% and 100%, depending on how one estimates the department's overall research output.

* Carl Malamud and 10 colleagues asked the US Copyright Office to provide OA to its database of copyright registrations.  When the office admitted that the data were in the public domain but suggested that it had no control over access policy, a team from Malamud's PublicResource.org created and hosted an OA copy. 

* The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) converted its large database of ITU standards to OA.

* Oxford University's OA repository, Forced Migration Online, will migrate to the same Fedora platform as the primary Oxford IR.

* The European Library and the National Library of Serbia announced a jointly produced OA library of Romani literature.

* The NIH launched SHARe (SNP Health Association Resource), "one of the most extensive collections of genetic and clinical data ever made freely available to researchers worldwide."

* ERIC released 8,000 OA documents, the second wave of documents to be released by its Microfiche Digitization Project.

* DBpedia announced the launch of version 2.0, an OA database harvesting uncopyrightable facts from Wikipedia.

* Antonio Fernández Porcel and others, of Granada University, published an OA book of guidelines for creating institutional repositories.

* DRIVER released an FAQ on the DRIVER Guidelines.

* DRIVER and LIBER agreed to work together "in order to progress and enhance the provision, visibility and application of European research output through digital repositories."

* MIT and HP Labs transferred the copyright on the DSpace software to the DSpace Foundation.  The software will remain free and open source.

* The Open Knowledge Foundation released a draft open data license for public comment.

* Norway requires government agencies to provide OA to any geodata they gather or produce.

* Several government agencies in Australia are experimenting with OA to the data they gather or produce.

* The Open Content Alliance will digitize books from 19 Boston-area libraries after striking a deal with the Boston Library Consortium.  It's not clear how many books are involved, but the member libraries together own more than 34 million volumes.

* The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) launched a series of OA books.

* Siva Vaidhyanathan began writing his new book --The Googlization of Everything-- in real time, with OA for each new draft and installment, and OA to a steady stream of reader comments, at a web site provided by the Institute for the Future of the Book.

* The JISC-funded National E-Books Project started providing free ebooks to UK universities.

* Microsoft is helping the British Library digitize more than 100,000 19th century books.  The digital editions will be free online for UK universities, but I can't tell whether they will be free online for everyone.

* The OA Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy reached a fund-raising milestone by the amount ($1.5 million) needed to trigger $500,000 in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The SEP is raising funds for an endowment.

* The University of Michigan Library revealed that it canceled more than 2,500 journal subscriptions this year.

* The Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

* Microsoft announced that it will sponsor BioMed Central's 2007 Research Awards.

* The Nigerian Library Association gave Ezra Shiloba Gbaje its Dr. James O. Daniel prize for the Most Innovative Library-based ICT project for his work in launching an institutional repository for Ahmadu Bello University.

* BioMed Central posted a batch of stories and photos about OA in developing countries.

* Alma Swan released her 2008 Open Access Calendar of OA quotations and original artwork and calligraphy.

* The Open Society Institute has given a grant to the Open Access Documentary Project for the production of documentary videos about OA.  The project is jointly run by BioMed Central and Intelligent Television.

* The British Columbia Electronic Library Network (BC ELN) launched an Open Access Collections Group to identify OA works for link resolvers.

* Canada's International Development Research Center is evaluating the effectiveness of OA law projects in four African countries (Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Togo).

* Citizendium is asking users for "well-reasoned position statements" on what licensing scheme it should use.

* The US National Academy of Sciences is providing OA to 500 scientific memoirs representing 150 years of scientific history.  http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2007/09/oa-to-500-scientific-memoirs.html

* Mark Surman and Eve Gray gave us previews of the forthcoming Cape Town Declaration, which hopes to do for open education roughly what the Budapest Open Access Initiative did for open access.

* The first films produced under the controversial deal between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime, which gave Showtime exclusive rights to some publicly-owned and public-domain content, started to appear on cable TV.

* The PrometeoNetwork is a "free, online, global network of doctors and researchers in life sciences".

* Camp One is a Canadian methamphetamine treatment community which uses the quest for knowledge, especially mathematical knowledge, to help meth users kick the habit.  It credits OA with its success.

* GRDDL (Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages) became a World Wide Web Consortium recommendation.  GRDDL facilitates the interoperability of different XML formats.


Coming this month

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

* October 4, 2007.  Deadline for applications to the EU's eContentPlus programme for funding "conclusive experiments with OA".

* Notable conferences this month

Taking Action on the NIH Public Access Policy ­ in Congress and on Campus: A SPARC/ATA Webcast
October 4, 2007 (a webcast)

Repositories - for better or worse? (sponsored by the ALPSP)
London, October 5, 2007

E-Social Science 2007 (OA is among the topics)
Ann Arbor, October 7-9, 2007

Changes on the Horizon (sponsored by the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers) (OA is among the topics)
Sarasota, Florida, October 7-11, 2007

eIFL federated repository project (sponsored by eIFL and SURF)
Utrecht, October 8-9, 2007

Computers and Advanced Technology in Education (CATE 2007) (Open education is among the topics)
Beijing, October 8-10, 2007

STM Annual Conference (OA is among the topics)
Frankfurt, October 9, 2007

Open Journal Systems (OJS) in a Day (a workshop)
Barnaby, British Columbia, October 9, 2007

Universal Access to All Human Knowledge (a public lecture by Brewster Kahle)
Seattle, October 9, 2007

Access 2007 (OA is among the topics)
Victoria, British Columbia, October 10-13, 2007

Increasing Nottingham’s Research Impact Through Open Access
Nottingham, October 11, 2007

The Internet, Publishing, and the Future of Literature (sponsored by the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics)
Chicago, October 12-14, 2007

Joining Research and Practice: Social Computing and Information Science (ASIS&T 2007 Annual Meeting) (OA is among the topics)
Milwaukee, October 19-24, 2007
--Opening Science to All: Implications of Blogs and Wikis for Social and Scholarly Scientific Communication, a session on October 23, 8:30 am
--The Live Usability Lab: Open Access Archives and Digital Repositories, a session on October 22, 8:30 am

2007 Microsoft eScience Workshop (sponsored by Microsoft and RENCI) (OA is among the topics)
Chapel Hill, October 21-23, 2007

Cinquième colloque VSST (Veille Stratégique Scientifique & Technologique)
Marrakech, October 21-25, 2007

Evolving Business Models (sponsored by the North American chapter of ALPSP) (OA is among the topics)
Washington, D.C., October 22, 2007

Accessible e-content: the 7th e-books Conference
Edinburgh, October 26, 2007

Researching open content in education (OpenLearn 2007)
Milton Keynes, UK, October 30-31, 2007

* Other OA-related conferences



* I've added 18 new conferences to my 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.

* On September 11, Dorothea Salo fixed a problem with the Open Access News interface that I've wanted to fix for a long time.  Now the permalink for each blog post displays the post on a page to itself.  When you click on a permalink, you don't have to load one of my large archive files and hope that your browser jumps the right distance down the page, a job that Firefox did well but slowly and that Explorer rarely did well.

This feature is old hat for blogs nowadays and I'm long overdue in implementing it.  I was slow because I knew that making the switch would change the form of the post URL (from a standardized number to a fragment of the post's title), and I didn't want to break links to old posts.  My old posts now have two URLs, one old-style and one new-style.

This is the first issue of SOAN in which the links to my blog are in the new format.  If you were reluctant to click on them in the past because of slow load times, try them now.  You'll be pleasantly surprised.

One nice side effect of storing each blog post as a separate file is that my Google custom search engine (on the blog sidebar and other places) now returns links to individual posts in addition to archive pages.  Now you won't always have to load an archive page and then run a new search on the page for the relevant post.

Dorothea also helped with another interface tweak:  You can now find the permalink at the top of a post (in the title) as well as the bottom (in the "page" icon).  Thank you, Dorothea!


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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