Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #116
December 2, 2007
by Peter Suber
Read this issue online
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Update on the bill mandating OA at the NIH
When we left off, both the House and Senate had approved the Labor Health and Human Services (LHHS) appropriations bill, which contained language mandating OA at the NIH. Details are in last month's SOAN,
Here's what happened since:
* The House and Senate bills used identical language for the NIH provision but differed in other details. Hence, they had to be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee before the final bill could be submitted to the President. The conference committee was one more opportunity for opponents to amend or delete the NIH provision. On November 1, the conference committee produced a unified bill with the NIH provision intact. The reconciled version of the bill still had to be approved by both houses.
Also on November 1, the Washington Post published an article erroneously saying that the bill would require NIH grantees to submit their articles to certain OA-friendly journals (gold OA) rather than require them to deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts in PubMed Central (green OA). The error was picked up and repeated by other news media, including Nature News and Slashdot --a mudslide of misinformation just as we were making headway in educating stakeholders about the difference between green and gold OA. It probably had no effect on the votes in Congress, but it gave new life to an old and tenacious error.
Ray English and I sent a Letter to the Editor immediately, which was published 12 days later. (Among other things, this episode demonstrated one more advantage of blogs over newspapers: real-time error correction.)
* The House of Representatives tried to yoke the reconciled LHHS bill, which the President had promised to veto, to a bill funding the Department of Veterans Affairs, which he had promised to support. The strategy was to reduce the odds of a Bush veto or increase the odds of Republican votes to override a Bush veto. The Senate, however, separated the two bills. On November 7, the Senate approved reconciled LHHS bill, and on November 9 it was approved by the House and sent to the President.
* President Bush vetoed the LHHS bill on November 13, citing its high levels of spending. Friends of OA mobilized to contact members of Congress, urging them to override the veto.
The LHHS bill included a $1 billion budget increase for the NIH, a very popular provision in the biomedical community. Among the groups fighting to override the Bush veto was the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which had opposed the OA policy at the NIH since 2004. FASEB must have decided that the OA policy was a price worth paying for the NIH budget increase. Because the LHHS bill was very large ($606 billion), its many supporters were often strange bedfellows.
* On November 15, the House of Representatives failed to override the Bush veto.
For what it's worth, Congress was gaining on the President at the time of the override vote. In July, the House vote for the original LHHS appropriations bill fell 14 votes short of a veto-proof two-thirds supermajority. In November, the vote for the reconciled version of the bill was just three votes short, and the override vote was just two votes short.
This is where we are today. The original version of the LHHS bill is dead and Congress is working on a compromise version which reduces the overall level of spending. In the meantime, Congress has adopted a continuing resolution to fund the government until December 14. (Fiscal 2008 started on October 1.) The continuing resolution has no effect on the NIH provision except to give Congress more time to work out a compromise that might win a Presidential signature.
President Bush complains that the LHHS bill spends $22 billion more than he would like to spend. Congressional Democrats have signalled that they will split the difference and cut $11 billion. Will that work? No one knows.
Will the compromise bill include the full-strength NIH provision? No one knows yet, but I see four grounds for optimism;
(1) The OA mandate was approved by both houses of Congress. When looking for items to cut, Congress will look first at provisions approved by just one chamber and retained by the House-Senate conference committee.
(2) The OA mandate has bipartisan support in Congress and Republican friends in some offices of the Executive Branch.
(3) The President's "Statement of Administration Policy" on the bill (October 17, 2007) "strongly opposed" some of its policy provisions, but didn't use the language of opposition at all for the NIH provision. Instead, it merely called for balance and noted that the administration "believes" there are opportunities to "study" and "consider" ways to improve compliance with the current policy. On the Washington Scale of Remonstrative Rhetoric, this weak response is closer to neutrality than opposition. Deleting the NIH provision would do virtually nothing to ingratiate the President.
(4) To reduce overall spending levels in the bill, Congress will cut some of the appropriations. But the OA mandate is a policy change, not an appropriation. There's no need to cut it to satisfy the President's fiscal objections to the current bill.
* Here are a few of the news and comment pieces from November.
Jocelyn Kaiser, President Nixes Bill Funding NIH, Science Magazine, November 13, 2007.
Bob Grant, Bush vetoes NIH budget increase, The Scientist, November 14, 2007.
Bruce Byfield, Open Access bill vetoed, Linux.com, November 16, 2007.
Predictions for 2008
This year I decided not to take on a large number of small topics. I did that in an article in the May 2007 issue ("Trends favoring open access"), which I revised and enlarged later in the year for the Fall 2007 issue of CT Watch.
To avoid repeating the earlier piece, I'll hold myself to just ten topics and say a bit more about them than I would have said otherwise. My review of OA in 2007 will appear in the January issue.
(1) First, I'll be quick with the easy predictions: In 2008, there will be more new OA journals, more journal conversions from TA to OA, more OA repositories, more deposits in OA repositories, more OA to data, more OA to books, more OA to ETDs, more OA to courseware, and more OA policies --including OA mandates-- at funding agencies and universities. These are not just easy; they're central. We'll see steady progress on all these important fronts.
In particular, I predict new OA policies from public funding agencies in Brazil, the European Union, France, India, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, the United States, and at least one country in the Gulf-Maghreb region. If these policies are mandates, they will nearly double the number of nations with national-level OA mandates, and will far more than double the number of research articles covered by OA mandates.
Despite this progress and its centrality, however, the next two sections predict specific kinds of non-progress. I could have predicted them in any previous year, but they would have been trivial then. We've made so much progress that the exceptions are becoming more significant.
(2) The rate of spontaneous author self-archiving --without intervention by funder or university policies-- will only increase slowly in 2008. In one sense, this doesn't matter much if funder and university policies increase, which I'm also predicting. But the more we can supplement mandated green OA with spontaneous green OA, the faster and more securely we can reach our goal.
Lots of good people are working to increase the spontaneous deposit rate through some combination of author education, author incentives, human assistance, and automation. I support all these methods and don't have any others to suggest. I'm not a pessimist; these methods work, even if the progress is currently slow. Moreover, progress won't be slow forever. I predict that the rate of spontaneous self-archiving will start to rise significantly when the volume of OA literature on deposit in repositories reaches a critical mass. The mass will be critical when researchers routinely search repositories, or routinely find what they seek in repositories. Only by using repositories as readers will they appreciate the value of using them as authors.
For now, this critical mass exists for the largest disciplinary repositories, such as arXiv and PubMed Central. We shouldn't expect it to exist for any single institutional repository, since researchers search for literature by topic or field, not by institution. But we can expect a critical mass to develop for the network of institutional repositories. For this purpose, OAI interoperability and crawling by popular search engines like Google and Microsoft are equivalent: they allow scholars to search across institutional repositories, explore a larger corpus of literature (including repository literature), and disregard institutional boundaries.
The bottom line is to be patient. The current build-up, even if slow, is bringing us to the critical mass. The spontaneous part of the build-up will continue to be slow for 2008, but the policy-driven part of the build-up will accelerate.
If there's a practical lesson here, apart from patience, it's that scholars who find articles in repositories must be led to realize that they are finding them in repositories. They need to see and credit the role of the repositories, not just the role of Google or OAIster or the search engine that brought them there.
(3) All stakeholders want to know whether OA mandates will cause libraries to cancel journal subscriptions, at least outside physics where we already know that high-volume OA archiving does not cause cancellations. The good news is that we're already more than a year into a wide-ranging natural experiment. Five of the seven Research Councils UK now operate under OA mandates, and most of them took effect more than a year ago (October 2006). Together they go well beyond physics to astronomy, biology, medicine, environmental science, economics, and the social sciences. There are also multi-disciplinary OA mandates in Australia (December 2006), Austria (October 2006), Belgium (March 2007), Canada (September 2007), France (April 2004), Germany (January 2006), Scotland (January 2007), Switzerland (August 2007), and the UK (Wellcome Trust, October 2005).
But we won't see decisive results in 2008. There are two reasons.
First, if there's an effect, it will take more time to show up. Authors must receive their grants, do their research, write it up, shop it around, and get it published. Then the funder-permitted embargoes (generally, six to 12 months) must run before the articles become OA. Then we must wait for enough new OA articles to accumulate to have an effect, if any, on library renewal decisions. And at any given point on this curve, we must wait for the next cycle of library renewal decisions.
Second, even if subscriptions fall as OA archiving rises, it will be difficult to disentangle the cancellations caused by OA from the cancellations caused by natural attrition and librarian triage. Some part of the cancellations will be due to unbearable prices and onerous licensing terms, at least when not outweighed by high impact and high local usage. The disentangling problem will be aggravated by the fact that journals respond to cancellations by raising their prices, triggering new cancellations, and we already know (from the ALPSP study in March 2006) that high prices cause many more cancellations than OA archiving.
NB: Despite the lag time and the inevitable disputes about interpreting the evidence, the ongoing natural experiment will be faster and more decisive than any later, smaller, or more artificial study of the effect of OA archiving on journal subscriptions. Funders and governments considering an OA mandate should understand that calls for another study of this question are just delaying tactics.
In 2008, if we do see increasing cancellations, we won't be able to tell whether they are due to rising OA or rising prices; and if don't see cancellations, we won't be able to tell whether their absence is due to lack of effect or lack of time. So I can confidently predict that we'll keep arguing about whether OA mandates will trigger cancellations.
Note that I have no prediction on whether mandated OA archiving will cause journal cancellations outside physics. I can imagine it going either way, or going different ways for different disciplines. Instead of pretending to have more confidence than I can honestly muster, I prefer to (a) point out that high-volume OA archiving has not caused cancellations in physics; (b) acknowledge that other fields may not turn out to be like physics in this respect; and (c) argue that if other fields do turn out to differ from physics in this respect, then mandated OA archiving is still justified.
(4) The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will mandate OA for NIH-funded research. If the mandate doesn't come as part of the NIH appropriation for fiscal 2008, then it will come another way.
When the dust settles and the OA mandate has been adopted, some publishers will sue to prevent it from taking effect. They won't have strong legal arguments, but they will dress up what they do have and try to delay implementation as long as they can. After losing in the legislative and executive branches of government, a hard core of publishers who oppose government OA policies will keep fighting in the judicial branch. The Terminator may be reduced to a metal skeleton, but it will keep on coming.
The lawsuit will continue to fracture the coalition of publishers which has been lobbying against government OA policies, just as the AAP/PSP fractured it with the launch of PRISM. Soon after PRISM launched, nine important presses publicly disavowed or distanced themselves from it and others did so privately. If the AAP or another group files a lawsuit to stop the NIH policy, other publishers will defect. It's one thing to lobby against the NIH policy in Congress, where publishers can argue that their private interest coincides with the public interest. But in a courtroom, they will have to argue that the NIH policy actually harms them. The question won't be about the public interest, which Congress has the prerogative to determine for itself, and hand-waving about peer review and censorship will be out of bonds. The question will be about injury to the plaintiffs and the power of Congress to act in the public interest. When it starts to look like it's all about publisher self-interest rather than science, revenue rather than research, then some publishers will get off the train.
After the lawsuit is resolved and we finally have a working OA mandate at the NIH, much will change. That's a subject for a separate article, but here I'll just point out three consequences:
First, we'll see OA mandates spread to other US federal agencies. Some agencies will adopt policies on their own, taking the recent votes in Congress (and the vindication in court) as all the authority they need. Some will wait for an explicit Congressional directive and eventually get it. Some will wait for the publisher lawsuit to be resolved but some won't.
Second, we'll see much more publisher adaptation, willing and unwilling, than we've seen to date. We'll see more initiatives designed for business and long-term survival, and fewer experiments designed primarily to test the waters and collect data.
Third, publishers and editors who really hate the NIH policy could refuse to publish work by NIH-funded researchers. But I predict that very few journals will take this step, whatever their previous rhetoric. If some do, in biomedicine, it will be for short-term PR value and they will eventually relax their opposition and stop harming themselves by closing their doors to good work.
(5) Publishers will always market their OA projects as boons to authors and readers, which is perfectly justified. But with or without more OA mandates to force the issue, we'll start to see more OA and near-OA projects designed to help publishers themselves. These projects may not directly increase a publisher's revenue, but they will prepare it to compete with free. Already, publishers who can afford to do so are launching projects that fit this description. See for example Elsevier's sponsored-article journals, Topic Pages, OncologySTAT, DoctorPortal, WiserWifi, and 2collab, or the Nature Publishing Group's OA journal with EMBO, hybrid OA journal with the British Pharmacological Society, free online supplements, topic gateways, open backfiles, databases, blogs, podcasts, news aggregator, and preprint exchange. We'll see other publishers take steps in the same direction, such as Wiley's decision to convert some priced books from its Wrox Press to free online wikis. We'll see more conferences (like the ALPSP conference in London, October 5, 2007) in which publishers explore business opportunities that build on, rather than resist, OA repositories.
When the Nobel prizes were announced in October, the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics provided retroactive OA to the articles they published in past years by the new prizewinners. This will become routine. When previously published work is recognized as important, more and more publishers will provide retroactive OA. It's a conspicuous way to advance research and help authors and readers. It also helps publishers burnish their reputations for publishing important work, and it does nothing to undermine subscriptions. As this idea takes root, publishers will look for reasons to consider previously published work important, for example, in citation milestones, bibliographies commissioned by independent experts, or peer-reviewed review articles. (I advocated this kind of selective, retroactive OA in 2004, but now I'm predicting it.)
Some of these OA projects will be motivated by fear of OA and the desire to prepare for it. But some will be motivated, in effect, by the decline in fear. We're entering the post-panic period of the OA revolution, and as panic subsides, more and more former opponents will be willing to acknowledge the virtues of OA and try to benefit from them. It will be easier see nuance, rather than undifferentiated menace, and recognize that some variations on the theme may fit a given publisher's plans and research niche even if other variations do not.
(6) More publishers of OA journals will report profits or surpluses. Hindawi has proved that OA journals can be profitable by charging publication fees, and Medknow has proved that OA journals can be profitable without publication fees by offering priced, print editions (sometimes supplemented by advertising, membership dues, and reprint sales). We'll see more successes at both fee-based and no-fee OA journals.
Because both Hindawi and Medknow have both been profitable for more than year, you'd think that the fact of their success would start to sink in, with corresponding effects on attitudes toward the sustainability of OA journals and interest in their business models. But well-documented truths about OA tend to sink in very, very slowly, because they have to compete with myths, misinformation, and misunderstanding. With regret, I predict more of the same.
In 2005 the Kaufman-Wills Group discovered that the majority of OA journals charged no publication fees at all. In 2006 I predicted that that fact would start to sink in. I was dead wrong. The fact still hasn't sunk in, and I've learned my lesson.
Caroline Sutton and I discovered last month that the OA journals published by learned societies follow same pattern as OA journals overall: most of them charge no publication fees. But while 52.8% of OA journals overall use no-fee business models (from Kaufman-Wills, 2005), we found that 83% of society OA journals use no-fee business models, a significantly greater fraction. However, I'm not predicting that this fact will sink in any time soon. Likewise, we found 425 societies publishing 450 OA journals, a much larger number than the societies known to oppose OA policies. But neither am I predicting that this fact will sink in any time soon. We'll continue to hear the unargued claim that society publishers are intrinsically vulnerable to OA and predominantly opposed to it.
(7) We'll see more publisher-university deals, like the Springer deal with Göttingen and the similar deal with the Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. These deals create a new body of OA content --articles by faculty at participating institutions-- for about the same price that institutions currently pay for subscriptions. They don't make whole journals OA, and hence don't make subscriptions unnecessary, but they do make articles OA. We'll see more of them because they benefit both parties. They benefit universities by delivering more bang for the library budget buck and by widening the dissemination of some faculty work. They benefit publishers by reducing the risk of cancellation.
These deals give universities two goods --access for readers and OA for authors-- for the fee that previously bought just one. Because they preserve access fees for readers, I view them as suboptimal, but that doesn't change the fact that they are bona fide cases of mutual benefit. Publishers will benefit from them even if Springer is the only one to notice so far, and universities will benefit from them even if they would benefit more from full OA. Despite their scarcity to date, it's not hard to see why they will spread. If other things were equal (e.g. freezing the growth of green OA), we'd see more deals like this than full OA conversions, at least until publishers saw greater benefits for themselves from full OA.
(8) We'll see more funder-publisher deals, like the Wellcome Trust deal with Elsevier, the NIH deal with Elsevier, the deals of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) with Elsevier, Springer, and BioMed Central, and the Elsevier deals with most of the funders in the UKPMC Funders Group. Some of these deals pay publishers for gold OA when green OA would suffice, and some pay publishers for green OA when publishers don't need to be paid at all. But we'll see more of them because some funders are willing to pay to have the published edition of an article OA from birth (as opposed to the author's manuscript OA after an embargo) and because many publishers are looking for ways to be paid for any concession to OA.
While funders and publishers have discovered the benefits of direct cooperation, the exact forms of that cooperation will fluctuate as both sides seek out the most advantageous models. On the one hand, for example, more publishers try to get the same great deal (high fees for no significant work or concessions) that Elsevier got from HHMI. But on the other, HHMI may retreat from its Elsevier deal and either stop paying for green OA or pay a bit more to get full gold OA.
Funders will struggle with a basic policy question. It's one thing to arrange for OA to the research they fund, and even to pay more to get it sooner or to get it in certain forms. That's either self-interest or a simple extension of the original philanthropic purpose in funding the underlying research. But how far do these deals go beyond the funder's self-interest and philanthropic purpose, and how far do they get funders into the business of insuring publishers against the risks of a changing world?
(9) We'll see more initiatives expressly designed to redirect money from subscriptions for TA journals to publication fees or subsidies for OA journals. Some will be multi-party negotiations, like CERN's SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) project. Some will be unilateral actions by publishers, like Mark Rowse's "flip" model from SOAN for October 2007. Some will be steps along the way toward redirection, as I've argued (in SOAN for November 2007) was the case with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Springer deals with Universiteitsbibliotheken en de Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the University of Göttingen.
As the CERN project makes further progress in signing up stakeholders, raising money, and converting journals, it will exert a gravitational tug on other fields, where it will be admired as much for its constructive cooperation as for its effectiveness. Different organizations in different fields will take it up and try to adapt it to their peculiar local circumstances. University and library consortia will work with selected journals to convert them to OA and use the savings to pay subsidies or publication fees. Some universities will create funds specifically to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journal, and feed the fund, in part, with the savings from journal cancellations. Universities concerned to preserve peer review will pledge some portion of the savings from TA journal cancellations to support peer-reviewed OA alternatives.
(10) Universities adopting new OA mandates will shift from the "required deposit" model of the early pioneers to the "required permission" model currently under review at the University of California (and some other institutions not ready to reveal their plans). This model reduces the demands on faculty and increases the certainty about permissions. As long as the university is willing to pay people, usually librarians, to make the actual deposits, it could be a faster and more frictionless way to move the deposit rate toward 100%.
We will also start to see another new flavor of university-level mandate, building on the fact that universities are sometimes funders of research. We should soon see at least one university mandate that faculty who receive university research funds will have to deposit the result of their work (or permit its deposit) in the institutional repository.
* Postscript. Here are my past predictions if you want to see how they turned out.
Predictions for 2007
Predictions for 2006
Predictions for 2005
Predictions for 2004
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.
** France's National Agency for Research (Agence nationale de la recherche, ANR) adopted a policy to deposit all ANR-funded research in HAL for open access. I can't tell yet whether the policy is a request or a requirement.
** The World Health Organization (WHO) Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG2) was considering an OA mandate until November, when it issued a new draft merely encouraging, not requiring, OA. Neither bloggers nor journalists seem to know who is responsible for the original strong language or the new revisions weakening it. (If you know, please drop me a line.)
** Catalonia's Parc de Recerca Biomčdica de Barcelona (PRBB) is providing OA to its research papers through a search engine rather than a repository.
** In September 2007, the EC convened a meeting in Brussels to analyze public comments on OA (in response to an April green paper and a subsequent questionnaire). In November it released the results. 76% called for publicly-funded research to be OA through an EU-level repository.
** The Council of the European Union released a set of Conclusions on access to research. The document "underlines...the importance" of OA to publicly-funded research, but stopped short of recommending a policy to insure it.
** Jacob Nkate, the Botswana Minister of Education, called for OA to publicly-funded research.
** Sam Pitroda, the chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister calling (again) for OA to publicly-funded research in India.
** SPARC Europe and the DOAJ announced a program to develop standards for OA journals and provide help to publishers in meeting those standards.
** President Bush vetoed the bill (Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bill) containing the OA mandate at the NIH. The OA mandate was not the cause. For details, see the top story above.
** The House of Representatives failed to override Bush's veto of the LHHS appropriations bill. (But the OA mandate in the bill is not yet dead.) See the top story above.
* California is poised to adopt the strongest and broadest OA mandate for greenhouse gas data in the US.
* The Australian government proposed an Australian National Data Service (ANDS) to promote OA, preservation, and re-use of publicly-funded research data.
* The New Zealand government and National Library of New Zealand launched the Kiwi Research Information Service (KRIS), which will harvest New Zealand's institutional repositories.
* The Swedish Research Council announced plans for a Swedish National Data Service (SND), an OA harvester of the country's databases in the social sciences, epidemiology, and the humanities. It will be hosted at Gothenburg University.
* The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) is inviting funding proposals for a Data Support Service.
* Pakistan's Higher Education Commission (HEC) is providing Pakistani universities with free online access to "over 40,000 text books and research journals." This seems to be a blend of subsidized priced access and open access.
* Under a German copyright reform to take effect on January 1, 2007, scholars who published in Germany before 1995 have two ways to retain the electronic rights to those works (which they can use to authorize OA): either notify the publisher during 2008 or transfer non-exclusive rights to an OA repository before 2008. For scholars who do neither, the rights will vest in the publisher.
* The Japanese government is considering a new exception to Japanese copyright law that would allow uncompensated copying and distribution of medical journal articles (by pharma companies, about their own drugs, for physicians) in cases of medical emergency.
* The Cape Town Open Education Declaration made a "soft launch" in order to collect signatures before its official launch in mid-January.
* At the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Italy agreed to draft an Internet Bill of Rights which will call for "free access to information and knowledge".
* Ian Gallacher wrote a manifesto for OA to legal information.
* For the first time, the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is offering free online access to some of its records on the docket of US federal courts.
* Carl Malamud's Public.Resource.Org, in cooperation with Fastcase, agreed to launch an OA collection of US federal case law, including Supreme court decisions back to 1754. Fastcase provided the digital files, for which it had previously charged access fees.
* Public.Resource.Org is creating an OA mirror of the whole web site of the US Government Printing Office.
* Public.Resource.org (PRO) persuaded the US National Technical Information Service (NTIS) to give it 10-20 videotapes every month, which PRO will then digitize and post online for OA. Until now NTIS sold access to the government information in its collection.
* Sweden joined a Nordic project funded by Nordbib to launch new OA journals and convert existing TA journals to OA.
* The Swedish National Library joined the CERN SCOAP3 project, signing an expression of interest "on behalf of the BIBSAM consortium for Swedish research libraries."
* Greek universities agreed to participate in the CERN SCOAP3 program.
* Sage and Hindawi struck a deal to launch a new line of full OA journals. This is Sage's first foray into gold OA.
* The Journal of Trauma Management & Outcomes is a new peer-reviewed OA journal BioMed Central.
* IOP Conference Proceedings: Earth and Environmental Science is a new OA journal of conference proceedings from the Institute of Physics.
* The Cryosphere is a new peer-reviewed, OA journal from the European Geosciences Union.
* DataCrítica: International Journal of Critical Statistics is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Centro de Publicaciones Academicas (CEPA) at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
* Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture is a new peer-reviewed OA journal.
* After Culture is a new peer-reviewed OA journal of anthropology.
* E-Conserv@tion is a new peer-reviewed OA journal on cultural heritage conservation.
* MedKnow announced three new peer-reviewed OA journals to launch in 2008: the International Journal of Yoga, the Journal of Gynecological Endoscopy, and the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Andrology & Gender.
* The OA journals from Medknow Publications are now OAI-compliant.
* The newly elected President of the American Fisheries Society, Mary Fabrizio, revealed plans to launch the society's first OA journal.
* The European Physical Journal C --one of the eight journals in the EPJ family-- converted to no-fee OA for all its research articles. For the past year it has been a hybrid OA journal charging a fee for the OA option.
* The Journal of the California Dental Association converted to OA, starting with the October 2007 issue. The journal will also offer OA to past issues back to 1998.
* The IEEE Signal Processing Society is considering a conversion to gold OA for its journal, Signal Processing Magazine, and called for reader comments. The journal is already green.
* The Python Papers, an OA journal devoted to the Python programming language, released a "Statement on Open Access" elaborating on its OA policy.
* The Dutch medical journal, Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, will make its 150 year back run free online but with a five-year moving wall.
* BioMed Central launched a YouTube channel and increased its support for video in multi-media BMC articles.
* Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL) has joined the membership program of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
* Heather Morrison reports that the DOAJ is adding new OA journals at an accelerating rate. The rate for all of 2007 to date is 1.24 titles per day, but the rate for November was 2.67 titles per day.
* The German Wikisource put together a list of free online German-language journals whose backfiles start before 1930.
* Caroline Sutton and I posted an updated version of our spreadsheet of learned societies which publish OA journals.
* The University of Maryland launched an institutional repository.
* The National Museum of Natural History in the Netherlands launched the Naturalis Digital Academic Repository, an OA repository for Naturalis publications.
* University essays from Sweden is a new OA collection of English-language essays written by Swedish university students. "Essays" here includes theses.
* JISC is inviting funding proposals on digital repositories, including proposals to facilitate repository deposit.
* JISC and UKOLN launched SWORD 1.0 (Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit).
* Electronic Information For Libraries (eIFL) is documenting the spread of institutional repositories in developing countries.
* VuFind is an open-source alternative to a conventional library OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). One nice feature is that it integrates the library's usual holdings with the contents of the institutional repository.
* The Albert Einstein Science Park library, which serves three research institutions specializing in the Earth sciences, launched a search engine covering the library's digital holdings, the institutional repository for GeoForschungsZentrum Potdam, and 30,000 OA resources on Earth science worldwide.
* The OA Perseus Digital Library made the code for Perseus 4.0 open source.
* BioMed Central upgraded its Open Repository service.
* Jim Downing released a stable version of the SPECTRa tools which allow chemists to deposit data directly into an OA repository.
* ChemSpider is adding all its data to PubChem.
* Simon Tanner of King's College London will lead a team in digitizing the Dead Sea scrolls, apparently for OA.
* The Pleiades project released its first batch of open geodata on ancient Greece.
* The Geological Survey of Ireland provided OA to some publicly funded datasets.
* The US National Archives joined the OA Geospatial One Stop (GOS) web portal.
* The US Environmental Protection Agency is not only providing OA to air quality data, but making it easy to use and interpret by making it available on Google Earth.
* The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a new OA database, Material Properties.
* Barack Obama's technology platform calls for "greater access" environmental data.
* Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) entered Phase 2. In the new phase, 36 developing countries will gain access that didn't previously have access. (OARE is not OA, but offers free and discounted access to developing countries.)
* The Open Knowledge Foundation launched an Open Environmental Data wiki.
* Elsevier launched WiserWiki, a wiki on medical research aimed at practicing physicians and lay readers.
* Elsevier launched 2collab, its "research 2.0" or collaboration and networking tool.
* Wiley's Wrox Press, which specializes in books for computer programmers, start publishing a line of book in the form of free online wikis.
* The University of Pittsburgh is providing OA to all 500 books published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, starting with 39 books from the Pitt Latin American Series. For new books, it will start with a non-OA edition and add an OA edition after two years.
* The Public Domain Books Reprints Service sells print-on-demand editions of digitized public-domain books on deposit at the Internet Archive.
* The ACRL published a research agenda for scholarly communication and includes a number of questions about OA.
* ARL published its SPEC Kit 299 on attempts to educate faculty about new developments in scholarly communication, including OA.
* ARL published its SPEC Kit 300 on Open Access Resources.
* Eduserv published the results of a survey showing that most UK museums, archives, and libraries do not use open licenses for their digital content.
* Primary Research Group published an $89.50 report on the results of a survey of institutional repositories.
* The Million Book Project reached the milestone of 1.5 million digitized books.
* MIT OpenCourseware reached the milestone of 1,800 courses.
* OpenDOAR reached the milestone of listing 1000 repositories.
* LibriVox released its 1,000th free audiobook.
* An OA article on dietary supplements in BMC's Nutrition Journal was downloaded more than 16,000 times in less than a month.
* Johan Steenbakkers, Director of e-Strategy and Property Management of the Dutch Koninklijke Bibliotheek was appointed Knight of the Order of Oranje Nassau. The knighthood recognizes his role in developing e-Depot, the OA repository for the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. This is the first knighthood for a repository developer.
* Brian Fitzgerald and his Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law team received a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence from Queensland University of Technology.
* The Lancet and the Global Forum for Health Research announced the winners of the 2007 essay contest on Equitable access: research challenges for health in developing countries.
* SPARC Europe called for nominations for its third annual Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scholarly Communications.
* PRISM won the "Lemon Award" from the Charleston Advisor's Seventh Annual Readers' Choice Award. The citation said, "These publishers should not bite the hand that feeds them."
* Open content licenses (and the term "open content") turned 10.
* Creative Commons will turn five on December 15.
* The internet turned 30.
* Citizendium launched a new discussion list, SharedKnowledge (not limited to discussion of Citizendium).
* Creative Commons released an add-in for OpenOffice.
* Worldwide Lexicon is a service combining open-source software and crowdsourcing methods to translate online documents.
* MIT launched a version of MIT Open Courseware for high school students, Highlights for High School.
* Two MIT researchers made OA lectures much more useful by making them searchable.
* Chris Watkins released a beta version of Public Domain Search, a Google co-op search engine for online collections of public domain content.
* Vikas Anand launched Vikas PSOAR, a Google Coop search engine for "pharmaceutical sciences open access resources" (PSOAR).
* The PerX Project (Pilot Engineering Repository Xsearch) concluded in May 2007 and now has all its deliverables online.
Coming this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in December.
* December 2, 2007. Submission deadline for the first annual SPARC Discovery Award (the Sparky).
* Sometime in December 2007. Amsterdam University Press will publish the DRIVER report, The European Repository Landscape.
* Notable conferences this month
Getting the Most Out of Your Institutional Repository: Gathering Content and Building Use (cosponsored by NISO and Palinet)
Beltsville, Maryland, December 3, 2007
SYReLIB Institutional Repository Workshop in Syria
Aleppo, Syria, December 4-5, 2007
Online Information 2007
London, December 4-6, 2007
Open Access all'Universitŕ di Torino
Torino, December 6, 2007
Open Access Conference (sponsored by Elektroniczny Biuletyn Informacyjny Bibliotekarzy, EBIB)
Torun, Poland, December 7-9, 2007
Ninth International Conference on Grey Literature (OA is among the topics)
Antwerp, December 10-11, 2007
3rd Global Knowledge Conference (OA is among the topics; see Panel ET5)
Kuala Lumpur, December 11-13, 2007
La ecologia de los repositorios institucionales (OA is among the topics)
Gijón, Spain, December 12-14, 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.
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