Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #162
December 2, 2011
by Peter Suber

Read this issue online


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


Open access journals from society publishers

How many scholarly societies publish OA journals, and how many OA journals do they publish?  Four years ago (November 2007), Caroline Sutton and I released the first edition of our inventory answering those questions, and today we release the second edition.

Cutting to the chase:  Our 2007 list turned up 425 societies publishing 450 full or non-hybrid OA journals.  Our 2011 list shows 530 societies publishing 616 full OA journals.

We're sure we overlooked some society OA journals in 2007 and we're sure we're still overlooking some today.  If it weren't for that, we could say that the number of societies publishing OA journals grew by 25% in the last four years, and the number of their OA journals by 37%.  Nevertheless it's hard to avoid the conclusion that both numbers are growing significantly.

The second edition of the list is a Google spreadsheet under a CC-BY license.

The 2007 edition is a downloadable Excel spreadsheet under a CC-BY license. 

Also see the article Caroline and I wrote to accompany the 2007 list:  "Society publishers with open access journals," SPARC Open Access Newsletter, November 2, 2007.

To help keep the new list accurate an up to date, we've opened the Google spreadsheet for public editing.  Please fix any errors or omissions you're in a position to fix.  Because the new edition of the list is publicly editable and continuously updated, we don't plan to publish a third edition.  However, we may publish new reports now and then on the current tallies.

The 2007 list counted full and hybrid OA journals separately.  The 2011 list doesn't count hybrid OA journals at all.  Hybrid OA journals are so risk-free for publishers, and consequently so numerous, that including them would have taken most of our time and overshadowed the more interesting phenomenon:  societies so committed to OA that they would skip over the safety and low uptake of the hybrid option and publish full-OA journals.

For brevity, we'll say that a journal is a "society journal" if a scholarly society, publishes, sponsors, or owns it, or has adopted the journal as an official publication.

The 2007 list found scholarly OA journals published in 57 countries and regions, and the new list in 67 countries and regions.  Among the countries joining the 2011 list and missing from the earlier list are France, Germany, Hungary, and Portugal.

The top 10 countries for society OA journals were the US (125 journals), India (92), Japan (89), Canada (20), UK (18), Brazil (10), Croatia (10), Korea (10), Romania (10), and Australia (8).  At the other end of the spectrum, 17 countries published just one society OA journal each:  Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Indonesia, Libya, Lithuania, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Ukraine.  Some countries notable for academic publishing fell in between, for example China (5), Egypt (4), France (5), Germany (3), the Netherlands (2), and South Africa (2).

In 2007, only 15 (3%) society OA journals used CC licenses.  In 2011, 92 (15%) do so, a small fraction but a distinct improvement.  An additional 45 journals (7%) let authors retain copyright but do not publish under open licenses.  Despite the improvement from four years ago, these are deeply disappointing numbers.  As of last week (November 25, 2011) 1,727 or 24% of all the OA journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals used CC licenses.  Hence, society OA journals use CC licenses at an even lower rate than OA journals in general.

Some background, for context:  "OA repositories are rarely in a position to obtain the permissions needed for libre OA.  Hence, we can't criticize or complain when most of their deposits are gratis, not libre.  But OA journals can easily obtain the permissions needed for libre OA.  When they don't offer libre OA, they have no excuse.  This is one of the largest missed opportunities of the OA movement to date."

In 2007, 148 or 33% of society OA journals didn't describe their copyright policies on their web sites.  In 2011, the percentage fell slightly (191 journals or 31%), a minor improvement.  Again, despite the improvement, the numbers remain disappointingly low. 

In 2007, most society OA journals (356 or 79%) were in the STM fields.  In 2011 the ratio is about the same (483 or 78%).  In 2011, 71 (12%) are in the social sciences, 43 (7%) are in the humanities, 10 (2%) are multidisciplinary, and 6 (1%) are in the arts.

In 2007, we found 75 society OA journals charging publication fees (17%), and in 2011 we found 141 (22%).  In 2007, we found 12 (3%) charging submission fees, and in 2011 we found 4 (<1%).  In 2007 we found 8 (2%) charging both publication and submission fees, and in 2011 we found 9 (1%).  Putting these together, the numbers from both years confirm every other survey showing that the vast majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees of any kind.  Overall, 450 (73%) society OA journals charge no author-side fees.

The most recent survey of all the OA journals in the DOAJ is Stuart Shieber's from 2009, which showed that 70.3% of OA journals in the DOAJ charged no publication fees.  Our new numbers show that society OA journals charge publication fees even less often than OA journals in general (23% v. 30%).

Some publishers publish more than one society OA journal.  In 2011, 17 publishers published two society OA journals each, five published three each, two published four each, and two published seven each.  One (Springer) published nine society OA journals, one (Copernicus) published 15, one (WASET) published 21, one (BioMed Central) published 33, and one (MedKnow) published 64.

Conversely, some OA journals are associated with more than one society.  In 2011, nine society OA journals were associated with two societies at once, three OA journals with three societies at once, one journal with five societies, and two journals with 10 societies.

In 2007, 182 society OA journals also published priced, print editions (40%).  In 2011 the number grew but the percentage declined (233, 38%).  This is a difficult business model to make work; hence the declining percentage makes sense.  But the rising absolute number invites further investigation.  Are more societies finding ways to succeed with dual (OA + TA) editions?  Are more societies willing to go into the red to support dual editions?

The Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland has an OA backfile stretching back 164 years, to 1847, the longest OA backfile of any society OA journal.  Five society OA journals have OA backfiles of 100 years or more, 12 journals of 75 years or more, 21 journals of 50 years or more, 43 journals of 25 years or more, and 277 journals of 10 years or more.

We didn't collect data on how many non-OA society journals give standing permission for author self-archiving, i.e. how many are green rather than gold.  Nor have we seen data on this elsewhere.  If we're overlooking a relevant survey, please drop me a line.

Our purposes for this second edition of the list are the same as our purposes four years ago.  First, we want to draw attention to empirical evidence correcting the widespread misimpression that scholarly societies are opposed to OA.  Some are and some aren't.  Or some are and many aren't.  Second, we want to make it easy for society publishers thinking about OA to identify OA-committed societies in roughly similar circumstances, especially by field and nationality.  We expect that society publishers deliberating about OA will prefer to consult with OA-experienced society publishers than with OA advocates who are not publishers or OA publishers who are not society publishers.

It appears that significantly more societies publish OA journals than join public statements or trade organizations opposing OA policies by funding agencies or universities.  As Caroline and I put it in 2007, "[T]he length of our list changes the question from what makes the OA society publishers rare and special to what makes the OA holdouts hold out.  How many of the objections or fears will turn out to be myths that can be answered by the publishers with actual OA experience?"

I thank Caroline Sutton for her efficient, long-term collaboration on this project.  In 2007 she was a founding partner of Co-Action Publishing, an OA publisher of books and journals based in Scandinavia.  Today she's the Director of Sales and Marketing at Co-Action and the President of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).  Together we thank David Solomon and Bo-Christer Björk for the ISSNs to more than 300 of the journals on our new list, Emmeli Sjölander and Katharine Dunn for their assistance in preparing the new list, and Emily Kilcer for her assistance in digesting the numbers from the new list.


Five years ago in SOAN

SOAN for October 2, 2006

* The lead essay in that issue:  "Open access and quality"

Excerpt:  "If an article is published in a toll-access (TA) journal and then deposited in an open-access (OA) repository, its quality does not change.  And conversely, if it's first deposited in an OA repository and then published in a TA journal, its quality does not change.  That's the sense in which quality and access are independent.  It's obvious and it's basic.  But it's not the whole story.  There are other, subtle ways in which quality and access intersect.  This is an attempt to disentangle a large tangle of them....The main factors that affect the quality of journal literature are price- and medium-independent:  the quality of authors, the quality of editors, and the quality of referees....TA publishers have often charged that OA journals compromise on peer review.  The allegation is that if a journal accepts a fee for every paper it publishes, then it has an incentive to lower its standards in order to accept more papers.  It sounds plausible but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny....On the other side, there are [five] reasons to think that TA journals face stronger incentives to lower standards than OA journals....Journal prices don't correlate with impact or quality.  In fact, Theodore and Carl Bergstrom have shown that journal prices are either unrelated to quality or inversely related to it...."

* From the other top stories in that issue:

"125 university leaders endorse FRPAA, 10 opposed."

Excerpt:  "There were two events on this front in September [2006].  (1) On September 6, the Oberlin Group released an open letter in support of FRPAA signed by the presidents of 53 liberal arts colleges.  In the next week another three presidents added their names.  Counting signatures on earlier letters, and signatures that came later in the month, the number of presidents and provosts who have now signed public letters endorsing FRPAA has climbed to 125.  (2) On September 22, the DC Principles Coalition released an open letter *opposing* FRPAA signed by 10 senior administrators at US universities."

"The NIH retreats from its earlier goals."

Excerpt:  "The NIH has agreed that when publishers deposit articles [in PubMed Central] on behalf of authors..., then the authors will be in compliance with the [OA] policy and the publishers may have a 12 month embargo on request....The NIH is letting publishers strong-arm authors into accepting the maximum embargo.  This may only formalize the status quo, but it's a retreat from several earlier understandings about the policy.  Don't forget (1) that the NIH policy is a request to authors, not to publishers, (2) that the policy 'strongly encourages' authors to permit public release 'as soon as possible' after publication, (3) that Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, said in a February 2005 press release that authors have a 'right' to early release and that the 'NIH is committed to helping our scientists exercise this right' and (4) that Zerhouni told the Washington Fax on January 21, 2005, that 'we expect 12 months to be the exception, not the rule.'  All of this is now obsolete."

"The NEH will prefer OA projects."

Excerpt:  "In August [2006], the Scholarly Editions program of the US National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) adopted a new policy to favor OA projects over non-OA projects.  ('Projects that...offer free online access are encouraged and will be given preference.')  The Association for Documentary Editing...protested the change.  One complaint was that the notice came late in the current application season.  Another was that the new policy would force scholars to choose between NEH funding and publication by a university press.  Another was that many scholars are not in a position to give or secure all the permissions needed for OA dissemination.  The NEH considered the objections and modified its guidelines slightly...."

"Are price barriers in the national interest?"

Excerpt:  "Allan Adler is the vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers.  Scott Jaschik quotes him making...[a] remarkable statement about FRPAA:  "[Adler] rejected the idea that taxpayer financed research should be open to the public, saying that it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. 'Remember — you're talking about free online access to the world,' he said. 'You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.' " ...Note that we're talking about published research, not classified research that isn't published. Thank goodness our enemies can't afford to pay subscriptions....Thank goodness harming Americans has the side-effect of harming foreigners....Thank goodness Americans have never benefited from scientific advances made by non-Americans.  Thank goodness publishers are willing to collect subscription fees for this patriotic purpose. Thank goodness publishers are willing to shoulder the responsibility of controlling access to our research.   We know that they don't have to.  They didn't conduct this research, write it up, or fund it...."

SOAN for November 2, 2006

* One essay in that issue:  "The mandates of October"

Excerpt:  "We've never had a month like October 2006.  Depending on how you count, more OA mandates came into being in October 2006 than in all previous months combined.  I count six adopted mandates, two proposed mandates, two adopted near-mandates, and one adopted mandate limited to data.  That comes to eleven actions in five countries (UK, Austria, Canada, the US, and China)...."

* Another essay in that issue:  "No-fee open-access journals"

Excerpt:  "A year ago last month, Cara Kaufman and Alma Wills found that only 47% of surveyed OA journals charged author-side fees....To me, this was a little like the first human sighting of the Antarctic land mass in 1820:  proof that a huge terra incognita existed just over the horizon, awaiting exploration.  Only a minority of existing OA journals actually used the most-studied and most-discussed business model for OA journals --charging author-side fees.  (Let's call these "fee-based" OA journals.)  The majority of OA journals turned out to use business models that had rarely been acknowledged, let alone studied.  (Let's call these "no-fee" OA journals.)  We thought we understood OA journals but we only understood a subset, and the greater part of the whole was still largely unknown...."

* From the other top stories in that issue:

"AnthroSource defies its parent organization and supports FRPAA."

Excerpt:  "If you remember, back in May 2006 leaders of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) signed an anti-FRPAA open letter drafted by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).  Protest from AAA members was swift and biting....In the letter, the AAA explained that it opposed FRPAA in part from "concern [about] the potential impact [FRPAA] may have on the AnthroSource business model and revenue generation."  AnthroSource is the arm of the AAA that digitizes and disseminates the AAA's 15 journals.  But it turns out that the AAA leaders never consulted AnthroSource before signing the anti-FRPAA letters. The AnthroSource Steering Committee strongly supported FRPAA, strongly opposed the AAA action, and said so in a private letter in August.  It made the letter public on October 7...."

SOAN for December 2, 2006

* The lead essay in that issue:  "Predictions for 2007"

Excerpt:  "We've used many methods over the years to educate publishing scholars about OA, and for many reasons this work has been slow-going.  The arguments are strong, but it's hard to get the attention of scholars who are overworked, preoccupied, professional anarchists loath to act as a bloc.  Finally, however, one elegant method is starting to work 24/7 without draining anyone's time or energy.  It's simply the growing exposure of existing OA literature.  More and more scholars who know nothing about OA are encountering OA articles, labelled as OA, and delighting in the fact that useful, peer-reviewed, full-text articles are accessible online free of charge.  I haven't seen any studies or surveys on this phenomenon yet.  But in my daily scan for OA-related news, I see a growing number of bloggers and listserv contributors recommending good articles --on every conceivable topic-- and noting with gratitude that they are OA.  OA literature is the best advertisement for OA and we're starting to see a critical mass of it exert its effect.  It doesn't take academic readers of OA articles very long to figure out that this is what they want for themselves as authors...."

* From the other top stories in that issue:

"CERN starts implementing its ambitious OA project."

Excerpt:  "At a November 3 [2006] meeting, CERN began implementing its beautifully big plan to convert all the toll-access journals in particle physics to open access....Critically, the plan will cost less than current subscriptions and publishers support it.  The press release after the meeting reports that "the publishers of the Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP) stated they are ready to embrace a sponsorship policy in which they would allow unrestricted access to their articles. On the cost of this policy JHEP states: 'we have managed to prove that the costs can be reduced whilst at the same time ensuring the highest rigour in peer review'." We're watching a massive transition to OA in process.  This is not only the first project to convert all the TA journals in a field to OA; it's also succeeding.  It's succeeding in pulling together the needed stakeholders and it's succeeding in raising the money.  It's also succeeding in showing that the final result will cost the stakeholders less than the current system....Long live the peaceful revolution."

"The AAA disbands the committee that endorsed FRPAA."

Excerpt:  "When we left off, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) had publicly opposed FRPAA, and the AnthroSource Steering Committee, representing the AAA's own publishing arm, had publicly supported FRPAA.  The result?  The AAA disbanded the committee....The AAA didn't consult its members before opposing FRPAA and apparently didn't want to hear from its in-house experts either.  In addition to blogging their disappointment and protests, AAA members have launched a wiki and blog on OA in anthropology, sold OA anthropology t-shirts, launched an OA email list, circulated a sign-up letter to present to the AAA leadership, and planned a gathering at the AAA Annual Meeting (Washington D.C., November 28 - December 2, 2006)...."


Ten years ago in SOAN

Ten years ago, SOAN was called FOSN (Free Online Scholarship Newsletter) and came out several times a month.  Here are excerpts from 11 issues 10 years ago this quarter.

* FOSN for September 21, 2001

Excerpt:  "I'm still surprised by the dearth of news on the effect of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) initiative.  The September 1 [2001] deadline has come and gone.  Are the 26,000+ signatories of its open letter shunning journals that do not provide free online access to their contents within six months of print publication?  If so, is the impact large or small? ..."

* FOSN for September 28, 2001

Excerpt:  "I'm still surprised by the scarcity of news about the impact of the Public Library of Science deadline on September 1.  But items have started to trickle in....PLoS has put up a page describing its plan to launch its own journals.  It will pay the costs of online publication through author fees of $300 per article....It promises full financial disclosure on its web site so that the new journals can themselves be regarded as scientific experiments which others may monitor....In an email, Gordon Fletcher of BioMed Central writes that PLoS is steering some researchers toward BMC.  One author recently wrote in a cover letter, "This is my first submission to BioMed Central and I am quite excited about it. As a signer of the PLOS open letter, I am taking seriously the commitment I made to support the goals of the PLOS movement...."

Excerpt:  "As a response to the recent [9/11] attacks, McGraw-Hill is offering one of its ebooks (on post-traumatic stress disorder) to the public free of charge.  This is generous.  But the National Academy Press offers free online versions of *all* its books, and has collected the titles most relevant to terrorism and security on a special web page."

* FOSN for October 5, 2001

Excerpt:  "[A]ny literature turned into an audio-book or audio-article can be stored in MP3 format and swapped through the many P2P networks created for music files.  Some of these networks will work just as well with text files, but for now let's focus on audio-scholarship....There's a niche here waiting to be filled, not only for the visually impaired, commuters, and joggers, but for all the multitaskers who aren't happy unless they (we?) can do laundry, clean the oven, burn fat, and catch up on recent research at the same time...."

Excerpt:  "Some government agencies and private-sector organizations are voluntarily deleting from their web sites scientific information and other content that they believe might help terrorists.  Among the self-censoring groups are the American Federation of Scientists, the Center for Disease Control, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency...."

* FOSN for October 12, 2001

Excerpt:  "Forty editors of the _Machine Learning Journal_ (MLJ)...resigned from the editorial board and published their reasons in a public letter dated October 8 [2001].  The MLJ editors...asked Kluwer to lower the subscription price and provide free online access to the articles.  Without these changes, the subscription price limited access to the very researchers whom the journal ought to serve....[Kluwer refused most of their demands.] Leslie Pack Kaelbling resigned as one of MLJ's action editors and began looking for a publisher willing to host a journal on machine learning more in keeping with her vision of wide and free online access.  She struck a remarkable deal with MIT Press.  She would launch a new journal, the _Journal of Machine Language Research_ (JMLR) which would provide free online access to all its articles and publish them online as soon as they were accepted.  Quarterly, MIT would publish a print edition at a reasonable subscription price.  MIT brought in the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to use its international network of member libraries to guarantee an adequate subscription base for the new journal....No money changes hands between JMLR and MIT...."

* FOSN for October 19, 2001

Excerpt:  "[L]ast week we reported that 40 editors of _Machine Learning Journal_ resigned in order to protest the subscription price and online access policies of its publisher, Kluwer.  One of the editors, Leslie Pack Kaelbling, created the _Journal of Machine Learning Research_ (JMLR) as a free online alternative. Some corrections and further details to the story have been posted to our discussion forum and others have come in by private email.  Here are the highlights.  Robert Holte, executive editor of MLJ, reports that...Kluwer now allows author self-archiving and gives free online access to its own copies of accepted MLJ articles, though only until the articles appear in print.  However, Kluwer didn't tell Holte about this change of policy until October 11, after the 40 editors' public letter of resignation.  It appears that the resignations, or perhaps the public letter explaining them, triggered a policy change that Kluwer would not have made otherwise...."

Excerpt:  "Is the internet really vulnerable to massive failure from deliberate attacks?  I admit that this is one scenario about the risk of [OA] for which I have no ready answer.  I can say that such attacks are unlikely.  But is this just wishful thinking?  I can say that [OA] relies on distributed archives which cannot all be destroyed, even if the connections among them are temporarily severed.  But I don't really know the maximum destructive potential of viruses and worms.  I can say that we shouldn't slacken our efforts to enhance research and education just because these efforts could be undermined by determined wrongdoers.  If that consideration could suspend [OA] initiatives, then it could suspend all constructive activity.  But clearly I cannot say that [OA] would still be useful if the internet itself were deeply unreliable or largely destroyed.  Worse than useless, a shift to [OA] could be dangerous if we let other forms of publication atrophy and then experienced a digital apocalypse....How reasonable is the fear?  How likely are terrorist attacks on the internet?  How vulnerable is it to attack?  Here are the views of eight people who have studied the problem...."

* FOSN for October 26, 2001

Excerpt:  " Wikipedia is a wiki encyclopedia.  This is the ultimate development in dynamic, interactive, collaborative scholarship, if you can call anything scholarship that dispenses with editorial filters in the name of user freedom.  Yes, entries are written and revised by users, as they see fit.  Launched last January, it already has over 14,000 articles.  The original Wikipedia is in English, although 17 non-English Wikipedias are now evolving alongside it....If you find it hard to believe that such a system could produce reliable scholarship, even after some time for the forces of self-correction to have their effect against the forces of ideology, dogmatism, and slovenly thinking, then the founders reply that the experience of the system to date may surprise you.  Or as Lars Aronsson wrote in a recent posting to DigLib, 'Those who want to study how unpaid volunteers can self-organize and work together to create a collection of [14,000+] interlinked articles in less than a year, should take a look at Wikipedia right now.  Next year will be too late --it might be a useful product by then.' "

* FOSN for November 2, 2001

Excerpt:  "The NSF has given $10 million to 17 institutions to create a web-based National Virtual Observatory.  This will be a unified front end to 17 huge databases of astronomical observations and related data.  It will function like an observatory, allowing researchers and students to call up observations of any part of the sky, free of charge, no waiting, whether it is day or night at the user's spot of Earth.  It will also draw together quantitative data about celestial objects, permitting unprecedented comparisons and integration with observations.  The entire NVO archive will contain about 100 terabytes of data to start, and grow to more than 10 petabytes by 2008."

Excerpt:  "Alison Buckholtz from SPARC has pointed me toward two new specimens for our growing collection of journal editors who resign from expensive print journals in order to launch free or affordable online journals.  One is a case from this year in which a handful of editors resigned from _Topology and Its Applications_ in order to launch _Algebraic and Geometric Topology_.  The other case is the oldest in the collection so far.  In 1989, Eddy van der Maarel and most of his editorial board resigned from _Vegetatio_ in order to launch the _Journal of Vegetation Science_.  For details on both cases, see my separate page of [OA] lists...."

* FOSN for November 9, 2001

Excerpt:  "[T]here's no reason why [blogs] couldn't cover news in a scholarly discipline. Two good examples of scholarly blogs are GeoBlog, maintained by Fred Siewers, and the Biological Science blog from the BigBlog family of blogs....In the back of my mind, one of my models here is John Baez, professor of mathematics at the University of California, Riverside.  Baez reads current journal articles in mathematical physics and cross-posts his summaries and thoughts to four usenet newsgroups (sci.physics.research, sci.math.research, sci.physics, and sci.math).  He's been doing this nearly every week for more than three years.  He doesn't run a blog, but anybody willing to do what he's doing could make a terrific blog.  Why doesn't every field have a John Baez (or two, or ten), reading current articles and posting summaries and thoughts to a blog for other researchers in the field?"

Excerpt:  "What if this ruling [in Softman Products v. Adobe Systems] stands and is applied to scholarly texts?  If libraries and consumers are held to "buy" rather than "license" ebooks, ejournals, and ejournal articles, then they should be within their rights to bypass copy protection, make back-up copies, make copies to run on their other computers, and keep their copies in readable form (tweaked if necessary) in perpetuity without further payments...."

Excerpt:  "A federal district court ruled on November 7 that Yahoo's U.S. web operations are not bound by French law on the sale of Nazi artifacts, even though Yahoo auction pages are served to French citizens.  The French argued that a French ruling ought to be binding over what French citizens may see in France.  Yahoo argued that a U.S. company's U.S. web site should be protected by the U.S. constitution.  To understand why this is good news for [OA], imagine that your online scholarship about evolution, Chinese history, or sexuality, was enjoined by courts in Iran, China, or Afghanistan....The principle behind this case helps all scholars who publish controversial papers on the web --or at least the 99% for whom there is at least one country on Earth more oppressive and intolerant than their own...."

* FOSN for November 16, 2001

Excerpt:  "Let me focus for a moment on the seemingly minor point of the effectiveness of IP-tracking software.  The future of cross-border censorship may depend on it.  IP-tracking software identifies the geographical location of web visitors.  Web sites might use it to show different weather forecasts, news headlines, advertisements, discounts, or insurance offers to surfers from different locations.  Yahoo could use it to block French users from seeing its Nazi artifact pages.  A history journal could use it to block Chinese readers from its articles on the Tienemann Square massacre....In the absence of IP-tracking software, we face a stark choice with only two options.  First,...[w]eb authors and publishers in free countries can publish what they like, and serve their pages worldwide.  Countries that ban this content would have to lump it and adapt.  Freedom of reading and access would rise to the level of the most-free nations.  Second,...[c]ountries that prohibit certain content can enforce their prohibition against authors and publishers in other countries.  Countries that would like to protect the freedom of speech would have to lump it and adapt.  Freedom of speech would sink to the level of the least-free nations....However, as IP-tracking software improves, this will be a false dichotomy.  There will be a third option, namely, publishing freely for free countries and blocking certain content for less free countries at the request of those countries....Eventually IP-tracking software will be very accurate and courts will know it.  The question is whether when that time comes nations will agree to use it to allow censorship to exist in some countries while free speech and a border-crossing internet continue to flourish elsewhere....I'm afraid we must conclude that freedom would be more secure if IP-tracking software didn't exist.  Then we'd always face the stark choice between the most-free nations and the least-free.  When those are the only options, then we have a fighting chance at persuading a critical mass of countries to join the most-free nations and realize the liberating promise of the internet.  IP-tracking software will allow islands of repression in a sea of freedom.  By mitigating the starkness of the stark choice, and allowing deference to repressive nations, it will create a path of least resistance that many nations will find irresistible...."

Excerpt:  "Faculty of 1000...calls itself "the next generation literature awareness tool" and I agree.  I'm excited because Faculty of 1000 is retroactive peer review and because it goes beyond peer review for quality control to peer review for resource identification and cutting through information overload.  I'm excited because it rates articles by their individual importance, independently of the journal in which they were published.  Every discipline ought to have a Faculty of 1000.  My only quarrel is that after December 31, it will cost $50 for individuals and $1500 for institutions.  Like journal articles, these recommendations and ratings are donated, and should find their way to researchers without a toll-keeper.  I don't want to be presumptuous about the back-end costs here; they might be steep.  But when we have open source tools for managing this kind of community project, there should be imitators in other disciplines that do not charge users.  (Programmers, start your engines.)"

Excerpt:  "In past issues I've reported on the removal of scientific content from web sites in response to the September 11 attacks....So far this has been voluntary.  On November 8, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, held hearings on whether it should become involuntary...."

* FOSN for November 26, 2001

Excerpt:  "When you run a web search on a topic you don't know well, how can you tell when you get authentic information and when you get ideology, superstition, pseudo-science, or even parody?  Sometimes you can't, especially if you're downloading pages in a language that isn't your native tongue, in a discipline you haven't mastered, from a culture with a very different sense of humor.  Your first-year students aren't the only ones trapped in the cloud of unknowing.  Meet al-Qaeda...."

Excerpt:  "MathWorld is back online, after being forced off for more than a year by a lawsuit from CRC Press.  MathWorld is a free online mathematical encyclopedia edited by Eric Weisstein.  Weisstein has now put online a detailed, depressing, and eye-opening account of how CRC took unwanted control of his work.  After Weisstein agreed to let CRC publish a "snapshot" of the continuously growing web site, it asked him to remove some content from the web in order to stimulate book sales, then dropped the book from its catalog, and finally sued him for copyright infringement.  Contract language favoring CRC forced MathWorld to settle the suit...."

Excerpt:  "In the November 18 _Los Angeles Times_, Eric Lichtblau gives a good overview of the deletion of scientific information from government web sites, the extent of the deletions, and the debate about its necessity.  One new nugget:  the government has asked federal depository libraries to destroy CD's containing information it now regards as high-risk...."

* FOSN for December 5, 2001

Excerpt:  "On December 1-2 I attended a small, intense, productive, and very enjoyable conference in Budapest to map strategies for achieving [OA] world-wide.  The conference was hosted by the Open Society Institute (OSI), which supports this newsletter with a grant.  Formally around a table and informally at meals and in walks along the Danube, we talked and talked and talked about our separate [OA] initiatives, how they could achieve synergy and assist one another, how OSI could assist us, and how to accelerate progress for all.  We're still at work on a product of the conference [which we released as the Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002]....To be continued."


Coming this quarter

Here are some important OA-related events coming up in the next three months.

* January 2, 2012.  Deadline for responses to two requests for information from the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), one on OA for data and one on OA for publications arising from publicly-funded research.

* OA-related conferences in December 2011

* OA-related conferences in January 2012

* OA-related conferences in February 2012

* Other OA-related conferences



* SOAN was monthly from July 2003 until September 2011.  Hence, when I added the sections reprinting excerpts from SOAN Five and Ten Years Ago, they pointed back to just one month's worth of earlier coverage.  But SOAN is quarterly now (just as it was weekly before July 2003), and now those sections point back to three months' worth of earlier coverage.

I'm not sure how I'll handle this in the future.  But in this issue, the first on the new quarterly schedule, I was more selective but still more voluminous than in the past.  If you'd like to see me shrink or expand these sections, please drop me a line.

* I don't miss my blog, which I laid down in April 2010.  But I've resumed blog-like posting at Google+.  I don't call it a blog, but it's a very satisfactory blog substitute for posting news, notes, and questions in between issues of SOAN.  Check it out.

* I'm looking for a wizard with RSS or Google+ or both.  Here's why.

I've created a G+ page for the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP).

Now I want to republish the primary OATP RSS feed as a series of posts to the OATP G+ page, and I want to automate the process.  The G+ version of the feed wouldn't displace all the other versions of the feed (e.g. RSS, HTML, Twitter, email, etc.).  But reading the feed on G+ would give all of us one more option, and help us read, share, and comment on the new developments captured in the feed.


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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Peter Suber

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SOAN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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