Archive for the 'Open Access' Category

"Open Access and Libraries" Preprint

Posted in Announcements, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 9th, 2006

A preprint of my forthcoming book chapter "Open Access and Libraries" is now available.

The preprint takes an in-depth look at the open access movement with special attention to the perceived meaning of the term “open access” within it, the use of Creative Commons Licenses, and real-world access distinctions between different types of open access materials. After a brief consideration of some major general benefits of open access, it examines OA’s benefits for libraries and discusses a number of ways that libraries can potentially support the movement, with a consideration of funding issues.

It will appear in: Jacobs, Mark, ed. Electronic Resources Librarians: The Human Element of the Digital Information Age. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2006.

Postscript: A new preprint is available. I have added more content specific to the impact of OA on electronic resources librarians’ jobs and an appendix on the Creative Commons. Also, I have added another way that OA can save libraries money. I’ve changed the above link to the new preprint; the old one is still available; however, I would recommend reading the new one instead.

Post-PostScript: Having two versions of the preprint available has caused some confusion, so I have taken down the earlier version.

Open Access Bibliography and The Access Principle Discount at Amazon

Posted in Announcements, Bibliographies, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on December 12th, 2005

Amazon is offering the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals and John Willinsky’s insightful The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship together for a discounted price of $68.07 (vs. the normal $79.95). See the OAB Amazon record for the link. (Note: By my request, I do not profit from sales of the print version of the OAB; all proceeds go to ARL to subsidize the print version.)

The E-Print Deposit Conundrum

Posted in E-Prints, Institutional Repositories, Open Access on August 25th, 2005

How can scholars be motivated to deposit e-prints in disciplinary archives, institutional repositories, and other digital archives?

In "A Key-Stroke Koan for Our Open-Access Times," Stevan Harnad says:

Researchers themselves have hinted at the resolution to this koan: Yes, they need and want OA. But there are many other demands on their time too, and they will only perform the requisite keystrokes if their employers and/or funders require them to do it, just as it is already their employers and funders who require them to do the keystrokes to publish (or perish) in the first place. It is employers and funders who set researchers’ priorities, because it is employers and funders who reward researchers’ performance. Today, about 15% of research is self-archived spontaneously but 95% of researchers sampled report that they would self-archive if required to do so by their employers and/or funders: 81% of them willingly, 14% reluctantly; only 5% would not comply with the requirement. And in the two objective tests to date of this self-reported prediction, both have fully confirmed it, with over 90% self-archiving in the two cases where it was made a requirement (Southampton-ECS and CERN).

This is a very cogent point, but, if the solution to the problem is to have scholars’ employers compel them to deposit e-prints, the next logical question is: how can university administrators and other key decision makers be convinced to mandate this activity?

In the UK, a debate is raging between OA advocates and publishers about the UK Research Funding Councils’ (RCUK) self-archiving proposal, which would "mandate the web self-archiving of authors’ final drafts of all journal articles resulting from RCUK-funded research." The fact that this national policy debate is occuring at all is an enormous advance for open access. If RCUK mandates e-print deposit, UK university administrators will need no convincing.

In the US, we are a long way from reaching that point, although the NIH’s voluntary e-print deposit policy provides some faint glimmer of hope that key government agencies can be moved to take some kind of action. However, the US does not have an equivalent to RUCK that can make dramatic e-print policy changes that affect research universities in one fell swoop. It does have government agencies, such as NSF, that control federal grant funds, private foundations that control their own grant funds, and thousands of universities and colleges that, in theory, could establish policies. This is a diffuse and varied audience for the OA message to reach and convince, and the message will need to be tailored to the audience to be effective.

While that plays out, we should not forget scholars themselves, however dimly we view the prospects of changing their behavior to be. University librarians and IT staff know their institutions’ scholars and can work with them one-one-one or in groups to gradually influence change. True, it’s "a journey of a thousand miles" approach, but, the number of librarians and IT staff that will be effective on a national stage is small, while the number of them that may be incrementally effective on the local level is large. The efforts are complementary, not mutually exclusive.

I would urge you to read Nancy Fried Foster and Susan Gibbons’ excellent article "Understanding Faculty to Improve Content Recruitment for Institutional Repositories" for a good example of how an IR can be personalized so that faculty have a greater sense of connection to it and how IR staff can change the way they talk about the IR to better match scholars’ world view.

Here are a few brief final thoughts.

First, as is often said, scholars care about the impact of their work, and it is likely that, if scholars could easily see detailed use statistics for their works (e.g., number of requests and domain breakdowns), they might be more inclined to deposit items if those statistics exceed their expectations. So, the challenge here is to incorporate this capability into commonly used archiving software programs if it is absent.

Second, scholars are unlikely to stumble when entering bibliographic data about their works (although it might not be quite as fully descriptive as purists might like), but entering subject keywords is another matter. Sure they know what the work is about, but are they using terms that others would use and that group their work with similar works in retrieval results? Yes, a controlled vocabulary would help, although such vocabularies have their own challenges. But, I wonder if user-generated "tags," such as those used in Technorati, might be another approach. The trick here is to make the tags and the frequency of their use visible to both authors and searchers. For authors, this helps them put their works where they will be found. For searchers, it helps them find the works.

Third, it might be helpful if an author could fill out a bibliographic template for a work once and, with a single keystroke, submit it to multiple designated digital archives and repositories. So, for example, a library author might choose to submit a work to his or her institutional repository, DLIST, and E-LIS all at once. Of course, this would require a minimal level of standardization of template information between systems and the development of appropriate import capabilities. Some will say: "why bother?" True, OAI-PMH harvesting should, in theory, make duplicate deposit unnecessary given OAIster-like systems. But "lots of copies keep stuff safe," and users still take a single-archive searching approach in spite of OAI-PMH systems.

Searchable Version of the Open Access Webliography

Posted in Announcements, Open Access, Scholarly Communication, Webliographies on August 17th, 2005

Jim Pitman, Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, has created a derivative work from the Open Access Webliography, which is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

This version of the OAW utilizes the BibServer software, and it is searchable. There are four views of the entries:

  • Bookmark: A link to the resource.
  • Plain text: A field-oriented ASCII presentation of the resource with active links in the description field.
  • Linked text: A field-oriented HTML presentation of the resource with complete active links.
  • Descriptions: The resource name and description with active links.

Entries are can be sorted by category, description, title, and URL.

Thanks, Jim.

The Role of Reference Librarians in Institutional Repositories

Posted in Announcements, Institutional Repositories, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on August 13th, 2005

Reference Services Review 33, no. 3 (2005) is a special issue on "the role of the reference librarian in the development, management, dissemination, and sustainability of institutional repositories (IRs)." It includes the following articles (the links are to e-prints):

Open Access Webliography

Posted in Announcements, Open Access, Scholarly Communication, Webliographies on August 10th, 2005

A preprint of the article "Open Access Webliography" by Adrian K. Ho and Charles W. Bailey, Jr. is now available. This annotated webliography presents a wide range of electronic resources related to the open access movement that were freely available on the Internet as of April 2005.

This article appears in the volume 33, no. 3 (2005) issue of "Reference Services Review," which is a special issue about "the role of the reference librarian in the development, management, dissemination, and sustainability of institutional repositories."

A preprint of my "The Role of Reference Librarians in Institutional Repositories" article in this issue is also available.

Both preprints are under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Below is a list of the topics covered in the webliography:

  • Starting Points
  • Bibliographies
  • Debates
  • Directories—E-Prints, Institutional Repositories, and
    Technical Reports
  • Directories—Open Access and Free Journals
  • Directories and Guides—Copyright and Licensing
  • Directories and Guide—Open Access Publishing
  • Directories and Guides—Software
  • Disciplinary Archives
  • E-Serials about Open Access
  • Free E-Serials That Frequently Publish Open Access
    Articles
  • General Information
  • Mailing Lists
  • Organizations
  • Projects
  • Publishers and Distributors
  • Search Engines
  • Special Programs for Developing Countries
  • Statements
  • Weblogs

The Economics of Free, Scholar-Produced E-Journals

Posted in E-Journals, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on August 4th, 2005

While highly visible, large-scale STM open access publishing ventures such as BioMed Central loom large in the free e-journal scene, small-scale scholar-produced e-journals continue to quietly publish new scholarly articles as they have done for at least 18 years now.

I won’t detour into a lengthy history lesson for those readers who weren’t there. The short version of the story is that New Horizons in Adult Education is typically seen as the first scholarly e-journal published on the Internet (it was established in Fall 1987); however, it’s important to recognize that those were primitive times Internet-wise, when distribution of ASCII article files via list servers and FTP servers were cutting-edge ventures. So, as you would image, finding tools were informal and few and far between. ARL’s publication of the Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists in July 1991 was a landmark event that made the invisible visible.

For some reason, there was a mini-surge of activity in the 1989-1991 period, with the emergence of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, EJournal, Electronic Journal of Communication, Journal of the International Academy of Hospitality Research, Postmodern Culture, Psycoloquy, The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, Surfaces, and other journals. Several editors (myself, Stevan Harnad, and John Unsworth) rocked the house at the Association of Research Libraries’ 1992 Symposium on Scholarly Publishing on the Electronic Networks to the dismay of the assembled conventional publishers, who thought we were mad as hatters because we thought that: (a) e-journals were viable, (b) we could anoint ourselves as publishers, and (c) we were giving it away for free. My recollection is that, after the last speech, there was a stunned silence followed by a spattering of applause and a frenzy of generally hostile, astonished questions.

And, as they say, the rest is history. Peter Suber’s Timeline of the Open Access Movement is a good way to get a handle on subsequent events. Someday, I’ll write more about the early e-volution of e-journals.

So, onto the topic at hand. What are the economics of free, scholar-produced e-journals?

Let’s delimit the field a bit. We are not talking about journals produced by university presses or professional associations. Scholar-produced e-journals are generally labors of love, supported by a small group of scholars who serve without pay as editors, editorial board members, and journal production staff.

They often leverage existing technical infrastructure (e.g., Web servers) at the editors’ institutions. The volume of published papers is typically fairly modest, and the papers themselves are frequently not graphically complex. Editors or other volunteers manage the peer review process (usually via electronic means) as well as copy edit and format articles. HTML and PDF are the usual distribution formats, requiring HTML editors, Word, Acrobat, or similar low-cost or free programs. Increasingly, electronic journal management systems are used to automate editorial functions and simplify journal site creation and maintenance (a prime example is the free Open Journal Systems software). "Marketing" is often done by free electronic means: journal mailing lists, table of contents messages sent to targeted subject-related mailing lists, RSS alerts, etc. Since the content is free and electronic, there is no overhead for subscription/licensing management. Since no one gets paid, human resources functions are not needed. If authors retain copyright or content is under a Creative Commons or similar license, no permissions support is needed. Since existing facilities are used (at work or at home), there is no need to rent or purchase office space. Since no money is changing hands in any form, accounting support is unnecessary.

So, what are the economics of free, scholar produced journals? The glib answer is that there are none. But, the real answer is that the costs are so low and the functions so integral to scholarship that they are easily absorbed into ongoing operational costs of universities. Even if they weren’t and scholars had to do it all on their own, server hosting solutions are so ubiquitous and cheap, free open source software is so functional and pervasive, and commercial PC software is so powerful and cheap (especially at academic discounts) that these minor costs would act as no real barrier to the production of scholar-produced e-journals.

Of course, this is not to say that there are not issues associated with the viability and sustainability of these journals, the perpetual preservation of their contents, and other difficulties, but these are topics for another day.

One-Page Open Access Resources Handout

Posted in Announcements, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on July 22nd, 2005

Need a very short (one-page) handout that identifies a few key open access resources? My OA co-presenter (Sara Ranger) and I did, so we created one. It’s at:

http://www.escholarlypub.com/cwb/OAHandout.pdf

It’s available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Obviously, a number of very valuable resources had to be omitted, but, hopefully, users can employ these core resources to discover them.

BMC’s Impact Factors: Elsevier’s Take and Reactions to It

Posted in Open Access, Scholarly Communication, Scholarly Metrics on July 11th, 2005

A growing body of research suggests that open access may increase the impact of scholarly literature (see Steve Hitchcock’s "Effect of Open Access and Downloads ("Hits") on Citation Impact: A Bibliography of Studies"). Consequently, "impact factors" play an important part in the ongoing dialog about the desirability of the open access model.

On June 23, 2005, BioMed Central issued a press release entitled "Open Access Journals Get Impressive Impact Factors" that discussed the impact factors for their journals. You can consult the press release for the details, but the essence of it was expressed in this quote from Matthew Cockerill, Director of Operations at BioMed Central:

These latest impact factors show that BioMed Central’s Open Access journals have joined the mainstream of science publishing, and can compete with traditional journals on their own terms. The impact factors also demonstrate one of the key benefits that Open Access offers authors: high visibility and, as a result, a high rate of citation.

On July 8, 2005, Tony McSean, Director of Library Relations for Elsevier, sent an e-mail message to SPARC-OAForum@arl.org "(OA and Impressive Impact Factors—Non Propter Hoc") that presented Elsevier’s analysis of the BMC data, putting it "into context with those of the major subscription-based publishers." Again, I would encourage you to read this analysis. The gist of the argument is as follows:

This comparison with four major STM publishers demonstrates that BMC’s overall IF results are unremarkable, and that they certainly do not provide evidence to support the common assertion that the open access publishing model increases impact factor scores.

My reaction was as follows.

These interesting observations do not appear to account for one difference between BMC journals and the journals of other publishers: their age. Well-established, older journals are more likely to have attained the credibility required for high IFs than newer ones (if they ever will attain such credibility).

Moreover, there is another difference: BMC journals are primarily e-journals, not print journals with derivative electronic counterparts. Although true e-journals have gained significant ground, I suspect that they still start out with a steeper hill to climb credibility-wise than traditional print journals.

Third, since it involves paying a fee, the author-pays model requires a higher motivation on the part of the author to publish in such journals, likely leading to a smaller pool of potential authors. To obtain high journal IFs, these had better be good authors. And, for good authors to publish in such journals, they must hold them in high regard because they have other alternatives.

So, if this analysis is correct, for BMC journals to have attained "unremarkable" IFs is a notable accomplishment because they have attained parity with conventional journals that have some significant advantages.

Earlier in the day, Dr. David Goodman, Associate Professor of the Palmer School of Library and Information Science, commented (unbeknownst to me since I read the list in digest form):

1/ I doubt anyone is contending that at this point any of the
BMC titles are better than the best titles from other publishers. The point is that they are at least as good as the average, and the best of them well above average. For a new publisher, that is a major accomplishment—and one that initially seemed rather doubtful. . . .

2/ Normally, publishing in a relative obscure and newly founded journal would come at some disadvantage to the author, regardless of how the journal was financed. . . .

3/ You can’t judge OA advantage from IF alone. IF refers to journals, OA advantage refers to individual articles. The most convincing studies on OA advantage are those with paired comparisons of articles, as Stevan Harnad has explained in detail.

4/ Most of the BMC titles, the ones beginning with the BMC journal of…, are OA completely. For the ones with Toll Access reviews etc., there is obviously much less availability of those portions than the OA primary research, so I doubt the usual review journal effect applies to the same extent as usual.

On July 9, 2005, Matt Cockerill sent a rebuttal to the SPARC-OAForum that said in part:

Firstly, the statistics you give are based on the set of journals that have ISI impact factors (in fact, they cover only journals which had 2003 Impact Factors). . . . Many of BioMed Central’s best journals are not yet tracked by ISI.

Secondly, comparing the percentage of Impact Factors going up or down does not seem a particularly meaningful metric. What is important, surely, is the actual value of the Impact Factor (relative to others in the field). In that regard, BioMed Central titles have done extremely well, and several are close to the top of their disciplines. . . .

Thirdly, you raise the point that review articles can boost a journal’s Impact Factor, and that many journals publish review articles specifically with the intention of improving their Impact Factor. This is certainly true, but of BioMed Central’s 130+ journals, all but six are online research journals, and publish virtually no review articles whatsoever. . . .

No reply yet from Elsevier, but, whether there is or not, I’m sure that we have not heard the last of the "impact factor" argument.

Stevan Harnad has made it clear that what he calls the "journal-affordability problem" is not the focus of open access (this is perhaps best expressed in Harnad et al.’s "The Access/Impact Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"). The real issue is the "research article access/impact problem":

Merely to do the research and then put your findings in a desk drawer is no better than not doing the research at all. Researchers must submit their research to peer review and then "publish or perish," so others can use and apply their findings. But getting findings peer-reviewed and published is not enough either. Other researchers must find the findings useful, as proved by their actually using and citing them. And to be able to use and cite them, they must first be able to access them. That is the research article access/impact problem.

To see that the journal-affordability problem and the article access/impact problem are not the same one need only note that even if all 24,000 peer-reviewed research journals were sold to universities at cost (i.e., with not a penny of profit) it would still be true that almost no university has anywhere near enough money to afford all or even most of the 24,000 journals, even at minimal access-tolls (http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/arlbin/arl.cgi?task=setuprank). Hence, it would remain true even then that not all would-be users could access all of the yearly 2.5 million articles, and hence that that potential research impact would continue to be lost.

So although the two problems are connected (lower journal prices would indeed generate somewhat more access), solving the journal-affordability problem does not solve the research access/impact problem.

Of course, there are different views of open access, but, for the moment, let’s say that this view is the prevailing one and that this is the most compelling argument to win the hearts and minds of scholars for open access. Open access will rise or fall based on its demonstrated ability to significantly boost impact factors, and the battle to prove or disprove this effect will be fierce indeed.

Open Access News Update

Posted in Announcements, Open Access on June 28th, 2005

From June 24, 2005 to June 30, 2005, Open Access News was down, and I posted Peter Suber’s e-mail updates here. OAN is now up, and Peter has updated it with the missing postings. My updates have been deleted from this posting.

Links to the OAN messages in question are below.

June 30 posting (2 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2063.html

June 30 posting (7 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2062.html

June 29 posting (1 item)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2061.html

June 29 posting (5 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2060.html

June 28 posting (4 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2059.html

June 28 posting (2 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2056.html

June 27 posting (2 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2055.html

June 27 posting (6 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2054.html

June 26 posting (5 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2053.html

June 25 posting (11 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2051.html

June 24 posting (2 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2048.html

June 24 posting (7 items)
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2043.html

Key Open Access Concepts

Posted in Announcements, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on June 22nd, 2005

An excerpt from the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals (OAB) that provides a brief overview of OA concepts is now available in HTML-tagged format. Additional links have been added, and old links checked and updated. As part of the OAB, it is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

http://www.escholarlypub.com/oab/keyoaconcepts.htm

Will You Only Harvest Some?

Posted in Disciplinary Archives, E-Prints, Institutional Repositories, OAI-PMH, Open Access on May 26th, 2005

The Digital Library for Information Science and Technology has announced DL-Harvest, an OAI-PMH service provider that harvests and makes searchable metadata about information science materials from the following archives and repositories:

  • ALIA e-prints
  • arXiv
  • Caltech Library System Papers and Publications
  • DLIST
  • Documentation Research and Training Centre
  • DSpace at UNC SILS
  • E-LIS
  • Metadata of LIS Journals
  • OCLC Research Publications
  • OpenMED@NIC
  • WWW Conferences Archive

DL-Harvest is a much needed, innovative discipline-based search service. Big kudos to all involved.

DLIST also just announced the formation of an advisory board.

The following musings, inspired by the DL-Harvest announcement, are not intended to detract from the fine work that DLIST is doing or from the very welcome addition of DL-Harvest to their service offerings.

Discipline-focused metadata can be relatively easily harvested from OAI-PHM-compliant systems that are organized along disciplinary lines (e.g., the entire archive/repository is discipline-based or an organized subset is discipline-based). No doubt these are very rich, primary veins of discipline-specific information, but how about the smaller veins and nuggets that are hard to identify and harvest because they are in systems or subsets that focus on another discipline?

Here’s an example. An economist, who is not part of a research center or other group that might have its own archive, writes extensively about the economics of the scholarly publishing business. This individual’s papers end up in the economics department section of his or her institutional repository and in EconWPA. They are highly relevant to librarians and information scientists, but will their metadata records be harvested for use in services like DL-Harvest using OAI-PMH since they are in the wrong conceptual bins (e.g., set in the case of the IR)?

Coleman et al. point to one solution in their intriguing "Integration of Non-OAI Resources for Federated Searching in DLIST, an Eprints Repository" paper. But (lots of hand waving here), if using automatic metadata extraction was an easy and simple way to supplement conventional OAI-PMH harvesting, the bottom line question is: how good is good enough? In other words, what’s an acceptable level of accuracy for the automatic metadata extraction? (I won’t even bring up the dreaded "controlled vocabulary" notion.)

No doubt this problem falls under the 80/20 Rule, and the 20 is most likely in the low hanging fruit OAI-PMH-wise, but wouldn’t it be nice to have more fruit?


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