Archive for the 'Open Access' Category

Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition Statement

Posted in Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 21st, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Hard on the heels of the "Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing" by STM publishers, the Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition has issued a statement condemning the Federal Research Public Access Act and similar measures.

An excerpt from the press release follows:

"The long tradition of methodical scientific inquiry and information sharing through publication in scholarly journals has helped advance medicine to where it is today," said Martin Frank of the American Physiological Society and coordinator of the coalition. "We as independent publishers must determine when it is appropriate to make content freely available, and we believe strongly it should not be determined by government mandate."

The Coalition also reaffirmed its ongoing practice of making millions of scientific journal articles available free of charge, without an additional financial burden on the scientific community or on funding agencies. More than 1.6 million free articles are already available to the public free of charge on HighWire Press.

"The scholarly publishing system is a delicate balance between the need to sustain journals financially and the goal of disseminating scientific knowledge as widely as possible. Publishers have voluntarily made more journal articles available free worldwide than at any time in history — without government intervention," noted Kathleen Case of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The Coalition expressed concern that a mandatory timetable for free access to all federally funded research could harm journals, scientists, and ultimately the public. Subscriptions to journals with a high percentage of federally funded research would decline rapidly. Subscription revenues support the quality control system known as peer review and also support the educational work of scientific societies that publish journals.

Undermining subscriptions would shift the cost of publication from the publisher who receives subscription revenue to the researcher who receives grants. Such a shift could:

Divert scarce dollars from research. Publishers now pay the cost of publication out of subscription revenue; if the authors have to pay, the funds will come from their research grants. Nonprofit journals without subscription revenue would have to rely on the authors’ grant funds to cover publication costs, which would divert funding from research.

Result in only well-funded scientists being able to publish their work. The ability to publish in scientific journals should be available equally to all.

Reduce the ability of journals to fund peer review. Most journals spend 40% or more of their revenue on quality control through the peer review system; without subscription income and with limitations on author fees, peer review would suffer.

Harm those scientific societies that rely on income from journals to fund the professional development of scientists. Revenues from scholarly publications fund research, fellowships to junior scientists, continuing education, and mentoring programs to increase the number of women and under-represented groups in science, among many other activities.

Prominent open access advocates Stevan Harnad and Peter Suber have both critiqued the statement in detail.

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The Brussels Declaration: You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

Posted in Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 15th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The recent "Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing" by major scholarly publishers, such as Elsevier and Wiley, can be boiled down to: the scholarly publishing system ain’t broke, so don’t try to fix it. It provides an interesting contrast to the 2004 "Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science" by not-for-profit publishers, which outlined a variety of strategies for making content freely available.

Sadly, it suggests that the "Brussels Declaration" publishers fail to fully understand that the decades-old serials crisis has deeply alienated several generations of librarians, who are their primary customers. Publishers count on libraries being captive customers because scholarly publishing is monopolistic in nature (e.g., one journal article does not substitute for another article) and, consequently, demand is relatively inelastic, regardless of price. However, it is a rare business that thrives by alienating its customers. As the SPARC initiative and similar efforts illustrate, many librarians want to dramatically change the existing scholarly publishing system.

Driven by endless library serials cuts for journals in their disciplines, a growing belief that scholarly literature needs to be freely available for global scholarship to flourish, and excitement over the new potentials of digital publishing, scholars increasingly want to change the system as well. As has often been noted, the open access movement is not anti-publisher, but it is publisher-neutral, meaning that, as long as certain critical functions (such as peer review) are adequately performed, it does not matter how freely available scholarly works are published.

In my view, publishers add significant value to scholarly journals and other works. Some of these value-added functions are currently difficult to replicate; however, given technological advances in open-source digital publishing software, the number of these functions has been dwindling. A key question is: How long will it be before the most difficult production-oriented functions can be easily replicated, leaving non-technical functions, such as branding and prestige, to be dealt with? Another is: How long will it be before viable new modes of scholarly publishing, supported by open source software, are developed that compete with existing publishing models?

The clock is ticking. The more intransigent publishers are, the stronger the incentive for those who want change to improve open source publishing tools, to fund low-cost or open access publishing alternatives, to seek remedies from governments and other organizations that fund research, and to develop new modes of scholarly publishing.

Dialog, openness to new funding strategies and publishing practices, compromise, and imagination may serve publishers better in the long run than denial, rigidity, and attack. A more flexible outlook may reveal opportunities, not just dangers, in a scholarly publishing system in flux.

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Open Access Petition Given to European Commission

Posted in Open Access, Scholarly Communication on February 15th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

A petition that asks the European Commission to endorse the recommendations of the 2006 Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets of Europe was delivered to Janez Potocnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research.

The petition has over 20,000 signatures, including those of senior officials from 750 education, research, and cultural organizations and several Nobel laureates.

See the JISC press release for further details.

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Economists’ Self-Archiving Behavior

Posted in E-Prints, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on February 12th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Ted C. Bergstrom and Rosemarie Lavaty have deposited an eprint in eScholarship that studies the self-archiving behavior of economists ("How Often Do Economists Self-Archive?").

They summarize their findings in the paper’s abstract:

To answer the question of the paper’s title, we looked at the tables of contents from two recent issues of 33 economics journals and attempted to find a freely available online version of each article. We found that about 90 percent of articles in the most-cited economics journals and about 50 percent of articles in less-cited journals are available. We conduct a similar exercise for political science and find that only about 30 percent of the articles are freely available. The paper reports a regression analysis of the effects of author and article characteristics on likelihood of posing and it discusses the implications of self-archiving for the pricing of subscription-based academic journals.

Their conclusion suggests that significant changes in journal pricing could result from self-archiving:

As more content becomes available in open access archives, publishers are faced with greater availability of close substitutes for their products and library demand for journals is likely to become more price-elastic. The increased price-responsiveness means that profit-maximizing prices will fall. As a result, it can be hoped that commercial publishers will no longer be able to charge subscription prices greatly in excess of average cost. Thus the benefits of self-archiving to the academic community are twofold. There is the direct effect of making a greater portion of the body of research available to scholars everywhere and the secondary effect of reducing the prices charged by publishers who exploit their monopoly power.

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American Society for Cell Biology Issues Open Access Position Paper

Posted in Open Access, Publishing, Scholarly Communication on February 6th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) has issued an open access position paper ("ASCB Position on Public Access to Scientific Literature").

Here is an excerpt:

The ASCB believes strongly that barriers to scientific communication slow scientific progress. The more widely scientific results are disseminated, the more readily they can be understood, applied, and built upon. The sooner findings are shared, the faster they will lead to new scientific insights and breakthroughs. This conviction has motivated the ASCB to provide free access to all of the research articles in Molecular Biology of the Cell two months after publication, which it has done since 2001. . . .

Some publishers argue that providing free access to their journal’s content will catastrophically erode their revenue base. The experience of many successful research journals demonstrates otherwise; these journals make their online content freely available after a short embargo period that protects subscription revenue. For example, as noted above, the content of Molecular Biology of the Cell is free to all after only two months, yet the journal remains not only financially sound, but profitable. The data clearly show that free access and profitability are not mutually exclusive.

Our goal should be to make research articles freely available as soon as feasible so that science and the public benefit from their expanded use and application. At the same time, it is important that nonprofit societies and other publishers generate sufficient revenues to sustain the costs of reviewing and publishing articles. We believe that a six-month embargo period represents a reasonable compromise between the financial requirements of supporting a journal and the need for access to current research.

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Recent Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) Documents

Posted in OAI-ORE, OAI-PMH, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 30th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

In a previous posting, I discussed the Open Archives Initiative’s Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) project. ORE is worth watching closely.

Two new documents were released this January:

  • "Report of the January 2007 ORE-TC Meeting," which is: "A detailed report of the results of the meeting of OAI-ORE Technical Committee describing features and requirements of the ORE model and its context in the Web Architecture."
  • "Open Repositories 2007," which is: "A presentation describing OAI-ORE and progress based on the January 2007 ORE Technical Committee Meeting."
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Petition to European Commission to Support Open Access Tops 10,000 Signatures

Posted in Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 29th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

A petition to the European Commission asking it to support the European Union’s "Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets of Europe" has been signed by more than 10,000 people.

From the press release:

Nobel laureates Harold Varmus and Rich Roberts are among the more than ten thousand concerned researchers, senior academics, lecturers, librarians, and citizens from across Europe and around the world who are signing an internet petition calling on the European Commission to adopt polices to guarantee free public access to research results and maximise the worldwide visibility of European research.

Organisations too are lending their support, with the most senior representatives from over 500 education, research and cultural organisations in the world adding their weight to the petition, including CERN, the UK’s Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Italian Rector’s Conference, the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts & Sciences (KNAW) and the Swiss Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW), alongside the petition’s sponsors, SPARC Europe, JISC, the SURF Foundation, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Danish Electronic Research Library (DEFF).

From the petition

Research funding agencies have a central role in determining researchers’ publishing practices. Following the lead of the NIH and other institutions, they should promote and support the archiving of publications in open repositories, after a (possibly domain-specific) time period to be discussed with publishers. This archiving could become a condition for funding.

The following actions could be taken at the European level: (i) Establish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives, and (ii) Explore with Member States and with European research and academic associations whether and how such policies and open repositories could be implemented.

More signatures are needed, especially from EU organizations and individuals.

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DOE and British Library to Develop Science.world Portal

Posted in Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 29th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the British Library have signed an agreement to develop an portal to international science resources called Science.world.

From the press release:

Called ‘Science.world,’ the planned resource would be available for use by scientists in all nations and by anyone interested in science. The approach will capitalise on existing technology to search vast collections of science information distributed across the globe, enabling much-needed access to smaller, less well-known sources of highly valuable science. Following the model of Science.gov, the U.S. interagency science portal that relies on content published by each participating agency, ‘Science.world’ will rely on scientific resources published by each participating nation. Other countries have been invited to participate in this international effort. . . .

Objectives of the ‘Science.world’ initiative are to:

  • Search dispersed, electronic collections in various science disciplines;
  • Provide direct, seamless and free searching of open-source collections and portals;
  • Build upon existing and already successful national models for searching;
  • Complement existing information collections and systems; and
  • Raise the visibility and usage of individual sources of quality science information.
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OAIster Hits 10,000,000 Records

Posted in E-Prints, Google and Other Search Engines, OAI-PMH, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 25th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Excerpt from the press release:

We live in an information-driven world—one in which access to good information defines success. OAIster’s growth to 10 million records takes us one step closer to that goal.

Developed at the University of Michigan’s Library, OAIster is a collection of digital scholarly resources. OAIster is also a service that continually gathers these digital resources to remain complete and fresh. As global digital repositories grow, so do OAIster’s holdings.

Popular search engines don’t have the holdings OAIster does. They crawl web pages and index the words on those pages. It’s an outstanding technique for fast, broad information from public websites. But scholarly information, the kind researchers use to enrich their work, is generally hidden from these search engines.

OAIster retrieves these otherwise elusive resources by tapping directly into the collections of a variety of institutions using harvesting technology based on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. These can be images, academic papers, movies and audio files, technical reports, books, as well as preprints (unpublished works that have not yet been peer reviewed). By aggregating these resources, OAIster makes it possible to search across all of them and return the results of a thorough investigation of complete, up-to-date resources. . . .

OAIster is good news for the digital archives that contribute material to open-access repositories. "[OAIster has demonstrated that]. . . OAI interoperability can scale. This is good news for the technology, since the proliferation is bound to continue and even accelerate," says Peter Suber, author of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. As open-access repositories proliferate, they will be supported by a single, well-managed, comprehensive, and useful tool.

Scholars will find that searching in OAIster can provide better results than searching in web search engines. Roy Tennant, User Services Architect at the California Digital Library, offers an example: "In OAIster I searched ‘roma’ and ‘world war,’ then sorted by weighted relevance. The first hit nailed my topic—the persecution of the Roma in World War II. Trying ‘roma world war’ in Google fails miserably because Google apparently searches ‘Rome’ as well as ‘Roma.’ The ranking then makes anything about the Roma people drop significantly, and there is nothing in the first few screens of results that includes the word in the title, unlike the OAIster hit."

OAIster currently harvests 730 repositories from 49 countries on 6 continents. In three years, it has more than quadrupled in size and increased from 6.2 million to 10 million in the past year. OAIster is a project of the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service.

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2006 PACS Review Use Statistics

Posted in Announcements, E-Journals, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 21st, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The Public-Access Computer Systems Review (PACS Review) was a freely available e-journal, which I founded in 1989. It allowed authors to retain their copyrights, and it had a liberal copyright policy for noncommercial use. It’s last issue was published in 1998.

In 2006, there were 763,228 successful requests for PACS Review files, 2,091 average successful requests per day, 751,264 successful requests for pages, and 2,058 average successful requests for pages per day. (A request is for any type of file; a page request is for a content file, such as an HTML, PDF, or Word file). These requests came from 41,865 distinct host computers.

The requests came from 134 Internet domains. Leaving aside requests from unresolved numerical addresses, the top 15 domains were: .com (Commercial), .net (Networks), .edu (USA Higher Education), .cz (Czech Republic), .jp (Japan), .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), .au (Australia), .de (Germany), .nl (Netherlands), .org (Non Profit Making Organizations), .in (India), .my (Malaysia), .it (Italy), and .mx (Mexico). At the bottom were domains such as .ms (Montserrat), .fm (Micronesia), .nu (Niue), .ad (Andorra), and .az (Azerbaijan).

Rounded to the nearest thousand, there had previously been 3.5 million successful requests for PACS Review files.

This is the last time that use statistics will be reported for the PACS Review.

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Fedora 2.2 Released

Posted in Fedora, Institutional Repositories, Open Access, Open Source Software, Scholarly Communication on January 20th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

The Fedora Project has released version 2.2 of Fedora.

From the announcement:

This is a significant release of Fedora that includes a complete repackaging of the Fedora source and binary distribution so that Fedora can now be installed as a standalone web application (.war) in any web container. This is a first step in positioning Fedora to fit within a standard "enterprise system" environment. A new installer application makes it easy to setup and run Fedora. Fedora now uses Servlet Filters for authentication. To support digital object integrity, the Fedora repository can now be configured to calculate and store checksums for datastream content. This can be done globally, or on selected datastreams. The Fedora API also provides the ability to check content integrity based on checksums. The RDF-based Resource Index has been tuned for better performance. Also, a new high-performing triplestore, backed by Postgres, has been developed that can be plugged into the Resource Index. Fedora contains many other enhancements and bug fixes.

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ScientificCommons.org: Access to Over 13 Million Digital Documents

Posted in E-Prints, OAI-PMH, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 19th, 2007 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

ScientificCommons.org is an initiative of the Institute for Media and Communications Management at the University of St. Gallen. It indexes both metadata and full-text from global digital repositories. It uses OAI-PMH to identify relevant documents. The full-text documents are in PDF, PowerPoint, RTF, Microsoft Word, and Postscript formats. After being retrieved from their original repository, the documents are cached locally at ScientificCommons.org. It has indexed about 13 million documents from over 800 repositories.

Here are some additional features from the About ScientificCommons.org page:

Identification of authors across institutions and archives: ScientificCommons.org identifies authors and assigns them their scientific publications across various archives. Additionally the social relations between the authors will be extracted and displayed. . . .

Semantic combination of scientific information: ScientificCommons.org structures and combines the scientific data to knowledge areas with Ontology’s. Lexical and statistical methods are used to identify, extract and analyze keywords. Based on this processes ScientificCommons.org classifies the scientific data and uses it e.g. for navigational and weighting purposes.

Personalization services: ScientificCommons.org offers the researchers the possibilities to inform themselves about new publications via our RSS Feed service. They can customize the RSS Feed to a special discipline or even to personalized list of keywords. Furthermore ScientificCommons.org will provide an upload service. Every researcher can upload his publication directly to ScientificCommons.org and assign already existing publications at ScientificCommons.org to his own researcher profile.

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