Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (10/24/05)

The update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 22 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: Acquiring Copyright Permission to Digitize and Provide Open Access to Books "; The Dublin Core Metadata Registry: Requirements, Implementation, and Experience"; "Exploiting ‘Light-Weight’ Protocols and Open Source Tools to Implement Digital Library Collections and Services"; "Library Access to Scholarship"; New Journal Publishing Models: An International Survey of Senior Researchers; Open Access Citation Information; "Open Access to Science in the Developing World"; and "The Status of Open Access Publishing by Academic Societies."

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (10/7/05)

The update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 26 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: "Academic Institutional Repositories: Deployment Status in 13 Nations as of Mid 2005"; "BioOne’s Business Model Shift: Balancing the Interests of Libraries and Independent Publishers"; "Does Google Library Violate Copyright?"; "Electronic Scientific Information, Open Access, and Editorial Peer Review: Changes on the Horizon"; "Institutional Repository Deployment in the United States as of Early 2005"; "New Roles for a Changing Environment: Implications of Open Access for Libraries"; "Project MUSE’s New Pricing Model: A Case Study in Collaboration"; and "You Get What You Pay for? Archival Access to Electronic Journals."

What’s in Your Digital Asset Catastrophe Plan?

Anything? You likely have a disaster plan that addresses digital asset issues. The potential problem with a disaster plan is that it can be grounded in assumptions of relative normalcy: the building burns down, a tornado hits, a lower-category hurricane strikes. It may assume severe damage within a confined area and an unimpaired ability of federal, state, and local agencies (as well as relief organizations) to respond. It may assume that workers are not at the disaster site, that they are relatively unaffected if they are, or that they can evacuate and return with relative ease and speed. It may assume that your offsite tape storage or "hot" backup site is far enough away to be unaffected.

What it probably doesn’t assume is the complete devastation of your city or town; widespread Internet, phone, power, and water outages that could last weeks or months; improbable multiple disasters across a wide region surrounding you; the inability of officials at all levels of government to adequately respond to a quickly deepening crisis; the lack of truly workable evacuation plans; depleted gas supplies for a hundred miles in all directions; your evacuated workers being scattered across a multiple-state area in motels, hotels, and the houses of friends and relatives after trips or 20 to 30 hours in massive traffic jams; your institution’s administration being relocated to a hotel in another city; evacuees ending up in new disaster zones and needing to evacuate yet again; and the possibility of more local post-catastrophe catastrophes in short order.

Here’s some thoughts. You may need to have your backups and hot sites in a part of the country that is unlikely to be experiencing a simultaneous catastrophe. This will not be reliable or convenient if physical data transportation is involved. Your latest data could end up in a delivery service depot in your city or town when the event happens. Even if this doesn’t occur, how frequently will you ship out those updates? Daily? Weekly? Another frequency?

Obviously, a remote hot site is better than just backups. But, if hot sites were cheap, we’d all have them.

In terms of backups, how software/hardware-specific are your systems? Will you have to rebuild a complex hardware/software environment to create a live system? Will the components that you need be readily available? Will you have the means to acquire, house, and implement them?

Lots of copies do keep stuff safe, but there have to be lots of copies. Here are two key issues: copyright and will (no doubt there are many more).

You may have a treasure trove of locally produced digital materials, but, if they are under normal copyright arrangements, no one can replicate them. It took considerable resources to create your digital materials. It’s a natural tendency to want to protect them so that they are accessible, but still yours alone. The question to ask yourself is what do I want to prevent users from doing, now and in the future, with these materials? The Creative Commons licences offer options that bar commercial and derivative use, but still provide the freedom to replicate licensed data. True, if you allow replication, you will not really be able to have unified use statistics, but, in the final analysis, what’s more important statistics or digital asset survival? If you allow derivative works, you may find others add value to your work in surprising and novel ways that benefit your users.

However, merely making your digital assets available doesn’t mean that anyone will go to the trouble of replicating or enhancing them. That requires will on the part of others, and they are busy with their own projects. Moreover, they assume that your digital materials will remain available, not disappear forever in the blink of an eye.

It strikes me that digital asset catastrophe planning may call for cooperative effort by libraries, IT centers, and other data-intensive nonprofit organizations. Perhaps by working jointly economic and logistical barriers can be overcome and cost-effective solutions can emerge.

OAB, OAW, SEPB, and SEPW Zip Files

Zip files (with adjusted URLs that allow mirroring) for the above publications are available.

  • SEPB/SEPW (complete archive; will be updated as SEPB changes)
  • OAB/OAW (all files in one subdirectory)

With the exception of the OAW, these publications are under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License (the OAW is under version 2 of the license).

SEPB, SEPW, and OAB Access

It turns out that the LISHost server is located in Houston, so access to SEPB, SEPW, and the OAB could cease for some indefinite period. However, since all of these publications are under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License, they could be mirrored as long as that occurred quickly.

  • SEPB and SEPW in one zip file. No URL editing required.
  • OAB. Some URL editing required.

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (9/13/05)

The biweekly update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 14 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: Audit Checklist for Certifying Digital Repositories, "Reforming Scholarly Publishing and Knowledge Communication: From the Advent of the Scholarly Journal to the Challenges of Open Access"; Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, Version 59; Towards Good Practices of Copyright in Open Access Journals: A Study among Authors of Articles in Open Access Journals; and "Update on First Fruits of NIH Policy."

Version 59, Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

Version 59 of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography is now available. This selective bibliography presents over 2,480 articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet.

The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals, by the same author, provides much more in-depth coverage of the open access movement and related topics (e.g., disciplinary archives, e-prints, institutional repositories, open access journals, and the Open Archives Initiative) than SEPB does.

The "Open Access Webliography" (with Ho) complements the OAB, providing access to a number of Websites related to open access topics.

Changes in This Version

The bibliography has the following sections (revised sections are marked with an asterisk):

Table of Contents

1 Economic Issues
2 Electronic Books and Texts
2.1 Case Studies and History
2.2 General Works*
2.3 Library Issues
3 Electronic Serials
3.1 Case Studies and History*
3.2 Critiques
3.3 Electronic Distribution of Printed Journals
3.4 General Works*
3.5 Library Issues*
3.6 Research*
4 General Works*
5 Legal Issues
5.1 Intellectual Property Rights*
5.2 License Agreements*
5.3 Other Legal Issues
6 Library Issues
6.1 Cataloging, Identifiers, Linking, and Metadata*
6.2 Digital Libraries*
6.3 General Works*
6.4 Information Integrity and Preservation*
7 New Publishing Models*
8 Publisher Issues*
8.1 Digital Rights Management
9 Repositories, E-Prints, and OAI*
Appendix A. Related Bibliographies*
Appendix B. About the Author*
Appendix C. SEPB Use Statistics

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Resources includes the following sections:

Cataloging, Identifiers, Linking, and Metadata*
Digital Libraries*
Electronic Books and Texts*
Electronic Serials*
General Electronic Publishing*
Images
Legal*
Preservation
Publishers
Repositories, E-Prints, and OAI*
SGML and Related Standards

Further Information about SEPB

The HTML version of SEPB is designed for interactive use. Each major section is a separate file. There are links to sources that are freely available on the Internet. It can be can be searched using Boolean operators.

The HTML document includes three sections not found in the Acrobat file:

  1. Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (biweekly list of new resources; also available by mailing list)
  2. Scholarly Electronic Publishing Resources (directory of over 270 related Web sites)
  3. Archive (prior versions of the bibliography)

The Acrobat file is designed for printing. The printed bibliography is over 200 pages long. The Acrobat file is over 550 KB.

Related Article

An article about the bibliography has been published in The Journal of Electronic Publishing.

Selected by Librarians' Index to the Internet

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (8/29/05)

The biweekly update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 15 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: "Developing Digital Preservation Programs: The Cornell Survey of Institutional Readiness, 2003-2005"; "Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Revised Update"; "Google, the Naked Emperor"; and Institutional Repositories for the Research Sector: Feasibility Study.

The E-Print Deposit Conundrum

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

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.

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (8/15/05)

The biweekly update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 17 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: "E-LIS: an International Open Archive Towards Building Open Digital Libraries," "In the Public Interest: Open Access," "Investigating the Biblioblogosphere" in Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, "A Proposal for an Open Content Licence for Research Paper (Pr)ePrints," Sponsorships for Nonprofit Scholarly & Scientific Journals: A Guide to Defining & Negotiating Successful Sponsorships, and a special issue of Reference Services Review on the role of reference librarians in institutional repositories.

The Role of Reference Librarians in Institutional Repositories

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

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

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.

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (8/1/05)

The biweekly update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 15 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: "Creative Humbug? Bah the Humbug, Let’s Get Creative!," Intellectual Property and Electronic Theses, "Research at Risk," the ten-year anniversary issue of D-Lib Magazine, and "Whose Work Is It, Anyway?."

ETD Archives at ARL Libraries

This posting lists electronic theses and dissertation archives at ARL libraries that were not included in the prior "ETD Policies and Procedures at ARL Institutions" posting. The archives listed here do not include substantial ETD policy and procedure information; however, some sites provide links to more limited supporting information, such as formatting guidelines. In some cases, archives are identified here for institutions included in the prior posting because the ETD site in that posting did not include an archive link. To get a complete list of ETD archives, consult both postings. In some cases, ARL libraries do not separate out ETDs as a separate material type listing (e.g. DSpace community). Such integrated archives are not included here.

One-Page Open Access Resources Handout

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.

ETD Policies and Procedures at ARL Institutions

What electronic theses and dissertation (ETD) policies and procedures are in use in major North American research institutions?

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a list of Web sites at ARL institutions that provide significant information about these institutions’ ETD policies and procedures. Some of these Web pages are on the library’s Website; some are on other university components’ Websites. This list was complied by a quick look at ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented by limited institution-specific Google searching. Since these Websites can be difficult to find, this is likely to be partial list of relevant Websites. Please leave information about other relevant Websites in comments.

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (7/18/05)

The biweekly update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides brief information on 15 new journal issues and other resources. Especially interesting are: Cataloging And Organizing Digital Resources: A How-to-Do-It Manual For Librarians, "The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing," International Yearbook of Library and Information Management 2004-2005: Scholarly Publishing in an Electronic Era, "The Next Information Revolution—How Open Access Will Transform Scholarly Communications," and the latest issue of Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community.

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

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.