Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Public Access Mandate Made Law

A press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access


Washington, D.C. – December 26, 2007 – President Bush has signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 (H.R. 2764), which includes a provision directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide the public with open online access to findings from its funded research. This is the first time the U.S. government has mandated public access to research funded by a major agency.

The provision directs the NIH to change its existing Public Access Policy, implemented as a voluntary measure in 2005, so that participation is required for agency-funded investigators. Researchers will now be required to deposit electronic copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine’s online archive, PubMed Central. Full texts of the articles will be publicly available and searchable online in PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication in a journal.

"Facilitated access to new knowledge is key to the rapid advancement of science," said Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Nobel Prize Winner. "The tremendous benefits of broad, unfettered access to information are already clear from the Human Genome Project, which has made its DNA sequences immediately and freely available to all via the Internet. Providing widespread access, even with a one-year delay, to the full text of research articles supported by funds from all institutes at the NIH will increase those benefits dramatically." . . . .

“Congress has just unlocked the taxpayers’ $29 billion investment in NIH,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a founding member of the ATA). “This policy will directly improve the sharing of scientific findings, the pace of medical advances, and the rate of return on benefits to the taxpayer."

Full press release

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Show Me the Data" ISI's Impact Factors

Mike Rossner, Executive Director, The Rockefeller University Press, Heather Van Epps, Executive Editor, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, and Emma Hill, Executive Editor, The Journal of Cell Biology, wrote the editorial, “Show Me the Data,” in the latest issue (published online 17 December 2007) of The Journal of Cell Biology (Vol. 179, No. 6, 1091-1092). In it they contend that they cannot verify journal impact factors published by Thomson Scientific (formerly ISI). Considering the significance many faculty, academic departments and funding agencies assign to these impact factors in making tenure, promotion, funding and other decisions, the allegation is a very serious one.


The integrity of data, and transparency about their acquisition, are vital to science. The impact factor data that are gathered and sold by Thomson Scientific (formerly the Institute of Scientific Information, or ISI) have a strong influence on the scientific community, affecting decisions on where to publish, whom to promote or hire, the success of grant applications, and even salary bonuses . Yet, members of the community seem to have little understanding of how impact factors are determined, and, to our knowledge, no one has independently audited the underlying data to validate their reliability. . . .

When we examined the data in the Thomson Scientific database, two things quickly became evident: first, there were numerous incorrect article-type designations. Many articles that we consider "front matter" were included in the denominator. This was true for all the journals we examined. Second, the numbers did not add up. The total number of citations for each journal was substantially fewer than the number published on the Thomson Scientific, Journal Citation Reports (JCR) website (, subscription required). The difference in citation numbers was as high as 19% for a given journal, and the impact factor rankings of several journals were affected when the calculation was done using the purchased data (data not shown due to restrictions of the license agreement with Thomson Scientific). . . .

It became clear that Thomson Scientific could not or (for some as yet unexplained reason) would not sell us the data used to calculate their published impact factor. If an author is unable to produce original data to verify a figure in one of our papers, we revoke the acceptance of the paper. We hope this account will convince some scientists and funding organizations to revoke their acceptance of impact factors as an accurate representation of the quality—or impact—of a paper published in a given journal.

Just as scientists would not accept the findings in a scientific paper without seeing the primary data, so should they not rely on Thomson Scientific's impact factor, which is based on hidden data. As more publication and citation data become available to the public through services like PubMed, PubMed Central, and Google Scholar®, we hope that people will begin to develop their own metrics for assessing scientific quality rather than rely on an ill-defined and manifestly unscientific number.

Full editorial

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Promise of e-Research Across the Disciplines

At a conference titled 'World Wide Science: The Promise, Threats and Realities of e-Research', Oxford Professors Denis Noble (Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology) and Martin Kemp (Professor of the History of Art) illustrated how e-research enables new forms of collaboration, visualization and data collection in the sciences and humanities, with examples from their work on heart modelling and Renaissance paintings. You can go to to stream or download the 64 minute presentation.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Two major physics labs to pay author charges for their researchers

PhysMath Central, the BioMedCentral open access publisher for physics, mathematics and computer science, announced this week a new agreement with two major particle physics research organizations. CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and DESY (the German Electron Synchrotron) will now provide central funding of author charges for their researchers publishing in the new PhysMath Central peer-reviewed journal, PMC Physics A. PMC Physics A, edited by Ken Peach of the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, launched in October 2007. The December 13th press release describes this as an intermediate step towards the SCOAP3 model of publishing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SCOAP3 Promotes a New Model for Open Access Journals

The field of High Energy Physics (HEP), already a leader in wide and open distribution and discussion of scholarly content through its use of the eprint server, is proposing a new model in open access publishing. SCOAP3, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics, is a consortium made up of High-Energy Physics funding agencies, High-Energy Physics laboratories, and leading national and international libraries and library consortia. This group has designed a system whereby the major stakes-holder institutions support the widespread and open availability of the major HEP journals. Here are the basics of the idea:

  • Funding bodies and libraries pay money to the Consortium. The Consortium, in turn, pays the scholarly publishers to provide peer review and publish high-quality content, to be made available to everyone. The publishers are provided with the revenue stream required for their efforts, and users, regardless of affiliation, are provided with the content they need. Authors are no longer required to pay as the prevailing open access model now requires.
  • SCOAP3 partners will finance their contributions by canceling journal subscriptions. Each partner will be expected to pay in accordance with its country’s share of HEP publishing.
  • The initial scope of the project involves just 5 core journals and one discipline-wide title:
    • Physical Review D
    • Journal of High Energy Physics
    • Physics Letters B
    • Nuclear Physics B
    • European Physical Journal C
    • Physical Review Letters
  • At this time, HEP funding agencies, laboratories and libraries are signing Expressions of Interest for the financial backing of the consortium. As this process gains momentum and long-term commitments, affected publishers will be asked to tender proposals and enter negotiations. Conversion of these titles is estimated at a cost of 10 Million Euros per year, considerably less than the collective payments made by libraries for access for their institutional users.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ethics of Open Access to Biomedical Research

On 7 December, 2007 Stevan Harnad published the article “Ethics of open Access to biomedical research: Just a special case of ethics of open access to research” in Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine. His abstract (provisional):

The ethical case for Open Access (OA) (free online access) to research findings is especially salient when it is public health that is being compromised by needless access restrictions. But the ethical imperative for OA is far more general: It applies to all scientific and scholarly research findings published in peer-reviewed journals. And peer-to-peer access is far more important than direct public access. Most research is funded so as to be conducted and published, by researchers, in order to be taken up, used, and built upon in further research and applications, again by researchers (pure and applied, including practitioners), for the benefit of the public that funded it -- not in order to generate revenue for the peer-reviewed journal publishing industry (nor even because there is a burning public desire to read much of it). Hence OA needs to be mandated, by researchers' institutions and funders, for all research.

The complete article is available as a provisional PDF. The fully formatted PDF and HTML versions are in production.

Friday, December 7, 2007

First Fifty Volumes of Medieval Archaeology Freely Available Online

In celebration of the Society for Medieval Archaeology's 50th anniversary the first fifty volumes of Medieval Archaeology have been made available in digital form.
For more information click here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

ARL Report on Journals’ Transition from Print to Electronic Formats

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published “The E-only Tipping Point for Journals: What’s Ahead in the Print-to-Electronic Transition Zone,” by Richard K. Johnson and Judy Luther. The report examines the issues associated with the migration from dual-format publishing toward electronic-only publication of journals.

Publishers and libraries today find themselves in an extended transition zone between print-only and e-only journals. Both parties are struggling with the demands of dual-format publishing as well as
the opportunity costs of keeping electronic journals operating within the bounds of the print publishing process, which are increasingly taxing the status quo for publishers, libraries, authors, and readers. There are suggestions that this transitional phase is especially challenging to small publishers of high-quality titles and places them at a disadvantage in relation to large, resource-rich publishers as they compete for subscribers, authors, and readers. The question of when dual-format journals will complete the transition to single-format (electronic) publishing is taking on increasing urgency.

The persistence of dual-format journals suggests that substantial obstacles need to be surmounted if the transformation to e-only publication is to be complete. This study seeks to create a better understanding of the dynamics of the transition process, both for librarians and for publishers. Neither publishers nor librarians independently control the process and the need to coordinate their activities greatly increases the complexity of the transition.

The report provides a synthetic analysis of librarian and publisher perspectives on the current state of format migration, considering the drivers toward electronic-only publishing and barriers that are slowing change. The authors provide an assessment of likely change in the near term and recommend strategic areas of focus for further work to enable change.

The work is based in large part on interviews conducted between June and August 2007 with two dozen academic librarians and journal publishers. Publishers and librarians were consulted equally in recognition that these changes pose significant issues of coordination. Interviews were conducted with collection officers and others at ARL member libraries and publishing staff of societies and university presses, publishing platform hosts, and publishing production consultants.

The report is available for free download from the ARL Web site at

Sunday, December 2, 2007

SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #116

The latest issue of Peter Suber's SPARC Open Access Newsletter is now online. Particularly interesting are Suber's ten predictions for 2008.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Open Access Resources from Alexander Street Press

Explore or become part of a scholarly community today and collaborate with a publisher in the electronic environment.

The "Second Wave" and Beyond, a free resource provided by Alexander Street Press, “is an innovative form of electronic communication and research that brings together feminist thinkers, scholars and activists, to analyze compelling questions about feminist activism and theories, define new directions for historical research on this period, and provide a new venue for publishing traditional articles but also for writing and recording this history in ways made possible by the medium of online publication.” The “Second Wave” and Beyond complements the database Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (subscribed to by BC Libraries). However, participants in the former need not be affiliated with institutions that subscribe to Women and Social Movements. For more information see

Another open access resource made available by Alexander Street Press is In the First Person. This is “a free, high quality, professionally published, in-depth index of close to 4,000 collections of personal narratives in English from around the world. It lets you keyword search more than 700,000 pages of full-text by more than 18,000 individuals from all walks of life. It also contains pointers to some 4,300 audio and video files and 30,000 bibliographic records. The index contains approximately 20,500 months of diary entries, 63,000 letter entries, and 17,000 oral history entries.”

Though Alexander Street Press is a for-profit publisher, the open access nature of these two resources is very welcome. Alexander St. Press is to be applauded.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Follow-up to Reading at Risk Links Declines in Reading with Poorer Academic and Social Outcomes

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently announced the release of To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence, a new and comprehensive analysis of reading patterns in the United States. This report gathers statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading habits and skills of children, teenagers, and adults. The conclusions are grim. There have been severe declines in voluntary reading and reading test scores, all pointing to serious consequences for American society.

The complete Report as well as the Executive Summary may be downloaded.

Short extract from the Executive Summary:

In 2004, theNational Endowment for the Arts published Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. This detailed study showed that Americans in almost every demographic group were reading fiction, poetry, and drama—and books in general—at significantly lower rates than 10 or 20 years earlier. The declines were steepest among young adults.

More recent findings attest to the diminished role of voluntary reading in American life. These new statistics come from a variety of reliable sources, including large, nationally representative studies conducted by other federal agencies. Brought together here for the first time, the data prompt three unsettling conclusions:

• Americans are spending less time reading.

• Reading comprehension skills are eroding.

• These declines have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fair Use & Multimedia in the Classroom

What's "fair use" when it comes to showing films, television shows and assorted media clips in the classroom?

Inside Higher Ed has a nice write-up on the "patchwork of laws and rulings on the use of media for educational purposes" and the efforts of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies to "clarify the boundaries with a new set of best-practices guidelines..."

The creators of the Society's Statement of Best Practices, writes IHE, "hope that it will give professors a tool for interpreting existing law as well as provide a unified set of standards to eliminate confusion between instructors and college administrations."

Up next for the Society: A policy document on the limits fair use imposes on publishing clips in online journals, DVDs enclosed with published articles, Web sites and other digital scholarly venues.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Overview of Podcasts

For those who have little or no experience of podcasting, today's Sunday Times (UK) has a short but useful overview together with interesting links. The article, "Podcasts Have a World in your Ear," is available in Times Online.

There is also a good Podcast Primer on the Open Culture site.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Over 500 Publicly Accessible Scholarly Books

The California Digital Library's eScholarship Editions collection includes almost 2000 books from academic presses on a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction. Whilethe majority of the electronic books are only open as full-text to University of California faculty, staff, and students, over 500 scholarly books are freely available to the public.

One may search the full-text of all books or just the publicly accessible ones with either a keyword search or an advanced search. There are Author, Title, and Subject lists for the publicly accessible books.

Friday, November 23, 2007

OpenDOAR Now Includes 1000 Repositories

The UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has issued a press release detailing the substantial growth in disciplinary and institutional repositories:

SHERPA has announced that its OpenDOAR directory, which contains an authoritative list of institutional and subject-based repositories, now boasts 1000 repository entries from across the globe.

With each of the repositories listed by the OpenDOAR service having been visited by project staff, the gathered information is both accurate and precise, and contains a quality-controlled list of repository features.

Open access to information has grown rapidly as researchers and scholars increasingly put their work on the web for free in repositories. OpenDOAR aims to create a bridge between the administrators of those repositories and the service providers which "harvest" them.

The typical service provider is a search engine, indexing the material that is held. General Internet searches often bring back too many "junk" results. Information from OpenDOAR enables the search service to provide a more focussed search by selecting repositories that are of direct interest to the user - for example, all Australian repositories, or all repositories that hold conference papers on chemistry. OpenDOAR can also be used by researchers to check if their institution has a repository.

As OpenDOAR forms a major quality target resource for services such as Intute RS (Repository Search) and the Depot, 1000 entries is, say SHERPA staff, a significant step forward in enabling the global virtual repository network to cooperate in new and innovative ways.

SHERPA is based at the University of Nottingham and works on a portfolio of projects related to Open Access and repository development including JULIET and RoMEO.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wikipedia & Plagiarism (Not What You Think)

"The publisher John Wiley & Sons confirmed last week that its book 'Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors' by George Orwel had lifted almost word for word about five paragraphs from a Wikipedia article on the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia." (New York Times, 11/19/2007)
Read the full article

Custom Textbooks

SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (News)

Pearson Custom Publishing is working with faculty at Rio Solado community college in Arizona to print custom textbooks assembled from multiple sources.
On Wednesday, the Arizona community college announced a partnership with Pearson Custom Publishing to allow Rio Salado professors to piece together single individualized textbooks from multiple sources. The result, in what could be the first institution-wide initiative of its kind, will be a savings to students of up to 50 percent, the college estimates, as well as a savings of time to faculty, who often find themselves revising course materials to keep pace with continuously updated editions.

See article for full details ....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device

Amazon introduces its new eBook reader, the Kindle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Extending an Author's Rights: A Success Story

When my article about web resources for research in Buddhist-Christian dialogue was accepted for publication in the journal Buddhist-Christian Studies, I sent the publisher, University of Hawai'i Press, the Amendment to Publication Agreement form provided by the Boston Library Consortium. The form was returned to me signed and without argument. I now can make the article available in any number of ways on the web. A small victory, but the kind of result authors should pursue whenever they receive a publishing contract. Links to the Word and PDF formats of the BLC Amendment to Publication Agreement form are available. The BC Libraries' website also has a sample text of an addendum to a publishing contract.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives (SPEC Kit, 299)

The Association of Research Libraries has just published Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives, SPEC Kit 299 (authored by Kathleen A. Newman, Deborah D. Blecic, and Kimberly L. Armstrong). This very interesting SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of proposals for education initiatives, scholarly communication and copyright Web pages, job descriptions, and education materials. Though the complete document is not freely accessible online, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has made available as open access about the first 80 pages of the report through its institutional repository, IDEALS site. What are not openly accessible are the representative documents that were submitted by the respondents (about 100 pages).


Access to information, the foundation of scholarly communication, has traditionally been provided through academic journals, research collections, and other print publications. Recent advances in digital technology, however, have revolutionized scholarly communication, leading to innovations in the conduct of research as well as in the conveyance of ideas to readers. Librarians have sought to inform their communities about scholarly communication issues such as author rights management, open access, and journal costs through such activities as classes, Web sites, symposia, and workshops to help create change. The purpose of this survey was to find out what kind of initiatives ARL member libraries have used or plan to use to educate faculty, researchers, administrators, students, and library staff at their institutions about scholarly communication issues.

The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in May 2007. Respondents were asked to provide information about the nature of library-initiated education activities about scholarly communication issues that had taken place in their institutions in the past three years or that were expected to take place soon. Of the 73 libraries that responded to the survey, 55 (75%) indicated that the library has engaged in educational activities on scholarly communication issues; 13 (18%) have not, but indicated that planning is underway. Only three libraries indicated that they had not engaged in this activity and were not planning to do so; another two responded that this is the responsibility of another, non-library unit of the institution.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

SPARC Open Access Newsletter, #115

The SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #115 (November 2, 2007) by Peter Suber is now online:

Friday, November 2, 2007

New Yorker on the Digital Library and the Google Book Project

There’s a good article by Anthony Grafton in the latest New Yorker about the evolving digital library and the Google Book Project. Click for article.

In the same issue Grafton has another piece on some favorite digital archives and historical resources. Click for article.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rethinking Collections - Libraries and Librarians in an Open Age: A Theoretical View

Heather Morrison has published a thought-provoking article in the latest issue of First Monday.

Open access, one of the most important of the potentials unleashed by the combination of the electronic medium and the World Wide Web, is already much more substantial in extent that most of us realize. More than 10 percent of the world’s scholarly peer–reviewed journals are fully open access; this does not take into account the many journals offering hybrid open choice, free back access, or allowing authors to self–archive their works. Scientific Commons includes more than 16 million publications, nearly twice as much content as Science Direct. Meanwhile, even as we continue to focus on the scholarly peer–reviewed journal article, other potentials of the new technology are beginning to appear, such as open data and scholarly blogging. This paper examines the library collection of the near and medium future, suggests that libraries and librarians are in a key position to lead in the transition to an open age, and provides specific suggestions to aid in the transition.

Morrison's Conclusions:
The time is ripe to rethink collections. The universe of information has already changed significantly in the Internet age, with open access journals and archives already playing a key role in scholarly communication. More change is to be expected as we continue to explore the full potential of new media. The library collection of the future may include whole collections of digital documents, files, data, and links, with less emphasis on individual items.

Libraries can play a key role into the future. Change can begin with something as simple as revising the library’s vision statement. Libraries should support transition towards open access, employing suitable cautions, such as ensuring that market forces will be in play to moderate the average per–article costs, to ensure a cost–effective scholarly communications system, and ensuring that true open access is supported, not just free access. Libraries can play a vital role in supporting the publishing efforts of their faculty, for example by hosting and providing basic technical support for journals. It is not too soon to begin reorganizing for change. Current library staff have skills that will be needed in institutional repositories and the new world of collections; the best approach is to engage staff as soon as possible, to help them envision themselves in an open access future, so that they can help us all to figure out how to get there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mandate for Public Access to NIH-Funded Research Poised to Become Law

On Tuesday, October 23, 2007 the full U.S. Senate approved a bill containing support for public access to taxpayer-funded research by directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to require participation by researchers. See the news release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Max Planck Society cancels Springer journals contracts due to excessively high costs

The Max Planck Society has terminated its contract for online journal access to some 1200 Springer Verlag journals effective January 2008. This high-profile decision follows extended negotiation efforts, and is based on comparison of Springer cost/use data with similar data from other major journal publishers under contract to the institutes. Researchers at the various institutes will have on-going access to older Springer volumes since the previous license agreements provided for perpetual access to volumes purchased. Articles published in 2008, however, will no longer be available through the SpringerLink platform, and the Society library will find other more cost-effective ways to provide access to this information. The Max Planck Society was an initiator of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in 2003. The declaration calls for open access to publicly funded research, with over 240 scientific organizations signatories. See the Heise Online article for more information.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) is urging that we inform our Senators to oppose amendments that strike or change the NIH public access provision in the FY08 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. Contact with Senators must be made before 2PM Eastern on Monday, October 22.

From ATA's website:

The Senate is currently considering the FY08 Labor-HHS Bill, which includes a provision (already approved by the House of Representatives and the full Senate Appropriations Committee), that directs the NIH to change its Public Access Policy so that participation is required (rather than requested) for researchers, and ensures free, timely public access to articles resulting from NIH-funded research. On Friday, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), filed two amendments (#3416 and #3417), which call for the language to either be stricken from the bill, or modified in a way that would gravely limit the policy’s effectiveness.

Amendment #3416 would eliminate the provision altogether. Amendment #3417 is likely to be presented to your Senator as a compromise that “balances” the needs of the public and of publishers. In reality, the current language in the NIH public access provision accomplishes that goal. Passage of either amendment would seriously undermine access to this important public resource, and damage the community’s ability to advance scientific research and discovery.

Please contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote “NO” on amendments #3416 and #3417.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Redefining Scholarly Publishing as a Service Industry

Paul Peters has published the article "Redefining Scholarly Publishing as a Service Industry" in The Journal of Electronic Publishing. Peters is the Head of Business Development for the Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

The article's abstract:
The landscape of the scholarly publishing market has been largely defined by subscription-based publishing models that have existed since the earliest days of scholarly journal publishing. If there is a widespread shift from these subscription-based models to an open-access model based on publication charges, the fundamental nature of the scholarly publishing industry will transform from that of a content-providing industry to a service-providing industry. The benefits that this transformation will bring to the research community are in many ways as important as the benefits that an open access model will have in terms of increasing online access to scholarly literature.
The article's conclusion:
Apart from the substantial benefits that an open access model will have on improving access to scholarly literature, a shift towards business models based on publication charges can provide vastly increased value to the scholarly community. This is not to say that the shift to an “author pays” model will be easy, since this transition is likely to cause a fair bit of turmoil in the short run. Fields in which authors do not have research budgets that can support publication charges will have a difficult time converting to an “author pays” model until sufficient funding sources can be redirected to support these charges. Both commercial and not-for-profit publishers that have become dependent on large per-article revenues will face serious challenges if the quality of their service does not justify these revenues. Nevertheless, in the long run, a shift towards a system based on publication charges will enable greater competition between publishers, more innovative services, and greater overall value for researchers. Publishers who can provide the greatest value to the research community will see their journals flourish without the need for costly sales teams, and those who cannot will soon find that they have become obsolete in the context of a service-oriented publishing system.
Click here for the full article.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

University Video Collections on

The Open Culture website <> provides access to numerous interesting video and audio collections from some of America’s leading colleges and universities. For example, Columbia Interactive is a gateway to selected electronic learning resources developed at Columbia University. The Yale University - YaleGlobal Online Magazine site, run by the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, has numerous video interviews with major international leaders and thinkers — for example, Benazir Bhutto, Thomas Friedman, Mohamed ElBaradei, Lawrence Summers and former President Clinton. From UC Berkeley (webcasts.berkeley) one can access webcasts and podcasts of full-fledged Berkeley courses and events. Other fascinating university video and audio sites are accessible from the Open Culture website.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Librarians Protest Science's Departure From JSTOR, Fearing a Trend

There’s an article in the 11 October, 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education about the journal Science leaving JSTOR. Particularly interesting is the issue (under the section Revolt of the Librarians) about a possible implication for going e-only with journals.


When the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced in late July that it would pull its flagship journal, Science, from JSTOR, the popular, nonprofit digital archive of scholarly publications, the association cast its decision as a natural evolution.

According to the announcement, the AAAS, as the association is known, was merely joining "an increasing number" of large scientific-society journals that were "digitizing and controlling their own content."

Why, then, are so many librarians kicking up a ruckus about it? . . . .

Looking at the AAAS's decision, librarians see more than a clash between profit seeking and the association's mission. They fear that the group's abandonment of JSTOR is the beginning of a trend that will make libraries regret having eliminated print subscriptions and removed journals from shelves. They also wonder how libraries at smaller institutions and in poorer countries will be able to afford new subscriptions to titles removed from "online aggregators" like JSTOR.

Even large library systems say the move, which could push them to return to print journals, may create a new space crunch. . . .

Full Text of Article
Please note that the article is only available to Chronicle subscribers or to those accessing through BC Libraries' portal.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Taylor & Francis Announce More iOpenAccess Titles

In a recent press release Taylor & Francis announced that 31 journals in environmental and agricultural sciences, behavioural sciences, development studies will be added to their "author-pays" open access program. Taylor and Francis now have over 200 journals with their iOpenAccess option. Excerpts from the press release:

Taylor & Francis are delighted to announce that their "iOpenAccess" option has been extended to cover 31 journals in environmental and agricultural sciences, behavioural sciences, development studies. This is in addition to the 175 journals from T&F's Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics portfolios, 7 behavioural science journals from Psychology Press, and medical and bioscience journals from Informa Healthcare.

From today, all authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication in one of these iOpenAccess journals will have the option to make their articles available to all via the Journal's website, and to post to repositories, for a one-off fee of $3100. . . .

  • Authors are asked to grant a publishing licence or assign copyright in the normal way. Selection of the iOpenAccess option and payment of the appropriate fee will then allow the article to be made available to all under a Creative Commons Licence (Attribution-Non-commercial-No Derivatives version 3.0). Under this licence we allow tagging and cross-referencing of articles within repositories so that they relate back to the original research grants and programmes.
  • Authors selecting the iOpenAccess option have no embargo restriction on posting their version of the published article to any institutional or subject repository. Where appropriate, we facilitate deposit on behalf of authors into PubMedCentral.
  • We undertake to review the subscription prices of each journal with respect to the uptake of the iOpenAccess initiative, and the relevant information will be published at The assessment of the first group of iOpenAccces titles will take place in early 2008. . . .

Participating Journals

iOpenAccess Agreement

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Open Society Institute awards grant to support Open Access Documentary Project

New York, September 17, 2007 – The Open Society Institute has awarded a grant to support the production and distribution of the Open Access Documentary Project, a collection of online videos celebrating the benefits of open access to scientific and medical research. Intelligent Television and BioMed Central are co-producers of the Project.

The Open Access Documentary Project will facilitate the ongoing work of BioMed Central and Intelligent Television in promoting open access to science and medicine in fields as diverse as malaria research and particle physics.

The producers are now assembling an international editorial board and contacting institutions that hold archival and production resources that will be vital to the project. Principal production has begun in London, New York, and at CERN in Geneva, featuring video interviews with publishers and consumers of scientific and medical information in the developed and developing world —and with other stakeholders in open access including foundations, government agencies, and the media.

Intelligent Television, based in New York, produces television programs, films, and videos that closely involve libraries, museums, universities, and archives. Intelligent Television is currently producing programming in association with the Library of Congress, Columbia University, MIT, and other cultural and educational institutions. Intelligent Television’s productions and research projects focus on making educational and cultural material more widely accessible worldwide.

BioMed Central, based in London, is an independent publishing house committed to providing immediate open access to peer-reviewed biomedical research. BioMed Central's portfolio of 180+ journals includes general titles such as the Journal of Biology and the Journal of Medical Case Reports alongside journals that focus on particular disciplines (e.g., BMC Bioinformatics, Malaria Journal). Since launch in 2000, BioMed Central has published more than 27,000 peerreviewed open access articles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Importance of Public Access to Publicly Funded Research for Patient Advocates

An August 30, 2007 webcast from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), “The Importance of Public Access to Publicly Funded Research for Patient Advocates” is now online.

In this webcast, Pat Furlong (Founding President and CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy) joins Heather Joseph (Executive Director of SPARC and administrator of the ATA) to review:

  • What is public access and why is it important to patient advocates?
  • What is the Alliance for Taxpayer Access?
  • Current public access legislative initiatives and their status.
  • How you can help make public access to publicly funded research a reality.
View now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Boston Library Consortium Partners with Open Content Alliance

On 20 September, 2007 the Boston Library Consortium announced that it was partnering with the Open Content Alliance to provide open access to a large number of digitized books.

From the Press Release:

The Boston Library Consortium, Inc. (BLC) announced today that it will partner with the Open Content Alliance to build a freely accessible library of digital materials from all 19 member institutions. The BLC is the first large-scale consortium to embark on such a self-funded digitization project with the Open Content Alliance. The BLC’s digitization efforts will be based in a new scanning center, the Northeast Regional Scanning Center, unveiled today at the Boston Public Library.

The Consortium will offer high-resolution, downloadable, reusable files of public domain materials. Using Internet Archive technology, books from all 19 libraries will be scanned at a cost of just 10 cents per page. Collectively, the BLC member libraries provide access to over 34 million volumes. . . . .

The BLC’s Executive Director, Barbara G. Preece commented, “The Boston Library Consortium is excited about its partnership with the Open Content Alliance and its members. The Consortium believes that this collaboration is the living articulation of the BLC’s view to expand access to its rich resources held by the membership. The BLC/OCA project will ensure that materials digitized will remain free and open to scholars and the public.” . . . .

Full Text of Press Release

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Publishers' PR Tactic Angers University Presses and Open-Access Advocates

On Tuesday, 11 September, 2007 we posted a letter from Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC, about PRISM – the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine” . PRISM is an anti-open access initiative launched with development support from the Association of American Publishers that specifically targets efforts to expand public access to federally funded research results – including the National Institute of Health’s Public Access Policy. In the 21 September issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education Jennifer Howard provides an update on the consternation caused by PRISM's anti-open access efforts.

Extracts from The Chronicle Article:

The Association of American Publishers has landed in hot water with university presses and research librarians, as well as open-access advocates, thanks to a new undertaking that is billed as an attempt to "safeguard the scientific and medical peer-review process and educate the public about the risks of proposed government interference with the scholarly communication process." . . . .

Reactions to Prism have been widespread and vigorous, with some commentators calling for a boycott of the association. The news provoked one university-press director, Mike Rossner of Rockefeller University Press, to make a public request that a disclaimer be placed on the Prism Web site "indicating that the views presented on the site do not necessarily represent those of all members of the AAP." Mr. Rossner continued, "We at the Rockefeller University Press strongly disagree with the spin that has been placed on the issue of open access by Prism."

The Association of Research Libraries sent its members a talking-points memo, dated September 4, that deals with some of the arguments made on the Prism site. The librarians' group wrote that Prism "repeatedly conflates policies regarding access to federally funded research with hypothesized dire consequences ultimately resulting in the loss of any effective system of scholarly publishing. Many commentators agree that inaccuracies abound in the initiative's rhetoric." . . . .

Brian D. Crawford, chairman of the executive council of the AAP's professional and scholarly publishing division, acknowledged that the strength of the negative reaction had taken his group by surprise. "We did not expect to have encountered the sort of criticism that we have seen thus far," Mr. Crawford told The Chronicle. "We were truly hoping to establish this as a way to have a very productive dialogue on what are important and nuanced issues." . . . .

Mr. Crawford defended his group against charges that it is anti-open access. "We're definitely not saying that open access equals faulty science," he said. "What we're saying is, It's important for publishers to have the flexibility to introduce and experiment with whatever business model they wish to, without government intervention."

Because of the criticisms, however, the publishers' group is taking "under advisement" the idea of adding a disclaimer, as Mr. Rossner suggested. It's also possible that the association will decide to revise the language on the Prism Web site in response to the concerns of university presses and libraries. . . . .

Full Text of The Chronicle Article

Friday, September 14, 2007

Carlyle Letters Online: Magnificent New Open Access Resource

Duke University Press has just launched the Carlyle Letters Online on HighWire Press. This database/web site is freely available to institutions and individuals.

From the press release:

Duke University Press announces the launch at of the Carlyle Letters Online: A Victorian Cultural Reference, the electronic edition of The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle.

A fully digitized version of one of the most comprehensive literary archives of the nineteenth century, the Carlyle Letters Online features thousands of letters written by Scottish author and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881) and his wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle (1801 - 1866), to over six hundred recipients throughout the world.

In part because of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Delmas Foundation, the Carlyle Letters Online is currently available at no charge to institutions and individuals.

Undertaken in partnership with HighWire Press, a division of Stanford University Libraries, the Carlyle Letters Online is one of the first electronic scholarly editions to be published by a university press. Leveraging HighWire's award-winning online hosting platform and suite of features, the collection offers users an unprecedented level of functionality and personalization.

Designed as a 'collection that knows itself,' each letter in the collection is comprehensively indexed and searchable by date, subject, and recipient, with similar letters linked to each other through a vast web of interconnectivity that encourages discovery and facilitates research. Users may also take advantage of a simple and free registration to employ an array of personalized features, including saved searches; access to a 'My Carlyle Folder,' in which users can create a personal archive; and options for managing personal alerts to find out when the site is updated.

Created for scholars of all levels, from high school students to professionals, the collection allows users to explore the Victorian era from the unique vantage point of two people placed squarely at the geographic, political, and intellectual center of their century. While a critical reference for Victorian scholars, the Carlyle Letters Online aims also to encourage interdisciplinary study, appealing not just to students of literature and history but also to those of politics, economic history, and women's studies.

For more information about the Carlyle Letters Online, including coordinating editor Brent E. Kinser's introduction to the Carlyles, the history of the print edition, and the history of the electronic project, please visit


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Usage of Open Content Licences by Cultural Organisations in the UK

The Eduserv foundation has funded a study looking into usage of open content licencing by cultural organisations in the UK.
Jordan Hatcher, formerly a Research Associate at the AHRC Research Centre for studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law, is leading a study into how open content licences are currently being used by cultural organisations in the UK. The study began in June, 2007 and is being funded by the Eduserv Foundation. Ed Barker of Eduserv is assisting with the work.

Digital resources produced by publicly funded organisations are a valuable asset to the research and education community. Many people in the sector believe that access to and use of these digital resources could be better and that the wider use of open content licences would help to improve the situation.

A study titled "The Common Information Environment and Creative Commons" was funded by Becta, the British Library, DfES, JISC and the MLA on behalf of the Common Information Environment. The work was carried out by Intrallect and the AHRC Research Centre for studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law and a report was produced in the Autumn of 2005. During the Common Information Environment study it was noted that there was considerable enthusiasm for the use of Creative Commons licences from both cultural heritage organisations and the educational and research community. In this study we aim to investigate if this enthusiasm is still strong and whether a significant number of cultural heritage organisations are publishing digital resources under open content licences.

For more detailed information about this study, please refer to the full proposal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

SPARC letter to members on the PRISM anti-open access effort

Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director, has issued a letter to SPARC members about "PRISM" an anti-open access lobbying initiative.

Extracts (Full letter here):

Dear SPARC Members,

I’m writing to bring to your attention the recent launch of an anti-open access lobbying effort. The initiative, called “PRISM – the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine” ( ), was launched with development support from the Association of American Publishers and specifically targets efforts to expand public access to federally funded research results – including the National Institute of Health’s Public Access Policy.

The messaging on the PRISM Web site, which is aimed at key policy makers, directly corresponds to the PR campaign reportedly undertaken by the AAP earlier this year. As Nature reported in January, AAP publishers met with PR “pit bull” Eric Dezenhall to develop a campaign against the “free-information movement” that focuses on simple messages, such as “public access equals government censorship,” and suggested that “the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review” . . . .

This campaign is clearly focused on the preservation of the status quo in scholarly publishing, (along with the attendant revenues), and not on ensuring that scientific research results are distributed and used as widely as possible. The launch of this initiative provides a timely opportunity for engaging faculty members, researchers, students and administrators in dialogue on important issues in scholarly communications.

To assist in this conversation, the Association of Research Libraries has prepared a series of talking points that explicitly address each of the PRISM messages listed above. These very useful talking points can be found at

The reaction to the launch of PRISM by the academic research community has been immediate and quite strong. . . .

PRISM developments will be of interest to many on campus – including those who follow open access and anyone who is involved with PRISM publishers as an author, editor, or subscriber. Please feel free to share this information. To stay abreast of related news, visit the SPARC Web site ( ) or Peter Suber’s Open Access News blog ( ).

If you have any comments or questions about this discussion, please don’t hesitate to contact me through (202) 296-2296 or email

Warm regards,

Heather Joseph

Friday, September 7, 2007

Open Access to Health Research Publications: CIHR Unveils New Policy

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently announced a new policy to promote public access to the results of research it has funded. CIHR will require its researchers to ensure that their original research articles are freely available online within six months of publication.

From the Press Release:

. . . . Under this new Policy, which will apply to all grants awarded after January 1, 2008 that receive funding in whole or in part from CIHR, grant recipients must make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed research articles are freely available as soon as possible after publication. This can be achieved by depositing the article in an archive, such as PubMed Central or an institutional repository, and/or by publishing results in an open access journal. A growing number of journals already meet these requirements and CIHR-funded researchers are encouraged to consider publishing in these journals.

Additionally, grant recipients are now required to deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results. . . .

From the official policy on Access to CIHR-funded Research Outputs:

5.1.1 Peer-reviewed Journal Publications
  • Grant recipients are now required to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are freely accessible through the Publisher's website (Option #1) or an online repository as soon as possible and in any event within six months of publication (Option #2).

  • Under the second option, grant recipients must archive the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscripts immediately upon publication in a digital archive, such as PubMed Central or the grantees institutional repository. Publications must be freely accessible within six months of publication, where allowable and in accordance with publisher policies. Grant recipients may use the SHERPA/RoMEO database to locate summaries of publisher copyright policies. The SHERPA/RoMEO database will help grant recipients determine which journals allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies. However, CIHR recommends confirming with editorial staff whether archiving the postprint immediately, and making it freely accessible within six months, is permissible.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication: Survey Findings from the University Of California

The Office of Scholarly Communication, University of California recently released a report "Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication: Survey Findings from the University Of California." This report is an analysis of over 1,100 survey responses covering a range of scholarly communication issues from faculty in all disciplines and all tenure-track ranks.

Full Report; 124 pages [download PDF]
Executive Summary and Summary of Findings; 10 pages [download PDF]
Survey Instrument; 10 pages [download PDF]
Results From the Executive Summary:
  • Faculty are strongly interested in issues related to scholarly communication.
  • Faculty generally conform to conventional behavior in scholarly publication, albeit with significant beachheads on several fronts.
  • Faculty attitudes are changing on a number of fronts, with a few signs of imminent change in behaviors.
  • The current tenure and promotion system impedes changes in faculty behavior.
  • On important issues in scholarly communication, faculty attitudes vary inconsistently by rank, except in general depth of knowledge and on issues related to tenure and promotion.
  • Faculty tend to see scholarly communication problems as affecting others, but not themselves.
  • The disconnect between attitude and behavior is acute with regard to copyright.
  • University policies mandating change are likely to stir intense debate.
  • Scholars are aware of alternative forms of dissemination but are concerned about preserving their current publishing outlet.
  • Scholars are concerned that changes might undermine the quality of scholarship.
  • Outreach on scholarly communication issues and services has not yet reached the majority of faculty.
  • The Arts and Humanities disciplines may be the most fertile disciplines for University sponsored initiatives in scholarly communication.
  • Senior faculty may be the most fertile targets for innovation in scholarly communication.

Latest SPARC Open Access Newsletter

The SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #113, was published on 2 September, 2007.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Podcast: Librarians say Google can Support International Education and Research

The UK's JISC's (Joint Information Systems Committee) recently released a podcast in which two librarians Richard Ovenden of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and Mike Keller at Stanford University – who are both working with Google to digitize large parts of their collections -- talk to Philip Pothen about the opportunities and the challenges of working with the private sector to digitize important scholarly resources.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

European e-Theses: A Demonstrator Portal Project

SOURCE: SURFfoundation Site

(Project funded by JISC, the National Library of Sweden, and the SURFfoundation. The SURFfoundation ran the project.)

Doctoral theses contain some of the most current and valuable research produced within universities, but they are underused as research resources. Nowadays, theses and dissertations no longer have to gather dust in attics or on the shelves of university libraries. By making them available on the Internet, both the author andthe university can showcase their research, benefiting not only fellow scientists, but a broad public as well. And when they are publicly available, they are used many times more often than printed theses available only at libraries or by inter-library loan.

Current developments in Europe with respect to digital repositories encourage the visibility and retrievability of doctoral e-theses. Academic material that is “published” in an institutional repository will be picked up by worldwide search engines as well as by services that focus especially on e-theses.

JISC (UK), the National Library of Sweden and the Dutch SURFfoundation have tested the interoperability of repositories for e-theses and set up a freely accessible European e-Theses portal providing access to over 10,000 doctoral theses. For the first time ever, various repositories containing doctoral e-theses have been harvested on an international scale. Five countries were involved in the project: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The ETD demonstrator project proved that within this repository infrastructure, interoperability of doctoral theses is possible on a European or even larger scale....

For more see Full Report.

Monday, July 30, 2007

LA Times Editorial: Accessing NIH research

On 27 July the LA Times published the following editorial on the NIH and open access. Click here for the web site.

Accessing NIH research. Congress should grant taxpayers free access to the medical studies they fund.

Taxpayers pony up $28 billion annually for the National Institutes of Health, the world's largest source of funding for medical research. The payoff, in addition to the occasional spectacular breakthrough, is more than 60,000 published studies each year.

The first beneficiaries of that knowledge aren't doctors or patients. They are the publishers of the journals that review, print and sell the results to subscribers. Your tax dollars may have financed the clinical trial of a new treatment regime for the rare disease you've contracted, but you'll probably still have to pay to see the results.

Now, some lawmakers are trying to increase the public's access to this research. In a new funding bill for the NIH, the House of Representatives required that the results of the studies the government funds must be made freely available online within 12 months of their publication. The requirement builds on a 2-year-old NIH initiative to gather research in a free website called PubMed Central. That initiative was voluntary. But so few researchers complied -- less than 5% in the first year -- that proponents of "open access" to scientific research have lobbied to make it mandatory.

The main opposition has come from publishers, who argue that making research available free could ruin the smaller journals that serve some medical specialties. Libraries may stop subscribing to costly niche journals if they know the material will be available for free within a year. And if those journals die off, researchers will lose the valuable services they supply, such as rounding up experts to review studies before they're published.

While publishers have an important role to play, particularly in judging a study's credibility, that doesn't mean they're entitled to squeeze cash from that study in perpetuity. An open access requirement could force changes in some journals' business models, but a growing number have found ways to succeed while making research available for free -- for example, by charging researchers fees for publication. And the 12-month period of exclusivity enables publishers to continue selling journals to those with the most immediate need to see them.

At the same time, opening up access to NIH-funded studies will increase their impact on researchers around the world. That's very much in the public interest. The more information that's available, the more chance someone will leverage it into another medical breakthrough.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

University Publishing in a Digital Age has released a new report, University Publishing in a Digital Age, that "argues that a renewed commitment to publishing in its broadest sense can enable universities to more fully realize the potential global impact of their academic programs, enhance the reputations of their institutions, maintain a strong voice in determining what constitutes important scholarship, and in some cases reduce costs." The summary of recommendations are as follows:

  • Recognize that publishing is an integral part of the core mission and activities of universities, and take ownership of it.
  • Take inventory of the landscape of publishing activities currently taking place within your university.
  • Develop a strategic approach to publishing on your campus, including what publication services should be provided to your constituents, how they should be provided and funded, how publishing should relate to tenure decisions, and a position on intellectual assets.
  • Create the organizational structure necessary to implement this strategy and leverage the resources of the university.
  • Consider the importance of publishing towards an institution’s reputation, especially when associated with core academic strengths.
  • Develop online publishing capabilities for backlist and frontlist content and for new emerging formats.
  • Develop a shared electronic publishing infrastructure across universities to save costs, create scale, leverage expertise, innovate, extend the brand of U.S. higher education, create an interlinked environment of information, and provide a robust alternative to commercial competitors.
  • Commit resources to deliver an agreed strategic plan for scholarly communication.

The downloadable pdf is on this page.