Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"A Fair(y) Use Tale"

This short film by Prof. Eric Faden of Bucknell University, posted by Stanford Law School's Documentary Film Program, uses snippets from Disney films to explain and comment on copyright law . It's all over the Web and has been viewed nearly 250,000 times on YouTube, but if you haven't seen it yet, it's definitely worth a look.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Eigenfactor: Measuring the Value and Prestige of Scholarly Journals

In C&RL News, May, 2007 Carl Bergstrom writes about Eigenfactor <http://www.eigenfactor.org/>, a tool he developed with colleagues to use the network structure of citations to improve on simple citation counts in measuring the scientific influence of academic publications. Excerpts:

The scientific literature forms a network of scholarly articles, connected by citations. Each connection in this network—that is, each citation—reflects the assessment of an individual scholar regarding which papers are interesting and relevant to his or her work. Thus contained within the vast network of scholarly citations is the collective wisdom of hundreds of thousands of authors. My colleagues4 and I have developed a way to use the network structure of citations to improve on simple citation counts in measuring the scientific influence of academic publications. At our Web site www.eigenfactor.org, we report these measures for the nearly 8,000 publications indexed by Thompson Scientific’s Journal Citation Reports (JCR) as well as for the approximately 110,000 other journals, books, newspapers, and other reference items that are referred to by these publications.

Our approach is to rank journals much as Google ranks Web pages. While Google uses the network of hyperlinks on the Web, we use citations in the academic literature as tallied by JCR. By this approach, we aim to identity the most “influential” journals, where a journal is considered to be influential if it is cited often by other influential journals. While this might sound hopelessly circular, it is not: we can iteratively calculate the importance of each journal in the citation network by a simple mathematical algorithm.

This iterative ranking scheme, which we call Eigenfactor, accounts for the fact that a single citation from a high-quality journal may be more valuable than multiple citations from peripheral publications. We measure the importance of a citation by the influence of the citing journal divided by the total number of citations appearing in that journal. This corrects for differences across disciplines and journals in the propensity to cite other papers. For example, a citation from a review article that has cursory references to large numbers of papers counts for less than a citation from a research article that cites only papers that are essentially related to its own argument. . . .

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ghent University Library Partners with Google

The latest partner in Google’s Library Book Project is Ghent University, Belgium. This is the fifteenth library to partner with Google in this initiative and the sixth from Europe. The other European libraries are: Bavarian State Library, The National Library of Catalonia, Oxford University, University Complutense of Madrid, University Library of Lausanne.

From Ghent University's press release:

Ghent, Belgium – May 23, 2007: Ghent University announced today that it has joined Google’s Library Project. Working in partnership, Google will digitize the Booktower’s out-of-copyright books – bringing some of the greatest works of Dutch and French literature to millions of people globally.

As one of Belgium’s largest libraries, the Ghent University Library will greatly increase the number of Dutch and French-language books available through the Google Book Search Library Project. Through this partnership, hundreds and thousands of books will be added to the program, from well-loved classics to rare and special collections previously only available to those able to consult the library’s stacks.

Once the books have been digitized, it will be easy for anyone to discover, search and read them on the Google Book Search™ service. The library’s collection also includes numerous out-of-copyright works in German, Latin, Italian, English, Spanish, further enriching Google’s multilingual index and bringing more books, in more languages, to more people around the world.

The partnership with the Google Library Project is the result of an ICT-mission from the Flemish Minister of Science and Innovation Fientje Moerman in which the Interdisciplinary institute for BroadBand Technology (IBBT) participated. . . . MORE

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Unlimited Copyright

SOURCE: if:book blog

Reacting to Mark Helprin's op-ed piece in The New York Times (May 20, 2007) arguing for perpetual copyright, Larry Lessig has set up a wiki page providing a means for a collaborative response.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Encyclopedia of Earth

A new open access resource developed at Boston University providing information on a vast array of environmental issues. Encyclopedia of Earth articles are written by scholars, educators, and experts in non-technical language for wider use.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Technorati: A Search Engine for Blogs

Technorati.com is a search engine that tracks the vast world of weblogs or blogs (currently over 82 million) "and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as 'citizen media.'" It's a wonderfully focused search tool that retrieves material from specific types of sites, i.e. blogs, much more effectively and efficiently than more general search engines like Google and Yahoo!.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Book World Goes Sensibly Digital

SOURCE: Open Culture
There are some early signs that publishers and booksellers may be seeing the light.

... Until recently, the book world applied an irrational logic to downloadable audiobooks and podcasts. As we noted back in February, the paper version of the bestselling business book, The Long Tail, ran consumers $16.47 on Amazon. And yet the cheaper-to-produce audio version implausibly amounted to $31.95 on iTunes and $27.99 on Audible. Did it make sense? Hardly.

Since February, a little bit of reason has been injected into the market. More ...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Science Commons and SPARC Announce New Tools for Scholarly Publishing

In a press release (17 May, 2007) Science Commons and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) provide details of new online tools to assist authors retain significant intellectual property rights over their scholarly articles, including the rights to resuse them and and to deposit them in online repositories:

The new tools include the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine, an online tool created by Science Commons to simplify the process of choosing and implementing an addendum to retain scholarly rights. By selecting from among four addenda offered, any author can fill in a form to generate and print a completed amendment that can be attached to a publisher’s copyright assignment agreement to retain critical rights to reuse and offer their works online.

The Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine will be offered through the Science Commons, SPARC, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Carnegie Mellon University Web sites, and it will be freely available to other institutions that wish to host it. It may be accessed on the Science Commons Web site at

Also available for the first time is a new addendum from Science Commons and SPARC, named “Access-Reuse,” that represents a collaboration to simplify choices for scholars by combining two existing addenda, the SPARC Author Addendum and the Science Commons Open Access-Creative Commons Addendum. This new addendum will ensure that authors not only retain the rights to reuse their own work and post them on online depositories, but also to grant a non-exclusive license, such as the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license, to the public to reuse and distribute the work. In addition, Science Commons will be offering two other addenda, called “Immediate Access” and “Delayed Access”, representing alternative arrangements that authors can choose.

“The Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine will enable authors to maximize the reach of their work,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “It’s a significant leap forward in making it easier for authors to effectively manage their publication rights.” . . . . MORE

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Springer Sees Record Backlist Sales with Google Book Search

Springer Publishing Company credits its relationship with Google Book Search for the increased sales of its backfile. Springer's backfile totals 40,000 titles and 26,000 of these titles are available via Google Book Search. Google scans the full text of participating publishers' titles so that Google users can see books that match the topics they are searching on. When users click on a book search result, they're taken to a Google-hosted web page displaying a scanned image of the relevant page from the book. Each page also contains multiple "Buy this Book" links, which enable users to purchase the book from online retailers. Publishers will receive a share of the revenue generated from ads appearing on their content.

Some highlights as reported by Springer are:

Springer’s books have been viewed as much as a million times in a one-month period, with book views occurring proportionately to clicks on the "buy this book" link. Its engineering and computer science titles are particularly high performing, representing 14 and 15%, respectively, of the clicks on the "buy this book" link.

Springer books published before 1996 account for 20% of all the company’s "buy this book" clicks on Google Book Search

26% of users who click on "buy this book" select the link to Springer’s own website, driving additional traffic to the publisher’s own online platform. The remaining links drive users to alternative online retailers. Springer books published before 1996 account for 20% of all the company’s "buy this book" clicks on Google Book Search.

Some of these older titles are in fact out of print, but their discoverability and popularity in Google Book Search has led Springer to consider reprinting them.

For more information and other Google Book Search partner success stories, go here.

5000 Darwin Letters Go Online

A magnificent open access web site has been launched today as part of the Darwin Correspondence Project. From the site:
The main feature of the site is an Online Database with the complete, searchable, texts of around 5,000 letters written by and to Charles Darwin up to the year 1865. This includes all the surviving letters from the Beagle voyage - online for the first time - and all the letters from the years around the publication of Origin of Species in 1859.

The letter texts, and the contextual notes which help make them accessible, are taken from the first thirteen volumes of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin (Burkhardt et al., Cambridge University Press 1985-). Letters from later volumes will be added on a rolling programme following behind publication of the print edition. Volumes 14 (1866) and 15 (1867) are already published and Volume 16 will be published in 2008.

The database also includes summaries of a further 9,000 letters still to be published. There will be 30 volumes of the print edition in total. Previously unknown letters continue to come to light.

Darwin’s letters are a rich source of information on many aspects of 19th century science and history; they are also very readable, and we hope they will be used and enjoyed by a wide audience.

Find out more about the letters and Darwin's correspondents here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Keeping Up-To-Date With LOCKSS

Boston College Libraries participate in the LOCKSS ("Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe") digital preservation initiative. LOCKSS is "open source software that provides librarians with an easy and inexpensive way to collect, store, preserve, and provide access to their own, local copy of authorized content they purchase." For more on LOCKSS see http://www.lockss.org/lockss/LOCKSS:About. Content Releases, a section on the LOCKSS website, is useful for keeping up to date with recent additions to the LOCKSS preservation program. For example, the entry for 9th May, 2007:

Twenty volumes from three new American Society of Agronomy - Crop Science Society of America - Soil Science Society titles, six volumes from one new BioMed Central title, thirty six additional volumes from seven BioMed Central titles, one additional volume from one Canadian Medical Association title and one additional volume from one Massachusetts Medical Society title are now available for preservation by LOCKSS Alliance members. One additional volume from the open access title Secrecy News is now available for preservation by all LOCKSS boxes.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Encyclopedia of Life

With an impressive list of partners (Steering Committee and Advisory Board Members, Cornerstone Institutions, Libraries, Sponsors, and Contributors):
The Encyclopedia of Life is an ecosystem of websites that makes all key information about life on Earth accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our goal is to create a constantly evolving encyclopedia that lives on the Internet, with contributions from scientists and amateurs alike. To transform the science of biology, and inspire a new generation of scientists, by aggregating all known data about every living species. And ultimately, to increase our collective understanding of life on Earth, and safeguard the richest possible spectrum of biodiversity.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Information Access Alliance Web Site

The web site of the Information Access Alliance (IAA) has been redesigned and updated. The new site now has a resource guide, a FAQs section, a news archive, and more details about the IAA.

The Information Access Alliance (IAA), established in 2003 by leading US national library organizations to address growing market dysfunctions in academic publishing markets, is particularly concerned about:

* insupportably high prices of journals and other serial publications, which leads to cancellation and reduced information availability;
* accelerating industry consolidation, which contributes to price increases and elevates barriers to market entry; and
* anti-competitive product bundling practices by an array of large publishers.

The new site is accessible at http://www.informationaccess.org

Friday, May 4, 2007

e-Science: Transformations in the Conduct of Scholarship

The current issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication includes several articles on the theme of "a revolutionary transformation of the scientific enterprise" involving the use of networks and high-speed computers for collaboration, data collection and analysis, archiving, electronic publishing, and other aspects of the scholarly and professional work.

No less than a revolutionary transformation of the scientific enterprise is claimed to be underway [says Blackwell, publisher of the journal]. A plethora of phrases have been coined to describe this transformation: e-Science, e-Social Science, e-Research, cyberscience, Internet-mediated research. Whatever the term, observers assert that the very essence of science is undergoing change, particularly through employment of electronic networks and high-speed computers. The everyday procedures and practices of traditional forms of science in which most scholars engage during their professional lives are being affected by features of e-Science. Although emphasis varies, most descriptions of e-Science involve the following aspects: internationally-oriented collaboration among researchers separated by distance and using high-speed computers and Internet-based tools for managing the research enterprise; for performing data collection, archiving and analysis; and for disseminating findings.

It is timely and appropriate to critically examine these developments from the perspective of the social sciences. This theme issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC) consists of reflective and empirical articles that examine the basic principles and features of e-Science and analyze early initiatives emerging from this new approach to scientific investigation.

Topics covered in this issue include:

  • Managing collaboration and communicating among researchers separated by distance
  • Developing and using Internet-based tools for data collection, analysis and visualization of findings
  • Archiving and providing access to data
  • Publishing results in an electronic environment

This issue is free on Blackwell Synergy.

Ezra Pound Poetry Recordings on PennSound: Digital Archive

The Almanac, a weekly publication of the University of Pennsylvania, recently announced the availabilty of downloadable recordings of Erza Pound from PennSound. Based at the University of Pennsylvania, PennSound hosts, according to their site, the largest archive of digital poetry recordings -- all are accessible online. For links to more information about PennSound and the Pound recordings, see the Almanc article.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ERIC Microfiche Digitization Project

A news item on the ERIC (Education Research Information Center) web site provides an update on the program to digitize thousands of microfiche documents and make them open acess:

ERIC is undertaking an initiative to obtain permission from copyright holders to convert, archive, post, and disseminate an electronic copy of full-text microfiche documents indexed from 1966-1992. The digitization project includes about 340,000 documents currently available only in microfiche format due to the specific language of the permission forms and the technology available at the time of indexing. This initiative will continue until March 2009.

For faculty, perhaps the most important part of the announcement is the paragraph below which outlines the steps you can take to grant open access to publications you might have in this collection:

If you have contributed a document that is currently available only in microfiche, and would like to grant ERIC the right to disseminate your document(s), please complete the contact form below. NAPC will contact you about the document(s) you submitted and request approval (see sample authorization agreement) for each document. If you know someone who contributed a document in the timeframe1966-1992, please pass the word. ERIC appreciates your interest in, and support of, this initiative to more broadly disseminate the historical materials in the ERIC Collection.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

SPARC Open Access Newsletter

Issue #109 of Peter Suber's SPARC Open Access Newsletter has just been published (May 2, 2007). It is accessible at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/05-02-07.htm . Particularly interesting is the beginning article: "Trends favoring open access."

Open Access Textbooks

An editorial in The New York Times (1 May, 2007) critical of the high cost of college textbooks praises the system at Rice University where online access to at least some textbook material is free:
The State of Washington is looking out for students and their families by passing a law requiring textbook companies to disclose prices and other relevant information when they market books to college professors in the state. Lawmakers hope that professors who learn the costs upfront will opt for reasonably priced textbooks that cash-strapped students can afford.

This law, along with similar measures pending in several other states, is a response to intense lobbying by student groups, who have complained for years about the bankrupting cost of college textbooks. A 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office found that book costs had nearly tripled over some two decades, thanks in part to pricey but marginally useful CD-ROMs and instructional supplements, as well as the constant issuing of lucrative but little changed new editions — publishing’s version of planned obsolescence.

The law is an important first step. But to really drive down costs, colleges and universities around the country will need to embrace creative solutions, like the one on display at the online Connexions system at Rice University.

That content, already in use for several courses at Rice and at other colleges and universities, is generated by a consortium of writers. Online use is free. And a 300-page hardcover electrical-engineering textbook can be printed out for about $25 — roughly one-fifth the cost of a book from a conventional publisher. Other universities should follow Rice’s creative lead. Students can use all the help they can get.