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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Momentum for Open Access

The following article, Momentum for Open Access, appeared today in Inside Higher Education. It concerns the proposal that is part of the appropriations bill for the Education Dept. and the NIH:

Last year, a proposal in Congress to require all federally supported research to be placed online, freely available, attracted considerable attention and debate — and ultimately stalled.

This year, a measure that is narrower — it would apply only to research supported by the National Institutes of Health — appears within reach of passage. The proposal is part of
the appropriations bill for the Education Department and the NIH, and passed the House of Representative without debate last week. The Senate Appropriations Committee has already approved the measure, which has attracted bipartisan support.

While supporters of the “open access” movement continue to want a similar provision to apply to all federally supported research, they view the prospect of a win on NIH-supported research as a significant breakthrough. “The long term vision is that public access to federally supported research is the place to be,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, one of the groups pushing for open access. Passing the NIH bill would show that this is “sound and prudent public policy” and that “the sky won’t fall.” . . . . MORE

Monday, July 23, 2007

Great strides for Intute - one year on

The UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), composed of senior managers, academics and technology experts working in UK further and higher education, recently released a press release celebrating the first anniversary of Intute, a free online service providing access to the "very best Web resources for education and research." Intute is funded by JISC. (Thanks to Charles Bailey's Digital Koans)

Intute, the free national online service funded by JISC, celebrates its first birthday today by renewing its commitment to enable lecturers, researchers and students to discover and access high quality Internet resources.

Over the last year, Intute has seen a rapid rise in usage and the launch of new features and services. It now looks forward to a future of continuing to take innovative approaches to delivering the best of the web for education and research within this ever changing Internet environment.

Intute offers a range of tools and services, responding to the need for quality assured Internet information and Internet research "Intute offers what search engines don’t - a commitment to quality - by using subject specialists in universities and colleges to hand-pick Web resources that will support education and research.” skills for the academic community. "Intute offers what search engines don’t”, says Stephen Hoare in The Guardian; “commitment to quality – by using subject specialists in universities and colleges to hand-pick Web resources that will support education and research.”

What this means in practice is a searchable database, across all subject areas, of over 115,000 Internet resources and websites, complemented by over 60 revised and updated Virtual Training Suite tutorials, Blogs, MyIntute, and much more.

“I’m delighted with the success of the service so far and the opportunities we have had to engage with the community and take on other exciting developments, for example the Intute Repository Search project” says Caroline Williams, Executive Director of Intute. “We have established a unique collective expertise through our partner institutions and contributors which I believe will enable us to go from strength to strength.”

The success of Intute over the last year has been unquestionable, with over a quarter of a million hits on the website every day and over 3,000 registered users of the MyIntute personalisation service. In addition, since the successful launch of the new Informs, the interactive tool for creating online tutorials, the number of subscribers has doubled. In response, JISC has made a commitment to funding Intute for a further five years.

As Intute looks to the future, the needs of its users are at the forefront of its drive to be a service developed for the community by the community. As Stephen Downes of the Canadian National Research Council observes, "What Intute represents is a turning point in the sharing of academic resources.”

Intute is freely available at:
The best of the web.

Friday, July 20, 2007

BMC's New Open Access Portal for the Developing World

BioMed Central issued the following press release introducing a new portal from BMC highlighting the importance of open access to scientific and medical literature for the developing world:

London, July 18, 2007 - BioMed Central, the world's largest publisher of open access scientific research, today announced a new information portal calling attention to the developing world's need for open access to the scientific and medical literature. The Open Access and the Developing World portal highlights the most relevant peer-reviewed research from BioMed Central's open access journals and brings together the latest news and resources relating to open access and the developing world.

As part of the launch of the portal, BioMed Central is inviting researchers and others working in developing countries to share their stories about how open access to the online research literature is changing their work.. . .

"Open access to the scientific and medical literature is a key way in which the developed world can help developing countries," said Matthew Cockerill, Publisher of BioMed Central. "In recent years, the funding for research on global health issues such as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis has increased significantly thanks to support from philanthropic foundations. Open access is vital to ensure that the full use is made of the results of this research."

The research articles that will feature on the new portal includes publications from Malaria Journal, a leading BioMed Central journal which was recently ranked by Thomson Scientific as number one in the field of Tropical Medicine. Other BioMed Central journals which publish research highly relevant to developing countries include AIDS Research & Therapy, BMC Infectious Diseases, BMC Public Health and the International Journal for Equity in Health.

The portal also offers profiles of BioMed Central authors who work in developing countries, newsfeeds and a blog which will provide a regular round-up of news and resources relating to open access and the developing world.

"Working in a developing country I feel like I need to be one of those to take a lead in publishing much of my work in open-access journals," said Dr. Philip Hill, Clinical Epidemiologist at MRC Laboratories in Banjul, The Gambia. "I am very pleased that BioMed Central has provided this resource, which will be of particular benefit to researchers in developing countries."

Share Your Story
BioMed Central is inviting researchers and practitioners working in developing countries to send in a photograph or video relating to their work, along with a story explaining why open access to the scientific literature is important to them. The senders of the first 10 stories selected by BioMed Central to appear on the Share Your Story page will receive one of BioMed Central's "Open Access - Global Access" T-shirts. The sender of the best story received by 30 September 2007 will receive a contribution of $1000 towards computer equipment for the lab or project of their choice.

For further information please contact Charlotte Webber at BioMed Central on +44 (0)20 7631 9980 or

For more information about the Open Access and the Developing Worl portal please visit

Or for the related link, Share Your Story, please visit

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NIH Public Access Policy Update:
NIH Mandatory Policy Backed in Congress, but Copyright Concerns Remain

SOURCE: Library Journal Academic Newswire

Publishers May Challenge NIH Mandate:
After two ineffective years of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy that requested researchers to deposit copies of their final research papers in PubMed Central, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have backed provisions in their respective 2008 Labor, Health and Education Appropriations Bills that will require deposit of NIH-funded researchers' final papers. Advocacy groups this week hailed the policy an important step forward for public access to research. Language added in the House bill, however, raises serious questions about implementation. While it "requires" deposit of an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication, additional language states that "NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law."

While seemingly innocuous, that language almost certainly will form the basis for a challenge to the policy's implementation. In a letter to lawmakers, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) argued that "a mandate may not be consistent with copyright law," a position emphasized by Brian Crawford, chair of the AAP's Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Executive Committee. "The copyright proviso in the Labor/HHS Appropriations language does not in itself provide sufficient assurance of copyright protection," Crawford told the LJ Academic Newswire. "The mandatory deposit of copyrighted articles in an online government site for worldwide distribution is in fundamental, inherent, and unavoidable conflict with the rights of copyright holders in those works."

Crawford asserted that the application of the policy to non-assenting publishers, "whether cloaked in the guise of funding, appropriations, or other policy," is "an extraordinary and unprecedented exception to the most fundamental of publishers' copyrights—namely, the right to reproduce and distribute the copyrighted work." Such strong rhetoric seems to indicate that, if the bill becomes law (House and Senate votes are expected later this summer), publishers almost surely will challenge its legality in terms of copyright. Crawford also laid the foundation of a broader argument against the NIH policy, asserting that it would negatively impact the ability of trade representatives to enforce U.S. intellectual property rights internationally. "Requiring the mandatory submission of research articles for public, worldwide dissemination would set a very dangerous precedent," Crawford contended, "at the very time we are fighting abroad to protect the intellectual property rights that are so important to securing this nation's competitive position."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Writing's Crisis v.1.0

Interesting and provocative post on harriet (a blog from the poetry foundation). Kenneth Goldsmith [read an interview with him at Archinect] in his post entitled, "Writing's Crisis v.1.0" argues that with the advent of the Web writing needs to redefine itself for the new parameters the Web offers. His post begins:
With the rise of the web, writing has met its photography. By that I mean, writing has encountered a situation similar to what happened to painting upon the invention of photography, a technology so much better at doing what the art form had been trying to do, that in order to survive, the field had to alter its course radically. If photography was striving for sharp focus, painting was forced to go soft, hence Impressionism. Faced with an unprecedented amount of digital available text, writing needs to redefine itself in order to adapt to the new environment of textual abundance.

Friday, July 13, 2007

NIH Public Access Policy Update: Request for Letters to all Representatives and Senators

On 12 July, 2007 Jennifer McLennan, Director of Communications, SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) posted the following letter:

Effective this week, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have proposed FY08 spending bills that direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy so that NIH-funded researchers are required to deposit copies of NIH-funded research into the online archive of the National Library of Medicine.

This is big step toward making the policy a success -- a step achieved as a result of your tireless efforts. But now is not the time to let up. We need your help now more than ever.

The bills now go to the full House and the Senate for approval. To help ensure success there, we ask that all supporters contact their Representatives AND Senators with support of the proposed bills by phone or fax as soon as possible. The House is expected to convene on Tuesday, July 17, so we ask that Representatives be contacted no later than MONDAY afternoon. (Please see below for contact details.)

Please feel free to draw upon the following talking points:

  • The Fiscal Year 2008 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill reported out of committee contains language directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy so that it requires NIH-funded researchers to deposit copies of agency-funded research articles into the National Library of Medicine's online archive.
  • This change is necessary for the policy to achieve its goals: to expand use of NIH research findings, enhance management of NIH's substantial research portfolio, and provide for a sustainable archive of research results funded with U.S. tax dollars.
  • Widespread dissemination of research results is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science and a right of the American taxpayer. It is only through use that we obtain value from this investment, so the open sharing of medical advances and scientific findings will increase and accelerate the return of benefits to taxpayers.
  • Public access to research will drive taxpayer benefits such as accelerated scientific advancement, enhanced national competitiveness, and improved public health.
  • Unfortunately, access to scientific and medical publications has lagged behind the wide reach of the Internet into U.S. homes and institutions. Fees for access to federally supported research unnecessarily limit U.S. taxpayer access to findings that result from the outlay of public funds.
  • Mandatory NIH public access removes imposing barriers, making the results of taxpayer-funded research readily available online at no extra charge to every scientist as well as to small businesses, patients, physicians and clinicians, students and educators, and the American public -- without disrupting the important peer-review process.
  • Over the more than two years since its implementation, the NIH's current voluntary policy has failed to achieve any of the agency's stated goals, attaining a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual researchers. A mandate is required to ensure deposit in NIH's online archive of articles describing findings of all research funded by the agency.
  • Mandatory public access to taxpayer-funded research at the NIH has the full support of the NIH Director, as well as broad bipartisan support in Congress.
  • We urge Congress to approve without change the language included in the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill directing the NIH to implement a mandatory policy ensuring free, timely access to all research articles stemming from NIH-funded research.

It is vital that Congress hear from constituents at this critical time. Please take action as soon as you can, and let us know when you're able to weigh in. As always, thank you.
Best wishes,


Contacting your Representatives and Senators:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Japanese University Latest Library Partner in Google's Book Project

KeioUniversity is the 26th institution to join with Google in the latter's massive book digitization project.

From the July 10 announcement by Laura DeBonis, Director, Book Search Library Partnerships:

Last week, Keio University became the latest partner to join Google Books Library Project, and our first library partner in Japan. The combined collections of the Keio University libraries total more than two million printed works. Working together, Google and the Keio University Library will digitize at least 120,000 public domain books from these collections, so that readers around the world can view, browse, read, and even download public domain materials by simply searching online at (You can also search these books by typing your search term in Japanese on

"The Google project allows us to make our collections visible worldwide, allowing us to contribute to research and education on a global scale. Our university was founded in 1858 by Yukichi Fukuzawa, who was well known for his commitment to bringing information and media forward into the modern age. This makes Keio ideally suited to be the first Japanese library to participate in Google Book Search," says Professor S. Sugiyama, Director, Keio University Library.

We are glad to announce our first library partner in Japan with the Keio University Library. This is the 26th library to join the Google Books Library Project, which digitizes books from major libraries around the world and makes their collections searchable on Google Book Search.

Monday, July 9, 2007

QuickMuse: Linguistic Jam Session

QuickMuse is a project built on software that tracks what a writer does over time. When played back, the visitor with a Javascript-enabled browser sees how the composition was written over time. According to the QuickMuse site, "QuickMuse will bring readers closer to the moment of composition than they have ever been before."

Fletcher Moore is the creator of the poem-recording-and-playback system.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Google Provides Greater Access to Public Domain Works for Visually-Impaired Users

On 3 July, Bethany Poole, Product Marketing Manager at Google, posted the following in the blog Inside Google Book Search:
Today we launched a new feature for Book Search to help more people access the world's great public domain works. Whenever you find an out-of-copyright book in our index, you'll see a "View plain text" link, which lets anyone access the text layer of the book. As Dr. T.V. Raman explains on the main Google blog, this opens the book to adaptive technologies such as screen readers and Braille display, allowing visually impaired users to read these books just as easily as users with sight. This is an exciting step for us in our mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. To learn more about Google's efforts to make books and other digitized content more accessible to everyone, check out Dr. Raman's full post.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Journal Info. Database

Lund University Libraries, assisted by the National Library of Sweden, has created the database "Journal Info" a tool intended to help researchers choose journals in which to publish. The site includes such details as: in which database (s) a journal is indexed, how much a subscription costs, and which alternative OA journals exist. From the site's FAQs:

What is the purpose of the service?
The purpose is to provide an aid for the researcher in the selection of journal for publication. The publication market has continuously grown more and more complex. It is important to weigh in facts like scope and quality, but more recently also information about reader availability and library cost. The Lund University Libraries have made an attempt to merge all these items into one tool, giving the researcher the power to make informed choices.

How many journals are a part of the service?
The service currently covers about 18000 journals. That can be compared to about 25000 journals, which is the estimated number of scientific journals in circulation today.

Which databases do you survey for the databases item?
The service currently survey about 30 major databases, including the following: ABI/Inform, Art Index (Wilson), Arts and humanities citation index, ATLA Religion Database, Biosis Previews, Chemical Abstracts, Civil Engineering Database, Compendex, CSA Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, CSA Social Services Abstracts, ERIC, FSTA, Geobase, GeoRef, Histical abstracts, Inspec, Information Political Science Abstract, LISA, MathSciNet, Medline, PsycINFO, RILM Abstracts of Music Litterature, Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index, The Philosopher's Index and Zoological Record.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Richard Poynder Interviews Stevan Harnad

Richard Poynder recently conducted a long and fascinating interview of Stevan Harnad, a leading advocate of the Open Access movement and a cognitive scientist at the Université du Québec à Montréal. From the introduction:

Harnad is often portrayed as a bully and a fanatic — a man so determined to get fellow researchers to make their papers freely available on the Web that he will brook no disagreement, responding to all contrary views and dissenting voices with such a relentless barrage of rebuttals and reproaches that his opponents are eventually forced to retreat.

But this is too simplistic a picture of the man. For Harnad, OA is not — as his critics claim — the obsession of a pedant with a one-dimensional view of the world, but the prelude to a fourth revolution in human cognition and communication. (The first three, he says, were language, writing, and print).

The goal of OA, Harnad says, is to unleash a potential long latent in mankind's unique language capacity, one that will allow us to exploit at last the full power of our collective intellect through "scholarly skywriting" — a form of communication, he contends, for which our brains were pre-adapted a hundred thousand years ago, but that has been awaiting the online era for its realisation.

However, before we can exploit the potential of this new form of communication, he says, we first need to make all research OA — an obvious next step that has been within our reach since the onset of the online era, but that we have still failed to take. And until we do, he says, we are denying ourselves access to our full potential. . . .

What cannot be denied is that Harnad has exerted a very powerful influence on the development of the OA Movement. To a great extent he is the person who has articulated the main issues, and it ishe who has — obsessively perhaps — kept people's minds focused, both on why OA is essential, and how we can best, and most rapidly, achieve it.

Moreover, as Harnad is keen to point out, in addition to archivangelising for the last thirteen years, he has also created and commissioned many of the concrete practical tools now being used in our faltering steps toward OA. . . . The full interview