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.