Monday, December 17, 2012

Openness, Value, and Scholarly Societies: The Modern Language Association Model

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication for the Modern Language Association, discusses the evolving relationship of scholarly societies, their publications and open access, in her article "Openness, Value, and Scholarly Societies: The Modern Language Association Model" in the current issue of College & Research Library News.

. . . .So if the value of a society to its membership no longer lies in access to its otherwise revenue-producing publications—if, in fact, many members want scholarship to be distributed in a way that will greatly reduce if not eliminate its ability to produce revenue—and if the other crucial work of the society supported by that revenue is often too invisible to constitute a new locus of value that will keep scholars renewing their memberships year after year, where might a new value proposition lie for scholarly societies? 
. . . . MLA has chosen two first steps toward ensuring public access to the work published by the organization. First, we have recently revised all of our author agreements to make them gold open access friendly, and, second, we are developing a platform through which members can share their work as openly as they might like, allowing that work to reach not only their colleagues but also interested members of the public. 
Our revised author agreements no longer require scholars to sign over copyright to the association; copyright instead remains with the author, who grants the association a license to publish their work (as well as to perform a range of related tasks with it). This license is exclusive for one year after the date of publication, after which period the author is free to republish or distribute the work in any form or manner desired. Moreover, these contracts explicitly grant authors the right to post a draft version of their work on a personal or departmental Web site prior to publication, and to post their final manuscript on such a Web site, or to deposit it in an institutional repository immediately upon acceptance. In this way, we hope to allow our journals to remain vital, scrupulously reviewed and carefully edited publications, while simultaneously helping our authors get their work into the broadest possible circulation. . . .

Monday, December 10, 2012

Butler reviews 2012 copyright issues and looks ahead

Publishers Weekly published an interesting interview with Brandon Butler, wrapping up the year 2012 in library copyright issues, including the GSU case, the HathiTrust case and the defeat of SOPA. He also talks about upcoming challenges for 2013, including the pending Kirtsaeng v. Wiley case, testing the first sale doctrine, and the possibility of orphan works legislation.
The full interview: Overruled: PW Talks to ARL’s Brandon Butler: ALA Preview 2013.

For a fuller discussion of how Kirtsaeng may affect libraries, see Butler's earlier article, coauthored with Jonathan Band.

And, for a lighter take and an indication that copyright law is of mainstream importance, watch Stephen Colbert's segment on Kirtsaeng.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Open Access to Scientific Research Can Save Lives

In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education Peter Suber and Darius Cuplinskas argue that open access to research can be very advantageous to medical progress, can in fact save lives.

. . . . The movement for open access has overcome efforts by publishers to protect their cash machine. Today huge amounts of scholarly research, including more than 8,000 peer-reviewed open-access journals, are available to everyone with the flick of a cursor. Open access is a component of international debates about scholarly communications. It is taught in colleges. It is debated by parliaments. And more than 300 research funders and institutions, including the world's largest source of funds for research, the National Institutes of Health, now require authors to make their peer-reviewed manuscripts open access. 
The economic benefits of open access are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The decision to place the results of the Human Genome Project in the public domain without delay, for example, helped ensure that scientists everywhere can use the data. The $3.8-billion investment in the project has had an estimated economic impact of $796-billion. 
But significant work needs to be done in the next 10 years to allow open access to benefit many more scholars and scientists, more people with cancer who want to understand the science on the diseases afflicting them, more doctors struggling to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. 
Simply put, open access should become the default method in every country for distributing new peer-reviewed research in every field. In order to make that happen, universities and funding agencies must develop effective open-access policies 
Every institution of higher learning should ensure that peer-reviewed versions of all future scholarly articles by its faculty members are made open-access through a designated repository that captures the institution's intellectual output. 
All public and private agencies that support scientific research should have policies assuring that peer-reviewed versions of all scholarly articles arising from research they have paid for be made accessible through a suitable archive. 
When a given publisher will not allow access on an agency's terms, the funder should require grantees to look for another publisher. Funders should treat publication costs as research costs and should help grantees pay reasonable publication fees at fee-based open-access journals.
Research institutions, including funders, should support the development and maintenance of the tools, directories, and resources essential to the progress and sustainability of open access. . . . 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On the Open Access Debate within Humanities

In Giving it Away: Sharing and the Future of Scholarly Communication, Planned Obsolescence author Kathleen Fitzpatrick writes about the open access debate within the humanities.  

According to Fitzpatrick this debate has, so far, been bogged down by a focus on the financial difficulties involved in switching to an author-pays model of publishing, due to the relatively low levels of funding received by humanities scholars.  While acknowledging the reality of these concerns, Fitzpatrick argues that the seemingly insurmountable nature of them is leading to a lack of movement on the topic.  She argues that a shift in focus away from these financial concerns, toward a focus on how open access aligns with the core values of scholarship, would help to move the conversation forward.

One key value, well-aligned with open access for Fitzpatrick, (borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous), is the value of “giving it away.”  

What I want to argue is that this sense of “giving it away,” of paying forward knowledge that one likewise received as a gift, functions well as a description of what should be the best ethical practices of scholars and educators.  We teach, as we were taught; we publish, as we learned from the publications of others. We cannot pay back those who came before us, but can only give to those who come after.  Our participation in an ethical, voluntary scholarly community is grounded in the obligation we owe to one another, an obligation that derives from what we have received.  [End of Excerpt].

More than a simple duty this “giving it away,” Fitzpatrick notes, is something that serves the larger public good. For example, as humanities scholars make their work freely accessible to the general public, they increase the chances that the larger society might benefit from their knowledge.  

As to the viability of giving it away, Fitzpatrick, acknowledges that clever innovation would be needed to turn open access into a sustainable publishing model for humanities scholars.  However, she notes that the current system might be closer to that solution than one might first assume given the “engine of generosity” that already exists with authors, editors, peer-reviewers, and publishers all contributing to the scholarly publishing endeavor without direct remuneration.   

Fitzpatrick also sees a number of ways open access would benefit the humanities, in particular by increasing scholars’ impact and decreasing “public apathy” toward the field.  In light of these benefits and the alignment with scholarship’s core values, Fitzpatrick argues, open access may well be a worthwhile goal for humanities.  In fact, she argues, it may be time to move beyond the question of whether to pursue open access, to the question of how open access might be accomplished sustainably.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Interview with Stuart Shieber

In his blog Open and Shut? Richard Poynder includes regular interviews with open access pioneers.
Today's interview with Stuart Shieber is valuable not only for the interview itself but also for the excellent primer on the open access movement that prefaces the interview. Prof. Shieber is Director of Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication and chief architect of the Harvard Open Access  Policy.
As an example of the depth and clarity of explanation in the article, here is an excerpt on the advantages of open access journals charging article processing fees:

...[W]e need to revisit the question of why subscription publishing is so expensive. The reason for this, says Shieber, is that it is not the users of subscription journals that pay for them, but intermediaries. This disconnect creates a moral hazard, because the users will have no interest in how much journals cost. As such, there is no market mechanism to control prices.
Explaining the problem in PLoS Biology in 2009, Shieber put it this way, “The ‘consumers’ of scholarly articles (the readers, typically faculty, students, and researchers at universities and other research institutions) are insulated from the cost of reading, that is, from the subscription fees paid by the institutions' research libraries. The expected result — inelasticity of demand and hyperinflation — can be amply seen in the statistics of serials costs paid by research libraries. As subscription fees hyperinflate, libraries with budgets that at best merely match inflation must inevitably drop subscriptions, reducing access to the scholarly literature.”
In other words, the disconnect between the purchaser and the user creates an affordability problem, which in turn creates an accessibility problem.
Gold OA differs, argues Shieber, because it takes the buying decision away from the librarian and gives it to the author, who now acts on his or her own behalf (by paying to publish). Since authors will now care about the cost, the moral hazard characteristic of subscription publishing is avoided. In other words, the person buying the product (which is now a publishing service) will become sensitive to pricing (assuming the publication charges come from their own budget), and so shop around.
Full interview.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Open Access Policy @ Georgia Tech

On November 27, 2012 the faculty of Georgia Tech approved a new open access policy which will take effect January 1, 2013.

The Faculty of Georgia Tech is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In addition to the public benefit of such dissemination, this policy is intended to serve faculty interests by promoting greater reach and impact for articles, simplifying author retention of distribution rights, and aiding in electronic preservation. In keeping with these commitments, the Faculty adopts the following policy: 
Each Faculty member grants to Georgia Tech Research Corporation (hereinafter "GTRC") nonexclusive permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination. In legal terms, each Faculty member grants to GTRC a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-­‐free, worldwide license to exercise any and all copyrights in his or her scholarly articles published in any medium, provided the articles are not sold or licensed for a profit by GTRC or any GTRC-­‐granted licensee. 
This policy applies to all published scholarly articles that any person authors or co-­‐authors while appointed as a member of the Faculty, except for any such articles authored or co-­‐authored before the adoption of this policy, or subject to a conflicting agreement formed before the adoption of this policy, or conducted under a classified research agreement. Upon notification by the author, the Provost or Provost's designate will waive application of this license for a particular article. At author request, access will be delayed for up to one year. 
To assist in distributing the scholarly articles, each Faculty member will make available an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article at no charge to a designated representative of the Provost’s Office in appropriate formats (such as PDF) specified by the Provost’s Office, no later than the date of publication. The Provost’s Office or designate will make the scholarly article available to the public in an open-­‐access institutional repository. . . .

Monday, November 19, 2012

Berlin 10 Open Access Conference

Abby Clobridge in Information Today provides a recap of the proceedings of The Berlin 10 Open Access Conference that took place at Stellenbosch University, South Africa (6–10 November 2012). The theme of the conference was "Networked Scholarship in a Networked World: Participation in Open Access." One may also download a number of conference papers and the keynote address (given by Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, European Commission, Belgium), listen to a selection of podcasts, and view Powerpoint presentations from the official Conference site.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Open Access Mandated by Durham University

Durham University has agreed to mandate open access to the research publications of its community. The principle stipulations are:

1. Where copyright agreements permit, all research outputs published in peer reviewed journals since 1 January 2008 must be made freely available in Durham Research Online (DRO), the University’s institutional repository. This should be the final peer-reviewed, pre-publication version of the paper where copyright restricts the use of the published version.

2. Authors are also strongly encouraged to deposit other types of research outputs (including book chapters, reports and grey literature) in DRO and make them freely available for consultation.

3. Where the deposit of final research outputs is a requirement of the funding conditions, it is the responsibility of the individual author to ensure that these conditions are met.

4. Where appropriate, researchers are strongly encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to publish their research in other Open Access forms. . . . 

See the full open access mandate statement.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Decouple the Journal?

 "Today's journals are still the best scholarly communication system possible using 17th century technology."

Jason Priem, altmetrics innovator and creator of such tools as ImpactStory, gives persuasive reasons to "decouple" the journal.

He notes that we have not allowed the web to revolutionize scholarly communication and that "online journals are essentially paper journals delivered by faster horses."

In addition to using altmetrics as a broader and more meaningful measure of impact, journals could be decoupled. Instead of all journals providing all services separately and redundantly, authors could pick and choose providers of the four major journal functions: dissemination, certification, archiving and registration from various (decoupled) providers. For instance -- scholarly societies might provide peer review services and institutional or subject based repositories might provide archiving and registration, while the author might choose to do his own marketing through tweets, blogs and scholarly contacts.

Jason's own description of this new publishing model is more eloquent. His in depth article has been published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.
Kevin Smith has a recent blog post about his ideas that is helpful as well.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Open Access Explained

The video below includes excellent talking points for open access advocates -- concise, easy to understand and fun!
Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it's all about.  From

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rapid Advances in OA Publishing: Results of a Study

Mikael Laakso and Bo-Christer Björk have just published the article "Anatomy of open access publishing: a study of longitudinal development and internal structure" in BMC Medicine. Their research shows that Open Access has made tremendous advances in recent years and that it is now the question not whether OA will continue to be a viable alternative to traditional subscription journals but rather "when OA publishing will become the mainstream model."

An estimated 340,000 articles were published by 6,713 full immediate OA journals during 2011. OA journals requiring article-processing charges have become increasingly common, publishing 166,700 articles in 2011 (49% of all OA articles). This growth is related to the growth of commercial publishers, who, despite only a marginal presence a decade ago, have grown to become key actors on the OA scene, responsible for 120,000 of the articles published in 2011. Publication volume has grown within all major scientific disciplines, however, biomedicine has seen a particularly rapid 16-fold growth between 2000 (7,400 articles) and 2011 (120,900 articles). Over the past decade, OA journal publishing has steadily increased its relative share of all scholarly journal articles by about 1% annually. Approximately 17% of the 1.66 million articles published during 2011 and indexed in the most comprehensive article-level index of scholarly articles (Scopus) are available OA through journal publishers, most articles immediately (12%) but some within 12 months of publication (5%). . . .

It no longer seems to be a question whether OA is a viable alternative to the traditional subscription model for scholarly journal publishing; the question is rather when OA publishing will become the mainstream model. What remains to be seen is whether the growth will continue at a similar rate as measured during last few years, or if it will accelerate to an even steeper part of the S-shaped adoption pattern typical of many innovations. As in many other markets where the Internet has thoroughly rewritten the rules of the game, an interesting question is if new entrants, like Public Library of Science and BioMed Central, will take over the market or if the old established actors, commercial and society publishers with subscription-based revenue models, will be able to adapt their business models and regain the ground they have so far lost. Future studies on the internal structure of OA publishing are likely to witness the anatomy transforming yet again. Most of the major internal shifts in OA journal publishing have only happened fairly recently during the last few years and, judging by the momentum at which things are moving, it is hard to imagine the internal dynamics settling down any time soon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

HowOpenIsIt?: An OA Guide

PLOSSPARC and OASPA have created a guide HowOpenIsIt? that describes the major characteristics and different levels of Open Access. It is intended to assist "authors make informed decisions on where to publish based on publisher policies. In addition, funders and other organizations will have a resource that indicates criteria for what level of OA is required for their policies and mandates."
The guide has clear goals:
  • Move the conversation from “Is It Open Access?” to HowOpenIsIt?
  • Clarify the definition of OA
  • Standardize terminology
  • Illustrate a continuum of “more open” versus “less open”
  • Enable people to compare and contrast publications and policies
  • Broaden the understanding of OA to a wider audience
  • Determine how open a publisher is by using the grid

Friday, October 19, 2012

Good Practices for OA Policy

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society has just released a guide to good practices for universities adopting open access policies.
The guide addresses drafting, adopting, implementing and talking about the policy, as well as strategies for filling the repository. It was written by Stuart Shieber, Director of the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard, and Peter Suber, Director of the Open Access Project at Harvard. It's an excellent resource for understanding these policies, as well as for universities considering adopting one.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another victory for fair use

This time the victory comes in a ruling on the case brought by the Author's Guild against the HathiTrust Digital Library, of which Boston College is a member.
Among otherr issues litigated was whether HathiTrust could create a searchable index of digitized texts and supply them to print-disabled readers. Kevin Smith has provided a good analysis of the ruling and notes:
Judge Baer first held that the purpose of the use was research and scholarship, which are favored in the fair use statute.  But he went on to hold that the use of these copyrighted materials in HathiTrust was also a transformational use.  Unlike Judge Evans in the GSU case, Judge Baer cited case law that has determined that a use can be transformational because it has a different purpose, not only when an actual change in content has been made.  And providing a searchable database of books, within copyrighted works only available to the visually-impaired, was, in the Court’s opinion, transformative.
Judge Baer concludes with this sentence:
I cannot imagine a definition of fair used that would not encompass the transformative uses made by the defendants and would require that I terminate this invaluable contribution to the progress of science and the cultivation of the arts that at the same time effectuates the ideals of the ADA.
As the last part of this comment indicates, the Judge also upheld the provision of digital files to persons with visual disabilities to facilitate adaptive access, using a combination of fair use and section 121of the copyright law.  Hard to believe that the AG thought it was a good idea to challenge that practice, but they did.  So overall this is a comprehensive win for the libraries and for the important public interest that they serve.
More analysis is available linked from the HathiTrust site.Particularly helpful is the post by Kenneth Crews.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Open Access will Change the World, If Scientists Want It To

The Australian OA journal/newspaper The Conversation, "an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector" is an excellent resource for articles and commentary on diverse aspects of Open Access. For example, Terry Sunderland's 4th October article "Open Access will Change the World, If Scientists Want It To" is a good overview of some significant issues in today's swiftly evolving scholarly communication environment as well as a strong advocacy for open access to research.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open-Access Deal for Particle Physics

Nature reports that "[t]he entire field of particle physics is set to switch to open-access publishing, a milestone in the push to make research results freely available to readers.'

Full article here.

AHA Statement on Scholarly Journal Publishing

On 24 September, 2012 the American Historical Association (AHA) issued a statement on Scholarly Journal Publishing which voiced a number of concerns about open access to articles published in scholarly journals.The statement while admitting that "elements of unfairness" exist in the current system of scholarly journal dissemination, contends that the author pays system often proposed in open access systems generates "new, and more difficult, dilemmas. Requiring authors to pay the costs of their own publications is not the answer. The AHA suggests that historians begin thoughtful conversations at their own institutions and participate in the discussions that we will initiate at our annual meeting, our web site and other appropriate venues."

The full statement.

Monday, September 24, 2012

BC Adds Another Online Open Access Journal

The Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America are now being published online as an open access publication, in collaboration with the Boston College University Libraries. The Proceedings of the 67th Annual Convention (2012) are available. The archival volumes are gradually being added and the Proceedings of Conventions 1-16 (1946-1961) are currently accessible under the Archives heading.

Learn more about the Libraries’
open access journal publishing program.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moving towards an open access future: the role of academic libraries.

Last April a group of librarians and industry experts met for a roundtable discussion regarding the role of academic libraries in an increasing open access environment. The roundtable resulted in a report published in August 2012: Moving towards an open access future: the role of academic libraries.

The report's conclusions:
Open access is becoming more important as a way of communicating research findings, particularly driven by strong policy moves in Europe and to some extent in North America.

Academic libraries and research communication will change as open access grows in importance. Some of libraries’ traditional roles will be reduced and others will need to change, but libraries still have an important role to play in managing and advising on information and information-related budgets.

The roundtable discussion identified a number of key aspects of the role of academic libraries in an open access future. Libraries need to evolve and be prepared to be creative, as the ways that researchers and students access and use information are changing and will continue to change. Libraries will also play an essential role in explaining open access to researchers.

As resources become open access and therefore not tied to a particular institutional subscription, there will be an increasing trend to sharing discovery and support services among libraries and institutions. This will require greater dialogue between libraries about strategies for dealing with open access and best practices.
With a willingness to be creative and to support users in new ways through communication, collaboration and tools, academic libraries should remain an important component of the research process in their institutions and beyond.

Friday, September 7, 2012

California passes bills to create open-source digital library for college textbooks

On 31 August, 2012, reports Jennifer Van Grove, the California State Senate passed bills that aim to provide students with free access to college textbooks. After Governor Jerry Brown signs them the bills will become law.
The state of California is on the verge of enacting legislation that would make college educations a bit more affordable for students and their parents.

The California State Senate today passed two bills, SB 1052 and SB 1053, designed to provide students at public postsecondary institutions with access to free digital textbooks for popular lower-division courses and to open source the curriculum to facility members.

The bills are said to create the nation’s first free open source digital library for college students and faculty. California Governor Jerry Brown’s signature is required before the bills are enacted into law.

“This is the first time government has come in with substantial dollars that match philanthropic efforts to create a library where students can access free textbooks and faculty can utilize their skills to remix, revise and repurpose these textbooks for their students,” said Dean Florez in a statement. Florez is president of the 20 Million Minds foundation, a nonprofit that works to reduce textbook costs for students.

Digital textbooks have been around for years, with companies ranging from Apple to Chegg providing students with digital alternatives to their hard-bound books. Under SB 1052, California, however, would establish a faculty-run council called the California Open Education Resources Council (COERC) to select and develop the free digital textbooks for students at state universities and community colleges. Companion bill SB 1053 would create an open source library to house the digital textbooks.

The 1052 bill passed the California Senate with 32-3, according to the state legislator’s website. The 1053 companion bill passed by the same margin.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Push Grows Abroad for Open Access to Publicly Financed Research

Jennifer Howard in a 13 August article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reviews some recent US and international developments in the Open Access movement. Though mentioning some criticism of the British Government's endorsement of most of the recommendations of the June Finch Report, notably by Peter Suber, she is quite sanguine about the future of Open Access:
We're seeing heightened awareness at every level of the scholarly communication ecosystem, from governments on down to researchers and private entrepreneurs. . . . The process of sorting out all the[se] experiments will continue to be messy, and we'll see a lot more fights over the details. At this point, though, it looks to me like the betting money's not on whether open access becomes the norm, but when.

Friday, August 3, 2012

UK plan for open access to research is a golden opportunity, not a cost

Stephen Curry recently wrote in the Guardian about the Finch Report on open access to publicly funded research and how such OA will be implemented by the UK Research Councils (RCUK). He considers some of the very broad range of reactions, from the very positive to the distinctly negative. Curry himself, clearly thinking OA to be a benefit, tends to a more positive stance.

. . . . this business is still playing out. If the research community can act in concert, there is scope for using open access to ensure that the taxpayer gets better value for money from its research spend on publishing. This is new territory, but with control of the funds, research institutions should seize this opportunity to push for open access at the cheapest possible price.

I would not wish to diminish the difficulties faced by UK research institutions in the shift to open access, but it is time for them to be as bold as the government. They can start by breaking their addiction to top-tier journals, which are likely to charge the highest APCs because publishers know that researchers and university managers continue to mis-apply journal reputations (quantified as impact factors) as a measure of the quality of individual researchers or their work. . . .
Arguably, the government's courageous stance on this issue serves national interest by marking the UK as a visionary place to do research. We are now seen as a leading voice in international moves towards open access. The UK may be taking a risk in jumping first but, given recent moves in the US and elsewhere in Europe, the chances of success look good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brought to Book: Academic Journals Face a Radical Shake-Up

The Economist, a journal that often takes a more conservative stance, has published an article, "Brought to book: Academic journals face a radical shake-up", that strongly advocates Open Access to scientific publishing.

If there is any endeavour whose fruits should be freely available, that endeavour is surely publicly financed science. Morally, taxpayers who wish to should be able to read about it without further expense. And science advances through cross-fertilisation between projects. Barriers to that exchange slow it down.

There is a widespread feeling that the journal publishers who have mediated this exchange for the past century or more are becoming an impediment to it. One of the latest converts is the British government. On July 16th it announced that, from 2013, the results of taxpayer-financed research would be available, free and online, for anyone to read and redistribute.

Britain’s government is not alone. On July 17th the European Union followed suit. It proposes making research paid for by its next scientific-spending round—which runs from 2014 to 2020, and will hand out about €80 billion, or $100 billion, in grants—similarly easy to get hold of. In America, the National Institutes of Health (NIH, the single-biggest source of civil research funds in the world) has required open-access publishing since 2008. And the Wellcome Trust, a British foundation that is the world’s second-biggest charitable source of scientific money, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also insists that those who take its shilling make their work available free.

Criticism of journal publishers usually boils down to two things. One is that their processes take months, when the internet could allow them to take days. The other is that because each paper is like a mini-monopoly, which workers in the field have to read if they are to advance their own research, there is no incentive to keep the price down. The publishers thus have scientists—or, more accurately, their universities, which pay the subscriptions—in an armlock. That, combined with the fact that the raw material (manuscripts of papers) is free, leads to generous returns. In 2011 Elsevier, a large Dutch publisher, made a profit of £768m on revenues of £2.06 billion—a margin of 37%. Indeed, Elsevier’s profits are thought so egregious by many people that 12,000 researchers have signed up to a boycott of the company’s journals. . . .

A revolution, then, has begun. Technology permits it; researchers and politicians want it. If scientific publishers are not trembling in their boots, they should be.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

UK to open up publicly funded research

The UK and the OA advocacy community around the world have been in an uproar for several weeks over the Finch Report. It is still difficult to sort out what it all means, but it is clear that, in whatever form and with whatever funding, OA for publicly funded research is becoming inevitable in the UK.

 This post from the department of Business Innovation and Skills sheds some light on the plan -- links at the bottom of the post lead to the Finch Report and other commentary.

Academics, businesses and the public will get easier access to publicly funded research, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts will announce today.
The Government will widely accept the recommendations in a report on open access by Dame Janet Finch, a move which is likely to see a major increase in the number of taxpayer funded research papers freely available to the public.
Currently most formally published research is only available behind restricted paywalls. Reforms will see publications opened up to a greater audience, providing more opportunities for research and development across a range of sectors. They will also support the commercial exploitation of research, contributing to the Government’s economic growth agenda.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Removing paywalls that surround taxpayer funded research will have real economic and social benefits. It will allow academics and businesses to develop and commercialise their research more easily and herald a new era of academic discovery. This development will provide exciting new opportunities and keep the UK at the forefront of global research to drive innovation and growth.”

Among the recommendations that have been accepted by the Government are:
Moving to deliver open access through a ‘gold’ model, where article processing charges are paid upfront to cover the cost of publication.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Accessibility Quotient: A New Measure of Open Access

Mathew A. Willmott, Katharine H. Dunn, and Ellen Finnie Duranceau (all from Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have just published "The Accessibility Quotient: A New Measure of Open Access" in Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. They discuss the potentially very useful results of an examination of a measure that assessed the accessibility to publications by MIT faculty.

INTRODUCTION The Accessibility Quotient (AQ), a new measure for assisting authors and librarians in assessing and characterizing the degree of accessibility for a group of papers, is proposed and described. The AQ offers a concise measure that assesses the accessibility of peer-reviewed research produced by an individual or group, by incorporating data on open availability to readers worldwide, the degree of financial barrier to access, and journal quality. The paper reports on the context for developing this measure, how the AQ is calculated, how it can be used in faculty outreach, and why it is a useful lens to use in assessing progress towards more open access to research. METHODS Journal articles published in 2009 and 2010 by faculty members from one department in each of MIT’s five schools were examined. The AQ was calculated using economist Ted Bergstrom’s Relative Price Index to assess affordability and quality, and data from SHERPA/RoMEO to assess the right to share the peer-reviewed version of an article. RESULTS The results show that 2009 and 2010 publications by the Media Lab and Physics have the potential to be more open than those of Sloan (Management), Mechanical Engineering, and Linguistics & Philosophy. DISCUSSION Appropriate interpretation and applications of the AQ are discussed and some limitations of the measure are examined, with suggestions for future studies which may improve the accuracy and relevance of the AQ. CONCLUSION The AQ offers a concise assessment of accessibility for authors, departments, disciplines, or universities who wish to characterize or understand the degree of access to their research output, capturing additional dimensions of accessibility that matter to faculty.

Monday, July 2, 2012

David Nicholas, Ian Rowlands, Anthony Watkinson, David Brown and Hamid Jamali have published "Digital repositories ten years on: what do scientific researchers think of them and how do they use them?" in Learned Publishing (July 2012, Vol. 25: 195-206).

Digital repositories have been with us for more than a decade, and despite the considerable media and conference attention they engender, we know very little about their use by academics. This paper sets out to address this by reporting on how well they are used, what they are used for, what researchers’ think of them, and where they thought they were going. Nearly 1,700 scientific researchers, mostly physical scientists, responded to an international survey of digital repositories, making it the largest survey of its kind. High deposit rates were found and mandates appear to be working, especially with younger researchers. Repositories have made significant inroads in terms of impact and use despite, in the case of institutional repositories, the very limited resources deployed. Subject repositories, like arXiv and PubMed Central, have certainly come of age but institutional repositories probably have not come of age yet although there are drivers in place which, in theory anyway, are moving them towards early adulthood.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Letter from the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions Supporting FRPAA

Member universities of the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI) recently wrote a letter registering strong support for the Federal Research Public Access Act.

. . . . We were therefore gratified to see the bipartisan, bicameral reintroduction of FRPAA on February 9. By virtue of this legislation, all major US funding agencies would establish policies providing broad public access to their funded research through free online availability of the peer-reviewed articles that researchers develop through federal grants.

In essence, FRPAA would extend the highly successful public access policy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research. Because of this policy, the NIH now provides free online access to 2.4 million articles downloaded a million times per day by half a million users. University researchers account for 25% of these users, guaranteeing that they can build upon the broad range of research that the taxpayers have funded. Companies account for another 17%, showing that the policy benefits small businesses and corporations, who need access to scientific advances to spur innovation. Finally, the general public accounts for 40% of the users, some quarter of a million people per day, demonstrating that these articles are of tremendous interest to the taxpayers who fund the research in the first place and who deserve access to the results that they have underwritten.

By requiring other funding agencies to develop policies allowing public access to research, FRPAA would amplify the benefits of the NIH policy, providing even more benefits to researchers, business, and the public. These benefits work synergistically with our own institutional open-access policies by making more uniform the availability of research results and providing greater transparency of government-funded research. . . .

Friday, June 8, 2012

MLA Journals allow OA posting

Good news for authors of MLA journal articles! They have adopted a new author agreement that will allow posting  in open access repositories such as eScholarship@Boston College. Here's the announcement:

The journals of the Modern Language Association, including PMLA, Profession, and the ADE and ADFL bulletins, have adopted new open-access-friendly author agreements, which will go into use with their next full issues. The revised agreements leave copyright with the authors and explicitly permit authors to deposit in open-access repositories and post on personal or departmental Web sites the versions of their manuscripts accepted for publication. For more information on the new agreements, please contact the office of scholarly communication.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In April of this year the World Bank announced a new open access policy:
Effective July 1, 2012, the Open Access Policy requires that all research outputs and knowledge products published by the Bank be licensed Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as a default. Today, as the first phase of this policy is unfolded, the Bank launched a new Open Knowledge Repository with more than 2,000 books, articles, reports and research papers under CC BY. President of the World Bank Group, Robert B. Zoellick, said in the press release:
“Knowledge is power. Making our knowledge widely and readily available will empower others to come up with solutions to the world’s toughest problems. Our new Open Access policy is the natural evolution for a World Bank that is opening up more and more.”
In May, the bank held an event called What the World Bank's Open Access Policy Means for Development. Video of the event is available on the site. Timothy Vollmer summarized the event on the Creative Commons news blog:
The conversation Monday revolved around the impact and potential for World Bank research — and open access in general — for development in countries around the world. For example, how will access and reuse of research under an open access policy create opportunities to solve large global challenges such as climate change and hunger?

The panelists jumped in, and stated that an immediate, baseline benefit of the open access policy is that now, World Bank research is aggregated in one place and made available for free to anyone with an internet connection. This is not the case with subscription journals, where readers have to pay to view the articles. Mike Carroll noted the importance of addressing copyright concerns in open policies. Even when research is made available for free online, if readers are unclear about the rights available to them, the articles and data will not be as valuable or impactful. This is especially important in developing nations, where republication and moving information from the Internet to an offline environment requires copyright permission. With open licenses such as CC BY chosen by the World Bank, permission to republish and translate articles into other languages is automatically granted. Carroll pointed to related success in the Open Education space. He said that many MIT Open CourseWare materials have been translated and put into use in other countries (such as Vietnam) specifically because the original resources were published under an open license that permitted translation and reuse.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sign the White House Petition on Open Access to Research

A petition calling for Public Access to all Federally Funded Research was posted to the White House's "We the People" Website on 21 May. If the petition garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days, it will be reviewed by White House staff, and considered for action.

See: Sign the White House Petition on Open Access to Research Today!

Fo more information see

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Levantine Review
has published its first issue. The Levantine Review is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary open access e-journal that aims to reflect on the hybrid Levantine Near East. As Boston College's flagship Middle East Studies journal, it will be published twice a year by the Department of Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures and the Boston College Libraries. The Review is dedicated to a critical study of the Levant, aiming to restitute the term "Levant" as a valid historical, geographic, political, linguistic, and cultural concept, and reclaim it as a positive and legitimate parameter of identity.

The journal proposes a study of the Near East from a broad, diverse, and inclusive purview, with the hope of bringing into focus the larger conceptual, geographic, social, linguistic, and cultural settings of the region. In line with its commitment to an ecumenical approach, The Levantine Review welcomes new research in a variety of Near Eastern Studies sub-fields and disciplines examining narratives, histories, cultures, and  intellectual traditions often overlooked in traditional scholarship. The journal will deal with the Levant and the Mediterranean from the perspective of Middle Eastern Studies, History, Political Science, Religion, Philology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Literature, Security Studies, Women Studies, and other disciplines of the humanities and social science. The Levantine Review’s aim is to advance an inclusive, deep understanding of the Near East, and cast a broad look at the region beyond familiar settings, and prevalent dominant models. It is an aim that is expected to be enhanced by the Review's open access nature.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The GSU decision

A decision came down on Friday in the case brought by publishers against Georgia State University as a result of their e-reserves policies. Kevin Smith of Duke University posted a helpful analysis:
Overall there is good news for libraries in the decision issued late yesterday in the Georgia State University e-reserves copyright case. Most of the extreme positions advocated by the plaintiff publishers were rejected, and Judge Evans found copyright infringement in only five excerpts from among the 99 specific reading that had been challenged in the case. That means she found fair use, or, occasionally, some other justification, in 94 instances, or 95% of the time. But that does not make this an easy decision for libraries to deal with.
Here are some specifics that will make life difficult for libraries:
First, the Judge applies a strict standard for the amount of a work that is permissible under fair use in this situation. The percentage she selects is 10%, or a single chapter. In putting this percentage into practice, she bases the calculation on the total page count of a book (this was an issue at trial, with publishers arguing that only the actual text of the work should be counted), and rejects any distinction for books that are edited, in which each chapter has a different author (p. 88). This is a less flexible standard than many libraries would like, I think, and it seems too rigid to be a good fit with the overall structure of fair use.
Second, the Judge bases many of her analyses of the fourth fair use factor on the percentage of the overall revenue that publishers realize for a particular title that comes from permission fees. She criticizes the GSU policy for not providing sufficient guidance for making a determination about this kind of market impact, but immediately acknowledges that the standard she is applying “would likely be futile for prospective determinations (in advance of litigation)” (p. 337). This is simply an unhelpful approach, since libraries and faculty members must make such prospective determinations without knowing all the information that publishers provided, under court order, to the judge. Recognizing this, Judge Evans says that “the only practical way to deal with factor four in advance likely is to assume that it strongly favors the plaintiff-publisher (if licensed digital excerpts are available) (p. 338).
In addition to having to consider market impact prospectively, based on factors libraries cannot know, the judge also considered numbers of hits in determining market harm. Since the fair use analysis must be made before any hit counts are possible, this makes the decision more difficult for libraries. It can only be after the fact evidence that they made the right or wrong decision regarding likely market harm.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Economics of Open Access

A memo to Harvard faculty from the Harvard Libraries' Faculty Advisory Council has been widely publicized in recent weeks. The subject is the "untenable situation" created by journal pricing practices.
We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called “providers”) to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.

Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M. In 2010, the comparable amount accounted for more than 20% of all periodical subscription costs and just under 10% of all collection costs for everything the Library acquires. Some journals cost as much as $40,000 per year, others in the tens of thousands. Prices for online content from two providers have increased by about 145% over the past six years, which far exceeds not only the consumer price index, but also the higher education and the library price indices. These journals therefore claim an ever-increasing share of our overall collection budget. Even though scholarly output continues to grow and publishing can be expensive, profit margins of 35% and more suggest that the prices we must pay do not solely result from an increasing supply of new articles.
The story has been picked up by Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, The Atlantic and Time, among others.

The memo urges consideration of open access as a partial solution, urging faculty to deposit their own work in the institutional repository, consider publishing in open access journals, participate in moving prestige to open access, and using their influence on journal boards to convert the journals to open access and/or refrain from publishing with predatory price providers.

A recent UK report attempts to quantify the benefits of increasing open access to research articles for researchers in the public sector. The report is lengthy, with complicated analyses and assumptions, but this excerpt succinctly states the conclusions:

On the basis of the evidence we have been able to collect for this report, the main benefits of Open Access in the public sector are direct benefits: savings in time and money.

• Researchers lose time spent trying to locate copies of articles.

• They pay some PPV or ILL charges.

• Librarians also spend time trying to locate copies of articles

• ILL charges are borne by the library as well as users.

• Some libraries pay subscriptions for low-use journals

All of these can be ameliorated to some extent through increased availability of articles through either form of Open Access, and increased use of Open Access articles.

The total cost to the public sector of accessing journal papers is around £135 million per annum. The savings that accrue from the availability of Open Access articles (using both Green and Gold routes) amount to £28.6 million (£26 million in access fees and £2.6 million in time savings).

Extending the number or articles available through Open Access further increases the potential for savings. Each extra 5% of journal papers accessed via Open Access would save the public sector £1.7 million, even if no subscription fees were to be saved. Increasing the number of journal papers accessed through Open Access to 25% would save the public sector an extra £29 million.
[emphasis added]

Friday, May 4, 2012

MLA: Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media

The Modern Language Association (MLA) recently revised the Association's guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship. This revision (the first in twelve years), entitled Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media, addresses the swiftly evolving world of both the production and dissemination of scholarship in the digital humanities.

Excerpts from the Guidelines:
The following guidelines are designed to help departments and faculty members implement effective evaluation procedures for hiring, reappointment, tenure, and promotion. They apply to scholars working with digital media as their subject matter and to those who use digital methods or whose work takes digital form. . . .

While the use of computers in the modern languages is not a new phenomenon, the transformative adoption of digital information networks, coupled with the proliferation of advanced multimedia tools, has resulted in new literacies, new literary categories, new approaches to language instruction, and new fields of inquiry. Humanists are adopting new technologies and creating new critical and literary forms and interventions in scholarly communication. They also collaborate with technology experts in fields such as image processing, document encoding, and computer and information science. User-generated content produces a wealth of new critical publications, applied scholarship, pedagogical models, curricular innovations, and redefinitions of author, text, and reader. Academic work in digital media must be evaluated in the light of these rapidly changing technological, institutional, and professional contexts, and departments should recognize that many traditional notions of scholarship, teaching, and service are being redefined. . . .

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Open, free access to academic research? This will be a seismic shift

David Willetts, Conservative MP and minister of state for universities and science, discusses in the Guardian a new plan to make publicly financed research freely available. He states that "[g]iving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the forefront of open research."

Click here for the full text

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DOAB: Directory of Open Access Books

DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books) has recently been created. The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of OA books. DOAB is a service of OAPEN Foundation, an international initiative dedicated to Open Access monograph publishing, based at the National Library in The Hague.

The press release (12 April, 2012):
OAPEN is pleased to announce the launch of the Directory of Open Access Books (, a discovery service for peer reviewed books published under an Open Access license. DOAB provides a searchable index to the information about these books, with links to the full texts of the publications at the publisher’s website or repository.

The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Academic publishers are invited to provide the metadata of their Open Access books to DOAB. These metadata will be harvestable in order to maximize dissemination, visibility and impact. At the start of the service there are just over 20 publishers participating with about 750 Open Access books and new publishers and books will be added in the next few days. Publishers who wish to participate in DOAB can find more information here. DOAB is launched in a Beta version to enable feedback from users and to further develop the service. We hope to considerably increase the number of publishers and OA books in DOAB in the coming months and thereby create a valuable resource for the scholarly community and interested public.

The Directory of Open Access Books is provided by OAPEN Foundation in cooperation with SemperTool. OAPEN Foundation is an international initiative dedicated to Open Access monograph publishing, based at the National Library in The Hague. DOAB was developed in close cooperation with Lars Bjørnshauge and Salam Baker Shanawa (director of SemperTool), who were also responsible for the development of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

For more information, please contact Eelco Ferwerda, director of the OAPEN Foundation,, +31(0)629565168.

Google Scholar Metrics

The new Google Scholar Metrics service includes ranking of open access subject repositories such as ArXiv, SSRN and RepEc.
This article explains the advantages of using the h-index method of ranking over the impact factor, and the virtues of the new Google Scholar Metrics:
The main flaw with the impact factor is that it is basically an arithmetic mean and, consequently, sensitive to outliers. Like a megastar that pulls all the lesser celestial bodies towards itself, one highly influential paper can draw the impact factor closer to its own citation count. This could give a distorted sense of the importance of the journal publishing the paper if its other contributions were largely forgettable. Suppose that in the current calendar year, the journal's one-hit wonder had 200 citations and its remaining 10 articles no citations. This would give the journal an impact factor of 18.2, suggesting, misleadingly, that articles it distributed typically receive 18 citations per year. Contrast this with the journal's h-index of 1, an accuracte reflection of the number of highly-cited articles the journal had published.

Another advantage of Scholar Metrics is its inclusion of web repositories like the Social Science Research Network and arXiv, where authors can make manuscripts or published articles available to the web community at no cost to themselves or their readers. By making it into the top 10 of the h-index ranking, these repositories demonstrate the importance of open access and early views in strengthening a publication's sway.