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.