Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comment on EU Green Paper "Copyright in the Knowledge Economy"

Following are my comments on the EU Green Paper Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

This comment pertains to question #19:

19. Should the scientific and research community enter into licensing schemes with publishers in order to increase access to works for teaching or research purposes? Are there examples of successful licensing schemes enabling online use of works for teaching or research purposes?


In the Internet age, the optimum dissemination of scholarship involves open sharing of peer-reviewed research articles, data, and more. The human genome project illustrated just how rapidly humankind can advance in knowledge through open sharing of information and cooperation, building a solid base of knowledge on which researchers - both academic and commercial - will be able to build for many years to come. We need to apply such approaches in other areas, such as finding solutions to global warming and sustainable energy sources.

There are already more than 3,700 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, and more than 2 new titles are added each day. Scientific Commons, a search service encompassing 960 repositories, includes more than 23 million items in searches.

In addition to these fully open access resources, there are many indications that scholarly publishing is in a period of transition to open access. Many publishers provide free access to back issues of journals, and the vast majority permit authors to self-archive their own works as open access. One of the largest commercial scholarly publishers, Springer, recently acquired the open access publisher BioMedCentral, a good indication that open access is seen as the smart business decision for the future.

In the Internet age, the copyright that makes sense is the Creative Commons approach, not at all the traditional copyright transfer agreement. Many scholarly journals are using Creative Commons licenses. Even traditional publishers are increasingly seeking only a License to Publish, leaving copyright with the author.

Research funding agencies, universities and research organizations around the world have, or are developing, strong policies requiring open access to the published research of funded research, and to research data. Here in Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs with an expectation of open access to funded research within 6 months of publication; this embargo period is viewed as an interim measure, to be reviewed as the publishing community transitions to open access. Canada's other federal and provincial research funding agencies either have, or are developing, similar open access policies. Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has an Aid to Open Access Journals program.

Policies should always be for green open access, or author self-archiving. This gives authors the choice of choosing a traditional, subscription-based publisher and self-archiving their work for open access, or publishing in an open access journal with a copy to the open access archive. Good policy makes open access a requirement, not a request. The policy should specify that the author should self-archive immediately on publication, although access may be delayed if necessary to accommodate an embargo period.

Many thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Hat tip to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who benefits from the University of Calgary authors' fund?

Who benefits from the University of Calgary open access authors' fund? This was a good question, raised by an audience participant at a talk this Monday by Andrew Waller. Obviously, the U of C's OA Authors' Fund at $100,000 is not meant to cover a full switch to open access publishing-by-article-processing-fees at the U of C.

My thoughts are that there are two main groups of beneficiaries. First, U of C faculty and students who wish to publish in an open access journal that charges article processing fees at least have a place to submit a request for assistance. Contrast this with a recent message from a librarian friend of mine, who had a grad student come to the library wishing such help, but the library had no procedures in place at all to help. It is quite possible that no other department on campus had a means to assist the student, either.

Second, we all benefit from this pilot project. I was very glad to hear that U of C has figured out that it makes sense to support fully open access journals, such as Public Library of Science, BioMedCentral, and Hindawi, and also hybrid journals that recognize the revenue from author fees and lower subscription fees for libraries accordingly, such as Oxford and the American Institute of Physics. This is a great model for other libraries. If others develop open access funds with similar criteria, then the odds that other publishers will develop responsible policies lowering subscription fees to reflect OA revenue are that much greater. If subscription fees go down, libraries will have more money to pay open access article processing fees; a potential positive cycle to replace the vicious cycle of the serials crisis.

Another useful question was whether researchers would offload traditional page charges onto the library. Andrew pointed out that such charges would not fit the criteria for the program, so would be rejected.

Approaching an authors' fund as U of C has done in a pilot manner, with a limited fund and soft launch, gives the library time to reflect on such questions, and develop really good procedures to address these questions.

Please note that the vast majority of open access journals do NOT charge article processing fees. This should not be a barrier to finding creative ways to support those that DO. It is also not necessary to publish in an OA journal to make your work OA. The green approach, publishing in a traditional journal and self-archiving for open access, is another perfectly good approach, and one recommended as appropriate by the U of C as part of the authors' fund process.

These are reflections on a talk by Andrew Waller at the University of British Columbia this Monday, November 17, coordinated by the BC Research Libraries Group. Andrew will be posting his presentation in the U of C D-Space and E-LIS in the near future, and so I will refer readers there for the full presentation (highly recommended). A recent presentation by Andrew at the U of C law school is available in the U of C D-Space.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access series.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Libraries and Publishing 3.0: Student Views from SLAIS

The Canadian Library Association's Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Services (CASLIS) has just released the Occasional Paper, Libraries and Publishing 3.0: Student Views from the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, The University of British Columbia, available for free download from:

Contents include:
  • Historical Collections 2.0: From Information to Understanding by Tania Alekson
  • Digital Copyright and Indigenous Cultural Ownership by Erin M. Abler
  • The Impact of the Open Access Movement for Scholars in India by Natalie Porter
  • The Past, Present and Future of Scholarly Communication in Ornithology by Christina Struik
  • Google Scholar: An Outcast in the Library World by Mê-Linh Lê
Congratulations to all of the students! I am especially proud to see works by two of the students from my scholarly communications in this occasional paper. Congratulations, Natalie Porter and Christina Struik!

[Disclosure: I am an Adjunct Faculty at UBC's SLAIS, where I teach courses on open access and scholarly communications, and co-teach information policy with Devon Greyson].

Thanks to CASLIS' Robyn Stockand.

This post in part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement (emerging) series.