Friday, January 29, 2010

Google Books settlement: open access to my book chapters, please

Update February 3, 2010: Klaus Graf explains that book authors who are holders of the rights to the online versions of their works can make their works open access in Hathitrust. Klaus has also made his works free in Google Books. Thanks, Klaus!

In my earlier writings on the Google Books Settlement (here and here), I had mistakenly thought that none of my works would be included. After reading this letter from a group of academic authors, I realized that book chapters that I wrote might very well be included. The authors suggest that academic authors might prefer that their out-of-print books be open access. For me, this is definitely the case! Please make my works open access (CC-NC), or public domain. While I haven't opted out (and am not sure why I should have to - this is a U.S. lawsuit, and I am not a U.S. citizen), I haven't opted in, either. I wonder how many other authors hadn't thought about their chapters being included in Google Books?

Excerpts from the letter:

we believe that most unclaimed books in the GBS corpus will prove to be books written by scholars for scholars, and most such authors would prefer that their out-of-print books be available on an open access basis

In particular, we think this fiduciary should have the explicit authority to set prices for unclaimed books at $0 or make them available under Creative Commons licenses or other open access terms insofar as there is reason to think that their academic authors would prefer for them to be made available on these terms. The UWF should not have the power to authorize Google to alter the texts of books.

Comments: hear, hear! As noted above, please make my works open access. I write my scholarly works as part of my service to my profession, and for the public good, not for profit. OA for me. Under my preferred CC license for these works (CC-NC), people are free to create modifications of my work, but not for profit, which excludes Google. At any rate, I think that I have the right to say that the original which is posted should be exactly as I wrote it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

arXiv business model development

arXiv, the physics preprint server, is in the process of moving to a new form of business model, one based on voluntary contribution based on usage. Following is a suggestion for a slight tweak that I think will make the transition smoother; but don't wait, please sign up right away as the financial aspects likely need no change.

The cost of maintaining arXiv, including further developing the service to fully meet the needs of the physics community, is less than $7 per submission or 1.3 cents per download. The current approach is to ask heavy users (readers) of the service to contribute to the funding of arXiv, and 22 institutions have made this commitment so far.

My suggestion, one which would not be that different financially but might be a model that is easier to sustain into the future, is to follow a similar institution-based approach, but base the charges on approximate submissions rather than usage. Regular contributors could pay a flat fee, perhaps calculated to reflect an average of about $10 per submission (to allow for subsidy for authors from developing countries and/or to build an endowment for arXiv's future). Institutions that choose not to contribute on a regular basis could then pay one-off fees reflecting the higher administration cost associated with the one-off payment system, e.g. perhaps about $50 per submission.

To transition from the current plan, likely all that is needed is a little wordsmithing in the current document, i.e. change: "The top 100 institutions based on the previous year's download activity" to "The top 100 institutions bases on the previous year's submission activity". The list of institutions in each category are likely about the same, as it is the active physics researchers who are more likely to be doing the most reading and the most contributing.

This approach is more likely to succeed in the longer term, as this way the institution is clearly purchasing a needed service; and, if necessary, the cost of paying per submission is easily within the reach of the individual author, if necessary.

Noting a bit of inspiration from Joe Esposito on Scholarly Kitchen.

Note also that $7 per submission appears to be covering preservation costs rather than this year's submissions. Clarification on this point from arXiv would be appreciated.

Monday, January 18, 2010

For subscription journals: calculating open access success, and considering your options

Open access success is not necessarily limited to open access journals. Subscription journals can also achieve considerable OA success - by allowing, or better yet, encouraging author self-archiving. Some subscription journals also work cooperatively with open access archives, ensuring both broader access to their journals and preservation.

Because open access policy of necessity specifies deposit in an open access archive, rather than publication in an open access journal, it is entirely possible for an alert subscription journal to exceed an open access journal in open access performance on this key criterion!

To calculate open access success when your journal's articles are open access through self-archiving:

Medical journals - the key archive is PubMed. Here are instructions for assessing compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. The search described can be modified to calculate full OA compliance for your journal, i.e. simply search for articles in your journal, and see how many come up as full-text.

Not every journal has such a convenient subject archive for this search. In this case, I recommend selecting a sample of articles from your journal and conducting a search in the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE).

If your journal's open access performance is low, what can you do? One option is to provide information to your authors about their rights to self-archive, and encourage them to make use of these rights.

If your services are contracted out, and OA performance is low, it could be a great time to explore your options
If your journal has contracted with a publishing business, how helpful are they at encouraging authors to take advantage of self-archiving rights? This is especially important when authors are required by research funding agencies or their universities to make their work publicly or open accessible, as is becoming increasingly common. If service is lacking, this might be a good time to explore your options. If your journal made the decision to contract out some time ago, you might be pleased at the expanded range of options now available. This includes a growing number of fully open access publishers (OASPA is a good place to find these folk). There are many a great many university libraries that now provide journal hosting and support services; odds are that the members of your Editorial Board are associated with one or more of these university libraries.

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

Calculating compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy

If your journal publishes articles that benefit from NIH research and you would like to know how your journal would rate on compliance, following is my search method:

From PubMed, go to Advanced Search.
At the first drop-down menu, select Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural [pt]
Under Journal, enter your Journal's title
Under Publication Date, enter:
Either: full NIH policy period: 2005/01/01 to [one year prior minus one day]
Or: mandatory NIH policy period: 2008/04/07 to [one year prior minus one day]

Note that either publication date period is an estimate, as the policy date reflects dating of research grants rather than dating of publications. There are other possible approaches to calculating this data; from a methodological viewpoint, using more than one approach and triangulating is optimal. Comments on the method are appreciated; please contact hgmorris at sfu dot ca

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access uses the full NIH policy period, at least up to Dec. 31, 2009. Full details of the search strategy used in DGOA are published in the open data edition (see the 3rd sheet).

Clarification re Health and Social Care in the Community and NIH compliance

In the December 31, 2009 issue of The Dramatic Growth of Open Access, I reported that "Wiley and Blackwell's Health and Social Care in the Community authors show a 0% compliance rate with the NIH Public Access Policy".

The evidence for this statement is based on a time frame of Jan. 1, 2005 - Dec. 30, 2008, reflecting the time frame beginning (roughly) at about the time that articles under the initial voluntary policy would have begun to be published, up until the permitted 12-month embargo period. The basis for this evidence is presented in the open data edition of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access (see the 3rd worksheet)

It has since come to my attention that there are no articles in Health and Social Care in the Community that should be available under the present mandatory NIH policy, which took effect on April 7, 2008. From this perspective, Health and Social Care in the Community and Wiley-Blackwell authors are not remiss in their obligations.

My apologies for any confusion to anyone who understandably considers the "real" NIH Public Access Policy to be, in effect, the mandated policy beginning April 7, 2008. That this question has come up underscores the importance of mandatory requirement in OA policy.

Update January 19: according to Peter Suber, "In the period since the NIH policy became mandatory, HSCC has had two submissions based on NIH funding. In the first case it deposited the manuscript in PMC within six days of receipt. The second paper was received very recently and is still in process. (Thanks to Cliff Morgan for the correction.)". As of this morning, I am not able to find any articles from this journal indexed in PubMed using the original search. This could mean nothing; it might be a glitch at PubMed, or persistent operator error, i.e. I do not wish to draw any firm conclusions until I retry the search at another time. I re-ran the Dec. 31, 2009 search yesterday evening, and once again found the result of 6 NIH-externally funded articles from 2005-2008 with no fulltext available for any of the articles.

Please note that the compliance rate reported for other journals also reflects the time frame beginning Jan. 1, 2005. To avoid further confusion, I will make adjustments to future searches of this nature.

For details about the search method I use to calculate compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy, see this DGOA post.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Open Content Alliance (OCA) vs. Google Books: OCA as superior network and better fit for an emerging global public sphere

My preprint Open Content Alliance (OCA) vs. Google Books: OCA as superior network and better fit for an emerging global public sphere is now available via SFU library and E-LIS. This preprint explores two similar projects (OCA and Google Books) via the theoretical lenses of two emerging theoretical frameworks (network theory, based on Castell's work, and the global public sphere, derived from but moving beyond the work of Habermas, Fraser, and others). Comments are welcome; it is very likely that I will continue to explore these theoretical frameworks throughout my PhD work and possibly beyond.

Brendan Rapple at Scholarly Communication News@BC (Boston College) considers this work interesting and provocative. Thanks, Brendan!

The UBC cIRcle copy will be coming. Even the most ardent self-archiver can sometimes fall behind!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Open and Evolving Scholarship

The internet has opened up new potentials for scholarship, potentials that we are only now just beginning to explore. As scholarship evolves, one of the signs of progress will be multiple versions. At first, some people will find this a challenging change; it is clearly different from the static print form. Because this change is part of the evolution of scholarship and brings both current and emerging innovations that will vastly improve scholarship, it is both necessary and desirable to embrace a variety of versions.

In a print-based world of scholarship, it was enough to have a single version of a journal article. There were significant costs involved in typesetting, printing, and mailing; while a few disciplines, such as physics and economics, have a history of sharing preprints even in the print era, most did not.

Already, it is possible for a research project to be published in numerous versions in a way that advances scholarship and makes it more accessible to all.

Here are some examples of how a research project can currently be shared in multiple versions. Not everyone will want to pursue all these approaches to sharing, and that is fine. Every discipline has its own traditions, every researcher their own comfort level with various types of sharing, and limited time.

Before the research begins: researchers can share their research questions, grant applications, or early plans. Benefits for the researcher include:
  • the possibility of early peer review (if there is a problem with the question or approach - why not find out before you start the project, rather than after when the paper is done?)
  • the possibility of finding collaborators to expand your research project (this has happened to me! - see Greyson et al,, University Supports for Open Access, Canadian Journal of Higher Education 2010, forthcoming); Taylor et al, Open Access Journal Supports (in progress)
  • establishing priority
When the research is done: researchers can post openly a preprint, open data, conference presentation prior to final publication, or peer-reviewed postprint.

Benefits for the researcher include:
  • the open access citation advantage
  • possibility of early peer review when early forms (preprint, conference presentation) are shared
  • other researchers can confirm results of rigorous studies when data is shared openly
Alternative versions and libre open access: in addition to these multiple versions of the research report per se, researchers can post alternative versions, or facilitate their creation by providing full libre open access including re-use rights. Examples of such alternative versions:
  • abbreviated versions for the author's blog, scholarly newsletters or listservs
  • audiovisual presentations (e.g. the YouTube version)
  • translations into different languages, whether automated as through google's language services or manual
  • translations into alternative formats to serve a wider variety of readers, e.g. audio or daisy versions for the print disabled
  • translation into versions for lay or custom readerships, an emerging possibility for the scholarly-minded journalist or freelance writer (sometimes this will include the author)
In order to take full advantage of all of these potentials, and others of which I have not yet dreamed, it is necessary to let go of the idea that there is one single version of a research article. Approaches to citation need to evolve as well; this is not as confusing as it might seem. If there are multiple versions of an item - cite what you read. If there is another version you think readers should be alerted to, add this to the citation. For example, if you are cited a locked-down subscription version but know that a free version is available, add the URL to the free version as a service to your readers.

Multiple versions is not a new idea. For years, books have been published in multiple editions. There has never been a need to decide that one version was the authoritative version for all time, and there have been many an occasion when it was useful research to compare the differences between one edition and another.

Some useful examples of multiple versions in action: Living Reviews, an online open access peer reviewed service in which the review articles are kept up to date by their authors; the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, in which invited articles by experts are periodically updated (and archived on a quarterly basis for citation and preservation purposes); and Charles Bailey's bibliographies, updated frequently and available at Digital Koans. Jean-Claude Bradley and colleague's Useful Chemistry is a great illustration of sharing of research-in-progress.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Response to STM response to US Scholarly Publishing Roundtable

This is a response to the Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) responds to US Scholarly Publishing Roundtable Report and Recommendations.

STM is overstating their contributions to scholarly publishing and overlooking the much greater contributions of scholars themselves, as the unpaid writers and peer reviewers.

For example, the STM report says: "Government research grants currently cover the cost of the research only. Government research grants do not cover the costs of publication."

What is missing?
STM "welcomes the consultation and collaboration that has occurred with our industry". Comment: my perspective is that public policy consultation should involve the public, as the OSTP consultation has - not a secret group of individuals meeting behind closed doors.

STM, understandably, wants financial compensation if the policy requires access to the final Version of Record. From my perspective, this is unnecessary, and not necessarily desirable, as there are advantages to having multiple versions, such as for preservation purposes (one version might survive and another not), and access purposes (e.g., the author's own version may be more useful for the print disabled).

The peculiar practice of democracy? in America

The neighbours down south are a little hard to figure out sometimes. Recent consultations on open access policy are a great example. While the Office of Science and Technology Policy consultations on public access policy are a veritable model of openness and democracy, the secretive and undemocratic nature of the deliberations of the House and Science Committee read like a scene from C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elites".

My submissions to the OSTP are openly posted, as usual, on IJPE. The only thing I have to add here is applause for this completely open process; anyone can participate, and everyone can see all of the comments.

The House Science Committee is another story. A small group of 14 individual "experts" was selected in a secret fashion, and conducted meetings in secret. Much is being made of the "consensus" of 12 of the 14 individuals. There are a few librarians among this group; but what about the rest of the librarians in America? Why not invite the major library associations to select a representative, for example? Why have a group meeting to decide on the future of scholar publications - with no scholars invited to participate?

For the record, as someone who is considered an expert on scholarly communication (I have published a book on the topic, and developed and taught a course on scholarly communication), while I appreciate the group's support for free access, there are some points in the report that I strongly disagree with. For example, it is inappropriate for a group of librarians, publishers, and university administrators to make a decision that there needs to be a "Version of Record" for scholarship; this is a decision that only scholars can make. There are areas in scholarship where multiple versions of documents are the norm; for example, in both physics and economics, it is very common to post preprints or working papers. My own perspective is that there are advantages to having multiple versions. For example, having different versions presents advantages for preservation purposes (if one version does not survive, the other might). If authors are concerned about consequences of posting preprints with errors, then they can wait for peer review and post corrected versions.

For links to the report of the House Science Committee and Peter Suber's comments, see:

Thursday, January 07, 2010

PubMedCentral Canada up and available for searching

PubMedCentral Canada is now up and available for searching, at:

PMC Canada is the third country portal in the PMC-International Initiative, after the original in the U.S. and PMC-UK. Congratulations to partners CISTI, CIHR, and the US National Library of Medicine.

(thanks to Peter Suber, Open Access Tracking Project)

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.

Strong open access growth reported by Hindawi

Hindawi Publishing reports strong growth for 2009. Submissions more than doubled, from 7,600 in 2008 to more than 16,500 in 2009. The number of accepted manuscripts grew from 2,500 in 2008 to 4,400 in 2009. Note that the growth in accepted manuscripts is smaller than the growth in submitted manuscripts, indicating an increased rejection rate.

This data and indication of strong growth at PLoS One is important in indicating that not only is growth rate of open access journals very strong (two per day based on DOAJ rates), the growth of articles published in open access journals is strong as well.

Thanks and congratulations to Hindawi's Paul Peters and Ahmed Hindawi.

This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Policy Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Management

Following is my response to the Policy Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Management (U.S.) (Phase 3).

Thanks once again for an opportunity to participate in this important consultation.

Question: Compliance. What features does a public access policy need to ensure compliance? Should this vary across agencies?

There should be a simple basic policy covering all agencies: mandate requirement of open access to published results of funded research, with an embargo period of no more than 6 months. Full libre open access – no embargo, re-use rights for results – should be encouraged. Beyond the basics, implementation details might best be left to the individual agency. For the NIH, for example, the PubMedCentral database initiative is well established, in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, with discussions to extend this initiative further on an international basis. It makes sense, then, for the NIH policy to specify deposit in PubMedCentral. In addition to providing access and an easy means for monitoring compliance, this stipulation allows the NIH to carry forward the tradition of the U.S. National Library of Medicine as the world’s premiere library steward for medical literature, ensuring the preservation of the medical literature.

This centralized, government-led database approach may or may not work best for other agencies. Academic disciplines vary a great deal, and interdisciplinarity is increasingly common. The approach that I would recommend is working with existing strengths of academics and their organizations (mostly universities) and disciplines. There are only a very few highly successful, centralized subject databases similar to PubMedCentral. Where these exist, my suggestion is to work cooperatively with the existing initiative. For example, in physics, the arXiv, created by and for physicists who use it heavily; arXiv has established cooperative relationships with many publishers, allowing researchers to begin the submission process for publication through arXiv, and publishers also host arXiv mirror sites; for physics materials, arXiv is the obvious locus of deposit. For physics articles, then, I would recommend collaborating with and supporting arXiv, whose main site is Cornell University Library. For economics, collaboration with the distributed RePEC is recommended. In education, the U.S. Educational Resources Information Coalition (ERIC) is the first place to start. For library and information studies, my suggestion is to collaborate with and support the global volunteer-based collaboration, E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies [disclosure: I am volunteer member of the E-LIS Governance Team]. This is not a comprehensive list of disciplinary approaches; apologies for any omission.

The vast majority of academic literature, however, does not fall into any of the disciplinary repository approaches. For most U.S. government-funded literature, therefore, what I would recommend is deposit in an institutional repository. Universities and their libraries are more than ready to cooperate in this manner, which has advantages for the U.S. university system; more on this later.

Question: Evaluation. How should an agency determine whether a public access policy is successful? What measures could agencies use to gauge whether there is increased return on federal investment gained by expanded access?

Response: Evaluation is an area where I would suggest agency-specific approaches. For example, I would argue that the NIH leadership in open access, going back to providing free access to the PubMed index, has been key to the development of the practice of evidence-based medicine. The basic idea of evidence-based medicine is that after doctors and other health care practitioners graduate, they should continue to keep up their knowledge through reading, and make use of the research literature in diagnosing and treating illness. It would make sense to hypothesize that the NIH Public Access Policy will further advance evidence-based medicine; the tools and research methods of evidence-based medicine, then will be useful in evaluation. Other positives from the NIH Public Access Policy include speeding up advances in medical knowledge, and technology transfer (for example, facilitating the discovery of new drugs). These potentials would suggest different methodological approaches.

In education, I would be very surprised if there was not a serious gap in access to the research literature for educators and parents. School libraries anywhere are lucky to have sufficient resources for the kids themselves; most would see professional development resources for teachers as a luxury. In this case, simple before and after access measurements for access to research would be suitable. Surveys of educators to determine awareness of potential access would be beneficial; there may be a need for an educational campaign, as those who are not used to having access will not automatically think to look for it once it becomes available.

For technology transfer to the private sector, economic studies similar to those conducted by Houghton et al. would be most suitable.

Question: Roles. How might a public private partnership promote robust management of a public access policy? Are there examples already in use that may serve as models? What is the best role for the Federal government?

Response: The key partnership that I would recommend is with the researchers’ home organizations, generally universities. University libraries have well-established services and infrastructure that can greatly assist management. For example, the vast majority of university libraries have functioning institutional repositories. Virtually all university libraries participate in consortial groupings that could quickly find means to collaborate to ensure that all researchers have a repository available. University libraries have a robust technological infrastructure, reflecting their current leadership roles in providing access to (and increasingly, creation of) electronic information, and knowledgeable professional staff with established liaison relationships across campuses, across the nation. Librarians also have long-established business relationships with scholarly publishers. Even where the locus of deposit is a central repository (as with the NIH policy), librarians have expertise in assisting researchers with questions surrounding author rights retention to ensure compliance, and with deposit. The collaborative nature of the library profession means that it would be easy for any agency to work with the university library institutional repositories to ensure adherence to metadata standards to facilitate virtual repositories that will meet the specific needs of the agency, e.g. to showcase the work of the agency. [Disclosure: I am a professional librarian].

Working cooperatively with universities and their libraries has advantages for the U.S. university system as a whole. A full university IR will showcase the work of the university. Conceptually, there are strong reasons to believe that the IR will be a key evaluative component for universities in the very near future. For example, showcasing the work of a creative research department through the IR will only help to attract the best and brightest graduate students, and usage statistics for the IR will increase the university’s web presence, an emerging evaluative criteria for universities.

When work is deposited in a central repository such as PubMedCentral, it is ideal if it is cross-deposited in an institutional repository as well. This will facilitate preservation and assured ongoing access; the more copies of an item, the more likely it is to be preserved, and preservation is a key function for the academic library.

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to participate, and I hope that these comments are helpful to you.