Saturday, May 29, 2010

Open Access Policies in Europe: David Prosser article

Enabling Open Scholarship has just released David Prosser's Open Access Policies in Europe. This succinct overview by one of open access' most noteworthy champions is a must-read for anyone involved in OA policy development or advocacy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The journals of unfunded research

Recently in the Liblicense list, the idea came up that publishers could simply refuse to publish works by authors covered by open access policies. Of course, this is their right!

Publishers who share such view might wish to get together and form a new association, to plan their futures together. Here is my suggestion for a title for the association: The Journals for Strictly Limited Dissemination of the Works of Unfunded and Unemployed Researchers. Since this title is rather long, I suspect the abbreviation The Journals of Unfunded Research could quickly become popular.

The membership list of this association could be most helpful to librarians, in these difficult financial times when we need really good information about what to cut. And frankly, if journals are refusing articles written by the likes of authors at Harvard, MIT, as well as a large and growing list of other institutions, or funded by a growing list of the world's major research funders - it seems reasonable to ask what exactly they will be publishing in the near to medium term future.

For a list of the 220 open access mandate policies to date, see ROARMAP.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Food for all: letter to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) urging open access

Indian open access advocate Subbiah Arunachalam (Arun) has sent a letter to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) urging that CGIAR require open access to CGIAR-funded research.

Following is the full text of the letter:

“Dear Dr Carlos Perez del Castillo/ Dr Kathy Sierra:

About a year ago, on 20 May 2009 to be precise, Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT sent a Memorandum on Launching of Open Access Model: Digital Access to ICRISAT Scientific Publications to all researchers and students in all locations of ICRISAT []. In the memorandum Dr Dar had said "Every ICRISAT scientist/author in all locations, laboratories and offices will send a PDF copy of the author's final version of a paper immediately upon receipt of communication from the publisher about its acceptance. This is not the final published version that certain journals provide post-print, but normally the version that is submitted following all reviews and just prior to the page proof."

ICRISAT is the only international agricultural research centre with an OA mandate, and is second among the research and education institutes operating from India, the first being the National Institute of Technology-Rourkela ( ICRISAT publishes a research journal ( which is also an open access journal.

Since then is growing fast and the portal now has virtually all the research papers published in recent times, and all the books and learning material produced by ICRISAT researchers.

We believe that it would be great if other CGIAR laboratories could also mandate open access to their research publications. Indeed, it would be a good idea to have a system wide Open Access mandate for CGIAR and to have interoperable OA repositories in each CGIAR laboratory. Such a development would provide a high level of visibility for the work of CGIAR and greatly advance agricultural research. Besides, journals published by CGIAR labs could also be made OA. There are more than 1,500 OA repositories (listed in ROAR and OpenDOAR) and about 5,000 journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Currently over 2050 journals are searchable at article level. Over 390,000 articles are included in the DOAJ service.

The world will soon be celebrating the International Open Access Week [18-24 October 2010] and you may wish to announce the CGIAR OA mandate before then.

As you may be aware, all seven Research Councils of the UK and the National Institutes of Health, USA, have such a mandate in place for research they fund and support. To see the full list of ~220 mandates worldwide, see ROARMAP.

We look forward to seeing an early implementation of open access in all CGIAR labs.

- Subbiah Arunachalam [Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India]
- Remi Barre [Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (CNAM), Paris, France]
- Leslie Chan [University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada]
- Anriette Esterhuysen [Association for Progressive Communications, Johannesburg, South Africa]
- Jean-Claude Guédon [University of Montreal, Canada]
- Stevan Harnad [Universite du Quebec a Montreal and University of Southampton]
- Neil Jacobs [JISC, UK]
- Heather Joseph [Executive Director, SPARC, USA]
- Barbara Kirsop [Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, UK]
- Heather Morrison [Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada]
- Richard Poynder [Technology journalist, UK]
- T V Ramakrishnan, FRS [Banaras Hindu University and Indian Institute of Science; Former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences]
- Peter Suber [Berkman Fellow, Harvard University; Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College; Senior Researcher, SPARC; Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge]
- Alma Swan [Director, Key Perspectives, UK]
- John Wilbanks [Vice President for Science, Creative commons]
- John Willinsky [Stanford University and University of British Columbia]”

Comment: bravo to Arun, our tireless defender of open access around the world! Let us hope that CGIAR heeds this message. What could possibly be more fair than ensuring that those who cannot always be sure to be able to afford quality food supplies, at the very least have guaranteed free access to the very research that is meant to help them?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Springer (owner of BMC) did NOT sign the anti-FRPAA letter

This correction to an earlier post bears repeating! According to Wim van der Stelt, Springer, EVP Business Development, Springer, owner of BioMedCentral, did NOT sign the anti-FRPAA letter of the AAP/PSP; Springer is currently not even a member! In fact, as reported in full here, Springer, owner of BMC, has quite an enlightened approach to open access.

It is my delight to profusely apologize to Springer (owner of BMC) for the mix-up.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Canada's Digital Economy Consultation: help vote up Open Access to Canadian Research

Update May 18: OA to Canadian Research is now at the top of the Canada's Digital Content section - just 13 votes from the top overall! Please register and vote today - and consider asking your organization to make a formal submission.

Please register for Canada's Digital Economy Consultation and vote for Open Access to Canadian Research under Canada's Digital Content. Currently OA is at 8 votes, just 2 behind the lead suggestion in this section of the Ideas Forum.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Private sector and long term responsibility for scholarly work? Nonsense!

In a recent letter opposing the U.S. Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), Martin Frank writes: "Copyright is essential to protecting these works and to preserving incentives for the private sector to continue to invest in peer review, editing, publishing, and maintaining the electronic record of vetted scientific journal articles".

One issue with this sentence that I would like to highlight, for now: it is nonsense to suggest that the private sector has a meaningful role in long-term maintenance of scholarly articles.

A private sector publisher is completely within its rights to cease to exist, or change business operations, at any time. The public has no rights to ask a private sector entity to undertake a responsibility with an infinite time span. Has anyone asked publishers to undertake this role? If so, what were they thinking? This is not the traditional role of publishers, but rather the traditional role of libraries as a memory institution.

One of the benefits of the National Institutes of Health's Public Access Policy is that it moves the traditional role of the U.S. National Library of Medicine in preserving the medical research literature into the internet age, as well as sharing the burden globally through the developing PubMedCentral International network (with the UK and Canada up and running already). Academic libraries everywhere are busy ensuring the preservation of electronic collections, just as they have preserved print collections in the past (and present, of course).

On behalf of many: division within traditional publishers re anti-FRPAA lobbying

Correction May 20, 2010: I am delighted to report that Springer, owner of BioMedCentral, did NOT sign the anti-FRPAA letter and I originally reported. Rather, the letter was signed by Springer Publishing Company, a medical publishing company that has nothing to do with Springer/BMC.

Thanks to Wim van der Stelt, Springer, EVP Business Development, for this most helpful clarification:

"Your blogpost dated 05/12 about publishers anti frpaa letter contains a mistake that I’d really like to be corrected.

Springer is no signatory of the letter, we currently are even not a member of AAP/PSP. The Springer mentioned in the list of signatories is “Springer publishing company”, a medical publisher that is in no way related to Springer, let alone to BioMed Central.

I’d like to stress that Springer’s policy is to cooperate with customers and other stakeholders to further develop scholarly communication and that we are willing to experiment and develop new business models in case there is a need for that. That is the reason for our ongoing OA development activities, including the acquisition of BioMed Central".

Heather again:

My profuse apologies to Springer / BioMedCentral, and thanks very much to Wim van der Stelt and Springer for this most welcome feedback - and enlightened viewpoint.

This correction supports the major point of my blogpost, that there is division within traditional publishers regarding anti-FRPAA lobbying.

Original post, omitting the error:

A recent letter lobbying against FRPAA starts with: on behalf of many publisher members.

Interesting word, many. I have no doubt that the writer would have preferred to use words like "all", "almost all", or "most".

My take on this is that this is an indication of struggle within the anti-FRPAA lobbying group, which makes one wonder: just how strong is the opposition? For example, the letter refers to university presses; but only 3 presses are signatories, and only one of these is based in the U.S. (University of Chicago Press). According to the American Association of University Presses membership page, AAUP has over 130 members worldwide. If only 1 American University Press has signed this letter - this is less than 1% of the membership for this group.

It is curious that two UK university presses (Oxford and Cambridge) have signed, given that FRPAA is predated by OA policies at all of the UK Research Councils.

Even looking at the signatories, it is clear that there is internal struggle at these organizations as well. For example, Oxford University Press is a signatory, even though OUP has some innovative OA experiments in progress.

The letter can be downloaded from here.

Housekeeping: e-mail down on Sunday, May 16

Friends please note: my work e-mail will be down on Sunday, May 16, due to a major power shutdown on SFU Burnaby mountain campus. If you need to get in touch that day, try hgmorris at gmail dot com.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Canada's Digital Economy Consultation: preliminary thoughts

Tony Clement has opened up a consultation on Canada's Digital Economy - note that comments are due July 9th.

Preliminary thoughts:

Canada's Digital Economy strategy should reflect Canadian values, of universal rights to access and participation. Every Canadian, whether urban, rural, and including every First Nations community, should be able to participate in the digital economy. This means ubiquitous broadband access, and equity in access to education from kindergarten to post-secondary.

There is some welcome, but very weak support for open access in this report. This would be a good time for Canada to get up to speed on open access developments in other countries, notably the UK where all research councils require open access to the research that they fund, and the US Federal Research Public Access Act which is in progress.

As reported earlier on IJPE, the U.S. Communication and Computer Industries have recently released a report indicating the importance of industries relying on fair use. The Consultation document for Canada's Digital Economy strategy mentions that ICT accounts for 5% of GDP, and is rapidly growing, in comparison with the copyright-based industries that account for 3.8% GDP. This adds economic weight to fairness arguments for fair use / fair dealing. If we want the economy to flourish, we need LESS IP, not MORE. This would be a good time for leadership in demanding lowering copyright terms (perhaps to 14 years), and eliminating Crown copyright.

Creativity is important both to the economy, as mentioned in this report, and more importantly, to society. Welcome academic support for science is mentioned in this report; however, if the concern is with supporting the development of creativity, isn't the answer strong educational support for the arts and humanities, from kindergarten to post-secondary? Shouldn't we be supporting arts and culture in Canadian communities, so that they will be places where creative people want to live - and anyone would want to visit?

Over 20% of the world's scholarly journals now open access! (Kudos to DOAJ)

Update May 13: the current Ulrich's total for academic, refereed, active journals is just over 27,000, which makes the DOAJ 5,000 only 18.5%, not over 20% of the world's journals as measured by Ulrich's. It is likely that both Ulrich's and DOAJ seriously underrepresent academic journals in China. Thanks to Stian Haklev for the figures.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has just announced a list of milestones, including exceeding 5,000 journals. This is more than 20% of the world's scholarly peer reviewed journals, estimated at ~ 23,000 according to Ulrich's.

This is a conservative estimate. DOAJ is doing great work, but they are a small group, and kvetches from the open access community tend to center around the lag time it takes for new or converted journals to get through the DOAJ vetting process and be included in DOAJ.

If this is a concern for you - ask whether your local library, library consortia, or vendor who benefits from OA journals - is a member or supporter of DOAJ. As the notice points out, this support would be helpful to DOAJ to increase the services that people want of this popular site.

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

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fair Use in the U.S. Economy: Economic Contribution of Industries Relying on Fair Use

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has just released a report, Fair Use in the U.S. Economy: Economic Contribution of Industries Relying on Fair Use.

In brief, using economic analysis developed by WIPO to assess the contribution of copyright industries, this report finds that the industries relying on fair use contribute trillions to the U.S. economy, employ millions, and that this sector is growing much faster than the economy as a whole.

Full citation: Thomas Rogers & Andrew Szamosszegi, Fair Use in the U.S. Economy: Economic Contribution of Industries Relying on Fair Use (CCIA: 2010) available online at