Monday, August 29, 2005

Open Letter on RCUK Position Statement on Access to Research Outputs

greetings Dr. Astrid Wissenberg,

Congratulations to the RCUK for a very well thought out position statement on access to research outputs. The four fundamental principles describe very clearly and succinctly what we all need to strive for with research outputs: rapid and widespread dissemination, effective quality control, cost-effectiveness, and ensuring preservation. The RCUK not only addresses these philosophical ideals, it generously incorporates considerable flexibility to accomodate such present-day realities as the lack of ubiquitous institutional repositories.

I am a librarian from Canada, an open access advocate with considerable experience in the areas of resource sharing and database licensing at a provincial level. Here are a few thoughts on the RCUK position statement, in case this might be of help to future deliberations.

It is my opinion, based on considerable thought and research, that there is no model for providing access to research that can even potentially come close to what is possible with open access. National or provincial licensing, for example, is a wonderful thing, and a very significant improvement over individual or institutional licenses. Consider this, however: in order for a national licensing approach to meet the same level of access as open access, every nation in the world would have to have national licenses to every publication. This would be far more challenging than implementing open access.

Open access, as you have no doubt heard, is seen by many as an unprecedented public good. The more thought I give to open access, the more benefits I see. The most important one that I'd like to draw your attention to at the moment, is the potential of open access to act as a stabilizing economic factor at the global level. Those who can afford to do research, pay the price for the publication. Those who cannot afford the research, whether due to environmental, financial, or other disaster, have no obligation to pay - but still have the same access. This all happens naturally, without intervention - all we need is for public policy makers to set a clear, simple direction, and the rest looks after itself.

I've written on this subject in more detail in my blog posting, An open access model with potential to facilitate global economic stability and equity, at: rapidly as possible
The first fundamental principle in your position statement calls for research results to be disseminated as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable. I would encourage RCUK to continue or strengthen the emphasis on rapid dissemination of results. One possibility would be to encourage researchers to post preprints as soon as available (unless, in the author's view, there are such significant consequences to potential errors that this is inadvisable, as for example in certain areas of toxicology), and replace these with the author's peer-reviewed copy as soon as possible. This is the route to the most rapid advances in knowledge - as soon as one researcher has found one of the building-blocks towards a cure for cancer, another researcher can immediately proceed with the next step in the process. This is the kind of open sharing that made it possible for the world to come together to map the human genome in record time. The human race faces many other significant problems today, and research can help - from the scientific advances that are our best hope for minimizing the damage of global warming to the social sciences and humanities advances we need to figure out how to share our new, globalized world in peace. There may be pressure, to allow for delays. My suggestion for the RCUK is to resist this pressure, and to insist instead on immediate sharing.

The dramatic growth of open access
I have heard rumours that misinformation about the extent of interest in open access has been communicated in the U.K. Just in case such misinformation exists, please note that I have been attempting to monitor open access initiatives for some time, and have reported some of my findings. In brief: the rise in open access resources is truly remarkable. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), for example, has been adding new titles (after a vetting process) at the rate of more than one per day throughout 2005. The over 1,700 peer-reviewed, fully open access journals included in DOAJ understates the total number of OA journals, due to the time required to discover and vet these journals, which are appearing around the world, in many different languages. The number of articles and repositories included in OAIster has also been growing dramatically, likely reflecting a dramatic increase in the number of institutional repositories and open access articles contained therein.

More details can be found in my article, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16, 3 (2006).
Preprint at:
Most recent revision

The future of institutional repositories
At the moment, as stated in the position statement, not all universities and faculty have access to institutional repositories. I am convinced that this situation will rapidly change in the next few years. Why? As an author, I just love my institutional repository. It makes it possible for me to point people to all my recent publications and presentations with just one click. This is more convenient for me, than having all these works on my own desktop. It makes it easy for me to show others how productive I've been. The IR will do the same for departments and universities as well. Picture the people responsible for promoting the university with a resource that showcases all of the university's research. Funding agencies, too, will be able to demonstrate value to the public. In short, those institutional repositories, once filled, will be good for academe as a whole. If this idea is of interest, please see my more detailed blog posting, The Institutional Repository, the Author, and the Academy, at:

This is a personal professional opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of my employer.

In the interests of openness, I'll be posting a copy as an open letter on my blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

best regards,

Heather G. Morrison
Project Coordinator
BC Electronic Library Network
Phone: 604-268-7001
Fax: 604-291-3023
Email: heather dot m at eln dot bc dot ca

Details about the RCUK Open Access Position Statement can be found at:
Thanks to Open Access News

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Embracing the medium: 1

The whole publishing industry as it exists today emerged and evolved from the exciting potential of the printing press. Much of what we are still doing reflects this medium.

The printing press was a marvelous invention indeed. It made literacy for the population as a whole, not just the privileged few, a possibility.

The electronic medium, in combination with the world wide web, expands our potential to communicate in a manner every bit as dramatic as the printing press. One of our challenges is learning to let go of our fears - to quit worrying about print-based practices, and rather, embrace the medium and the potential that it offers. This is the first in a series of articles on why and how we should embrace the electronic medium.

Consider, for example, the scholarly journal article as a static, one-time event, as compared with the potential for a constantly updated work. Today, a scholarly article is written, peer-reviewed, and edited, and a final version is considered certified - the version most will consider authoritative, and one the author may use in applying for promotion and tenure, etc.

Sometimes, this makes perfect sense. For example, a report of an experimental study. At other times, this is not ideal. For example, a report on what is happening in a rapidly evolving field.

Today's academic may face a dilemma: whether to prioritize advancing our scholarly knowledge, or whether to focus on certification.

As one example, consider the Open Access News blog, written by Peter Suber with other contributors. This blog is considered by a great many people, including academics specializing in the area of open access, as the world's most authoritative resource on open access. It is updated frequently, with new postings generally several times a day. OA News is considered an extremely valuable resource, which is helping people throughout the world to advance their knowledge in this very important and rapidly evolving area.

Let's consider what might happen if we try to apply the traditional approach to academic certification to such a resource. Part of the traditional approach is to certify a particular version. Let's say we decide to certify the 4:00 p.m. Saturday, August 27, 2005 version of OA News. We would need to either copy this version - or ask Peter Suber to stop updating until after the certification process. Normally, an editor will ask one or two people to conduct a review. There is a very great deal of information in OA News, however, so perhaps a large team of reviewers and editors would be needed. Since this is an imaginary scenario, let's pretend that this team accomplishes the review in an absolutely incredible time frame - say 15 minutes. A note can go on the 4:00 p.m. Saturday, August 27, 2005 version of OA News to the effect: this blog has been certified by: (name editors, team members and credentials on this date).

This is all well and good, if a lot of work.

Trouble is - if Peter Suber gets right back to work and updates OA News again at 4:30 - the certified version is no longer the most authoritative work, but rather the 4:30 version. As time goes on, the more Peter updates, the less valuable the certified version is.

Would anyone want Peter Suber to switch from keeping OA News the wonderful resource that it is, to writing a series of discrete articles on open access, each one peer-reviewed, certified and published the traditional way? Open access opponents - maybe. For most of us, however, it is clear that the constant updating is precisely what makes this resource so valuable. While OA News is not traditionally peer-reviewed, it is certainly read, reviewed, and appreciated by Peter Suber's peers.

It is possible that someone with Peter Suber's reputation can afford to concentrate on this type of resource, rather than the traditional processes that a junior faculty member might need to go through to obtain tenure. We need to figure out how to certify this type of resource, which is so much more valuable than the single-fixed-article approach, in so many areas.

Embracing the medium:2
Last revised August 28, 2005.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Revised Update

sThe following update has been revised, based on helpful comments from a fellow open access advocate. In the spirit of open peer review, both the original and the revised update will continue to be available. Comments on the open peer review aspect can be found at the end of this update.

As further evidence of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access, following is an update on some of the figures presented in my peer-reviewed preprint, written early February 2005. In brief, the Directory of Open Access Journals continues to add new open access journals to its list at an average rate of about one title per day. OAIster figures suggest growth in both repositories, and articles contained therein. Highwire Free figures indicate that a related trend, free back issues, is having a noticeable impact as well.

In the author's opinion, there is no authoritative information available on the exact numbers of either open access journals or open access articles at the present time. These, or any other figures, can be interpreted at best as general and somewhat indirect indications of the extent of open access. The author concludes that there is sufficient evidence to prove that there is dramatic growth in open access, even though the precise figures have not been determined at this point in time.

The author cautions that, while is sufficient data to illustrate a dramatic growth in open access, strongly suggesting a very strong interest amongst academics in making their own work openly accessible, the vast majority of peer-reviewed articles still are not openly accessible.

In the author's opinion, it is not necessary or desirable to invest much time in determining precise figures at this point in time. That is, open access is at a stage where a great many academics, research funders, journal publishers, and others, are considering policies, economic models, and new means of publishing. The important question is not how much open access there is, but rather how to implement open access.

Following are the data as presented in the original article, gathered in early February 2005, and current data as of August 19, 2005. Some of the factors which make it impossible to extrapolate precise figures are listed below each section:

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Early February 2005:
  • over 1,400 journals
  • 63 titles added in past 30 days (Feb. 9)
  • 349 journal searchable at article level
    August 19, 2005:
  • 1,683 journals
  • 43 titles added in the past 30 days Note: this is August - if the number of titles added is slightly less in August than in January, summer vacations are likely the reason
  • 414 journals searchable at the article level
  • 76,422 articles included in DOAJ service (no comparison figure for Feb.; included for future reference)
    Note: journals are listed in DOAJ after they are discovered, and have passed a vetting process meant to ensure that all titles are fully open access, and peer reviewed.
    Some factors to consider when interpreting DOAJ figures:
  • DOAJ figures can only reflect OA journals which have been reported to DOAJ, or discovered by DOAJ. The electronic medium, the internet, and open source publishing software such as Open Journal Systems, make it very easy for researchers to start up their own independent journals, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. In some cases, the development of open access journals is highly coordinated, as with the Scielo group, facilitating discovery. In other cases, the new OA journal appears to have been developed quite independently, as is the case with The Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching.
  • To illustrate what the author sees as a very high probability that DOAJ significantly understates the total number of open access journals, consider the list of thousands of OA journals compiled by Jan Sczepanski, as reported by John Kelljberg to the SPARC Open Access Forum. This European-based list alone includes a very great many journals not reflect in DOAJ (or perhaps, not yet reflected in DOAJ? DOAJ is run by human beings, after all, who, like the rest of us, only have so much time at their disposal. Plus, with OA journals springing up around the world, perhaps the small DOAJ staff are not perfectly fluent in each and every one of the languages of the world?
  • As an illustration of the complexities of determining open access journal numbers, consider the case of the open source Open Journal Systems. On the OJS web site, there is a list of a sample of users of this software at Open Journal Systems sample OJS users - 40 participants as of August 20, 2005, (including the 210 titles in the African Journals Online project). This list represents only a sample of OJS users. For example, almost all of the 40 OJS users listed publish in English, whereas in 2003, it was reported that OJS "is being translated into Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Turkish by contributors to this open source software in Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Canada and Turkey." Anyone can download and use the open source software, and create their own support community. Reporting either to OJS, or to DOAJ, is optional. It is likely that many journals have not yet reported. Then, too, there is a strong tendency for most of the OJS users to pursue full open access, however this is not required. Even journals which fully intend to move towards open access may not yet be fully online. For example, many of the journals in the African Journals Online project only have abstracts online so far. There are OJS journals which are not open access at all, and at least one commercial, traditional subscription-style publisher is using the software. You could do research to find out whether OJS users plan to make their journals open access; however, this may not be timely, as it is quite likely that many journals are in the process of exploring models for making their work accessible in the electronic environment.
  • There are variations in the definition of open access, so that a determination of what constitutes an open access journal or article can vary depending on the definition. As one example, if a journal's articles are free to read on the journal's web site, but the author cannot post to an institutional repository, the journal will be considered open access by some observers, and not others.
  • There are variations in what is characterised as peer review, which makes it difficult to assess with any certainty the total number of peer-reviewed journals, whether open access or not. For example, there are many journals which review articles through an editorial rather than peer review process, but may self-identify as peer review.

    OAIster records:
  • 3.7 million records - Nov. 15, 2004
  • over 5 million records - early February, 2005
  • 5.7 million records - August 18, 2005
    OAIster institutions:
  • 405 institutions - early February 2005
  • 523 institutions - August 18, 2005
    Factors to consider in interpreting OAIster data
    OAIster includes all data and institutions using the Open Archives Initiative protocol. OAI is a standard designed to facilitate metadata harvesting that is frequently, but not necessarily, associated with open access scholarly articles.
  • OAIster data does not include self-archived items which are not deposited in a OAI-compliant repository - for example, articles posted on author's web sites.
  • While the increase in the number of records retrieved through an OAIster search cannot be directly related to open access articles, the author's experience strongly suggests that at least some of the growth in OAIster records arises from articles in institutional repositories. For example, in Canada, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries has an Institutional Repository program underway, with each university library proceeding independently. Many repositories are in early stages - some still in discussion stages, others in pilot project phase, still others fairly recently released publicly, and just beginning to fill. The number of institutional repositories, and articles contained therein, has increased in a pattern consistent with the OAIster increase in numbers.

    Country Update on Institutional Repositories
    Detailed information on institutional repositories, articles, and other information, from 13 countries. Illustrates the international nature of the IR movement. Provides data that will likely be useful in determining OA growth in the future.
    This paragraph added August 22, 2005. Thanks to the SPARC OA News written by Peter Suber for the tip.

    Free back issues from Highwire Press: not open access, but definitely related:
  • over 800,000 free full-text articles in January 2005
  • 940,830 free full-text articles as of 8/18/05

    OA News growth from specific publishers
    My apologies to all the other OA publishers not listed here, whose collections are also growing rapidly, such as India's Medknow Publications, not addressed in detail below. The purpose of this update is to illustrate that open access continues to grow dramatically; it is not meant to list all of the important open access initiatives currently underway.

    Note: this paragraph added August 22, 2005, based on data supplied by Matt Cockerill at BMC.
    As of today, BMC has 139 journals that are fully OA in terms of research, although some journals feature subscriptions for non-research content. Many more journals are in the pipeline. This contrasts with the "over 100" journals I reported in early February. Although I do not have the exact figure at that time, I do not underreport open access journals, so it is likely that this meant "just over 100 journals". My figures from early February for BioMedCentral were from the CUFTS knowledgebase, which may not always equal BMC numbers due to CUFTS updating procedures (usually monthly). As an indication of the likely accuracy of CUFTS figures, the CUFTS journal count for BMC today is 138, as compared to the 139 reported by Matt Cockerill at BMC.

    George Porter's OA Journal Announcements
    Caltech's George Porter frequently posts updates on new and converted-to-OA journals. You can find these message at the SPARC Open Access Forum Archives. To find the full list, search for George Porter by name, look up his e-mail address and search again. You should find a total of 319 messages (as of August 22), mostly OA journal announcements. Close to 50 of these announcements are dated February 2005 or later. One example is the latest update to the Public Library of Science collection.

    African Journals Online Update
    Details about the dramatic growth of the African Journals Online project have been published in the INASP Newsletter No. 29: July 2005. Highlights:
  • 1998: pilot project - 10 journals with tables of contents online
  • end of 2000: 50 English language journals with tables of contents, document delivery service added
  • end of 2003: 175 journals from 21 African journals
    Comment: according to the INASP article, this is "slow". Makes you wonder: what does "fast" look like, from an INASP perspective?
  • July 2005: over 1,500 tables of contents, over 18,000 articles on the site
  • July 2005: ability to add own content introduced for journals over the past year
  • July 2005: readers around the world have signed up for alerts service to individual titles; 10 of the journals have over 200 alerts subscribers, one has over 300
    Comment: demonstrates - yet again, in another way - the OA impact advantages
    This paragraph added August 22, 2005. Thanks to the SPARC OA News, written by Peter Suber, for the tip.

    Notes on open peer review
    The author's original update was revised, based on helpful comments from a fellow open access advocate. These were presented as comments, rather than peer review, at the request of the person making the comments. While this individual is widely considered to have academic expertise in the area of open access, in the individual's own view, numeric analysis of open access is outside their area of expertise - an area where the individual feels competent to comment, but not peer review. From the author's point of view, these comments were particularly helpful in identifying the need to articulate some of the limitations to be considered in interpreting this data, which were no doubt much more obvious to the author than they would be for many readers.

    Note: this post, originally posted August 20, 2005, has been updated August 22, 2005, with new information. Three times. Feb. 26, 2007 - this is now a quarterly series.

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.
  • Friday, August 19, 2005

    Dramatic Growth of Open Access: An Update

    Please see the Revised Update. This original update continues to be available, as an illustration of an approach to Open Peer Review.

    As further evidence of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access, here is an update on some of the figures presented in my peer-reviewed preprint, written early February 2005. In brief, there continues to be a dramatic increase in the numbers of fully open access, peer reviewed journals, articles in repositories and repositories per se as illustrated by OAIster numbers, and free articles in back issues of journals, as shown by the Highwire Free program.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
    Early February 2005:
  • over 1,400 journals
  • 63 titles added in past 30 days (Feb. 9)
  • 349 journal searchable at article level
    August 19, 2005:
  • 1,683 journals
  • 43 titles added in the past 30 days Note: this is August - if the number of titles added is slightly less in August than in January, summer vacations are likely the reason
  • 414 journals searchable at the article level
  • 76,422 articles included in DOAJ service (no comparison figure for Feb.; included for future reference)
    Note: journals are listed in DOAJ after they are discovered, and found to meet stringent criteria for open access and peer review. It is highly likely that DOAJ numbers underestimate the true number of open access journals, particularly independent start-ups.

    OAIster records:
  • 3.7 million records - Nov. 15, 2004
  • over 5 million records - early February, 2005
  • 5.7 million records - August 18, 2005
    OAIster institutions:
  • 405 institutions - early February 2005
  • 523 institutions - August 18, 2005

    Free back issues from Highwire Press: not open access, but definitely related:
  • over 800,000 free full-text articles in January 2005
  • 940,830 free full-text articles as of 8/18/05

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.
  • Thursday, August 18, 2005

    The Institutional Repository as Boon for the Print Disabled

    Many publishers will only allow authors to post the author's own version in the institutional repository, not the final pdf. Since pdfs are not always accessible to the print disabled, I wondered whether institutional repositories filled with word documents and the like, just might, by happenstance, also greatly enhance accessibility to the scholarly literature for the print disabled. Here are the comments of local expert, CILS Librarian Stephen Blaeser, on the subject (quoted with permission):

    "The creation of institutional repositories could be a potential boon for accessible material for the print disabled. Especially, if the file format which they are produced in are accessible. PDFs may or may not be accessible depending on how they are scanned/created. At CILS, we sometimes run image only PDFs through OCR software to make them accessible. I think it would be nice to have some kind of documentation available to the institution creating these repositories so they can get the most bang for their buck.

    Those institutions who do not want to make their documents available except in PDF should take a look at the Adobe Accessibility information"

    "Also, I should mention that universal design also plays an important part in making information accessible. You may have a
    perfectly accessible document but if you are unable to find it easily it can be very difficult and frustrating for a print disabled users to find and thus access it (or anyone else for that matter). A few resources about universal design can be viewed at"

    About CILS: " CILS is a library service for students and instructors with special needs at publicly funded colleges and institutes in British Columbia. Our clients are people who cannot use conventional print because of visual, learning or physical disabilities. "

    Yet another reason to create and fill those institutional repositories!

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    Open Peer Review: A Model & An Invitation

    This is one model for an open peer review system. The idea is to automate a great deal of the coordination of peer review, make much of it transparent, and allow peer-reviewers to take credit for their work. This model could fit well with either an institutional repository / peer review overlay approach, or a traditional journal approach for either OA or non-OA journals, or any combination thereof. Readers are welcome to comment, peer-review, and/or experiment with software approaches based on this model, which is under the Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics' Attribution-NonCommercial-Share and Share Alike License.

    The idea of open peer review is not new. While this post will not include a full review of related literature, as one example, Stevan Harnad talks about one approach to open peer review as early as 1996, in Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals.

    The goals of this model are:

    transparent peer review: unlike blind peer review, readers can see the peer review process in action. Rather than accepting an assessment of certification based on a closed system, readers can judge the peer review process per se, for themselves. This model could accomodate a combination of open and blind peer review - that is, a peer reviewer could publish a signed peer review, or provide comments confidentially, depending on the preferences of authors or the discretion of editors. As an example of the latter, when reviewing opinion pieces in an emotionally heated area, some blind review might be seen as preferable to open peer review.
    increased science literacy: it is assumed that a transparent peer review process will facilitate science literacy teaching, as more people will be able to see the peer review process in action
    better peer review: exposing the peer review process per se will allow for thoughtful reflection on peer review per se, and facilitate research. This will allow for the development of better and more efficient peer review.
    peer-reviewer credit: peer review is an important task, which a great many academics undertake on a voluntary basis. A portfolio of signed peer reviews can be added to the author's c.v. The best peer-reviewers, those who are thorough, considerate, and respond quickly, can be recognised for their work.
    automate coordination of peer review: it should be possible to establish databases of peer reviewers, most likely distributed databases with central harvesting of key metadata (similar to institutional repositories & OAI), interoperable with other relevant software programs such as publishing software and calendaring systems, to automate much of the coordination of peer review.
    peer review improvements through automation: the efficiencies of automation may make it possible to enhance peer review in ways that are not feasible with a system relying largely on one-on-one contact between editor and peer review. For example, there are many good reasons why it might be desirable to seek out an international peer review panel. An automated system would make it possible to easily identify experts in far-away countries, that the editor is unlikely to know personally. It is also possible to think about peer reviewers checking bits of an article, rather than the whole thing. That is, one paragraph of an article may refer to a completely separate area of expertise from the speciality of the author and main peer reviewers; there could be opportunities to ask a specialist to check just the one paragraph, rather than the whole article.
    facilitate and recognise author controlled peer review: There are advantages and disadvantages to author-controlled peer review, where the author takes responsibility to seek out peer reviewers. While this is not presently recognised as peer review, it is widely practiced. In the author's view, an article which has been peer reviewed and edited accordingly prior to submission for publication, is likely to be a better article. Authors who seek out comments from colleagues, and peer reviewers who are sought out by authors, are both demonstrating an openness to collaboration and willingness to listen to critique - both important elements in conducting scholarly research. Author controlled peer review could be used to supplement editor-coordinated peer review (a pre-peer-reviewed article might need only one outside peer reviewer, for example, while an unreviewed work might need two or three).

    In some cases, author controlled peer review could be an alternative to editor-coordinated peer review. It would be desirable to develop a set of criteria outlining the optimum for peer review (peer reviewer meets certain criteria, is not a former student, teacher, co-researcher or co-author, at least one peer reviewer from a different cultural background - more important in social than hard sciences - and so forth). Authors should explain whether and how they have met these criteria; this could be accomplished by an automated list, where the relevant criteria are checked off. Some of this could be be automated, as well - for example, a database of the author's works will reveal former co-authors, and automated comparison of the c.v.'s of author and peer reviewer will reveal common affiliations.

    The model

    Peer Reviewer Profiles
    An academic who is willing to participate in peer review process creates a profile, which could be stored in the institutional repository. Elements of the profile could include:

    • author name
    • affiliation
    • title / position
    • areas of expertise (ideal might be using a standard list)
    • qualifying notes to each area of expertise - e.g., research specialist, practitioner expert
    • links to author's own works
    • links to samples of work - open, signed peer reviews
    • comments from authors and/or editors
    • comments from recognised experts on the peer-reviewer's expertise / ability to peer review in a particular area
    • author's availability - time and number of peer-review requests the author is willing to accept at any given time.
      The time element could potentially be integrated with calendaring systems, e.g. no or fewer requests at particular times
    • author preferences for peer review - e.g. open access and/or fully green journals preferred, professional researchers only, researchers from developing countries welcome, students welcome (in limited numbers, perhaps?)
    • mutuality - in areas of controversy, authors might elect to publish critical reviews from peers with different perspectives, on the condition that their peer mutually publishes the author's own peer review. This could provide readers with a good service, in alerting them to the existence of alternate viewpoints.

    At the Institutional Repository

    • hosting or linking to author profiles and peer review
    • flexibility to accomodate clusters of versions. For example, lead readers first to the final peer-reviewed version, when available, but also make it easy for readers to find the original draft and peer reviewers' comments.

    Publishing software

    • links to author profiles
    • links to peer reviews
    • means of matching available peer reviewers with authors, editors, journals, or other certifying bodies

    Comments or peer reviews can be sent to heather dot m at eln dot bc dot ca. Any comments or reviews may be incorporated in future versions of this model. Please indicate if you are willing to allow your comments or review to be posted on this blog.


    Peter Suber, August 18, 2005:

    Note: Peter wants me to make clear that he does *not* believe that OA depends on peer-review reform, that OA has to wait for peer-review reform, or that OA is valuable primarily for its contribution to peer-review reform. OA is compatible with every kind of peer review and we should pursue it regardless of our position on peer review. (I completely agree, by the way!)

    "Just for the record, I believe that peer-review definitely needs improvement and that many promising reforms have exciting synergies with OA. One of my pet ideas (which I wrote about more in the early days than recently) is retroactive peer review. Put the preprint in an OA repository as soon as it's ready, then apply for review from a journal or free-floating editorial board. If approved, with or without revision, the approved version is also put in the repository with a citation and metadata showing its approved status. So far, this is just an overlay journal. What's most exciting is the prospect of multiple editorial boards reviewing the same work, say, from different methodological or disciplinary perspectives, with the possibility of each giving (or withholding) its approval, creating something like a market in endorsements and tools that can search and sort by endorsement."

    E-LIS already has many of the components needed
    by: Heather Morrison

    E-LIS, the open archive for Library and Information Science, already has many of the components that would be needed for an open peer review system. One can already add comments to articles already in the archive - a reviewer could indicate if a comment is intended as a peer review, and link to a Peer Reviewer Profile. All that is needed is some editorial oversight, and communication with the author, and we're almost there!

    An illustration
    An illustration of open peer review in action can be found in my Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Revised Update. This illustrates how an update to a peer-reviewed article can be improved, based on helpful constructive criticism on invitation from a friend.

    Head and Neck Medicine
    Head and Neck Medicine, a new Open Access Journal from BioMedCentral, is planning to follow an open peer review approach. Thanks to Open Access News, Aug. 30.

    See also
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) Editorial 1978 on Open Peer Commentary Thanks to Stevan Harnad.

    Last updated September 26, 2005.

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    Open Access and peer review: time and cost savings

    OA, particularly widely practiced OA, has many side-benefits, in addition to the obvious: increased access and impact.

    One such benefit is that widely practiced OA can reduce the time and costs of peer review. How?

    Peer-reviewers need to check the facts - the resources cited.

    As things stand now, the peer-reviewer generally has to look up each reference. At best (the item is immediately available), this is extra work for a peer-reviewer, taking away time from the peer-reviewer's own research.

    Often, the item is not available, so the peer-reviewer needs to obtain the item through interlibrary loan. This can increase the time required for peer review, stretching out the time from submission to publication - delaying impact.

    Interlibrary loans are not free - there are staffing costs, not trivial for universities, and often hard dollar costs to obtain items.

    Picture the OA-widely-practiced-scenario: all the articles cited are OA, and the author has provided a clickable link to each. This is a very efficient scenario indeed - no delay in access for the peer-reviewer, no delay in publication, no cost to the peer-reviewer's university.

    Perhaps one day soon publishers, and/or peer reviewers, will begin to ask for reference lists with those clickable links. Knowing what is possible, I have no doubts about my preference as a peer-reviewer!

    Final thought: are universities subsidizing publishers when they provide interlibrary loans that are needed for peer review purposes? Could be something to think about for those publishers who are reluctant to provide interlibrary loans rights in licenses...some of those you'd prefer not to give such rights to are actually working for you.


    Heather G. Morrison

    The value we add as librarians does not depend on whether we purchase the information we provide. Anonymous.

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    The Institutional Repository, the Author & the Academy

    As an author, I just love my institutional repository!

    Here are my thoughts on some of the benefits for the author, and what I believe the institutional repository will one day do for departments, universities, and the academy in general.

    A few weeks ago, I placed a peer-reviewed preprint in SFU's D-Space called The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing and sent a note about the article to a few of the listservs I participate in. Within a couple of days, there were references to my article on a couple of blogs (at least one with very high traffic). Several people wrote to thank me for the article. One person specifically thanked me for self-archiving the article, because their library cannot afford to purchase journals in library and information science. Someone else mentioned that they would be putting some of the resources mentioned on their web site as a result of reading my article. At least two people are using ideas from this article in conference planning.

    To me, this illustrates several of the benefits of D-Space:

    Timeliness: by archiving a preprint, I am able to reach potential readers in a much more timely fashion.

    Impact: by sharing the article openly, more people are reading it, and acting on the ideas. Others have demonstrated the academic impact advantage of open access (increased citations) through research. This is real world impact - most likely to be relevant for faculty in the professional programs. This makes professional practice informed by research possible, illustrated by the trend towards evidence-based medicine.

    Access: people whose libraries do not have subscriptions are much more likely to read the article.

    Prestige: for those who do write and present a fair bit, this is a way to show off. This is not (entirely) self-serving; read on...

    There are other advantages to the author, in terms of convenience. Self-archiving my work in D-Space creates a "one place to look" for my work. I can refer to all of my recent writings and presentations with one URL: One example of how this can be used is the link to my "Publications and Presentations", on this blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics. Or, if I'm referring to one of my works in an e-mail, I can add a statement, if you're interested in reading the rest of my work, click here.

    This is more convenient for me than having my work on my own desktop. It's easier to find - only the final versions are there, and all are together. It's easier to access - I can reach my work from anyplace with an internet connection.

    These conveniences will apply to departments as well as individuals. Once the D-Space is full, if a professor is at a conference and wants to refer someone to the work of a colleague, this will be easy to do, without having to remember any of the bibliographic information.

    Prestige: Once departmental communities are filled, it will be easy to show the value that the department contributes to the university and society, by browsing the department community.

    A great deal of creative and interesting research is done at universities like SFU. Filling a university's institutional repository will provide an easy means to showcase this work and illustrate the worth of the university. This will make it easier for administrators to demonstrate the value that the university brings to the communtiy, and help to ensure ongoing support for the university. For example, alumni will be able to follow the research of their professors, and keep up in their fields. Local journalists and writers will have a ready means of learning about the research of local experts; their works will provide a means for the university's research to further enrich the community.

    Once all of our universities have their institutional repositories up and running, it will be easier to demonstrate the value of academe to society as a whole. This will build the connections between town and gown that create the climate for true lifelong learning - around the globe.

    If you publish or present: please consider self-archiving. No library can afford to subscribe to all the journals, not even in fields like library and information science where most of the journals are not that expensive. Outside the developed world - there aren't even many libraries - at least, not yet.

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Sunday, August 07, 2005

    U. of Guyana Library Flood Relief / Open Access Analysis

    In January this year, the Library at the University of Guyana was inundated with a flood. In spite of heroic efforts by staff to place materials out of harm's way in the midst of the record rainfall, a great many materials were lost. To read about the flood, and help out by purchasing the latest edition of books identified as needed, go to:

    There is another way for scholarly authors to help out. This method will not only help the University of Guyana library right now; it will help any other university in similar circumstances in the future, whether we are aware of their distress or not.

    This is a very simple method, that only takes a few minutes. Make your own work openly accessible, whether through self-archiving, or publishing in an open access journal.

    Your work may well have been included in one of those books that was destroyed in the flood. Access may or may not be restored in time, through the relief efforts. If your work was in a book no longer available for purchase in print, it won't be. If your work is openly accessible, then it is available to the faculty and students at University of Guyana to read it as soon as their internet connectivity is available.

    This illustrates a concept I talked about in my post about open access as a factor that moves us in the direction of global economic stability, and equity, which can be found at:

    While the library is being rebuilt, think of all the wonderful open access resources that are already immediately available; the 1,670 journals that can be found through the Directory of Open Access Journals, the millions of self-archived articles that can be found through either google or an OAIster search. Aren't you glad these resources are there? I know I am!

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    An open access model with potential to facilitate global economic stability and equity

    The present system of scholarly communications is largely based on purchases by, or on behalf of, the reader.

    There are many possible methods of producing and funding an open access scholarly communications system, some of which retain the element of purchase by (or on behalf of) readers.

    This article addresses a model involving funding and publishing production that is closely tied to where the research is produced. It is assumed that open access is happening globally, a trend which the author sees as inevitable, and already unfolding, for reasons to be addressed another day. This is - deliberately - a very broad, and very theoretical overview, to illustrate the potential overall effects.

    One example of such a model would be a variant of the disaggregated journal model, with articles placed in a university's institutional repository and peer-review arranged separately, but locally.

    Another example would be a locally produced, more traditional style open access journal.

    One of the advantages of such a model, is that there is some relationship between requirement to pay and ability to pay. That is, if a university, region or country can afford to do research, it seems reasonable to assume that some of the available funding could be used for publication.

    On the other hand, if a university, region, or country, is experiencing financial devastation for whatever reason - currency fluctuations, environmental catastrophe, war, or terrorist action - then there is no obligation to pay for publishing, but access remains the same. That is, if all else is lost, the collective knowledge of mankind is still readily available, making a quick rebound possible. In other words, open access via this model can act as an economic stabilizing factor, at all levels from the individual institution to the global level.

    Another advantage is that there will likely be a correlation between cost and ability to pay. That is, those in wealthier countries will likely pay more, reflecting higher wages / higher cost of living and doing business. Those in developing countries will pay less, reflecting lower costs in their area. There are economic benefits for the developing country; electronic academic publishing generates good jobs (technology development and support, editing, etc.). In other words, open access via this model increases equity. There is a direct relationship between cost and ability to pay.

    End of original post. Added comments:

    In the real world...
    For a real-world picture of how open access can work for a library devasted by flood, see U. of Guyana Library Flood Relief / Open Access Analysis Aug. 7, 2005

    Open access as a factor towards stability and equity is simple from a policy perspective, and easy from an adminstrative perspective
    Open access as a factor that works towards global economic stability and equity has one tremendous advantage: from a policy and administrative perspective, it is simple and easy.

    All that is needed from a policy perspective is a simple mandate. All that universities, regions, funding agencies, and governments need to do is to tell those they fund and/or employ, to make their works openly accessible. Links to examples of policies can be found on Stevan Harnad's Open Access Archivangelism blog.

    This policy is likely to need a very great deal less monitoring than other policy initiatives, because open access is in the researcher's best interests too. It is the best way for the researcher to achieve maximum impact, which enhances their status and career prospects. Details and links to the research illustrating the citation impact advantage of open access can be found at

    To illustrate why this is easy from a policy perspective, and simple to adminster, think about how much is already available on the internet, and how people have been using it as a primary search tool for some time. We librarians know just how hard it is to explain to people that not everything is actually freely available there yet, including some important resources they probably should be aware of. It is my belief that any researcher in the future who does not make their work openly accessible is likely to be ignored - not deliberately at all, but simply because there is so much information openly available on any topic, that few will take the extra effort to read works distributed through restricted-access channels.

    In my personal world, this is happening already. Some of my friends have done topnotch research and written articles on matters I consider extremely important. I'd love to be able to point to these works - but if they are published in journals meant for print distribution, available to few, I am very reluctant to mention them, out of concern for readers who would feel frustrated and left out if I did so.

    The main reason this is administratively simple is because the tendency towards stability and equity is completely automatic. Once works are openly accessible, researchers and others in a devasted region have instant access, as soon as their internet connectivity is up and running. There are no special measures we need to take. Indeed, open access helps out in situations we are not even aware of.

    All that policy makers need to do is to set the direction, the mandate for open access. The rest looks after itself.
    added August 7, 2005.

    Publisher Best Practices for Self-Archiving Authors: 4.5 Stars for Haworth Press

    March 12, 2007 update:

    Note: Haworth Press now has a policy requiring authors to transfer copyright before peer review. In my view, Haworth is no longer considered a role model for publisher best practices. For details and tips on where to publish, please see my March 12 post.

    Haworth Press has developed some good language to accomodate self-archiving authors. Note that authors are allowed to post both preprints and postprints, no delay is imposed, and authors retain as much of their rights as is consistent with ensuring Haworth has the rights it needs to publish. The following is excerpted from the Haworth Manuscript Submission & Limited Copyright Transfer Form, August 2005. All rights reserved. 4.5 of a possible 5 stars - congrats Haworth!

    1. AUTHOR RE-USE OF WORK: Both as a professional courtesy and in recognition of contemporary needs of authors/researchers/information providers and users in a globally connected information cybersystem, copyright transfer is limited to the extent that the author(s) or the author(s)’ employer (if applicable):

    a) retain PROPRIETARY RIGHTS, other than copyright, such as patent rights in any procedure, process, or means of manufacture depicted in the contribution;


    c) retain PREPRINT DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS, including posting as electronic files on the contributor’s own Web site for personal or professional use, or on the contributor’s internal university/corporate intranet or network, or other external Web site at the contributor’s university or institution, but not for either commercial (for-profit) or systematic third party sales or dissemination, by which is meant any interlibrary loan or document delivery systems. The contributor may update the preprint with the final version of the article after review and revision by the journal’s editor(s) and/or editorial/peer-review board;

    d) retain PHOTOCOPYING, ONLINE TRANSMITTAL, OR DOWNLOADING RIGHTS to any colleagues for the advancement of scientific research (with the exception of systematic distribution as described in section 1c);

    e) retain REPUBLICATION RIGHTS in any book written or edited by the contributor himself or herself, in any edited work for which the contributor is the sole editor or senior editor, or teaching coursepak [coursepack] prepared or written by the contributor.

    For any of these uses, no further permission is necessary in writing from The Haworth Press, Inc., nor will the Press require fees of any kind for the reprinting. However, we do require that the following conditions be met when re-using the material:

    1) Include a standard copyright line: copyright date, publisher’s name, city and state, journal and article title, volume, issue, and page number(s);

    2) Include the following information: Article copies available from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address: ;

    3) If reprinted electronically, include a hyperlink/hot link to The Haworth Press, Inc. home page. Our URL is;

    4) If reprinted electronically, there must be no charge for viewing the article.

    This statement is intended to provide full description for the limitation of copyright transferred to The Haworth Press, Inc., and to set forth the support by the Publisher for dissemination in a modern Internet and cyber-connected society.

    2. LIMITED COPYRIGHT TRANSFER: In consideration for publication and dissemination of our work, if accepted and published by the journal noted on the Limited Copyright Transfer Form, the Author(s) agree to transfer copyright of the Work to The Haworth Press, Inc., including full and exclusive rights to publication in all media now known or later developed, including but not limited to electronic databases and microfilm/microform, electronic journal format, anthologies of any kind, single-copy distribution through a distribution system, and as part of any aggregate (i.e., multiple journals distributed together as a package) print or electronic subscription or publication of any kind, and in any format now known or later developed with exceptions and limitations noted in AUTHOR RE-USE OF WORK listed above in paragraph #1. (NOTE TO U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: SEE YOUR EXEMPTION, PARAGRAPH #5 BELOW.)

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Publisher Best Practices for Self-Archiving Authors

    Many publishers are in the process of reviewing their authors' instructions, to accomodate desires and requirements for self-archiving. This message is meant primarily to help publishers identify really good examples, but it may also be of interest to authors to help identify what to look for.

    From a policy perspective, the very best allow authors to retain as much of their rights as possible - for example, to self-archive pre-prints, and replace with the final peer-reviewed version as soon as possible, generally before publication. Authors should be allowed to retain copyright to the greatest extent possible. A recent study funded by JISC/SURF, Towards good practices of copyright in Open Access Journals by Esther Hoorn and Maurits van der Graaf, found, among other things, that a large majority (71%) of authors want to keep their copyright (thanks to Peter Suber's Open Access News). Restrictions on duplicate publishing for commercial purposes at about the same time as original publication are reasonable. Allowing either author or publisher to re-use the work for future commercial purposes is a good idea as well.

    From a procedural perspective, the best author's instructions are simple, brief, easy to read, and easy to locate on the publishers' website. The ideal is to actively encourage authors to self-archive, and to automate deposit in the author's institutional repository where possible.

    The rating system is a five-star system, with one representing the lowest score and 5 the highest. The ratings are not meant to be taken too seriously. Every publisher mentioned is included as a role model. Charleston Advisor is very generous in allowing authors to retain rights. The ACRL instructions are a model for brevity and clarity.

    BioMedCentral, however, deserves special mention. After receiving the highest score to date, and the highest score possible (5 stars), BMC responded to comments about the imperfect of their author instructions by working hard to improve their procedures! BMC does automate deposit in the author's institutional repository (with the cooperation of the IR, of course). BMC is also a role model for vendor responsiveness to suggestions for improvement, in my opinion.

    Kudos to the American Diabetes Assocation

    ACRL's College and Research Libraries / College and Research Libraries News

    Charleston Advisor

    4.5 Stars for Haworth Press

    BioMedCentral: ratings and discussion messages
    5 stars for BMC Indeed!

    BMC: Bernd-Christoph Kaemper March 19, 2005

    BMC: by Matthew Cockerill, March 18 (2)

    BMC: Matthew Cockerill, March 18 (1)

    5 stars for BMC

    BMC: Bernd-Christoph Kaemper

    BMC: Brian Simboli

    5 stars for BMC?

    Initial invitation to discussion

    Last updated September 1, 2005.

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Promoting Open Access

    Sherif Masoud has some terrific ideas - and resources - on promoting open access. A great way for librarians to get involved!

    Check out Sherif's Open Access Trade Page:

    Sherif is inviting OA advocates to direct more efforts towards promoting OA resources - see his post to the SPARC Open Access Forum, at:

    and my reply:

    To join the discussion, sign up for the SPARC Open Access Forum!

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Is poetic economics catching on?

    Charles Bailey's The Economics of Free, Scholar-Produced E-Journals
    presents some very interesting history of open access, which I hadn't heard before but would love to hear more of, as well as a vision of the economics of e-journals that suggests I may not be the only poetic economist around! Here is an excerpt on the estimate of the costs of such journals:

    "the costs are so low and the functions so integral to scholarship that they are easily absorbed into ongoing operational costs of universities. Even if they weren’t and scholars had to do it all on their own, server hosting solutions are so ubiquitous and cheap, free open source software is so functional and pervasive, and commercial PC software is so powerful and cheap (especially at academic discounts) that these minor costs would act as no real barrier to the production of scholar-produced e-journals."

    This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    Librarians and Open Access

    The purpose of this post is to gather thoughts on what librarians need to do to make open access a reality, as well as how open access will transform libraries and librarianship. For starters:

    Question from SSHRC:
    Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is in the midst of a consultation process, designed to transform Canada's major research funder in these areas. The help of librarians has been requested - please see Further comments, questions, and suggestions, would be most welcome.

    Promoting Open Access Resources
    It makes perfect sense for libraries to be promoting open access resources, just as we do other resources, whether subscriptions or collections we have paid for, or free print materials we have been responsible for. There are enough resources out there, that these resources are very significant supplements already, for smaller libraries. For more info, see:
    To illustrate just how significant OA resources already are, look at the library and information OA journals collection in the Directory of Open Access Journals, at (39 journals as of August 5, 2005), and the E-LIS, E-Prints in Library and Information Science, at (over 2,700 articles as of August 5, 2005). These two resources are already a much more substantial collection than any but the largest research libraries, or universities with library schools, would have enjoyed until very recently. There are more resources, too, of course - the library association journals that are going open access, and the articles librarians have placed in their institutional repositories.

    Changing Roles of Librarians
    This summarizes some very thoughtful discussion by SCHOLCOMM participants on what the future (and, in some cases, the present) roles of librarians might look like, in an open access work.

    Nancy Sanchez Tarrago has written a very interesting article on new roles of librarians in education - see:

    Last updated August 30, 2005

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    Our Homes Are Bleeding Digital Collection / Collection numérique Nos foyers saignent

    Our Homes Are Bleeding Digital Collection / Collection numérique Nos foyers saignent

    The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has just released their open access digital collection, including maps, photos, narratives, and audio clips, available in English and French, at:

    Many thanks to Kim Lawson, UBCIC's archivist / librarian, for the tip, and to Kim and Jenn Cole for their work on this project. Kim would like to connect with other Open Source people about this project.

    warm regards,

    Heather G. Morrison

    The value we add as librarians does not depend on whether we purchase the information we provide. Anonymous.

    This message has been posted to the BCLA list, BIBCANLIB-L, the SPARC Open Access Forum, and ERIL-L.