Friday, March 31, 2006

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: March 31, 2006 Update

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues!

In the last quarter, over 780,000 records have been added to OAIster, suggesting that those open access archives are beginning to fill! There are 170 more titles in DOAJ, likely an understated increase due to a weeding project. 78 titles have been added to DOAJ in the past 30 days, a growth rate of more than 2 new titles per day. Disciplinary archives are showing remarkable growth. E-LIS has been increasing at the equivalent of 56% annually. Differences in growth rates suggest the possibility of a life-cycle factor in open access archives growth, perhaps initial slow growth, followed by very rapid growth, then a more steady growth as the archive matures.

Following is an overview and analysis of data examined. The data itself - a few indicators chosen primarily because they are relatively easy to determine - follows at the end.

Overview and Analysis

The most notable increase is the addition of over 780,000 records to OAIster, the equivalent of a 50% annual increase. This rate of increase doubles that of 2005 (25%). This evidence suggests that those open access institutional archives are beginning to fill! Among the disciplinary archives examined, the highest growth rate was shown at E-LIS, with an equivalent of a 56% annual increase.

The longer-established disciplinary archives showed impressive but slower growth rates: RePEC, 25%, and arXiv, 12%. One possible explanation could be a life-cycle factor for successful disciplinary archives, with a relatively high percentage growth rate at an early stage, followed by slower percentage growth at a more mature phase. This will reflect, in part, the larger size of the repository. It takes more records to create a 12% increase in a large repository than a 50% increase in a small one.

Data from the Canadian Metadata Harvester may indicate another potential life-cycle effect. That is, the Canadian repositories showed a growth rate equivalent to less than 12% per year. The difference between the Canadian open access archives data increase and the OAIster increase (50%) may reflect the relative newness of many of the Canadian repositories.

While delayed free access is not true open access, the 200,000 articles added to the Highwire Free program - an equivalent of a 72% annual increase - does represent a dramatic increase in free access.

DOAJ includes 170 more titles now than on Dec. 31, 2006, an equivalent annual growth rate of 34%. This percentage is likely an understatement, as DOAJ has been undertaking a weeding project to remove titles no longer meeting DOAJ criteria.


Early figures are from my preprint, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16, 3 (2006), and my Dec. 31, 2005 Update and 2006 Predictions.

Directory of Open Access Journals:
March 31, 2006: 2,158 journals (78 titles added in the last 30 days)
Dec. 31, 2005: 1,988 titles
February 2005 - over 1,400 titles
March 31, 2006: 594 journals searchable at article level -- 92,751 articles in DOAJ total
Dec. 31, 2004: 492 journals searchable at article level - 83,235
This is an 8.5% increase, or the equivalent of a 34% annual increase. Please note that this figure may underestimate the growth of OA journals, due to recent weeding by DOAJ of titles no longer meeting the criteria.

Note that the DOAJ list does not represent all open access journals, only the ones that have met DOAJ standards, and have gone through the DOAJ vetting process. Jan Szczepanski's list is much longer: over 4,705 titles total as of early December 2005.

March 22, 2006: 7,040,586 records from 610 institutions
Dec. 22, 2005: 6,255,599 records from 578 institutions
February 2005: over 5 million records, 405 institutions
This is a 12.5% increase in records in a quarter, or the equivalent of a 50% annual increase. This doubles the rate of increase noted Dec. 31 (25% increase in records in less than a year). The number of institutions has increased by 5.5%, or the equivalent of 22% annually, half of the increase reported in 2005. The latter may be an anomaly; that is, it is possible that this number could be artificially low, assuming that academic libraries would tend to wait until after the semester to implement a new repository.

Highwire Press Free Online Fulltext Articles
March 31, 2006: 1,335,546 free articles
Dec. 31, 2005: 1,131,135 free articles
early January 2005: over 800,000 free articles
This is an 18% increase in this quarter, or the equivalent of 72% annually.

March 31, 2006: 362,334 e-prints
Dec. 31, 2005: Open access to 350,745 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Quantitative Biology.
This is a 3% increase in this quarter, or the equivalent of 12% annually.

RePEC: Research Papers in Economics
March 31, 2006: over 367,000 items of interest, over 266,000 of which are available online
Dec. 31, 2005: over 350,000 items of interest, over 250,000 of which are available online.
February 2005: over 200,000 freely available items.
The rate of increase of items available online is 6.4%, or the equivalent of 25% annually, the same growth rate as last year. Recently, the American Economics Association began adding records directly from RePEC into EconLIT, as reported by Thomas Krichel - see Thomas Krichel: a man with vision - and drive!. This provides added incentive for authors to add their works to RePEC.

March 31, 2006: 3,539 documents
Dec. 31, 2005: 3,095 documents
This is a 14% increase, or the equivalent of 56% annually.

Open Access Publishers
The number of open access publishers and their journals is not being reported this time. There are too many, and I don't want to leave anyone out!

Canadian Association of Research Libraries : Metadata Harvester
March 31, 2006: 22,566 records from 12 archives
Dec. 31, 2005: 21,922 records from 11 archives.
This is a 2.9% increase, or the equivalent of 11.6% annually.

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, March 25, 2006

Open Access: Transformative Change

An Open Letter to the President and Members of the American Chemical Society

Dear E. Ann Nally, President, ACS:

In a recent e-mail to ACS members, you inquire whether the NIH Public Access Policy is simply change for its own sake, whether it really adds value beyond what it presently available.

As an open access advocate, let me explain. The NIH Public Access Policy is merely one piece in the move towards open access. The potential of open access is not change for the sake of change; it is transformative change, towards an unprecedented public good.

Consider, for example, how through open sharing of information, the world's researchers were able to come together to map the human genome in a mind-bogglingly short time. Why not pursue this approach to solve the puzzle of developing sustainable, environmentally friendly energy resources - or to keep one step ahead of avian flu?

The NIH's Public Access Policy extends the already openly available Medline index in PubMed. It can be argued that open access to Medline has been a key in the move towards evidence-based practice in medicine over the past few years, since this has brought access to medical evidence to practitioners everywhere. This is a whole new approach to medicine, one that brings the latest research to the practitioner, benefiting practitioners and patients alike.

PubMedCentral also makes the research available to the general public, allowing the efforts of our doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to be supplemented by those individuals and family members who care to take advantage of this opportunity. Obviously, not everyone will want to read the research literature, certainly not for a routine, easily corrected medical problem. However, when people are afflicted with a serious illness for which there is no certain treatment, many will want to read the research literature, and this is their right.

Consider, Ann, whether one of your loved ones might someday suffer from terminal, incurable cancer. Could you imagine yourself wanting to comb the literature for any clues to a new approach?

Open access is transformative in another sense - it makes the research literature readily available to a great many more people than at present. As you are no doubt aware, Ann, the whole world cannot afford to purchase the journals of the ACS, not even all the wealthiest universities in the developed world. Many a college professor even in a wealthy country like Canada does not have ready access to the ACS journals. Lack of access is much more acute in the less-developed world.

The greatly expanded access that is open access will open up many, many opportunities. Professional practitioners in northern British Columbia will have the same access that is currently available at the teaching hospitals in Vancouver. More colleges, smaller universities and even high schools, will have ready access to the research literature, making it possible to teach in new ways, to develop an information and science literate populace. In the less-developed world, ready access to resources is one of the keys to developing education programs. Here, it is not just that colleges and universities will have more access; rather, more access will make it possible to develop more college and universities.

More researchers with ready access, both to the research literature and the impactful publishing opportunity that is open access, means more rapid advancement of knowledge.

As a former college professor, Ann, no doubt you are aware that many of your former colleagues enjoy a good deal less access than university professors. With open access, these colleagues will not only have the means to participate in research if desired - they will also be more effective teachers, partially because it will be easier to keep up with new developments, and partly because there will be more resources for students.

Change can be difficult for all of us, and perhaps moreso for the privileged, profitable society publisher. However, as the Budapest Open Access Initiative stated so well, open access makes possible an unprecedented public good:

Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.

This kind of transformation is absolutely worth the relatively small and transitory discomforts of change. Ann, I invite you personally, along with every member of the American Chemical Society, not only to fully support the NIH Public Access Policy, but also to go much farther - to engage in the process of transformation, to openly and immediately share not just peer-reviewed postprints, but also preprints, data, conference presentations, and research in progress.

Heather Morrison
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

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.

Beyond Peer Review: Collaboration

Here is a webcast and powerpoint of my February 22, 2006 presentation - Peer Review in the Google Age, part of the Drexel COaS talks series.

This brief presentation summarizes my present view on the transformative potential of a fully open access approach in the area of peer review. While a great deal of research has been done on peer review per se, as Peggy Dominy and Jay Bhatt discuss in the same series, progress in science depends not just on incremental progress, but also on periodically reexamining our most basic assumptions. It is timely to do this with peer review - a long-standing tradition which may have evolved from the time of the Inquisition, as Peggy and Jay point out - not an optimal approach for Galileo, and perhaps not an optimal approach in our day and age, either.

Open sharing of information may be optimal throughout the research process - from investigating which research questions to pursue to every step of the experiment itself, as Jean-Claude Bradley has demonstrated with his Blogger Lab Notebook experiment. As an example f how this works: if there is a better research method, why not find out before you do the experiment - not after it is finished and you believe the work is complete and ready for publication?

Another way to look at this is that peer review is really a form of collaboration, of researchers working together, critiquing and supporting each other. Why not work openly and collaboratively together as peers throughout the research process, rather than submitting finished work for blind peer review when it is finished?

There likely are differences in potential for rapid change in different research areas. For example, in an area which bridges pharmacology and toxicology, where a slight error could be fatal - let's be careful with our quality controls, and keep traditional peer review until a better method is found. Most areas of research, however, have no such dire consequences, and there is no reason not to move forward, and experiment with new methods.

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.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blogging Courses: English Lit

Simon Fraser University's Dr. Stephen Ogden, teacher of a popular new english literature course called Chick-Lit and Lad-Lit, blogs all his classes.

For example, the blog for Lady Shikubu's Erotic Political Fantasy: -- TALES OF GENJI -- A CLASS BLOG FOR STUDENTS OF ENGLISH 394:D2 AT SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

Dr. Ogden's poetic tendencies are obvious from his blog; his stated location of Bradford, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, is where his heart is. The prosaic truth is that Steve is more apt to be found right here, at the top of this our ivory (coloured) tower, high atop Burnaby Mountain, overlooking Greater Vancouver and its environs - the waterways and many mountains, spanning more than a country. And sometimes, looking down at nothing but clouds.

It's not just the professor, either - the students blog too!

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, March 05, 2006

R & D and Library Spending

Updated March 6, 2006

The following post forms part of the Liblicense-L Thread, "R & D and Library Spending":

In brief, my answer to whether there is - or should be - a correlation
between R & D spending and library budgets, particularly serials budgets is: no, and yes.

The reason I would suggest that there should be no direct correlation between R & D spending and library budgets is because needs for library funding are ongoing and independent of research funding, and predate research grants. Picture, for example, a brand new university, hiring new staff, none of whom have any research grants yet. The university will need to develop a library; the researchers will need to use the library in order to develop proposals for research grants. When the grants come in, it absolutely makes sense to consider further investments in the library. However, this correlation should not be direct, as the preexisting library investments need to be taken into account.

For example, if the library already subscribes to the "big deals" of all the big science publishers, it makes no sense at all to purchase more of the big deal when a research grant is received.

On the other hand, using additional research grant monies to invest in other areas would make a lot more sense. For example, universities need to develop Open Access Archives to allow faculty to openly share their peer-reviewed postprints. Once these are established and filled, a useful next step would be to set up the kinds of open access repositories that can handle open data and other enriched information resources that go beyond traditional publishing.

Thre were some excellent sessions at the OAI4 conference on open data and e-research - see especially the sessions by Peter Murray-Rust, Liz Lyons, and Hans Pfeiffenberger; links can be found at:

Other areas for library expenditures that might make sense for the big deal libraries include reinvesting in the works of the smaller society publishers whose works may have been cancelled in order to purchase the big deals, catching up on monographs purchases, library service investments (e.g. to pay for any additional information literacy, research, or interlibrary loans services that the new research projects may require). This could also be a good opportunity to use the funds for the preservation efforts which ARL has defined as a current priority.

Of course, for the library which does not yet have the "big deal", using the additional funding from research may be a way to afford the big deal as well.

Sent to Liblicense-L March 5, 2006

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.