Sunday, October 29, 2006

Response to CIHR Consultation on Access to Research Outputs

Here is my response to the CIHR Consultation on Access to Research Outputs:

Re: Canadian Insitutes of Health Research Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs

Kudos to CIHR for your Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs. As an open access advocate who follows policy developments and has participated in policy consultations around the world, I consider this policy to be exemplary, with elements that I hope will be a role model for future policy makers.

It is heartening to see that CIHR is requiring immediate deposit of peer-reviewed research articles funded by CIHR. In my opinion, the provision for up to a maximum 6-month publisher-imposed delay is more than generous. If I were to suggest one improvement to this policy, I would suggest not permitting any delay at all. This is reasonable given that the research is conducted using public funds, and there are many open access options – from publishing to archiving – available to researchers today.

The CIHR is a leader in requiring deposit of research data immediately on publication; an important step that will lead to more rapid advances in research.

CIHR’s suggestions that researchers consider retroactively archiving important articles, and that a researchers’ track record might be considered in future grant applications, are welcome innovations that other policy-makers might wish to consider in their own policy developments.

This policy will make the research made possible by Canadian taxpayer dollars more readily available to Canadians, as well as to everyone around the globe. Students and faculty members at smaller and more remote colleges will have more access to researchers, as will high school teachers and students, and professionals outside of the major research centres, among others.

Canadian researchers will benefit from increased impact and visibility.

Once again, congratulations on a well thought out policy.

This is an open letter, which will be published on my scholarly blog.


Heather Morrison
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Information about the CIHR Consultation can be found at:

Here is a link to the draft policy:

Comments are due November 24, 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.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Open Access and the Cost of Publishing

As posted to the American Scientist Open Access Forum, October 27, in response to a question about the approximate cost of the production, including
dissemination both in print and electronically.

Abstract: this post looks at the cost of publishing and dissemination in relationship with open access. The wide range of costs per article - from nothing, to thousands of dollars - is explained. A journal that relies on free, open source software, volunteer labor, and in-kind server support, may have no hard dollar costs. A commercial journal with paid editorial staff, profits and taxes to deal with, may have substantial expenditures.

The question of whether, and how much, to support open access processing fees is explored. The author concludes that researchers and universities should budget low for open access via author choice options, to allow market forces work to ensure that the transition from print to electronic, closed to open access looks for efficiencies such as automating publishing tasks, and that obsolete, print-based publishing tasks which may actually be counterproductive in the electronic environment, are dropped. Support open access publishers with true open access and reasonable costs, such as BioMedCentral, Hindawi, Public Library of Science, and many others. For journals with high processing fees and/or dubious open access status, author self-archiving is recommended as the only strategy for open access.

Full post:

This figure is highly variable, and in the process of change. With
ongoing developments in automation (publishing and word processing
software improvements, continuing decreases in per-byte costs for
storage of information), the cost of publishing an article is in a
process of decrease, and I do not believe we have yet seen equilibrium.

When considering publishers' "open choice" type arrangements -
payment for open access on publication - it is important to keep in
mind that open access does not apply to print. As long as journals
continue to be produced in print, this portion of the revenue stream
should come from print subscriptions.

The dollar costs of coordinating and disseminating a peer-reviewed
research article ranges from nothing to thousands of dollars.

The model that equates with zero costs is one based on voluntary
labor, free open source publishing software such as Open Journal
Systems [disclosure - I am on the planning
committee for the First International PKP Conference), and in-kind
support. For example, your university or university library might
provide free server space for a journal local faculty participate in.

Models with dollar costs obviously involve payments of a variety of
types. Some journals have volunteer editors, others paid. One can
purchase publishing software and server space. Some publishers
(commercial, and also some not-for-profits) look to profit from
publishing. Commercial entities also need to factor in taxes.

Overall, the costs of publishing are decreasing dramatically, due to
the technology. The costs of disseminating an electronic-only
journal post-production are close to nothing per article, unlike
print which incurs per-issue printing and distribution costs. Many
of the tasks involved in publishing are either automated, or made
much easier by automation. Think of word processing software and the
difference this means for editing; copyediting is still needed, but
no doubt overall more articles are submitted with better spelling,
punctuation, and formatting than in the past. Word processing and
publishing software can automate much of the work that used to be
done manually. For example, thanks to citation software packages,
the work of switching from one bibliographic format to another to
prepare for publication in a particular journal can mostly be done

I'm not sure how helpful this will be to your budgeting process,
Donat. Here is another suggestion: when budget for open access
dissemination, my advice is: budget low on a per-article basis. In
my opinion, this is important, partially to ensure best use of
current available funding, but more importantly, to ensure that
market factors work towards this efficiency in publishing. That is,
paying high per-article processing fees reflecting publishing
practices which should be in the process of becoming obsolete, is

One way open access can be fully met with this low budget approach:
Most journals allow authors to self-archive, and there is no cost
involved to the researchers or their institutions.

I would encourage researchers to support open access publishing as
well. There are open access publishers who provide true open access,
and do not need to charge processing fees, or who charge reasonable
processing fees (such as BioMedCentral and HIndawi; also PLoS - more
expensive, but still reasonable considering they are aiming at the
top-quality market).

Not every open choice option is true open access, and not all fees
are reasonable. If a researcher (perhaps with help from their
university library) is able to distinguish the options that really do
move towards open access, these are worth supporting. If means are
not available to deal with all the complexities, my advice is to
stick with self-archiving, using tools such as the Sherpa Romeo list
and the new addenda for authors to keep their rights from JISC,
SPARC, and others, to ensure that authors keep their rights to self-


Heather Morrison

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, October 15, 2006

Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement

On Thursday, October 12, Chemists Without Borders endorsed an Open Chemistry Position Statement.


Within the vision of Chemists Without Borders, Open Access to the traditional scholarly, peer-reviewed journal literature is the library, a global library with equal access to our shared knowledge for all. Open Access is necessary to development of equitable access to chemistry education and research opportunities in both the developed and developing world. Chemists Without Borders strongly supports Open Access, as defined in the Budapest, Berlin, and Bethesda statements, and the measures necessary to implement open access, such as funding agencies requiring open access to the results of the research they fund, and educating researchers about Open Access.

Open Source Science promises more rapid advances in research through open sharing of research information at all stages of the reseach process. Open Source Science means more opportunities for collaboration, whether to facilitate Chemists Without Borders projects or provide researchers with more opportunities for participation in international research collaborations. Chemists Without Borders strongly supports Open Source Science within the context of Open Access.

Comment: as a member / open access specialist with Chemists Without Borders, it has been an honour and a great pleasure working with this group on what may be one of the strongest and most visionary of the "open" statements to date. The Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement fully endorses open access as defined in the Budepest Open Access Initiative, and goes beyond, for example, in specifying: "the freedom to extract data from the full-text, whether singly or in a collection of articles, and the freedom to download the supplemental data", as part of the definition of open access, and in supporting open source science and open data.

The Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement also articulates open access and open source science within the overall vision of Chemists Without Borders, for example outlining the importance of open access and open source science in a globally equitable approach to chemistry education. In this science, the Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement may be role model for other "without borders" groups.

On a personal note, my involvement with this group began with a question posed to the SPARC Open Access Forum, asking whether there might be a Chemists Without Borders. Chemists Without Borders Founders Steve Chambreau and Bego Gerber found my question through an internet search - my question kept coming up higher in a google search than the Chemists Without Borders' own blog! I first starting helping Steve & Bego to figure out ways to get the Chemists Without Borders blog to show up higher in a google search, but then became intrigued by this fledgling group trying to figure out how to change the world, and have been involved ever since. Kudos to Bego & Steve for all their hard work getting this group off the ground. Best of luck to all Chemists Without Borders members on current projects, such as AIDS Free Africa, research on using water hyacinth as water remediation (a weed that loves to soak up arsenic!), Useful Chemistry open blogging, and more.

Chemists Without Borders welcomes new members.

This post is part of the Creative Globalization 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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Draft Policy on Access to CIHR-Funded Research Outputs

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has released its Draft Policy on Access to CIHR-Funded Research Outputs. Comments are requested by November 24, 2006.

This is a strong policy - kudos to CIHR! Highlights include a strong open access mandate for peer-reviewed journal articles, with no more than a 6-month publisher-imposed delay, a recommendation that researchers consider retroactively archiving their most important articles, an indication that a researcher's track record of providing access to research outputs will be considered in the future when considering requests for funding, and a requirement to deposit research data into the appropriate public database immediately on publication.

When considering your own response, it may be helpful to consult Peter Suber's Ten Lessons from the Funding Agencies Open Access Policies, in the August 2006 SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Update October 12 -

Peter Suber's Comment, from Open Access News (please see OA News for the links):

Comment. Kudos to the CIHR for this exemplary policy.

1. The policy is an unambiguous mandate. It applies to all research funded in whole or in part by CIHR. It applies to both peer-reviewed journal articles and data files. (Although it requires some kinds of data-sharing and merely encourages others, it may be the strongest data-sharing policy by any funder to date.) It makes reasonable exceptions for royalty-producing publications like monographs. It lets grantees choose between OA journals and OA repositories, and in the latter case, between institutional and disciplinary repositories. The only condition on eligible repositories is that they be OAI-compliant. The policy uses the dual deposit/release strategy (requiring immediate deposit and permitting delayed OA release, in this case limiting embargoes to six months). And it takes a grantee's past compliance into account when evaluating new funding proposals. With one exception the policy embodies all the most important lessons from the funding agency open access policies. The exception is that CIHR doesn't offer to pay article processing fees for grantees who choose to publish in fee-based OA journals.

2. The CIHR has called for comments on its new draft. Responses are due by November 24, 2006.

3. For background, the CIHR announced that it was considering an OA policy and called for public comments back in April 2006. In June it released an update on where it stood in the process and in August (in a document dated June) it released a summary of the public comments.

4. If the CIHR draft counts as a policy, and the new OA policy in Austria counts as a mandate (it deliberately positions itself between a request and a requirement), then the CIHR policy is the seventh OA mandate to be adopted this month. There are the four new mandates from the RCUK, the expansion of the existing mandate at the Wellcome Trust, the Austrian policy, and now the CIHR. This is unprecedented momentum.

Comment by Stevan Harnad:

Stevan Harnad on Open Access Archivangelism reports that the CIHR proposal is 99% optimal - please see Stevan's blogpost for substantive details.

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, October 01, 2006

Dramatic Growth September 2006

Correction October 1, 2006:

OAIster is poised to exceed 10 million items in the near future, not 1 billion! My apologies for this mistake, and many thanks to Walter for catching it. Heather

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues! The number of open access journals included in DOAJ continues to increase at a rate of about 1.5 per calendar day, while the increase in material in open access archives in showing a dramatic increase in the rate of growth, for all archives followed, as well as absolute growth. There have been some significant events in the past quarter which the author predicts will accelerate the rate of growth of OA, including funding agencies' open access policies, hybrid open access journal programs, new OA presses and significant work on models for small publishers to transition to open access.


The growth illustrated by open access archives in the past quarter is best described as "wow!". OAIster is poised to exceed 10 million [a billion items] (not all are open access) far ahead of my June predictions (end of 2007, then the end of 2006). With over 9.4 million items and growth of more than 1.8 million items in the past quarter, it now seems very likely that OAIster will exceed a billion items in the very near future.

All archives tracked (arXiv, rePec, E-LIS, the CARL Metadata Harvester, and now, PubMedCentral) are showing a noticeable increase in growth rate over the last quarter. Seasonable variations in archiving patterns could be a factor.

Open access advocates and students now have two excellent sources of data for illustrating the Dramatic Growth of Open Access: the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) , by Dr. Tim Brody, which provides the number of OAI records for 746 archives, an estimated percentage that are fulltext, and charts illustrating the growth of each archive. The University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service's OAIster now also features growth charts for archives and records harvested.

Strong growth continues in full open access publishing as tracked by the Directory of Open Access Journals.

There were many events occurring in the past quarter which will result in increasingly dramatic growth of open access, particularly:

Open Access Funding Agency Policies:
Four of the UK Research Councils announcing strong open access policies - for an in-depth report on the funding agency policies, see the August 2006 SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Journal Hybrid Open Access Programs:
A number of publishers have announced hybrid open access journal programs in the past quarter, which is likely to increase the number of open access articles available in the future. My prediction is that this will also result in an increase in the number of fully open access journals, as more traditional publishers have an opportunity to experiment with shifting to an open access business model. Details and analysis are available in the September 2006 SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

New OA presses and approaches:
A quieter trend for now which I think will have a big impact in a year or two is the development by universities and libraries of new OA presses, many using open source software solutions such as Open Journal Systems. Charles Bailey has now blogged about 12 such presses in Digital Koans. SPARC's Raym Crow has published a significant work on Publishing Cooperatives, a blueprint for open access approaches that I predict will significantly advance the transition to OA by smaller traditional publishers.

OAIster: wow!!!


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 updates:
Dec. 31, 2005 Update and 2006 Predictions
March 31, 2006 Update.
June 30, 2006 Update.

Directory of Open Access Journals:
September 30, 2006: 2,401 journals (45 titles added in the last 30 days)
June 30, 2006: 2,292 journals (38 titles added in the last 30 days)
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

September 30, 2006: 697 journals searchable at article level - 109,840 articles in DOAJ total
June 30, 2006: 653 journals searchable at article level -- 101,434 articles in DOAJ total
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 increase of 134 journal titles during April - June, 2006; a 6% growth rate, or equivalent of an annual 25% growth rate.

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.

September 27, 2006: 9,417,772 records from 680 institutions
June 30, 2006: 7,605,729 records from 647 institutions
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 an increase of 1.8 records in a quarter, or an equivalent of over 7 million records annually. By percentage, this is an 24% increase in this quarter, or an equivalent of about 100% annually (at this rate, OAIster would double in size in a year). The number of institutions has increased by 33, 5%, or the equivalent of 20% annually.

Highwire Press Free Online Fulltext Articles
September 30, 2006: 1,435,924 free full-text article
June 30, 2006: 1,354,559 free full-text 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 increase of 81,365 articles, or a 6% increase (equivalent to 24% annually), supporting the suggestion that less than 1% increase in the previous quarter may have been a fluke due to timing of release.

696,503 OAI records, 100% freely accessible (data from the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) by Dr. Tim Brody. The ROAR site shows the impressive, if only beginning, growth curve of PMC.

September 30, 2006: 386,716
June 30, 2006: 374,166 e-prints
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 an increase of 19,716 e-prints in this quarter, a 5% increase in this quarter, or the equivalent of 20% annually.

RePEC: Research Papers in Economics
September 30, 2006: over 428,000 items of interest, over 321,000 of which are available online
June 30, 2006: over 385,000 items of interest, over 282,000 of which are available online
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.
This is an increase of 39,000 items available online, a 14% increase, or the equivalent of a 55% annual increase, roughly double the rate of increase reported in the last quarter.

September 30, 2006: 4,285 documents
June 30, 2006: 3,885 documents
March 31, 2006: 3,539 documents
Dec. 31, 2005: 3,095 documents
This is an increase of 400 documents, just under 10% or the equivalent of a 50% annual increase.

Canadian Association of Research Libraries : Metadata Harvester
September 30, 2006: 24,370 items from 12 archives
June 30, 2006: 22,819 items from 12 archives
March 31, 2006: 22,566 records from 12 archives
Dec. 31, 2005: 21,922 records from 11 archives.
This is an increase of 1,551 items, or a 7% increase (equivalent of 28% annually), a significant increase in growth rate from last quarter's 1% (4% annual equivalent).

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.