Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dramatic Growth of Open Access June 2007 Update

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues, on both the gold (open access publishing) and green (open access self-archiving) roads. Some noteworthy highlights: PubMedCentral, the world's largest open access archive, noted a significant milestone on June 21: the millionth article (thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News. An OAIster search now includes close to 12 million items, an increase of over 4 million items over the past year. The number of repositories continues to increase; OAIster searches include more than 200 more repositories than one year ago. Scientific Commons now includes more than 12 million items, by more than 6 million authors.

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 2,731 titles, an increase of 439 titles from June 2006, or an average of 1.2 new titles per calendar day. According to Jan Sczepanski on Liblicense at, there were over 13,000 open access journals listed on Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliotek - Electronic Journals Library.

Growth rates of open access archives tracked range from 14% over the past year (arXiv), 33% for rePEC, and 54% for E-LIS and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Metadata Harvester.

For full data and additional comments, please see The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Open Data Edition, June 30, 2007.

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

Postscript added July 15: 1,000 Journals using Open Journal Systems (OJS)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Canadian Library Association Moves Open Access

From today's CLA Digest

CLA Moves Open Access

CLA Executive Council has approved some recommendations from the Open Access Task Force that move CLA towards providing virtually all of its intellectual property free of charge, in digital form, online and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. The revised policy has four parts:

CLA will provide for full and immediate open access for all CLA publications, with the exception of Feliciter and monographs The embargo period for Feliciter is one issue, and the embargo policy itself will be reviewed after one year. Monographs will be considered for open access publishing on a case-by-case basis.

CLA actively encourages its members to self-archive in institutional and/or disciplinary repositories and will investigate a partnership with E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies.

CLA will generally provide for the author's retention of copyright by employing Creative Commons licensing or publisher-author agreements that promote open access.
CLA will continue its long-standing policy of accessibility to virtually all CLA information except for narrowly defined confidential matters (e.g. certain personnel or legal matters).

The Task Force's Report is available by clicking here

Disclosure: I am the Convenor of the CLA Task Force on Open Access. Many thanks to Greg Linnell for preparing the report, and to the CLA Executive for moving on the recommendations!

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 is a new blog urging governments to make data about canada and canadians free and accessible to citizens.

Description from the blog: is a group blog, inspired by, which believes all levels of Canadian governments should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. The data is collected using Canadian tax-payer funds, and we believe use of the data should not be restricted to those who can afford the exorbitant fees.

Thanks to Olivier Charbonneau on

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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Atlantic Provinces Library Association supports OA publishing!

I am pleased to report that the Atlantic Provinces Library Association passed the following motions at their Ordinary General Meeting during the CLA/APLA/NLLA National Conference held in St. John’s NL May 23-28, 2007:

Motion: It is moved that APLA support open access publishing, and begin with Volume 71 of the APLA bulletin, to be open access.

Motion: It is moved that APLA adopt a creative commons copyright statement with the first online issue, to replace the current copyright statement.

Both were passed unanimously.

I suppose this makes APLA the second library association in Canada to fully support open access publishing.

Thanks to Jennifer Richard, and kudos to APLA!

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spectrum Auction: urgent policy action item for Canadians

According to Michael Geist in the Toronto Star this morning, a consultation process on the Spectrum Auction of 2008 recently closed, with 50 industry submissions and only 4 from ordinary Canadians. This is in contrast with over a quarter million submissions by Americans on a similar, recent, consultation.

The underlying issue - whether the internet will remain free, open, and affordable, empowering education, research, and community collaboration - or a medium to provide commercial services and content - is, arguably, one of the most important policy issues of our times.

Canadians: please let your MP and Minister of Industry Maxime Berner (e-mail know that ordinary Canadian citizens need an opportunity to learn about the consultation, and prepare responses. A fall deadline would be appropriate at this point. If you belong to an organization that can speak to this issue, please ask your organization to speak as well.

Our government also needs to take steps to ensure that citizens are informed about important policy discussions, and have ample opportunity to learn about the issues and contribute to the discussion. That is what democracy is all about.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A potential positive cycle: more access, more funds


Hypothesis: a process of transitioning to open access can unleash funds, creating a positive cycle of increasing access and freed funds to create more open access; the very opposite of the negative serials pricing spiral of recent decades, which featured increasing prices and decreasing access.

As support for this hypothesis, this post looks at the potential for open access if libraries were to focus on high-priced journals (US $1,000 or more for an institutional subscription), and succeed in working with their faculty to convert just 10% to a volunteer / in-kind support model.

It is estimated with such a scenario, that individual libraries could save up to $450,000 US from their budgets after spending on open access journal support is factored in. The cumulative savings for libraries are potentially huge; for example, if the ARL libraries subscribed to just a quarter of these journals each, the annual savings for ARL would be in the order of $13.8 million annually. This would only be a fraction of the savings for libraries, as ARL is only a subset of libraries, albeit large ones. The true collective savings for libraries would have to factor in libraries around the globe, including libraries in Europe and the somewhat smaller libraries in North America. If these savings were invested in further open access initatives, libraries would save even more, freeing up more funds to create more access.


A quick glance at Ulrich's quickly illustrates that there are hundreds of scholarly journals in the price range of US $1,000 (or equivalent) or more (sometimes quite a bit more) - at least 350 journals. In theory, the price for a basket of these journals would be about $500,000 US per year or more, as the average is much higher than $1,000 US (e.g., the mean for the journals is $1,400 US). (In reality, of course, many of these journals are bundled in separate big deals).

Let's take a theoretical look at what this kind of revenue might mean in an open access environment:

The private, not-for-profit Scholarly Exchange offers a hosted journal service which is free for the first year, and $1,000 US for the second year and thereafter (or less, if the journal is willing to participate in an advertising revenue-sharing approach).

To emphasize: there are at least 350 scholarly journals for which the price of a single institutional subscription exceeds the revenue needed to provide hosting and technical support for an open access scholarly journal.

Many journals, even subscription journals, operate largely on volunteer labour and in-kind support, for example free office space at universities. If any one of these 350 journals operates in this manner, then a subscribing library could help the journal to transition to open access, using the services of Scholarly Exchange - and save money too.

Every other library would then have access to the journal - and at least $1,000 USD freed up for other open access initiatives.

If even 10% of the 350 or so journals in this price range were converted to an open access model using library support, that could mean savings of up to $450,000 US annually for a library with subscriptions to all these journals. Even a library with subscriptions to only half these journals would save $225,000 US.

Assuming the 123 members of the Association of Research Libraries had subscriptions to just a quarter of these journals each, the collective savings (from converting 10% of the journals to a volunteer / in kind model) would be $13,837,500 US.

$13.8 million dollars annually could fund an awful lot of open access, for example:
Scholarly Exchange hosting and support for another 13,837 journals
138 journals with a budget of $100,000 each for editorial support and copyediting as well as hosting and support
Processing fee charges for:
5,535 PLoS articles at $2,500 each
11,070 BMC articles at $1,250 each
27,675 Hindawi articles at $500 each

Of course, any of these additional open access initiatives would free up yet more funding, for more open access; until we are all truly accomplishing a great deal more, with less resources.

This scenario is only looking at one subset of libraries, albeit a subset of large libraries (ARL). To really understand how well this can work, add in the savings and investment of libraries in Europe and elsewhere, not to mention the somewhat smaller academic libraries in North America.

The estimate of at least 350 scholarly journals with prices of US $1,000 or more is based on Ulrich's searches, conducted on June 11, 2007, for active, refereed, academic / scholarly journals, with an institutional price of US $1,000 or more (233 titles; median price $1,400 US), or 824 Euros or more (149 titles). The total of both lists is 389. This was rounded down to 350 for the sake of simplicity and to allow for some duplication, although at a rough glance it appears that duplication between the two lists is minimal.

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