Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pilot Project to Provide Open Access to NRC Publications

The National Research Council's Institute for Research in Construction has had an OA mandate since 2003! Thanks to CISTI's Alison Ball, who also reports that NRC is moving towards OAI-PMH compliance for their pilot repository.

From CISTI News, Volume 23 #1, Summer 2007

Pilot project to provide open access to NRC publications

One research organization, one gateway for information. This is the goal of a new pilot project to demonstrate the viability of an NRC Publications Archive. This archive would establish an NRC-wide approach to managing and providing seamless access to NRC's scientific contributions, which translate to about 3,700 papers each year from 20 NRC institutes and 5 technology centres.

Called NPArC (pronounced N-Park) for short, the two-year, CISTI-funded pilot will offer public access to NRC publications from seven NRC institutes. Open-access search engines like Google Scholar will also be able to access the publications.

The institutes participating in the project include the Institute for Research in Construction (IRC), the Institute for National Measurement Standards (INMS), the Institute for Information Technology (IIT) and the Institute for Aerospace Research (IAR), which have publications databases; and the Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology (ICPET), the Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute (IMTI) and the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (CNBC) of the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences (SIMS), which do not.

CISTI expects that this pilot will establish the importance of an institutional information repository in measuring NRC's performance at translating science and technology into value for Canada. In addition, the project will be a first step in making NRC's publications more accessible to the scientific community, as well as the general public.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canadian Digital Information Strategy and Open Access

Library and Archives Canada has released their Canadian Digital Information Strategy consultation document. Comments are due November 23rd. (Thanks to Michael Geist).

This Strategy document contains much that is relevant to open access, particularly Challege 3: Maximizing Access and Use.

In particular, let us applaud and support:

3.3 Provide timely and open online access to Canada's public information and publicly-funded research information and data.

Watch for more on this topic.

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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rethinking Collections and Transitioning to Open Access: First Monday

The October 1, 2007 issue of First Monday has just been released, featuring a selection of presentations at the First International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference, including:

Morrison, Heather. Rethinking Collections: Libraries and Librarians in an Open Age
Open access, one of the most important of the potentials unleashed by the combination of the electronic medium and the World Wide Web, is already much more substantial in extent that most of us realize. More than 10 percent of the world’s scholarly peer–reviewed journals are fully open access; this does not take into account the many journals offering hybrid open choice, free back access, or allowing authors to self–archive their works. Scientific Commons includes more than 16 million publications, nearly twice as much content as Science Direct. Meanwhile, even as we continue to focus on the scholarly peer–reviewed journal article, other potentials of the new technology are beginning to appear, such as open data and scholarly blogging. This paper examines the library collection of the near and medium future, suggests that libraries and librarians are in a key position to lead in the transition to an open age, and provides specific suggestions to aid in the transition.

Transitioning to Open Access
Christina Struik, Hilde Coldenbrander, Stephen Warren, Halina de Maurivez, Heather Joseph, Denise Koufougiannakis, Heather Morrison, Kathleen Shearer, Kumiko Vezina, Andrew Waller
This paper presents a summary of three presentations: Heather Joseph of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) on key advocacy strategies, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries’s (CARL) Kathleen Shearer on the CARL Institutional Repository program and forthcoming CARL Author’s Addendum, and Heather Morrison on the Canadian Library Association’s (CLA) Task Force on Open Access. The presentations were followed by a one–hour workshop, with about 50 participants including librarians from Canada and elsewhere, publishers, and others. Workshop exercises, designed for the expert audience anticipated at the First International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference, were developed to elicit a broad overview of open access initiatives underway, issues and barriers to open access, and solutions to overcome them. Participants reported being engaged in a wide variety of open access initiatives, from OA publishing and institutional repositories to a recent commitment to devote a percentage of a university budget to OA. Two solutions the workshop participants saw as key for open access were finding a funding solution (possibly re–deploying collections and acquisitions budgets or earmarking grants funds for knowledge transfer), and branding repositories as containing trustable material. The workshop portion could have been expanded considerably, to a half or full day. Results of the workshop will help to inform the work of the CLA Task Force on Open Access.

This issue of First Monday is the first produced using the free, open source Open Journal Systems.

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

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Open Access as an Unprecedented Public Good: Presentation

Open Access as an Unprecedented Public Good is a presentation developed for the Workshop on Internet/s and Organizations, coordinated by Susan Kretchmer as a preconference to the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. I was not able to deliver the presentation due to a family emergency, but have developed speaking notes and posted in E-LIS.


This brief presentation introduces open access as one illustration of the transformative potential of the internet. Open access is defined, and the two basic approaches to open access (publishing and archiving). The extent of open access today, and its dramatic growth, are reviewed, using the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), with over 2,800 journals and a growth rate of 1.2 new titles per calendar day and OAIster, with 13.6 million items in 896 repositories and a 42% growth rate over the past year, as illustrations. E-LIS is discussed, as one example of an open access archive. E-LIS is a global collection, with contributions from many countries and in many languages. E-LIS is also a global collaboration, with its team of volunteer editors from around the world. The author discusses her scholarly blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, specifically the series on Creative Globalization. An example is highlighted, a blogpost on the idea that developing countries may have more incentive to find cost-efficient solutions, and that this would be a very good reason for people in developed countries to pay more attention to the work of researchers in developing countries.

Canadian Library Association congratulates CIHR on its Open Access Policy

The Canadian Library Association posted its congratulatory letter to Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, on the CIHR Policy on Access to Research Outputs. Thanks to CLA and President Dr. Alvin Schrader for yet another example of Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dr. Alan Bernstein
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Dear Dr. Bernstein,

Re: CIHR Open Access to Research Outputs Policy

Please accept the congratulations of the Canadian Library Association (CLA) on the recent announcement of the Open Access to Research Outputs policy.

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

CIHR’s adoption of the Open Access to Research Outputs policy is a significant step in the right direction towards the full and immediate open access to publicly funded research results. It is encouraging to see that “grant recipients must make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed research articles are freely available as soon as possible after publication”.

The policy is very generous in its flexibility to researchers and publishers, providing for grant recipients to meet this expectation through self-archiving of the author’s own work, or publishing in an open access journal. This flexibility, and the clarification that article processing fees for open access publishing are eligible expenses under Use of Grant Funds, are more than sufficient to ensure stability in publishing of this research during the transitional period. Inclusion of the Policy Review section is wise, to ensure that the policy moves forward toward full open access, as the publishing industry continues to evolve and adjust to the imperative of ensuring optimal use of research results in the internet environment, which includes provision of open access to research results.

Members of the Canadian Library Association, both as individuals and as organizations, will be helping with this implementation, in many ways. Librarians at research institutions will be educating researchers about the policy, why and how to comply; and librarians at all types of libraries will be helping library users to make good use of this expanded access to the results of CIHR research.

CLA recently adopted a policy of open access of its own, and we wish CIHR every success in its implementation of the Open Access to Research Outputs policy.


Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques

Alvin Schrader

Full OA is a reasonable position, plus, compromise takes two!

Peter Suber's response to my postWould a Bold Politician Speak Up for the Public Good? says:

Heather is right to take a political perspective. But politically, this is a two-sided issue. On the one hand, immediate OA is in the public interest, but on the other, we should be ready to compromise in order to get a bill passed.

I completely agree, however with respect to the NIH Public Access policy, may I point out that it takes two to compromise?

IF the publishing industry recognized and appreciated the significant compromise of allowing for a 12-month embargo period (not to mention the significant funding for publication charges and subscription fees already provided by the NIH) and SUPPORTED the NIH Public Access policy, including a change to requiring public access, instead of hiring PR pitbull Eric Dezenhall and fighting the modification to requirement tooth and nail, THAT would be a compromise, and one worth supporting.

As things stand, it appears to me that we have one side which is basically neutral (Public Access Policy, presenting a position which is a compromise), and another which is opposed. What's missing? Someone who will speak openly and passionately for the public interest.

Surely it is reasonable to at least express this viewpoint, in a democracy? It may be that immediate OA is not mandated; but at least this would make it clear that allowing for a 12-month embargo is indeed a compromise, and a significant one.

This is not a purist position which does not take into account the economics of scholarly publishing; that is another myth of the Dezenhall variety.

The public interest in open access to NIH-funded research is not only about the unprecedented public good that comes with freeing access to our medical knowledge; it is also in the public interest to ensure due diligence in expenditure of public funds.

That is to say, NIH is already funding, not only the research, but also, but to large (if not fully known) extent, the publilcation costs, too. One of the myths spread by the anti-OA lobby is that NIH is an "unfunded mandate". This is simply not true, based on what NIH is already spending in this area. NIH is paying $30 million per year in direct publication costs alone, an average of $500 per article published based on NIH-funded research. NIH also contributes to subscription costs through indirect costs to research; while the precise amount is not known, it seems a real possibility that NIH is already paying more than enough to fund a fully open access scholarly publishing system for NIH-funded research. These funds would still be available with a full open access mandate. Even with all the costs of publication covered by NIH, publishers still have opportunities to earn considerable profits, by selling subscriptions to the final versions with all the value they add - the copyediting, layout, etc., and access to additional content not funded by the public, not to mention advertising dollars!


From: NIH. Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research. F: Potential Economic Impact on Journal Publishers. The NIH supports the current publishing process by providing its funded investigators with an estimated $30 million annually in direct costs for publication expenses, including page and color charges and reprints. In addition, NIH provides funds, through indirect costs, to research institutions for library journal subscriptions and electronic site licenses. NIH also supports the current process by encouraging publication of NIH-supported original research in scientific journals.

IJPE: NIH Public Access Policy: Is the Funding for an OA Transition Already There?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Would a bold politician speak up for an unprecedented public good?

Debates around open access to date have tended to focus on the pros and cons for researchers and their funders. Now that open access mandate policies have entered the political sphere, it may be timely to consider open access from a political perspective.

Politicians who support open access initiatives have an unparalleled opportunity to report to their constituents that they have supported an unprecedented public good in the form of open access.

One open access policy initiative currently under debate is the move to change the U.S. National Institutes of Health' Public Access Policy from a request, to a requirement, to make NIH-funded research publicly available after 12 months.

Here is an idea and opportunity for a bold politician: suggest an amendment requiring that results of NIH-funded research be made open access the moment they have completed peer review and are ready for publication.

Rationale: the public has already funded the research, and they have rights to the results. The purpose of public funding of medical research is to advance our understanding of medicine, so that we can, as quickly as possible, develop new ways to cure, treat, and prevent illness.

Picture one of your constituents who has cancer. Somone who is not wealthy, or living in a wealthy area; neither they, nor their medical care professionals, can afford to purchase all the latest scientific literature. Now picture an NIH-funded research study, the results of which could make a signficant difference in outcome for this constituent, perhaps years of healthy living. Whose rights take priority? The constituent, whose taxes have paid for this research, or the commercial publisher who wants to limit access until they have made sufficient profits?

The benefits of immediate OA are for everyone, not just those who are less wealthy, because of the nature of how scientific research advances. Each piece of research builds on our previous knowledge; the sooner results are shared, the faster our understanding progresses. As an illustration, it is through open sharing of research results that the human genome was mapped within a few years. Open sharing of all of our medical research has the potential to dramatically advance our understanding of diseases, and how to treat, cure, and prevent them.

When you report to your constituents on this matter, what do you want to say - that you supported and advanced an unprecedented public good, to make the results of publicly-funded medical research immediately available to all, or that you supported the suppression of medical research for the profits of a few?

The reference to an unprecedented public good refers to the Budapest Open Access Initiative, drafted by Peter Suber - excerpt: An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. 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.

The U.S. has a long tradition of openness in government information, and particularly a strong history as a leader in technology and access to the medical literature, as outlined in my blogpost, On PubMedCentral, by PubMedCentral. Would a strong policy on open access to medical research funded by the U.S. taxpayer just make sense?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Opposition to open access continues, while anti-OA coalition attempt implodes


Opposition to open access continues, and so we OA advocates continue to have much work to do, to educate people about open access, and to counter misconceptions. However, in my opinion, the failure of PRISM is so complete as to suggest the possibility that the effort to build a publishing industry anti-OA coalition has imploded. If correct, this could be an important moment in the transition to open access; publishers who are no longer united in the fight against OA, are very likely to have more time and inclination to figure out how to make OA work.


Opposition to open access is not over, and we open access advocates have much work to do, to clear up misconceptions and battle the myths we have heard so many times before. Recent language in the U.S. White House' Statement of Administrative Policy (SAP), referring to the language in an Appropriations Bill which would make the NIH Public Access Policy mandatory, makes this clear: The Administration believes that any policy should balance the benefit of public access to taxpayer supported research against the possible impact that grant conditions could have on scientific research publishing, scientific peer review and on the United States’ longstanding leadership in upholding strong standards of protection for intellectual property. This language could have been written by the author(s) of PRISM, the latest anti-OA coalition effort. The NIH Public Access Policy, and indeed, full open access, is not a threat to peer review; this is part of the misinformation campaign recommended by PR pitbull Eric Dezenhall. This language does not indicate strong Presidential opposition, and is not a concern with the current NIH language. (Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News).

That this language came from the White House does indicate that the group behind PRISM, miserable failure as an attempt at an anti-OA coalition that it was, is still active, and has influence at the White House level.

The failure of PRISM as an attempt to build (or give the appearance of building) an anti-OA coalition of publishers is of a magnitude and type that, in the author's opinion, is best described as implosion. That is to say, not only have there been no endorsers from the publishing community, there have been many publishers who have openly and explicitly either declared non-affiliation or actively opposed PRISM. As Peter Suber comments: How many publishers have publicly disavowed PRISM or distanced themselves from it?  Nine and counting (with links to their public statements): Cambridge University Press, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Columbia University Press, MIT Press, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press, Pennsylvania State University Press, Rockefeller University Press, University of Chicago Press.  How many publishers have been identified on the PRISM web site as members of the PRISM "coalition"?  Zero. From Peter's post on Open Access News. This supports my prediction in August 2007 that PRISM would be A Beautiful Backfire.

Another development since the launch of PRISM that, to the author, strongly suggests that the likelihood of a truly broad-based coalition amongst the publishing community is minimal, if not nil, is the news that industry giant Reed Elsevier is experimenting with a business model involving free access with revenue via advertising with its OncologySTAT, as reported in The New York Times. This suggests that at least some in the commercial scholarly publishing industry are far more prepared for an open access future than one might guess from PRISM-style rhetoric. This appears to be a typical commercial attempt to generate revenue; nothing wrong with this, of course, but it is not the kind of strategy one shares with competitors. In other words, while some in the publishing industry were busy trying to sign up endorsers of the anti-OA PRISM, others were forging ahead with a new, OA-friendly commercial approach, not exactly a move likely to inspire trust and help with coalition-building efforts.

If my speculations about an implosion of the attempt to form an anti-OA coalition are correct, this is nothing but good news. Publishers not united in an effort to fight OA, are in a much better position to think clearly about the possibilities for switching to open access.

We all owe a debt of thanks to Nature and Jim Giles (and to those who leaked the documents) for releasing the story on the American Association of Publishers' hiring of PR pitbull Eric Dezenhall, who recommended bizarre strategies such as linking open access with government censorship and junk science, strategies which have been reflected in OA opposition efforts, including PRISM. The latest on this can be found on Open Access News.

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

Added October 21, Comment by Tom Wilson on Information Research Weblog:
Heather Morrison has another thoughtful piece on open access in her Weblog, suggesting that the publishers' anti-OA consortium PRISM has imploded.
I'm not too sure about this: PRISM is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of lobbying. We can be sure that the publishing industry is lobbying away vigorously, with people, rather than a Website and it's that personal lobbying that makes the difference, rather than what is on public view. My suggestion is that fellow OA advocates in the USA need to lobby just as vigorously, writing to their senators and congressmen/women and generally countering the misinformation that the lobbyists inevitably purvey. We've seen time and again under this US administration that the truth does not necessarily prevail; the key is how much money the industry is prepared to spend to swing the votes of the legislators, whether it is to damage the Alaskan environment by oil drillling, open the virgin forests of the national parks to the logging industry, or run the worst medical care programme in the Western world for the benefit of the drug companies and the mis-named 'health care industry'.
Constant vigilence and persistence in telling the truth about the warped economics of the existing scholarly communication system is the only weapon we have.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: German Edition

For a German Translation of this October's Dramatic Growth of Open Access, see Det Kongelige Bibliotek.

Thanks, Søren Bertil F. Dorch!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Flipping journals subscriptions to open access

The October SPARC Open Access Newsletter features an interview of Mark Rowse, former CEO of Ingenta, by Peter Suber, called Flipping a Journal to Open Access.

This is an intriguing idea; simply flipping a journal from subscription to open access. Change the line on the invoice from "subscription renewal notice" to "this year's open access publication fees", and open the whole journal up. Rowse presents some very interesting analysis and observations. Flipping could be done by a journal, a publisher - or, the whole publishing industry. The CERN SCOAP effort to transform physics publishing into pure gold open access publishing is one example.

From my perspective, this flipping could mean a competitive advantage to some of the smaller journals and publishers, who often have lower costs. That is, one of the advantages of the publication fee approach to open access is that it is likely to introduce competition into the scholarly publishing marketplace. Society journals often produce top quality at a fraction of the cost of commercial publishers. Once we begin to look at publishing on a cost-per-publishing service basis - this will become obvious.

For a membership-based society, there are ways of handling the flip to retain membership, such as providing free publication services to members. Here is another thought: once a journal becomes open access, it could become an attractive advertising venue for the society itself, reaching more potential members, and possible boosting membership.

Peter Suber has added an example from Springer on Open Access News.

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