Monday, December 31, 2007

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Dec. 31, 2007 update

My Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Open Data Edition has been updated with today's numbers. For analysis of growth of OA in 2007 and predictions for 2008, see my Dramatic Growth of Open Access: 2007 (Interim) and Predictions for 2008, and my Minor Update.

One notable story for the latter half of December is the continuing very strong recent growth in the Directory of Open Access Journals, with 64 new titles added in the past 30 days; an average of more than 2 per calendar day, higher than their 2007 overall growth rate of 1.4 per calendar day.

As reported earlier, public access to the results of research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the world's largest medical research funder, is now law. This is a substantial addition to the medical research open access mandates, which include pioneer Wellcome Trust, U.K. Medical Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, among others. For details on research funders' open access policies, see the Sherpa JULIET list. Based on these mandates, my prediction is that increasing growth in PubMedCentral will be one of interesting areas to watch through the period 2008 - 2010. The time lag in seeing the full effects of the mandates reflects the time it takes to confirm research funding, conduct the research, publish the results, and in some cases, embargo periods.

The implications of the NIH public access mandate go beyond medicine, however. The US Congress and Senate have approved the first US public access mandate, in spite of intense lobbying efforts against public access. Watch for more public access / open access mandates, in the US and elsewhere, in 2008.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

NIH Public Access Mandate Made Law

Congratulations to open access advocates in the U.S. - especially the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, SPARC and SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph, as well as Congress, the Senate, and the President who signed an Omnibus spending bill which includes a requirement that research funded by the National Institutes of Health be publicly accessible!

For full details, see the press release of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

Here is the language that just became law (thanks to

The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Francis Ouellette named one of the Franklin Awards Finalists

Francis Ouellette of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research has been named by as one of the 6 Franklin Awards Finalists for 2008. Thanks to Peter Suber. The winner will be announced at the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo, April 29, 2008.

Francis has served on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research committee that developed the CIHR Policy on Access to Research Outputs, and has earlier been recognized as part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement in my blogpost entitled The Ouellette declaration.

Congratulations on the nomination, Francis!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Over 500 open access sites

GNU Linux Centar has accumulated a set of links to over 500 open access resources, ranging from open courseware, open access journals and archives, to free texts and much more. Thanks to Vedran Vucic.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dramatic Growth of Open Access & Predictions for 2008: Minor Update

Two minor updates to my Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2007 (Interim) & Predictions for 2008.

It should be noted that my prediction that 15% of peer-reviewed scholarly journals will be fully open access and listed in DOAJ by the end of 2008 is a very conservative estimate. Indeed, by some estimates, we are already there; that is, the total number of scholarly, peer-reviewed journals in the world is generally estimated to be 20,000 - 25,000. If the total is 20,000, then the 3,000 journals in DOAJ is already 15% of the total.

I have added a few numbers for repositories for 2006 from Peter Suber's Jan. 1, 2007 SPARC Open Access Newsletter (for OpenDOAR, Scientific Commons, and These numbers confirm and support other data illustrating a dramatic rise in the number of repositories in 2007.

Watch for another update to the open data version on Dec. 31, 2007.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

NEJM and Nature evolving towards open access

There are signs that many of the traditional publishers are using some real creativity to evolve towards open access.

According to Jim Till at Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure, the New England Journal of Medicine, a top-ranked journal in medicine with an impressive impact factor, is not only providing free back access after 6 months, but also up to 33% of content is free right from the time of publication. Why some contents are free and others not, we do not know; Jim has sent a letter to the journal inquiring about this.

According to Kumiko Vézina on OA Librarian Nature Publishing Group has announced that it is introducing a Creative Commons licence for original research articles publishing the primary sequence of an organism's genome for the first time in any of the Nature journals.

Peter Suber reports that Nature has also released another free online supplement, Proteins to Proteomes, sponsored by Pfizer.

This moves are wonderful to see. There is some real expertise in the traditional publishing community which will be more than welcome in our open access future, not to mention this entrepreneurial creativity to lead the way in the transitional period.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

E-LIS: over 7,000 documents

E-LIS, the open access archive for library and information studies, recently exceeded 7,000 documents! Congratulations, E-LIS!

Disclosure: I am a member of the E-LIS governance team.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: 2007 (Interim) and Predictions for 2008

This is an early, interim report on the dramatic growth of open access for 2007, dated December 11, 2007. DOAJ 3,000 journals announcement added Dec. 12. Congratulations, DOAJ!!

All data are presented as partial, rather than extrapolating estimates, as the partial data is more than sufficient to demonstrate that 2007 was a very, very good year for open access. OA advocates and implementers can feel free to catch up on their rest for the remainder of the year; we will all need our energy for 2008. This is because, in brief, we now have sufficient capacity and open access resources to create momentum in 2008. There are more than 3,000 fully open access journals, with new titles being added to DOAJ at a rate of more than 1.4 per day (late in the year, this has soared to more than 3 titles per calendar day, but it is too soon to draw any conclusions); more than 1,000 repositories, and at least 17 million items that are already OA. People will begin to notice, and when they do, they will see the benefits, and seek OA for their own works.

Before we turn to growth, let us review what I see as the top story of 2007: how much open access there already is. Lots!!

Open Access Publishing
There are already more journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals than in the holdings of the world's largest commercial scholarly publisher. There are more non-embargoed, scholarly journals in DOAJ than in the largest of the aggregated packages purchased by libraries.

Some brief and approximate figures (non-embargoed, fulltext, peer-reviewed journals):
DOAJ: 3,000 journals
Science Direct: 2,000 journals
EBSCO Academic Search Complete / Gale Cengage Academic OneFile: 1,700 journals
For full details, see my blogpost, Directory of Open Access Journals: Already the Biggest of the Big Deals?

Open Access Archiving

Growth Rates
DOAJ continued to grow at a steady rate, adding 484 journals so far this year. This makes for a fairly steady growth rate of approximately 1.4 new titles per calendar day, over the past two years. In December, DOAJ has shown remarkable growth, with 101 new titles added in the last 30 days, for an incredible growth rate of 3.4 titles per calendar day. This rate partially reflects the entry of new open publisher Bentham Open; so, while it is suggestive of an accelerating growth rate, it is not possible to draw any firm conclusions at this time.

OAIster added more than 4.4 million records this year, for a very healthy growth rate of 44%. OAIster currently numbers 14.3 million items. Scientific Commons added more than half a million items, and close to a quarter of a million authors, this quarter alone!

The numbers may not be as large, but the story of the local institutional repository may be the growth story of the year. In 2007, an archive browse of the CARL Metadata Harvester jumped from 12 to 17 repositories, a 42% jump. The number of items added in the last (incomplete) quarter of 2007, 4,270, was more than were added in the whole of 2006.

Which brings us to my predictions for 2008.

Open access now has significant capacity. There are more than 3,000 fully open access journals, at least 10% of the world's estimated 20-25,000 peer-reviewed journals, and more are being added at a rate of at least 1.4 per calendar day. DOAJ will list about 15% of the world's peer-reviewed journals by the end of 2008. There are more than 1,000 open access repositories. We have software to create institutional repositories and open access journals, and the knowledge to implement. There are more than 40 open access policies by funding agencies and universities, and more to come. Many librarians and faculty have, or are developing, expertise in the area of scholarly communications. Many publishers have been pondering open access for some time, not to mention experimenting with providing free access to back issues, hybrid open access, as so forth.

Now that we have the capacity and understanding, we will begin to make good use of it.

In open access publishing, the initiative to watch will be SCOAP3, an attempt to flip the entire High Energy Physics publishing to a fully open access model.

In institutional repositories, the stories will be many. At the beginning of the institutional repository movement, every repository faced a chicken and egg situation. How to demonstrate the value of an IR, without any content? How to attract content, when one cannot demonstrate the value of an IR? As repositories begin to fill, there will be more and more good examples of repositories, which will drive desires for IRs. Growth in open access repositories has been dramatic in 2007, and I anticipate that it will be even more so in 2008.

For full data, see the 2007 Interim Dramatic Growth of Open Access.

For another view of what might happen in 2008, see Peter Suber's December Open Access Newsletter

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

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Directory of Open Access Journals: Already the Biggest Big Deal?

Could the Directory of Open Access Journals already be the world's biggest big deal, or aggregation of scholarly journals?

A recent comparison suggests that the answer, in at least one sense - the number of scholarly, peer-reviewed journal titles available with no embargo - is yes! The Directory of Open Access Journals lists close to 3,000 journals as of today; Science Direct, the largest publisher aggregated package, about 2,000, while the number of non-embargoed, full text, scholarly journals in the world's largest aggregated packages for libraries number less than 1,700, or a little more than half the titles already in DOAJ.

To see how your library's aggregated package compares, go to:

Open Access Journals, Big Deal, and Aggregated Packages Comparison.

This compares only one aspects of the aggregations; the aggregated packages also include valuable indexing for thousands of journals, and a great many non-peer-reviewed titles, many of which are important for academic libraries. Comparisons of number and quality of articles in toll and open access journals are left for another time, or another researcher.

Nevertheless, this does say a great deal about the state of OA. At the very least, the number of fully open access journals says much about the capacity of the open access publishing system as it exists now. Every OA title, regardless of age or size, has behind it enough support for scholarly publishing - infrastructure, editors and/or an editorial board, willing authors and peer reviewers. If Science Direct, with about 2,000 journals, can manage about 1/4 of STM publishing - what are the 3,000 journals in the DOAJ capable of? With this many journals emerging with limited support from library budgets - what is the potential if library subscriptions budgets were redirected to support open access publishing?

Figures for the vendor packages reflect considerable manual manipulation of title lists, so please consider the totals suggestive rather than definitive. Informal peer-review in the form of checking of numbers would be most welcome.

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

Saturday, December 01, 2007

National open access journal subsidy

Jean-Claude Guédon, in Open Access and the divide between “mainstream” and “peripheral” science, talks about how some of the really important questions have been overlooked in open access debates, questions like the potential impact of open access on power structures in science.

Open access has the potential to overcome the divide between the mainstream and the periphery, which is particularly important in the developing world.

One model for economic support for open access which has not received as much attention in open access debates is a national open access journal subsidy program. Outside of a very few countries, scholarly publishing has never been profitable, and subsidies have always been the norm. There are a few exceptions, such as the U.s. and the U.K.; even here, when the work given away by authors, peer reviewers, research funders, and the indirect subsidies through library subscriptions are factored in, it is likely that scholarly publishing is basically indirectly

Where journals are directly subsidized, switching to open access just makes sense, as the cost is lower without toll barries (no licensing, authentication, or subscription tracking, for example), and the impact is much greater.

Subsidized journals is a model that works very well for authors of developing countries, who may not have funding to pay article processing fees. A national program can ensure that local journals have the infrastructure and technology they need to succeed and be visible internationally.

Local control of academic publishing has other benefits as well. One example is that a local journal would appear to be much more likely to consider an article on a topic of high priority locally as relevant, than would an international journal. In a scholarly publishing industry heavily dominated by a few international players, medical researchers in developing countries may be more likely to focus on illnesses that impact peoples in northern countries, rather than illnesses such as malaria which have a greater impact at a lower level. A well-supported local scholarly publishing system can address this imbalance.

Librarians are very familiar with the difficulty of locating information of local importance. In Canada, our library patrons are often wanting information of relevance to Canada; when our tools are almost entirely international in nature, it is very difficult to find the local. This is true not only in Canada, but everywhere else as well.

While many aspects of scholarly knowledge are universal in nature, there is much of the local that is important, too.

For example, in humanities, I sometimes wonder whether the need to publish in international journals leads our literary scholars to study the works of authors considered important on an international level, when without this pressure they might be more inclined to study the works of local authors. Could a shift in focus from the international to the local increase the breadth and depth of our understanding of literature - and, at the same time, support local cultures everywhere? Could this result in a happy flourishing of literature and culture around the world?

Scielo is an excellent example of what can be accomplished through a nationally subsidized open access program. While the Scielo portal encompasses the scholarly work of many latin countries, Brazil alone, in 2005, brought 160 fully open access journals to the world at a very modest cost of only $1 million dollars.

Canada is experimenting with subsidized open access journals, through the Aid to Open Access Journals program.

In my opinion, it is not only governments that should be thinking about fully subsidizing open access journals. This makes sense for libraries, too. After all, we are already subsidizing scholarly publishing, through subscriptions. After a little careful reworking of economics, we could transform the system to directly support the journals.

Many libraries are already providing support to facilitate a transition to open access for journals their faculty publish, for example by hosting and supporting journal publishing software.

A useful next step would be to examine the monies spent on journals, and consider whether libraries or library consortia are already paying enough, or more than enough, to fund a fully open access journal. Given that many journals are currently sold in bundles, often international in scope, this will be complex at first; we will need to ask questions that publishers / vendors will not have immediate answers for.

However, we will have to begin asking such questions at any rate. With many journals providing open choice options, libraries will have to begin examining how much is paid for through open choice, and ensure that subscription fees are reduced accordingly, simply to avoid double-dipping; it is, one might argue, a needed element just for due diligence.

If we must focus on such issues in the transition to open access, why not be proactive and determine whether and how libraries can contribute to a fully subsidized, fully open access scholarly publishing system?

full reference:
Jean-Claude Guédon, in Open Access and the divide between “mainstream” and “peripheral” science, in Ferreira, Sueli Mara S.P. and Targino, Maria das Graças, Eds. Como gerir e qualificar revistas científicas (forthcoming in 2007, in Portuguese). The eloquent and profound Guédon is one of the world's earliest open access leaders, and still among the most active around the world; one of the reasons why we have such strong Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

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