Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I am an open access advocate (podcast)

A 6-7 minute podcast on Why I am an Open Access Advocate is available from the BCcampus SOL*R Repository.

This podcast was developed for a course on librarianship and advocacy being developed by Pam Ryan and Kathleen DeLong of the University of Alberta.

Oxford Open: a model for transitioning to open access

8 of the 54 journals participating in Oxford Open have seen an absolute reduction in price this year!

According to the Oxford Journals Update, Oxford Open and Oxford subscription prices have been adjusted to reflect the Oxford Open Choice uptake. The average Oxford journal price subscription has gone up 6.9% this year, while journals with Open Choice update are increasing an average of 1.7% (with variations by journal, depending on the extent of uptake; 8 of the 54 journals involved in Oxford Open have seen an absolute price reduction from 2007 to 2008).

Oxford says "At Oxford Journals, we always strive to make our pricing policy open and transparent".

Ensuring that Open Choice payments result in reductions in subscription prices is a great way to create a positive cycle (more open access, lower subscription prices, more money for more open choice) to reverse the negative cycle of the serials crisis (higher prices, libraries cancel, fewer subscribers, higher prices).

This approach is a good role model for Transitioning to Open Access.

Thanks to Don Taylor.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Canadians for fair copyright update

Michael Geist has written an excellent summary of the anticipated Canadian DMCA, expected to be brought to the House of Commons in the near future. Michael succinctly explains the issues, what is needed in the legislation, and what we need to do to advocate for a fair, balanced copyright law.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Canada moves towards open government!

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Maxime Bernier, has announced that Canada is planning to table international treaties for debate in Canadian parliament, before we sign on, or implement provisions of these treaties!

This is great news for democracy, open government & accountability in Canada.

Hat tip to Michael Geist.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unanimous OA Recommendations from the European University Association

The 791 universities from 46 countries of the European University Association have unanimously endorsed some very strong OA recommendations, which Peter Suber has summarized as follows:

* Here's a digest of the most important of the recommendations. European universities should...

1. launch OAI-compliant institutional repositories (A2)
2. adopt OA mandates for their research output (A3)
3. educate faculty about copyright and encourage the removal of permission barriers at least for users in the author's institution (A4)
4. consider paying publication fees for faculty who publish in fee-based OA journals (A5)
5. work with public funding agencies with OA mandates to encourage deposit in institutional repositories (B1)
6. educate university rectors about the importance of OA (B2)
7. support OA mandates for publicly-funded research in the EU (C1)

Kudos especially to Lesley Wilson, Secretary General of the EUA, and Sijbolt Noorda, chair of the Working Group on Open Access. Thanks to Stevan Harnad for breaking the news, and to Peter Suber for comments and summary.

My comments: this is huge; it sets the direction for European universities. It will take some time, of course, for each university to set its own policies and procedures, and a bit longer for these policies and procedures to take effect. Other jurisdictions are likely to follow the European example, each in its own time. Even if the impact is not felt immediately, the importance of this endorsement should not be underestimated.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kudos to Penn State for Open Access Books Experiment

Kudos - and best wishes - to Penn State University Press and Penn State University Libraries for their open access books experiment, Romance Studies.

Books are openly accessible online, as well as available for ordering.

Thanks to Sandy Thatcher on Liblicense.

Students for open access and open textbooks

Here are two student initiatives for openness worth checking out:

Open Students is a new blog by Gavin Baker on open access, for students. (Hat tip to Peter Suber on Open Access News).

Nicole Allen has alerted me to the efforts of her group, studentPIRGs, to Make Textbooks Affordable. Faculty, please consider joining me and others in signing the Open Textbooks Statement of Intent. Naturally, as an open access advocate, I look for reading materials that are openly accessible for my students, although I also order print copies - a suggestion from a former student.

I think Nicole & her group are on to something; one of my most popular blogposts over the years is Open Access Textbooks. This is an interesting phenomenon; textbooks are not at all the focus of the open access movement, yet this movement to open textbooks seems to have a life of its own.

Aside from making education more affordable, here is another really good reason to think about open textbooks: if students are having a hard time paying for one text per subject, they certainly won't be purchasing more than one! But picture the student learning subjects such as math, physics, or chemistry. If it's not easy to understand the text, wouldn't it be great to have a whole range of alternatives to turn to? This makes sense for any subject, of course, it just might be a little easier to see the need with these sciences.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SCOAP3, Accreditation, and Access to Research Laboratories

Originally posted to Liblicense and the SPARC Open Access Forum. This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access Series.

Gene Sprouse of the American Physical Society expresses the concerns of APS about ongoing sustainability of their publishing program with a shift from subscriptions to open access publishing, in his Liblicense Message, Gene Sprouse of the American Physical Society expresses the concerns of APS about ongoing sustainability of their publishing program with a shift from subscriptions to open access publishing, in his message:

SCOAP3 is a consortium within physics exploring the idea of shifting physics publishing to a fully open access model.

The fear is that if payment is voluntary, libraries may choose to drop out of the consortium. This is a reasonable concern. Thanks for Gene for raising it.

Here is a thought: some of the members of SCOAP3 have access to facilities which are necessary for researchers in high energy physics, such as CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory.

Could members with such facilities have rules about participation in SCOAP3 for institutions whose scientists would like to be visiting researchers? It should be possible to formulate rules that are flexible to meet the needs of wealthy and less-wealthy institutions, those with many physicists, and those with few. If participation in SCOAP3 were a requirement to participate in the research, drop-outs should be highly unlikely.

Because research in this area is expensive, a price structure based on research intensity would be fair.

Another approach to fairness for different countries would be to translate pricing into average wage equivalents. For example, if a reasonable price for a high-intensity research institution in a western country equates with an average month's salary for a researcher, then have a price structure that charges the equivalent of an average month's wages in local currency. This way, wealthy and poor institutions could be equal contributors, even if the revenue received were not equal.

Physics may be unique in having key central facilities such as CERN.

However, something that all worthwhile academic institutions do need is accreditation. In order to be accredited, an academic institution needs to have, among many other things, a library which meets particular standards.

Perhaps, in the future, one of these standards for libraries will be participating in dissemination of scholarly information.

Larger or research-intensive universities may prefer to have their own OA publishing programs and/or open access archives. Smaller schools, or those without research programs, could contribute to a central fund. This central fund could then be used to subsidize projects such as SCOAP3, or other existing or potential open access projects, from subsidizing OA journals to subsidizing university presses so that they could provide full open access. Like having a library, such contributions could be considered essential for accreditation rather than optional.

With this approach, smaller and less research-intensive institutions would have an opportunity to participate in paying for scholarly publishing, much as they do now with subscriptions, as well as clear guidelines on what is expected.

There are many models within universities, libraries and library consortia, and governments that could be considered for managing such central funds. There need not be a single fund; there could be many.

The output of such a fund would be the open access materials themselves; this is an approach that lends itself very well to a transparent accountability.

Monday, January 14, 2008

LIBR559L: Issues in Scholarly Communications

This semester I am teaching a course at the University of British Columbia's School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS), LIBR 559L: Issues in Scholarly Communications. The class will be a mix of theory, practice, and discussion.

The practice element involves class creation of a sample journal using Open Journal Systems, and along the way practising each element of writing, editing, reviewing, and publishing, as well as self-archiving and managing a small sample archive. Many thanks to UBC Library staff, especially Bronwen Sprout and Hilde Coldenbrander, and SFU's Kevin Stranack, for their assistance with the class exercises. Thanks very much to all the speakers coming to visit the class, too - for details, see the Course Syllabus at: - and a special thank-you to Dr. Rosie Redfield, whom I met after the Syllabus was developed.

The class blog is at:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

RRRESEARCH: UBC leadership in open source science

Dr. Rosie Redfield of the University of British Columbia, author of the RRRESEARCH blog, is an innovator in open source science. The RRRESEARCH blog supplements traditional forms of scholarly communications such as peer-reviewed articles, by providing information about experiments at every step along the way.

Open sharing in this manner allows for early feedback, for example as blog commenting. The full potential of this form of communication is not yet known, but here are some thoughts:

If there is a better way to approach some element of an experiment, or something the researcher should probably know, isn't it better to receive this feedback early on while the experiment is still in progress (or perhaps still in the planning stages), rather than waiting for feedback until the research is completed and written up, and it is too late to make changes?

It takes some courage to take this step; one might worry about being scooped. On the plus side, it has been pointed out that open blogging provides a time stamp. Will we see a movement towards blogging or other open sharing of works in progress, just so that researchers can appropriately claim priority?

Congratulations to Dr. Rosie Redfield for yet another example of Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Review: 4 3/4 Stars (of 5)

My review of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has just been published by The Charleston Advisor.


The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the world’s most authoritative list of scholarly, peer-reviewed, fully open access journals, and a “must” for libraries of all types. As of August 2007, DOAJ includes over 2,800 titles, over 10% of the world’s estimated 20-25,000 peer-reviewed scholarly journal titles. This is an impressive list; in terms of numbers of titles, DOAJ compares favorably with commercial journal packages. DOAJ is growing rapidly, at a rate of more than one title per calendar day. DOAJ’s highly functional and aesthetically pleasing interface features a number of search options, including a new search option for authors looking for open access or hybrid journals to publish in. DOAJ is freely available, and working towards economic sustainability through an optional membership / sponsorship program. This article examines the DOAJ membership program in some depth. Membership fees for libraries and library consortia are an incredible bargain. The membership fee for DOAJ’s 2,800 (and growing) title list is less than the average subscription cost for a single journal in any scientific discipline, and DOAJ represents significant staff time savings for libraries. The promotional benefits of DOAJ membership are important to position libraries for leadership in the internet age, and especially in the key emerging area of scholarly communications. DOAJ is a very popular service among libraries, with a strong reputation for quality; membership or sponsorship is likely to be highly beneficial to library service providers. As a free resource, DOAJ is strongly recommended for all libraries. DOAJ titles can be included in A-Z journal lists, library catalogues or websites, and subject-specific URLs can be added to subject guides or pathfinders.

A copy of the review can be found in E-LIS as well.

Many thanks to the ever-alert Peter Suber for notice of this publication!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

NIH and European Research Council OA Mandates

Some major events in open access this week:

The final text of the NIH policy has been posted:
and a very interesting FAQ

The European Research Council has announced an exemplary Open Access Policy - open access to funded research within 6 months, no loopholes, and an indication that the 6-month maximum will be shortened! For links and a summary, see Peter Suber's Open Access News.

As always, the best way to keep with the latest developments is to tune into Peter Suber's Open Access News.