Thursday, May 29, 2008

America Competes Act and Open Access

The The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (COMPETES) has been cited in a couple of the responses to the extended consultation period made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health on the new requirement aspect of the Public Access Policy.

Open Access will advance the goals of COMPETES.

American researchers will benefit from the open access impact advantage. There is a substantial body of evidence that articles that are made openly accessible are more likely to be read and cited, as documented in Steve Hitchcock's bibliography. This enhances the status and career of the researcher, and means the work is more likely to be built upon in the scientific process which generally involves a series of incremental steps. Open Access to American research raises the priority of American research interests throughout the global scholarly community.

COMPETES includes the goal - both wise and kind - of enhancing educational opportunities to help Americans to develop the key skill sets needed for research and innovation for the future, and particularly to reach out to assist those with low-incomes, underrepresented minorities, and to assist students and teachers at high-needs schools.

Open Access will facilitate progress towards this goal. It is the wealthiest institutions and regions that currently enjoy the best access to the scholarly literature, while poorer institutions and regions are left behind. With Open Access, students and teachers at a rural school in a poorer neighborhood have all the materials needed for success at university and beyond, in the workforce or business community.

Open Access does not impact on research destined for the commercial market. The NIH policy clearly states that the policy applies to articles accepted for publication. If a company does not wish to make research available while a patent is pending, they will not want to publish the results!

Public comments to the NIH policy are due by 5:00 p.m. Saturday, May 31. Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Canadian OA Librarians

Dean Giustini records some notes from talks with Canadian OA librarian leaders Lindsday Glynn, Lorie Kloda and Denise Koufougiannakis on UBC Academic Search - Google Scholar Blog.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hypothesis: decline in author submissions if no self-archiving allowed

Hypothesis: author submissions will decrease at toll-access journals that do not allow author self-archiving, resulting in a decline in quantity of articles published, or quality, or both. Rationale: authors who are educated about open access, aware of the OA impact advantage, or impacted by open access policies, are likely to seek open access friendly venues for publishers. The rate of submission decline will vary, depending on the discipline, relevant open access policies, and the availability and credibility of open access alternatives (open access journals and self-archiving friendly journals).

This hypothesis was developed for the Research Questions section of the Open Access Directory (OAD).

For a more poetic expression, see Whither White, Fair RoMEO?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Open Access Research Questions

Following are a few of the more substantial entries I've recently contributed to the Research Questions section of the Open Access Directory, repeated here so that a copy is kept of the original questions, and so that there is one copy of the questions under my name as the author. Please join us at the OAD to add and refine questions - and be sure to add a note about any research in progress! Feel free to get in touch if you are interested in pursuing any of the following and my questions are not completely clear.

Hypothesis: there is a rural / urban split in subscription-based access. This will appear in many countries, developed and developing alike. The largest gap will be evident for the public, followed by educational institutions. There will be some gaps even for research institutions, i.e. even a remote / field location of a research university will not always have the same access as the main campus.

This can be tested with a case scenario, e.g. a member of the public in a particular location. Does the location have a public library, and if so, what scholarly subscriptions, if any, are available? What about ILL services? Is there a local college or university campus - if so, is there walk-in access? If walk-in access is available but not close by, what would be involved for the person to take advantage? Is it a simple trip to a larger centre, something the person would be likely to do for other reasons such as shopping anyways? Or, is it an expensive trip?

This research would be very well-suited for collaboration in different regions.

Note likely confounding factor: there will also likely be a rural-urban split in quality and availability of internet. This may be inconsistent (e.g., some very remote locations are very well-served via satellite).

Hypothesis: there is a split in subscription-based access based on relative wealth, both across and within countries and sectors. A mid-sized college in a poorer area will tend to have fewer subscriptions and may not have as robust support for interlibrary loans services. Note: poorer colleges and universities need to attract students. Not all will be happy to advertise less access. Perhaps an anonymous study would help?

[from OAD:} It's also important to distinguish demand for access from people without access. Some of those without access may not care to have it. How well can we measure the demand for access among those who don't currently have it?

Heather's addition:
* On the other hand, demand for access may be due to lack of access. Is there research on demand for reading materials or right-to-read among illiterate people?

Medline free usage jump
When Medline was made freely available, usage jumped a hundred fold. This may be worth exploring and documenting in detail. Is there a relationship between free availability of Medline and the emergence of evidence-based medicine? Possible approaches: usage statistics, surveys, interviews.

Library Support for Open Access
* Library support for open access. (Can be by nature of support, type / size of library and region / location). Types of support:

* Journal hosting (see Karla Hahn's recent ARL study on library publishing activities) [date? link?]
* Payment of article processing fees
* Economic support (and/or commitments) for open access initiatives, e.g. SCOAP3, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
* Institutional and disciplinary repositories (note: the Canadian Association of Research Libraries does an annual survey). # of repositories, type, contents, staffing by type and FTE.
* Educational - number and type of workshops. See recent SPEC kit on scholarly communications activities.

Library use of open access resources
. (Can be by nature of use, type / size of library and region / location).

* Inclusion of DOAJ and other open access lists in link resolving services. (Statistics on hits / downloads?).
* Local open access collection development.
* Interlibrary loan searching for open access resources.

Library support for open access as measured by library website design.

* Is there a link to information about open access and scholarly communication? If so, where - the library home page, placed prominently or not-so-prominently, several clicks in, etc.?
* Does this differ by library type, size, region or country?
* Is there a correlation between library OA support and OA success at the organization?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

CLA Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries

Today, the Canadian Library Executive approved a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, as follows. The wording may not be exact. The final wording will be posted on the CLA website.

CLA Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries

Whereas connecting users with the information they need is one of the library's most essential functions, and access to information is one of librarianship's most cherished values (from the 2005 CLA Resolution on Open Access), therefore CLA recommends that Canadian libraries of all types strongly support and encourage open access.

CLA encourages libraries of all types to:

• support and encourage policies requiring open access to research supported by Canadian public funding, as defined above. If delay or embargo periods are permitted to accommodate publisher concerns, these should be considered temporary, to provide publishers with an opportunity to adjust, and a review period should be built in, with a view to decreasing or eliminating any delay or embargo period.
• raise awareness of library patrons and other key stakeholders about open access, both the concept and the many open access resources, through means appropriate to each library, such as education campaigns and promoting open access resources.
• support the development of open access in all of its varieties, including gold (OA publishing) and green (OA self-archiving). Libraries should consider providing economic and technical support for open access publishing, by supporting open access journals or by participating in the payment of article processing fees for open access. The latter could occur through redirection of funds that would otherwise support journal subscriptions, or through taking a leadership position in coordinating payments by other bodies, such as academic or government departments or funding agencies.
• support and encourage authors to retain their copyright, for example through the use of the CARL / SPARC Author's Addendum, or through the use of Creative Commons licensing.

Many thanks to CLA President Alvin Schrader, the CLA Executive, and all of the members of the CLA Open Access Task Force.

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

Saturday, May 17, 2008

PubMedCentral Journals baseline data

As of May 17, 2008, 8.7% of the journals indexed in MEDLINE / PubMed are full participants in PubMedCentral. Of these, 200 are traditional, non-open-access publishers. Good news though this is, this shows that there is much more work to do!

Thanks to Michael Rogawski on the SPARC Open Access Forum. According to Rogawski, there are 5,194 (mostly) biomedical and life sciences journals indexed in MEDLINE/PubMed, and 452 journals fully participating in PMC.

Full participation in PMC is essential for medical journals, not only for access, but for preservation, too.

The approximate number of journals in PubMed (5,200) can be found on the National Library of Medicine's fact sheet, What is the difference between Medline and PubMed?, accessible from the Medline site. (I can't find a link from PubMed, though).

The exact number of journals indexed in Index Medicus / PubMed as of March 2008 according to the NLM website is 5,271.

It will be interesting to review this data in the future as part of the quarterly Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Open Access Reserves List

Researchers who are faculty, too, are soon likely to see a clear benefit to them of open access: the ease of creating a list of reserve readings for students.

When materials are open access, all that one needs to do is to note the citation and add a link. No authentication needed, no copyright permissions. If you're planning to use an article or book chapter year after year - or it is clear that others would and should read the items - it is worthwhile contacting the author to inquire about making a copy open access, and it is worth the author's time to make this happen.

This hit home today when I did a search of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Metadata Harvester and came up with a list of search results that looked a lot like the reserves list for a course at the library where I used to work.

It was not unusual for professors to put copies of their own work on reserve, to make sure they were accessible to students, whether the library could afford to subscribe to or purchase the content or not - clearly, a desire to open up access even in the print world.

If I am seeing this, I think we are close to the point in time when others will begin to see it, too. Once we begin to see what those institutional repositories can do, it will become much easier to recruit content.

Added May 16: see also Klaus Graf's 2005 blogpost on Archivalia called Electronic Reserves and Open Access. Klaus asks: Can administrators of Electronic Reserves (ERs) and staff using them in order to support Open Access (OA)? and concludes: Administrators and staff of ERs should support OA by asking for permission to make OA versions of ER materials available. Klaus Graf's post is in the public domain.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

PMC: free and open access: limits to unlimited!

PubMedCentral has a new feature: a search can now be limited to Open Access Articles! Very cool! The irony of creating Limiting, to find the Unlimited, is simply delicious!

Check this out at at Entrez PubMed PMC. Click Limits.

Total PMC open access articles as of May 13, 2008: 70,588.

Free and open access are obviously not the same thing in PMC terminology; the total number of free research / review articles is 1,139,216.

Fortunately, PMC posts its Definition of Open Access, based on the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing:

An Open Access Publication1 is one that meets the following two conditions:

* The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
* A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).

Comment: kudos to PMC for posting their definition of open access! It would be great if all search services did this.

PubMed: more than a quarter free!

Entrez PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine's free online version of Medline, has a total of over 8.4 million indexed items with links to fulltext. Of these, more than 2.3 million link to free fulltext.

Does this mean that already more than a quarter of the world's medical literature is freely available online?

Here are the numbers, for May 13, 2008, as recorded on the Open Access Directory

2,349,343. May 13, 2008. Number of free fulltext articles on deposit at PubMed Central. To update this number, search PubMed with a limit to "Links to Free Full Text " from the Entrez PubMed search box.
8,413,363 May 13, 2008. Total number of articles in Entrez PubMed with "Links to Full Text".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Open Access Using OJS - how fast?

How fast can a journal issue be published using Open Journal Systems (OJS)?

Based on a special issue of Topics in Scholarly Communications I created this afternoon for an upcoming presentation, it appears - pretty darn fast!

Altogether, this special one-article issue took me a total of four and a half hours - mind you, that includes writing and revising that one article and creating the 52-slide presentation complete with pictures and detailed notes - not to mention doing the laundry, feeding the cat, and keeping up with Open Access News.

Subtracting all these extras, the actual software time for this issue, for all roles from author to section editor, layout, and publishing the issue, could not have taken more than an hour, at the very most.

If the presentation is of interest, watch for a copy in E-LIS later this week.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Free to read: great for business!

There are many flavors of open access; green, gold, public access, free to read, free to write. One thing that every aspect of open access has it common, is that it brings many benefits throughout our society, what the Budapest Open Access Initiative called "an unprecedented public good".

Consider how making research articles free to read for anyone with an internet connection, opens up new possibilities for the business community. The wealth of knowledge developed by our universities and researchers becomes freely available to everyone from the large corporation, to the budding entrepreneur. And why not? One of the arguments for open access is that taxpayers should have access to the results of research that they have funded. Businesses are taxpayers, too!

There are many ways in which we can all benefit from business access to research. First, of course, is the economic benefits when the commercial sector flourishes. Then, too, there are many ways that business can benefit from our collective knowledge to the advantage of all; consider, for example, how many companies would really like to be environmentally friendly. Why not help them out, and share what we know?

For more on this topic, please see my blogpost, Open Access: Good for Business!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Jim Till on the IRCSET policy

Jim Till has posted a comment on the IRCSET policy.

Peter Suber and I have speculated that the IRCSET policy might be the best model so far, however Jim points out that the combination of the first key principle: 1. This publication policy confirms the freedom of researchers to publish first wherever they feel is the most appropriate, and the stipulation "should adhere", might constitute a loophole which would render this policy ineffective.

Good points, Jim!

Jim Till, author of Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure, is one of the reasons we have Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

40 new PubMedCentral journals in last 60 days!

40 more journals have begun adding content to PubMedCentral in the last 60 days! To view the list, go to PMC Journal List - New.

Of these, 22 or more than half make content available immediately! An additional 6 make content available within 12 months or less, indicating that articles published in these journals clearly fit the NIH Public Access policy. In other words, 70% of these new PMC journals clearly facilitate compliance with the NIH policy.

Kudos to every one of these journals, and to PMC for creating this list.

Librarians - to support the transition to OA, why not prioritize subscribing to OA policy-friendly journals? Journals could qualify by being fully open access, actively contributing content to PubMedCentral within the NIH acceptable embargo period, or having author-self-archiving policies that fit with OA policy compliance.

Aggregators - why not develop convenient lists, to make it easy for libraries to consider these factors in subscription decisions?

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

Friday, May 02, 2008

Open Access: to research, or to implement

Peter Suber, in the May 2008 SPARC Open Access Newsletter, presents an extensive list of questions, highly recommended for anyone interested in research open access!

Librarians - here is another perspective. All we need to do is to rethink, just a little, what a library collection is in an open access age. The moment we understand that a library can build a collection, and that the concept of purchase need never enter the equation, then we can begin to shift those collection dollars from purchase to creating open access, working creatively and cooperatively in partnership with our faculty and scholarly publishers.

This shift - which is already happening, with so many libraries involved in digitizing collections for open access, publishing, institutional repositories, and the SCOAP3 Consortium - would change the answers to many of the fine questions Peter asks; indeed, it would make many of these questions moot!

Amazing OA Progress in April 2008

Peter Suber just released the May 2008 SPARC Open Access Newsletter. Peter's feature article this month is "What we don't know about open access: research questions in need of researchers".

Also worth highlighting: the absolutely amazing progress towards open access reflected in Peter's Roundup Section. There are 10 items reporting open access mandate news, all very good news and including 5 new university open access policies, by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), Stirling University, Southampton University, Queen Margaret University, Sweden's University College of Borås, with more in the works. Wow!


The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) adopted its long-awaited OA mandate.

The new OA mandate at the NIH took effect for the majority of NIH grantees.

The UK Medical Research Council revised its OA mandate. When the MRC pays for a gold OA article, then it will demand the removal of key permission barriers, not merely the removal of price barriers.

The European Commission recommended OA for publicly-funded research in its April 10 report on tech transfer.

Stirling University adopted an OA mandate (on March 5, announced April 9), the first university-wide mandate in the UK the second (after Harvard's) to be adopted by faculty rather than administrators.

The University of Southampton adopted a university-wide OA mandate (announced April 4). Its School of Electronics and Computer Science has had a departmental mandate since 2001.

Scotland's Queen Margaret University adopted an OA mandate (on February 19).

Sweden's University College of Borås adopted an OA policy encouraging faculty to deposit their journal articles in the institutional repository.

The European University Association (EUA) released an updated version of its OA recommendations. The EUA calls on universities to mandate OA to their research output and to support OA mandates for publicly-funded research. The EUA has 791 institutional members in 46 countries.

The Open University is considering an "immediate deposit / optional access" OA mandate.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Open Access to Knowledge and Information: Scholarly Literature and Digital Library Initiatives – the South Asian Scenario

Wonderful newopen access book on open access from UNESCO! by Anup Kumar Das.

Thanks to Moninder Buber.

Best open access funder mandate anywhere?

Working on an open access policy for your funding agency or university? Here is potential model to point people to! The recently announced policy of the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology is described by Peter Suber as possibly the best funder mandate anywhere on Open Access News.

From the IRCSET Press Release: The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET) has taken moves today to ensure that research papers published by its funding recipients will be made available in an open access repository, within six months of their first publication. The new development is in line with best international practice and is designed to enhance the public accessibility of State funded research.

From the Policy:
Conditions to which IRCSET funded Award Recipients
should adhere:

1. All researchers must lodge their publications resulting in whole or in part from IRCSET-funded research in an open access repository as soon as is practical, but within six calendar months at the latest.

2. The repository should ideally be a local institutional repository to which the appropriate rights must be granted to replicate to other repositories.

3. Authors should deposit post-prints (or publisher’s version if permitted) plus metadata of articles accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and international conference proceedings;

4. Deposit should be made upon acceptance by the journal/conference. Repositories should release the metadata immediately, with access restrictions to full text article to be applied as required. Open access should be available as soon as practicable after the author-requested embargo, or six month, whichever comes first;

5. Suitable repositories should make provision for long-term preservation of, and free public access to, published research findings.

6. IRCSET may augment or amend the above requirements wherever necessary to ensure best practice in Open Access.

Comment: as Peter Suber points out, strengths of this policy are that it is a requirement, "part of IRCSET’s terms and conditions in offering and providing funding to researchers", the maximum 6-month deposit, the requirement for immediate deposit even when access is delayed (very important to fit in with the workflow of the busy researcher). Congratulations to IRCSET!

The full Press Release and Policy are very much worth reading.