Friday, October 31, 2008

Heather Morrison: Speaker Biography (Open Access and Scholarly Communications)

This is my open access Speaker's Biography (long version), developed for the Open Access Directory OA Speaker's Bureau.

Heather Morrison:
  • is a well-known, passionate advocate of open access and transformative change in scholarly communication
  • a PhD student at Simon Fraser University's School of Communication, and a librarian based in Vancouver, Canada.
  • has worked with the British Columbia Library Association and the Canadian Library Association, on open access advocacy, drafting Resolutions on Open Access passed by BCLA in 2004 and CLA in 2005, responses to open access policy consultations, and served as the Co-Convenor of the CLA Task Force on Open Access (2006-2008), which drafted strong policies on open access to CLA's own publications and a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, both endorsed by CLA, and formed an Open Access Interest Group to carry forward the work of the Open Access Task Force.
  • librarian with extensive experience in licensing electronic resources in library consortial settings (many types and sizes of libraries), resource sharing, communications & strategic planning
  • co-planning a cross-Canada research study on open access support at Canadian university libraries and research offices
Speaking topics of interest:
  • open access overview, especially policy, advocacy, and growth / status
  • open access transitional strategies, for librarians, publishers, and/or scholars (economics, scholarly publishing and archiving)
  • transformative potential of open access for society
  • philosophical issues in open access and scholarly communications
  • E-LIS
Potential workshops:
  • open access overview (policy, archives, publishing) (based on open access class - weekend)
  • scholarly communications (group exercise to create a practice journal, from writing and peer review to editing to publishing) (based on scholarly communications class)
Heather loves public speaking and developing new presentations, and very much enjoys facilitating groups discussions too. Interested in online / distance presentations.

Aside from open access and scholarly communication, Heather speaks about library consortia and cooperation (particularly BC Electronic Library Network, where she works).

Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books?

At ELPUB 2008, Greco & Wharton presented a compelling case for why university presses should adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books - a case based entirely on economics, not philosophy.

Greco & Wharton present analysis showing how a small press releasing 20 Open Access books would generate $128,511. in profit; a large press releasing 100 titles would generate $642,555.00 in profit (p. 11).

This is based on a processing fee approach (G&W use the term author-pays), with $250 as a preliminary charge, and $10,000 on final publication. This is for electronic text, with print-on-demand.

At first, this figure seems high, and I was quite sceptical. The more I think about it, the more sense this makes. Like journals, the primary market for scholarly books is academic libraries. Instead of paying to purchase for very limited access (in print, only one reader at a time - or none, if the book disappears), why not work together to pay for production of a book for open access?

$10,000 is a lot of money for a book - but another way of looking at this, is that 100 libraries contributing $100 each can pay for the production of an open access book. Libraries already do a lot of purchasing as groups through library consortia and groups of consortia; this approach could be a great fit.

There are other possible models, such as combinations of subsidy and direct support. For example, a library could host an Open Monographs Press, just as many now provide hosting and support services for Open Journal Systems. Libraries could work towards matching funds for scholarly books, rather than funding the full cost.

Full citation for Greco and Wharton's paper:
Greco, Albert N; Wharton, Robert Michael (2008) Should university presses adopt an open access [electronic publishing] business model for all of their scholarly books?, ELPUB2008. Open Scholarship: Authority, Community, and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0 - Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Electronic Publishing held in Toronto, Canada 25-27 June 2008 / Edited by: Leslie Chan and Susanna Mornati. ISBN 978-0-7727-6315-0, 2008, pp. 149-164

[Disclosures: I am on the ELPUB 2009 planning committee, and I work for a library consortium].

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

King Midas 2008, or, you can't eat capital-intensive anything

There is a folk tale of a King Midas who received a magical gift, to transform everything around him into what he loved: gold.

This is a story that we need to hear, again.

For example:

It seems that there are some who believe that the best use of land is the most capital-intensive use. If this is what you believe, it makes sense to pave or build over every inch of arable land. It seems that some of those who have these beliefs, have the magical ability (or intensive capital) to make this happen.

The only problem is: you can't eat capital-intensive anything.

Some say economics is very complicated. I say: let's grow apples and cherries, wheat and rice!

The trouble with metrics (for scholarship)

Anyone who has followed The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics for any length of time is no doubt aware that I like numbers. Measuring the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is one of my favorite past-times, along with calculating just how low the per-article cost of a scholarly peer-reviewed journal article can, or should, be.

It is really important to remember, though:

Numbers work best when they serve us, and not we them.

There are, in my opinion, serious potential dangers to scholarship (and to the world), if we move to a metrics-based assessment system without giving this a very great deal of thought. Here are a few of my comments on this topic, as originally posted to the American Scientist Open Access Forum:

Whether metrics are improving, and whether it is a good idea to base decisions about quality of and funding for research and journals entirely on usage metrics, are two separate questions.

In this post, I agree that metrics are improving with potential to advance our understanding of scholarship, but that there are dangers to be considered from over-reliance on usage metrics. Another idea I would like to introduce is cost-efficiency metrics.

As Stevan points out, "metrics are becoming far richer, more diverse, more transparent and more answerable than just the ISI JIF". There is indeed potential to develop much richer metrics, and this is a good thing, as it gives us a better means to research scholarship per se.

However, there are potential dangers to scholarship from relying too much on metrics. One important point is the distinction between popularity (or temporary importance), and real importance to scholarship or to the world.

Consider, for example:

Biology - species. There will always, of necessity, be a limited pool of scientists studying any one species in danger of extinction. Do articles and journals in these areas receive fewer citations? If so, what happens if we reward scholars and journals on the basics of metrics? Will these researchers lose their funding? Will journals that publish articles in this area lose their status?

Literature - authors. There are many researchers studying Shakespeare. A lesser-known local author will be lucky to receive the attention of even one researcher. In a metrics-based system, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that this bias will increase, and the odds of studying local culture decrease.

History - the local versus the global. A reasonable hypothesis is that historical articles and journals with broader potential readership are likely to attract more citations than locally-based historical studies. If this is correct, then local studies would suffer under a metrics-based system. (In the medium to long term, the broader studies would suffer, too, through lack of background that can be supplied by in-depth local research).

Medicine - temporary importance: AIDS, bird flu, SARS, are all viral diseases, horrible diseases and pandemics or potential pandemics. Of course, our research communities must prioritize these threats in the short term. This means many articles on these topics, and new journals, receiving many citations. Great stuff, this advances our knowledge and may have already prevented more than one pandemic. But what about other, less-pressing issues, such as the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics and basic research? In the short term, a focus on research usage metrics helps us to prioritize and focus on the immediate danger. In the long term, if usage metrics lead us to undervalue basic research, we could end up with more pressing dangers to deal with, such as rampant and totally untreatable bacterial illnesses, and less basic knowledge to help us figure out what to do.

This is speculation, but hopefully enough theoretical substance to illustrate that there are good reasons to think carefully about the impact of metrics-based systems before rushing to implement them.

Cost-efficiency metrics, such as average cost per article, is a tool that can be used to examine the relative cost-effectiveness of journals. In the print world, the per-article cost for the small, not-for-profit society publishers has often been a small fraction of the cost of the larger commercial for-profit publishers, often with equal or better quality. If university administrators are going to look at metrics, why not give thought to rewarding researchers for seeking publishing venues that combine high-quality peer review and editing with affordable costs?

More discussion on this topic can be found on The American Scientist Open Access Forum.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More evidence of a spike in DOAJ additions in 2008

Gavin Baker on the Journal of Insignificant Inquiry reports a spike in the growth of DOAJ in 2008, based on data generated from the DOAJ new title search page.

The DOAJ numbers are the best estimate I am aware of of how many open access journals there are in the world, however it is important to remember that DOAJ is intended as a directory of journals, and is not a perfect measure of OA journals.

Thanks, Gavin, for a useful addition to the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series.


Some factors to consider when looking at DOAJ as a measure of open access journals:

Discovery - there could be open access journals which DOAJ staff are not aware of.

Vetting - DOAJ journals go through a vetting process; they not only need to be fully open access and peer reviewed (or equivalent), DOAJ needs evidence. Because of the vetting process, there is always at least some delay between when a journal becomes OA and when it is included in DOAJ.

Useful delay - DOAJ does not include forthcoming journals, and does not automatically and immediately include new journals. Journals must be active to be included in DOAJ; sometimes, it makes sense to wait for a few issues to be released.

Human resources - the people at DOAJ are human beings. Minor fluctuations in growth can simply reflect someone's vacation time. If libraries want DOAJ to be as up to date as possible - take out a membership in DOAJ so that this important service has the support it needs to keep up.

Language - while the DOAJ staff seem remarkably comfortable in a multilingual environment, it must add some complexity that OA journals can be in any language, in any alphabet. I have no idea whether discovery and/or vetting is slower for some languages than others, but it does seem likely.

Weeding - DOAJ removes journals that no longer meet its criteria for inclusion (fully open access, peer reviewed or equivalent, and active).

Journal start dates in DOAJ reflect the first OA issue, not necessarily when a new journal started, or when an older one converted to OA.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CLA Announces new Open Access Interest Group

The following announcement was sent by Ken Roberts, Canadian Library Association President, to the CLA list on October 14, 2008, the First International Open Access Day.

This September, the CLA Executive approved the formation of a new Open Access Interest Group. Today, it is my pleasure on this First International Open Access Day (, to officially announce the formation of this group!

This group will follow on the recent work carried out by the CLA Open Access Task Force and will focus on one of the most important issues in the library world at present, particularly in the academic library community. The Open Access Interest Group will incorporate elements of the Information Commons Interest Group, which will be reconstituted.

The first co-conveners of the Interest Group will be Leah Vanderjagt and Lisa Goddard.

Terms of Reference
· To provide a forum for members to discuss issues and topics relating to Open Access.
· When requested, to respond to Open Access matters on behalf of CLA.
· To work with both Canadian and international organizations (including other CLA/ACB Interest Groups and Committees) to promote Open Access initiatives.
· To organize Open Access-related sessions and other events at the annual CLA/ACB conference and elsewhere.

Membership in the Open Access Interest Group is open to all CLA members. The CLA website is being modified to allow registration in this group; expect a follow-up message when this is ready. In the meantime, you can sign up for the CLA Open Access Interest Group listserv by contacting Heather Morrison at The purpose of this listserv is to allow participants to share ideas and news about open access at their respective institutions, in Canada, and in the global information environment.

This May, CLA adopted a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, which reads:

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, therefore CLA recommends that Canadian libraries of all types strongly support and encourage open access.

CLA encourages Canadian 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.

The CLA Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries is freely available on the CLA website, at:

For further information, please contact:
Heather Morrison
Interim Convenor, CLA Open Access Interest Group
heatherm at eln dot bc dotc a
Lisa Goddard
Co-Convenor, CLA Open Access Interest Group
lgoddard at mun dot ca
Leah Vanderjagt
Co-Convenor, CLA Open Access Interest Group
leah dot vanderjagt at ualberta dot ca

Ken Roberts, CLA President

Thanks, CLA, Ken Roberts, Lisa Goddard and Leah Vanderjagt for initiating yet another fine example of Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement! Thanks, also, to all of the many CLA members who supported the proposal for the development of this new interest group.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Open Access and Free Journals in OutLook OnLine: Happy International Open Access Day!

Today, in celebration of the First International Open Access Day, BC Electronic Library Network (ELN), with BC Public Library Services Branch (PLSB), have officially launched the Open Access and Free Journals in OutLook OnLine. There are over 5,000 titles in all; the majority are scholarly, peer-reviewed journals from the Directory of Open Access Journals, supplemented by other open access and free collections considered of quality and collectible by BC Librarians. Examples include: the peer-reviewed Open Medicine; the Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper, published by the Nuu chah nulth Tribal Council; the BC Grasslands Magazine, and the Caledonia Nordic Newsletter.

OutLook OnLine is a gateway to the collections of British Columbia's public and post-secondary libraries, 92 libraries in all. From my perspective as an open access advocate, this is an important and welcome moment in open access history. This is no longer just me, one of a few open access advocates. The Open Access and Free Journals collection emerges from the work of the local CUFTS Free! Open Access Collections group, which itself emerged from the enthusiasm of BC librarians for collecting open access materials. BC ELN is an innovative organization, sometimes leading-edge but never bleeding edge, and certainly not fringe. We are, rather, grassroots and responsive to our community. This initiative represents a moment when open access has clearly become mainstream.

The MARC records are freely available for any library to download, to include in local library catalogues or regional services like OutLook OnLine, at:

An A to Z list of the BC ELN Open Access and Free Journals collection can be found at:

Any opinion expressed in this post is that of the author alone, and does not represent the opinion or policy of BC Electronic Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.

Announcing the launch of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)

Kudos to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association!



14 October 2008, London. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA, announces its official launch today in conjunction with an OA Day celebration hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London. The mission of OASPA is to support and represent the interests of Open Access (OA) journals publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines through an exchange of information, setting of industry standards, advancing business and publishing models, advocating for gold OA journals publishing, education and the promotion of innovation.

>From having first emerged as a new publishing model over a decade ago, OA publishing has become an embedded feature of the scholarly publishing landscape: The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists over 3500 peer-reviewed journals; a growing number of professional organizations offer OA publications; university libraries increasingly support OA publishing services; funding organizations support and encourage OA publishing; and a long tail of independent editorial teams and societies now publish their titles OA. Professional OA publishers such as BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) have been in business for over five years, while some scientist/scholar publishers (editorial teams operating independently of a professional publisher) have published their OA journals for a decade or more. Moreover, a number of traditional publishing houses are now engaging in Open Access activities, the recent acquisition of BioMed Central by Springer and the SAGE-Hin dawi partnership being two cases in point. By bringing together those who share an interest in developing appropriate business models, tools and standards to support OA journals publishing, it is hoped that success in these areas can be achieved more quickly to the benefit of not only OASPA members, but more importantly, for the scholarly community that OA publishers serve.

Membership in OASPA is open to both scholar publishers and professional publishing organizations, including university presses and for profit and non-profit organizations. Members are expected to demonstrate a genuine interest in OA journals publishing by having signed either the Berlin or Budapest Declarations and must publish at least one full OA journal. Other individuals and organizations who support OA journals publishing or who are interested in exploring opportunities are also welcome. Membership criteria and an application form can be found on the OASPA website,

The founding members of OASPA represent a broad spectrum of OA publishers and include: BioMed Central, Co-Action Publishing, Copernicus, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Journal of Medical Internet Research (Gunther Eysenbach), Medical Education Online (David Solomon), the Public Library of Science (PLoS), SAGE, SPARC Europe and Utrecht University Library (Igitur). Representatives from each of these publishers will form an interim board until a first General Meeting is held during 2009.

Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association, OASPA, is launched today 14 October 2008 in response to long-time informal discussions among Open Access publishers, and aims to represent the interests of OA journals publishers globally. For more information about the organization, visit the OASPA website at:

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

Open Access (OA) scholarly publication refers to the dissemination of peer-reviewed manuscripts containing original research or scholarship immediately upon publication, at no charge to user groups, without requiring registration or other restrictions to access. OA publications also allow users 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."

Press Contact:
Caroline Sutton
Tel/skype: +46 (0)18 495 1126
Cell: +47 90 69 05 06

Comment: this is a very welcome development, kudos to all involved! It is about time that all the OA publishers had an organization to speak for them (us). No doubt this will be the beginning of many opportunities for publishers looking to transition to open access.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Open Access Matters to Me (Open Access Day Synchroblogging)

This post is part of the Open Access Day Synchroblogging Competition. (There is still time to participate!)

Why does Open Access matter to me?

As a librarian with many years' experience in academic libraries and library consortia, I am very aware of the gaps in access.

Some examples, from my experience:

The look on the face of a poor student when told that the article they want will cost $48. The student went away without the article. This was not a good day for learning, or for scholarship. Not every library can afford to bridge the access gaps with interlibrary loans, even in a wealthy country like Canada. Pay per view is like a tax on reading.

From an economics perspective, open access is the only model for scholarly electronic resources that makes sense. It costs money to keep people out; money spent preventing learning is worse than wasted.

There are scholarly resources that libraries of all types would like to have, but do not purchase because they cannot afford to do so. There are needs that are not being met, and will never entirely be met with a subscriptions-based model, but could be met with open access.

Open access brings us all together. When library budgets are scarce, we do not purchase the scholarly journals of developing countries, for example, regardless of merits; with open access, we can have it all, and proceed with our research is a way that is much more inclusive.

How did I first become aware of open access?

A speech by early open access advocate Jean-Claude Guédon at a conference in Alberta (2001) - arranged for, and supported by, local librarians, and also Peter Suber's wonderful SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?

Thanks to an approach of open sharing and collaboration, mankind mapped the Human Genome in about 13 years, lightning speed compared to traditional approaches to scholarship. We need to optimize research progress in other areas, particularly the environment and how to live in our global world in peace, and we need to do this now. There is no time to waste.

What do I do to support Open Access, and what can others do
There are many things that can be done! Others should do what they feel most comfortable with. If you are in a position to advocate for an open access mandate policy, please do. Otherwise, please self-archive your own work, help start up or run an open access journal, talk about open access, or whatever else works for you.

As for me, I work as an advocate for open access with my local library associations, have served as the Co-Convenor of the CLA Open Access Task Force, am part of the governance team of E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies; I self-archive my own work, and publish as much open access as I can; I was the first Editor, Theory/Research of the open access journal, Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research; I write, present, and publish extensively on open access, formally and informally; I participate in the Open Access Directory, and on the PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference Team; I have developed and taught courses on open access and scholarly communications, and am writing a book on scholarly communications, which I believe will help advance the transition to open access.

As you can tell from this list, I am very busy, and it is not easy to find time for Working Less! Why do I do this? It is my belief that humankind is at a crossroads, a major moment in history when we have some very basic decisions to make, such as whether our scholarly knowledge is a commodity, for the few who can afford it; or, as I believe, knowledge is for all. I do not know how anyone could see what I see, and not commit themselves, wholeheartedly, to advocating for open access.

Competing in the open access environment: will the smalls have the advantage?

In an Open Access environment, it may be that the small, independent publishers and journals have the advantage - if they take advantage of relatively low costs to compete.

The average cost per article will be the key to assessing the affordability of an open access journal, regardless of business model (subsidies of various kinds, article processing fees, advertising). It is the small, not-for-profit society publishers that have the lowest prices for quality provided; if these publishers embrace open access, the larger publishers may find it hard to compete.

Current advantages for the smaller publishers and journals

Free Open Source Software and Library Hosting Services
There is free, open source software available, such as Open Journal Systems, that make it fairly easy for any journal to convert to, or start as, online and open access. There are many libraries involved in providing hosting and support services for faculty publishing. If you are involved with a scholarly journal, there is a very good chance that there is someone on the Editorial Board with connections at a publishing library that can help out.

The Flexibility of Small
A single journal has a lot more flexibility than a huge publishing outfit. If an article processing fee approach is to be considered, for example, one only needs to think about the costs of producing the one journal. For a large operation, assessing such costs on a per-journal basis is a very great deal more complex.

Free and Easy Marketing Advantages for Open Access
It is easy for libraries to include open access content in library services, ranging form A to Z title lists to subject guides to library catalogues. Indeed, without the need for authentication, providing library service to OA material is both easier and more reliable for libraries. This provides an instant, cost-free means for marketing of open access journals.

For indexing services, too, there are advantages to including open access material; subscribers to the indexing service can easily click through to the content, adding more value to the indexing service than an expensive publication with customers of the indexing service may or may not be able to afford.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Resources and Tips for Publishers Series.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Springer to acquire BioMedCentral: major milestone in transition to open access

Springer, one of the world's largest for-profit commercial publishers in science, technology, and medicine (STM) has announced that it plans to acquire BioMedCentral, a leading open access publisher.

Excerpt from the announcement:
Derk Haank, CEO of Springer Science+Business Media said: “This acquisition reinforces the fact that we see open access publishing as a sustainable part of STM publishing, and not an ideological crusade. We have gained considerable positive experience since starting Springer Open Choice in 2004, and BioMed Central’s activities are complementary to what we are doing. Additionally, this acquisition strengthens Springer’s position in the life sciences and biomedicine, and will allow us to offer societies a greater range of publishing options.”

I agree with Richard Smith that this is a great day for science. As Derk Haank points out, open access is no longer the road to take for ideological reasons only (profound though I believe these are); open access is the smart business move, too.

It is good to see another open access option available to the society publishers that prefer to work with the commercial sector.

What about library support for BioMedCentral? A few years ago, when BMC moved from an early pricing model that was clearly not sustainable to one based on processing costs, my approach was to encourage libraries to overlook the sticker shock and fully embrace the new, sustainable approach to pricing.

BioMedCentral, to date, has met my criteria for whether libraries should provide smart support for article processing fees. The fee pays for full open access (no free to read but only on our website nonsense); as a fully open access publisher, there is no need for concern about double dipping (collecting revenues from both subscriptions and article processing fees for the same material); and there is obviously a real effort to connect pricing with actual costs of production.

Into the future, whether I would continue to encourage libraries to support BMC under Springer depends on the pricing (and ongoing quality, of course). That is, if pricing remains largely the same, I would encourage libraries to continue to provide partial or full support. If there were substantial price increases, it would be understandable if libraries were to pull back from full to partial support, or partial to no support.

Springer has some interesting opportunities for innovation here, and some time to pursue them as the early industry leader. For example, why not strengthen library customer relations by providing additional discount to libraries that are both BMC supporters and substantial Springer customers?

Thanks to Scientific American via Peter Suber.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Resources and Tips for Publishers Series.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

International Open Access Day: Tuesday October 14

Tuesday, October 14th is the first International Open Access Day.

Correction note: October 14th is Tuesday, not Monday as originally posted.

STM on copyright: no need for education exemptions

Libraries and the educational community should take note of the STM Digital copyright exceptions and limitations for scholarly publications in the education and research communities
(Position paper of the International Association of STM Publishers), available for download from here.

In brief, the position of STM is that because education is their primary market, there is no reason for education and research to be considered a "certain special case" under the Berne convention. There is no reason to allow interlibrary loan, for example, if items are available for purchase. STM recommends licensing contracts with fewer rights than are available to libraries and educational institutions under copyright law.

The Basic Principles begins with:
STM publishers prepare and distribute their materials (scholarly and scientific journals, books and databases) for and into the research and education communities, communities that therefore constitute their most significant audiences and markets.

Comment: these arguments sound very similar to the ludicrous Conyers bill in the U.S. The basic principles imply that STM publishers are alone responsible for preparing and distributing materials. This is not correct. A great deal of the research that is published by STM publishers is paid for through publicly funded research agencies; the articles themselves are written by authors who are not paid for their work, and reviewed by peer reviewers who are not paid for their work, either. The contributions of STM publishers are real, and of value, but only a small proportion of the total resources that go into the works that they publish.

Authors - retain your rights!

Friday, October 03, 2008

arXiv exceeds half a miliion items!

Today, arXiv passed the milestone of half a million items!

The arXiv physics e-prints server and founder Paul Ginsparg was an early pioneer in open access, and is among the oldest, largest, and most-used open access archives in the world today. The main arXiv server at Cornell University Library not only hosts the more than half a million preprints, it also serves the considerable demand from physicists and others around the world, with usage statistics in the hundreds of thousands or even over a million on a typical day. That's just the main server, too - arXiv has 18 mirror sites around the world.

Congratulations and thanks to arXiv and everyone involved with arXiv.

Hat tip to Peter Suber.

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

Thursday, October 02, 2008

NIH Compliance Rate Triples (so far) with mandatory public access policy

Early indications are that the NIH shift to a mandatory public access policy - which took effect this April - is having quite an impact!

The estimated compliance rate from April to August 2008 is 56% (30% author manuscripts, 26% publisher PDFs), up from 19% for 2005-2007 (12% author manuscripts, 7% publisher PDFs).

44% of NIH-funded research results covered under the policy for April to August 2008 is still missing; however, with a maximum one-year embargo permitted, it is likely too early to draw any conclusions. Assuming a good percentage of the researchers will want further funding, I would anticipate an increase in the percentage of works publicly available both in the April-August 2008 time frame, and even more in the future, as researchers, libraries, and universities become more familiar with the details of the policy, and how to comply.

From: U.S. National Institutes of Health. Analysis of Comments and Implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy. Undated.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

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

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

National Cancer Institute of Canada adopts open access mandates

Kudos to the National Cancer Institute of Canada on the adoption of a leading-open Open Access Policy!

Open Access policy

Effective July 2009, all researchers supported in whole or in part through the NCIC are required to make their published results of NCIC supported work publicly available. Researchers are encouraged to make their work publicly available as soon as possible, but must do so no later than six months after the final publication date.

Archives such as PubMed Central, researchers’ host institution websites, and/or open access journals are all acceptable ways to make research findings publicly available.

The NCIC appreciates the importance of publishing research results in the most widely read and respected scientific journals. In no way is this policy designed to compromise the ability of any researcher funded through the NCIC to publish in these journals. Nor is the NCIC open access policy designed to operate in a manner that in any way violates copyright law. Increasingly, however, many publishers are supportive of open access and have policies in place to allow open access without infringing their copyright.

NCIC believes strongly, however, that unrestricted public access to research findings is a crucial part of upholding the values and responsibilities of the NCIC as a granting agency and of the NCIC’s funders, the Canadian Cancer Society and The Terry Fox Foundation, both of whom are supported in turn by donations from the public. Major funding bodies around the world have progressively adopted open access as a means of increasing the public availability and transparency of the research they fund. Open access allows for broader dissemination of knowledge and ultimately promotes research advancement, crucial to the NCIC’s mission to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer.

As part of this policy, the NCIC will provide support for any charges levied by publishers that are required to comply with this open access process. Such charges may be included as legitimate research expenses (fully justified as with all other expenses) in the budget of a research grant submission.

For more information about the NCIC’s open access policy please refer to the provided Open Access FAQs or contact us at

Comments: strengths of this policy include encouragement for immediate OA, the 6-month embargo, commitment to paying for open access publishing, and the definition of public accessibility as open access, defined in the FAQ as 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 use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in a 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.. This is libre open access, and a great model for other funders to follow.

Thanks to Jim Till and Peter Suber.

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