Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: March 31, 2010 Edition

The March 31, 2010 issue of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is now available. Highlights: DOAJ is now at 4,863 journals, having added a net total of 864 journals in the past year for a DOAJ growth rate of over 2 titles per day. The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine now searches over 23 million documents; this is an increase of over 1.2 million in the last quarter, or over 13,000 documents per day. There are now more than 200 open access mandate policies listed in ROARMAP, with strong growth in every category. Compliance with the U.S. National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy is 62% - still not 100%, but definitely getting closer. In the past year,120 more journals began contributing all content as open access to PubMedCentral. There are now more than 5,000 journals around the world using Open Journal Systems (OJS).

Some of the journals whose authors showed very low compliance rates last December are now showing improved compliance rates. Since it is the authors, not the journals, that the policy applies to, this is a very indirect measure of the likely helpfulness (or not) of the journal with respect to facilitating author compliance with the policy. The compliance rate with the requirement policy dating from 2008 for authors of Elsevier's Addictive Behaviors and American Heart Journal is about 50%, as with Wiley-Blackwell's Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Authors of Taylor & Francis' AIDS Care is at 26% compliance, American Journal of Bioethics 44%. To repeat, this is compliance with the new firm requirement policy, not the voluntary policy which has been in effect since 2004.

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

With this issue, the explanatory notes have been separated from the main spreadsheet, to facilitate updating of the google docs editions. These are my working notes; developing a more readable version is on my to-do list. Questions about methodology are always welcome, at hgmorris at sfu dot ca

For full data and explanatory notes:

Google docs for viewing:
Showing growth
Full data edition
Explanatory notes

To download spreadsheets - Dramatic Growth of Open Access Dataverse (thanks to Harvard)
DGOA Dataverse

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New homepage

Please visit my new homepage at the SFU School of Communication! The SFU page will function as my homepage (and CV, when I get around to this). At this point in time, my thought is that the SFU will be the more formal academic site, while IJPE will continue to be the place for most of my commentary.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

U.S. systemic savings from a full shift to OA: $3.4 billion

Donald King presents some interesting data in this month's D-Lib Magazine.

Based on King's data, my calculations for U.S. systemic annual savings from a full switch to open access via article processing fees can be conservatively estimated at $3.4 billion per year.


King argues for an open access system via article processing fees, fully paid by the federal government. It is noteworthy that King's estimate is that this would cost, in a worst-case scenario, an increase of less than 1% of what the U.S. federal government spends on research grants right now. King acknowledges the unlikelihood of this scenario. Average cost-per-article of $1,500 and $2,500 U.S. scenarios are employed; the additional cost for 100% funding of articles would be $427 million (at $1,500 per article) or $712 million (at $2,500 per article). King estimates that academic and special libraries could, together, save an estimate $4.1 billion per year.


While this particular scenario is unlikely, this analysis is a most welcome addition to the growing body of literature illustrating the substantial cost savings possible with a full shift to open access.

It is not clear whether King has factored in the existing page charges paid by U.S. federal funding agencies as a portion of grants; it seems reasonable to assume that these costs would disappear.

One reason this is a very conservative estimate is because the vast majority of OA publishers do not charge article processing fees; these journals may well have more efficient business models and/or alternative sources of revenue.

With respect to the model - federal government funding - as King points out, the money is there, in academic library budgets - along with expertise in negotiating and scholarly communication. The best bet for academic libraries to ensure that the savings go to emerging library priorities such as building and preserving digital collections, is to take the lead in the shifting economics from subscriptions to open access. This scenario is far more likely, and better for the libraries.

Full citation to King's article: King, D. W. (2010). An approach to open access author payment. D-Lib Magazine, 16(3/4) Retrieved from

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

Monday, March 08, 2010

ACTA: end the secrecy. Democracy now!

Update March 28: Major library associations are calling for transparency in ACTA, including the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL) and the American Library Association (ALA)

Update March 11: as reported by Michael Geist, the European Parliament has "today overwhelming approved a resolution on ACTA calling for transparency and raising concerns about substantive elements in the treaty such as the prospect of three strikes and personal border searches".

Further issues raised in the final text:

* the European Parliament "deplores the calculated choice of the parties not to negotiate through well-established international bodies, such as WIPO and WTO, which have established frameworks for public information and consultation"
* It says "further ACTA negotiations should include a larger number of developing and emerging countries, with a view to reaching a possible multilateral level of negotiation"
* provides that "any agreement must include the stipulation that the closing-off of an individual’s Internet access shall be subject to prior examination by a court"
* warns that "ACTA provisions, notably measures aimed at strengthening powers for cross-border inspection and seizure of goods, should not affect global access to legitimate, affordable and safe medicinal products – including innovative and generic products – on the pretext of combating counterfeiting"

Hear, hear!

thanks, European Parliament!!

Thanks to Michael Geist for keeping us posted on leaks from the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

Under discussion: international intellectual property laws, such as anti-circumvention measures, notice and notice versus notice and takedown - see Geist for as much as we've been able to figure out so far. Until recently, these kinds of discussion were a matter of national law-making, for most of us under democratic principles.

Today, these discussions are held in secret, with no opportunity for democratic participation.

Have we - all of us in the so-called free world, that is - lost the franchise?

ACTA - and all of the countries involved in these discussions: END THE SECRECY! Let's have DEMOCRACY - NOW!!

A huge thanks to whoever is responsible for the leaks.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Freedom for scholarship in the internet age: OCULA spotlight

My powerpoint and detailed notes for my OCULA spotlight speech at the Ontario Library Association Superconference last week, Freedom for scholarship in the internet age, is available for viewing or downloading from here.

In brief, this speech begins with some thoughts on the purpose of scholarship. This question should frame any discussion of scholarly communication. While there are millions of researchers and at least as many research questions, it can be useful to think about a question like addressing global warming when evaluating potential change in scholarly communication. Note that it is important to remember that there can be a signficant gap in time (sometimes centuries) between when a concept is introduced, and when it is understood.

From the scholar's perspective, publisher-added digital rights management (DRM) is seen as a hindrance to scholarship - not a value add. Libre open access - free to re-use as well as to read - is only a small fraction of open access right now, but it is predicted that libre OA will be increasingly sought by scholars who experience its benefits.

Dealing with the sheer volume of information presently available (and still expanding exponentially) is one of the key challenges for scholars, librarians, and publishers alike. Three strategies for addressing this challenge are discussed. Reading less or filtering is seen as tempting, but not a good idea when examined against the purpose of scholarship. For example, if we find the volume of information coming from China overwhelming, it might be tempted to skip reading it; but if Chinese scholars are doing research that could help us to figure out a clean energy breakthrough, this isn't such a good idea. Writing less is a strategy that has more potential. Some of the pressure to write in quantity in academia may actually be counterproductive. Collaborating is a strategy well worth pursuing. To understand why, first picture the physics article with a thousand authors. Then picture another discipline, where a thousand authors each write one article.

Current tenure and promotion procedures do not reward collaboration. While there is much to be said for tradition in academia, there are times when tradition needs to be reexamined for the benefit of scholarship; and this is one of these times. Changing tenure and promotion procedures is not easy, nor is it the mandate of librarians; but I would argue that the good work librarians have done in the area of scholarly communication have opened a window for scholars to begin these broader discussions.

The window of opportunity is briefly discussed, from the identification of the serials crisis to the campaign to create change, to the exciting changes we see all around us - over 4,700 journals in DOAJ, more than 1,500 repositories in OpenDOAR, over 150 open access mandate policies, more than 22 million free publications through BASE.

What is really amazing about all this change is that it has taken place with virtually no resources. Evidence that there is more than sufficient funds, from academic library subscription budgets alone, to not only fund a fully open access scholarly publishing system, but save lots of money at the same time, is presented (a John Houghton slide on cost implications for a switch to OA for the UK Higher Education, and two of my slides on a global shift to OA by academic libraries).

The reasons why savings and not just status quo costs are needed are mentioned briefly, e.g. the need to move into support for open data and e-science, and address preservation of electronic information.

Next steps for libraries are presented, including keeping up the good work in building and filling repositories, hosting open access journals, and education on scholarly communication and open access. Consider setting up an open access author's fund, or transforming licensing language to reflect a shift in purchase (from subscription to subscription / full OA for our authors), and other means of economic support for open access.

Many thanks to OCULA and especially to OCULA President Nathalie Soini for the invitation to speak at OLA. I hope to find time to elaborate on some of the topics from this speech in more depth at a later date.