Wednesday, July 27, 2011

OpenDOAR exceeds 2,000 repositories!

Congratulations to the OpenDOAR and the crew at Sherpa for exceeding 2,000 repositories listed!

This is particularly significant because OpenDOAR is a vetted list. As described on the OpenDOAR website, OpenDOAR provides a comprehensive, authoritative and quality checked list of institutional and subject-based repositories. In addition it encompasses archives set up by funding agencies like the National Institutes for Health in the USA and the Wellcome Trust in the UK and Europe.

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

Thanks to Peter Suber via the Open Access Tracking Project.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mendeley exceeds 100 million papers!

Sometime this weekend, July 23/24, 2011 Mendeley exceeded 100 million papers added overall. Of these, over 1 million (1% of the total) are available for free download. Thanks to Graham Steel.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

PMC growth - about 1 free fulltext per minute

As of June 30, 2011 there were 3,369,548 documents available as free full text through PubMedCentral, as compared with 3,285,816 on March 31, 2011, an increase of 83,732 free documents this quarter.

There were a total of 91 days this quarter; at 60 minutes per hour and 24 hours per day, that's 131,040 hours altogether. 83,732 is .64 of 131,040.

This means that PMC is adding free documents at a rate of 2/3 of a document per minute, or, rounding up, approximately one document per minute. Thanks to the Linked Science Workshop organizers for pointing out this phenomenal growth rate of PMC, hereby supported mathematically; this fact certainly belongs in the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Peter Suber and the open access movement

Richard Poynder recently published an interview with Peter Suber, Leader of a Leaderless Revolution.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

STM submission to European Institute of Innovation & Technology: a critique

The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), in their latest anti-open-access lobbying ploy, has just released the STM submission on the open public consultation on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Some comments:

SUSTAINABILITY of scholarly publishing - STM says: "Because the public interest is not served if access to and dissemination of trusted scientific publications and data is not sustainable". Hear, hear! By all means, let's mandate sustainability of scholarly publishing. John Houghton & colleagues have done some excellent research indicating some cost-effective solutions. In particular, the most transformative model - deposit into open access archives with a peer review overlay and dispense with journals altogether - is particularly recommended. This seems a curious argument coming from STM. I wonder if one the largest STM publishers, Elsevier, would survive if economic sustainability were mandated for scholarly publishing.

EXCLUSIVE copyright is what STM says it needs: "rules governing publication must allow publishers to obtain the exclusive use of copyrighted content in relevant media (e.g. online, electronic, print, micro-fiche etc) so that the substantial investments they make in scholarly communication can be recovered". Oh really?

This is what STM says in the consultation on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology; but what do members tell their scholarly authors? Here is what the Elsevier Author's Rights page has to say: "Elsevier wants to ensure a proper balance between the scholarly rights which authors retain (or are granted/transferred back in some cases) and the rights granted to Elsevier that are necessary to support our mix of business models". Wiley's Authors Rights section says: "Wiley-Blackwell journal authors can use their article in a number of ways, including in publications of their own work and course packs in their institution." Taylor & Francis say: 'We prefer authors to assign copyright to Taylor & Francis or the journal proprietor (such as a learned society on whose behalf we publish), but accept that authors may prefer to give Taylor & Francis an exclusive licence to publish.". The vast majority of STM members have long permitted a variety of author self-archiving practices, as detailed in the Sherpa RoMEO Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving list. (All websites viewed July 3, 2011).

This desire for exclusive copyright cannot be a goal for ALL STM members, because the members' list includes publishers of fully open access journals, such as Versita and BioMedCentral!

RECOVERING INVESTMENTS - STM's "need" for exclusive copyright is purportedly so that "substantial investments they [STM members] make in scholarly communication can be recovered". In the case of publicly funded research and/or research conducted at publicly funded institutions, the vast majority of resources that go into the research is public funding. So why shouldn't the public recoup our investment, through being able to read the results of the research (without paying again), benefiting from the research when the knowledge diffuses through society (to doctors, journalists, policy-makers, teachers, etc., etc.), and enjoying the economic benefits of spurring innovation? The work of unpaid authors and peer reviewers is greater than the contributions of publishers (valuable as they are); so how does it make sense that those who have contributed such a small portion of the share should be allowed to reap the exclusive benefit?

Finally, STM members claim that they are an indispensable link in scholarly communication. This is wishful thinking! Edgar & Willinsky's survey of 1,000 journals using Open Journal Systems illustrates just how quickly a renaissance of scholar-led publishing can happen, if we only make available the tools! This is just logical. Without scholars, there would be no scholarly publishing industry. Without a scholarly publishing industry, scholars would make do. In the extremely unlikely scenario that the scholarly publishing industry were to disappear overnight, scholarship would be, at most, inconvenienced. My prediction is that without the dead weight of the past, a new system that makes more sense given the tools we have available such as the internet, would begin to appear almost immediately.

Open access, books and the royalty argument: a research proposal

The original focus of the open access movement has been the scholarly journal article, which authors have traditionally given away, while books were at first set aside, in part because authors do receive royalties from publishing books. It may be timely to reconsider this argument; for further detail, see below. Here are two potential research methods for exploring the reality behind the perception that academics earn royalties from book publishing, developed for the Research Questions section of the Open Access Directory.

Method 1: author return on investment of time

Hypothesis: the vast majority of academic authors would advance their financial situations faster by moonlighting at a second job, even at minimum wage, than by writing academic books.
  • estimate or calculate author time spent on writing academic books
  • estimate or add royalties over years book is likely to continue selling
  • divide royalties by author hours
  • compare with local minimum wage
Method 2: publisher royalties to academic authors
  • collect publisher records for royalties on a per-author / per-book basis
  • calculate range, average and mode
  • paint a qualitative picture of likely financial rewards for academic authors for book publishing
Note: I do not have time to conduct this research at present, but would be interested in participating in a research team or acting as a consultant if someone else would like to take this on.

Anecdotal evidence (and inspiration) from an expert

Sandy Thatcher, formerly publisher at Penn State University Press and former President of the American Association of University Presses, points out today on the scholcomm list: the fact that a significant number of authors published by university presses earn no royalties at all, it is also true that the number of authors who earn really significant royalties on academic books is very small. For them, the greatest incentive to publish a book by far lies in the indirect rewards to come in the form of tenure and promotion, whose pecuniary benefits usually far outweigh any monies actually received from book royalties. I therefore think a much stronger case for OA book publishing can be made than Peter seems ready to admit yet. And it is important to press on this point because the longer book publishing remains TA while journal publishing goes OA, the wider the "digital divide" will grow between book and journal content, which is intellectually indefensible.