Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 Dramatic Growth of Open Access

Updated Jan. 1, 2013 thanks to very helpful informal peer review from Pablo de Castro (E-LIS figure and explanation for discrepancy in growth rates of OpenDOAR and ROAR).

2012 was another awesome year for open access!. This post highlights and celebrates just how much open access is available already. The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) cross-searches over 40 million documents in over 2,400 repositories - nearly double the number in just 3 years, demonstrating yet again strong growth in open access archiving. The Directory of Open Access Journals, in addition to listing fully open access journals, provides an article-level search that is available for a growing percentage of DOAJ journals. The number of articles searchable through DOAJ is just under one million - a third of this growth taking place in 2012 . What a great way to show that not only is the number of open access journals growing rapidly - more importantly, the number of articles published in open access journals is growing even more dramatically!

A heartfelt thanks to everyone around the world who is making open access happen - all of the scholars sharing our work, readers, advocates, repository managers, publishers, librarians, and others. All the best to you and your OA endeavours in 2013!

Notable annual growth by percentage

Directory of Open Access Journals - articles searchable by article level grew by 234,449 articles to a total of 955,720 articles, an increase of 33% on a substantial base. The Registry of Open Access Repositories showed a growth rate of 730 repositories or 28%, a somewhat puzzling contradiction to the relatively slow growth rate of OpenDOAR. The number of journals depositing all articles in PubMedCentral as open access grew by 191 to a total of 893, a 27% increase this year, and the number of paper downloads from the Social Sciences Research Network was more than 2 million higher this year than in 2011 (10 million downloads total), for a 27% increase.

The numbers

Directory of Open Access Journals
8,519 journals
2012 growth: 1,147 journals (3 journals / day)
# articles searchable at article level: 955,720
2012 growth in searchable articles: 234,449 (642 articles / day)

Directory of Open Access Books
1,259 academic peer-reviewed books from 35 publishers
new in 2012

Electronic Journals Library
37,805 journals that can be read free of charge
2012 growth: 5,421 journals (15 journals / day)

Highwire Press Free Online Articles
2,151,420 free articles
2012 growth: 41,640 articles (114 articles / day)

2,253 repositories
2012 growth: 89 repositories (7 repositories / month)

Pablo de Castro (see comments) explains the discrepancy in the growth rates of OpenDOAR and ROAR: the growth rate mismatch between ROAR and OpenDOAR is due to an intensive database cleansing by the latter towards the end of 2012 that led to removal of a number of wrong/outdated entries.

Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)
3,340 repositories
 2012 growth: 730 repositories (2 repositories / day)

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)
40,506,905 documents
2012 growth: 6,908,293 documents (18,926 documents / day)

2,600,000 articles (from PMC site)
2012 growth: 300,000 articles (from PMC site - update schedule not known so not sure about accuracy)
1,199 journals deposit all articles in PMC
2012 growth:  220 journals (.6 journals / day

809,849 e-prints
2012 growth: 83,886 e-prints (230 e-prints / day)

14,206 documents as of Jan. 1, 2013 (courtesy Pablo de Castro - see comments)
14,242 documents as of Dec. 11 - cannot find # of documents on new site (E-LIS migrated to a new e-prints server in the past few days - looks great!)

Social Sciences Research Network
372,772 full-text papers
2012 growth: 65,715 full-text papers (180 / day)

Open Access Mandate Policies (from Registry of Open Access Material Archiving Policies)
353 open access policies (total)
2012 growth rate: 44 policies  (4 policies / month)

Internet Archive
1,110,878 movies
110,448 concerts
1,474,756 recordings
3,781,142 texts
(new in 2012)

The full data edition can be downloaded from SUMMIT, the SFU Institutional Repository

A perspective 

Correction Jan. 13, 2013 - the correct number is .4% not .04% as originally posted. Thanks to Bryan Thompson (see comment below).  Informal peer review of this kind is very much appreciated! There's a lot of math and a second pair of eyes always helps, especially since I often do this work quite late in the evening.

Elsevier claims to serve "more than 30 million scientists, students and health and information professionals worldwide" from:

This is .04% of the 7 billion people on this planet open access aims to serve! Note that internet access and literacy is required to take advantage of open access to the scholarly literature - but unlike Elsevier, open access is not placing barriers, we're just doing the best we can to overcome them.

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From free trade to fair trade: first steps

The process of globalization means that more and more of the important decisions made, are made beyond the national level, for example through multi-national trade treaties and international bodies ranging from the United Nations to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

For democracy to thrive in a globalized world, democracy too must move beyond local borders. One proposal that I would like to offer is that the world needs to move beyond free trade to fair trade - not just for coffee and a few other goods; let's make fair trade the default.

This is a huge task and I would not underestimate the difficulty of the journey. One strategy that I propose is to transition our free trade agreements, slowly, into fair trade agreements. Instead of a race to the bottom - companies looking for the lowest labour costs, poorest environment protection - let's raise the floor, use the advantages of being able to participate in global trade to leverage good practices for the environment and for people. This post introduces three elements that seem highly likely to enjoy support from those in power: currency fairness, local economy health, and eliminating tax avoidance.

Update December 27: commitment to access to knowledge - thanks to Glyn Moody for the suggestion.  Good point, many countries have made this commitment already.

The optimum would be a complete and immediate reversal of direction globally. However, this may not be realistic. What might be realistic is incremental change, beginning with elements of fair trade that would appeal to the powerful players in the international arena. For this reason, I would like to suggest some elements that might appeal to those who have a lot of influence in global politics, such as Barack Obama.

One is currency fairness. I understand that Obama is well aware of the global impact of China's artificially keeping its currency low. In the short term, the purpose would be to rebalance the global economy, in favor of the U.S., but in the long term, introducing one element of fairness could be a first step towards global fair trade policy. The current Trans Pacific Partnership treaty negotiations might be a really good time to bring this up.

Another is local economy health. There are advantages to trade, but if free trade decimates the local economy (anywhere), what's the point? This is one area where the optimum is probably balance rather than all-free-trade or only local. Obama is concerned about jobs in the U.S., and the E.U.'s desire to protect local industries could help get support for this point.

In a global economy it becomes far too easy for large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid taxes through such means as offshore tax havens. Countries everywhere would benefit from addressing this problem, and the most effective way would be for all countries to implement solutions at once, perhaps by tying tax avoidance solutions into participation in the World Trade Agreement

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Are publishers actually helpful for knowledge dissemination? Or are scholars better off DIY?

Melissa Terras' article in the Journal of Digital Humanities, The Impact of Social Media on the Dissemination of Research: Results of an Experiment found that tweeting her author's final version of papers in the institutional repository resulted in a significant increase in downloads. To me, this raises the question: is the role of publishers in disseminating and marketing research articles rapidly becoming obsolete? This would be an interesting question for altmetrics researchers to explore!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A huge thank you to Jeffrey Beall

Jeffrey Beall is the author of the important and useful list of predatory open access publishers, available on his Scholarly Open Access blog. Jeffrey reports that there is a concerted effort to discredit him and his work.

To me this just highlights the importance of his work and the complete lack of ethics of those behind this effort. I applaud Jeffrey's service to the open access community, both through his list and through sharing this experience. Thanks, Jeffrey - please keep up the good work!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Freedom for scholarship in the internet age (doctoral dissertation)

On November 21, 2012, I successfully defended my doctoral thesis, Freedom for scholarship in the internet age. The post-defence draft will soon be (temporarily) available in the SFU Library's thesis intake system, at 
A PDF of the whole dissertation can be downloaded from here.


Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age examines distortion in the current scholarly communication system and alternatives, focusing on the potential of open access. High profits for a select few scholarly journal publishers in the area of science, technology, and medicine contrast with other portions of the scholarly publishing system such as university presses that are struggling to survive. Two major societal trends, commercialization and irrational rationalization, are explored as factors in the development of distortion in the system, as are potential alternatives, including the commons, state subsidy, DIY publishing, and publishing cooperatives. Original research presented or summarized includes the quarterly series The Dramatic Growth of Open Access, an empirical study of economic possibilities for transition to open access, interviews with scholarly monograph publishers, and an investigation into the potential for transition to open access in the field of communication. The similarities and differences between open access and various Creative Commons licenses are mapped and analyzed. The conclusion features a set of recommendations for open access. Carefully transitioning the primary economic support for scholarly publishing (academic library budgets) from subscriptions to open access is seen as central to a successful transition. Open access changes the form of the commodity with respect to commercial publication, from the scholarly work per se to the publishing service; a major improvement that overcomes the trend towards enclosure of information, but not necessarily the dominance of the commercial sector. A multi-faceted approach is recommended as optimal to overcome potential vulnerabilities of any single approach to open access. The open access movement is advised to be aware of the less understood societal trend of irrational (or instrumental) rationality, a trend that open access initiatives are just as vulnerable to as subscriptions or purchase-based systems. The remedy for irrational rationality recommended is a systemic or holistic approach. It is recommended that open access be considered part of a potential for broader societal transformation, based on the Internet’s capacity to function as an enabler of many to many communication that could form the basis of either a strong democracy or a decentralized socialism.

After the library audit, the thesis will be moved into the SFU Library Institutional Repository, SUMMIT, sometime in 2013.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2012: early year-end edition

Another awesome year for open access! The Directory of Open Access Journals continues its steady increase at around 3 titles per day, to well over 8,000 titles. An easy prediction for the new year is that DOAJ is likely to exceed a million articles searchable at the article level early in 2013. Welcome to newcomer Directory of Open Access Books - already 35 publishers with over 1,200 free, peer reviewed academic books! OpenDOAR now lists over 2,200 open access archives, while Bielefeld Academic Search Engine now searches over 40 million documents, illustrating that these archives are far from empty. The chart above illustrating growth in percentage of NIH external fundees' research that is freely available within 3 years of publication growing from 34% to 60% shows steady growth - not the 100% that we'd all like to see, but constantly moving in the right direction. Meanwhile Beall's list of open access publishers continues to grow, too, illustrating that open access is getting lots of attention, and not always on the right side.

On the fun side, flickr now has close to a quarter billion CC licensed photos - and note that 70% use the CC noncommercial element. If this Creative Commons is a democratic community, it's time to make NC the default! Wikimedia is now over 15 million items, and the Internet Archive recently surpassed one million movies.

Details below - or download the full data edition.

The numbers

  • 8,461 journals - increased by 1,133 over past year or 3 titles per day
  • 4,199 journals searchable by article - up 739 over past year, 2 per day
  • 944,804 articles searchable by article - up 246,258 over past year, 674 per day
  • easy prediction: over 1 million articles searchable by article early in 2013 
Directory of Open Access Books
  • 1,255 books - growth this quarter, 40 books - several books / week
  • 35 publishers
 Electronic Journals Library 
  •  37,609 journals can be read free of charge; up 5,524 over last year, 15 added per day
Highwire Press Free
  • # free articles - no change from September; broken automated counter?
  • 63 completely free journals - up 14 in past year
  • 285 journals with free back issues - up 3 in past year
  • 2,236 repositories; up 76 over last year, 1.5 per week
Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)
  •  3,032 repositories; up 449 over last year, 8.6 per week
Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)
  • 40 million documents (milestone!); up 6.4 million in past year; over 17,000 documents per day
  • 2,403 content providers, up 328 over last year
  • 2.6 million articles; up 300,000 in past year, 821 per day (1 article every 2 minutes)
  • 1,462 journals actively participating, up 168 in past year
  • 1,023 journals with all articles immediate free access, up 207 in past year
  • 892 journals with all articles open access, up 196 in past year
  •  805,796 e-prints; up 84,318 in past year, 231 e-prints per day
  • 13,841 documents; up 1,737 from last year, or 5 items per day
 Social Sciences Research Network
new to Dramatic Growth
  • 370,230 full text papers; up 9,573 this quarter, 131 papers per day
  • 212,514 authors
Open Access Mandate Policies (ROARMAP)
  • 34 sub-institutional; up 1 in past year
  •  54 funder; up 3 in past year
  • 163 institutional; up 27 in past year
  • 4 multi-institutional; up 3 in past year
  • 98 theses; up 10 in past year
  • 353 policies in total; up 44 in past year
Internet Archive
  •  1 million moving images (movies); milestone!
  • 100,000 concerts
  • 1.5 million audio recordings
  • 3.7 million texts
Beall's list of open access publishers
GOAL note

This year's list of predatory publishers includes over 225 highly-questionable scholarly publishing operations. Last year's list included only 23 publishers, and the 2010 list had about 18. This year's list of predatory stand-alone journals has 106 titles. (The previous year's list did not include stand-alone titles).

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


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

flickr and Creative Commons: the popularity of noncommercial

Congratulations to Creative Commons, celebrating its 10th birthday from December 7 to 16th! As of December 11, 2012, flickr contains close to a quarter of a billion CC licensed photos! flickr posts a list with the number of photos per license, which provides an opportunity to see which CC licenses are the most popular with flickr users. The two most popular licenses, accounting for more than half of the photos, are Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike (BY-NC-SA) (29%) and Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivatives (BY-NC-ND) (28%). Of the CC license elements, the most popular by far is Noncommercial (NC). Over 173 million flickr photos - 70% of the flickr CC set - use NC.

flickr CC licenses, in descending order based on use

Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike: 71,564,474 photos (29% of total)
Attribution-Noncommerical-Noderivatives: 68,929,900 photos (28% of total)
Attribution: 37,419,759 photos (15% of total)
Attribution-Noncommercial: 32,853,005 photos (13% of total)
Attribution - Sharealike: 22,281,007 (9% of total)
Attribution-Noderivatives: 13,443,522 photos (6% of total)

The most popular CC license elements

Noncommercial: 173,347,379 photos (70% of total)
Sharealike: 93,845,481 photos (38% of total)
Noderivatives: 82,373,422 photos (33% of total)

For a description of the Creative Commons license elements, see the CC Licenses page.

Comment: this is particularly remarkable considering that the default CC license is CC-BY, and the CC license chooser deliberately tries to steer people away from NC and ND by labelling these as "not free culture" licenses. In other words, it takes effort to use these elements. If Creative Commons is meant to be a democracy, and if other communities using CC licenses show similar results, then NC should be the default. From my perspective, NC IS the free culture choice. This is the element that gives us a chance to share things and say that they do not belong to the realm of commerce.

This post is part of the Creative Commons and open access critique series.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Questions concerning open access research: my responses

Following are some interesting research questions from Joseph Kraus, University of Denver, and my responses.

Q 1) The Finch report and the RCUK report recently came out.  These reports have taken stances concerning green and gold open access in the UK.  What are your thoughts on the issue of green vs gold open access policies?

R 1) Open access policy should be green, not gold. Here are a few thoughts on why.

I'd like to take a step back and talk about open access archiving (green) and open access publishing (gold). A healthy sustainable open access scholarly publishing system needs to have diverse components, because any one component will have vulnerabilities that other types are less susceptible to. A key limitation with open access publishing is that it cannot by itself look after ongoing preservation and access. Journals and publishers change over time. Journals cease to exist. Journals and publishers change hands; new owners may pursue a different business model.

The RCUK policy which prefers gold open access with CC-BY has a huge vulnerability or loophole. A researcher who publishes in a journal using the CC-BY license has met the requirements of the open access policy. However, the journal has no obligation whatsoever to continue to provide open access or to continue to provide a version of the article under a CC-BY license.  Creative Commons licenses make it possible to waive certain rights that we have under copyright; they place no obligations on the licensor. If each CC-BY licensed article is placed in one or more open access archives (I recommend more than one), then ongoing open access is secure even if the article does not remain open access on the publisher's website. 

Flatworldknowledge, an open textbooks publisher for 5 years which recently announced that as of January 2013 their books will no longer be free online, illustrates the danger - see their announcement about from free to fair.

Green open access archives are essential for a sustainable open access system.

The RCUK endorsement of CC-BY illustrates another problem with open access publishing mandates. It is understandable that RCUK would not want to fund open access options where publishers retain re-use rights for their own commercial purposes. However, CC-BY has other unintended consequences. CC-BY grants to anyone, anywhere commercial rights, and the right to create derivatives. Material provided by third parties may not be available for licensing via CC-BY. It would not be ethical to include material provided by research subjects (e.g. pictures, stories) under CC-BY without informed consent. Obtaining informed consent would require explaining the possible consequences; material using this license could be picked up by a for-pay image databank, for example, and so someone's picture could end up in an ad on the bus.

The RCUK policy is only one example of an open access publishing or gold mandate.

Where an open access publishing mandate makes sense is for funders that subsidize scholarly publishing per se, something that is common in many countries, but not the UK. Even here, a policy to make subsidized journals open or publicly accessible under fair use or fair dealing makes more sense than a more specific policy. That is, good policy provides the direction, the goal - it says what is to be done, but not necessarily how. The how is best left to the people who do the work (some might say the market).

Q 2) PLOS ONE is a well-known large open access journal that covers a broad range of disciplines.  Because it has been deemed successful, other publishers have also proposed or started similar journals.  What is your opinion of this new type of publication outlet?

R 2) It's about time that new forms of scholarly communication emerged! We can do so much more with the tools we now have available, it doesn't make sense to continue to publish online with the constraints that came with print. One important point to note about PLOS ONE is that it accepts all sound science. This just makes sense; the reason journals have high rejection rates (now seen as a badge of quality) is because in the print medium you can only fit in so many articles. This adds considerable waste to the system (rejected articles are usually still published, it's just that they tend to go through several rounds of review rather than just one). It's good to see competitors, too.

Q 3) Harvard University has recommended to their faculty to “consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access.” ( The concept of “moving prestige to open access” is an interesting statement to the Harvard faculty authors and researchers.  What do you think of this statement?

R 3) Kudos and thanks to Harvard!!! The impact factor, locking in prestige and hence negotiating clout for journal owners, has been a major barrier in moving forward with developing a new, open access scholarly communication system. 

Q 4) University presses and many societies are concerned about how the open access movement will affect their financial bottom line.  What concerns do you have about open access and society publications?

R 4) I share this concern. One of the key points of my research is that the economic support for the current system comes from academic library budgets. Libraries should prioritize transitioning support for the system to open access. This isn't easy, but it needs to happen. 

Q 5) AltMetrics is gathering steam as an additional method for faculty to determine the impact of their work. (  Do you plan to take advantage of this data for either your work, or for the benefit of your institution or department?

R 5) I have serious concerns about the rush for AltMetrics, particularly AltMetrics based on social media. Before anyone even begins to think about using such metrics for assessing the work of scholars, much work needs to be done. For example, I argue that it is reasonable to hypothesize that any AltMetrics based on social media (whose work is tweeted, promoted on Facebook, etc.) is likely to reflect and amplify existing social biases. Men will be tweeted more than women, ethnic majorities more than ethnic minorities. Then there is strong potential for bias, both artefactual - e.g. a pharmaceutical company is likely to promote a study showing that their drug is effective, but not the one demonstrating the side-effect - and deliberate. Consider how climate change denial or big tobacco smoking is good for you proponents could manipulate social media to make their preferred research and researchers look good. Altmetrics is an approach with tremendous potential as a research project, but should not be used for assessing the work of scholars.

Q 6) The Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK notes: "No sub-panel will make any use of journal impact factors, rankings, lists or the perceived standing of publishers in assessing the quality of research outputs." ( While this is a valid statement for UK based research evaluation, it would be impossible to get a majority of academic tenure and promotion committees throughout the United States to agree to a similar statement in the near future.  Since the UK has the REF, and the US does not, how much is this holding back the US from adopting greater OA policies at various institutions?

R 6) Open access is happening throughout the world. Each area can, does, and should, work within the context of the strengths, culture and history of its own region. The U.S. has been a very strong leader in open access policy, with the N.I.H. policy and the faculty permissions policies pioneered by Harvard, as well as open access publishing support by libraries.

On the topic of the REF - to me, the REF approach exemplifies what I call irrational rationality, something to avoid and not to emulate.

Q 7) Is there anything else you would like to say concerning open access publishing?

R 7) My recommendation is library support for scholar-led publishing as the most cost-effective solution for the future.

All this and much more is covered in my dissertation, "Freedom for scholarship in the internet age". 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One of world's giant textbook publishers bought by private equity firm that "gives Wall Street a bad name"

Updated November 27, 2012

McGraw Hill, one of the world's top textbook publishers, was just sold for $2.5 billion to Apollo Global Management, according to Inside Higher EdDebra Borchardt, in The Street, describes Apollo Global Management as a private equity firm that "gives Wall Street a bad name. And that's saying something".

From Inside Higher Ed:  "Waterhouse said that the company would continue to expand in digital education, and that - as a private company - "we won't need to worry about short-term focus and pressures".

Comment: a Wall Street bad apple expanding into higher education is something we should be watching - and take note of the long term focus.

While this announcement is not directly relevant to open access or education, those working in either area should be aware of this and of strategies that could be deployed by a company like this, whether now or in the future. 

For example, a company like this could move into open education for the short term, giving away textbooks or courses with a view to out-competing existing higher educational institutions, then charging substantial amounts for their courses later on. This is something to watch for - a company designed to reap profits giving things away may well be strategizing for maximum profits at a later date.

For open access advocates, this development is important because one question we should be asking ourselves is - could be possibly be worse off than with the existing owners of scholarly publisher such as Elsevier? Elsevier, Springer, etc., have their disadvantages for scholarship, but these companies have a long history with the scholarly tradition and changing ownership to companies with experience in the financial industry might make things worse for scholarship.

Aside from outright sales of existing publishers, this is a cautionary tale for those who promote the Creative Commons - Attribution license (CC-BY), which gives third parties commercial rights and comes with no strings requiring reciprocity or ongoing free access. When scholars give away their works with this license, they can be used by companies like this whose strategy might be to outcompete our employers, which threatens the employment of scholars. For this reason, here is my advice:

Faculty and teachers: DO NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR WORK FOR COMMERCIAL RIGHTS. If you are using CC licenses, use Noncommercial.

Update: here is the link to the news release McGraw-Hill to sell education business to Apollo for $2.5 billion from the McGraw-Hill website.

Excerpt: NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) ("the Company") today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its McGraw-Hill Education business to investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management, LLC (NYSE: APO) (collectively with its subsidiaries, "Apollo"), for a purchase price of $2.5 billion, subject to certain closing adjustments.
Waterhouse said that the company would continue to expand in digital education, and that -- as a private company -- "we won't need to worry about short-term focus and pressures."

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed
Waterhouse said that the company would continue to expand in digital education, and that -- as a private company -- "we won't need to worry about short-term focus and pressures."

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed
Waterhouse said that the company would continue to expand in digital education, and that -- as a private company -- "we won't need to worry about short-term focus and pressures."

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gross Domestic Clean Water

 Alternative text: why not measure Gross Domestic Clean Water because this is more essential than Gross Domestic Product. If you're not convinced, try going a couple of days without clean water, in any form. This word picture is dedicated to the public domain.

This is an alternative metric.

Altmetrics - thoughts about the purpose

Should altmetrics take a step back and reconsider what the main purpose / research question is? I should suggest that what we need is an alternative to the current power of the impact factor in assessing the work of scholars. This may or may not involve metrics of any kind. My suggestion for starters is that we need a system that is not as reliant on metrics of any kind.

Having said that, some metrics studies that might actually be useful:
-  does an emphasis on quantity of publication increase duplication of content and/or reduce quality? With respect to the latter, this is what I have heard from senior experts in scholarly publishing and I think both Brown and Harley touch on this in their reports - at least with respect to books, pushing scholars to publish two books rather than one to get tenure means pressure to publish in less time than it takes to write a good book. So pushing for quantity seems likely to correlate with reduced quality (a hypothesis worth testing?)

One advantage to studying the disadvantages of pushing for quantity is that if the hypothesis (quantity correlates negatively with quality) is correct, then that is evidence that can reduce the workload of scholars - something I expect that scholars are likely to support

Other possibilities:
- scholars might want to know about journals:
- average and range of time from submission to decision
- level of "peer" doing the peer review (grad student? senior professor?)
- extent and quality of contents (this has to be qualitative analysis; sampling makes sense)

Shifting from a print-based scholarly communication system to an open access knowledge commons, while retaining or increasing quality and reducing costs, is possible - but it's not easy. It is worth taking the time to think things through and get at least some stuff right.

Friday, November 23, 2012

CC-BY reflects a small subset of open access. Claims of "emerging consensus" on CC-BY are premature

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers' Association's "Why CC-BY page" refers to an "emerging consensus on the adoption of CC-BY". My comment:

Re: CC-BY - emerging consensus. OASPA refers to an "emerging consensus" that CC-BY is the best license for open access. I argue that the evidence suggests that CC-BY is a peripheral phenomenon and very far from consensus.

From Peter Suber's SPARC Open Access Newsletter, June 2012 - in brief only 11% of the journals listed in DOAJ use CC-BY, and outside of full gold OA publishing as illustrated by the journals in DOAJ, the proportion of OA that is CC-BY is lower still.

"Libre OA through repositories has been rare because most repositories are not in a position to demand it or even to authorize it. Hence, you might think that libre OA through journals would be common because all journals are in a position to do both. But unfortunately that would be wrong. The power of journals to demand and authorize libre OA means that libre gold could be common, and should be common. But scandalously, it doesn't mean that libre gold is already common...Only 917 journals in the DOAJ have the SPARC Europe Seal of Approval, which requires CC-BY. That's only 11.8% of the full set".

Suber, Peter. SPARC Open Access Newsletter, June 2012

Why open access does not need CC-BY: the Human Genome Project example

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers' Association explanation of Why CC-BY presents the Human Genome Project as an illustration of why CC-BY is needed for open access. Following is my comment (not yet appearing on the OASPA site, no doubt awaiting moderation).

It is interesting that OASPA's explanation of "why CC-BY" points to the Human Genome Project as an example of why CC-BY is needed. The HGP ran for 13 years, ending in 2003. Creative Commons is looking forward to its 10th birthday in December. In other words, HGP was completed shortly after CC began. This means that HGP is an awesome example of how science can advance rapidly and in the spirit of libre open access, without any need for Creative Commons licensing at all. [emphasis added]

For HGP details see:

Delightful irony: students for free culture adamantly opposed to license used for Lessig's Free Culture

Larry Lessig's book, Free Culture, was the inspiration for the Free Culture movement, released as a paperback as well as a free online book, using the license CC-BY-NC 1.0 (

How ironic that Students for Free Culture consider the Noncommercial license to be "proprietary" and incompatible with free culture?

I wonder how many of them read the free online version - noncommercial license and all? 

Thanks very much to Creative Commons for keeping up the fight for free culture; note that after fulsome discussion, CC has elected to retain the noncommercial license in version 4.0, with no change in definition.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Open Access Week 2012 presentation

Open access: a critical perspective, a powerpoint presentation for my Communications 435 class (information rights in the information age), is posted on the CMNS 435 course blog here. To download, click where it says 435 2012 oa week (the link is not obvious).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why CC-BY will sometimes be a violation of research ethics: weight loss ad on bus example

This example is meant to illustrate one of the reasons why I recommend AGAINST CC-BY as a default for open access. CC-BY is the Creative Commons - Attribution Only license, giving blanket permission, in advance, for anyone to re-use a work, including making derivatives, as long as the work is attributed. From the user's perspective, this is great! However, it is important to note that CC-BY opens up possibilities that are both positive and negative. I am focusing on the negative, because so many of my colleagues in the open access movement appear to focus exclusively on the positive. Here is one illustration of why CC-BY is not always a good idea.

Picture a research subject in an obesity study, who agrees to allow the researcher to use their picture in a published research article. The researcher, following traditional protocols for working with research subjects, will probably have said something about the publication. However, it is at present very unlikely that the researcher has told the subject that they plan to publish with a CC-BY license, which means that their picture will be available for anyone, anywhere, to use for commercial purposes, including making derivatives. A weight loss company could take this picture and use it in an advertisement on the side of a bus, a use of a CC-BY licensed work that is arguably quite appropriate. If this kind of consequence of publishing with CC-BY (very different from traditional academic publishing) is not explained to the subject in the process of requesting permission to publish the picture, then the researcher does not have informed consent, and will be in violation of research ethics protocol if the picture is published CC-BY.

In a case like this, there are legal as well as moral issues to consider. A research subject in this position might well want to sue someone - that someone could be the researcher, the university, the journal, and/or a research funder if the policy of the latter was the reason for publishing CC-BY.

This could happen without CC-BY. However, CC-BY makes this more likely - a commercial entity might well gather CC-BY licenses to create a database of images to sell (Springer Images already does this). A CC-BY-NC and/or ND license (NC = noncommercial, ND = no derivatives) would signal to a potential user of the image that a usage like this would be appropriate, and would protect the researcher, university, etc. from legal risk by making a lawsuit less likely (with CC-BY-NC and/or ND, the fault is clearly that of the weight loss company, so they are more likely to be sued), and gives a strong argument in the case that a lawsuit does proceed.

The BOAI 10 recommendation of CC-BY is one of the reasons that I cannot support BOAI 10 as a whole. This is not a small disagreement about priorities or preferences, but rather one element of BOAI 10 that I regard as a serious error to be avoided.

Updated October 27 correcting typos and some minor proofreading.

This post is part of the Creative Commons and Open Access critique series.

Discussion can be found on Google G+

Monday, October 15, 2012

Creative Commons and Open Access Critique series

This is a series of posts critiquing the trend towards adopting a particular CC license as a standard for open access. My own views are that we don't know what the best approach for sharing scholarly and other types of work will be in the future, and cannot know until we spend some time thinking and trying things out. By "time", I mean decades, or centuries. This view is expressed most clearly in the post Articulating the commons: a leaderful approach. This topic is also addressed, although not in full, in the defense draft of my thesis Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age (see the open access chapter and the conclusion).

Ceased and transferred publications and archiving: best practices and room for improvement

Provides evidence that current best practices of open access publishers for ceased journals (keep journal on list, archive content, provide explanation for readers) has room for improvement. The CLOCKSS archive (part of best practice) illustrates some common misperceptions of CC licenses (e.g. the licenses per se do not accomplish archiving; there is confusion about how owns the copyright and hence is the licensor - CLOCKSS itself (dangerous; this actually adds an additional layer of copyright); journal / publisher (problematic if not all content is CC licensed); author copyright, although frequently referred to in OA practice, is not mentioned.

Editorial: open access, copyright and licensing: basics for open access publishers 

Author copyright in name only 
The Elsevier website provides a clear example of how author copyright can be in name only, with all rights other than nominal transferred to the publisher.

Open access publishing: current issues in copyright and licensing
 This is a post for recording some of the issues I come across in the May 2015 OA APC survey.

A case for strong fair use / fair dealing with restrictive licenses for scholarship
One of the problems with the push for ubiquitous CC-BY is that it overlooks the needs of scholars to include works that are not scholarly in nature. If every scholarly article in the world were released as CC-BY, this would not only not be helpful to the communication scholar needing to include excerpts of commercially valuable or sensitive works, it would likely make it even more difficult to obtain permission to use this kind of material.

Creative Commons CC-BY confusions.Describes a CC mixter discussion about whether it is legal and/or ethical to sell compilations of CC-BY licensed songs, and whether the community understands the implications when licensing their work.

Chang vs. Virgin Mobile: the photo of a young minor age woman is posted CC-BY to flickr, becomes part of an advertising campaign without the family's knowledge or permission. Legal battles ensue.

The commercial overlords of scholarly rewrite copyright licenses to suit themselves

The Elsevier "open access" / exclusive license to publish hybrid

Rosie Redfield has posted results of an author survey and some of her own critique on RRResearch

Attitudes and values regarding research dissemination and licenses

Is DOAJ inadvertently promoting publisher power over scholars?

A problem with CC-BY: permitting downstream use with no strings attached is the toll access model

Wikipedia, scholarship and CC-BY

A simple definition for open access: a proposal to open the discussion 

UK BIS Committee submission

flickr and Creative Commons: the popularity of noncommercial

Why CC-BY will sometimes be a violation of research ethics

CC-BY: the wrong goal for open access, and neither necessary nor sufficient for data and text mining

PLooS, or contemplating new IJPE series: poking fun at CC-BUY

CC-BY - and/or versus - open access?

Dear Creative Commons: please drop the gratuitous insult

Are strict CC-BY publishers shooting themselves in the foot?

Copyright for expression of ideas; patent law for ideas

Research Councils UK draft new open access policy: my comments

A way of saying "this is open access"

PLoS ONE is in the lead - but could a well thought out noncommercial approach give a competitor an edge?

Should we copyleft our personal information - including our bodies?

Let's raise the floor - a proposal for Creative Commons

Is the OJS simple statement of open access enough, or should we do away with academic copyright altogether?

Why require attribution? A Creative Commons discussion item

Noncommercial means noncommercial (creative commons discussion)

Journals with good Creative Commons models

Three pictures, one small gift, to everyone, with love

To everyone, with love

Creative Commons, noncommercial and formats

Articulating the commons: a leaderful approach

Creative Commons and noncommercial: CC 4.0 discussion

Education is a public good - not a commercial activity!

Dissension in the open access ranks on CC licenses and strategy tips for publishers

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gaming the scholarly metrics - lessons for altmetrics

Thanks to Scott Timcke for a pointer to this excellent article and great summary of how to game your impact factor. This is a timely discussion, not only for impact factor but even more important for the development of altmetrics (which could easily be even more susceptible to gaming). The potential for gaming needs to be addressed along with the development of the metrics, not only as a distortion in the metrics per se, but the impact of the need to score well in metrics in how people approach their research in the first place.

From Smeyers, P., and Burbules, N. C., (2011) How to Improve your Impact Factor: Questioning the Quantification of Academic Quality, Journal of Philosophy of Education 45(1) 1–17

Offers a solid critique of I.F. and bibliometrics in general.

BUT if you do want to know how to improve your I.F. then

"• Forget about society and education in general.
• Find a research area that is flourishing and blessed with a large number of ISI journals.
• Limit your research interest to a minute aspect that is distinctly associated with you, and which can be addressed empirically.
• While you need not limit yourself to quantitative methods, bear in mind that these are always to be preferred.
• If you can at all, avoid case studies.
• Look for friends with whom you can swap cites.
• Cite your own work often, and cite lots of articles from the journal in which you want to publish.
• Do good work by all means, but above all be sure to publish findings that are controversial and widely debated … Then sit back and watch your impact factor grow."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Canada - ACT NOW if you care about democracy

Update October 14 in The Tyee - excerpt:

"By Nov. 1 three of China's national oil companies will have more power to shape Canada's energy markets as well as challenge the politics of this country than Canadians themselves…" Beers, The Tyee

Canadians - the Harper government is now involved in a number of secretive deals. Not only is the process undemocratic, but the results will be a very major erosion of our democracy. For example, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), according to Osgoode law professor Gus Von Harten the deal "allows Chinese companies to sue Canada outside of Canadian courts. Remarkably, the lawsuits can proceed behind closed doors. This shift to secrecy reverses a longstanding policy of the Canadian government." (Source: Tyee) .

This is only ONE of the major international non-democratic initiatives Harper and his government are committing Canada to - there is also the Trans-Pacific Partnership and CETA (the Canadian Europe Trade Association).

For the young people out there - before Canada entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), there was extensive public debate for years. If you haven't heard about FIPPA, TPP, and CETA, it's not you - the government really is entering us into major international agreements with major impacts on all of us, without bothering to even tell us what they are doing.

Canadians, please ACT NOW to protect our democracy. If your MP is Conservative, it is time to tell them to cross the floor, in any direction, or to become independent. We're only a dozen seats or so away from going back to a minority government. Whatever the politics of your MP, tell them to support Elizabeth May's call for an emergency debate on FIPPA (otherwise automatically takes effect November 1).

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

CC-BY: the wrong goal for open access, and neither necessary nor sufficient for data and text-mining

An argument that I see as important but missing: is CC-BY even an appropriate goal for open access at all? This is a separate question from whether it should be a short or long-term priority.

I argue that CC-BY is NOT an appropriate goal for open access. There are many reasons for this argument, too many for one post, so I'll start off by challenging the assumption that CC-BY is what is needed for data and text mining.

1.    CC-BY is not necessary for data and text-mining. Internet search engines such as google and social media companies do extensive data and text mining, and they do not limit themselves to CC-BY material. This is true even in the EU, so is not prevented by the EU's support for copyright of data. To illustrate: if data and text-mining is not permissible without CC-BY, then Google must shut down, immediately.

2.  CC-BY is not sufficient for data and text-mining. The Creative Commons licenses are designed as a means for creators to waive rights that they would otherwise have under copyright; they do not place any obligations on the Licensor. There is nothing to stop a creator from using a CC-BY license with a locked-down PDF with extra DRM designed to prevent data and text-mining.

One of the reasons that it is important to begin giving such questions greater attention and analysis is funders' policies requiring CC-BY. If authors and their publishers adopt CC-BY through coercion rather than choice, the actual practice may differ considerably from earlier open access initiatives involving voluntary use of this license.

This argument leaves aside the question of whether allowing for ubiquitous data and text-mining is actually beneficial for scholarship. My perspective is that this is unknown, and it is premature to prescribe data and text-mining for all scholarly works until after a fuller exploration of this question. As one counter-example, consider that allowing data-mining and remix of health information can compromise privacy.

This is one of the topics that I begin to address in my draft dissertation, Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age. The defence draft is available for download from here:

See chapter 4 on open access and chapter 8, conclusions. These arguments are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather an illustration of the potential of the societal trend that I call irrational rationality to actually make things worse for scholars and scholarly communication in the transition to open access.


Heather G. Morrison
Open Access Advocate / Opponent of CC-BY Coercion
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
This was posted today to the GOAL Open Access List.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thank you, open access movement! September 30, 2012 Dramatic Growth of Open Access

On this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, this issue of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is dedicated to all of the many millions of people around the world who make open access happen - the scholars who take the time for the few keystrokes to deposit their work in an open access archive and/or publish in open access journals; the editors and peer reviewers of thousands of open access journals; the journals and publishers who make their works open access, whether immediately on publication or after a bit of a delay; and all of the librarians, repository managers, research funders and advocates around the world who constantly work for a future of open access to all of our scholarly knowledge - and apologies to anyone whose important work I may be omitting. 

Highlighted this month is the dramatic growth of OpenDOAR, more than doubling from just over 800 repositories in 2006 to over 2,200 in 2012, representing substantial and impressive growth of the necessary infrastructure for open access archives. 

PubMedCentral has grown considerably in the years since the introduction of the strong public access requirement policy of the NIH in 2008, but also in voluntary participation going far beyond the requirements of the policy. In the past 4 years, the number of journals providing immediate free access to article through PMC has almost tripled, from 375 journals in 2008 to 979 today.

The number of journals the Electronic Journals Library includes that can be read free-of-charge has more than doubled from 15,000 in 2007 to over 36,000 today. This collection includes both fully open access journals and a large and growing number of journals that make their works as freely available as they can, for example providing free access to back issues, commonly after a one-year embargo.

Popcorn, anyone? 

The most amazing growth this quarter - and a milestone since the end of September!: the Internet Archive's movie collection. 49% growth in the past quarter, and now just over a million free movies!

 RePEC has been dropped for this quarter as I cannot figure out how many documents / fulltext they have. RePEC features rich statistics, but the emphasis seems to have changed from content to usage - not very useful for tracking growth of OA.

 Selected numbers

Directory of Open Access Journals 
  • 8,242 titles
  • 330 titles added this quarter
  • growth rate 3.6 titles / day
Directory of Open Access Books
  •  1,215 books / 33 publishers
  •  117 books / 6 publishers added this quarter
  • growth rate 1 book / day
Electronic Journals Library
  • 36,593 journals can be read free of charge
  • 1,297 added this quarter
  • growth rate 14 titles / day 
  • 2,207 repositories
  • 42 added this quarter
  • growth rate 3.5 / day
Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
  • 37 million documents
  • 950,000 added this quarter
  • growth rate 10 thousand / day
  • 979 journals provide immediate free access
  • 51 journals added this quarter for immediate free access
  • growth rate 4 journals / week
  • 787,000 documents
  • 20,000 documents added this quarter
  • growth rate 200 documents / day
  • 13,841 documents
  • 454 added this quarter
  • growth rate 5 documents / day
 Social Sciences Research Network
  • 360,000 full text papers
  • 12,000 added this quarter
  • growth rate 130 full text papers / day
Internet Archive
  • 997,158 movies
  • 325,000 added this quarter
  • growth rate 3,600 / day
This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.  Full data can be downloaded from here. If you would like to re-use one of the charts, please contact me for a high-resolution version (for technical reasons).

Friday, September 21, 2012

PLooS, or contemplating new IJPE series: poking fun at CC-BUY

I am debating starting a new series on IJPE: poking fun at CC-BUY (a reference to those who confuse the Creative Commons Attribution-Only license with open access.

Where to start? Perhaps

PLooS U.S.
Open to Ridicule

This is a fine example of a derivative, with appropriate attribution (the PLooS link takes you right back to the source, fulfilling my obligations under the Attribution element!). I think one might argue that this violates the moral rights of PLoS - but PLoS US is in the country where arguing moral rights under circumstances like this would be a very tricky moral battle.

Future issues of the series could include such exciting novelties as PLooS PAYWALL (because after all none of the CC license require that CC licensed works be made available for free to anyone. Or, maybe we can explore the odds that any true blue CC-BUY devotee has actually READ THE LICENSE  - which doesn't say anything at all about open access.

This is one series I really hope I don't actually need to write.

Will open access article processing fee publishers do the right thing and join OA advocates in calling for friendly amendment to the RCUK policy?

This summer the Research Councils U.K. adopted a stronger open access policy, as explained by Peter Suber in the September 2012 SPARC Open Access Newsletter. While the strong support for open access, including funding for open access publishing, is welcome news, this policy includes some ill-thought-out provisions and open access advocates are calling for revisions before the policy is implemented; see Peter's article for some objections and recommendations.

In brief, the reason this is a bad policy is because it requires researchers to select a gold open access option when one is available, and provides block funding to UK universities to pay article processing fees. This gives publishers a strong incentive to backtrack on green self-archiving policies, adding to the delay or embargo period or removing this option altogether. By making this requirement and providing funding, this is in effect a "blank cheque" policy which is certain to raises the costs of scholarly publishing.

This is why: if you had a business and customers had to buy what you sold regardless of the cost, how might this impact your pricing policy? What if you're a corporation and legally bound to provide shareholders with the best profit returns that you can? This, from my perspective, is an example of a government just throwing money at a problem without thinking it through - very out of character for the current UK government. If they have cash to spare, for heaven's sakes why do they not use it to subsidize students rather than publishers?

Others have made similar points. The main reason for this post is to ask open access publishers involved in lobbying for this whether they are shooting themselves in the foot, and whether it might be in their own best interests in the long run to join open access advocates in calling for improvements to the RCUK policy before implementation.

Why? The primary reason is that this would be better for open access.

In case any OA publishers are finding it difficult to put the unprecedented public good that is open access at the top of their priority list, they should not that in the medium to long term, changes to this policy are in their own best interests, too.

The vast majority of funding for scholarly journals at present - percentages range from 68 - 90% (see my draft dissertation for details) comes from academic library budgets. The UK is a major sponsor of research, but even so only 6% of the world's scholarly research comes from the UK. If the UK goes ahead with this obviously unsustainable approach to supporting OA publishing, OA publishers should be aware that this is highly likely to result in a drop in support from academic libraries around the world. For example, price inflation to fit this exceptional UK market will likely result in a drop in support for article processing fees by libraries around the world - a relatively new trend that has the potential to grow, but is likely to be nipped in the bud if this policy is not fixed. Also, if funding is diverted from research budgets to open access article processing fees, OA publishers should expect well-deserved backlash from scholars and universities. I'll be on their side; my draft thesis is called Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age, not Give Money to OA Publishers. Cash from the RCUK for article processing fees might seem like a really good thing right now, but a portion of 6% of the revenue from the world's scholarly publishing is not a good reason to jeopardize transitioning the 68-90% from subscriptions to OA publishing.

To conclude: I recommend that open access publishers working with the article processing fee approach join the rest of the open access movement in calling for the RCUK to fix the flaws in their open access policy before implementation, to remove the blank cheque that forces scholars and universities to pay for OA. Perhaps, as a long-time open access advocacy leader, not-for-profit publisher and open access advocacy organization, Public Library of Science should take the lead in calling for this change. An open letter to this effect posted prominently on the PLoS website would be a welcome development.

Friday, August 17, 2012

CC-BY and - or versus? - open access

Many in the open access movement consider CC-BY, the Creative Commons Attribution license, to be the very embodiment of the spirit of the Budapest Open Access Initiative - giving away all rights to one's work, including commercial rights, for open access. My own take on this is that while CC-BY can provide a useful tool for those fully engaged in the open access spirit, the license is problematic for open access. This is important now that funding agencies in the U.K. are beginning to require CC-BY licenses when they fund open access article processing fees. That is to say, we are now looking at a situation where organizations that do not have any commitment to (or even liking for) open access, may be required to use this license.

Some questions that I think should be raised at this point:

The CC-BY legal code, as I read it, does not mention open access, nor is there any wording to suggest that the license can only be applied to works that are open access. Here is the URL for the legal code:


1.    Am I missing something in the legal code, i.e. does it say somewhere that this license is only for open access works?

2.    Is there any reason why a publisher could not use a CC-BY license on toll-access works? (Here I am talking about an original publisher, not a licensee).

3.    Is there anything to stop a publisher that uses CC-BY from changing their license at a later point in time? (Assuming the license is the publisher's, not the author's).

4.    Is there anything to stop a toll-access publisher from purchasing an open access publisher that uses CC-BY, and subsequently selling all the formerly open access journals under a toll-access model and dropping the open access versions? The license would not permit a third party to do this, but what I am asking about is if the original licensor sells to another publisher.

To sum up, my perspective is that CC-BY, while superficially appearing to be the embodiment of BOAI, is actually a problematic license with significant loopholes and serious thought should be given to this before it is recommended as a standard for open access.

For discussion on this topic, see one or more of the following lists:  GOAL, the SPARC Open Access Forum, open-science, SCHOLCOMM, or cc-community.

See also:  Graf, Klaus and Sanford Thatcher: Point Counter Point: is CC-BY the best open access license? in Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, May 2012. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

CBC Radio Interview August 13, 2012.

This clip of my CBC Radio Early Edition Interview August 13, 2012 with Kathryn Gretsinger (about 10 minutes) is a reflection on the significance of the University of British Columbia Library / Elsevier text-mining arrangement inspired by open data advocate Heather Piwowar. Thoughts on the potential for acceleration of discovery through text-mining from cancer research to humanities, the Elsevier boycott, the added work for libraries with open access.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dear Creative Commons: please drop the gratuitous insult

Creative Commons has a new license chooser with an added feature: it tells us whether or not the license that we have selected is a "Free Culture License". For the record, I do not agree with whoever has decided what is or is not a free culture license. From my perspective, a truly free culture that uses the nifty Creative Commons tools that I like welcomes and respects people who wish to use licenses that include noncommercial and / or no derivatives terms. Also, a service that wishes to grow does not insult its friends in this manner. CC - please drop the insult.

Wiley moves toward broader open access

An important announcement from Wiley about their move to broader open access through use of the Creative Commons - Attribution (CC-BY) license for Wiley Open Access Journals. This is a strong indication that Wiley is joining a growing list of traditional commercial scholarly publishers to undertake serious competition for the growing open access environment for scholarly publishing - as is the title of Rachel Burley, Wiley's VP and Director, Open Access.

While I support the full range of CC licenses for open access, CC-BY is the simplest option for the profit-oriented commercial publisher wishing to be taken seriously about its commitment to open access publishing - important because this perception will help a publisher to be on the list of publishers / journals suitable for those funding open access article processing fees.

Next steps I would recommend to Wiley:
  •  a commitment to publishing journals in a format suitable for data and/or text-mining and that will facilitate re-use of portions of content (for example, a CC-BY license on a locked-down PDF removes legal barriers to re-use, but not technical barriers)
  • a strengthened commitment to support for author self-archiving to allow authors more choice (not all authors have funding support for open access article processing fees)
  • prepare to compete for high quality publishing services at reasonable prices - consider a range of possible future competitors that includes PeerJ with prices starting at $99 for a lifetime of publishing
Kudos and welcome to the open access world to Wiley!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In the opinion of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers

It is the opinion of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), that open access mandates with short embargoes will lead to journal cancellations and threaten the survive of scholarly journals. Audrey McCullough, Chief Executive of ALPSPs, admits that a recently released "report" by ALPSP purporting to claim evidence for this, is actually an opinion piece, as recorded in this interview by Richard Poynder. I am happy to have been able to help out a bit with research methods and history in this area; this piece is a fine example of the potential for academic / journalist collaboration. Whether this is fact or opinion is important, with open access policies under discussion. For example, the Research Councils in the UK is currently working on strengthening their OA policies.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Oxygen is not a free lunch (environmentalism for the free market believer)

The right wing think tank The Heartland Institute - one of the main funders of climate change denial - claims that we should look to free market solutions to environmental challenges. While I strongly disagree with their philosophy and this approach, free market belief systems are common in our society so it may be useful to develop arguments that this constituency can understand. Here is one such argument. Those who are so indoctrinated in neoliberalism that they cannot see our world, the air we breathe, as the great gift (the free lunch) that it is, might benefit from considering the oxygen in the air we breathe from a labor perspective. This is not human labor, but rather the natural labor of plants and particularly trees. The deforestation occurring around the world can be seen as a labor dispute - the trees are being locked out, deprived of the means of production, the soil and water that they need. This is one labor dispute that the capitalist cannot win. While it may seem as though those who order the chainsaws or set the policies have all the power against these immobile, defenseless beings, ultimately it is these gentle creatures who have the ultimate power, collectively creating the air without which none of us (no matter how rich) cannot survive fOr more than a few minutes. Negotiation is crucial, and urgent, for both sides. The image of the 99% is powerful, true, and important for social justice, but let's keep in mind that when it comes to te environment, we are the 100%. If we continue to destroy the environment, some of us will suffer more than others, but we will all suffer. If we wage war against the environment, we all lose.

Monday, July 02, 2012

June 30, 2012 Dramatic Growth of Open Access

"As the costs of publishing continue to be driven down by new technology, we will continue to see a growth in open access publishers. This new and innovative model appears to be the wave of the future." This is what I have been saying for years - but significantly, this is from the co-sponsors of the anti-open-access Research Works Act - just one of the great quotes from Shieber's The inevitability of open access discussed below.

The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), operated by Bielefeld University Library, is described as "one of the world's most voluminous search engines especially for academic open access web resources". BASE's total document count is what I use as the best available surrogate for the number of open access resources currently available. This is far from an exact count (not all the resources in the archives harvested by BASE are open access, there is no deduplication, and the types of documents is difficult to discover). However, the sheer volume of BASE is a clear indication of dramatic growth of open access archives - with over 36 million documents in total, the real number would be impressive even if it were only a small portion of the total. This quarter, the just over 2,000 repositories harvested by BASE collectively added close to 2 million documents.

Actual numbers from specific repositories illustrate that the BASE total is no mirage. PubMedCentral alone, as of March 2012, provided access to 3.5 million fulltext documents, or 17% of the literature indexed by PMC (with no limitations by date or funder). Since April 2008, when the NIH introduced a stronger Public Access Policy, over 200,000 NIH-funded journal articles have become freely available through PMC, for a compliance rate of 74%.

arXiv contains over 750,000 documents; RePEC, over 1 million, and the Social Sciences Research Network about 350,000 documents. These 4 repository services taken together add to over 5.5 million documents - and this is just 4 of the over 2,000 open access repositories available around the world.

The Directory of Open Access Journals is getting close to 8 thousand titles, and adding titles at a rate of over 3 per day. The newly launched Directory of Open Access Books already lists more than a thousand titles from 27 contributing publishers. The Electronic Journals Library, which collects free titles of interest to academics whether peer reviewed or not, and including titles that are not fully OA but provide free access to back issues, lists over 35,000 journals, and continues to add titles at an average rate of 15 per day.

The Internet Archive provides access to 670,000 movies, 100,000 concerts, 1.3 million audio recordings, and 3.5 million texts.

No wonder then that many people - and not just the usual suspects - are beginning to see that open access is inevitable! This issue of The Dramatic Growth of Open Access briefly explains the purpose of this series, highlights Shieber's collection of quotes on the inevitability of open access, discusses one of the less immediately visible indications of the growth of open access, the increasing citations of open access journals, and provides selected growth numbers. Full data for this series can be downloaded from SUMMIT.

The purpose of this series

It is important not to overstate the extent of open access today; the vast majority of scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles are still published in toll access journals. However, it is also important to notice and celebrate what has been accomplished to date, and that is the primary purpose of this series, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access.

Reasons why this recognition of accomplishments to date are important include:
  • raising awareness of the resources already available for people to use
    • increases usage and hence success of existing open access initiatives
    • usage can raise awareness of the benefits of open access
    • increase understanding that there is no need for any one region to consider a unilateral move to open access - it's happening everywhere
  • countering misperceptions of lack of progress - for example, there is the occasional setback, but when a single journal reverts from open to toll access, let's keep in mind that the net growth for DOAJ that same day was about 3 titles
  • celebrating success to date is good for morale!
The inevitability of open access
In a post on The Occasional Pamphlet called The inevitability of open access, Stuart Shieber says: "I get the sense that we’ve moved into a new phase in discussions of open access. There seems to be a consensus that open access is an inevitability. We’re hearing this not only from the usual suspects in academia but from publishers, policy-makers, and other interested parties". Even the co-sponsors of the anti-open-access Research Works Act, Issa and Maloney, are quoted as saying: "As the costs of publishing continue to be driven down by new technology, we will continue to see a growth in open access publishers. This new and innovative model appears to be the wave of the future."

The growing citation impact of open access journals

Thanks to Matt Cockerill for A striking example of a society journal improving its impact factor radically following a move to #openaccess 

A striking example of a society journal improving its impact ... on Twitpic

and to David Wardle for research illustrating that ecological papers in PLoS ONE have a greater impact than those published in the main ecological journals.  Details:

ecological papers published in PLoS ONE, which accepts 69% of submissions, publishes work that on average has a greater impact than papers published in Oikos which accepts 15% of submissions,
and has a comparable impact to those in Ecology and Functional Ecology which respectively accept 20% and 15% of submissions. Ecological papers published in,PLoS ONE are on average cited less than those in Ecology Letters (with an 11% acceptance rate) but evenhere there is considerable overlap
Wardle, David A. On plummeting manuscript acceptance rates by the main ecological journals
and the progress of ecology. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution 5: 13–15, 2012
doi:10.4033/iee.2012.5.4.e  "

Selected numbers

Directory of Open Access Journals
  • 7,912 journals
  • 305 added this quarter (3 per day)
Directory of Open Access Books
  • 1,098 academic peer-reviewed books
  • 27 publishers
Electronic Journals Library
  •  35,296 journals that can be read free of charge
  • 1,312 added this quarter (15 per day)
Number of repositories
For extensive detailed statistics on repositories see OpenDOAR and ROAR
Number of items in repositories
For extensive statistics on items by repository including deposit rate see the Registry of Open Access Repositories 

Global: Bielefeld Academic Search Engine 
  • 36 million documents
  • 2 million documents added this quarter (22 thousand / day)
PubMedCentral: 2.4 million (from PMC website - this total not updated regularly)

arXiv (physics)
  • 766,772 documents
  • 20,789 added this quarter (230 per day)
RePEC (Research Papers in Economics)
  • 1 million downloadable documents
  • 30 thousand added this quarter (333 per day)
Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN)
  •  350,000 fulltext documents
  • 28,000 added this quarter (311 per day)
E-LIS (Library and Information Science)
  • 13,387 documents
  • 460 added this quarter (5 per day) 
Open Access Mandate Policies (from ROARMAP)
  •  330 policies listed 
  • 237 policies excluding thesis policies
  • 10 institutional policies added this quarter
Internet Archive
  • Moving images (movies) 670,000 - 40,000 added this quarter (444 per day)
  • Live music archive (concerts) 100,000 - 3,455 added this quarter (28 per day)
  • Audio (recordings) 1.3 million - 128,000 added this quarter (1,400 per day)
  • Texts 3.5 million - 150,000 added this quarter (1,600 per day)
  • 1,347 journals actively participating in PMC (decrease of 13 this quarter)
  • 1,092 journals deposit ALL articles in PMC (increase of 51 this quarter)
  • 928 journals with immediate free access (increase of 49 this quarter)
  • 792 journals with all articles open access (increase of 46 this quarter)
PubMed indexed articles with free fulltext available
  • 200,000 articles (74%) by NIH funded external researchers since 2008 Public Access Policy freely available
  • 340,000 articles (58%) by NIH internal or external researchers freely available (no date limit)
    • 150,000 articles (60%) within 3 years of publication
    • 84,000 articles (50%) within 2 years of publication
    • 16,000 articles (20%) within 1 year of publication
This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.