Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls

Reshaping academic communication. Liberating the scholarship from commercial publisher cabal. Uniting global Jewish scholarship

May 31, 2005

ACS Unduly Retards NIH PubChem Development. Part 2

"RGRP, Government-funded Free Information for Chemists 'Unfair' Competition for Private Monopolies, Digital Rights Network, May 10, 2005. Excerpt: 'Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a subsidiary of the American Chemical Society (founded 1909), is unhappy because the Federal Government has funded an open scientific database called PubChem that *might* compete with their service. CAS President Massie stated: It would not only injure us significantly, it would put information for free in the hands of world scientists and do it all with taxpayer money. For me to wake up one morning and find I have to compete with my own government is extraordinary. (The fact that much of the money paying for subscriptions to the CAS come from taxpayer-funded scientists seems to have passed him by). While CAS just contains 'facts' which, at least under US law, don't yet have protection this hasn't prevented ominous talk about copyright and whether the government is overstepping its bounds in its provision of free information to scientists. Perhaps sensing their weak legal position CAS has taken its concerns direct to politicians. For example Ohio Governor Bob Taft has been persuaded to write a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt stating that PubChem threatens the very existence of CAS... This whole situation is rather ironic given that the ACS was orginally a learned society. However with a chief executive on over a $1 million a year it now appears to be more of a publishing conglomerate, jealously guarding its IP rights and more than happy to thwart access to knowledge and the progress of science if it harms their bottom line.

Readers might recall that the ACS also recently threatened action against Google over the use of the term "Scholar" in Google Scholar project claiming this infringed on their product called Scifinder Scholar.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on ACS v. PubChem. OA News (19 May 2005) [FullText]; Also see: American Chemical Society Unduly Retards NIH PubChem Development. Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls (21 May 2005) [FullText].

"Bernadette Toner, ACS Accuses NCBI's PubChem of Copying Its CAS Registry; Is Compromise Possible?, Bionform, May 16, 2005. Not even an abstract is free online. But Jan Velterop [Jan Velterop blog called The Parachute is available at this link] has posted some excerpts to SOAF: 'Christopher Austin, senior advisor for translational research at NHGRI and a principal leader for the Molecular Libraries implementation group, told BioInform that he and other NIH officials were "flabbergasted" by ACS' claims. "Both the topic and the ferocity with which that has happened has taken us by surprise," he said. "ACS wants us to strictly limit the information in PubChem to only that information that comes out of the molecular library screening centers, and not allow data from any other source to be present in the database," he said. "The problem with that is that it would downgrade the value of the database to the community." Austin noted that all of the 850,000 compounds currently in PubChem have come from publicly available databases --most of them NIH-funded resources-- in an effort to populate it with some chemical information before the first data from the screening centers comes online later this year. "All the compounds that are in PubChem have been in the public domain for years and years," he said. This effort to aggregate disparate public chemical data into a single resource was long overdue, Austin noted, pointing out that if the Human Genome Project had followed a similar model, "[and] you wanted to find the human genome, you would have to go to five different databases to find it, which makes absolutely no sense, and would radically impede the progress of research."' Jan adds this comment: 'Elsewhere, Eugene Garfield has been quoted as saying: "It is remarkable that the same society that accepted millions of dollars in grants from the NSF for establishing the chemical registry system, now objects to the government's use of the data."'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on ACS v. PubChem. OA News (19 May 2005) [FullText]; Also see: American Chemical Society Unduly Retards NIH PubChem Development. Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls (21 May 2005) [FullText].

May 30, 2005

Evaluating Archiving Software and Services

"The Johns Hopkins Digital Knowledge Center has undertaken A Technology Analysis of Repositories and Services. From the site: 'The Digital Knowledge Center (DKC), working with the University of Virginia (UVA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an extensive network of collaborators, will conduct an architecture and technology evaluation of repository software and services such as e-learning, e-publishing, and digital preservation. The result will be a set of best practices and recommendations that will inform the development of repositories, services, and appropriate interfaces. This project is funded by the Mellon Foundation.' For more information, see the report by Sayeed Choudhury and Jim Martino presented at the CNI Spring 2005 Task Force Meeting. (Thanks to DigitalKoans.)"

Source: Peter Suber. Evaluating repository software and services. OA News (19 May 2005) [FullText]

May 29, 2005

US Association of Research Libraries Reaffirms its Commitment to Open Access

"The ARL has published its Strategic Plan 2005-2009. Excerpt: 'Guiding principles... We promote and advocate barrier-free access to research and educational information resources.... Strategic Direction I: ARL will be a leader in the development of effective, extensible, sustainable, and economically viable models of scholarly communication that provide barrier-free access to quality information in support of teaching, learning, research, and service to the community... As ARL moves forward in this direction, some expected outcomes in the next five years include: Outcome A: ARL will have provided leadership for the implementation and assessment of selected new models of scholarly communication (e.g., addressing such issues as cost and use/impact of open-access articles and licensed journals; future of monographic publishing; continuing access to data and other varieties of content beyond traditional published literature). Outcome B: There will be growth in the number and quality of appropriately linked digital repositories used by ARL libraries to archive and manage scholarly output... Preferred Future. At the beginning of the retreat, participants discussed a preferred future for ARL. What could and should ARL look like in 2012? The result is the following list of desired characteristics... In 2012, ARL will provide leadership in the transformation of scholarly communication. ARL will support and facilitate the emergence of economically sustainable channels where content is openly available to the scholarly and scientific communities along with associated services that maximize enduring discovery and interdisciplinary use of the content.'"

Source: Peter Suber. ARL reaffirms its commitment to OA. OA News (18 May 2005) [FullText]

May 28, 2005

Trusted Publisher Assistance Program for Open Access Journals

"SPARC and the University of Michigan Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO) have launched a program to provide business planning and digital publishing services for open-access journals in the social sciences and humanities. From today's press release: 'The Publisher Assistance Program offers existing and prospective publishers a variety of benefits based on SPARC's and SPO's in-depth experience in the field. Integrating this experience into the Publisher Assistance Program, SPARC and SPO together provide a business planning process to ensure the sustainability of the journal under an open-access or cost-recovery model, including the transition from a print, subscription-based model to an online open-access model. The Publisher Assistance Program will also offer a package of options for journal development, production, hosting, and maintenance. These packages will include free online hosting for open-access journals and a variety of digital publishing options that SPO will offer on a cost-recovery basis. "Many editors and publishers of journals in the social sciences and humanities are looking for a way to do well while doing good," said SPARC Executive Director Rick Johnson. "They frequently approach both SPO and SPARC seeking guidance on how to move their publications to an online environment, and they require both business planning advice and digital publishing technical expertise in order to achieve their goals. The Publisher Assistance Program can serve these needs and send them into the marketplace with sound business options and a superior open-access journal offering."...The new Publisher Assistance Program will serve nonprofit publishers of either new or existing peer-reviewed journals that wish to operate under an open-access model. SPARC and SPO have separately provided business planning services or technical assistance to dozens of print, online, and open-access journals..."

Source: Peter Suber. SPARC/SPO Publisher Assistance Program for OA journals. OA News (18 May 2005) [FullText]

Also note that based in Israel Neurobiology of Lipids (ISSN 1683-5506) "provides necessary advisory for quality editorial groups willing to establish and independently run Open Access non-profit scientific journals" (source: "Open Access, a breakthrough for science that every neuroscientist should know about", Neurobiol Lipids Editor Presentation at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting 2004 [FullText]).

May 27, 2005

Open Access Becomes A Mandate by The UK Major Funding Body

"The Wellcome Trust officially announced this morning that it would mandate OA to all Wellcome-funded research, starting October 1, 2005. There have been many unofficial previews of this announcement since at least November 2004. From the press release: 'The Wellcome Trust has announced that from 1st October 2005, all papers from new research projects must be deposited in PubMed Central or UK PubMed Central ? once it has been formed - within 6 months of publication. The move comes as part of a drive from the UK's biggest medical research charity to push forward open access publication of scientific literature, making findings freely available to those who want to see them... The Wellcome Trust is the UK's biggest non-governmental funder of biomedical research spending UKP400 million producing almost 3500 papers each year. Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "Digital archives such as PubMed Central add enormous value to research. Everyone, everywhere will be able to read the results of the research that we fund. PubMed Central provides a link from research to other papers and sources of data, and greatly improves the power and efficiency of research. Digital archives are only as good as the information stored in them. That's why we feel it's important to encourage our researchers along this path - one I hope others will follow." '

PS: Kudos to the Wellcome Trust. It's the world's largest research funder, public or private, willing to mandate OA to the results of the research it funds. The reasons it has given for this policy apply to all funders of non-classified research. I hope its leadership will help funding agencies worldwide to recognize their interest in using open access to increase the visibility, utility, and impact of their research."

Source: Peter Suber. Wellcome Trust mandates OA. OA News (19 May 2005) [FullText]

May 26, 2005

UK Science Funding Body May 2005 Statement on Open access and Research Publishing

"The Wellcome Trust and a number of major funders of life sciences in the UK ( the MRC, BBSRC, Arthritis Research Campaign, British Heart Foundation and JISC ) are exploring the feasibility of establishing a UK PubMed Central. Organisations are invited to express interest in establishing and running the PubMed Central in the UK by 10 June 2005. In a recent press release we propose that when Wellcome Trust grantees have their work accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, they will have to submit an electronic copy of the paper into PubMed Central (PMC) or UK PubMed Central (UKPMC). Their work will then be made freely available to the public, via the web, within six months of the official date of final publication. Also, the Trust will provide grantees with additional funding to cover the costs of page processing charges levied by open access publishers, such as the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central. There will also be additional funding to cover the cost of converting files into the format required to put a paper in PubMed Central. These initiatives were set out in a letter to all UK university vice-chancellors [PDF] on 1 November 2004 and a question and answer [PDF] sheet provides more information.

Background: The Wellcome Trust is actively promoting the "open access" model of science publishing, to help ensure that scientific research findings are shared as widely and as rapidly as possible. The findings of medical research are typically communicated through specialist publications. Journal publishers arrange for articles to be checked by experts in the field ( "peer review" ), then publish papers in print and on the web. To access the papers, other scientists need to take out a subscription to the journal or pay a fee to access an individual article. The major drawbacks of this system are that subscriptions can be very expensive and represent an obstacle to the timely sharing of information through the scientific community and more broadly. An alternative approach is "open access". All articles are freely available on the web, either by being deposited in an open access repository or by being published in an open access journal with income being derived from contributors, who would pay to have articles published, rather than subscribers. Overall, we believe these approaches are beneficial for medical research: quality can still be preserved through peer review and the overall costs of publishing could well be cheaper. We have commissioned two reports examining the pros and cons of open access, and its potential financial implications. We have also developed a position statement which formally sets out our views. An article which first appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement summarises the key issues and a subsequent article which first appeared in PLoS Biology discusses the arguments in favour of establishing a UK PMC."

Source: Open access and research publishing Latest developments May 2005. The Wellcome Trust Web Site (last viewed 25 May 2005) [FullText]

See also: Wellcome Trust response to NIH "Enhanced Public Access Policy" Costs and Business Models in Scientific Research Publishing An Economic Analysis of Scientific Research Publishing

May 25, 2005

Open Access Talks at Drexel University

"The Drexel University Libraries Spring 2005 Scholarly Communication Speaker Series includes three talks on OA: (1) Thomas Krichel, Scholarly Publishing and Open Access: Players and Payer, March 3, 2005; (2) Kristin Antelman, Does Open Access Increase Authors' Citation Rates?, April 28, 2005; and (3) Mary Jackson, Authors' "Copy Rights" and Open Access Publishing, May 19, 2005."

Source: Peter Suber. OA talks at Drexel. OA News (18 May 2005) [FullText]

May 24, 2005

Japanese Portal on Open Access

"Two research projects funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science have launched Open Access Japan, a portal on OA for Japanese scholars, librarians, and publishers. From the About page, which is in English: 'Open Access Japan... has been launched with a view to facilitating the information and communication among researchers, librarians and publishers in Japanese concerning issues on Open Access as one of the currently most heavily discussed topics in scholarly communication... Problems for contemporary scholarly communication are to be attributed to trends in funding scientific research in the late 20th century and to rapidly growing digital and networked communication in general towards the end of the century, so that the issues which were believed to concern publishers and librarians alone are now beginning to involve all researchers, and then all citizens. Given such recognition, the two research groups are of the same opinion that the number of people who share appropriate information and correct knowledge of the situations must be essentially increased for the sake of the future of scholarly communication in Japan, and have decided to help provide for a medium of this type which is available beyond conventional media for research communication. They also hope that interested parties information through this site will take a further step to get directly involved in discussions currently developing worldwide.' (Thanks to Mine Shinji.)"

Source: Peter Suber. Japanese portal on OA. OA News (18 May 2005) [FullText]

May 23, 2005

India's New Open Access Archive for Medicine

"India's National Informatics Centre has launched a beta version of OpenMED@NIC. From the web site: 'OpenMED is an open access archive for Medical and Allied Sciences. Here authors / owners can self-archive their scientific and technical documents. For this they need to register once in order to obtain a user id in OpenMED system. However no registration is required for searching the archive or viewing the documents. OpenMED is a discipline based International Archive. It accepts both published and unpublished documents having relevance to research in Medical and Allied Sciences including Bio-Medical, Medical Informatics, Dental, Nursing and Pharmaceutical Sciences. These could be preprints (pre-refereed journal paper), postprints (refereed journal paper), conference papers, conference posters, presentations, technical reports/departmental working papers and theses. In case of non-English documents, descriptive data [Author, Title, Source etc.], abstract and keywords must be in English. Submitted documents will be placed into the submission buffer and would become part of OpenMED archive on their acceptance. The aim of OpenMED is to provide free service to academics, researchers, and students working in the area of Medical and Allied Sciences. We expect it to promote self-archiving and open access to papers / scholarly publications in these fields.' For more information, see the About page."

Source: Peter Suber. India's new OA archive for medicine. OA News (18 May 2005) [FullText]

May 22, 2005

Free Online US Government Weather-Radar Data

"Dibya Sarkar, NOAA offers access to new radar data, Federal Computer Week, May 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has developed Java-based software that allows public- and private-sector organizations to better browse and view radar data archived at the agency's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) Web site. Federal agencies, scientific and academic communities, and possibly emergency management officials will be able to use the interactive viewer and data exporter applications to quickly analyze more information from the Next Generation Weather Radar (Nexrad) system. Some information will be available in real time. For example, users can overlay Nexrad data with Census Bureau data to analyze who and what was affected by a hurricane... Jointly administered by the National Weather Service (NWS), Air Force Weather Agency and Federal Aviation Administration, Nexrad comprises about 159 Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler sites nationwide and overseas. Officials store data from the Doppler sites at NCDC and make it available to users for free.' (Thanks to Patrice McDermott.)"

Source: Peter Suber. Free online US govt weather-radar data. OA News (17 May 2005) [FullText]

May 21, 2005

American Chemical Society Unduly Retards NIH PubChem Development

"Patrice McDermott of the ALA Washington office has written an excellent overview of the controversy between the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) and the NIH's PubChem. Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society is calling on Congress to shut down the NIH's PubChem, a freely accessible database on small organic molecules. PubChem is an important component of NIH's Molecular Libraries Initiative, which is a key element of the NIH "road map" for medical research. ACS claims that PubChem competes with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In reality, PubChem and the Chemical Abstracts Service databases are complementary, not duplicative... A bedrock NIH principle is that medical research information developed with public funds must be made freely and publicly available for the good of advancing medical research to cure disease... PubChem provides free access to its database; CAS charges a fee for researchers to use its database. ACS has demanded that NIH shut down PubChem or substantially alter it so as not to compete with CAS... NIH staff analysis shows that PubChem and CAS overlap relatively little in terms of content. PubChem and CAS differ widely in scope and resources.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on the CAS attempt to shut down PubChem. OA News (17 May 2005) [FullText]

"The American Chemical Society released a public statement and FAQ (May 18, 2005) on its complaint that the US government should not provide OA to chemical data through PubChem. Excerpt: 'As things stand, in PubChem, NIH has created a mini-replica of the CAS registry, and a replica poised to expand. That replica will, over time, post an insurmountable threat to CAS' survival for the very reason that it is a taxpayer-supported service. The fact that the data collected into PubChem is "public domain" is completely irrelevant. Assembling information and publishing it in a variety of forms is what the private sector does. We believe that taxpayers should not fund the entry of NIH into the information industry more broadly than is necessary to disseminate the information whose creation it funds.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on CAS v. PubChem. OA News (19 May 2005) [FullText]

May 20, 2005

Case Western Reserve Resolution on Open Access

"On April 25, 2005, the Case Western Reserve Faculty Senate Library Committee submitted a report on open access to the Faculty Senate. The report includes a proposed resolution on OA. Excerpt from the resolution: '[T]he Faculty Senate urges the University and its members to [1] Support Open Access publishing in their educational, research, editorial, and administrative roles by encouraging their professional societies to move toward Open Access publishing, aiding in forming and providing editorial assistance to peer-reviewed Open Access journals, and favoring such journals when submitting their own research; [2] Encourage the University's libraries to reallocate resources away from high-priced publishers; [3] Support the consideration of peer-reviewed Open Access material during the promotion and tenure process; [4] Post their work prior to publication in an open digital archive and seek to retain particular copyright rights enabling them to post their published work in a timely fashion and provide institutional support to those seeking to do so; and [5] Establish infrastructure to sustain digital Open Access publication.' ...A stand-alone version of the adopted text is now online."

Source: Peter Suber. Case Western Reserve Resolution on Open Access . OA News (17 May 2005) [FullText]

May 19, 2005

Dutch Cream of Science, A new Open Access Initiative

"Richard Poynder, Cream of Science, Open and Shut, May 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'A new Open Access initiative was launched at a meeting in Amsterdam last week. The brainchild of the Dutch national organisation on Open Access (SURF), the "Cream of Science" (Keur der Wetenschap) web site was created to "shop window" the work of the top ten scientists at Dutch universities. While all universities in the Netherlands now have an institutional repository in which their researchers can deposit their papers, the aim of the new web site is to give self-archiving a boost. That objective is clearly being met: all the scientists invited agreed to take part, and with the number of papers per author posted ranging from 3 to around 1,200, a total of 25,000 papers have already been archived. Where the papers were still only available in print form they have been scanned into an electronic format... Indeed, the initiative has been greeted with such enthusiasm that other authors at Dutch research institutions are demanding that their work also be included. So great was demand, in fact, that the web site rapidly became overloaded, and there is now a waiting list of 200 Dutch scientists clamouring to have their work showcased in this way.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on the Dutch Cream of Science. OA News (16 May 2005) [FullText] [Report 2]

May 18, 2005

Science Commons Supports Self-Archiving

"Science Commons has launched a page on author self-archiving. Excerpt: 'We're focused a lot on open access to the scientific literature. And since we're copyright folks at Creative Commons, a lot of our work looks at standard licensing and approaches dealing with copyright. But we've pulled together a series of links on self-archiving, and I strongly encourage everyone to take a look. This is a small subset of available information but it's a good place to start exploring. In short...if you publish papers and have the right to make an archive copy, you should be using that right! It's easy and quick to self-archive using these resources. And as the research we link makes extremely clear, getting your work online dramatically increases the impact of your work.'"

Source: Peter Suber. Science Commons supports self-archiving. OA News (17 May 2005) [FullText]

May 17, 2005

Society Publishers Fool Their Members, Fake Out The Terms Of NIH Plan on Open Access

Excerpt: "'An initiative of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to make the results of publicly funded research freely accessible to the public has triggered a backlash... The American Society of Hematology and the American Association for Cancer Research sent statements to members emphasising, "The NIH policy is a request; it is NOT a requirement." In an editorial in Blood James George, president of the American Society of Hematology, wrote, "Because NIH does not own the intellectual property of its grantees, it cannot enforce compliance." Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate, former director of the NIH, and board member of the free access Public Library of Science, agreed that there were problems with the NIH policy. "The NIH policy is an imperfect policy and should have been stated in a stronger fashion. Researchers should be expected, not just encouraged, to do this," he said. "I applaud the NIH for taking some positive steps, but I'm not sure it's going to work if societies react this way. Most scientists are oblivious to or fearful of their rights as authors. If they think cooperating with the NIH policy causes any extra grief or difficulty with the journal they won't do it."

Source: Jeanne Lenzer. Medical societies react against public access to findings. British Medical Journal (14 May 2005) [FullText][OANews Record];Also see:NIH Manual for PMC authors. NIH Web Site (last viewed 26 May 2005) [FullText]

May 16, 2005

Cornell University Faculty Senate Resolution on Open Access

"On May 11, the Cornell University Faculty Senate adopted a Resolution Concerning Scholarly Publishing. Excerpt: 'The Senate strongly urges tenured faculty to cease supporting publishers who engage in exorbitant pricing, by not submitting papers to, or refereeing for, the journals sold by those publishers, and by resigning from their editorial boards if more reasonable pricing policies are not forthcoming....The Senate strongly encourages all faculty, and especially tenured faculty, to consider publishing in open access, rather than restricted access, journals or in reasonably priced journals that make their contents openly accessible shortly after publication. The Senate strongly urges all faculty to negotiate with the journals in which they publish either to retain copyright rights and transfer only the right of first print and electronic publication, or to retain at a minimum the right of postprint archiving. The Senate strongly urges all faculty to deposit preprint or postprint copies of articles in an open access repository such as the Cornell University DSpace Repository or discipline-specific repositories such as' (PS: Also see Cornell's resolution from December 17, 2003.)"

Source: Peter Suber. Cornell faculty senate resolution on open access. OA News (14 May 2005) [FullText]

May 15, 2005

American Medical Students Endorse Open Access

"The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) adopted wide-ranging policy statement on Wednesday. Here's the very brief section on OA: 'Open Access Publishing: AMSA supports the creation of a centralized and comprehensive national registry of all publicly and privately funded clinical trials involving drugs, biological products or devices regardless of the outcome of the trial. AMSA supports the Public Library of Science as a model of open access publishing.'"

Source: Peter Suber. American medical students endorse OA. OA News (14 May 2005) [FullText]

May 14, 2005

UK PubMed Central Proposed

"A group of British science bodies said today (May 12) they were seeking proposals from organizations interested in running a new free-access archive of papers arising from research they have funded...."We want to make this happen, and it's a matter of thinking how we make it happen in practical terms," a spokesman for the Wellcome Trust told The Scientist. A briefing document outlining the requirements for interested parties is available on the Wellcome Trust's Web site. Tony Peatfield, head of policy at the MRC [Medical Research Council], said that while the MRC was very supportive of the project, the cost of the exercise may be of concern. "At present we don't know what the costs would be or how they would be met," he told The Scientist....Research Councils UK, an umbrella group for Britain's eight science and technology funding councils, is currently formulating its own policy on open access. A spokesman said the plan was currently being consulted on by universities and would be made public "in weeks rather than days, but not months." A person familiar with the content of the policy as it currently stands told The Scientist that it requires investigators to archive their papers in repositories where they exist, but not the creation of repositories."

Source: Stephen Pincock. UK PubMed Central proposed. The Scientist (12 May 2005) [FullText].

May 13, 2005

Monopolies Employ Bad Practices in Scholarly Publishing

"Lee C. Van Orsdel, Antitrust issues in scholarly and legal publishing, C&RL News, May 2005. Summary of the symposium, Antitrust Issues in Scholarly and Legal Publishing (Washington, D.C., February 11, 2005). Excerpt: 'Ted Bergstrom is professor of Economics at the University of California-Santa Barbara....His data supported his theme - that nonprofit publishers produce most of the citations, while the for-profit publishers collect most of the money. Bergstrom identified three pricing strategies that resulted from the emergence of electronic journals: price discrimination by the size of the university, bundling of content with all-or-nothing pricing, and consortium pricing. He believes that the author-pays open-access model is more competitive than the consumer-pays model because he believes that authors will shop around for the best price... Central to the day's discussions was the contribution of publisher mergers to industry dysfunction. Mary Case, university librarian at the University of Illinois-Chicago, charted recent publisher mergers... Too often the divestiture drives titles right into the stables of other high-priced publishers, exacerbating the problem rather than mitigating it. Case presented data that ties mergers to accelerated journal price increases - a cause and effect relationship that is crystal clear to librarians... James Neal, vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia University, spoke to the economic behavior of libraries, strained on all fronts by the shift from print to electronic, from set prices to negotiated prices, from purchasing content to purchasing both content and database management software, from local collection development to collection development by consortia or by publisher-defined bundles. He observed that librarians have a hard time walking away from the negotiating table even when the deals aren't reasonable... Mark McCabe, professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and former DOJ economist, has done substantial research on the buying patterns of libraries... He finds a clear correlation between mergers and journal price increases in excess of already high rates of inflation... Rick Johnson, director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), discussed the role of open-access publishing as a legitimate market remedy that promises to reduce the pricing power of publishers, remove unnecessary barriers to access, and introduce efficiencies by unbundling the functions associated with scholarly publishing.'"

Source: Peter Suber. Monopoly practices in scholarly publishing. OA News (11 May 2005) [FullText]

May 12, 2005

Article on How Open Access Will Affect Libraries

"Kathlin Smith, Preparing for Universal Access, CLIR Issues, May/June 2005. Summarizing the presentations from the CLIR symposium, Transforming Libraries (Washington, D.C., April 18, 2005). Excerpt: 'The Google announcement was much like a Rorschach test for the library community," observed CLIR Program Director Abby Smith as she introduced the day's first panel... The [Google] project deals head-on with the grand challenge to digital access-copyright- by including many works not in the public domain. "The questions [about digitizing copyrighted material] have changed from whether to when, and from how to what effect," [University of Michigan provost Paul Courant] said. This is an important development. "The current IP [intellectual property] framework is inimical to scholarship. Many people have become more concerned with protecting IP than conveying what they know. Access will drive progress on IP and the orphaned-work problem. We must create general demand to make change," he emphasized... "In the future, information will all be available in digital form - it will not cost too much, will be used by more people, and will be enriched through better display, context, and integration," said Stephen Rhind-Tutt, chief executive officer of Alexander Street Press. The Google deal, he said, promises to deliver to end users 30 times the content currently delivered by EEBO [Early English Books Online], ECO [Eighteenth Century Online], Evans, Shaw-Shoemaker, and similar initiatives, and it will do so at no charge. The question is not whether "a colossal amount of information will become available...but how we are going to react."...Meeting the growing demand for digital content - in particular, data sets and serials-- is expensive and has caused budgets for information resources to increase more rapidly than overall university budgets have, said David Shulenburger, provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas. This situation, he said, is unsustainable. Meanwhile, storing digital scholarship that faculty produce will require that institutions invest in digital repositories (a cost that can be reduced by collaborating with other institutions). Such archives may include work never intended for publication or early drafts of published work. Shulenburger predicts that authors will increasingly cite from the archived source, rather than the primary source, because archived material is free and easily available. Thus, published work will cite more material that has less-than-full authority behind it. "To alter the forces that lead to this vision of the future, we must accept two notions - first, that scholarship is a public good; second, that refereeing must be preserved," Shulenburger said.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on how OA will affect libraries. OA News (11 May 2005) [FullText]

May 11, 2005

Google Scholar to Integrate with College and University Libraries

"Jeffrey Young, More Than 100 Colleges Work With Google to Speed Campus Users to Library Resources, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'More than 100 colleges and universities have made arrangements with Google that will give people using the Google Scholar search engine on their campuses more direct access to library materials there. The arrangements essentially let Google know which online databases the colleges subscribe to, as well as what's in their library catalogs, so that Google Scholar can point users to those campus resources. This means that, at participating colleges, a Google Scholar search result now includes direct links to online copies of works if the institution has purchased online access to them. The results also include data on printed works in a library's collection. When a user searches for a journal article and the library has an online subscription to the journal, for instance, a link leads to the online article. If the institution does not have an online subscription but holds a copy on the shelf, Google Scholar points users to the item's location in the library. Users who are not on participating campuses usually see a link to a journal publisher's Web site rather than to an article's full text. "This is one of the things that libraries have wanted all along," Anurag Acharya, an engineer at Google, said in an interview. "The advantage is fairly substantial." Mr. Acharya stressed that the company is offering the service free and that it hopes to work with more colleges. Details about the effort are available on Google's Web site. "Our goal is to make it really easy for all libraries to participate," he added. What does Google get in return? "More happy users, which is what we look for almost always," Mr. Acharya said. "Usage is what drives everything else around here." ' [ Update. Gary Price has abundant additional detail on ResourceShelf.]"

Source: Peter Suber. More on context-sensitive links from Google Scholar. OA News (11 May 2005) [FullText]

May 09, 2005

PubMed To Offer Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

"PubMed will offer RSS feeds From the May 6 issue of NLM Technical Bulletin: 'PubMed will soon offer RSS 2.0 (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. RSS is a Web standard for the delivery of news and other frequently updated content provided by Web sites... You can set up multiple PubMed searches for RSS feeds. PubMed RSS feeds will include citations retrieved by your PubMed searches since the last time you were connected to your RSS reader.'"

Source: Peter Suber. PubMed will offer RSS feeds. OA News (9 May 2005) [FullText]

May 08, 2005

Pure Alchemy: American Chemical Society (ACS) Complains Against OA PubChem

Jocelyn Kaiser, Chemists want NIH to curtail database, Science Magazine, May 6, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society (ACS) wants the U.S. government to shut down a free database that it says duplicates the society's fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). Government officials defend the site, called PubChem, saying the two serve different purposes and will complement, rather than compete with, each other. But ACS officials are hoping to convince Congress to stop PubChem unless the government scales it back... So far, PubChem includes information on 650,000 compounds, such as structures and biological assays, as well as links to PubMed, NIH's free biomedical abstracts database. It will grow to include data from the Molecular Libraries centers, which aim to screen thousands of molecules for biological activity. NIH expects basic researchers to use PubChem to identify chemicals they can use to explore how genes and cells work....But ACS claims PubChem goes far beyond a chemical probes database. It is, ACS says, a smaller version of CAS, which employs more than 1200 people in Columbus, Ohio, and makes a significant contribution to the society's $317 million in annual revenue from publications. Institutional subscribers receive data on 25 million chemicals, including summaries written by CAS experts and links to chemistry journal abstracts... Claiming that PubChem could wipe out CAS, Jacobs argues that NIH should abide by its stated mission of storing only data from the Molecular Libraries Initiative and other NIH-funded research... NIH officials counter that PubChem indexes a set of biomedical journals that overlaps only slightly with those CAS indexes and, unlike CAS, does not provide curated information on patents or reactions. "They have a vast amount of information that PubChem would never dream of including," says Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. PubChem's focus on biological information such as protein structures and toxicology is complementary, he says. NIH has offered to link entries in PubChem to CAS, but ACS says that wouldn't help.'

Source: Peter Suber. More on the ACS complaint against PubChem. OA News (7 May 2005) [FullText]

May 07, 2005

US University Library Becomes a Digital Publisher

"Library's high-tech step into scholarly publishing, a press release from California State University at Sacremento, May 4, 2005.

Excerpt: 'Sacramento State's University Library is about to enter the business of scholarly publishing. But rather than create books to fill library shelves, this press will publish "digitally" via the World Wide Web, a faster, more cost-effective way to disseminate academic resources to a worldwide audience. The press is the first of its kind within the CSU system....[O]ne of the press's first projects will be to publish selections from the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection, an archive of rare Greek documents and artifacts that was donated to the Library by Sacramento developer and philanthropist Angelo Tsakopoulos....The collection represents the kinds of challenges the press was established to meet. Its documents and artifacts are significant to the comparatively small community of Hellenic scholars located throughout the world, a niche audience that doesn't always draw the attention of commercial scholarly publishers. Freed from the physical and economic constraints of printing on paper, the press can make more of the collection available to scholars, while enabling them to search, download, e-mail and link to virtually any part of it --simple to do on a computer but much more difficult when information is only available in print....[University Library Dean Terry Webb] believes the press represents a step toward the transformation of libraries from information middlemen to information providers. "Libraries are very well-equipped to get into digital publishing, given librarians' familiarity with content and knowledge of digital equipment," Webb explains. "For our digital press, we plan to develop editorial boards to help us determine what publications would be good to produce and point us to worthwhile materials. We're not subject experts or editors, but we know how to organize information and we know important information when we see it. We can capitalize on that."' (PS: I can't tell whether the CSU digital press productions will be free of charge or merely affordable.)"

Source: Peter Suber. Another university library becomes a digital publisher. OA News (7 May 2005) [FullText]

May 06, 2005

Google Scholar Reviewed

"Martin Myhill, Review of Google Scholar, Charleston Advisor, accepted in December 2004, published in April 2005. Excerpt: 'Google Scholar has tried to grapple with [the deep or invisible web] in a number of intelligent ways. First, it draws on some of the latest scholarly, open access publishing especially from a number of quality resources now available on the Web such as those offered by BioMed Central. Open Access is a growing and undoubtedly significant arena as academics seek to find alternative means of publishing in an increasingly cost-driven sector. But Scholar has yet to be able to draw from much of the material available in the Open Archives Initiative (particularly in local repositories), often because of limitations in the original metadata provided by the originators or because Google has not been made aware of the content. As institutional repositories proliferate around the world, searching and linking these repositories could be a very laudable use for Google Scholar, particularly as this is an aspect most traditional academic information systems will find hard to grapple with for the time being. Second, content from a major access provider to electronic journal articles, Ingenta, is included (the default being pay-per-view access at article level if other authentication means fail, which sometimes happens erroneously, although that is not the fault of Scholar). [It will also crawl other priced content.]... Third, Google has recently added a "Scholar Preferences" option. Although offering just a small number of institutions as of the date of this review, this pilot development seeks to provide access to the electronic resources available to members of various institutions. It uses local authentication systems and OpenURL linking and is clearly added-value to the institutions involved.'"

Source: Peter Suber. Review of Google Scholar . OA News (4 May 2005) [FullText]

May 05, 2005

A Primer for Israel Science Foundation Comes from Germany

"In March, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or DFG) released a position paper on electronic publishing. The paper endorses OA and the Berlin Declaration, which the DFG helped to formulate and has already signed. (PS: If anyone can produce an English summary, I'll gladly quote or link to it.)"

"Richard Sietmann, Wissenschaftler fordert: Open Access gehuins Urheberrecht, Heise Online, May 12, 2005. On a proposal by Gerd Hansen of the Max Planck Institute that researchers with publicly-funded research grants should retain the right to self-archive any resulting journal articles within six months of publication."

Source: Peter Suber. DFG position paper on electronic publishing and OA. OA News (4 May 2005) [FullText]; Peter Suber. A proposal for German copyright reform to favor OA. OA News (12 May 2005) [FullText]

May 04, 2005

Former NIH Director lecture on Open Access and the Agency Public Access Plan

"Science, Government, and the Public Interest, the William D. Carey lecture delivered at the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy (Washington, D.C., April 21-22) [by Harold Varmus, former NIH director and PLoS co-founder]. Excerpt: 'This dream of freely accessible public knowledge has been around for a long time, long before the digital age. In 1836, the head of the British Library said: "I want a poor student to have the same means of indulging his learned curiosity, of following his rational pursuits, of consulting the same authorities, of fathoming the most intricate inquiry as the richest man in the kingdom... " We now have the technical tools to make this vision a reality. The advantages to scientists, to students, and to the growing number of interested citizens everywhere in the world are obvious. What stands in the way? First, concerns about how we will pay the costs of open access publishing. But these costs will inevitably be less overall than the escalating and increasingly unaffordable costs of the traditional, subscription-based, restrictive model of publishing that we currently use. And government is already covering most of those costs in the US, through grants that pay for laboratory subscriptions, for page and color charges, and, through indirect payments, for libraries. Second, concerns about the fate of scientific societies that support other worthwhile activities with revenues from their journals. There is no doubt that some societies, those dependent on such revenues, will have to adjust their business plans and obtain more revenue from membership fees, meetings, and other services. The first objective of any scientific society, just like any union or guild, should be to optimize the working conditions for its scientists; surely making the scientific record freely accessible and more usable should be the paramount consideration. Third, concerns about the survival of revered and expensive-to-produce journals like Science and Nature. But the open access movement is addressed to primary research reports, not to the costly, entertaining, and important "front matter" of these journals - the news, editorials, obituaries, gossip, book reviews, and mini-reviews... The government also has a role to play here. Publication should be viewed as part of the cost of doing research (in most fields it is also a very small part of the cost, less than 1%); the government should expect to pay publication costs, even when they are shifted from reader to author, just as they do now; and rapid open dissemination will augment the value of the research by promoting its use as a public good. A firm statement of those principles, including an expectation that science supported by public money will be publicly available, will help cement the resolve of scientists, who know that open access publication should and will happen, to make it happen soon.'"

Source: Peter Suber. Harold Varmus on OA. OA News (4 May 2005) [FullText]

May 03, 2005

Berkeley University Faculty Senate Resolution on Open Access

"In March, the University of California at Berkeley Faculty Senate adopted a Scholarly Publishing Statement of Principles (see FullText .PDF). Excerpt: 'Retaining control of one's scholarly output will allow Berkeley faculty greater freedom to disseminate their work, therefore increasing others' use of it and maximizing the impact of their scholarship....All those involved in the process of academic review will not discriminate against alternative venues for scholarly communication....The Academic Senate and the campus administration will provide appropriate incentives and tools for faculty to establish alternative scholarly outlets, serve on and lead relevant editorial boards, and submit their scholarly work to such ventures....The faculty and administration of the University of California, Berkeley will support the Library's efforts to curtail unsustainable pricing structures even if this sometimes means losing access to titles.'

Source: Peter Suber. Berkeley Faculty Senate resolution . OA News (2 May 2005) [FullText]

May 02, 2005

Alliance for Taxpayer Access Talks on NIH Public-Access Policy

"The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a press release on the official launch of the NIH public-access policy --which took place today. Excerpt: 'The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), a coalition that supports making taxpayer funded research accessible to the public, called today's rollout of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) "Public Access Policy" a positive step but voiced concern that the voluntary nature and discretionary timeframe of the policy may work against achieving the ends sought by NIH and Congress. "The NIH policy establishes an important precedent," said Sharon Terry, CEO of the Genetic Alliance and an ATA spokesperson. "Not only does it recognize the taxpayers' right of access to publicly funded research, it also acknowledges that if research is readily available it will be used by millions to solve problems. That means an enhanced return on our investment in NIH."...On Friday (April 29) NIH issued a notice containing details on implementation of the policy. It restates NIH's expectation that "only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the longest delay period." In anticipation of the NIH policy, several journal publishers have announced policy changes that some observers believe thwart NIH's objectives. "It's disappointing to see journals announce their policies for NIH-funded authors," said Peter Suber, who is open-access project director for Public Knowledge and writes the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. "In each such case so far, journals are resisting the NIH request for public access 'as soon as possible' after publication and demanding embargoes of six or 12 months. This will slow down medical research and violate the NIH's own criteria for the policy."..."Although we believe NIH should and could have been more vigorous in advancing these laudable goals," said Rick Johnson, executive director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and a founder of the ATA, "we will be the first to offer our congratulations if the vast majority of NIH-funded research becomes available to all potential users in PubMed Central soon after publication. But if participation is weak or access is delayed too long, as will soon be evident, NIH must act to strengthen the policy and achieve its goals." '"

Source: Peter Suber. ATA on the launch of the NIH policy. OA News (2 May 2005) [FullText]