Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls

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

March 29, 2006

ACRL/ARL Institute on Scholarly Communication

ACRL seeks applicants for the first Scholarly Communication Institute, co-sponsored with the Association for Research Libraries, to be held in Los Angeles, July 12-14, 2006. The deadline for application is March 1, 2006. Acceptance to the Scholarly Communication program is limited to 100 individuals, and selection is on a competitive basis. Read details about the program as well as the online application form and instructions. FAQ

Participants will work with experts in the field to understand how to better engage faculty at their institution around the crisis in the systems of scholarly communication. You will also learn about the emergence of new models for scholarly communication as well as strategies for creating systemic change. These will include:

* Faculty activism (e.g. editorial board control, author rights, copyright management, and self-archiving)
* New publishing models
* Digital repositories
* Legislative and policy advocacy

Institute planners are committed to creating an experience that allows people with varied expertise to explore scholarly communications issues together. The goal is to have the cohort represent a wide range of professional backgrounds, types and sizes of institutions, and roles within the institutions. Examples of institutional roles include:

* Librarians who work directly with faculty members on campus
* Library administrators
* College and university faculty and administrators
* Those responsible for Digital Repositories
* Librarians with collection development responsibilities.

Source: Open Access News Blog (12 Feb 2006) [FullText]

March 13, 2006

Google Scholar as a Science Citation Index of Tomorrow

Alireza Noruzi, Google Scholar : the new generation of citation indexes, LIBRI 55, 4 (2005) pp. 170-180. Self-archived February 11, 2006:

Abstract: Google Scholar provides a new method of locating potentially relevant articles on a given subject by identifying subsequent articles that cite a previously published article. An important feature of Google Scholar is that researchers can use it to trace interconnections among authors citing articles on the same topic and to determine the frequency with which others cite a specific article, as it has a "cited by" feature. This study begins with an overview of how to use Google Scholar for citation analysis and identifies advanced search techniques not well documented by Google Scholar. This study also compares the citation counts provided by Web of Science and Google Scholar for articles in the field of "Webometrics." It makes several suggestions for improving Google Scholar. Finally, it concludes that Google Scholar provides a free alternative or complement to other citation indexes (Thanks to Peter Suber and Open Access News Blog).

March 12, 2006

Maintaining Institutional Repositories is a Key Part of the Future Role of Research Libraries

Richard Ackerman, Is the research library obsolete? Science Library Pad, February 12, 2006. Excerpt (OA News Blog, 13 Feb 2006):

Research libraries on the other hand, don't play any of [the] roles [played by public libraries or undergrad-focused academic libraries]. There is no public to serve. There is no community meeting place role. There are no confused or desperate undergrads to help. So shouldn't a research library just [1] digitize and index all of its current (out of copyright) paper holdings, and then send the paper into storage in some climate-controlled cave somewhere, [2] provide good licensed access to the necessary publisher websites for its researchers, [3] close down[?]

Does anyone disagree that the traditional role of a research library, that of providing local convenient access to scientific publications, is erased by the presence of publisher websites on the Internet? That being the case, what value is left for research libraries to add? Researchers don't need (or want) the guidance or handholding that undergrads require. Is there anything left for the research library other than inventing new roles for itself? I can only see three roles that make sense: [1] institutional repository for pre-prints and post-prints of the research organization's publications, [2] data repository for the research conducted at the organization, [3] providing advanced (data/publication/information/discovery/etc.) tools that integrate into the researcher's workflow... To put it more concisely, either your research library becomes part of the E-Science Cyberinfrastructure, or it gets paved over.

March 11, 2006

On the Scholar Journals Pricing Crisis: When Israel Libraries will Talk about it?

Mallory Bowman and Chris Brown, Libraries face debt: Journal subscriptions may be in jeopardy, Louisville Cardinal Online, February 14, 2006. Excerpt by Peter Suber OA News Blog:

"University of Louisville students may soon lose access to a number of scholarly journals provided through the library system if funds cannot soon be obtained. Rising costs of subscriptions for both hard copies and electronic versions of scholarly journals and research databases have created budget woes for the library, which is now $500,000 - $600,000 behind in subscription payments, said U of L Dean of Libraries Hannelore Rader. While no subscriptions to scholarly journals have been permanently deactivated, if funds are not identified soon, cuts will have to be made, she said... “This year we thought, ‘Oh my God, can we get any more money?’” she said. “In order to pay for these in years to come, our base budget needs at least another million dollars.”... John Drees, director of U of L’s Office of Communication and Marketing, said the university is underfunded by $52 million compared to its average benchmark institutions....[Rader] said part of the problem is that she knows the exact cost of a subscription only when a bill hits her desk. “We really have no idea how much these journals are going to cost us from year to year,” she said. “Inflation for these journals is usually 10 to 20 percent every year, and we don’t know how much they are going to cost us until we get the invoices.”...Rader said the library’s materials budget was $7 million for the 2005-2006 fiscal year, and that the budget this year wouldn’t cover all the subscriptions that the library holds. She explained that large databases, especially those based outside of the United States, have a monopoly on many of the scholarly journals...

Mary Beth Thomson, associate dean for Collections and Technical Services at University of Kentucky Libraries, said her school’s libraries are facing the same situation. “This is a problem that’s not unique to U of L or UK. It’s not unique to the state of Kentucky. It’s a nationwide problem,” Thomson said. “The fact is that the cost of scholarly communication is increasing, and our budgets cannot keep up.”...Rader said the U of L and UK are working together to ensure that at least one of institutions has access to certain journals. “We’re trying to do something, [like] keeping one copy in the state,” she said. Students and faculty will have limited access to journal articles provided through interlibrary loan, however, since Rader says copyright laws strictly limit the number of articles that can be shared between schools."

March 10, 2006

Study Reports Free Access to Journal Increases Submission Number

Sara Schroter, Importance of free access to research articles on decision to submit to the BMJ: a survey of authors, BMJ, February 14, 2006. NB: "This is version 2 of the paper. In this version we have clarified the role of the BMJ in publishing studies carried out by its staff."

Abstract: Objectives. To determine whether free access to research articles on is an important factor in authors’ decisions on whether to submit to the BMJ, whether the introduction of access controls to part of the BMJ’s content has influenced authors’ perceptions of the journal, and whether the introduction of further access controls would influence authors’ perceptions.

Design: Cross sectional electronic survey.

Participants: Authors of research articles published in the BMJ.

Results: 211/415 (51%) eligible authors responded. Three quarters (159/211) said the fact that all readers would have free access to their paper on was very important or important to their decision to submit to BMJ. Over half (111/211) said closure of free access to research articles would make them slightly less likely to submit research articles to the BMJ in the future, 14% (29/211) said they would be much less likely to submit, and 34% (71/211) said it would not influence their decision. Authors were equally divided in their opinion as to whether the closure of access to parts of the journal since January 2005 had affected their view of the BMJ; 40% (84/211) said it had, 38% (80/211) said it had not. In contrast, 67% (141/211) said their view of the BMJ would change if it closed access to research articles. Authors’ comments largely focused on disappointment with such a regressive step in the era of open access publishing, loss of a distinctive feature of the BMJ, a perceived reduction in the journal’s usefulness as a resource and global influence, restricted readership, less attractive to publish in, and the negative impact on the journal’s image.

Conclusions: Authors value free access to research articles and consider this an important factor in deciding whether to submit to the BMJ. Closing access to research articles would have a negative effect on authors’ perceptions of the journal and their likeliness to submit.

Version 1 of the paper was published on January 9 (blogged at OANews Blog on January 10), 2006.

Source: Peter Suber. More evidence that OA increases submissions. OANews Blog (14 February 2006) [FullText]

March 09, 2006

Is Code of conduct for Google and Yahoo in Authoritarian Regime Countries a Must?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has written an open letter to members of Congress proposing A Code of Conduct for Internet Companies in Authoritarian Regimes. The proposal wouldn't ban doing business in authoritarian regimes and probably wouldn't even ban the controversial practices by Yahoo and Google now making news. But it would ask companies to retain as little identifiable data on users as possible; to notify users when removing or hiding web sites; when forced to suppress information within a country, to make the same information available elsewhere; to document government censorship requests and the laws, if any, that require compliance; to keep these records even if they cannot be made public until after a regime change; to avoid "actively and knowingly providing services that facilitate censorship or repression"; and to offer users encryption and circumvention technologies. This is a very good start.

Source: Peter Suber. Code of conduct for ... Google and Yahoo in China. OA News Blog (15 February 2006) [FullText]

March 08, 2006

Israel Scholar Must Know: Tools to Find Online Journal Articles

Mary Ellen Bates, Finding Articles Online, Search Engine Watch, February 14, 2006. A review of some tools for finding OA and non-OA journal articles online, including Google Scholar, Scirus, PubMed, CiteSeer, SMEALsearch, and OAIster. At the end of her article she briefly mentions OA journals (Thanks to P.Suber Open Access News Blog).

March 07, 2006

SPARC Meetings: Authors and Authority: Perspectives on Negotiating Licenses and Copyright

Title: ALA Midwinter 2006: SPARC/ACRL Forum: Authors and Authority: Perspectives on Negotiating Licenses and Copyright

Time/Venue: Saturday, January 21, 2006, 4:00 - 6:00 PM, Hilton Palacio del Rio, Salon Del Rey (Central & South) San Antonio, Texas

Meeting Summary: Over 250 delegates to January's midwinter meeting joined us to hear insights from a publisher, an attorney, and a librarian into the ways that the traditional relationship between author and publisher is changing. David Hoole of Nature Publishing Group, Michael Carroll of Villanova University School of Law, and John Ober of California Digital Library shared views on how the copyright landscape has changed with the introduction of authors' addenda being attached to publisher agreements and the initiation of large-scale efforts like Creative Commons and Science Commons. SPARC's outgoing Steering Committee Chair Jim Neal was kind enough to moderate.

The presentations (by John Ober Director, Education and StrategyCalifornia Digital Library and David HooleHead of Brand Marketing and Content LicensingNature Publishing Group) are available in PDF format at the Meeting Web site at ALA.

March 06, 2006

"Peer Review is a Lottery", not an unbiased value, says Former BMJ Editor Richard Smith

"Despite a lack of evidence that peer review works, most scientists (by nature a skeptical lot) appear to believe in peer review. It's something that's held "absolutely sacred" in a field where people rarely accept anything with "blind faith," says Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ and now CEO of UnitedHealth Europe and board member of PLoS. "It's very unscientific, really."

What's wrong with the current system? What could make it better? Does it even work at all?
Indeed, an abundance of data from a range of journals suggests peer review does little to improve papers. In one 1998 experiment designed to test what peer review uncovers, researchers intentionally introduced eight errors into a research paper. More than 200 reviewers identified an average of only two errors. That same year, a paper in the Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that reviewers couldn't spot two-thirds of the major errors in a fake manuscript. In July 2005, an article in JAMA showed that among recent clinical research articles published in major journals, 16% of the reports showing an intervention was effective were contradicted by later findings, suggesting reviewers may have missed major flaws.

Some critics argue that peer review is inherently biased, because reviewers favor studies with statistically significant results. Research also suggests that statistical results published in many top journals aren't even correct, again highlighting what reviewers often miss. "There's a lot of evidence to (peer review's) downside," says Smith. "Even the very best journals have published rubbish they wish they'd never published at all. Peer review doesn't stop that." Moreover, peer review can also err in the other direction, passing on promising work: Some of the most highly cited papers were rejected by the first journals to see them.

The literature is also full of reports highlighting reviewers' potential limitations and biases. An abstract presented at the 2005 Peer Review Congress, held in Chicago in September, suggested that reviewers were less likely to reject a paper if it cited their work, although the trend was not statistically significant. Another paper at the same meeting showed that many journals lack policies on reviewer conflicts of interest; less than half of 91 biomedical journals say they have a policy at all, and only three percent say they publish conflict disclosures from peer reviewers. Still another study demonstrated that only 37% of reviewers agreed on the manuscripts that should be published. Peer review is a "lottery to some extent," says Smith."

Source: Alison McCook. Is peer review broken? The Scientist (February 2006) 20 (2), p.26 [FullText]

March 05, 2006

Open Access publishing costs less, which we can prove only by doing it

Jan Velterop, Rituals, The Parachute, February 22, 2006.

Excerpt and comment (below) by Peter Suber:

"Open access publishing, in addition to all the other benefits it has, also keeps the cost of scientific literature in line with research spending. This isn't, of course, proven yet, let alone scientifically. But how would one prove it without doing it in the first place? The proof of this pudding, I'm afraid, can only be in the eating, as the saying goes."

Comment: Exactly right. How do we respond to those who want the proof in advance? I'm thinking of those who want proof that OA publishing costs less before doing it, as well as those who want proof that high-volume OA archiving won't harm journals --at least outside physics, where we already have proof of both harmlessness and synergy. Part of the answer is that the subscription model, with annual price increases above inflation, could never have gotten off the ground if it had to provide proof prior to experience. (Nor could it justify its continued existence if it had to prove its continuing sustainability.) No innovation could get off the ground if it had to answer all skeptics in advance.

There's a nice generalization of this observation by Ronald Bailey in the February 17 issue of Reason, Culture of Fear: Dealing with cultural panic attacks.

Excerpt: "Earlier this week, the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, held a remarkably interesting conference titled "Panic Attack: The New Precautionary Culture, the Politics of Fear, and the Risks to Innovation."...[I]t looked at how many Western countries are losing their cultural nerve, as evidenced by the increasing cultural acceptance of the so-called precautionary principle. The strongest versions of the precautionary principle demand that innovators prove that their inventions will never cause harm before they are allowed to deploy or sell them. In other words, if an action might cause harm, then inaction is preferable. The problem is that all new activities, especially those involving scientific research and technological innovation, always carry some risks. Attempting to avoid all risk is a recipe for technological and economic stagnation."

March 04, 2006

Open Access archiving "takes patience, fortitude, and persistence", Caveat lector says to peers

Dorothea Salo, Throw your own spaghetti, Caveat Lector, February 27, 2006. Excerpt by Open Access News Blog:

Some guest librarians are coming in on Friday. They’re interested in institutional repositories, which means me. So I got to spend an hour this morning... answering their questions about IRs. I’ve done this for a number of librarians now. Surveys, exploratory interviews, random email, you name it. The same question invariably comes up: “How do I get stuff for the IR?” I am a nice person. (Well, I like to think I am. I recognize that opinions differ on this point, however.) I like to share things. I especially like to share the answers to tough questions. If I had the answer for this one? The magic bullet? The never-fail recipe for How To Attract Content to a Digital Repository? I would have shared it already. Truly. I haven’t shared it, therefore I don’t have it. QED. Stevan Harnad has an answer... My paraphrase of his answer is “Make IR deposit mandatory!” Sure, that’s a magic-bullet answer - if you have that kind of power. I don’t, and neither do the librarians asking me this question...

Sometimes they’re asking, “How can I fill the IR without extra librarian work?” Simple answer: you can’t. That’s what most libraries with IRs have been trying to do, and it flat-out does not work. I have an obvious bias toward this answer, so don’t trust me --go out and try to find a counterexample. Either the librarians are going to be depositing stuff, or they’re going to be marketing to faculty so that faculty deposit stuff, or (most likely) both...

Sometimes they’re asking “How can I make faculty deposit?” Same answer: you can’t. You don’t control faculty behavior. That leaves you some choices: you can lobby the people who do control faculty behavior, you can dangle carrots in front of faculty, you can take it out of faculty hands, you can build on what faculty are already doing, or you can hope for serendipity. I’m doing all of these things, to varying degrees, and if you look at the (sparse, admittedly) literature, I think you’ll find that most suggested strategies fall into one of these areas...

Sometimes they’re asking “How do I justify my IR’s existence, if it’s not attracting stuff?” I’ll tell you: I don’t know. My job hangs off this question, and I still don’t know what the right answer is. For master’s and Ph.D institutions, electronic theses and dissertations may be the right answer. For some institutions, Special Collections has the answer... I’ll tell you this, though: if you’re trying to answer this question now, you’re almost certainly too soon. “Word is starting to get out,” someone kindly said to me today....I’ve been here seven and a half months; word is just starting to get out, and seeds I planted months ago are just starting to sprout. If you’re expecting immediate results, you shouldn’t be in this business; it takes patience, fortitude, and persistence... What all this grumpiness amounts to is, I am still throwing spaghetti at the wall like a mad thing. I don’t know and can’t tell you which strands will stick where you are. If you want to do this, throw your own spaghetti, and then let’s get together and talk about what stuck."

Source: P. Suber. Frustrations filling an IR. OANews Blog OANews (1 March 2006) [FullText]

March 03, 2006

Open Access Activist Gets International Science Award has announced that Michael Ashburner has won the Benjamin Franklin Award for 2006.

Excerpt: "Bioinformatics.Org is proud to present the 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences to Michael Ashburner of Cambridge University. As expressed by his nominators, Prof. Ashburner has made fundamental contributions to many open access bioinformatics projects including FlyBase, the GASP project, the Gene Ontology project, and the Open Biological Ontologies project, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the European Bioinformatics Institute. He is also known for advocating open access to biological information.

The Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences is a humanitarian award presented annually by Bioinformatics.Org to an individual who has, in his or her practice, promoted free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences. The Award is named for Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of the most remarkable men of his time. Scientist, inventor, statesman, Franklin freely and openly shared his ideas and refused to patent his inventions, and it is the opinion of the founders of Bioinformatics.Org that he embodied the best traits of a scientist... The ceremony for the presentation of the Award will be held at the 2006 Bioinformatics.Org Annual Meeting (BiOAM), held in conjunction with the Life Sciences Conference and Expo, Boston, Massachusetts, April 3 to 5, 2006. The presentation will be made April 5 at 10:00 AM, and it is open to all attendees. It involves a short introduction, the presentation of the certificate, and the laureate seminar... Past laureates of the Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences include Ewan Birney (2005), Lincoln Stein (2004), James Kent (2003) and Michael Eisen (2002). "

Source: Peter Suber. Michael Ashburner wins 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award. Open Access News Blog (24 Feb2006) [FullText]

March 02, 2006

Open Access Improves Impact Factors for Journals

Peng Dong, Marie Loh, and Adrian Mondry, The "impact factor" revisited, Biomedical Digital Libraries ( December 2005).

"Abstract: The number of scientific journals has become so large that individuals, institutions and institutional libraries cannot completely store their physical content. In order to prioritize the choice of quality information sources, librarians and scientists are in need of reliable decision aids. The "impact factor" (IF) is the most commonly used assessment aid for deciding which journals should receive a scholarly submission or attention from research readership. It is also an often misunderstood tool. This narrative review explains how the IF is calculated, how bias is introduced into the calculation, which questions the IF can or cannot answer, and how different professional groups can benefit from IF use."

Excerpt from the body of the text:

"Given the rapid growth of electronic publications, the online availability of articles has recently become an important factor to influence the IF. Murali et al. determined how the IF of medical journals is affected by their online availability. In that study, a document set obtained from MEDLINE was classified into three groups, namely FUTON (full text on the Net), abstracts only and NAA (no abstract available). Online availability clearly increased the IF. In the FUTON subcategory, there was an IF gradient favoring journals with freely available articles [PS: emphasis added]. This is exemplified by the success of several "open access" journals published by BioMed Central (BMC) and the Public Library of Science (PLoS). Open access journals publish full-text online papers free of subscription fees. BioMed Central (BMC) is an "open access" publisher in business since 2000. BMC hosts over 100 biomedical journals ranging from general interest to specialized research. More than twenty journals published by BMC are currently tracked by the ISI and over half of these have IFs available for the recent years. BMC Bioinformatics was assigned its first IF for 2004. At 5.4, it places the journal second in the field, only marginally below the traditional competitor Bioinformatics (IF = 5.7), which has a 20-years' publishing history and is connected to a major learned society within this field of research (International Society for Computational Biology). PLoS (Public Library of Science) is another example of a successful "open access" publishing strategy. It started publishing two open access journals in biology and medical research in 2003 and 2004 respectively. PLoS Biology was assigned its first IF of 13.9 for 2004. In the ISI subject category "biology", it is thus placed at the number 1 position of 64 in its first year of reporting an IF. FASEB journal at position 2 has an IF of 6.8, but has been in circulation since 1987. Similarly, in the other SCI subject category ("biochemistry and molecular biology")in which PLOS Biology is listed, it ranks at position 8 out of 261. Monitoring the development of such journals' IF will inform the determination of the online-availability bias in the future. This effect will increase in the future with the availability of new search engines with deep penetration such as Google Scholar, allowing researchers to find relevant articles in an instant, and then choose those with immediately and freely available content over those with barriers, economic and otherwise. "

Source: P.Suber. OANews Blog [FullText]

March 01, 2006

Open Access to medical research for lay readers

"Ray Corrigan has posted a draft book chapter to his blog on the subject of OA to medical information. He welcomes comments. Excerpt by Peter Suber OA News Blog (28 February 2006):

"In 1998 the British Medical Journal (BMJ), based on the principle of facilitating free and unrestricted access to scientific information, decided to make the entire contents of the journal freely available on the Internet. By January 2005, due to a drop in income, the journal partly reversed that decision, making some of the contents accessible online only to paying subscribers, though many elements of the journal such as a selection of research articles remained freely available at In February 2006, the BMJ published the results of a survey ‘To determine whether free access to research articles on is an important factor in authors' decisions on whether to submit to the BMJ, whether the introduction of access controls to part of the BMJ's content has influenced authors' perceptions of the journal, and whether the introduction of further access controls would influence authors' perceptions.’ It was a relatively small survey with a little over 200 authors participating but the results suggested free online access was important to a large majority (75%) of them, so the publishers agreed to retain their partial open access policy for the time being. Other important medical journals, like The Lancet, only provide online access to paying subscribers... So is putting complex personal healthcare decisions in the hands of the individual a good idea?... What about if I have a bit more time to do some research and find out a bit more about say an ongoing chronic condition? A friend of mine with a hip complaint went to great lengths to research his condition and ended up impressing his doctor with the depth of his knowledge on the subject. But supposing the materials he read had not been as freely available as they had been and he had to pay The Lancet, the BMJ and hundreds of other sources a hefty fee for each article he read, would he have had the ability to make the decisions he did about his treatment? Doctors could justifiably claim that most lay people are insufficiently well trained to understand even the language of medics or the reliability of the sources, especially on the Internet, from which we might derive much of this medical ‘information.’ And if the truly reliable peer reviewed sources like the BMJ do gradually move towards a subscription only service, where is the average patient going to get access to important medical information required to make informed healthcare choices?"