Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls

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

May 10, 2006

The Threat is Real: Save The Internet .Com Says

Quoting Save the Internet Web site home page statement "The Threat is Real": "Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most. Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.

Net Neutrality allows everyone to compete on a level playing field and is the reason that the Internet is a force for economic innovation, civic participation and free speech. If the public doesn't speak up now, Congress will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by telephone and cable companies that want to decide what you do, where you go, and what you watch online.

This isn’t just speculation -- we've already seen what happens elsewhere when the Internet's gatekeepers get too much control. Last year, Telus -- Canada's version of AT&T -- blocked their Internet customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to workers with whom the company was having a labor dispute. And Madison River, a North Carolina ISP, blocked its customers from using any competing Internet phone service."

Source: (Last viewed 10 May 2006)

May 06, 2006

American Journal of Jewish Studies Writes About Open Access, Israel Scholar Works

AJS Perspectives, the magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies, in its spring 2006 issue' Perspectives on Technology article "Sharing Knowledge: Recent Trends in Search and Delivery Tools for Scholarly Content" by Heidi Lerner (p.32) writes about Open Source and Open Access. "As members of the Jewish studies scholarly community, we are in the best position to determine the value and usefulness of [OA] tools," the article highlights. The author, Hebraica/Judaica Cataloger at Stanford University Libraries, calls for the Jewish Studies community to "take the initiative and familiarize ourselves with new web-based technologies and services". One of the mentioned resources, is Israel Scholar Works by Israel Scholar.

AJS Perspectives, is in Open Access at the Association web site Publication Section, available at this link.

May 05, 2006

Open Mind on Open Access is Much Needed, Jewish Studies Journal says

Heidi Lerner, Sharing Knowledge: Recent Trends in Search and Delivery Tools for Scholarly Content, AJS Perspectives, Spring 2006, pp. 32-34. Excerpt by Peter Suber (Open Access News Blog, 5 May 2006):

"The current buzzwords in electronic information delivery begin with the word “open”: open source, open content, open standards, open access, open archives. The trend towards making content and resources available on the Internet is spreading quickly throughout the academic world... Although the impact of these developments on the Jewish studies community may be minimal, it is growing every day... Jewish studies scholars internationally would benefit from the creation of an electronic repository into which authors can self-archive and make available their output. Israel Scholar Works is a new initiative that seeks to serve as a "digital archive for creative work by the faculty and staff of Israel Academic Institutions and Jewish scholars all around the world." ...As members of the Jewish studies scholarly community, we are in the best position to determine the value and usefulness of these tools [OA repositories, search engines, book digitization, blogs and RSS feeds]. We must take the initiative and familiarize ourselves with new Web-based technologies and services. This will enable us, individually and collaboratively, to expand the presence of easily accessible primary and secondary scholarly and research materials in the digital world."

May 04, 2006

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 Introduced by Two US Senators

Rick Weiss, Bill Seeks Access to Tax-Funded Research, Washington Post, May 3, 2006. Excerpt by Peter Suber (Open Access News Blog, 2 May 2006 Report 1 and Report 2):

"A smoldering debate over whether taxpayers should have free access to the results of federally financed research intensified yesterday with the introduction of Senate legislation that would mandate that the information be posted on the Internet. The legislation, which would demand that most recipients of federal grants make their findings available free on the Web within six months after they are published in a peer-reviewed journal, represents a rebuke to scientific publishers, who have asserted that free access to their contents would undercut their paid subscription base. It also signifies that some members of Congress have lost patience with a voluntary plan initiated a year ago by the National Institutes of Health. That plan encouraged but did not require recipients of NIH grants to make their findings public within a year after publication. In the first six months of that program, only about 4 percent of eligible researchers bothered to do so... The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), goes considerably further than the NIH program. In addition to requiring public access within six months, not 12, it would apply to research funded by all 11 federal agencies that provide at least $100 million in outside funding per year -- a category that includes the departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Homeland Security as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Heather Joseph, executive director at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a D.C.-based organization of research and academic libraries, lauded the legislation. "It's good to see an expanded interest by Congress in securing taxpayer access to federally funded research," she said, predicting that scientists, too, would benefit. "Expanded access to research really will help accelerate innovation and discovery." Peter Suber, director of the open access project at Public Knowledge, an information policy advocacy group in the District, echoed that view: "It's a very, very good bill," he said. "I think it's wonderful news." But Patricia S. Schroeder, president and chief executive of the Association of American Publishers, promised a fight. "It is frustrating that we can't seem to get across to people how expensive it is to do the peer review, edit these articles and put them into a form everyone can understand," Schroeder said. In the age of the Internet, everyone wants everything free, Schroeder said. "But we can't figure out what exactly the business model would be. And if you just got the raw research, you wouldn't have a clue" how to use it, she said. Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society in Bethesda, which like other small scientific organizations counts on journal profits to support its educational programs, also complained about the bill. "It's unnecessary legislation," Frank said, adding that many publishers are gradually moving on their own to make at least some of their contents freely available. "

May 03, 2006

Open Access For Lay Readers: Why It is Important?

Steven Breckler, Open Access and Public Understanding, APA Online, April 2006. Breckler is the Executive Director of the American Psychological Association.

Excerpt by Open Access News Blog (26 April 2006): "Over the past year, NIH has been working to establish and grow a policy on public access. The goal is to post all of the journal publications that result from NIH grants, in a form that makes the full text freely available to the public. When the policy was first introduced, contributions to the public archive were voluntary. Now NIH and some members of congress want to make the contributions mandatory – if your published journal article is supported in any way by a grant from NIH, you would be required to deposit the full-text article in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central archive. APA joined with many other non-profit publishers of scientific journals to express concerns about the initial NIH policy. For one thing, NIH has not yet demonstrated that it can manage such a mammoth undertaking. Many of us also have serious reservations about concentrating so much gate-keeping authority in the hands of a federal agency. These agencies already control the direction of science through the allocation of funding. Under the new public access policy, it will be far too easy for the government to suppress research results that happen to be unpopular or politically unpalatable. It is an Orwellian nightmare for basic science. Perhaps the greatest concern, however, is the disingenuous premise on which the public access policy is based. In Publication No. 05-5775, NIH asserts the following:

“Ensuring access to the full text of NIH-funded research publications will improve the public’s understanding and appreciation of biomedical research findings. Enhanced access to information strengthens and expands the impact of research while disseminating it in a timelier manner. The online archive will increase the public’s access to health-related publications at a time when demand for such information is on a steady rise.”
...It is reasonable to ask whether lay members of the public – taxpayers whose hard-earned dollars helped to support this research – will gain from their reading of this article any better understanding of the research results. Some certainly will, but I suspect that most will not. For those who do want access, however, many options are available – a reprint request to the author, electronic access through a library, or purchase (for a nominal fee) directly from the APA website.

Comment by Puter Suber (OANews): (1) The concern that NIH will be a gatekeeper that could suppress politically unpalatable results is completely misplaced. Breckler missed the fact that NIH is not the sole distributor of this research. The NIH policy only applies to articles published in independent journals. The NIH will only host copies of research published elsewhere.

(2) On the benefit for lay readers, Breckler makes three mistakes. First, he mistakes the NIH priorities, which are to help researchers first and lay readers second. The policy puts it this way: "By creating an archive of peer-reviewed, NIH-funded research publications, NIH is helping health care providers, educators, and scientists to more readily exchange research results and the public to have greater access to health-related research publications. As the archive grows, the public will be more readily able to access an increasing number of these publications." Second, he assumes that the NIH policy has no other justification than to help lay readers, so that if this one is weak, the policy cannot stand. Breckler misses not only the primacy of the benefit to researchers, but its immensity. Third, he assumes that because helping lay readers is secondary, it is therefore negligible or can be satisfied through priced-access models. For some evidence to the contrary, see testimonies from Merrill Goozner, Kuan-Teh Jeang, Ray Corrigan, and (if you only have time to read one) Sharon Terry. BTW, there's a good thread at the AmSci OA Forum on the "lay reader" question.

May 02, 2006

Science Editors Not Happy With Their Scholar Journals Published by BioMed Central (BMC)

Stuart Blackman, BioMedCentral faces angry editors, TheScientist, May 1, 2006. Excerpt:

"Open access publisher BioMedCentral (BMC) is facing a potential revolt from a number of the editors at its independent journals, who are upset with how the journals are being managed. Several editors of the 93 independent journals published by BMC have told The Scientist that they are considering taking their journals to other publishers.

"BMC have done a good job at promulgating the open access -- probably more than any other publisher, said Kuan-Teh Jeang, editor-in-chief of Retrovirology, a BMC journal. "The model is right, the principle is outstanding, but the execution is somewhat questionable."...Although editors at independent BMC journals say they still support open access, they... are voicing a range of complaints. For instance, editors are protesting recent increases in the APC [article processing charage], and reductions in the number of waivers that editors are permitted to offer to contributors who cannot afford those costs, among other issues....BMC's publisher, Matthew Cockerill, said the company is working with editors to resolve the problems, and insisted that the complaints are normal for any new company. "Yes there are growing pains, but we are making huge efforts to address those," he told The Scientist... Cockerill also argued that there is no evidence that increases in APC have affected submissions. For instance, previous increases in APC have not, he said, been associated with drops in submissions. Instead, some journals may struggle for submissions because some fields are less open to open access. "Young fields like bioinformatics have a high uptake of open access," he told The Scientist. "In other, more traditional, fields such as surgery, it has been a slower process."...Even editors who are voicing complaints about BMC are hopeful about its future. [Philippe] Grandjean [co-editor-in-chief of Environmental Health] said..."But I'm confident that we can work it out," he said. "It is important for all of us that [BMC] succeeds.""

Source: Peter Suber. Growing pains at BMC. Open Access News Blog (1 May 2006) [FullText]

Alse see:

Alexei Koudinov. Open access development: alternatives for "charging the author". SPARC OAForum (26 December 2003) Message 383 [FullText]

Alexei Koudinov. "Open access" is NOT " charging the author or institution" // "Re: Draft letter for institutions to sign... SPARC OAForum (26 December 2003) Message 380 [FullText]

May 01, 2006

Attention, Research Funders and Scholars: Know Why Open Access Accelerates Research

Heather Morrison, Open Access: to Leverage the Research Dollar, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, April 30, 2006. Excerpt by Peter Suber (OA News Blog, 1 May 2006):

"For the research funder, here is yet another reason why the results of research should be openly accessible, as soon as possible: immediately on publication - or before: to leverage the research dollar. Why? The way science works is in a series of steps, or like a puzzle. The goals of research are broad: finding cures for cancer, learning how to prevent or treat heart disease. These kinds of goals are rarely reached through a single study. Rather, each piece of research brings us just one step closer to the goal... When we fund one step in this research, we achieve more when more researchers are able to get on with the next steps, and we achieve the most when the results are shared as openly and quickly as possible, so that as many researchers as possible can get on to the next steps as quickly as possible.

How this relates to research dollars: because research occurs worldwide, the research dollars of one funder can be leveraged through the efforts of others, including researchers receiving funds from other agencies, and often researchers working without specific funding. Open, immediate sharing is like multiplying your research lab, your research team - with no extra dollars involved..."