Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #103
November 2, 2006
Read this issue online
The mandates of October
We've never had a month like October 2006. Depending on how you count, more OA mandates came into being in October 2006 than in all previous months combined. I count six adopted mandates, two proposed mandates, two adopted near-mandates, and one adopted mandate limited to data. That comes to eleven actions in five countries (UK, Austria, Canada, the US, and China).
Here's a bit on each in chronological order:
(1-4) Four of the eight Research Councils UK adopted OA mandates last summer and all four took effect on October 1, 2006. The first three were adopted in June and the NERC policy was adopted in August.
Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSCR)
--OA policy page
Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
--OA policy page
Medical Research Council (MRC)
--OA policy page
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
--OA policy page
For my comments on the first three of these policies, see SOAN for July 2006.
(5) The Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) has decided to "strongly encourage" rather than require OA to CCLRC-funded research. Like the other Research Councils UK, it announced its policy in June and it took effect on October 1.
Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils
--OA policy page
Although the CCLRC policy falls short of a mandate, it deserves to be listed here because it's comparable to the NIH policy, which was pioneering in its time and which also tried mere encouragement. Unfortunately, we now know that the NIH has not been able to get its grantee compliance rate above 4% and is considering a mandate as the only way to meet its original objectives. The CCLRC policy is a step forward from no encouragement but is in danger of repeating the NIH's experience.
(6) The Wellcome Trust already had an OA mandate, adopted a year ago (October 1, 2005). But that policy only applied to new WT grants. This year on October 1, the WT extended its mandate to all outstanding grants, no longer how long ago they were awarded.
--OA policy from October 2005
--October 2006 extension of the policy
(7) Austria's Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF, Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research) adopted an OA policy, apparently on October 6. The FWF deliberately positions it between a request and a mandate, like the policy of Germany's DFG. It asks [fordert] all FWF-funded researchers to make their publications OA either by publishing in an OA journal or by depositing copies in an OA repository (which may be institutional or disciplinary). FWF also asks its grantees not to give publishers exclusive rights and offers to pay the fees charged by fee-based OA journals. The FWF is Austria's central, public funding agency for scientific research.
Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
(8) On October 10, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) released a draft policy that would mandate OA to CIHR-funded research. The policy applies to "final research data" and "research materials" (physical specimens) as well as peer-reviewed publications arising from funded research.
Draft Policy on Access to CIHR-funded Research Outputs, October 10, 2006
The CIHR is collecting public comments on the draft policy until November 24, 2006.
(9) On October 19, the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) announced that it too had adopted an OA mandate, to take effect December 1, 2006.
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council
After the PPARC decision, we can ring this subtotal for the eight Research Councils UK: five have OA mandates (BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, and PPARC), one has opted for mere encouragement (CCLRC), and two are still deliberating (AHRC and EPSRC).
(10) On October 23, China announced a new policy to mandate OA to most publicly-funded research data.
Hawk Jia, China unveils plans to boost scientific data sharing, SciDev.Net, October 24, 2006.
(11) On October 26, Nature reported that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is considering an OA mandate for HHMI-funded research. The HHMI is to the US what the Wellcome Trust is to the UK: the country's largest private funder of medical research.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Heidi Ledford, Funding agencies toughen stance on open access, Nature, October 26, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).
* For more details, or to compare some funder policies with one another, click through on the links above or see any of the following:
SHERPA's Juliet database of funder policies
BMC's comparative table of funder policies
The ROARMAP list of the strongest funder and university policies
The SPARC Europe spreadsheet of OA policies at the eight Research Councils UK
* Finally, there was a development in France which doesn't qualify as a twelfth mandate, but which should be mentioned for completeness. A group of important French research institutions (CEMAGREF, CIRAD, CNRS, INRA, INRIA, INSERM, IRD, and the Pasteur Institute) agreed to use HAL (Hyper Article on Line) for their OA archiving. Some already require OA archiving for their research output (INRA) and some strongly recommend it (CNRS, INRIA, INSERM). As far as I can tell, the HAL decision doesn't change the policies at any of the institutions except to designate the repository --or one of the repositories-- for the archiving that does take place.
* Here's some news and comment on these policies, not counting sources already mentioned:
Stevan Harnad, Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How? A technical report for the University of Southampton Department of Electronics and Computer Science, self-archived October 13, 2006.
Leslie Carr and seven co-authors, Repositories for Institutional Open Access: Mandated Deposit Policies, a preprint self-archived October 13, 2006.
Stevan Harnad, CIHR Proposes 99.99% Optimal OA Self-Archiving Mandate, Open Access Archivangelism, October 12, 2006.
James Till and Joan Leishman, Be Openly Accessible or be Obscure? University of Toronto Bulletin, October 11, 2006 (scroll to p. 15).
Stevan Harnad, The Wellcome Trust Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate at Age One, Open Access Archivangelism, October 3, 2006.
October 1st 2006: a big day for open access, a press release from BioMed Central, October 1, 2006.
Update. Since this article appeared in November 2006, newer studies have confirmed and extended the finding that most OA journals charge no publication fees.
In November 2007, Caroline Sutton and I found that 83% of society OA journals charged no publication fees. In December 2007, Bill Hooker's survey of all full-OA journals in the DOAJ found that 67% charged no publication fees. In March 2008, Heather Morrison found that 90% of the psychology journals listed in the DOAJ charged no publication fees. In May 2009, Stuart Shieber found that 70.3% of all full-OA journals in the DOAJ charged no publication fees.
No-fee open-access journals
A year ago last month, Cara Kaufman and Alma Wills found that only 47% of surveyed OA journals charged author-side fees (see pp. 1, 44, and Table 30).
To me, this was a little like the first human sighting of the Antarctic land mass in 1820: proof that a huge terra incognita existed just over the horizon, awaiting exploration.
Only a minority of existing OA journals actually used the most-studied and most-discussed business model for OA journals --charging author-side fees. (Let's call these "fee-based" OA journals.) The majority of OA journals turned out to use business models that had rarely been acknowledged, let alone studied. (Let's call these "no-fee" OA journals.) We thought we understood OA journals but we only understood a subset, and the greater part of the whole was still largely unknown.
I wish I could tell you how many different ways the no-fee journals have found to pay their bills, and which methods work best in which disciplines and countries. But I can't. No one has done the studies yet. A few ships have approached the coastline of this land mass but we haven't come close to penetrating the interior or producing a map.
Some no-fee OA journals have direct or indirect subsidies from institutions like universities, laboratories, research centers, libraries, hospitals, museums, learned societies, foundations, or government agencies. Some have revenue from a separate line of non-OA publications. Some have revenue from advertising, auxiliary services, membership dues, endowments, reprints, or a print or premium edition. Some rely, more than other journals, on volunteerism. Some undoubtedly use a combination of these means. But we don't know how many other sources of revenue might be missing from this short list. We don't know how many no-fee journals use which method, and we don't know how the methods compare with one another for financial sustainability.
We have a lot to learn from the no-fee journals. Whatever their business models, and whatever their adequacy, they have found ways to generate revenue or subsidies that other journals (both OA and non-OA) could use or try. Exposing their models to scholarly attention and community-wide discussion might even uncover ways to refine and enhance them. Understanding how no-fee journals make ends meet will not only open up new ways to support OA journals, but also new ways to help TA journals convert to OA. And beyond financial support, no-fee journals have some clear advantages over fee-based OA journals, even if fee-based journals have their own set of advantages. The more we know about them, the more editors and publishers can make intelligent decisions that fit their research niches and special circumstances.
For about five years, the discussion of OA journals has been harmed by a family of false assumptions: that all OA journals are fee-based; that all good OA journals must be fee-based; that author-side fees are "author fees" to be paid by authors out of pocket. Learning about no-fee OA journals will correct at least the first two of these. Correcting them will lower the temperature of some debates and save time we now waste correcting errors, interviewing misinformed interview subjects, or dragging discussions back on topic. It will also help us overcome a collective blindspot. When we do, we'll see many beautiful opportunities that we have been too blind to pursue.
And beyond all these good utilitarian reasons to outfit some ships and start exploring, there's this simpler reason: the majority of OA journals are no-fee. We should know our own world.
But while we're waiting to hear back from the explorers, there's a lot that we can already say about the characteristics and advantages of no-fee OA journals. Here's a start.
* I've often argued that fee-based OA journals don't exclude indigent authors. But that's only if they offer fee waivers or if sponsors are available to pay the fees on behalf of authors. These safety nets must be arranged and, no doubt, cannot always be arranged. No-fee OA journals cut through the difficulties and put well-funded and unfunded authors on the same footing, without further ado.
* Likewise I've often argued that fee-based OA journals don't corrupt peer review. But that requires good firewalls between the editorial and business sides of the journal, and it's hard to know exactly what firewalls are in place at a given journal and easy to take cheap shots. No-fee OA journals disarm the objection without the need for further explanation or proof.
In both cases (excluding indigent authors and corrupting peer review), no-fee OA journals eliminate both the problem, to whatever extent it actually exists, and the appearance of the problem. Hence, they make it unnecessary to take other steps to avoid the problems, saving time and money, and they put common objections to bed, changing the rhetoric and direction of the debate.
* The no-fee sources of revenue can help a journal make ends meet even if they don't suffice. One important consequence is that they can help a fee-based journal keep its fees low, perhaps low enough to attract authors who don't have sponsors and improve author uptake.
For semantic reasons, we can't say that fee-based and no-fee models can coexist in the same journal, since even a small author-side fee is a fee. But the different forms of generating revenue can not only coexist, but complement each other in very helpful ways.
The coexistence might be contingent. For example, an institution, like a university, might agree to cover a journal's expenses provided the journal charged author-side fees to authors whose research was funded by a grant. Because funders would pay first, universities would save money (compared to paying all a journal's expenses). Because universities would play back-up, scholars wouldn't be bereft or out of pocket in fields where funding is scattered or uncommon.
Even non-OA journals could strike such arrangements with institutions. If some percentage of their costs were covered by an institutional subsidy, then they could lower their subscription prices accordingly. If the non-subscription income grew to a certain size, they could convert from subscription journals to low-fee journals and perhaps later to no-fee journals.
* The fee-based model works best in fields, like medicine, where most research is funded and most funders are willing to pay the fees. It's hard to know without study where the no-fee model will work best. It will work in fields where there are already institutions willing to subsidize an OA journal. But it will also work in fields where scholarly entrepreneurs, who are highly motivated and know the terrain, could *find* an institution to support a journal, even if the institution never thought about it before.
Conversely, the fee-based model is not well-suited to fields, like social sciences and humanities, where little research is funded. And again, it's hard to know where the no-fee model might not be suited; we may not know until scholarly entrepreneurs try hard and fail to find subsidies.
Because both models have their place, I don't want to say that the advantages of no-fee journals mean that fee-based journals should give way to no-fee journals. Not at all. I just want to point out the advantages of the no-fee model so that it will be fully explored by journals that can't make the fee model work for them.
For example, we should remember that the Hindawi OA journal collection is already profitable, and that all the journals in the collection depend on author-side fees. This means that author-side fees can not only generate enough revenue to pay the bills, but can also generate more. This is a signal success that we shouldn't try to undo. Instead, we should pursue no-fee journals alongside successful fee-based journals.
On the profitability of the Hindawi OA journals, see Paul Peters' comment on the Nature Newsblog, June 21, 2006.
* Rick Johnson once argued that university libraries should "adopt" journals in order to digitize their backfiles for OA and preservation.
That's an excellent idea. Likewise, universities should adopt OA journals in order to pay their expenses. One of my favorite examples is Philosophers' Imprint, whose expenses are covered by the University of Michigan. Its motto is "Edited by philosophers, published by librarians." The editors in the philosophy department and the "publishers" in the library are already on the university payroll and allowed to spend some of their time putting out the journal. As a result, the journal doesn't charge subscriptions on the reader-side or fees on the author-side.
* I'm glad to see so many traditional publishers experiment with hybrid OA journals. But so far all of them are fee-based. I'd like to see publishers start experimenting with institutional subsidies as well. If a journal can't secure a permanent or renewable subsidy, it should try a temporary one. If it can't secure a full subsidy, it should try a partial one or several partial subsidies from several institutions.
The experiments could also run the other way. Universities, labs, libraries, societies, museums, foundations, learned societies, and government agencies should consider offering full or partial subsidies or forming consortia to offer subsidies.
There could even be hybrid OA journals that depend on subsidies rather than author-side fees. If a journal can arrange subsidies to allow (say) 20% of its research articles to be OA, then it could provide OA for that 20% and TA for the rest. Or it could provide no-fee OA to 20%, fee-based OA to another 20% (or whatever uptake it could generate), and TA for the rest. It could use any number of criteria or methods to pick the lucky no-fee OA articles --author preference, editor preference, length, use of multimedia, likelihood of citations, likelihood of interest from policy-makers or the media, or relevance for solving important scientific or social problems.
One more thing we don't know: how much experimentation has been stymied by the false belief that OA journals must use author-side fees.
* An institution can subsidize a journal without publishing it, for example, the way the Beilstein-Institut covers the costs of the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry (allowing the journal to charge no author-side fees) while the publishing is left to BioMed Central. Conversely, an institution can publish a journal without subsidizing it, something we see at any OA journal published by a university press and using a fee-based model rather than a subsidy model. Or an institution can do both, for example, the way the University of Michigan both subsidizes and publishes Philosophers' Imprint.
* In an August 2004 report, librarians at Cornell envisioned that universities would trigger difficult political tensions on campus as they started to pay author-side fees and set faculty into competition for support from a limited fund. While I reject one of the main conclusions of the report (see SOAN for June 2006), its recognition of potential turf battles in the allocation of author-side fees is astute and needs wider discussion.
Cornell Task Force on Open Access Publishing, August 2004 (see esp. pp. 10-11)
In a later LibLicense posting, Phil Davis elaborated on these scenarios, April 2006.
I concede that these scenarios are ugly, but I still want universities to join foundations in their willingness to pay author-side fees, and to start thinking about allocation procedures that faculty will accept as fair. But part of our thinking should be that no-fee OA journals will make *this* problem disappear. To the extent that no-fee journals spread, universities will not have to pay author-side fees or adjudicate disputes between rival professors applying for limited funds.
On the other hand, tensions might merely shift from individual faculty seeking subsidies for articles to departments or research centers seeking subsidies for journals. The problems may be tractable: after all, libraries currently pay more (much more) for journals in some disciplines than others without triggering campus wars. Or they might be as difficult and ugly as Cornell predicted for author-side fees. Whether support for one kind of OA journal will be easier --financially or administratively-- than support for the other is one more thing we still have to learn. And there's some urgency about it because the money now spent on subscriptions will be needed, long-term, to pay for the OA alternative, and the transition is already under way.
Apart from fairness issues, supporting some number of no-fee journals should be less bumpy than paying the author-side fees incurred by individual faculty. The expenses will be more predictable. Hence, at least in this respect, universities should find it easier to put journal subsidies into the budget than author-side fees --though I hope they will do both, as money is freed up from subscriptions.
* One silly criticism of author-side fees is that they're just subscriptions under a new name, especially if the money to pay them comes from the library's serials budget. It's silly because it overlooks the role of *open access*, the whole point of the new model. Author-side fees may be payments that help cover journal expenses, like subscription fees, but they pay for open access, not private use and consumption. Hence, they make a journal's contents freely available to everyone, including those who don't pay fees.
As no-fee OA journals spread, including the kind supported by institutional subsidies, we should expect to hear a new version of the same silly criticism: institutional subsidies are just subscriptions under a new name. The answer is the same: yes, these are payments that help cover journal expenses, but they pay for open access, not private consumption. For example, if a no-fee journal uses an institutional-subsidy business model, then only one institution has to make the payments for everyone else to have access.
* I'm not committed to the term "fee-based" OA journal and would welcome a better one. But in the meantime, it's infinitely better than the term "author pays". First, it's not false or misleading. "Author pays" is false for the majority of OA journals that charge no author-side fees, and false or misleading for most of the remaining OA journals whose fees are often waived or paid by sponsors on the author's behalf. Second, it's not as frightening to authors or as helpful to the anti-OA FUD campaign. Third, it pairs up nicely with the "no-fee" OA journal, helping us communicate the true diversity of the OA journal landscape.
* It used to be very hard to tell whether an OA journal was fee-based or no-fee and impossible to search for one type or the other in a given field. But just last month the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) added features to help on both fronts.
Go to the new "for authors" section of the directory and search for a journal by keywords or browse by field. If you search, you'll be offered the choice to filter your search and limit the hits to fee-based or no-fee journals. If you browse, you'll see an extra field in each record telling you whether the journal is fee-based or no-fee (though unfortunately the DOAJ still uses the term "author pays" for the former). The DOAJ hasn't yet classified all the journals in the directory but is working to catch up.
The announcement (October 14, 2006) of the new service, and most of the blog and listserv discussion, have focused on the new visibility of hybrid journals in the directory. But in my view the new visibility of no-fee journals is at least as useful. With the help of the DOAJ's new service and some old notes here are some representative no-fee, peer-reviewed OA journals from 22 different fields. --My apologies to good no-fee journals not on this list; I had to keep it short. This is a glimpse of the continent we need to explore.
Anthropoetics: the journal of generative anthropology (University of California at Los Angeles)
Cultural Analysis (University of California at Berkeley)
Indian Folklife (Indian National Folklore Support Centre)
Kacike: Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology (Caribbean Amerindian Centre)
International Journal of Education and the Arts (Arizona State University)
Kritikos: Journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image (Intertheory Press)
Electronic Musicological Review (Universidade Federal do Parana)
Frankfurter Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft (Universität Bern, Institut für Musikwissenschaft)
Astronomy Education Review (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy)
Living Reviews in Solar Physics (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research)
African Journal of Biotechnology (Ibadan Biomedical Communications Group)
Genomics, Society and Policy (CESAGen, Lancaster University)
Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B Physical and Biological Sciences (Japan Academy)
Revista Peruana de Biologia (Ciudad Universitaria)
Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry (BioMed Central)
Hyle: international journal for philosophy of chemistry (University of Karlsruhe)
Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society (Sociedade Brasileira de Química)
Journal of the Iranian Chemical Society (Iranian Chemical Society)
* Computer Science
The Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (AI Access Foundation)
Journal of Machine Learning Research (MIT Press and the Association for Computing Machinery)
Journal on Satisfiability, Boolean Modeling and Computation (Delft University)
Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems (The IRIS Association)
* Earth sciences
Advances in Geosciences (Copernicus GmbH)
Earth Sciences Research Journal (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)
History of Meteorology (International Commission on History of Meteorology)
International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology (Center for Environment and Energy Research and Studies)
Demographic Research (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research)
International Review of Economics Education (University of Bristol)
Journal of Applied Economics (Universidad del Centro de Estudios Macroeconómicos de Argentina)
Journal of Population Research (Australian Population Association)
Industrial Data (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos)
International Journal of Signal Processing (World Enformatika Society)
Oil & Gas Science and Technology (Institut Français du Pétrole)
Nuclear Technology & Radiation Protection (VINCA Institute of Nuclear Sciences)
Digital Medievalist (University of Lethbridge)
E-Journal of Portuguese History (University of Porto and Brown University)
The Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe (Michelle Ziegler)
Journal of the Oxford University History Society (Oxford University History Society)
Human Rights & Human Welfare (University of Denver)
International Journal of Baltic Law (Vytautas Magnus University)
Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology (International Association of IT Lawyers)
Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights (Northwestern University)
* Library and Information Science
D-Lib Magazine (Corporation for National Research Initiatives)
Information Research: an international electronic journal (Tom Wilson)
Journal of Digital Information (University of Southampton)
Journal of the Medical Library Association (PubMed Central)
Consciousness, Literature and the Arts (University of Wales Aberystwyth)
Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature (Sheffield Hallam University)
Journal of Language and Literature (Shakespeare Centre Limted Press)
Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840 (Cardiff University)
* Political Science
African journal on conflict resolution (ACCORD)
Australian Review of Public Affairs (University of Sydney)
Bollettino telematico di filosofia politica (University of Pisa)
Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe (European Centre for Minority Issues)
Contributions to Discrete Mathematics (University of Calgary)
Discrete Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science (Maison de l'Informatique et des Mathématiques Discrètes)
The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics (American Mathematical Society)
Osaka Journal of Mathematics (Osaka University)
Acta Orthopaedica (Taylor & Francis)
Biomedical Research (Biomedical Research Press)
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery (European Association for Cardio-thoracic Surgery)
Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery (Hong Kong Academy of Medicine Press)
Diametros: An Online Journal of Philosophy (Jagiellonian University)
Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology (Rhodes University and Edith Cowan University)
Philosophers' Imprint (University of Michigan)
Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology (Virginia Polytechnic and State University)
Brazilian Journal of Physics (Sociedade Brasileira de Física)
Chinese Journal of Physics (Physical Society of the Republic of China)
Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Institute of Physics)
Living Reviews in Relativity (Albert Einstein Institut, Max-Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics)
Advances in Cognitive Psychology (Vizja Press)
Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology (University of Newcastle)
Brains, Minds & Media (Bielefeld University)
Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology (Boise State University)
Australian EJournal of Theology (Australian Catholic University)
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture)
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies (Seminar for the Interdisciplinary Research of Religions and Ideologies)
Journal of Buddhist Ethics (Pennsylvania State University)
* Regional studies
Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies (Africa Resource Center)
Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies (Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies)
Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies (International Association of Tibetan Studies, Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library)
African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies (African Criminology and Justice Association)
Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)
German Journal of Urban Studies (German Institute of Urban Affairs)
International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food (Research Committee on Food and Agriculture)
Top stories from October 2006
This is my selection of the most important OA developments since the last issue of the newsletter, not counting any developments covered in the lead essays above. When items have two URLs, the first is usually for the item itself and the second for my blog posting about it on Open Access News. For other developments that didn't make the cut, see Open Access news, which I update daily, and which has a browseable and searchable archive.
Here are the top stories from October:
* Larry Sanger launches Citizendium.
* AnthroSource defies its parent organization and supports FRPAA.
* Two governments draft two major licenses.
* Google custom search makes OA texts more visible.
Larry Sanger launches Citizendium.
Citizendium is Wikipedia plus expert peer review and attribution. It's still OA for readers and open to contributions from any users. Hence, it needn't diminish Wikipedia's dynamism and meteoric growth. But by introducing a more conventional form of quality control, Citizendium will gives users a choice and prove (what OA advocates have always claimed) that OA is compatible with both traditional and innovative models of review.
Larry Sanger is the mover behind Citizendium --and not incidentally the co-founder of Wikipedia with Jimmy Wales. Sanger says that Wikipedia is good, but that we can do better and that the way to do better is to add expert-based review. Of all the elements missing from Wikipedia, this is the one it most needs. Yet it's also the most time- and labor-intensive, and hence the least scalable for a project of Wikipedia's immense size. Wikipedia has a kind of peer-review now, by self-selected peers, with or without subject-matter expertise. That works for it to a surprising degree. In fact, it's such an interesting and successful experiment that I wouldn't want to see it displaced by a different model. One of the best features of Citizendium is that it doesn't displace Wikipedia or its productive anarchy. It only offers an alternative that users can take or leave. It's a progressive fork, or a clone with variations, not a coup. Over time we'll see how much its enhanced articles are superior to the Wikipedia originals and how many Wikipedia articles it can manage to enhance. I wish it well.
Citizendium's press release on its launch, October 17, 2006
On October 29, Larry Sanger posted two essays articulating his vision for the Citizendium project: (1) Why Make Room for Experts in Web 2.0? October 24, 2006, and (2) The Role of Content Brokers in the Era of Free Content, June 2006, lightly revised October 2006.
Citizendium isn't the first attempt to combine the openness of Wikipedia with attribution and peer review. Scholarpedia is another, launched in February 2006, but by chance I didn't discover it until October.
Laura Smith, Citizendium wiki puts experts in charge, Information World Review, October 30, 2006.
Barbara Quint, Citizendium: A Kinder, Truer Wikipedia? Information Today, October 30, 2006.
AnthroSource defies its parent organization and supports FRPAA.
If you remember, back in May 2006 leaders of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) signed an anti-FRPAA open letter drafted by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Protest from AAA members was swift and biting. See my coverage in SOAN for July 2006.
In the letter, the AAA explained that it opposed FRPAA in part from "concern [about] the potential impact [FRPAA] may have on the AnthroSource business model and revenue generation." AnthroSource is the arm of the AAA that digitizes and disseminates the AAA's 15 journals. But it turns out that the AAA leaders never consulted AnthroSource before signing the anti-FRPAA letters.
The AnthroSource Steering Committee strongly supported FRPAA, strongly opposed the AAA action, and said so in a private letter in August. It made the letter public on October 7.
When the letter went public, anthropologist bloggers picked and amplified the message. As I go to press I haven't heard whether the AAA will reconsider its position in light of the arguments from the AAA membership and the AnthroSource Steering Committee.
Here are some of the blog responses.
Kerim, Open Access in San Jose, Savage Minds, November 1, 2006.
Rory Litwin, American Anthropological Association opposition to Open Access: a letter from the AnthroSource Steering Committee on FRPAA, Library Juice, October 14, 2006.
Kerim, AnthroSource Steering Committee Supports FRPAA, Savage Minds, October 8, 2006.
Anon., American Anthropological Association Takes a Step Towards Sanity: Kind Of, Afarensis, October 7, 2006.
Kambiz Kamrani, AnthroSource Steering Committee dissents from the AAA and endorses FRPAA, Anthropology.net, October 7, 2006.
Eric Kansa, Important Development with Anthropology and FRPAA, Digging Digitally, October 6, 2006.
Two governments draft two major licenses.
The UK Model NESLi2 Licence for Journals was updated in October and the new version contains a provision (188.8.131.52) to allow OA archiving. The model license isn't yet in force, but JISC will use it as the basis for negotiating with journal publishers for future site licenses at UK institutions. As a result, JISC is in a good position to raise the percentage of journals that allow postprint archiving from 70% to near 100%.
JISC and SURF, representing the UK and the Netherlands, drafted a model license to help authors retain the rights they need for OA archiving. The new license is much like the half dozen "author addenda" already in existence, but it replaces the publisher's copyright transfer agreement instead of just modifying it. The other big difference is that it's the product of government agencies, not private organizations or universities, and it's already "supported" by the Wellcome Trust.
It's tantalizing to think about how JISC, SURF, and the Wellcome Trust could use their combined weight to make this license a new standard. But so far we don't know their plans. Will they require it for their grantees? If they need a critical mass of authors before non-cooperating journals start to cooperate, can they get it if they merely recommend the license?
Google custom search makes OA texts more visible.
A Google Custom search engine can be hand-crafted to search any set of web pages. The set can be defined by one person or collaboratively by a group. This is not the first technology to allow custom-built search engines, but it's very easy to use, relaxes restrictions on the number of sites searched, and offers the speed and syntax of Google.
Google Custom Search
There are two reasons why this matters for OA. One is that friends of OA started using it immediately to create search engines for well-defined collections of special relevance to OA. I have a list below. The other is that scholars who may know little or nothing about OA are rapidly building specialty search engines for sites and topics in their own fields. Each one is optimized for OA content.
Google Custom search engines fit perfectly into what I've called the "software strategy" for OA: tools optimized for OA content that are so useful that they create new incentives for authors and publishers to make their work OA. Straight Google and Google Scholar are two tools already in that category. But Google Custom Search might do more than either of them to make Google-visibility a goal and OA an easy and natural means to the goal.
When searching for research on deposit in OA repositories, Google Custom search is better than straight Google, by eliminating false positives, although straight Google is better if you want to find OA content outside repositories at publisher or personal websites. It's potentially better than OAIster and other OAI-based search engines, by going beyond metadata to full-text, although not all OA repositories are configured to facilitate full-text Google crawling.
Google Custom search doesn't crawl designated sites just because you designate them. Instead, it borrows hits from the master Google index. Hence, if you ask a Google Custom search engine to search sites inadequately crawled by Google, your results will be inadequate. This matters, unfortunately, for some of the newly-built search engines that search OA repositories. Google has started to crawl these repositories, and clearly wants to crawl them, but for a variety of reasons it doesn't yet crawl them comprehensively. If you maintain a repository that Google doesn't crawl well, see these tips for configuring the repository to facilitate, rather than frustrate, Google's crawler.
For more detail on this limitation, see Ethan Zuckerman's blog entry for October 27. According to Zuckerman, Google not only limits custom-search hits to what the main index already carries, but limits them to 5,000 domains and the first 1,000 hits per domain. This information is not on the Google site.
Here are some of new Google Custom search engines of special relevance to OA.
* I made one for the archives of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, the archives of the Open Access News blog, my reference pages (such as my timeline, lists, and conferences), and my major articles on OA.
* Charles Bailey made one for his Open Access Bibliography, one for his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog, one for his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, and four for Open Access Update: one each for the sections on Open Access Mailing Lists, Open Access Serials, Open Access Weblogs, and Open Access Wikis.
* Dean Giustini made one for OA medical sources that he calls Google Medicine.
* Bill Hubbard at SHERPA made one to search the 800+ OA repositories listed in OpenDOAR, another for all UK repositories, and a third for all the SHERPA Partner repositories.
* Les Carr at Southampton University made one to search the 748 OA repositories registered at ROAR.
* Arthur Sale created AuseSearch, covering all the OA repositories in Australia and New Zealand.
In a related development, ScientificCommons also launched in October --a new search engine for OA repositories worldwide, built at Switzerland's University of St. Gallen. It's not a Google Custom search engine but an OAI harvester, like OAIster.
Anon., St. Gallener OA-Suchplattform, Netbib weblog, October 24, 2006.
So far, more people are using Google Custom search than writing articles or blog comments on it. But here are a few:
Google Custom Search: Already Making Its Mark, EPS Insights, October 31, 2006 (accessible only to subscribers).
Steve Hitchcock, Revamped Google service prompts new wave of repository search, Eprints Insiders, October 30, 2006.
Andy Powell, Pushing an OpenDOAR, eFoundations, October 27, 2006.
Chris Sherman, Google Launches Custom Search Engine Service, SearchDay, October 24, 2006.
This is an experiment I started last month. Below I've listed the OA developments from October not already discussed in the stories above. I can't do this every month, at least not without shortening my coverage of the top stories. But if this kind of list is useful, I'll look for a way to fit it in.
Here they are: short statements with no elaboration, emphasizing action over scholarship, in no particular order. I link to my blog postings, not to the sources themselves, because I only want to include one link and my blog postings usually bring many relevant links together. The list is still selective, long enough to give the picture but short enough to be a map through the wilderness rather than the wilderness itself.
* The Royal Society of Chemistry launched a hybrid OA journal program.
* Chemists Without Borders adopted an Open Chemistry Position Statement, October 12, 2006
* The Riyadh Declaration on Free Access to Scientific and Technological Information (published in September 2006) was translated into English.
* The EU identified 35 research infrastructures for special support and included the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH), a project to provide OA to EU cultural heritage.
* The UK announced that it would create an OA edition of the country's consolidated laws.
* Germany's DFG is funding a German version of the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publisher policies on self-archiving.
* Rice University and IBM are developing an open-standards architecture to integrate OA repositories with other open-source academic tools like courseware packages.
* The University of Rochester received a grant to improve web-based writing tools and automate the deposit of resulting theses, dissertations, and research articles in the author's institutional repository.
* A group of academic publishers and software developers agreed on an open standard, called Common Cartridge, for courseware packages. Both open and closed packages (including industry giant Blackboard) have adopted the new standard.
* Creative Commons joined the Open Courseware Consortium.
* The President of India launched Sakshat, an OA portal for education.
* Yale University and the UN Environment Programme officially launched Online Access to Research in the Environment.
* CERN released the briefing document for the November 3 meeting on its plan to convert all the toll-access journals in particle physics to OA.
* The European Physical Journal (or the EPJ family of eight journals) has converted to hybrid OA.
* Electronic Publishing Services (EPS) prepared a detailed report on scholarly journal publishing pointing out the gaps in our current knowledge of scholarly journal publishing.
* The European Commission released the comments it received on the OA recommendations in its March report. It also announced a February 2007 conference to work through the issues raised by the recommendations.
* Chuck Henry previewed a forthcoming report from the American Council of Learned Societies, which will recommend "public and institutional policies that foster openness and access."
* Phil Cadigan posted the results of an author survey showing strong support for OA.
* Emerald Group Publishing will share digital copies of its published articles with Turnitin, a plagiarism detection service. (Turnitin declined to tell me whether it was paying Emerald for access.)
* The Open Archives Initiative launched a new project called Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) to deepen archive interoperability.
* The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) launched a "for authors" service letting users find hybrid OA journals (kept separate from the main collection) and distinguish fee-based from no-fee OA journals.
* The EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) project released the EThOS Toolkit to help UK institutions wanting to provide OA to their electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).
* ProQuest started offering an OA option for ETDs. (For students, the OA option costs $95 on top of the standard $55 fee for doctoral dissertations.)
* The Simon Fraser University Library launched the OA Community Health Online Digital Archive Research Resource (CHODARR).
* The University of Zurich, one of the handful of universities with an OA mandate for faculty research, officially launched its IR, ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive), on October 13, 2006.
* The Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) launched a consortial OA repository.
* GEO-LEO is a new OA repository for Earth sciences, mining, geography, and cartography. It's funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
* Christopher Leonard, former Publishing Editor for theoretical computer science journals at Elsevier, took charge of physics, mathematics, and computer science journals at BioMed Central.
* New blogs devoted to OA were launched by the University of Alberta Libraries (in English) and Alireza Noruzi (in Persian).
* Several more US provosts endorsed FRPAA. The tally is now up to 127.
* A handful of important libraries joined the Open Content Alliance.
* Cornell University became the next library (apparently the third after the Universities of California and Toronto) let Microsoft digitize the public domain book in its library.
* The University of Wisconsin at Madison became the eighth library to join the Google Library Project.
Coming up later this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in November.
* Notable conferences this month
Workshop: Free flow of information in cyberspace (sponsored by UNESCO)
Geneva (?), November 1, 2006
Academic Libraries and Citizens' Societies: Establishing bounds of knowledge, democracy and culture in the digital environment (15th Hellenic Academic Libraries Conference) (OA is among the topics)
Patras, Greece, November 1-3, 2006
Copyright and Marking Government Works: Why Keep the Public Guessing? (OA is among the topics)
Washington, D.C., November 2, 2006
Discovery to Delivery: Solutions to Put Your Content Where the Users Are (OA is among the topics)
Beltsville, Maryland, November 2-3, 2006
Workshop on electronic publishing and open access (focusing on India, China, Brazil and South Africa)
Bangalore, November 2-3, 2006
Establishing a sponsoring consortium for Open Access publishing in particle physics (sponsored by CERN)
Geneva, November 3, 2006
Seminari Open Access: Cultura Lliure I Biblioteca
Barcelona, November 3, 2006
Information Realities: Shaping the Digital Future for All (ASIS&T Annual Meeting) (IRs and self-archiving are among the topics)
Austin, November 3-9, 2006
International Conference for Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (OA is among the topics)
Santiago, November 3-11, 2006
What to do with a Million Books: Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science
Chicago, November 5-6, 2006
Scholarly Communications Colloquium (OA is among the topics)
Palo Alto, November 6, 2006
Globalization, Digitization, Access, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Sofia, November 8-10, 2006
2006 NMC Regional Conference (OA is among the topics)
San Antonio, November 8-10, 2006
Navigating the Currents of Scholarly Communication: Government Mandates for Public Access to Research
University of New Mexico, November 9, 2006
Seminar on Increasing your Research Impact with Open Access
Toronto, November 14, 2006
Data on scholarly journal publishing: Taking forward the findings of the 2006 Baseline Report (OA is among the topics)
London, November 14, 2006
Open Access - Strategie e nuove tecnologie per rinnovare la comunicazione scientifica
Milan, November 14-17, 2006
Searching PubMed, LinkOut and Evidence Based Medicine (OA is among the topics)
Dubai, November 15-16, 2006
Réunion sur les archives ouvertes (sponsored by CNRS)
[looking for a better URL]
Paris, November 16, 2006
IST 2006 - Strategies for Leadership
Helsinki, November 21-23, 2006
--On the way to i2010: Tools and Services for the European Digital Library; a proposed session; your comments can affect whether it makes the cut
Digital data curation in practice
Glasgow, November 22, 2006
Open Educational Resources: Institutional Challenges (sponsored by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and UNESCO)
Barcelona, November 22-24,, 2006
Wissenschaft sichtbar machen: Open Access und Hybrides Publizieren als Dienstleistungen von Hochschulbibliotheken
Leigzig, November 23, 2006
Open access: 2d annual Conferência sobre o acesso livre ao conhecimento
Braga Portugal, November 27-28, 2006
9th International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries
Kyoto, November 27-30, 2006
Open Knowledge Foundation Forum on Civic Information No. 2 (OA is among the topics)
London, November 28, 2006
Archivi istituzionali per la ricerca: esperienze e progetti di Open Access
Rome, November 30 - December 1, 2006.
* Other OA-related conferences
* I've added 36 new conferences to my conference page since the last issue. In the next few days I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.
This is the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (ISSN 1546-7821), written by Peter Suber and published by SPARC. The views I express in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SPARC.
To unsubscribe, send any message to <SPARC-OANewsemail@example.com>.
Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested colleagues. If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, see the instructions for subscribing at either of the first two sites below.
SPARC home page for the Open Access Newsletter and Open Access Forum
Peter Suber's page of related information, including the newsletter editorial position
Newsletter, archived back issues
Forum, archived postings
Conferences Related to the Open Access Movement
Timeline of the Open Access Movement
Open Access Overview
Open Access News blog
SOAN is an open-access publication under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Users may freely copy, distribute, and display its contents, but must give credit to the author. To read the full license, visit
Return to the Newsletter archive