Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 December 31 Dramatic Growth of Open Access - Happy New Year, Open Access!

The open data editions of the 2008 final Dramatic Growth of Open are now available:

Full analysis and growth charts will be published early in the New Year. In the interim, here are a few tidbits of information and observation:

Since Dec. 11, 2008 - a time when many of us have been working less, dreaming of sugar plums, and so forth - the Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues! There are two more institutional mandates, more journals in DOAJ, all the major international open access harvesting services have added more repositories and more items, there are more journals participating in PMC, more providing immediate free access in PMC, and more providing full open access to all articles!

A few quick figures to start off the New Year (some rounded):
As of December 31, 2008:
  • DOAJ - 3,812 journals (up 800 titles in the past year; adding 2 titles per day)
  • OAIster - 19.4 million items - up 5 million in the past year
  • Scientific Commons - 24.4 million publications - up 5 million in the past year

For some great recent news on dramatic growth of repositories in developing countries - up 51% in 3 months - from Barbara Kirsop, see Peter Suber on Open Access News.

This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series. For my latest major analysis and predictions for 2009, see the December 11, 2008 issue.

Happy New Year, Open Access!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

RE: Should university presses adopt an OA model

As originally posted to Liblicense-L

In brief, the point of this post is that there is a very great
range in efficiencies of existing publishers. There are
top-quality journals produced by the not-for-profits (society and
professional associations, university presses) at minimal cost.
For a healthy scholarly communication system into the future,
libraries should support these affordable options.

Irving Rockwood (CHOICE) wrote:

...would not some of the energy we seem to be so committed to
putting into making scholarly publishing costs go away, be better
put into finding ways to ensure that we, as a society, can and do
adequately fund things like education (including higher

Comment: I couldn't agree more. In my opinion, everyone
involved in scholarship and higher education - scholars,
librarians, university administrators, students, and publishers -
should be working together to help everyone to understand the
importance of higher education and research, particularly in this
pivotal time as we are going through so many transitions - to a
global world and economy, a knowledge economy / society, and
towards an environmentally sustainable economy. All of these
require significant and rapid advances in our knowledge, and many
highly educated people with the skills for the work of the

As for seeking efficiencies in scholarly publishing, as we have
seen from recent discussion there is a very great range in cost-
effectiveness of existing publishers. There are quite efficient
publishers providing high quality at low costs, to publishers
providing basically the same quality at much higher costs.

CHOICE, as a monthly publication and a premiere source of
reviews, at $315 US for a subscription, is below-average IN COST
for an LIS title, and above-average in frequency and quality.
The opportunities for efficiencies with such a journal are,
obviously, a great deal less than with some other journals.

As a journal of reviews, CHOICE is of course different from peer-
reviewed journals. What about a peer-reviewed journal from the
publisher of CHOICE, ACRL? I did some analysis for a forthcoming
book, and found that ACRL's College and Research Libraries is an
incredible bargain - with a low subscription cost and substantial
contents, the subscription cost on a peer-reviewed article basis
is about $2.50 per article. This is a very great deal less than
other journals, even in LIS. Another commercial journal with a
comparable level of quality averaged about a hundred times more
than College and Research Libraries.

For librarians, this is very important. Keeping a high-cost
option may mean cancelling dozens, even a hundred low-cost (but
often high- quality) options. This is one of the reasons why we
need to take a more wholistic view of scholarly communication, to
think about what kind of journal and monograph publishing options
are in the best interests of scholarship in the medium-to-long
term, and not just how to cope with the latest budget crisis.

What is in the best interests of scholarly communication? A
healthy and substantial not-for-profit sector: society and
professional journals, and university presses. Competition in
the commercial sector - missing from the subscriptions picture,
but a real possibility with open access as authors, departments
research funders actually see what they are paying for publishing
services. Open access, of course.

This post is part of the Essential Efficiencies Series.

Monday, December 15, 2008

An Open Access Journal to Consolidate a New Research Field, and Learn How to Care for our Young

Nordisk Barnehageforskning is a brand new mulitlingual (often english) open access journal. In the introductory Editorial, Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson and Jan-Erik Johansson talk about how the field of Early Childhood and Care sector has expanded in recent years, so that now almost all young children are in some kind of care before school age. In contrast, research in this sector is just beginning, with most research in the form of thesis or works published by staff in this area. This new OA journal aims to consolidate research in this field. The editors talk about why it is important to have a local journal for Nordic countries, which share much in common with each other. Articles are published as soon as they are ready. The journal aims to be evaluated as a Level 1 academic journal in Norway. Other countries (such as Canada) have local means of evaluating academic journals, a potentially interesting alternative to evaluation by impact factor. Learning and writing about such journal evaluation alternatives would be an interesting research question.

Thanks to Jan Szczepanski for including this journal in his latest collection.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: 2008 Early Annual Edition

This is a special early annual edition of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series, to facilitate predictions and planning for the coming year. Annual figures are for a full year, Dec. 11, 2007 - Dec. 11, 2008.

Highlights: a quick snapshot of the continuum of access to scholarly journals suggests not only strong growth of open access journals, but a scholarly communications system well on its way to transitioning from toll to open access, with the pure toll access journal (no author self-archiving allowed, no back issues, etc.) a small, and diminishing, portion of the total. The growth of open access journals continues to be dramatic; there are now over 3,700 journals in DOAJ, 781 more journals than last year, 2 new titles per day. While content recruitment at the local repository may seem painfully slow, on a global basis the content and growth are phenomenal, with more than 24 million publications available through Scientific Commons, 19 million through OAIster. Every week, close to 150,000 new items become available through Scientific Commons.

2009 is predicted to be a year of implementation, of Walking the Talking*. The open access movement has crossed many milestones and gone through many learning curves. We now know what makes for good open access policy; OA has been demonstrated to be not only economically viable, but for some, also profitable; and many have become knowledgeable about the tools of OA. It is important not to underestimate, either the work that still needs to be done - or the growing momentum of Open Access.

Scholarly Communication in Transition: The Open Access Continuum

The picture above is a snapshot designed as a rough illustration of scholarly journals in transition as of December 2008. Over 15% of scholarly journals are open access (gold). Another 70% support open access by allowing author self-archiving (green). The light yellow and green squares are designed to show that many of these green journals provide additional support for open access, such as free back issues, hybrid open access, or stronger support for OA than other green journals, such as accepting author addenda or permitting posting of the publishers' own PDF. The white journals (from RoMEO white) are the journals that are toll access and do not allow author self-archiving. Even here, there are many journals that allow for author self-archiving under certain circumstances, such as when a funding agencies requires OA.

The purpose of this exercise is to illustrate that, while the continued growth of fully open access journals - over 2 titles per day - is indeed dramatic, it is only a small part of the story. In the author's opinion, it is not just the OA journals but indeed the whole of scholarly journal publishing that is in the midst of a transition from toll to open access.

Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2008 - Highlights

While at the local level, institutional repository coordinators report (accurately) that recruiting content is difficult and growth no doubt seems very slow, at a global level the growth rate of material in archives is absolutely phenomenal.

Scientific Commons
  • 24 million publications, 963 repositories
  • increase of 45% or 7 million publications in the past year
  • adding close to 150,000 publications per week
  • 19 million items
  • 4.8 million items added in the past year, a 34% increase
  • 137 repositories added in the past year
Material searchable through a Canadian harvesting service, the CARL Metadata Harvester, increased by 67%.

  • over half a million fulltext items added, a 52% increase (based on ROAR data)
  • 538 journals participating; 413 provide immediate free access, 288 provide full open access
  • this quarter - 46 more journals participating in PMC, 38 more with free text immediately available, 31 more open access
The Directory of Open Access Journals
  • 3,781 journals
  • 781 journals added in the past year,
  • growth rate 2 titles per day
There have been some minor decreases in numbers. Highwire Free lost one completely free site; the CARL Metadata Harvester is harvesting one less repository. The PMC Free figures for full-text for recent entries is down slightly. DOAJ new titles is low this month, at 47; this is more likely to reflect staffing flucutations at DOAJ than anything else.

arXiv: 512,366 e-prints, 13% increase

RePEC: 555,000 items online (670,000 total), 25% increase in fulltext

E-LIS: 8,654 documents, 23% increase

59 Open Access Mandate policies (ROARMAP), 11 proposed policies

For comparison purposes, see the December 11, 2007 Interim Dramatic Growth of Open Access
Highlights: Last year I predicted that 15% of the world's peer-reviewed journals would be OA by the end of 2008. This number has been surpassed. Last year, the DOAJ growth rate was 1.4 titles per day; this year, it is over 2 titles per day. Last year, there were 40 OA policies; now, there are more than 50.

Predictions for 2009 - Walking the Talking

2009 will be the year of Walking the Talking*. In the December 2008 SPARC Open Access Newsletter, Peter Suber talks about his predictions for 2009, focused on the Obama administration and the worldwide recession, and also about how open access has over time passed a series of crossover points. From my perspective, some important points already crossed include:
  • defining OA (with the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002)
  • the philosophical arguments (whether open access is desirable as a goal)
  • green OA as a minimum is now the norm
  • the economic arguments (with the profitability of Hindawi and BMC and the Springer acquistion of BMC)
  • the major policy debates
Not all of these crossover points are irrevocably crossed over in every circumstance, of course; it is rather that, in the author's opinion, critical mass has been achieved in every area. There are still anti-OA lobbying efforts, and many OA policies still to be developed. It is important not to underestimate the effort needed to complete the tasks of transitioning to OA; but it is also important not to underestimate the considerable momentum of the open access movement. In 2008, Open Journal Systems was taught at many workshops around the world, and at least 3 library school classes developed journals as a class assignment. The NIH experience has taught us what is needed for effective open access policy, and Harvard has provided a new approach to policy. Libraries are going through a learning curve with new, standard services, including repositories and journal hosting.

In 2009, new open access policies will have substantial experience both with policy and implementation to draw on. There are many more people now trained and ready to take on the work of creating and supporting open access journals and open access archives. There will be some debate, and no doubt the occasional setback, but overall, the momentum towards open access will continue to grow. Success will bring more success; when people begin to see what an open access archive can do, recruiting content will become much easier. Journals that see other journals successfully transition to OA will find it easier to convert themselves. As university administrators and faculty ponder the open access policies of funding agencies, and the benefits of open access to them, the will to implement will grow, and along with it, needed support.

As for the worldwide recession, this may cause some slowing of the growth of everything, including open access. However, the recession also provides incentive for seeking more cost-effective ways of doing things, and so a strong incentive to move to open access, a topic covered in more depth in my Essential Efficiencies series.

In numeric terms, a conservative estimate would be about 20% of the world's scholarly journals fully open access by the end of the year, and watch for noticeable increases in growth rates in repositories at the local level.

* Walking the Talking is the name of the Canadian Library Association Open Access Interest Group's preconference to the Second International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference. Thanks to Leah Vanderjagt of the University of Alberta / CLA OAIG for setting such a timely theme and title.

Open Data - data only Google Spreadsheet (for viewing):

Open Data - data plus growth Google Spreadsheet (for viewing):

Dataverse - for downloading:

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

Monday, December 08, 2008

Open Government Records

Open Government Records is a new plug-in, still in beta, for Open Journal Systems, created by Simon Fraser University's Mark Weller. According to the website, OGR "publishes freedom of information (FOI) and Access to Information (ATI) journals. These FOI or ATI journals contain the text of freedom of information requests and the responsive records that the public bodies disclosed'. "Journals" to date are FOI Journal of Public Servant Curriculum, FOI Journal of Amber Light Requests, and ATI Journal of Ministries of Education.

Thanks to

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Scroll: Essays on the Design of Electronic Text (another student OA journal!)

Joan Cherry's class at the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, has created an open access journal, Scroll: Essays on the Design of Electronic Text. This looks great - congratulations, Joan and class!

Earlier this summer, I did a presentation for Joan Cherry's class based on the OA journal by my scholarly communications class, which I blogged about here. Joan Cherry's class and mine are quite different, almost complementary, as mine focuses on the scholarly aspects of scholarly publishing, while Joan's focuses on the technical aspects of publishing. Maybe someday we should co-teach, even from a distance.

Bioline International: Supporting Quality Open Access Publishing in the Developing World

The not-for-profit Bioline International describes itself as "a pioneer in the provision of open access to peer reviewed bioscience journals published in developing countries". Bioline International assists publishers in developing countries with establishing a high-quality online presence; Bioline currently aggregates close to 60 journals, from about 15 countries around the world.

Bioline International is currently moving to a library membership model. Libraries are asked to contribute $500 per year to support this initiative. This is not much to ask; less than the cost of an average single journal subscription in most academic fields. This is a much easier way for libraries to ensure access to these journals than was possible in the days of print, where locating such journals, negotiating local currencies, and arranging for mailing made support quite challenging.

By providing an online presence and the optimal dissemination that comes with open access, Bioline International is reducing the south to north knowledge gap, and facilitating the participation of scholars in the developing world in advancing our global knowledge.

One area where the developing world may bring welcome perspective in the short term as we deal with the current economic crisis, is an increased likelihood that scholars in the developing world working on applied fields, will be looking for more cost-effective solutions. This is because Necessity is the mother of invention; when you don't have much to spend, it's easier to focus on potential solutions that don't cost very much.

Bioline International also reduces the south-to-south knowledge gap, sharing of knowledge from one developing country to another, and also providing a local venue for publishing. Such local venues are a better bet for publishing research on topics of greater interest in the developing world (such as malaria and river blindness). Creating publishing opportunities can only increase the odds that researchers will choose to focus on these topics.

This post is part of the Essential Efficiencies series.

It is good to see that Canadian libraries are well represented among the early sponsors and members of Bioline International!

Cost-Free Open Data with Google and Amazon

Both Google and Amazon are offering free data storage for scientists. Thanks to Mark Jordan.

This post is part of the Essential Efficiencies series.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Drop print to save money, with print-on-demand for those who like print

The costs of scholarly journals directly related to print, that is, the costs of printing and distributing by mail, have been estimated at about 20-30% of a journal's cost.

Fortunately in these difficult economic times, this means that the vast majority of scholarly journals have a ready means to decrease costs by 20-30%. If these savings are passed along to customers, this will do wonders for the sustainability of our scholarly publishing system in the critical near to medium term.

Christopher V. Hollister, in Economics of Open Access talks about the recent move by the open access journal Communications in Information Literacy to provide Print-On-Demand (POD) via, providing libraries and readers wishing a quality print journal with the service they desire, in a manner that EARNS modest revenue for this journal, rather than COSTING revenue. (Hat tip to Brian Owen for a pointer to Hollister's article).

As Hollister points out, POD is not only a good move economically, it is also environmentally friendly; no unwanted print issues are produced, and printing can happen locally, reducing shipping costs.

Many libraries have been moving to electronic-only subscriptions for years now. In difficult economic times, even more libraries will be looking for such efficiencies. A move to electronic-only / POD to support open access, or to reduce subscription costs, would likely be very much welcomed by library customers in these difficult times.

This post is part of the Essential Efficiencies and Transitioning to Open Access series.

Scholarly society memberships: a cost-free way to support scholarly societies AND open access

One of the dilemmas for scholarly societies in moving to open access is that for many, traditionally free or discounted subscriptions have been seen as one of the benefits of membership.

Happily, there is at least one cost-free alternative to ensuring ongoing membership in an open access environment that could work for many scholarly societies: credit for the service component of academic review for tenure and promotion.

That is to say, in addition to publishing, scholars are expected to contribute service as well. If membership in a scholarly society is considered important to tenure and promotion committees, then scholarly societies are likely to have very healthy memberships, without having to rely on withholding scholarly information from non-members (i.e., subscriptions).

How can scholarly societies get on the priority list for the tenure and promotion committees? Through their members! The current economic crisis could be an opportune time to talk to university administrators about this cost-free way to support society publishers, many of whom have a well-deserved reputation for high quality at low costs - not to mention all the other good works done by scholarly societies.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Essential Efficiency Series.

Essential Efficiencies

Essential Efficiencies is a series of ideas designed to help scholars, scholarly publishers, and librarians to move forward towards open access and a sustainable scholarly publishing system despite difficult economic times. This series, began in December 2008, is closedly related to the Transitioning to Open Access Series.

Growing Canadian membership in DOAJ!. The number of fully open access, peer-reviewed journals is substantial, and growing. This is great news for the collections budget, but creates a need for efficiencies in tracking the journals. A DOAJ membership is a GREAT bargain in comparison to either doing the work of tracking at your library, or searching and re-searching journals if these journals are not tracked and added to the library's collection.

Usage-based pricing and open access as a catalyst for change

Elsevier plus LexisNexis earned more than $1.5 billion in profit in 2008. The increasing profits at STM publishers at a time of global economic crisis is a great illustration of an inelastic market.

Who Knows Where the Next Great Idea will come from? Why open access to the world's knowledge is a great boon in tough times. A modicum of curiosity and free access to the world's knowledge provide the means for anyone to learn to their heart's content; out of such learning will come some of the great ideas that are needed to kickstart new businesses for a new, green, knowledge-based economy.

Wiley Revenues up 36% in 2008. Will such strong financial health for a large scholarly publisher - revenues up to $1.7 billion in 2008 from $1 billion in 2007, coupled with an overarching goal of good long-term relationships with customers, mean relief for library customers hard-hit by the financial crisis?

Molecular Biology of the Cell, or Why Open Access by Article Processing Fees Sometimes Just Makes Sense
A re-analysis of data provided by the American Society for Cell Biology illustrates that if Molecular Biology of the Cell were to drop its print edition, article processing fees (page and colour charges) are already covering all but 7% of the costs - and possibly all of the costs. Dropping print and going online / open access not only brings access benefits for authors, but also the opportunity to add more colour without incurring most cost.

Re: Should university presses adopt an OA model
Originally posted to Liblicense. Points out the need for libraries to adopt an holistic approach to scholarly communication, and support affordable alternatives, such as scholarly society publishing - and open access.

Bioline International: Supporting Quality Open Access Publishing in the Developing World. The not-for-profit Bioline International helps publishers in the developing world to develop a high-quality online, open access presence. Libraries are encouraged to join the Bioline International membership program; at $500 per library, this is less than the cost of a single journal subscription in most academic fields, and a whole lot easier than providing this kind of support ever was in print!

Cost-Free Open Data with Google and Amazon

Drop print to save money, with print-on-demand for those who like print
A journal that is produced in both print and electronic form can save about 20% - 30% of costs by dropping print, and moving to print-on-demand (POD). One innovative open access journal is using POD as a means to EARN revenue.

Pre-Submission Peer Review to Reduce Journal Costs
When authors seek reviews from colleagues even before submitting a paper for publication, the result is likely a higher quality paper, in less need of work in the reviewing, editing and copyediting stages. Journals that save money in this fashion are well advised to pass savings along to customers, to minimize potential cancellations.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pre-Submission Peer Review to Reduce Journal Costs

In these difficult economic times, it would be wise for scholarly journals to seek means of reducing costs, for several reasons. First, the budgets of many library customers will be adversely affected by the economic situation. Happily, there are ways to reduce costs, so that scholarly publishers could reduce prices and minimize potential cancellations with little or no impact on revenue. This post is the first in a series on efficiencies in scholarly publishing, examining the potential of pre-submission peer review as a means of reducing the work involved in copyediting and coordination of peer review.

Pre-Submission Peer Review

Please note that this is a suggested addition to traditional blind post-submission peer review, not a replacement. The idea is to encourage authors to arrange for colleagues to review their papers even before they submit their papers for publication. While this will not eliminate the need for subsequent peer review, it should improve the quality of work received by a journal, reducing the subsequent workload for copyeditors and peer reviewers. Anecdotally, I have seen some evidence suggesting that this works; as a reviewer and editor I have seen works that the author had reviewed before submission which needed almost no work. I have asked colleagues to review my work before submission, and have reviewed works for others before submission, so that I have seen firsthand the improvement in quality with pre-submission peer review. An author who submitted a preprint to arXiv, told me that they found that taking into account the comments on the preprint resulted in a submission that needed little work in the review stage. This would be a good topic to research.

A journal might benefit from pre-submission peer review from procedures as simple as posting information on the journal website encouraging the practice, or perhaps asking a question on the submission form. A stronger form of encouragement would be to prioritize pre-reviewed works for processing, or to write to authors whose articles are obviously in need of such assistance, suggesting that they consider pre-submission peer review on a voluntary basis.

While open access is a completely separate topic from publishing reform, these kinds of efficiencies will help a smooth transition to open access. This post is the first in a series on Essential Efficiencies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comment on EU Green Paper "Copyright in the Knowledge Economy"

Following are my comments on the EU Green Paper Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

This comment pertains to question #19:

19. Should the scientific and research community enter into licensing schemes with publishers in order to increase access to works for teaching or research purposes? Are there examples of successful licensing schemes enabling online use of works for teaching or research purposes?


In the Internet age, the optimum dissemination of scholarship involves open sharing of peer-reviewed research articles, data, and more. The human genome project illustrated just how rapidly humankind can advance in knowledge through open sharing of information and cooperation, building a solid base of knowledge on which researchers - both academic and commercial - will be able to build for many years to come. We need to apply such approaches in other areas, such as finding solutions to global warming and sustainable energy sources.

There are already more than 3,700 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, and more than 2 new titles are added each day. Scientific Commons, a search service encompassing 960 repositories, includes more than 23 million items in searches.

In addition to these fully open access resources, there are many indications that scholarly publishing is in a period of transition to open access. Many publishers provide free access to back issues of journals, and the vast majority permit authors to self-archive their own works as open access. One of the largest commercial scholarly publishers, Springer, recently acquired the open access publisher BioMedCentral, a good indication that open access is seen as the smart business decision for the future.

In the Internet age, the copyright that makes sense is the Creative Commons approach, not at all the traditional copyright transfer agreement. Many scholarly journals are using Creative Commons licenses. Even traditional publishers are increasingly seeking only a License to Publish, leaving copyright with the author.

Research funding agencies, universities and research organizations around the world have, or are developing, strong policies requiring open access to the published research of funded research, and to research data. Here in Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs with an expectation of open access to funded research within 6 months of publication; this embargo period is viewed as an interim measure, to be reviewed as the publishing community transitions to open access. Canada's other federal and provincial research funding agencies either have, or are developing, similar open access policies. Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has an Aid to Open Access Journals program.

Policies should always be for green open access, or author self-archiving. This gives authors the choice of choosing a traditional, subscription-based publisher and self-archiving their work for open access, or publishing in an open access journal with a copy to the open access archive. Good policy makes open access a requirement, not a request. The policy should specify that the author should self-archive immediately on publication, although access may be delayed if necessary to accommodate an embargo period.

Many thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Hat tip to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who benefits from the University of Calgary authors' fund?

Who benefits from the University of Calgary open access authors' fund? This was a good question, raised by an audience participant at a talk this Monday by Andrew Waller. Obviously, the U of C's OA Authors' Fund at $100,000 is not meant to cover a full switch to open access publishing-by-article-processing-fees at the U of C.

My thoughts are that there are two main groups of beneficiaries. First, U of C faculty and students who wish to publish in an open access journal that charges article processing fees at least have a place to submit a request for assistance. Contrast this with a recent message from a librarian friend of mine, who had a grad student come to the library wishing such help, but the library had no procedures in place at all to help. It is quite possible that no other department on campus had a means to assist the student, either.

Second, we all benefit from this pilot project. I was very glad to hear that U of C has figured out that it makes sense to support fully open access journals, such as Public Library of Science, BioMedCentral, and Hindawi, and also hybrid journals that recognize the revenue from author fees and lower subscription fees for libraries accordingly, such as Oxford and the American Institute of Physics. This is a great model for other libraries. If others develop open access funds with similar criteria, then the odds that other publishers will develop responsible policies lowering subscription fees to reflect OA revenue are that much greater. If subscription fees go down, libraries will have more money to pay open access article processing fees; a potential positive cycle to replace the vicious cycle of the serials crisis.

Another useful question was whether researchers would offload traditional page charges onto the library. Andrew pointed out that such charges would not fit the criteria for the program, so would be rejected.

Approaching an authors' fund as U of C has done in a pilot manner, with a limited fund and soft launch, gives the library time to reflect on such questions, and develop really good procedures to address these questions.

Please note that the vast majority of open access journals do NOT charge article processing fees. This should not be a barrier to finding creative ways to support those that DO. It is also not necessary to publish in an OA journal to make your work OA. The green approach, publishing in a traditional journal and self-archiving for open access, is another perfectly good approach, and one recommended as appropriate by the U of C as part of the authors' fund process.

These are reflections on a talk by Andrew Waller at the University of British Columbia this Monday, November 17, coordinated by the BC Research Libraries Group. Andrew will be posting his presentation in the U of C D-Space and E-LIS in the near future, and so I will refer readers there for the full presentation (highly recommended). A recent presentation by Andrew at the U of C law school is available in the U of C D-Space.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access series.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Libraries and Publishing 3.0: Student Views from SLAIS

The Canadian Library Association's Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Services (CASLIS) has just released the Occasional Paper, Libraries and Publishing 3.0: Student Views from the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, The University of British Columbia, available for free download from:

Contents include:
  • Historical Collections 2.0: From Information to Understanding by Tania Alekson
  • Digital Copyright and Indigenous Cultural Ownership by Erin M. Abler
  • The Impact of the Open Access Movement for Scholars in India by Natalie Porter
  • The Past, Present and Future of Scholarly Communication in Ornithology by Christina Struik
  • Google Scholar: An Outcast in the Library World by Mê-Linh Lê
Congratulations to all of the students! I am especially proud to see works by two of the students from my scholarly communications in this occasional paper. Congratulations, Natalie Porter and Christina Struik!

[Disclosure: I am an Adjunct Faculty at UBC's SLAIS, where I teach courses on open access and scholarly communications, and co-teach information policy with Devon Greyson].

Thanks to CASLIS' Robyn Stockand.

This post in part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement (emerging) series.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Heather Morrison: Speaker Biography (Open Access and Scholarly Communications)

This is my open access Speaker's Biography (long version), developed for the Open Access Directory OA Speaker's Bureau.

Heather Morrison:
  • is a well-known, passionate advocate of open access and transformative change in scholarly communication
  • a PhD student at Simon Fraser University's School of Communication, and a librarian based in Vancouver, Canada.
  • has worked with the British Columbia Library Association and the Canadian Library Association, on open access advocacy, drafting Resolutions on Open Access passed by BCLA in 2004 and CLA in 2005, responses to open access policy consultations, and served as the Co-Convenor of the CLA Task Force on Open Access (2006-2008), which drafted strong policies on open access to CLA's own publications and a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, both endorsed by CLA, and formed an Open Access Interest Group to carry forward the work of the Open Access Task Force.
  • librarian with extensive experience in licensing electronic resources in library consortial settings (many types and sizes of libraries), resource sharing, communications & strategic planning
  • co-planning a cross-Canada research study on open access support at Canadian university libraries and research offices
Speaking topics of interest:
  • open access overview, especially policy, advocacy, and growth / status
  • open access transitional strategies, for librarians, publishers, and/or scholars (economics, scholarly publishing and archiving)
  • transformative potential of open access for society
  • philosophical issues in open access and scholarly communications
  • E-LIS
Potential workshops:
  • open access overview (policy, archives, publishing) (based on open access class - weekend)
  • scholarly communications (group exercise to create a practice journal, from writing and peer review to editing to publishing) (based on scholarly communications class)
Heather loves public speaking and developing new presentations, and very much enjoys facilitating groups discussions too. Interested in online / distance presentations.

Aside from open access and scholarly communication, Heather speaks about library consortia and cooperation (particularly BC Electronic Library Network, where she works).

Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books?

At ELPUB 2008, Greco & Wharton presented a compelling case for why university presses should adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books - a case based entirely on economics, not philosophy.

Greco & Wharton present analysis showing how a small press releasing 20 Open Access books would generate $128,511. in profit; a large press releasing 100 titles would generate $642,555.00 in profit (p. 11).

This is based on a processing fee approach (G&W use the term author-pays), with $250 as a preliminary charge, and $10,000 on final publication. This is for electronic text, with print-on-demand.

At first, this figure seems high, and I was quite sceptical. The more I think about it, the more sense this makes. Like journals, the primary market for scholarly books is academic libraries. Instead of paying to purchase for very limited access (in print, only one reader at a time - or none, if the book disappears), why not work together to pay for production of a book for open access?

$10,000 is a lot of money for a book - but another way of looking at this, is that 100 libraries contributing $100 each can pay for the production of an open access book. Libraries already do a lot of purchasing as groups through library consortia and groups of consortia; this approach could be a great fit.

There are other possible models, such as combinations of subsidy and direct support. For example, a library could host an Open Monographs Press, just as many now provide hosting and support services for Open Journal Systems. Libraries could work towards matching funds for scholarly books, rather than funding the full cost.

Full citation for Greco and Wharton's paper:
Greco, Albert N; Wharton, Robert Michael (2008) Should university presses adopt an open access [electronic publishing] business model for all of their scholarly books?, ELPUB2008. Open Scholarship: Authority, Community, and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0 - Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Electronic Publishing held in Toronto, Canada 25-27 June 2008 / Edited by: Leslie Chan and Susanna Mornati. ISBN 978-0-7727-6315-0, 2008, pp. 149-164

[Disclosures: I am on the ELPUB 2009 planning committee, and I work for a library consortium].

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access Series.

Monday, October 27, 2008

King Midas 2008, or, you can't eat capital-intensive anything

There is a folk tale of a King Midas who received a magical gift, to transform everything around him into what he loved: gold.

This is a story that we need to hear, again.

For example:

It seems that there are some who believe that the best use of land is the most capital-intensive use. If this is what you believe, it makes sense to pave or build over every inch of arable land. It seems that some of those who have these beliefs, have the magical ability (or intensive capital) to make this happen.

The only problem is: you can't eat capital-intensive anything.

Some say economics is very complicated. I say: let's grow apples and cherries, wheat and rice!

The trouble with metrics (for scholarship)

Anyone who has followed The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics for any length of time is no doubt aware that I like numbers. Measuring the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is one of my favorite past-times, along with calculating just how low the per-article cost of a scholarly peer-reviewed journal article can, or should, be.

It is really important to remember, though:

Numbers work best when they serve us, and not we them.

There are, in my opinion, serious potential dangers to scholarship (and to the world), if we move to a metrics-based assessment system without giving this a very great deal of thought. Here are a few of my comments on this topic, as originally posted to the American Scientist Open Access Forum:

Whether metrics are improving, and whether it is a good idea to base decisions about quality of and funding for research and journals entirely on usage metrics, are two separate questions.

In this post, I agree that metrics are improving with potential to advance our understanding of scholarship, but that there are dangers to be considered from over-reliance on usage metrics. Another idea I would like to introduce is cost-efficiency metrics.

As Stevan points out, "metrics are becoming far richer, more diverse, more transparent and more answerable than just the ISI JIF". There is indeed potential to develop much richer metrics, and this is a good thing, as it gives us a better means to research scholarship per se.

However, there are potential dangers to scholarship from relying too much on metrics. One important point is the distinction between popularity (or temporary importance), and real importance to scholarship or to the world.

Consider, for example:

Biology - species. There will always, of necessity, be a limited pool of scientists studying any one species in danger of extinction. Do articles and journals in these areas receive fewer citations? If so, what happens if we reward scholars and journals on the basics of metrics? Will these researchers lose their funding? Will journals that publish articles in this area lose their status?

Literature - authors. There are many researchers studying Shakespeare. A lesser-known local author will be lucky to receive the attention of even one researcher. In a metrics-based system, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that this bias will increase, and the odds of studying local culture decrease.

History - the local versus the global. A reasonable hypothesis is that historical articles and journals with broader potential readership are likely to attract more citations than locally-based historical studies. If this is correct, then local studies would suffer under a metrics-based system. (In the medium to long term, the broader studies would suffer, too, through lack of background that can be supplied by in-depth local research).

Medicine - temporary importance: AIDS, bird flu, SARS, are all viral diseases, horrible diseases and pandemics or potential pandemics. Of course, our research communities must prioritize these threats in the short term. This means many articles on these topics, and new journals, receiving many citations. Great stuff, this advances our knowledge and may have already prevented more than one pandemic. But what about other, less-pressing issues, such as the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics and basic research? In the short term, a focus on research usage metrics helps us to prioritize and focus on the immediate danger. In the long term, if usage metrics lead us to undervalue basic research, we could end up with more pressing dangers to deal with, such as rampant and totally untreatable bacterial illnesses, and less basic knowledge to help us figure out what to do.

This is speculation, but hopefully enough theoretical substance to illustrate that there are good reasons to think carefully about the impact of metrics-based systems before rushing to implement them.

Cost-efficiency metrics, such as average cost per article, is a tool that can be used to examine the relative cost-effectiveness of journals. In the print world, the per-article cost for the small, not-for-profit society publishers has often been a small fraction of the cost of the larger commercial for-profit publishers, often with equal or better quality. If university administrators are going to look at metrics, why not give thought to rewarding researchers for seeking publishing venues that combine high-quality peer review and editing with affordable costs?

More discussion on this topic can be found on The American Scientist Open Access Forum.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More evidence of a spike in DOAJ additions in 2008

Gavin Baker on the Journal of Insignificant Inquiry reports a spike in the growth of DOAJ in 2008, based on data generated from the DOAJ new title search page.

The DOAJ numbers are the best estimate I am aware of of how many open access journals there are in the world, however it is important to remember that DOAJ is intended as a directory of journals, and is not a perfect measure of OA journals.

Thanks, Gavin, for a useful addition to the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series.


Some factors to consider when looking at DOAJ as a measure of open access journals:

Discovery - there could be open access journals which DOAJ staff are not aware of.

Vetting - DOAJ journals go through a vetting process; they not only need to be fully open access and peer reviewed (or equivalent), DOAJ needs evidence. Because of the vetting process, there is always at least some delay between when a journal becomes OA and when it is included in DOAJ.

Useful delay - DOAJ does not include forthcoming journals, and does not automatically and immediately include new journals. Journals must be active to be included in DOAJ; sometimes, it makes sense to wait for a few issues to be released.

Human resources - the people at DOAJ are human beings. Minor fluctuations in growth can simply reflect someone's vacation time. If libraries want DOAJ to be as up to date as possible - take out a membership in DOAJ so that this important service has the support it needs to keep up.

Language - while the DOAJ staff seem remarkably comfortable in a multilingual environment, it must add some complexity that OA journals can be in any language, in any alphabet. I have no idea whether discovery and/or vetting is slower for some languages than others, but it does seem likely.

Weeding - DOAJ removes journals that no longer meet its criteria for inclusion (fully open access, peer reviewed or equivalent, and active).

Journal start dates in DOAJ reflect the first OA issue, not necessarily when a new journal started, or when an older one converted to OA.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CLA Announces new Open Access Interest Group

The following announcement was sent by Ken Roberts, Canadian Library Association President, to the CLA list on October 14, 2008, the First International Open Access Day.

This September, the CLA Executive approved the formation of a new Open Access Interest Group. Today, it is my pleasure on this First International Open Access Day (, to officially announce the formation of this group!

This group will follow on the recent work carried out by the CLA Open Access Task Force and will focus on one of the most important issues in the library world at present, particularly in the academic library community. The Open Access Interest Group will incorporate elements of the Information Commons Interest Group, which will be reconstituted.

The first co-conveners of the Interest Group will be Leah Vanderjagt and Lisa Goddard.

Terms of Reference
· To provide a forum for members to discuss issues and topics relating to Open Access.
· When requested, to respond to Open Access matters on behalf of CLA.
· To work with both Canadian and international organizations (including other CLA/ACB Interest Groups and Committees) to promote Open Access initiatives.
· To organize Open Access-related sessions and other events at the annual CLA/ACB conference and elsewhere.

Membership in the Open Access Interest Group is open to all CLA members. The CLA website is being modified to allow registration in this group; expect a follow-up message when this is ready. In the meantime, you can sign up for the CLA Open Access Interest Group listserv by contacting Heather Morrison at The purpose of this listserv is to allow participants to share ideas and news about open access at their respective institutions, in Canada, and in the global information environment.

This May, CLA adopted a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries, which reads:

Whereas connecting users with the information they need is one of the library's most essential functions, and access to information is one of librarianship's most cherished values, therefore CLA recommends that Canadian libraries of all types strongly support and encourage open access.

CLA encourages Canadian libraries of all types to:
· support and encourage policies requiring open access to research supported by Canadian public funding, as defined above. If delay or embargo periods are permitted to accommodate publisher concerns, these should be considered temporary, to provide publishers with an opportunity to adjust, and a review period should be built in, with a view to decreasing or eliminating any delay or embargo period.
· raise awareness of library patrons and other key stakeholders about open access, both the concept and the many open access resources, through means appropriate to each library, such as education campaigns and promoting open access resources.
· support the development of open access in all of its varieties, including gold (OA publishing) and green (OA self-archiving). Libraries should consider providing economic and technical support for open access publishing, by supporting open access journals or by participating in the payment of article processing fees for open access. The latter could occur through redirection of funds that would otherwise support journal subscriptions, or through taking a leadership position in coordinating payments by other bodies, such as academic or government departments or funding agencies.
· support and encourage authors to retain their copyright, for example through the use of the CARL / SPARC Author's Addendum, or through the use of Creative Commons licensing.

The CLA Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries is freely available on the CLA website, at:

For further information, please contact:
Heather Morrison
Interim Convenor, CLA Open Access Interest Group
heatherm at eln dot bc dotc a
Lisa Goddard
Co-Convenor, CLA Open Access Interest Group
lgoddard at mun dot ca
Leah Vanderjagt
Co-Convenor, CLA Open Access Interest Group
leah dot vanderjagt at ualberta dot ca

Ken Roberts, CLA President

Thanks, CLA, Ken Roberts, Lisa Goddard and Leah Vanderjagt for initiating yet another fine example of Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement! Thanks, also, to all of the many CLA members who supported the proposal for the development of this new interest group.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Open Access and Free Journals in OutLook OnLine: Happy International Open Access Day!

Today, in celebration of the First International Open Access Day, BC Electronic Library Network (ELN), with BC Public Library Services Branch (PLSB), have officially launched the Open Access and Free Journals in OutLook OnLine. There are over 5,000 titles in all; the majority are scholarly, peer-reviewed journals from the Directory of Open Access Journals, supplemented by other open access and free collections considered of quality and collectible by BC Librarians. Examples include: the peer-reviewed Open Medicine; the Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper, published by the Nuu chah nulth Tribal Council; the BC Grasslands Magazine, and the Caledonia Nordic Newsletter.

OutLook OnLine is a gateway to the collections of British Columbia's public and post-secondary libraries, 92 libraries in all. From my perspective as an open access advocate, this is an important and welcome moment in open access history. This is no longer just me, one of a few open access advocates. The Open Access and Free Journals collection emerges from the work of the local CUFTS Free! Open Access Collections group, which itself emerged from the enthusiasm of BC librarians for collecting open access materials. BC ELN is an innovative organization, sometimes leading-edge but never bleeding edge, and certainly not fringe. We are, rather, grassroots and responsive to our community. This initiative represents a moment when open access has clearly become mainstream.

The MARC records are freely available for any library to download, to include in local library catalogues or regional services like OutLook OnLine, at:

An A to Z list of the BC ELN Open Access and Free Journals collection can be found at:

Any opinion expressed in this post is that of the author alone, and does not represent the opinion or policy of BC Electronic Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.

Announcing the launch of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)

Kudos to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association!



14 October 2008, London. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA, announces its official launch today in conjunction with an OA Day celebration hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London. The mission of OASPA is to support and represent the interests of Open Access (OA) journals publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines through an exchange of information, setting of industry standards, advancing business and publishing models, advocating for gold OA journals publishing, education and the promotion of innovation.

>From having first emerged as a new publishing model over a decade ago, OA publishing has become an embedded feature of the scholarly publishing landscape: The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists over 3500 peer-reviewed journals; a growing number of professional organizations offer OA publications; university libraries increasingly support OA publishing services; funding organizations support and encourage OA publishing; and a long tail of independent editorial teams and societies now publish their titles OA. Professional OA publishers such as BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) have been in business for over five years, while some scientist/scholar publishers (editorial teams operating independently of a professional publisher) have published their OA journals for a decade or more. Moreover, a number of traditional publishing houses are now engaging in Open Access activities, the recent acquisition of BioMed Central by Springer and the SAGE-Hin dawi partnership being two cases in point. By bringing together those who share an interest in developing appropriate business models, tools and standards to support OA journals publishing, it is hoped that success in these areas can be achieved more quickly to the benefit of not only OASPA members, but more importantly, for the scholarly community that OA publishers serve.

Membership in OASPA is open to both scholar publishers and professional publishing organizations, including university presses and for profit and non-profit organizations. Members are expected to demonstrate a genuine interest in OA journals publishing by having signed either the Berlin or Budapest Declarations and must publish at least one full OA journal. Other individuals and organizations who support OA journals publishing or who are interested in exploring opportunities are also welcome. Membership criteria and an application form can be found on the OASPA website,

The founding members of OASPA represent a broad spectrum of OA publishers and include: BioMed Central, Co-Action Publishing, Copernicus, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Journal of Medical Internet Research (Gunther Eysenbach), Medical Education Online (David Solomon), the Public Library of Science (PLoS), SAGE, SPARC Europe and Utrecht University Library (Igitur). Representatives from each of these publishers will form an interim board until a first General Meeting is held during 2009.

Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association, OASPA, is launched today 14 October 2008 in response to long-time informal discussions among Open Access publishers, and aims to represent the interests of OA journals publishers globally. For more information about the organization, visit the OASPA website at:

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

Open Access (OA) scholarly publication refers to the dissemination of peer-reviewed manuscripts containing original research or scholarship immediately upon publication, at no charge to user groups, without requiring registration or other restrictions to access. OA publications also allow users to "copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship."

Press Contact:
Caroline Sutton
Tel/skype: +46 (0)18 495 1126
Cell: +47 90 69 05 06

Comment: this is a very welcome development, kudos to all involved! It is about time that all the OA publishers had an organization to speak for them (us). No doubt this will be the beginning of many opportunities for publishers looking to transition to open access.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Open Access Matters to Me (Open Access Day Synchroblogging)

This post is part of the Open Access Day Synchroblogging Competition. (There is still time to participate!)

Why does Open Access matter to me?

As a librarian with many years' experience in academic libraries and library consortia, I am very aware of the gaps in access.

Some examples, from my experience:

The look on the face of a poor student when told that the article they want will cost $48. The student went away without the article. This was not a good day for learning, or for scholarship. Not every library can afford to bridge the access gaps with interlibrary loans, even in a wealthy country like Canada. Pay per view is like a tax on reading.

From an economics perspective, open access is the only model for scholarly electronic resources that makes sense. It costs money to keep people out; money spent preventing learning is worse than wasted.

There are scholarly resources that libraries of all types would like to have, but do not purchase because they cannot afford to do so. There are needs that are not being met, and will never entirely be met with a subscriptions-based model, but could be met with open access.

Open access brings us all together. When library budgets are scarce, we do not purchase the scholarly journals of developing countries, for example, regardless of merits; with open access, we can have it all, and proceed with our research is a way that is much more inclusive.

How did I first become aware of open access?

A speech by early open access advocate Jean-Claude Guédon at a conference in Alberta (2001) - arranged for, and supported by, local librarians, and also Peter Suber's wonderful SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?

Thanks to an approach of open sharing and collaboration, mankind mapped the Human Genome in about 13 years, lightning speed compared to traditional approaches to scholarship. We need to optimize research progress in other areas, particularly the environment and how to live in our global world in peace, and we need to do this now. There is no time to waste.

What do I do to support Open Access, and what can others do
There are many things that can be done! Others should do what they feel most comfortable with. If you are in a position to advocate for an open access mandate policy, please do. Otherwise, please self-archive your own work, help start up or run an open access journal, talk about open access, or whatever else works for you.

As for me, I work as an advocate for open access with my local library associations, have served as the Co-Convenor of the CLA Open Access Task Force, am part of the governance team of E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies; I self-archive my own work, and publish as much open access as I can; I was the first Editor, Theory/Research of the open access journal, Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research; I write, present, and publish extensively on open access, formally and informally; I participate in the Open Access Directory, and on the PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference Team; I have developed and taught courses on open access and scholarly communications, and am writing a book on scholarly communications, which I believe will help advance the transition to open access.

As you can tell from this list, I am very busy, and it is not easy to find time for Working Less! Why do I do this? It is my belief that humankind is at a crossroads, a major moment in history when we have some very basic decisions to make, such as whether our scholarly knowledge is a commodity, for the few who can afford it; or, as I believe, knowledge is for all. I do not know how anyone could see what I see, and not commit themselves, wholeheartedly, to advocating for open access.

Competing in the open access environment: will the smalls have the advantage?

In an Open Access environment, it may be that the small, independent publishers and journals have the advantage - if they take advantage of relatively low costs to compete.

The average cost per article will be the key to assessing the affordability of an open access journal, regardless of business model (subsidies of various kinds, article processing fees, advertising). It is the small, not-for-profit society publishers that have the lowest prices for quality provided; if these publishers embrace open access, the larger publishers may find it hard to compete.

Current advantages for the smaller publishers and journals

Free Open Source Software and Library Hosting Services
There is free, open source software available, such as Open Journal Systems, that make it fairly easy for any journal to convert to, or start as, online and open access. There are many libraries involved in providing hosting and support services for faculty publishing. If you are involved with a scholarly journal, there is a very good chance that there is someone on the Editorial Board with connections at a publishing library that can help out.

The Flexibility of Small
A single journal has a lot more flexibility than a huge publishing outfit. If an article processing fee approach is to be considered, for example, one only needs to think about the costs of producing the one journal. For a large operation, assessing such costs on a per-journal basis is a very great deal more complex.

Free and Easy Marketing Advantages for Open Access
It is easy for libraries to include open access content in library services, ranging form A to Z title lists to subject guides to library catalogues. Indeed, without the need for authentication, providing library service to OA material is both easier and more reliable for libraries. This provides an instant, cost-free means for marketing of open access journals.

For indexing services, too, there are advantages to including open access material; subscribers to the indexing service can easily click through to the content, adding more value to the indexing service than an expensive publication with customers of the indexing service may or may not be able to afford.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Resources and Tips for Publishers Series.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Springer to acquire BioMedCentral: major milestone in transition to open access

Springer, one of the world's largest for-profit commercial publishers in science, technology, and medicine (STM) has announced that it plans to acquire BioMedCentral, a leading open access publisher.

Excerpt from the announcement:
Derk Haank, CEO of Springer Science+Business Media said: “This acquisition reinforces the fact that we see open access publishing as a sustainable part of STM publishing, and not an ideological crusade. We have gained considerable positive experience since starting Springer Open Choice in 2004, and BioMed Central’s activities are complementary to what we are doing. Additionally, this acquisition strengthens Springer’s position in the life sciences and biomedicine, and will allow us to offer societies a greater range of publishing options.”

I agree with Richard Smith that this is a great day for science. As Derk Haank points out, open access is no longer the road to take for ideological reasons only (profound though I believe these are); open access is the smart business move, too.

It is good to see another open access option available to the society publishers that prefer to work with the commercial sector.

What about library support for BioMedCentral? A few years ago, when BMC moved from an early pricing model that was clearly not sustainable to one based on processing costs, my approach was to encourage libraries to overlook the sticker shock and fully embrace the new, sustainable approach to pricing.

BioMedCentral, to date, has met my criteria for whether libraries should provide smart support for article processing fees. The fee pays for full open access (no free to read but only on our website nonsense); as a fully open access publisher, there is no need for concern about double dipping (collecting revenues from both subscriptions and article processing fees for the same material); and there is obviously a real effort to connect pricing with actual costs of production.

Into the future, whether I would continue to encourage libraries to support BMC under Springer depends on the pricing (and ongoing quality, of course). That is, if pricing remains largely the same, I would encourage libraries to continue to provide partial or full support. If there were substantial price increases, it would be understandable if libraries were to pull back from full to partial support, or partial to no support.

Springer has some interesting opportunities for innovation here, and some time to pursue them as the early industry leader. For example, why not strengthen library customer relations by providing additional discount to libraries that are both BMC supporters and substantial Springer customers?

Thanks to Scientific American via Peter Suber.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Resources and Tips for Publishers Series.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

International Open Access Day: Tuesday October 14

Tuesday, October 14th is the first International Open Access Day.

Correction note: October 14th is Tuesday, not Monday as originally posted.

STM on copyright: no need for education exemptions

Libraries and the educational community should take note of the STM Digital copyright exceptions and limitations for scholarly publications in the education and research communities
(Position paper of the International Association of STM Publishers), available for download from here.

In brief, the position of STM is that because education is their primary market, there is no reason for education and research to be considered a "certain special case" under the Berne convention. There is no reason to allow interlibrary loan, for example, if items are available for purchase. STM recommends licensing contracts with fewer rights than are available to libraries and educational institutions under copyright law.

The Basic Principles begins with:
STM publishers prepare and distribute their materials (scholarly and scientific journals, books and databases) for and into the research and education communities, communities that therefore constitute their most significant audiences and markets.

Comment: these arguments sound very similar to the ludicrous Conyers bill in the U.S. The basic principles imply that STM publishers are alone responsible for preparing and distributing materials. This is not correct. A great deal of the research that is published by STM publishers is paid for through publicly funded research agencies; the articles themselves are written by authors who are not paid for their work, and reviewed by peer reviewers who are not paid for their work, either. The contributions of STM publishers are real, and of value, but only a small proportion of the total resources that go into the works that they publish.

Authors - retain your rights!

Friday, October 03, 2008

arXiv exceeds half a miliion items!

Today, arXiv passed the milestone of half a million items!

The arXiv physics e-prints server and founder Paul Ginsparg was an early pioneer in open access, and is among the oldest, largest, and most-used open access archives in the world today. The main arXiv server at Cornell University Library not only hosts the more than half a million preprints, it also serves the considerable demand from physicists and others around the world, with usage statistics in the hundreds of thousands or even over a million on a typical day. That's just the main server, too - arXiv has 18 mirror sites around the world.

Congratulations and thanks to arXiv and everyone involved with arXiv.

Hat tip to Peter Suber.

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

Thursday, October 02, 2008

NIH Compliance Rate Triples (so far) with mandatory public access policy

Early indications are that the NIH shift to a mandatory public access policy - which took effect this April - is having quite an impact!

The estimated compliance rate from April to August 2008 is 56% (30% author manuscripts, 26% publisher PDFs), up from 19% for 2005-2007 (12% author manuscripts, 7% publisher PDFs).

44% of NIH-funded research results covered under the policy for April to August 2008 is still missing; however, with a maximum one-year embargo permitted, it is likely too early to draw any conclusions. Assuming a good percentage of the researchers will want further funding, I would anticipate an increase in the percentage of works publicly available both in the April-August 2008 time frame, and even more in the future, as researchers, libraries, and universities become more familiar with the details of the policy, and how to comply.

From: U.S. National Institutes of Health. Analysis of Comments and Implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy. Undated.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

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

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

National Cancer Institute of Canada adopts open access mandates

Kudos to the National Cancer Institute of Canada on the adoption of a leading-open Open Access Policy!

Open Access policy

Effective July 2009, all researchers supported in whole or in part through the NCIC are required to make their published results of NCIC supported work publicly available. Researchers are encouraged to make their work publicly available as soon as possible, but must do so no later than six months after the final publication date.

Archives such as PubMed Central, researchers’ host institution websites, and/or open access journals are all acceptable ways to make research findings publicly available.

The NCIC appreciates the importance of publishing research results in the most widely read and respected scientific journals. In no way is this policy designed to compromise the ability of any researcher funded through the NCIC to publish in these journals. Nor is the NCIC open access policy designed to operate in a manner that in any way violates copyright law. Increasingly, however, many publishers are supportive of open access and have policies in place to allow open access without infringing their copyright.

NCIC believes strongly, however, that unrestricted public access to research findings is a crucial part of upholding the values and responsibilities of the NCIC as a granting agency and of the NCIC’s funders, the Canadian Cancer Society and The Terry Fox Foundation, both of whom are supported in turn by donations from the public. Major funding bodies around the world have progressively adopted open access as a means of increasing the public availability and transparency of the research they fund. Open access allows for broader dissemination of knowledge and ultimately promotes research advancement, crucial to the NCIC’s mission to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer.

As part of this policy, the NCIC will provide support for any charges levied by publishers that are required to comply with this open access process. Such charges may be included as legitimate research expenses (fully justified as with all other expenses) in the budget of a research grant submission.

For more information about the NCIC’s open access policy please refer to the provided Open Access FAQs or contact us at

Comments: strengths of this policy include encouragement for immediate OA, the 6-month embargo, commitment to paying for open access publishing, and the definition of public accessibility as open access, defined in the FAQ as The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in a digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.. This is libre open access, and a great model for other funders to follow.

Thanks to Jim Till and Peter Suber.

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dramatic Growth of Open Access September 30, 2008

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access continues! This quarter, more than 3 million publications were added to Scientific Commons, 1 million records to OAIster; the DOAJ stands at 3,668 titles, and has added 822 titles (net) in the past year, for an average daily addition of 2.25 titles. The percentage of the world's scholarly literature that is freely available appears to be close to 20%. PubMedCentral includes 2.4 million free items; 375 journals provide immediate free access to contents, and addition of 20 in the past quarter, and 257 journals provide immediate open access. There are 53 open access mandates in the world, with more to come; and more than 15,000 blogposts on Open Access News!


Directory of Open Access Journals
Number of Journals: 3,668
Journals Added in the Last Year: 822
Average daily added titles: 2.25

Scientific Commons
# Publications: 22.6 million
# Publications Added Last Year: 6.4 million
# Publications Added this Quarter: 3 million

# Records: 17.9 million
# Records Added this Past Year: 4.5 million
# Records Added this Past Quarter: 1 million

# Repositories: 1,254
Repositories Added this Year: 304

# journals with immediate free access: 375
added this quarter: 20
# journals with immediate open access: 257
# free items from PubMed: 2.4 million
% of literature indexed in PubMed freely available: 18%

Total Mandates: 53

% of scholarly literature freely available (2006, Björk et al)

# blogposts on Open Access News: On Friday, September 28, OA News passed the milestone of 15,000 blogposts

For full data, please see the following. Please note that there are two different figures for PubMedCentral, one from an Entrez PubMed search (see the PMC worksheet), and the other from the Registry of Open Access Repositories, likely a subset of PMC, maintained in Dramatic Growth for purposes of comparison with earlier figures.

Dramatic Growth Open Data - For Web Viewing

Dataverse (for downloading data)

For further analysis, commentary, and links to previous issues, please see the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series (English), or the Japanese translation.

IJPE followers please note: this post is early! I had meant to wait until International Open Access Day, but posting this right away makes more sense.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Are Elsevier prices going down yet?

According to correspondence from an Elsevier correspondent to Rosie Redfield, Elsevier is charging authors a rather substantial amount ($3,000 per article), because they do not plan to charge subscribers for author-sponsored content.


Has any librarian heard the other side - subscription fees going down because of author-sponsored content?

Authors: if you're going to pay for open access, make sure you are getting open access! There is a lot more to OA than just free access from one website. Here is the definition of OA, from the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Open Access Service Charges: Hydrology and Earth Systems Science

Update September 28: kudos to the Max Planck Society (MPS) for a really ingenious approach! The MPS will pay the publication charges if the first author is affiliated with MPS; however, they will ONLY pay the amount for an article formatted properly according to the technical specifications. If the author chooses to submit an article that will cost more because more work is needed, they can do so, and pay the difference.

The open access journal Hydrology and Earth Systems Science uses an approach they call service charges which may be of interest to publishers looking for ways to transition to open access.

Service charges vary by the number of pages (not unlike the traditional page charges), but also by the format the author uses to submit articles. In other words, an author can keep the fee down by submitting in Latex rather than Word, and/or by submitting according to the technical specifications for either Latex or Word. A 10-page article submitted in Latex according to the technical specification is €450 + 19% VAT, $657 US before taxes, $800 US total with taxes. Not bad!

Authors can choose to pay for copyediting, or take responsibility for this themselves.

The service charges approach seems to have some merits. At the very least, it is helpful, in my opinion, to think about publishing as a service.

This post belongs to the series Resources & Tips for Publishers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thanks to Elias A. Zerhouni

Today the U.S. National Institutes of Health released an announcement of NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni's intention to step down October 28 to pursue writing and other professional opportunities.

Dr. Zerhouni has led the NIH through the long process of the NIH Public Access mandate, first the voluntary policy, then the mandatory one, most recently speaking up forcefully for the NIH and against the absurd Conyers bill. The NIH is the world's largest medical research funder, and from my viewpoint, this is one of the OA initiatives that has been the subject of the most intense lobbying efforts. Thank you, Dr. Zerhouni. Public access is a great gift to the world; it is appreciated, and you will be missed.

This is only one of Dr. Zerhouni's many accomplishments, outlined in detail in the NIH letter.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.