Blog archive for January, 2007

EURAB pushes European Commission to consider mandatory open access policies

January 26th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

The European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) is recommending that the European Commission make open access obligatory for publicly funded research under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The open access proposal was woven into the committee’s final report titled “Scientific Publication: Policy on Open Access” released last December.

In the report, EURAB – a committee established by the European Commission – calls for the EC to play the role of a funding body, a policy body, and as a supporting body in relation to adopting open access policies.

Taken from the report,

“EURAB recommends that the Commission should consider mandating all researchers funder under the FP7 to lodge their publication resulting from EC-funded research in an open science repository as soon as possible after publication, to be made openly accessible within 6 months at the latest.”

The Committee also writes that authors should deposit both post-prints and metadata of the articles.

In terms of being a supporting body, EURAB suggests that the EC “should provide key guidelines for researchers on what to deposit, where to deposit it, and when to deposit it.” These actions, the Committee writes, should work hand-in-hand with the Digital Library Initiative and be adopted across the whole FP7.

As far as policy goes, EURAB writes,

“The Commission should strongly encourage all Member States [of the European Union] to promote open access publication for all their publicly funded research.”

Definitely a step in the right direction as far as adoption of open access practices in Europe goes …

To read the report in full, click here.

‘PR pit bull’ to take on open access?

January 25th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Nature – a for-profit publisher – has learned that a group of big scientific publishers has hired Eric Dezenhall – known as the “pit bull of public relations” – to take on the open-access movement.

This eye-opening article, entitled “PR’s ‘pit bull’ takes on open access”, was authored by Nature‘s Jim Giles and published online January 24.

Dezenhall, author of Nail ‘Em! Confronting High-Profile Celebrities and Businesses, is more widely known for his work protecting and un-tarnishing companies and celebrities’ reputations. As reported in Business Week, Dezenhall used money from ExxonMobile to fight the environmental group Greenpeace, as well as worked for former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling, who is now serving a 24-year sentence for fraud.

According to e-mails passed to Nature, Dezenhall employees spoke to employees from Elsevier, Wiley and the Association of American Publishers, who appear to be exploring extreme measures to help reinstate their livelihood, which they claim open access publishers have stripped away.

Giles writes:

“A follow-up message in which Dezenhall suggests a strategy for the publishers provides some insight into the approach they are considering taking.

The consultant advised them to focus on simple messages, such as ‘Public access equals government censorship’. He hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review, and ‘paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles’.

Dezenhall also recommended joining forces with groups that may be ideologically opposed to government-mandated projects such as PubMed Central, including organizations that have angered scientists. One suggestion was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington DC, which has used oil industry money to promote sceptical views on climate change. Dezenhall estimated his fee for the campaign at $300,000 – 500,000.”

To read this article in full, click here. And, thanks to Nature, this article is freely available to non-subscribers.

MIT’s Barton Catalog dataset back online

January 24th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

The Barton Catalog dataset is back online, after being removed temporarily. Thanks to the SIMILE project (Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments) – a joint project between MIT Libraries and MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) – one million records and 50 million RDF statements from MIT Libraries’ catalog are now available to the public.

The recently released dataset contains two formats instead of the previous three, with MIT choosing not to release the previous MARC 21 version due to issues regarding sensitive information in the set.

MIT will license the copyrightable elements of the database under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, giving users the permission to copy, distribute, display, and prepare derivative works of such elements for non-commercial uses as long as appropriate attribution is given.

The SIMILE project asks to be notified if you make use of the dataset.

The Barton Catalog dataset can be found here.

To read the license in full, click here.

“Property Rights and the Efficient Exploitation of Copyrighted Works: An Empirical Analysis of Public Domain and Copyrighted Fiction Best Sellers”

January 22nd, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Professor Paul J. Heald from the University of Georgia has been kind enough to bring our attention to a comparative study of bestselling public domain and copyrighted fiction from 1913-1932. This study contradicts some of William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner’s assertions in their article, “Indefinitely Renewable Copyright” .

Prof. Heald’s paper, entitled “Property Rights and the Efficient Exploitation of Copyrighted Works: An Empirical Analysis of Public Domain and Copyrighted Fiction Best Sellers”, is accessible through SSRN. Prof Heald has also chosen to make the raw data underpinning his analysis available as well. For now, we’re hosting it here at Science Commons, though we look forward to finding it a more permanent home in a repository soon.

From the paper’s abstract, Heald writes:

“Economists and policymakers have recently defended the extension of copyright protection to assure the efficient exploitation of existing works. They assert that works in the public domain may be under-exploited due to the lack of property rights or over-exploited due to congestion externalities. This study compares the availability, number of editions, and prices of 166 public domain bestsellers published from 1913-1922 with 168 copyrighted bestsellers from 1923-32. It also compares the 20 most durable public domain works from 1913-22 with the 20 most durable protected works from 1923-32. A significantly higher percentage of the public domain books are still in print, with significantly more editions available per book, and for the sub-set of especially durable works, the public domain works are significantly less expensive. Although the data show that rates of availability for both kinds of books are likely sensitive to reductions in the cost of duplication and distribution, the study concludes that protection of fiction beyond the period necessary to ensure its creation is not justified by concerns about under-exploitation. The possibility of congestion presented by the data is also considered.”


Open Access round-up

January 10th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Barely into the new year, there are already a few very noteworthy news items.

Introducing PLoS ONE – a partner with Science Commons

On December 20, 2006, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) launched PLoS ONE – an international open-access online publication that employs pre- and post-publication peer review. The journal welcomes primary research from all scientific disciplines for publication. In creating an open source publishing system, PLoS ONE significantly decreases the span of time from submission to publication. The publication was launched in a beta format in hopes of having users shape the online publication into an optimal and flexible open-source publishing system. PLoS ONE was launched with 100 peer-reviewed articles in its arsenal, with subjects ranging from the evolution of language, mimicry of jumping spiders and Alzheimer’s disease.

To check out PLoS ONE for yourself, visit their Web site .

Nature releases under CC licenses

In other news, the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), publisher of science journals, has recently announced it will be offering the content of three of its journals under a Creative Commons agreement. The titles include the EMBO Journal and EMBO Reports(both owned by the European Molecular Biology Organization), as well as the Molecular Systems Biology Journal (jointly owned by EMBO and NPG). They will be released under a CC-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 license, allowing the community to freely share the work as long as the work is attributed as specified by the author/licensor, not used for commercial purposes, and kept in its original form.

Open Access on

From nature to medical journals, thanks to SC’s own John Wilbanks, open access recently graced the British Medical Journal’s Web site . His piece, “Another reason for opening access to research”, sheds light on how open access initiatives and principles can now be seen in scientific and technical publishing. Wilbanks writes that the existence of open access journals, archives and other educational materials all make open access increasingly easy for others to involve themselves in. He identifies a number of common problems in scientific publishing today, such as legal and technical barriers as well as pressure often exerted in a top-down fashion from scholarly publishers on contributors. It is with these issues in mind that Wilbanks believes an open access model offers relief by allowing researchers and contributors access to other resources by making available a set of free tools. This open access model involves a number of key technological aspects, Wilbanks writes, using such approaches as text mining, collaborative filtering, and semantic indexing.

Click here to read this piece in its entirety on BMJ’s Web site.