Blog archive for June, 2007

Nature launches a free pre-print service for the sciences

June 18th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Today Nature Publishing Group launches Nature Precedings – a free document sharing service for the sciences. The service further enables scientists to share their preliminary findings and research in a free environment, while allowing authors to retain copyright in their work. All accepted contributions are released under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing for the material to be reused and redistributed as long as it is attributed to the author under terms specified.

This is the biological equivalent of the physics arXiv, but with a critical improvement. Placing pre-prints online solves the problem of an individual’s ability to access an article. But in the absence of an explicit copyright license, it’s unclear what that individual can actually do with the downloaded file. Nature’s choice to use CC-BY is a validation of the need to grant rights in advance to users, and of the CC-BY license in a truly Open Access service.

The launch of this Web service is a promising step towards further facilitating the dissemination and open exchange of information in the biological sciences. Precedings features submissions from biomedicine, chemistry and the earth sciences. The Web service fulfills the role of a preprint server but accepts a wider array of document types, including unpublished manuscripts, presentations, white papers and supplementary findings. Curators from Nature Publishing Group review all submissions. Acceptance is determined by the document’s relevancy to the field and legitimacy.

From Nature’s press release (which can be read in its entirety below),

“Helping scientists to communicate their ideas is central to Nature’s mission, and we are constantle seeking new ways to achieve this,” said Annette Thomas, Managing Director of Nature Publishing Group. “Precedings is an important new step for us and, we hope, the research community. We are particularly proud to have conceived and developed the service with the help of a group of such highly esteemed organizations; the British Library, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Science Commons, and the Wellcome Trust.”

Science Commons joins the list of partner organizations in support of this initiative, and as a member of Precedings’ Advisory Committee.

“Science progresses through the open exchance and reuse of ideas and data, but within a system that provides proper credit for their originators,” said John Wilbanks, Executive Director of Science Commons. “Creative Commons licenses can help to achieve just that, and we are delighted they have found yet another scientific use in Nature Precedings.”

To access Precedings, visit http://precedings.nature.com.
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* OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

Nature Publishing Group and partner organisations launch Nature Precedings, a free document-sharing service for scientists.

18 June 2007. For immediate release.

Today Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and partner organisations launch Nature Precedings http://precedings.nature.com, a free online service enabling researchers to rapidly share, discuss and cite early findings.

Written scientific communication takes place mainly through journals, but increasingly the web provides complementary opportunities for more rapid, participative and informal communication.

Nature Precedings is a free service from NPG that provides a way for researchers to share preliminary findings, solicit community feedback, and claim priority over discoveries. By promoting the rapid and open exchange of scientific information, the site ultimately aims to help accelerate the pace of discovery.

Nature Precedings accepts submissions from biomedicine, chemistry and the earth sciences. These are reviewed by professional NPG curators and accepted only if they are considered legitimate scientific contributions of likely interest to others in the field. Accepted contributions are assigned stable identifiers (‘Digital Object Identifiers’ and ‘Handles’) that enable formal citation, and are made available through an open-access archive. Submissions are not subjected to peer review before they are released. Because of this, contributions are usually published within one working day, often much sooner, and no charge is made to either authors or readers.

The new website fulfils the role of a preprint server ­ like the popular arXiv.org service in the physical sciences ­ but also accepts other document types, including unpublished manuscripts, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings, posters and presentations. The site facilitates the discovery of interesting and relevant content through user-driven features such as tagging, voting and commenting. Authors retain copyright in their work, and all accepted contributions are released under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (http://creativecommons.org/about/). This enables redistribution and reuse while ensuring that authors receive proper credit for their work.

It is anticipated that the content will be mirrored at one or more partner organisations. This federated approach will ensure the long-term availability of the content, and effectively guarantee that the service will remain free and open.

“Helping scientists to communicate their ideas is central to Nature’s mission, and we are constantly seeking new ways to achieve this,” said Annette Thomas, Managing Director of Nature Publishing Group. “Precedings is an important new step for us and, we hope, the research community. We are particularly proud to have conceived and developed the service with the help of a group of such highly esteemed organisations: the British Library, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Science Commons, and the Wellcome Trust.”

Richard Boulderstone, Director of e-Strategy at the British Library, said, “Informal online information sharing represents a tremendous opportunity for collaborative working between researchers and scholars worldwide. Precedings is an exciting example of how the British Library is partnering with other institutions to help facilitate and archive this scholarly information in a rapidly evolving digital environment”.

Graham Cameron, Associate Director of the EBI, said, “This is a great step forward in the open sharing of the findings of science. It will further the Œright to roam¹ scientific information, and thus facilitate connections to our databases and allow the application of our state-of-the-art text-mining tools.”

“Science progresses through the open exchange and reuse of ideas and data, but within a system that provides proper credit for their originators,” said John Wilbanks, Executive Director of Science Commons. “Creative Commons licenses can help to achieve just that, and we are delighted they have found yet another scientific use in Nature Precedings.”

Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said, “I welcome this initiative and encourage researchers, including Wellcome Trust grant holders, to make use of Nature Precedings. By providing a means for scientists not only to freely share, but also to claim priority and achieve recognition through citation, this new service will help to provide greater openness in research.”

Representatives of the above organisations will form a Precedings Advisory Committee, where they will be joined by a group of senior practicing scientists.

“I strongly support the idea of a preprint server for biological sciences. My colleagues and I will certainly be using it to report findings from our lab as the papers get written,” said Ravi Iyengar, Professor of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and a member of the Precedings Advisory Committee.

Timo Hannay, NPG’s Director of Web Publishing said, “Nature Precedings is the latest in a series of collaborative tools that Nature is building to enable researchers to use the web to maximum effect in their work. We hope it will help to foster more collaboration and openness, especially in fields where this is not the norm. We’re still at the beginning of this process, and Nature Precedings itself will continue to evolve. But with the support of our amazing list of forward-looking partners, and in discussion with other scientists and science publishers around the world, we look forward to enabling this exciting and essential next step in the evolution of scientific discourse.”

Nature Precedings is available at http://precedings.nature.com/

Further information can be obtained from Timo Hannay, Director of Web Publishing, Nature Publishing Group, 4 Crinan Street, London N1 9XW. Tel: +44-20-7843-4750. Email: t.hannay@nature.com.

About Nature Publishing Group
Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd. It is dedicated to serving the academic, professional scientific and medical communities. NPG’s flagship title, Nature, was first published in 1869. Other publications include Nature research journals, Nature Reviews, Nature Clinical Practice and a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. NPG also provides news content through news@nature.com. Scientific career information and free job postings are offered on Naturejobs.

NPG is a global company with headquarters in London and offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Tokyo, Paris, Munich, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Delhi, Mexico City and Basingstoke. For more information, please go to www.nature.com.

About the EBI
The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and is located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton near Cambridge (UK). The EBI grew out of EMBL’s pioneering work in providing public biological databases to the research community. It hosts some of the world’s most important collections of biological data, including DNA sequences (EMBL-Bank), protein sequences (UniProt), animal genomes (Ensembl), three-dimensional structures (the Macromolecular Structure Database), data from microarray experiments (ArrayExpress), protein­protein interactions (IntAct) and pathway information (Reactome). The EBI hosts several research groups and its scientists continually develop new tools for the biocomputing community.

About EMBL
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is a basic research institute funded by public research monies from 19 member states (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). Research at EMBL is conducted by approximately 80 independent groups covering the spectrum of molecular biology. The Laboratory has five units: the main Laboratory in Heidelberg, and Outstations in Hinxton (the European Bioinformatics Institute), Grenoble, Hamburg, and Monterotondo near Rome. The cornerstones of EMBL’s mission are: to perform basic research in molecular biology; to train scientists, students and visitors at all levels; to offer vital services to scientists in the member states; to develop new instruments and methods in the life sciences and to actively engage in technology transfer activities. EMBL’s International PhD Programme has a student body of about 170. The Laboratory also sponsors an active Science and Society programme. Visitors from the press and public are welcome.

Ruth Francis
Senior Press Officer, Nature
Tel: + 44 207 843 4562
Fax: + 44 207 843 4951
E-mail: r.francis@nature.com

IS2K7 podcasts now up

June 8th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Miss last week’s Internet & Society conference (IS2K7)? Courtesy of the Berkman Center, podcasts of the keynote given by Professor John Palfrey, as well as bits from Charles Ogletree, David Weinberger, Karim Lakhani and Mary Wong, can be found on this Web site.

The conference, “University: Knowledge Beyond Authority”, was thrown by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The event sought to examine the role of University in cyberspace, bringing together foundation representatives, students, academics, those from the libraries, non-profits, content holders and more. Science Commons co-sponsored the event, along with Reed Elsevier, the Office of the Provost at Harvard and the Charles Hamilton Institute for Race and Injustice.

For more information on the conference, check out the event’s Web site.

Science Commons in the news …

June 5th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Information World Review and SPARC’s Open Access Newsletter both feature pieces this month highlighting a new set of online tools recently released by Science Commons and SPARC. The toolkit aims to help authors retain critical rights over their scholarly works.

From IWR’s article, “Commons copyright targets scientists”, which was posted today:

“Science Commons, a project by copyright body Creative Commons , has got together with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (Sparc) to draft amendments to copyright agreements that will make it easier for authors to retain rights, including the right to reuse their articles and to post them in repositories.

‘This is about authors’ rights,’ said John Wilbanks, vice-president [for] Science Commons. ‘Right now, authors trade the most important rights – like the right to make copies of their own scholarly works – to traditional publishers. That trade has led to an imbalanced world of restricted access to knowledge, skyrocketing journal prices, and an inability to apply new technologies to the scholarly canon of knowledge.'”

NOTE: We here at Science Commons are maintaining a list of publishers that make these rights part of their relationships with authors. If you are a publisher who is compliant with the amendments requested in these author addenda, we encourage you to notify us. Doing so will aid us in gathering the empirical evidence necessary to continue our work surveying such problems in scholarly publishing.

Also, in this month’s edition of SPARC’s Open Access Newsletter (SOAN)

“[…] SPARC and Science Commons (SC) announced that they were consolidating their addenda, strengthening them, and releasing an online tool to produce customized versions of them. […]

Together SPARC and SC now offer four coordinated addenda, depending on the author’s needs. The online “Addendum Engine” lets authors select the addendum best for them and print a copy with article and publisher information already filled in.

One of the four is the pre-existing MIT addendum from January 2006. The others are the three published by Science Commons in June 2006 with one of them modified to incorporate elements from the SPARC addendum of March 2005. All three of the SPARC-SC addenda allow the author to retain the right to make, use, and distribute derivative works. One uses a Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial) license to free up users as well as the author. One allows immediate self-archiving of the published version of the article, and one allows immediate self-archiving of the peer-reviewed manuscript and only delayed self-archiving of the published version.”

SXSW podcasts now online

June 4th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Podcasts from this year’s Interactive component of SXSW are now available. Science Commons’ John Wilbanks moderated one of these very panels, exploring the social and legal ramifications of “Semantic Web” and “Web 2.0” as it applies to scientific publishing. Joining Wilbanks for this panel was Matthew Cockerill (BioMed Central), Melissa Hagemann (Open Society Institute), Timo Hannay (Nature Publishing Group), and Amit Kapoor (Topaz).

The podcast can be found on the SXSW Web site. We encourage you to visit SXSW 2007’s site for access to all of their telecasts from the event.