UK Government Moving Forward on OA

There was some big news out of the U.K. this week that had many open access advocates buzzing online:
The government of the U.K. announced that, within 2 years, it plans to provide open access to all publicly funded research results.
See the comments article by universities and science minister, David Willetts in The Guardian.
Another Guardian article provides further details:
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales will act as an unpaid consultant to “…initially advise the research councils on its £2m Gateway to Research project, a website that will act as a portal, linking to publicly funded UK research all over the web.”

Harvard: Cost of Journals “Untenable”

Academic librarians have long lamented the unsustainable escalation in journal subscription prices (i.e. the “serials crisis”) – but a solution, and real change, needs to come from a shift within the values and behaviours of the academics who are the primary contributors to, and consumers of, these journals.
On April 17, 2012 the Faculty Advisory Council at Harvard University released a memorandum to all faculty “…to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library.”
“Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M….Prices for online content from two providers have increased by about 145% over the past six years, which far exceeds not only the consumer price index, but also the higher education and the library price indices.”
The Faculty Advisory Council suggests several options for faculty and librarians to consider to help shift this untenable situation including the critical, but elusive target: “move prestige to open access.”
As Robert Gonzales over at io9 puts it:
“What does it say about the world of academic publishing, the accessibility of knowledge, and the flow of information when the richest academic institution on the planet cannot afford to continue paying for its peer-reviewed journal subscriptions?”
Not all are applauding Harvard’s stance though…
Michael Eisen, a biologist at UC Berkeley (and co-founder of the Public Library of Science), has written a withering response to the Harvard announcement:
20 years of cowardice: the pathetic response of American universities to the crisis in scholarly publishing


The Research Works Act (RWA) is now officially dead.
As reported in this blog back in January, the RWA is a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representations in December 2011 that would repeal the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy – and cause a severe setback in the Open Access movement.
The introduction of this bill ignited a firestorm of opposition online, led by Micheal Eisen who also exposed the major contributions made by Elsevier to the election campaigns of the sponsors of the bill.
This revelation seemed to be the spark that finally spurred action among academics. The Cost of Knowledge boycott, initiated by Tim Glowers and Tyler Neylon, enlisted more than 7000 researchers who pledged not to support any Elsevier journal (publish, edit, review).
On February 23, 2012, 11 Research University Provosts signed an essay on Values and Scholarship in InsideHigherEd that provided strong support for the signatories of the Cost of Knowledge boycott.
In addition to individual researchers, publishers also started to publicly oppose the RWA (Peter Suber and Richard Poynder maintained lists of these).
All of the negative press accumulated to a point that Elsevier finally backed away from its support of this bill on Feb 27, 2012, and within hours, Representatives Issa and Maloney withdrew the bill.
Want more details? Peter Suber’s SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #163 (Mar 2, 2012), provides an extremely comprehensive summary of these events… “a biography and obituary” of the RWA.

10 years of Open Access

Happy anniversary BOAI!
It was Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2002 when the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) was officially launched. This is seen by many as the birth of the Open Access movement.
The first paragraph of the Initiative reads:

“An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.”

Research Works Act Threatens NIH’s Public Access Policy

In December the Research Works Act (RWA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. If this bill passes it will effectively put an end to the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy – and cause a severe setback in the Open Access movement.
The NIH Public Access Policy ensures that tax-payers (who ultimately funded the research) have access to the published results of that research. Researchers that receive funding from NIH are required to deposit a copy of their peer-reviewed articles in the open archive PubMed within 12 months of publication. The RWA will forbid this requirement.
Criticism and discussion of this is bill is growing rapidly online and in editorials.
Peter Suber, the well-known Open Access advocate, has started a Google+ thread on this topic that includes many comments and links from others in the OA community.
See also Michael Eisen’s New York Times op-ed piece, and several entries in his blog. Michael Eisen is a biologist at UC Berkeley and co-founder of the Public Library of Science OA journals.
From Eisen’s NYT op-ed:
“But it is not just Congress that should act. For too long scientists, libraries and research institutions have supported the publishing status quo out of a combination of tradition and convenience. But the latest effort to overturn the N.I.H.’s public access policy should dispel any remaining illusions that commercial publishers are serving the interests of the scientific community and public.
Researchers should cut off commercial journals’ supply of papers by publishing exclusively in one of the many “open-access” journals that are perfectly capable of managing peer review (like those published by the Public Library of Science, which I co-founded). Libraries should cut off their supply of money by canceling subscriptions. And most important, the N.I.H., universities and other public and private agencies that sponsor academic research should make it clear that fulfilling their mission requires that their researchers’ scholarly output be freely available to the public at the moment of publication. “

Big OA News from the U.K.!

“Our goal is a transformation in the accessibility of research and data.”(6.10, p.78)
There is a lot of buzz online regarding a new policy report released last week from the British government.
The “Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth” report may be downloaded from here.
From the press release:
“The strategy, launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, sets out the Government’s plans to boost economic growth through investment in research and innovation across the UK.”
The relevant Open Access statements begin in section 6, p.76, here are just a few of examples:
6.6 “The Government, in line with our overarching commitment to transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that publicly-funded research should be accessible free of charge.”
6.8: “Government will work with partners, including the publishing industry, to achieve free access to publicly-funded research as soon as possible and will set an example itself.”
6.9 “The Research Councils expect the researchers they fund to deposit published articles or conference proceedings in an open access repository at or around the time of publication. But this practice is unevenly enforced. Therefore, as an immediate step, we have asked the Research Councils to ensure the researchers
they fund fulfill the current requirements. Additionally, the Research Councils have now agreed to invest £2 million in the development, by 2013, of a UK ‘Gateway to Research’.
The entire report:

33 New North American Signatories to OA Declaration

The Berlin 9 Open Access Conference took place last week (Nov 9-10, 2011) in Washington D.C. It is the first time that this highly regarded annual OA meeting has been held in North America. In recognition of this event, there was a surge in North American signatories to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.
From the Nov 9, 2011 press release:
“Thirty-three research institutions, associations, and foundations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have made a commitment to Open Access to research by signing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. These top private, public, and non-profit organizations join nearly 300 more from around the world in another clear sign of the growing demand for change in the way scientific and scholarly research results are communicated and maximized….
“The Berlin Declaration promotes the Internet as a medium for disseminating global knowledge. Its goal is to make scientific and scholarly research more accessible to the broader public by taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by digital electronic communication. Signatories support actions that ensure the future Web is sustainable, interactive, and transparent – and that content is openly accessible – in order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge.

Open Access Books?

The open access movement has mostly focused on counteracting the high-cost of serial publications. But now there is the beginnings of an open access movement for books too!
OAPEN is an initiative in Open Access publishing for humanities and social sciences monographs. The consortium of University-based academic publishers who make up OAPEN believe that the time is ripe to bring the successes of scientific Open Access publishing to the humanities and social sciences.”
Browse the titles available so far:

Call for Papers – Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication

The first official call for papers of the new Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication (JLSC) has just gone out!
The inaugural issue of JLSC will focus on the theme of “Defining Scholarly Communication” and is due out in Spring 2012.
From the About JLSC page:

“The Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication is a quarterly, peer-reviewed open-access publication for original articles, reviews and case studies that analyze or describe the strategies, partnerships and impact of library-led digital projects, online publishing and scholarly communication initiatives.
JLSC provides a focused forum for library practitioners to share ideas, strategies, research and pragmatic explorations of library-led initiatives related to such areas as institutional repository and digital collection management, library publishing/hosting services and authors’ rights advocacy efforts. As technology, scholarly communication, the economics of publishing, and the roles of libraries all continue to evolve, the work shared in JLSC informs practices that strengthen librarianship.
The Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication is a shared intellectual space for scholarly communication librarians, institutional repository managers, digital archivists, digital data managers and related professionals.”

New Top-Tier OA BioMedical Journal Announced

In June three well-known research organizations, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust, announced they intend to start a new top-tier open access biomedical and life sciences journal.
From the June 27, 2011 press release:
“All research published in the journal will make highly significant contributions that will extend the boundaries of scientific knowledge.
A team of highly regarded, experienced and actively practising scientists will ensure fair, swift and transparent editorial decisions followed by rapid online publication. The first issue of the journal, whose name has yet to be decided, is expected to be published in the summer of 2012.”

“The journal will be an open access journal: the entire content will be freely available for all to read, to reproduce and for unrestricted use. This open access system will also enhance opportunities to share content and to more directly engage the reader.”
And from the July 11, 2011 press release:
Randy Schekman, a distinguished cell biologist and the 14th editor of ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’, has been named the first editor of a new journal”