SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES

A Newsletter for the UIUC Community

Issue #5 October 23, 2001


IMPACTS OF PROPOSED ANTI-TERRORISM MEASURES

While we await final word on the details of Congress’ yet-to-be-agreed-on final version of the Anti-Terrorism Act, we can speculate on the impact of some of the anticipated provisions:

The associations that represent libraries and other higher education institutions are working hard to identify provisions that challenge some important traditional liberties and bring them to the attention of Congressional staff who are working with the conference committee.

POST-9/11 ENVIRONMENT: ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

Many government agencies are reassessing the easy availability of information that could prove dangerous to national security. OMBWatch (www.ombwatch.org/info/2001/access.html) provides an up-to-date list of various changes in publicly accessible electronic government information since September 11. Several agencies have also called on some libraries to return materials issued to them. Thus far, UIUC has not received any such request, but we expect that we will. The Association of Research Libraries is consulting with the Superintendent of Documents about how and under what circumstances it will ask to withdraw materials it has deposited with libraries such as ours. Terrorism is not the only reason for requests to withdraw government documents, however. Earlier this month the US Army Corps of Engineers requested the withdrawal of a pamphlet containing a detailed map of an archaeological site in Nebraska (UIUC does not own a copy). It seems that an elderly woman obtained a copy of the pamphlet and was arrested while looting the site. At last check, no library has withdrawn the item.

ARCHIVING 9/11

A beta version of the September 11 Television Archive is now online. This is a collection of multi-lingual, worldwide TV broadcasts from September 11-17 as well as scholarly and op-ed commentaries on the TV coverage from that period. The broadcasts are viewable in RealPlayer or QuickTime format, and visitors may write reviews of each clip.
http://client.alexa.com/tvarchive/html/

KLUWER JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD RESIGNS

Criticizing the evolution of scholarly communication and explaining that the publisher’s role in disseminating research has become unbalanced to extreme, 40 members of the editorial board of Machine Learning Journal, a journal published by Kluwer, resigned recently. "Times have changed…fifteen years ago, research papers did not circulate easily," noted the editors, adding that articles now circulate easily via the Internet. Machine Learning Journal carries a subscription price of $1050 for institutions and $120 for individual subscribers. After their resignation, the editors threw their support behind the competing Journal of Machine Learning Research, which is published in print by MIT press and is available freely without limitations or restrictions on its website. JMLR was founded in Spring 2000 in partnership with SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an alliance of universities and research libraries that supports increased competition in scientific journal publishing. (LJ Academic News Wire, 10/11/01)

PROFITS IN UNIVERSITY PRESS PUBLISHING

Despite reports of poor financial returns from most university presses, Oxford University Press recently reported high profits. OUP, according to reports in the British press, saw sales rise 13% while profits rose 43% over last financial year. OUP Chief Henry Reese told reporters that the spike in profits was not likely to be repeated as more funds are diverted away from book purchases.

NO PROFITS: LINGUA FRANCA SUDDENLY CEASES PUBLICATION

In a sad sign of the times, the celebrated chronicle of university life started in 1990 by former professor Jeffrey Kittay, suddenly ceased operations last week, saying its

sole investor could no longer support the costs of its publication. The magazine was highly regarded for its insight into the inner workings and controversies within

academe, won a prestigious National Magazine Award for general excellence in 1993, and garnered nominations for the award in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 1999. Mr. Kittay told

reporters at the NEW YORK TIMES he planned to seek a new financial backer and that the company's web-publications--UNIVERSITY BUSINESS DAILY and ARTS AND LETTERS DAILY—would survive in some form.

NEW LINKS AMONG DATABASES, REFERENCE WORKS, AND FULL-TEXT JOURNAL ARCHIVES

Do you dream about finding a reference to just the right item and clicking to its full-text? Progress towards fulfilling that vision is being made. Two new innovative linking arrangements were announced recently. J-STOR, a non-profit initiative to archive back issues of scholarly publications and to which UIUC subscribes, has initiated linking arrangements with several other research resources, include ProQuest’s Periodical Contents Index, ExLibris’ SFX Context-Sensitive Reference Linking Software, and two historical databases from ABC-CLIO. Swets Blackwell and ProQuest have also announced the availability of links from ProQuest databases to the full text of the 6,000 e-journal titles in Swets’ NetNavigator system. (Outsell E-Brief, 10/5/01)

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY COPYRIGHT SUIT

Remember the lawsuit a freelance photographer brought against the National Geographic Society (see Issue #1)? He claimed that NGS did not have the right to reproduce his work in a complete compilation of National Geographic magazines on CD-ROM. The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the photographer. The decision is in many ways at odds with the Tasini decision on which we’ve also reported previously (Issue #1). As a result of this finding, National Geographic will either have to withdraw its product from the market or pay the freelancers, a move that NGS says will result in higher prices for the product.

CAN WE REALLY GO ALL-DIGITAL (THAT IS, IF WE WANT TO)?

Brewster Kahle, Rick Prelinger, and Mary Jackson argue that universal digital access is attainable. "The goal of universal access to our cultural heritage is within our grasp. With current digital technology we can build comprehensive collections, and with digital networks we can make these available to students and scholars all over the world. The current challenge is establishing the roles, rights, and responsibilities of our libraries and archives in providing public access to this information. With these roles defined, our institutions will help fulfill this epic opportunity of our digital age." They also write,

"Currently, the technology has reached the point where scanning all books, digitizing all audio recordings, downloading all websites, and recording the output of all
TV and radio stations is not only feasible but less costly than buying and storing the physical versions." For a near-term strategy they propose a combination of copyright conservancies, digital interlibrary loans, and direct digital lending.
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october01/kahle/10kahle.html

 

PETITION SEEKS SHARING OF PUBLIC CODE

A group of scientists is seeking widespread support for open-source software, believing that software underwritten by publicly funded research should be released under Open Source or Free Software licenses. They say this will benefit the public by promoting both the pace and progress of science by encouraging open and verifiable peer-reviewed research and the reuse of previously reviewed software. A petition, available at www.openinformatics.org, was drawn up recently by three software developers who also believe that public disclosure will allow closer scrutiny of existing software. They ask that U.S. granting agencies (such as NIH and NSF) require grantees to publish their codes under open-source or "free software" licenses. That would give users broad freedom to alter and share programs. They argue that in science, mandated sharing could free up time and money for research. NIH and NSF officials appear receptive, according to a report in SCIENCE http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/294/5540/27a?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=Malakoff%2C+D&titleabstract=Petition&searchid=QID_NOT_SET&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&volume=294&fdate=10/1/2001&tdate=10/31/2001

ARE WE HITTING THE MARK?

Scholarly Communication Issues welcomes your input. Please let us know what’s missing from our coverage. And let us hear your comments about the issues themselves. Does our current system of scholarly communication need to be changed? If so, how should the academic community go about changing it? Send your comments to Paula Kaufman at ptk@uiuc.edu.