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ISSUES IN SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION:
News for the University of Illinois Community

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May 25, 2005

PEER PRESSURE: SCHOLARLY JOURNALS' PREMIER STATUS IS DILUTED BY WEB;
MORE RESEARCH IS FREE ONLINE AMID SPURT OF START-UPS;
PUBLISHERS' PROFITS AT RISK;
A REVOLT ON UC'S CAMPUSES

The publishers' prestige derives from the rigorous system of peer review, in which a journal's editorial board will select experts in a field to vet articles. At some top scholarly journals, less than 10% of submitted articles make it into a publication. In turn, the peer- review system lends authority to a scholar's work, and has long been a springboard to academic advancement.

Some scholars think publishing should operate like the Linux computer operating system, where programmers build on each other's work in an ongoing, collaborative project. In the scholarly realm, a database called arXiv -- pronounced "archive," as if the "x" were the Greek letter "chi" -- has become a repository of scholarship in the physics field. It's owned and operated by Cornell University and partially supported by the National Science Foundation. If the UC administration has its way, something like that would be the norm throughout academia.

"That alarmed us," says a Reed Elsevier spokeswoman in Amsterdam. More than 100 UC faculty members serve as senior editors of Elsevier journals and about 1,000 serve on editorial boards. The publisher fanned out across the campuses, drumming up support among friendly faculty with breakfasts and other meetings. The spokeswoman says the company concluded that most UC faculty members didn't know about the boycott call or didn't support it.

Bernard Wysocki Jr.. Wall Street Journal. May 23, 2005. pg. A.1
UIUC members may read the full article here.

Posted by at 11:17 AM

May 24, 2005

UK MEDICAL RESEARCHERS BANKROLL INNOVATIVE ONLINE DATABASE

From The Guardian:
Some of Britain's leading medical research funders have banded together to finance the country's most comprehensive online repository of medical knowledge. The multimillion-pound UK PubMed Central project is a big boost to proponents of open access to scientific research. It will enable academic researchers to post papers published either online or in subscription-based scientific journals, on a single searchable database which anybody can access free. This resource will complement the U.S.'s PubMed Central. Read more

Posted by at 12:18 PM

May 18, 2005

VIRTUAL LIBRARY MODEL

Carnegie Corporation of New York has developed a model virtual library to demonstrate one method of supplementing collections in African universities where Internet connectivity is limited and expensive. Scholarly articles free of both charge and copyright were downloaded from the Internet, sorted by subject and stored in a hard drive, later to be copied and housed in a server. Should the virtual library project be implemented, the server could be copied and exported to the beneficiary universities and operate at the center of a local area network. The report

* outlines the technological and ethical issues encountered during
the two-month collection phase of the project
* identifies and describes other initiatives addressing issues of
free access to scholarly research and low Internet connectivity or
bandwidth
* offers suggestion to make the project design both more efficient
and effective

http://www.carnegie.org/sub/pubs/virtlibreport.html

Posted by at 4:25 PM

THE ACCESS PRINCIPLE

John Willensky, The Access Principle: The New Economics of Knowledge as a Public Good (http://open.utoronto.ca/johnwillensky.html), a public lecture at the University of Toronto lecture series on Open Source and Open Access, March 31, 2005. Abstract: 'This presentation approaches open access and open source by returning to first principles. At issue today in scholarly publishing, Willinsky posits, is an access principle, that speaks to how a scholarly commitment to knowledge entails a responsibility to see to that knowledge circulate as widely as possible. Against growing restrictions on access to the growing body of scholarship and research over the last few decades, a broad range of practical and sustainable approaches has begun to emerge that utilizes new Internet technologies to improve access to the periodical literature. This presentation will outline ten new economic models of scholarly publishing, each of which is contributing to greater access, across the academic disciplines and involving the cooperation of private and public interests. The presentation will describe how this renewed realization of the access principle has immediate and direct consequences not only for scholarly works very claim to knowledge but for the quality of people’s lives. This presentation will draw on the research conducted by the Public Knowledge Project, as well as its experience in developing Open Journal Systems and Open Conference Systems, two of the open source solutions for open access publishing, now being used around the world in a variety of languages.' Open Access News 3/31/05

Posted by at 4:23 PM

TAKING SIDES ON OPEN ACCESS

Open access has evolved into one of the most contentious debates within the scientific community in recent years. During the past 18 months, the dialogue on how best to disseminate published research has been steadily gaining momentum. Advocates of open access argue that the public should be able to access all online scientific literature for free. They maintain that the public has a right to access the results of federally funded research supported by their tax dollars. Opponents insist that the current subscription-based system does allow the public access to the literature, albeit not for free. They argue that subscriptions are needed to support the costs associated with journal publication and online archiving. In October 2003, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) launched its first peer-reviewed, open-access journal, PLoS Biology. The new journal uses a publishing model in which authors, not subscribers, pay publication costs. While the journal's contents are freely available for anyone to view and use, authors must pay an article-submission fee of $1,500. PLoS has since launched PLoS Medicine and plans to launch three more open-access journals later this year: PLoS Genetics, PLoS Computational Biology, and PLoS Pathogens. The National Institutes of Health heightened the open-access debate last year when it announced its draft open-access policy in September. During the review period, NIH received nearly 6,000 comments from publishers, researchers, and librarians, all stating their cases either for or against such a policy. Just last month, NIH revealed its final version of the policy after amending the draft based on the comments received. The policy strongly encourages—but does not require—scientists to submit peer-reviewed manuscripts resulting from NIH-funded research within 12 months to PubMed Central, the agency's free digital archive of biomedical research. C&EN's third Point-Counterpoint brings together two of the voices in the open-access debate. Richard J. Roberts, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is the director of bioinformatics at New England Biolabs in Beverly, Mass. He is also a senior executive editor of Nucleic Acids Research, which is published by Oxford University Press. Roberts, along with 24 other Nobel Laureates, sent a letter to the members of Congress on Aug. 26, 2004, urging them to support free access to taxpayer-funded research. Arguing the other side of the issue is Peter Banks, publisher for the American Diabetes Association. Banks is currently on the steering committee for patientINFORM, a project aimed at providing more biomedical research along with interpretation and context to patients. The project is set to debut this spring. Banks is also president of the Society of National Association Publications, composed of 300 nonprofit publishers. Chemical & Engineering News 3/7/05 http://pubs.acs.org/cen/government/8310/8310openaccess.html

Posted by at 4:21 PM