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June 30, 2005

UK Research Councils in all Disciplines Back Free Online Access

by Donald MacLeod, for The Guardian
Wednesday June 29, 2005

Thousands of British academics in every subject from art history to zoology will soon be required to make their research freely available online, the UK research councils have announced.

The move flies in the face of government reluctance to offend the publishing industry and is a victory for proponents of open access to research findings. By making free access a condition of grants, the research councils, which control billions of pounds worth of funding, hope to give British research more impact worldwide as it is taken up and cited by other researchers. Read the rest of the article... Or read the press release on the Research Council's website.

Posted by at 11:39 AM

June 28, 2005


By Amy Schatz, Sarah Mcbride and Nick Wingfield, Staff Reporters of The Wall Street Journal. June 28, 2005; Page B1

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that file-sharing companies may be liable for copyright infringement if their products encourage consumers to illegally swap songs and movies. The decision is a victory for entertainment companies that clears the way for further piracy-related law suits. [snip]

The court's unanimous decision in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster Ltd. is a landmark in the ongoing battle over copyright on the Internet that has wracked the music sector and at times pitted the nation's technology and entertainment powerhouses against each other. Some legal experts say the ruling outlines a new test for determining the legality of technology that can be harnessed for illicit activities, centered around whether its creators actively induce users to infringe. And it raises serious questions for makers of the file-sharing software commonly used to trade songs and videos.

Read on...(UIUC users, only)
or read the full ruling [PDF] with thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Posted by at 12:39 PM

June 27, 2005

Packing Up The Books: Libraries Without Books

From the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Colleges are increasingly clearing books and journals out of their libraries to make room for "information commons" -- digital information centers stocked with computers, technical-help desks, comfortable chairs, and even coffee shops. Do digital libraries, as their fans suggest, help students take a more active role in learning? Is anything wrong with moving books off-site as long as they can still be obtained digitally or overnight through interlibrary loan? Or are librarians too quick to embrace a passing fad?

Read the article about The University of Texas at Austin, which is clearing nearly all of the books out of its undergraduate library this summer to make room for an iinformation commons where students can collaborate with classmates on multimedia projects, consult with Internet-savvy librarians, and check out laptop computers.

Posted by at 12:19 PM

June 24, 2005


From a note to LibLicense by Rebecca Kennison, Director of Journal Production, Public Library of Science
The open-access journal PLoS Biology has been assessed by Thomson ISI to have an impact factor of 13.9, which places PLoS Biology among the most highly cited journals in the life sciences. This is an outstanding statistic for a journal less than two years old, from a new publisher promoting a new business model to support open access to the scientific and medical literature.

An impact factor of 13.9 places PLoS Biology above such established journals as EMBO Journal, Current Biology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, in ISI's category of general biology journals, PLoS Biology is ranked number 1. Read the rest of the letter. Or access Journal Citation Reports, the source for Impact Factors.

Posted by at 10:38 AM

June 23, 2005


Impressive impact factors prove that BioMed Central's Open Access journals are high quality and widely read and cited. Journals published by BioMed Central have again received impact factors that compare well with equivalent subscription titles, it was announced today, with five titles in the top five of their specialty. The high impact factors for these journals affirm that they are respected by researchers, and are fast becoming the place for authors to submit important research findings.

Five journals published by BioMed Central received their first impact factors this year. BMC Bioinformatics, with an impact factor of 5.42, has reinforced its reputation as one of the top journals in its field. Launched in 2000, it is the second highest ranked bioinformatics journal, and already has an impact factor comparable to that of Bioinformatics (5.74), the most established journal in the field, which has been publishing for more than two decades and is supported by a major society. Read the rest of the article...
Note: If you'd like to find out what the Impact Factor for a given journal is, use the Journal Citation Reports. The data for 2004 has just been added to JCR.

Posted by at 10:57 AM

June 22, 2005


By Peter Suber

Cati Vanden Breul, "U libraries confront higher journal costs", Minnesota Daily, April 20, 2005. Excerpt: 'In order to provide students and faculty with access to published research, the University subscribes to thousands of scholarly journals, some of which cost up to $20,000 a year per subscription. Because of the increasing cost of these journals, the University has been forced to cancel approximately 2,000 subscriptions in the last two years alone, said Wendy Lougee, director of the University Libraries....Part of the problem, Lougee said, is that publishers are making large profits by charging authors thousands of dollars to print their research and then making the public pay an additional fee to read it....Taxpayers also lose out, because their money funds the research in the first place, but most cannot afford to read the results, Lougee said. For this reason, the National Institutes of Health have encouraged researchers who receive funding through the institutes to make their research accessible to the public online for free in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central, Lougee said....But publishing online presents a problem for some researchers, because to receive tenure, professors need to be published in prestigious journals, [Stephen] Ekker [professor of genetics] said. "The reality is that when you are a researcher or an educational scholar, your scientific credentials are largely judged by what kind of publications you generate," he said. Ekker said he hopes open-access publications, those freely available to the public, will soon be seen as more credible. Charlotte Tschider, a University of Minnesota graduate student, said researchers should not have to pay journals to print their work. "I don’t think that’s fair," Tschider said.'

(PS: Quick response from Peter Suber to Stephen Ekker: You can publish in any prestigious journal that will accept your work and still have OA. If the journal is not itself OA, then you can deposit a copy of your article in an OA repository. Quick response to Charlotte Tschider: You've been hearing the misinformation that OA journals use an "author pays" model. When OA journals charge author-side fees, they are usually paid by the author's funding agency or employer, or waived, not paid by the author out of pocket. And most OA journals don't charge author-side fees at all.)

Posted by at 6:21 PM


By Peter Suber

The Russell Group of UK universities has issued a Statement on Scholarly Communication and Publishing endorsing open access. Here's the statement in its entirety:

The Russell Group, in association with the Joint CURL/SCONUL Scholarly Communications Group, has adopted the following statement on scholarly communication and publishing.

The Russell Group consists of 19 major research universities (including Oxford and Cambridge) that receive 60% of the research grants in the UK, analogous to the AAU in the US. (Thanks to SHERPA News.)

Posted by at 6:05 PM


By Michael Rogers on MSNBC
Several years ago journalist John Lenger told a remarkable story in the Columbia Journalism Review about teaching a journalism class at Harvard’s extension school. He asked his young students to write a story about a Harvard land deal that occurred in 1732, but after a week of research, most came back with almost nothing substantial to report. The problem: They had done most of their research using the Internet, walking right past Harvard’s library and archives, where the actual information could be found. When Lenger questioned their research methods, one student replied that she assumed that anything that was important in the world was already on the Internet.

When I told that story recently to Brewster Kahle, the founder of the San Francisco non-profit Internet Archive, he shook his head: “When we were growing up,” he said, “we had great libraries. But for kids today, the Internet is their library. We are giving them an instantly accessible resource that is much worse than what we grew up with.” But Kahle, along with Google , Amazon and a clutch of prestigious libraries worldwide are all working to change that: digitizing thousands of books every day, building a global library where every manner of content lives online.

Turning books into bits, however, is not easy. . . Read on. . .

Posted by at 5:56 PM


From: News -- Nature 435, 1010-1011 (23 June 2005) by Zeeya Merali and Jim Giles

Life-sciences databases are in crisis, say their operators, as funders keen to support exciting new projects lose interest in maintaining existing services. Nature investigates the scale of the problem.

A lack of stable funding is threatening biology's core databases. Unless funding agencies set aside dedicated grants, the fear is that researchers will lose access to information vital to their work.

Several major international databases and research centres, including the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) at Hinxton near Cambridge, UK, face funding cuts. And the outlook for specialist databases is even worse: more than half of the operators contacted by Nature say their databases are updated sporadically or not at all because no funding was available after their original grants expired. Read More.

Posted by at 5:40 PM


Jocelyn Kaiser, Science Magazine, June 10, 2005 ....The House subcommittee also appears to have sided with NIH in its fight with the American Chemical Society (ACS) over PubChem, a new NIH database holding data on biologically active chemicals. ACS contends that PubChem duplicates its own subscription-based chemical database. This spring, the ACS attempted to persuade NIH to scale back its efforts (Science, 6 May 2005, p. 774) and took its case to subcommittee chair Ralph Regula (R-OH), whose state is home to the headquarters of the ACS database. In the end, a report accompanying the House bill does not ask the agency to restrict the scope of the database, but instead "urges NIH to work with private sector providers to avoid unnecessary duplication and competition with private sector chemical databases." Supporters of PubChem see the House language as a victory for NIH.' Excerpted from Open Access News
Related sites:

Posted by at 5:17 PM


By a vote of 238–187, the House of Representatives June 15 approved legislation that would scale back Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act by amending a Department of Justice appropriations bill to bar the DOJ from using any of the funds to conduct searches of library and bookstore records. The Freedom to Read Amendment, similar to a measure defeated in a dramatic tie vote last year, passed this time with the support of 38 Republicans, 199 Democrats, and sponsor Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“Library patrons should be thrilled that their champion, Congressman Sanders, has finally prevailed,” said ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff. “People from every political persuasion supported this amendment, and we are grateful that members of the House listened to librarians’ concerns.” From ALA via DigLet.
Read full statement from ALA...

Posted by at 5:05 PM

June 13, 2005


Barbara Quint, Elsevier's Scirus Opens Repository Search Service, Information Today NewsBreaks, June 13, 2005. Excerpt: 'Institutional repositories of digital data at universities and other research institutions may now receive deeper, more thorough indexing and full-text delivery through Elsevier’s free, sci-tech search engine, Scirus. The Scirus engine already reaches content at many institutional repositories, but those joining the new Scirus Repository Search service will receive more extensive and sophisticated indexing of a wider range of content. The repositories will also have access to additional search capabilities on their own Web sites at no cost. The first university to join the Scirus Repository Search service is the University of Toronto's T-Space collection. All of T-Space's digital files and data are available to the open Web. Marshall (Peter) Clinton, director of information technology services at the University of Toronto Libraries, said that a similar arrangement with Google preceded Scirus' arrangement by several months. He estimates that both Scirus and Google's improved service has improved access for both on-campus and off-campus users of the T-Space site. Ammy Vogtlander, Scirus' general manager, attributes the development of the Scirus Repository Search service to the fact that "Elsevier understands that an increasing amount of valuable content is currently held in academic repositories." She indicated that working directly with institutional repositories would allow Scirus to reach unique metadata and full-text material. It will also allow Scirus to reach content in alternative formats to journal articles or reports....According to Vogtlander, "We already had full indexing of various sites and institutional repositories, but now, for participating repositories, we will target key reports, have higher quality indexing, better display of results, and more accurate metadata." She found it odd that some institutional repositories, for all their important content, "offer no full text, only metadata."...Google Scholar has introduced linking to "appropriate copy" or restricted access content. (See Library Collections Linked on Google Scholar for Free.) When asked about Google Scholar's clustering and linking, Vogtlander said that Scirus is considering clustering. For now, however, Scirus users will see multiple results ranked on frequency of terms and date. Scirus also can't handle Open URL linking to library-licensed content....Vogtlander seems to see the world in different terms from traditional Elsevier. In reference to the policy of not charging for Scirus' services, even the new Repository Search service, she stated: "We must understand the free service business. There are different business models now, and Web searching is seen as free."' (PS: I like this: Elsevier and Google competing to offer superior indexing of OA repository content.)
From Peter Suber's Open Access News. Direct link to article, here.

Posted by at 2:41 PM