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May 30, 2006

What to Do With a Million Books

The Humanities Division at the University of Chicago and the College of Science and Letters at the Illinois Institute of Technology have put out a call for papers for a colloquium entitled “What to Do With a Million Books,” to be held November 5th and 6th at the University of Chicago.

The goal of this colloquium is to bring together scholars and researchers in the Humanities and Computer Sciences to examine the current state of Digital Humanities as a field of intellectual inquiry, and to identify and explore new directions and perspectives for future research.

The book, as the locus of our knowledge, has long been at the center of discussions in digital humanities. But as mass digitization efforts accelerate the shift from a print-culture to a networked digital-culture, it will become increasingly necessary to pay more attention to how the notion of a text itself is being re-constituted collectively. This shift makes evident the necessity for humanities scholars to enter into a dialogue with computer scientists to understand the new language of open standards, queries, visualization and social networks.

Digitizing ‘a million books’ is not only a problem for computer scientists. Tomorrow, a million scholars will have to re-evaluate their notions of archive, textuality and materiality in the wake of these developments. Our familiar modes of scholarly edition, analysis, interpretation and publication are being challenged and transformed in a world where blogs and wikis are busy creating new knowledge and folksonomies are shaping our access to online archives.

How will the humanities scholar and the computer scientist find ways to collaborate in the “Age of Google?”

Proposals for paper presentations, poster sessions, and software demonstrations are due August 15th. For the list of keynote speakers, the call for participation, and other details about the conference, please see TeleRead, by Quinn Anya Carey.

Posted by Katie Newman at 11:39 AM

May 25, 2006

Elsevier Offers OA Hybrid Journals

Starting this month, Elsevier is making six of its physics journals into hybrid OA journals, and will do the same for 30 more, in different fields, in the next two months. The announcement came from Carl Schwarz, Elsevier's publishing editor for physics and astronomy, in a message to PAMnet. Excerpt:

From May onwards some Elsevier journals will be offering to their authors the option to pay a sponsorship fee to ensure that their article, already accepted for publication, is made freely available to non-subscribers via ScienceDirect.
Worldwide approximately 10 million researchers can already access these journals through institutional subscriptions. In a few instances, authors publishing in these journals have requested an option to make their articles freely available online to non-subscribers.

Six journals in Physics are the first to offer such an option. These are:

Nuclear Physics A
Nuclear Physics B
Nuclear Physics B Proceedings Supplements
Nuclear Instruments and Methods A
Physics Letters B
Astroparticle Physics

Thirty more journals across other fields such as Life and Health
sciences also plan to offer this option in the next two months.

The author charge for article sponsorship is $3,000. The fee excludes taxes and other potential author fees such as color charges which are additional. Information about selecting this option is now available on the journal homepages at as well as Elsevier's author gateway site, The availability of this option will be offered to authors of the above-mentioned journals only after receiving notification that their article has been accepted for publication. This prevents a potential conflict of interest where a journal would have a financial incentive to accept an article.

Open Access News 5/24/06

Read Peter Suber's analysis here

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:43 AM

May 24, 2006

Books Make a Real Difference

Schools may be scrambling to install cutting edge technology, but research suggests that books still offer better value.
"It is surprising that books matter," says Steve Hurd, the research leader from the Open University, in The Times Educational Supplement (May 19). Hurd and his team had not expected the amount spent on books to impact on results. But they found that average test scores for Key Stage 2 pupils in schools that spent £100 per pupil on books rose by 1.5 per cent. 5/24/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:41 AM

May 17, 2006

Senate Panel Chair Asks Why NSF Funds Social Sciences

During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the NSFs 2007 budget request, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), chair of a panel that oversees NSF, questioned why the NSF is funding social sciences research. She has questioned this before, but now seems determined to put teeth into her concerns.

Hutchison signaled that she will be taking a hard look at NSF's $200-million-a-year social and behavioral sciences portfolio, which funds some 52% of all social science research done by U.S. academics and some 90% of the work by political scientists. She hasn't figured out which federal agency should fund social science, but doesn't think it should be the NSF, which, she says, should be "our premier agency for basic research in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. And when we are looking at scarce resources, I think NSF should stay focused on the hard sciences."

Social scientists are fighting back. "In some ways, it's SBE that tackles the most challenging scientific questions, because its research investigates people's behavior and touches on the most sensitive issues in our society," noted Neal Lane, a physicist and former NSF director now at Rice University in Houston, Texas. "So I'm not surprised that it's been hard to articulate how it connects to innovation and improving the nation's competitiveness." Aletha Huston, a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who wrote a letter to Hutchison before the hearing defending NSF-funded work by herself and colleagues at UT's Population Research Center, points out that "if you want to understand how to remain competitive, you need to look at more than technology, … at the organizational and human issues that play a role."

From: Science 12 May 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5775, p. 829 (subscription required) [URL proxied for UIUC]

Posted by Katie Newman at 9:50 PM

May 16, 2006

Open Access Speeds Use by Others of Scientific Papers, Study Finds

From the Chronicle of Higher Education Blog:
In the continuing debate about open access to scientific literature, the pro-access side gained strength with a study, published this afternoon, that says that, during the first four to 16 months after publication, papers with free access get cited more often than those that require subscriptions. The study appears in an open-access journal, PLoS Biology, and was written by Gunther Eysenbach, of the University of Toronto, who also edits another open-access journal, the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The study is yet another study to compare open-access and non-open-access papers from the same journal. Mr. Eysenbach compared papers published in the journal Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the latter half of 2004. That journal began in June 2004 to offer authors the option of paying $1,000 to make their articles free online upon publication. If authors did not pay the extra fee, their papers remained password-protected for the first six months after publication.

Mr. Eysenbach found that the open-access papers were twice as likely as the password-protected articles to be cited four to 10 months after publication, and almost three times as likely from 10 to 16 months afterward. Not yet clear is whether the open-access advantage increases citation in the long run or whether the trend is similar for other journals.

The open-access movement has drawn additional strength in recent months from pressure in Congress to make taxpayer-supported research freely available (The Chronicle, May 3) and from the European Commission (The Chronicle, April 19). [Registration may be required for Chronicle access.]

For other similar studies, please see The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies, a continuously updated bibliography.

Posted by Katie Newman at 9:31 AM

May 15, 2006

Speakers at Convocation on Humanities Warn About Privatization of Materials

A joint convocation held by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Association of American Universities to assess the state of the humanities drew over 200 scholars and administrators -- as well as two prominent Congressional advocates for arts and letters -- on Friday. The convocation, which was pegged in part to a 2004 report issued by AUU, "Reinvigorating the Humanities," eschewed much of the doom and gloom that has surrounded such gatherings in recent decades. Speakers largely agreed that scholarship in the humanities is vigorous, but that the disciplines still faced serious challenges posed by the digital revolution, a rigidity in academic organization, and a lack of public outreach.

Read more at Chronicle of Higher Education 5/15/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 11:20 AM

Wellcome Trust announces free online access to nearly 200 years of medical research

Medical research funding organization the Wellcome Trust, UK, has announced a new project under which complete back issues covering nearly 200 years of historically significant biomedical journals will be made freely available online. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the Wellcome Trust, JISC, the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and a number of medical journal publishers. Participating publishers will continue to deposit current content of their journals into this archive after an embargo period of one year for all research papers. Additionally, the archive will also provide a number of innovative, value-added functions, including links from references to full text, high resolution images, full text searching across the entire archive, and links from the original article to corrections and retractions and vice-versa.

On completion, the back files project will deliver more than three million pages of medical journals via standard search tools such as PubMed and Google. The backfiles archive can be accessed for free through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), full-text, life sciences repository PubMed Central (PMC). Journals will be added to the archive as soon as they are digitised. PubMed citations will be added to the database on completion of the archive.

Click here to read the original press release.
Knowledgespeak Newsletter 5/15/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:22 AM

May 12, 2006

The New Subscription: Google Co-Op Transforms Search Into a New Kind of Aggregation Tool

The big news for online publishers this week is Google Co-op, a new feature that is attempting to blend content subscription and reference models with the search engine paradigm. Google Co-op has two main components: topic maps and subscription tools. Publishers both amateur and professional are encouraged to submit content from their Web sites to Google Co-op with XML tags that make it easy for their content to be categorized in topic maps that appear above the main Google search results. When a user enters a search query on Google that matches a topic, a listing of subtopics that have tagged content available appears above normal search results. Clicking on one of these subtopics then displays a listing of search results relating to that subtopic - with tagged content appearing at the top of the list. Users can "subscribe" to search results from sites using Google Co-op XML tags. Results from these sites appear above Google's normal search results and below the topic map when that site's content matches a topic. Users "subscribe" to sites much in the same way that they would subscribe to an XML weblog feed, except that you subscribe to links instead of to delivered content; click once on a publisher's icon in a directory that Google provides and you're done... It's also possible to create subscription links to not only typical keywords but also very specific types of queries. For example, the technical documentation outlines how you can set up matches to queries such as "speed limit info for [place name]."

Google Co-op has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool for publishers - especially those providing premium content. It addresses the issue of what content people really want to see from professional publishers willing to support tagging versus "all the web" results fairly neatly. The subscription features in particular hold great potential. User-driven premium content aggregation has come to town, it appears, in a design that drives audiences to publishers' sites directly as well as to subscription databases....

In the meantime Google has managed to come up with an innovative approach to categorized search that compels publishers of all stripes to provide highly visible and usable metadata for their online content. In a sense Google Co-op is like an inside-out Google Base: rather than try to get publishers to deposit and categorize content in a place that may not offer its most valuable context Google instead has allowed content to stay in at home on the servers where publishers can manage its value most effectively. There are a number of rough edges to this new feature, as usual, but in sum has the potential to take the relationship between publishers, users and Web search engines to a whole new level of service. It also has strong implications for the enterprise search environment as well, as these same tags could be used in time to integrate internal and external content more effectively via Google Desktop-initiated searches. Content Blogger: Shore News Commentary 5/11/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:18 AM

May 11, 2006

Federal Research Public Access Act: Debate Heats Up

Associations representing various publishing concerns are lining up to staunchly oppose the Federal Research Publich Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA), fearing that it will cause a decrease in their subscription revenues. Calling the legislation a duplicative effort that places an unwarranted burden on research investigators, the publishers have argued that if passed, the legislation will seriously endanger the integrity of the scientific publishing process. The legislation would require the majority of recipients of US federal research agency funds to make their findings freely available online within six months of their initial publication in a scholarly journal.
The Association of American Publishers, the largest trade association for American publishers, has issued a statement that is highly critical of FRPAA. Statements from other trade associations can be expected to follow, or to mirror the AAP statement. See: International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers; Professional Scholarly Publishing; Society for Scholarly Publishing

Peter Suber has written a 10-point rebuttal to the statement from the AAP pointing out, among other things, that public interest takes precedence over profits, publically funded research is not fully available to the general public in public libraries (nor even at many research institutions), the NIH "suggestion" that faculty deposit their research has failed with just a 4% compliance rate, and publisher revenues in the one field that has embraced OA (physics arXiv) has not faultered.

See also KnowledgeSpeak news release.

Posted by Katie Newman at 11:26 AM

NIH Open Access Policy Not Yet a Hit

The public-access policy of the National Institutes of Health marked its first anniversary last week, and all involved in the debate agree that it has failed to create free online access to the biomedical literature. The NIH policy requests, but does not require, that the institutes' grantees upload manuscripts that are based on research it has financed to an online repository no later than 12 months after publication. But in the past year, very few scientists did so; the NIH estimates that fewer than 4 percent of eligible manuscripts were uploaded.

Open-access proponents are rejoicing because that failure has created new momentum to strengthen the policy.

That momentum further worries the policy's early detractors -- mostly publishing groups that fear a loss of revenue if the contents of their journals are free online. They are lobbying to keep things just as they are.

In November the majority of an NIH working group suggested that the policy be made mandatory. A slim majority also called for a six-month deadline. In February, the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine, which is part of the NIH and runs the repository, recommended the same changes to Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the NIH. NIH is now considering changes.

Observers expect the NIH policy to become mandatory, but the publishers hope to keep the maximum delay at 12 months. Such a plan, said Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society, "gets the system to work without jeopardizing a very important component of the dissemination of scientific information: the journals."
He says that some publishers have already lost subscriptions after experimenting with a six-month model. Oxford University Press, for example, examined the number of subscribers between 2002 and 2003 for 28 journals. Two journals that put their contents online free after six months lost 6.1 percent of their subscribers; those that did so after a year or longer lost fewer subscribers. Gary Ward, an associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Vermont and treasurer of the American Society for Cell Biology, which publishes the journal Molcular Biology of the Cell , says that figure does not mean much. "If you look at industry averages" of circulation decline, he said, the 6-percent decrease "is well within what's been happening to other journals."

Some publishers are also unhappy with how the NIH handles the manuscripts that scientists post to its site. The institutes' policy allows each publisher to set its own copyright rules and delays after publication, but scientists who received NIH funding apparently are having a hard time keeping track of the various conditions publishers impose for posting articles from their journals to the institutes' online repository. "Most authors are utterly confused about how to comply with the policy," said Peter Banks, publisher at the American Diabetes Association.

Read more at Chronicle of Higher Education 5/11/06 (subscription may be required)

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:17 AM

Britain Surpasses U.S. as Top Publisher

The US title output, for the first time since 1999, decreased by over 18,000 to 172,000 new titles and editions in 2005, according to recently released statistics on the US book publishing by bibliographic information provider, Bowker, US. This follows the record increase of over 19,000 new books in 2004. The statistics revealed that only the very large academic, professional, and trade publishers could publish close to the number of new titles and editions that they did in 2004. Output from small publishers declined by over 7%, while new titles from the small-to-medium and medium-to-large publishers dropped by 10% and 15% respectively. Meanwhile, university presses showed some rise in most categories, with science and law displaying the largest increases. Great Britain now replaces the United States as the publisher of most new books in English. In 2005, nearly 206,000 new books were published in the UK, representing an increase of nearly 28% over 2004. Knowledgespeak Newsletter 5/11/06 Read the press release

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:12 AM

May 3, 2006

Editors Voice Concern About BMC Publishing Practices

Open access publisher BioMed Central, UK, is reportedly set to face a revolt from the editors of several of its 93 independent journals who have expressed discontent over the way the journals are being managed. According to media reports, the editors are contemplating shifting their journals to other publishers. The editors of BMC independent journals have full editorial control over the titles but the article production process is managed by BMC. The editors have voiced their dissatisfaction on BMC's execution of the open access model. Among other issues, editors are protesting recent increases in the article processing charge (APC), and reductions in the number of waivers that editors are permitted to offer to contributors who cannot afford the APC. Several editors have also complained that BMC is signing up new journals that compete with existing ones, leading to market cannibalism. BMC's publisher, Matthew Cockerill, has said that the company is working on the problems and insisted that the complaints are normal for any new company. Knowledgespeak Newsletter 5/3/06 See also the original report in The Scientist (registration may be required).

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:55 AM

May 2, 2006

Emerald to sell special issues on Amazon

Management and library & information science publisher Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., UK, has announced that it is now offering selected special issues of its peer-reviewed journals via Amazon, using print-on-demand services. The titles are otherwise only available as part of a journal volume or on a per article pay-per-view basis.
Print-on-demand is an innovative printing process that makes it possible to print books one at a time. Books are digitised and stored in the Lightning Source library, a resource for publishers providing printing, distribution and digital fulfilment services. Lightning Source prints titles in small quantities in order to meet orders. It then rapidly ships these titles directly to retailers or via distributors and wholesalers with which it has an alliance. Priced at £34.99 for single issues and £49.99 for double issues, the titles are now available via and as well as other distribution partners including Gardners, Bertrams, Paperback bookshop (marketplace trader), Book Depository (marketplace trader), Coutts, Bertrams Library Supplies and Blackwells Library Supplies. Its partners in the US include Ingram,, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble and Nascorp. Knowledgespeak Newsletter 5/2/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 5:18 PM

Small Publishers Book Big Rewards

At a time when the book world continues to struggle, focusing mainly on bestsellers to remain profitable, a growing number of small publishers are upending the industry stasis and redefining the business of publishing on their own terms. While the big publishing companies have been merging, the number of small presses has been increasing, creating a commercial critical mass. According to a survey by the Book Industry Study in 2005, there are some 63,000 small presses generating $14.2 billion in sales. Read more at Business Week Online 5/2/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 5:06 PM

Starbucks in Book Stores; Now, Books at Starbucks?

Starbucks has a captive—and addicted—audience, ideal for promoting and marketing music and movies, as it has in the past with Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company album in 2004 and the recently-opened movie Akeelah and the Bee. Now, in an agreement with William Morris Agency, the Seattle-based coffee superpower hopes to expand into marketing books in its stores as well. William Morris will work with Starbucks to suggest film, music and book projects to promote and market in Starbucks locations. Read more at The Book Standard 5/1/06

Posted by P. Kaufman at 4:47 PM

Cornyn/Lieberman Bill Would Improve Taxpayer Access To Federally Funded Research

WASHINGTON—In an effort to increase taxpayers' access to federally funded research, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday introduced the bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).

The bill requires every federal agency with an annual research budget of more than $100 million to implement a public access policy. The policy must ensure that articles generated through research funded by that agency are made available online within six months of publication.

Cornyn said: "This legislation is a common-sense approach to expand the public's access to research it funds. And it will help accelerate scientific innovation and discovery."

Lieberman said: "Tax payer-funded research should be accessible to tax payers. Our bill will give researchers, medical professionals and patients in Connecticut and throughout the nation access to scientific discoveries and advancements that can help bring new treatments and cures to the public."

The legislation requires these federal agencies to:

Eleven agencies fall under the legislation: the Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and National Science Foundation.

Read the full Cornyn press release or the Lieberman press release.
See also Bill Text [PDF] Floor Speech [PDF] One Pager [PDF] FAQs [PDF] .

Posted by Katie Newman at 3:26 PM

Another OA mandate: The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006

Earlier today, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA) in the US Senate. This is giant step forward for OA, even bigger than the CURES Act that Senator Lieberman introduced in December 2005. Like CURES, FRPAA will mandate OA and limit embargoes to six months. Unlike CURES, it will not be limited to medical research and will not mandate deposit in a central repository. It will apply to all federal funding agencies above a certain size. It instructs each agency to develop its own policy, under certain guidelines laid down in the bill. Some of those agencies might choose to launch central repositories but others might choose to mandate deposit (for example) in the author's institutional repository. Finally, while CURES was mostly about translating fundamental medical research into therapies, with a small but important provision on OA, FRPAA is all about OA. Read details at

Posted by P. Kaufman at 3:23 PM