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March 27, 2007

Elsevier and the Arms Trade

A recent commentary by the editors in the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet has revived a controversy that was first expressed in The Lancet in 2005, namely "concern that the publishers of The Lancet, Reed Elsevier, are continuing to promote the use of arms by hosting arms trade fairs." The editorial commentary was accompanied by at least seven other supporting letters of protest. Typical of the statements in the protests:

The recent Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show hosted by Reed Exhibitions was devoted to the glorification of guns; shortly the company is to host an arms fair to the Middle East at a time when the region is the focus of international tension.

In view of the major contribution of arms trading to the undermining of public health and international development, we wish to add our support to the courageous stand taken by The Lancet [in 2005] in asking Reed Elsevier to divest itself from these unsavoury activities. We note that the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has recently sold all its shares in Reed Elsevier after 3 years of critical engagement on the company's role in the arms trade. We hope that other shareholders will continue to raise these concerns, and we look forward to a public response from the company.

Read more:

Posted by Katie Newman at 12:16 PM

Proposed: Federal Digital Data Respository

The March 22nd issue of Nature is reporting that an interdepartmental government group, the Interagency Working Group on Digital Data (IWGDD) has recommended that the government set up a freely accessible repository for the massive quantities of data that are generated by research sponsored by many government agencies. Currently such a repository exists for gene and protein data -- Genbank -- and for astronomers. But this proposal, which it is felt WILL HAPPEN, has a much broader reach. The IWGDD represents 22 agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services, and other government branches including the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A draft strategic plan for this proposal will be drawn up by the Fall of 2007. According to the Nature article,

The group’s first step is to set up a robust public infrastructure so all researchers have a permanent home for their data. One option is to create a national network of online data repositories, funded by the government and staffed by dedicated computing and archiving professionals. It would extend to all communities a model similar to the Arabidopsis Information Resource, in which 20 staff serve 13,000 registered users and 5,000 labs. The IWGDD is considering making submission of well-documented data sets to archives a requirement of getting a grant.

Read the full Nature article

Posted by Katie Newman at 11:49 AM

March 26, 2007

New Journal Ranking Site: Eigenfactor

Eigenfactor ranks journals much as Google ranks websites. It is somewhat similar to Thomson Scientific's (ISI) Journal Citation Index (JCI), though it's dataset is larger.

Some points to note:
* JCI only looks at the 8000 or so journals indexed by Thomson Scientific while potentially any journal could be included in Eigenfactor.
* The JCI is calculated based on the most recent 2-year's worth of citation data; Eigenfactor is based on the most recent 5 years.
* In collaboration with, Eigenfactor provides information about price and value for thousands of scholarly periodicals.
* Article Influence (AI): a measure of a journal's prestige based on per article citations and comparable to Impact Factor. Eigenfactor (EF): A measure of the overall value provided by all of the articles published in a given journal in a year.
* The Eigenfactor Web site also presents the ISI Impact Factors, so it's possible to compare the
ISI's "Impact Factors" with Eigenfactor's "Article Influence"
* Both simple and advanced searching is available: "You can search by partial or full journal name, ISSN number, or you can view a selected ISI category, only ISI-listed journals, only non-ISI-listed journals or both listed and unlisted."
* Eigenfactor is Free!

From the Eigenfactor Web site:

Eigenfactor provides influence rankings for 7000+ science and social science journals and rankings for an additional 110,000+ reference items including newspapers, and popular magazines.

Borrowing methods from network theory, ranks the influence of journals much as Google's PageRank algorithm ranks the influence of web pages. By this approach, journals are considered to be influential if they are cited often by other influential journals. Iterative ranking schemes of this type, known as eigenvector centrality methods, are notoriously sensitive to "dangling nodes" and "dangling clusters" -- nodes or groups of nodes which link seldom if at all to other parts of the network. Eigenfactor modifies the basic eigenvector centrality algorithm to overcome these problems and to better handle certain peculiarities of journal citation data.

Different disciplines have different standards for citation and different time scales on which citations occur. The average article in a leading cell biology journal might receive 10-30 citations within two years; the average article in leading mathematics journal would do very well to receive 2 citations over the same period. By using the whole citation network, Eigenfactor automatically accounts for these differences and allows better comparison across research areas. is a non-commercial academic research project sponsored by the Bergstrom lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. We aim to develop novel methods for evaluating the influence of scholarly periodicals and for mapping the structure of academic research. We are committed to sharing our findings with interested members of the public, including librarians, journal editors, publishers, and authors of scholarly articles.

The Eigenfactor Web site is still under development.

...Publicized with permission from site developer, Carl Bergstrom.

Posted by Katie Newman at 4:02 PM

March 23, 2007

Stanford Scholar Wins Right to Publish James Joyce Material

Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project has announced that Stanford University Acting Professor of English Carol Shloss won the right to publish her scholarship on the literary work of James Joyce online and in print based on a settlement agreement with the Joyce Estate. Shloss v. Estate of James Joyce sought to establish Shloss's right to use copyrighted materials in her writing under the "fair use" doctrine.

The Stanford Fair Use Project and Cyberlaw Clinic filed a lawsuit on behalf of Shloss in June 2006, asking a federal court to find that she has the right to use quotations from published and unpublished material relating to James and Lucia Joyce on a scholarly website.

This week, Stephen James Joyce and the Joyce Estate entered into a settlement agreement enforceable by the court that lets Shloss publish this material electronically and also publish a printed supplement to her book "Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake." 3/22/07

Thanks to BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 3/23/2007

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:12 AM

March 21, 2007

Study Shows that Scientists are Still Leary of Publishing in Open Access Journals

Will articles published in open access journals persist?
Will publication in OA journals provide credit toward tenure / promotion / obtaining grants?

These and other issues are the concerns of scientists according to "Open Access & Science Publishing: Results of a Study on Researchers’ Acceptance and Use of Open Access Publishing" authored by Thomas Hess, Rolf T. Wigand, Florian Mann, and Benedikt von Walter. From the executive summary:

The study was conducted in 2006 by the Ludwig-Maximilans-University Munich, Germany, in cooperation with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The main focus is centered on the question if and why scientists decide or do not decide to publish their work according to the Open Access principle without access barriers and free of cost to readers. With the responses from 688 publishing scientists it could be demonstrated that the general attitude toward the Open Access principle is extremely positive. However, many seem to be rather reluctant to publish their own research work in Open Access outlets. Advantages like increased speed, reach and potentially higher citation rates of Open Access publications are seen alongside insufficient impact factors, lacking long-term availability and the inferior ability to reach the specific target audience of scientists within one’s own discipline. Moreover the low level of use among close colleagues seems to be a barrier towards Open Access publishing.

Read the study. (pdf)

Posted by Katie Newman at 12:16 PM

March 16, 2007

Seminar: Open Data and Open Access Publishing in the Chemical Sciences

The Scientific Communication Initiative at GSLIS is pleased to announce a public presentation by Dr. Peter Murray-Rust on open data and open access publishing in the chemical sciences.

Date/Time: 1:00 PM, Friday March 23rd
Location: Room 126, Library and Information Science Building (LISB), 501 East Daniel Street. (Enter building from the east door.)
The presentation will be followed by an informal discussion with Dr. Murray-Rust from 2-3 PM in room 131.

Dr. Murray-Rust is a faculty member at the University of Cambridge, UK. His research is focused on molecular informatics, with particular emphasis on how the chemical literature can be text- and data-mined to discover new science from heterogeneous data sources, and the development and application of Chemical Markup Language (CML). For more information, please see

Announced by:
Carole Palmer and Bryan Heidorn
Scientific Communication Initiative

Posted by Katie Newman at 10:10 AM

March 15, 2007

Lively Debate on Macmillan's Experiment

There's a very lively debate on Nature Network around the Macmillan Science experimental model in which Macmillan is paying no advance at all for their Macmillan Science books, but a larger royalty. Will it result in more books being published?

Posted by P. Kaufman at 10:49 AM

March 14, 2007

Public Access to Research in the U.S.

In part revised from a memo sent out by the Association of Research Libraries (3/14/07):

Several leading American organizations - representing libraries, health groups, students, and consumers - are jointly supporting a Petition for Public Access to Publicly Funded Research in the United States. Everyone is welcome to sign the petition, though researchers who receive funding from U.S. agencies are especially urged to do so.

An earlier, similar petition that was aimed at the European Commission, was signed by over 23,000 people last fall. The U.S. petition is written to support public access to research funded by the U.S. government as well as the reintroduction and passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). Readers of this column will recall that FRPAA would mandate that research produced from most sources of federal funding would be freely available within 6 months of publication of the research in journal articles.

According to an article in Wired, "Open Access Launches Journal Wars", Senator Cornyn, one of the original sponsors of the FRPAA is poised to resubmit it, since the bill did not come up for consideration last year.

Posted by Katie Newman at 4:51 PM

March 12, 2007

Commonowealth of Learning Produces Copyright Check List

Happy Commonwealth Day (March 12, 2007)!

Copyright law plays an important role in education, because it governs
how knowledge is disseminated and used. Recognizing the importance of
keeping the gates of learning wide open in our information society,
the Commonwealth of Learning has been working with a group of experts
to address copyright issues.

This group recently developed a copyright law checklist, which will help
individuals and institutions gain a better understanding of how
intellectual property affects education and what countries can do to
increase access to education of quality at all levels.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 10:26 AM

March 9, 2007

Hughes Institute's Deal With Elsevier Will Open Up Access to Its Researchers' Work

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting today that

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the nation's largest private supporter of biomedical research, announced on Thursday that it would pay the publishing giant Elsevier to open up access to papers that scientists affiliated with the institute have published in any of the 2,000 journals in the Elsevier family, including the prestigious Cell Press line of journals.

According to the agreement, Elsevier would deposit the articles in PubMed Central, an online archive maintained by the National Institutes of Health, six months after they were published. The publisher would deposit versions of the manuscripts that had gone through peer review but had not yet undergone editing and formatting.

The agreement would satisfy the conditions of the Hughes institute's proposed policy on public access, which the institute is considering but has not yet adopted. "Our scientists would be free to publish in these journals, which they would not have been otherwise," says Avice A. Meehan, the vice president for communications at Hughes.

"It's a win-win situation," said Emilie Marcus, executive editor of Cell Press.

Thomas R. Cech, the president of Hughes and a Nobel-prize winning professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that during discussions of the Hughes institute's proposed policy, investigators were particularly concerned that they would be unable to publish articles in Cell Press journals. The new agreement would pay Elsevier $1,000 for each article published in a Cell Press journal and $1,500 for each article in other Elsevier journals.

Even without this deal, Elsevier (but not Cell Press) allows authors to immediately post the final draft (post-peer review) of their papers on personal or institutional servers. So it seems that Hughes is ensuring compliance with it's proposed mandate that funded research be available within 6 months of publication. It seems that 6 months is becoming the acceptable lag period for many such mandates.

It's unfortunate that Elsevier will only be posting the final draft versions ("post print") of the articles -- not the publisher's PDF version. Post prints are considered by many less than optimal versions of articles since they may not be the version of record. For example, sometimes articles get "corrected" in the proof stage, and these corrections likely won't be in the post script version.

Posted by Katie Newman at 5:58 PM

March 8, 2007

Comment on AAUP Statement on Open Access

By Pillarisetti Sudhir in AHA (American Historical Association) Today blog 3/7/07

In a statement released on February 28, 2007, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) outlined its position on the problematic—and often contentious—issue of providing open access to scholarly information, and declared that what was needed at this juncture was careful experimentation and development and not any risky plunging straight into “pure open access.”

Arising mainly out of the high costs associated with scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals’ articles, the open access movement has been gathering momentum and support over the past few years. Various models of access have emerged, ranging from fully free-to-user model to more modulated arrangements that seek to coexist with, or build upon, market-driven, fee-based systems. The question of providing free access to scholarship is not without problems, and has evoked much attention from various groups and provoked considerable debate. The Budapest Open Access Initiative which arose from a 2001 conference sponsored by the Open Society Institute, and Our Cultural Commonwealth, the 2006 report of the American Council of Learned Societies’ Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and the Social Sciences are among the notable recent attempts to grapple with the challenges of freely disseminating scholarship in the age of the internet. But some have criticized these efforts as being too visionary or as not being realistic enough (see, for example, Robert Townsend’s critique of the ACLS report).

In its February 28 statement, the AAUP points out that “the conversation should expand to address the different creation and distribution needs of scholarly literature in all fields and formats, including monographs, and to consider a variety of models for providing open access—all of which entail risks and benefits to the entire system of scholarly communications that are not yet fully understood.”

Because the production and dissemination of knowledge carries costs—irrespective of the mechanism of transmission—the AAUP statement stresses that calls for changing the system of scholarly communications “need to take careful account of the costs of doing so, not just for individual presses, but for their parent universities, and for the scholarly societies also contribute in major ways to the current system.”

According to the AAUP, “being embedded in the culture of higher education that values experimentation and advances in knowledge, presses have been open to new ways of facilitating scholarly communications,” and many AAUP members “have begun experimenting with varieties of open access that seek to balance the mission of scholarly exchange with its costs.” The statement concludes by stating, “The AAUP and its member presses welcome the opportunity to collaborate with university administrators, librarians, and faculty in designing new publishing models, mindful that it is important to protect what is most valuable about the existing system, which has served the scholarly community and the general public so well for over a century, while undertaking reforms to make the system work better for everyone in the future.”

Commenting on the AAUP’s statement, Arnita A. Jones, the executive director of the AHA—itself a major not-for-profit scholarly publisher—declared, “The statement from the American Association of University Presses is a welcome addition to the conversation on the costs and benefits of providing open access to scholarly publications in the humanities. The AHA is a member of AAUP and participates regularly in discussion with them and other scholarly societies on the difficulties of negotiating new financial models designed largely to address problem in science, technology, engineering, and medicine.”

Commenting on the AAUP statement for “AHA Today,” Abby Smith, a cultural heritage resources consultant who had served as the director of programs at the Council for Library and Information Resources and as an adviser to the ACLS Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and the Social Sciences, writes:

The AAUP is surely right that high-quality scholarship does not come cheap. The main focus of the debates around so-called open access is rebalancing the cost allocation among the actors in scholarly communication—scholars, publishers, and librarians. But to the extent that it focuses exclusively on cost allocations, it misses what’s really going on—what scholarly communication is becoming, and what is at stake. Of course, the costs of our business are significant. We are greatly disadvantaged by the fact that we don’t yet know what the costs—especially of digital scholarship, publishing, and archiving—actually are. This ignorance is compounded by the fact that to many academic users, information can appear to be “free” because the cost (to libraries) of acquiring and preserving, as well as the cost of production (to publishers) invisible. Moreover, authors do not make money, though they surely receive many benefits, as publication in peer-reviewed literature is “the coin of the realm” (see “The Influence of Academic Values on Scholarly Publication and Practices” by Diane Harley et al.)

In both the print and the digital worlds, it is rare that scholars pay the cost of producing and distributing their own scholarship, just as they seldom pay transaction costs to gain access to journals or monographs. Publishers usually serve as proxies for the scholars in their role of scholar-as-author. In the same vein, libraries play the role of proxy for scholar-as-researcher or user. Same person, different roles—and different interests, which are now clashing. Scholars make critical contributions in largely nonmonetary ways; their proxies—publishing houses and libraries—shell out hundreds of millions each year to print, distribute, collect, preserve, and serve the fruit of scholarly labor. Cutting costs by getting rid of the proxies—the “disintermediation” of publishers and libraries through easy creation and distribution directly to the Web, a system of open access first modeled by high-energy physicists through—still begs the question in most disciplines of who pays for such critical functions as quality review, editing, and preserving.

Part of the problem in determining appropriate allocation of costs is the fundamental difficulty of knowing precisely what the costs are. We have no idea how much it will cost to build and sustain the necessary digital infrastructure for research and publication. More than that, how deep the transformation of scholarship will be when we realize more fully the potential of digital technologies, will present deeper challenges for us. For in truth, we do not want just open access to content. We want open content. We want to be able to download material, to unbundle and disaggregate it, to recombine it, to comment on it, to include it in our blogs, to tag, to repurpose, to curate and to put it into our own digital library.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 11:18 AM

March 6, 2007

Boucher Tries Again

A bill that would make it easier for scholars to use copyrighted works without running afoul of copyright law was introduced in Congress last week by Rep. Rick Boucher, Democrat of Virginia, and Rep. John Doolittle, Republican of California.

Mr. Boucher, long a friend of academic librarians and technology companies, says copyright law gives content owners too much control over the works they own, to the detriment of innovation and research.

The legislation (HR 1201), known as the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act of 2007, or Fair Use Act, would amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow librarians, archivists, and others to bypass copyright protections on digital content in certain circumstances.

Among the supporters of the bill are the American Library Association and the American Association of Law Libraries.

Chronicle of Higher Education
3/9/07 (posted 3/5/07)

Posted by P. Kaufman at 9:48 AM

March 2, 2007

UC Berkeley Awarded A.W. Mellon Grant to Assess the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication

Berkeley, Calif., March 02, 2007 ­
The Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) of the University of California, Berkeley has been recently awarded a grant of more than $400,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue its research into the changing nature of scholarly communication and publication practices in the networked age. The new project, Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An In-depth Study of Faculty Needs and Ways of Meeting Them, under the direction of principal investigators Jud King and Diane Harley will extend and complement CSHE’s first phase of research, which considered the importance of faculty values and the vital role of peer review in faculty attitudes about their publishing behavior, especially as it relates to the viability of new electronic and open access publication models. Capabilities afforded by new technologies, pressures associated with the purchasing power of library budgets, challenges to economic viability for university presses, and the pricing structures of the publishing industry make this research especially timely for the academic and publication communities at large.

Many of those involved in supporting new publishing and communication ventures see “the lack of willingness of the faculty to change” as a key barrier to moving to more cost-effective publishing models in an environment of escalating costs and constrained resources. However, the planning study confirmed that, in order to be attracted to newer forms of communication, faculty need to view them as useful to their own careers­-both in making a name for themselves within their field and in gaining advancement at their university. Although faculty values and reward systems will still figure prominently, the new project will expand investigations to capture additional factors that affect faculty choice, in particular, what faculty members find to be most useful.

The new two-year research project will focus on the needs and desires of faculty for “in-progress” scholarly communication (i.e., forms of communication employed as research is being executed) as well as archival publication. A number of specific, different and complementary disciplines will be explored. The project posits that a broad understanding of the full array of activities related to the scholarly communication lifecycle and its intersection with scholarship itself will be needed to assess the future communication and publication landscape in universities. That includes what roles emerging and interactive electronic media will or will not play at various stages.  Further background, including the planning study report and research proposal, can be found online at:

Authors of announcement: C. Judson King, Provost and Senior Vice President – Academic Affairs, Emeritus of the University of California and Director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education on the Berkeley campus.

Diane Harley, senior researcher at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Posted by Katie Newman at 4:32 PM