Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One Small Step for Athabasca University

From Terry Anderson's the Virtual Canuck blog comes the news of the first Canadian university open access policy that I am aware of.


Athabasca University requests that academic and professional staff deposit an electronic copy of any published research articles (as elsewhere accepted for publication) in an Athabasca University repository. The contract with the publisher determines whether the article is restricted (lives in the repository as a record of the University’s research but is not accessible online by searchers) or open access (accessible online by searchers).


Congratulations to Athabasca University for taking one small step forward. However, this is a weak policy, for two reasons, and I would strongly suggest that other universities considering an open access policy not emulate this one.

First, it requests rather than requires academic and professional staff to deposit published research. Experience has shown that policies that request deposit simply do not work, whereas policies that require deposit are extremely effective. Also, rather than beginning with voluntary compliance, the nature of open access is that it makes more sense to start with the requirement - because as soon as faculty and staff experience the impact advantage, and other advantages of convenience, with open access, from a requirement, they will quickly come to appreciate open access, and so they will happily voluntary self-archive.

Second, it leaves the question of open access up to the publishers. Even setting aside the rights of the university, its students and alumni and taxpayer funders at a public institution like Athabasca - universities wishing to educate faculty members about open access would do well to also advise faculty members about their rights, too. Authors and scholars do not need to give up their copyright in order to have their work published; the only copyright that an author need give a publisher, is simply the right to publish; authors can do this and retain their copyright, too.

The vast majority of traditional publishers already routinely allow self-archiving of preprints or peer-reviewed postprints, or both. Authors can find out their publisher's policy by looking at the Sherpa Romeo Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving. Even if a publisher is not listed here, or is listed as not giving the "green" light to self-archiving, there is a good possibility that the publisher will grant such rights on request.

Authors wishing to ensure that they retain their rights can use tools such as an Author's Addendum. Examples can be found at the SPARC Author Rights page, or at the Science Commons Scholar's Copyright Project.

As a former student of Athabasca University, where I did about half of my fourth year of undergraduate work, in business administration and psychology, I think I can speak from the perspective of an alumnus. Researchers and teachers of Athabasca, consider this: when your students graduate, it is possible that they will enjoy access to the same electronic resources your library provides to you and to active students.

Many alumni, however, will not have this access. If they live and work away from major centres, they likely will not have much access to academic resources, even in Canada's wealthy western provinces (Alberta and British Columbia). Come to think of it - isn't serving people who are either away from major centres, or for whom an in-person visit to an academic library would be difficult - one of the original, and still one of the major, points of distance education - and hence Athabasca University?

As a proud former student, I would like to point out that, if Athabasca University's new open access policy is not exemplary in the area of self-archiving, AU has long been a leader in open access publishing, as the home of ICAAP, the International Coalition for the Advancement of Academic Publishing. ICAAP publishes a number of open access journals, using the Open Journal Systems (OJS) software, including AU's own The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

Athabasca began as, and still is: an open university. A place where you can get a start on your university studies, even if it is mid-semester, or you can't get to a traditional university program for whatever reason. What could possibly make more sense, than for an open university to fully embrace open access?

For examples of stronger policies, please see ROARMAP, the Registry of Open Access Repositories Material Archiving Policies - and for evidence of their effectiveness, click on the growth rate option.

Have you heard of other open access policies - in place, or in development - at Canadian universities? If so, we would like to hear from you. Or, let us know about policy developments in other countries, or if you have comments on the Athabasca policy.

Thanks to Pam Ryan.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ray English, or: the Open Access Genie

Of the many great pleasures of this year's Charleston conference - one of the highlights, for me, was the opportunity to meet the opening keynote speaker Ray English.

Ray's topic, building on the conference theme of Unintended Consequences, was Unintended Consequences of the Profit Motive: Or Why the Open Access Genie is Out of the Bottle.

In a nutshell, Ray is questioning whether the focus on profit - and the subsequent price increases for serials so far above inflation that today's 8% increases (still, far above inflation) are portrayed as "good news"- is the reason behind the unleashing of the open access genie.

This inquisitive open access librarian, meanwhile, is wondering: is Ray English the open access genie?

Ray has been one of the leaders of two of the most active associations in open access, since their inception: SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Research Coalition, and the Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL) Scholarly Communications Committee (currently co-chaired by Joyce Ogden and John Ober).

In the words of Rick Johnson, Founding Executive Diretor of SPARC and currently SPARC Senior Advisor:

Ray has been a chief contributor almost since the founding of SPARC. As a member of the SPARC Working Group in 1998-99 and the SPARC Steering Committee since 2000, he played a crucial role in charting and guiding SPARC's course. He was -- and continues to be -- instrumental in introducing SPARC to libraries beyond ARL, which account for more than half of SPARC's membership. He has been a vital collaborator with SPARC staff in efforts to raise the profile of scholarly communication issues and build support for constructive change.

From my vantage point, Ray’s efforts appear to have been the catalyst for ACRL’s strategic engagement with scholarly communications issues. He is a natural coalition builder, and so it was only logical that a strong collaborative bond between the SPARC and ACRL scholarly communications initiatives would be a product of his efforts. He has served as the key link in the allied efforts of SPARC and ACRL. He has been a leader within the Open Access Working Group (OAWG), a SPARC-organized framework for collective advocacy of open access as a public policy matter. And now, of course, he is the chair of SPARC, following in the footsteps of Ken Frazier and Jim Neal.

Ray has been especially energetic in his support of expanded public access to taxpayer-funded research. He has been tireless in his efforts to mobilize library support and communicate this to the U.S. Congress. Ray’s work to leverage the influence of ACRL members across the nation has been absolutely essential.

Even when it comes to less glamorous activities, Ray is always generous with his time and support. For example, he has played an invaluable role in helping frame the SPARC-ACRL Forum programs at the ALA midwinter and annual conferences. His contributions invariably make our communications programs more topical and incisive and stir interest in important issues facing academic libraries.

Bottom line: he's amazing. I benefitted gratefully from his wise counsel throughout my years as SPARC's director.

SPARC did not begin as an organization for open access advocacy, of course - rather, the original purpose was, and remains transformational change in scholarly communications. In Ray's words, Open access emerged as a visible movement after SPARC got started and it's clearly become the most powerful strategy for transformational change; but we need to continue to address other issues in scholarly communications, such as finding ways to introduce competition into a marketplace that has not been feeling the effects of this force.

Ray's advice for the OA Librarian?
I think the most important thing anyone in the US can do at this point is to support the Federal Research Public Access Act. There are a variety of ways to do that, from individual letters to Congress to developing more organized support. In terms of access to information I think it's probably the most important bill that's ever been introduced into Congress. I'd also encourage all librarians to work at the campus level to inform / educate faculty about scholarly communications issues. The ACRL / ARL Scholarly Communications Institute is a great way to develop strategies and plans for doing that.

The ACRL / ARL Scholarly Communications Institutes fill up fast - the deadline for the December Institute was August 15th. Watch for the next one - and register early!

For all your contributions to transforming scholarly communications, Ray - past, and hopefully long into the future - thank you.
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Search this blog

OA Librarian now has a search box, courtesy of google.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Special Award: Non-Librarian Working for Our Cause

Charleston Advisor has issued a special award to Peter Suber as a Non-Librarian Working for our Cause, for his work on the Open Access News blog and SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Congratulations, Peter - very well deserved!!!

Several of the other Readers' Choice Awards are open-access related:

Hybrid Open Access is recognized as the Best Contract Option;

Google News Archive is the Best New Product

and Flickr wins a Best Content award.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Great Idea # 1 from Charleston: Institutional Repositories

Anthony Ferguson of Hong Kong University, one of the plenary speakers from the final day of the recent Charleston conference, presented his top 10 great ideas to take away and present at home as if they were his own. # 1 on Tony's list? Institutional repositories. Specifically, collaborative institutional repositories, or, a single IR for Hong Kong's 8 universities.

Hong Kong should unite with China's open access movement to require the results of all research supported by either government to be self-archived. One thing to stress with the Hong Kong government is that IR's will not only facilitate the sharing of research information between scholars, but also with the public, who have no access to research journals.

Other great ideas:
#2: hand held devices - not ideal.
#3: incorporate web 2.0 into our integrated library systems
#4: get our library stuff in our students' path
#5: redesign our library web page
#6: publicly available rights management database for e-book collections
#7: make porting library content to course management systems a #1 priority
#8: don't forget the importance of books!
#9: datasets: we need to recruit or reassing an existing staff member to work with datasets
#10: get publishers to sponsor scholarly brain tunes

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Open Access in Practice

With all the talk about open access these days, it may not be obvious that the role of the advocate is the tip of the iceberg. The real size and strength of the open access movement is best measured by the very great many people whose work focuses on implementing open access, not talking about it!

In a recent presentation at the Charleston 2006 Conference, Open Access in Practice, several of us talked about what we are doing to implement open access.

George Machovec of the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) talked about open access linking and listing for CARL members, who share access to 80 open access title lists through Gold Rush. George is also Managing Editor of the for-profit Charleston Advisor, which practices an interesting twist on the author payment model for OA: some of the reviews from each Advisor are OA - and it is the author who is paid (an honorarium). Charleston Advisor also has a generous author copyright policy, which facilitates author self-archiving.

Heather Whitehead of the Colorado School of Mines described the process she and her colleagues employed in creating a specialized open access journal list, which is shared with the other CARL members through Gold Rush. The Colorado School of Mines list includes specialized titles not (yet?) in DOAJ. Audience members encouraged Heather to share her list with DOAJ! In turn, Heather encouraged audience members to think about creating and sharing other specialized lists. None of us can vet and select all of the open access resources by ourselves - but if we work together, who knows what we can accomplish?

As for me, it was my great pleasure to talk about how we librarians are sharing our own work through E-LIS: the Open Archive for Library and Information Science. As a voluntary collaboration of editors from all over the world, E-LIS is not only a model for sharing for librarians; in my opinion, it is a model for how we can work together in a global society. I talk about some of the benefits of E-LIS for searchers and for depositing authors.

We conclude with some notes about the reality of open access - the substantial, and growing resources, and what this means for librarians. Much of our work is exactly the same in the open access environment. We connect people with information - whether the information is purchased, or freely available. We build collections, through careful selection and preservation; again, it does not matter whether or not the resources are purchased.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Physics: well on the way to full OA

Physics looks to be well on the way to a full open access publishing model for scholarly communications, backed by a consortium led by CERN. This is one of the more remarkable stories about open access today. Details and Peter Suber's comments are available on Open Access News

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography: Domain Change

There has been a domain change to Charles' Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography - for details, see Digital Koans.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

October 2006: the month of the mandate!

The November issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter is online.

The story of the month: mandates! As Peter Suber puts it: We've never had a month like October 2006. Depending on how you count, more OA mandates came into being in October 2006 than in all previous months combined. I count six adopted mandates, two proposed mandates, two adopted near-mandates, and one adopted mandate limited to data. That comes to eleven actions in five countries (UK, Austria, Canada, the US, and China).


Peter also begins to explore the phenomenon of the no-fee open access journal. An interesting finding of the Kaufmann-Wills report was that fewer of half of open access journals charge processing fees; in fact, OA journals are less likely to charge fees than subscription-based journals.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Poised for change: Rick Johnson

The scientific paper and its historic container, the journal, are poised for change. The possibilities and demands of science together with new enabling technologies are just too compelling to resist ~

So says Richard Johnson, in Will Research Sharing Keep Pace with the Internet?. The Journal of Neuroscience 26(37):pp. 9349-9351, recently self-archived in E-LIS.

The world wide web has opened up potential for scholarly communications that go far beyond open access to the scholarly peer-reviewed journal article, an item born in the print era and bearing the limitations of print, even when transferred to the web. It is now possible for researchers to work together and share information in ways that go far beyond the limitations of print, such as publishing of data for re-use and ease with which people from different disciplines and different areas of the world can work together.

Rick talks about the gridlock that has slowed change in academic, a gridlock that flows from the prestige culture of the university. The movement by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) towards policy involving physical products of research and data, as well as open access to the peer-reviewed literature, is presented as a potential means of breaking the gridlock.

Rick Johnson was the founding Executive Director of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Research Coalition, and currently SPARC Senior Advisor, is one of the pioneers of Creating Change in scholarly communications, and well as one of the early leaders of the open access movement, one of the participants in the meeting that led to the Budapest Open Access Initiative , a defining moment in open access history.

This article is only one of the articles Rick has recently self-archived in E-LIS. Thank you for your leadership - now, and for all these years, Rick. And thank you for sharing your work through E-LIS.

If you, too, are poised for change, please consider joining the SPARC Open Data Discussion List, with moderator Peter Murray-Rust.

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