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Recent links on Open Access

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Written by Benjamin Geer

22 August 2009 at 21:01

Recent Links on Open Access

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  • Fissures Evident in Panel on Google Settlement.  ‘“Everybody’s represented at the table, publishers, copyright holders, authors,” [one librarian] said, “but there’s no one there representing the public.” There’s no transparency in the University of Michigan’s amended agreement, she said, so “even if everything’s being done right, no way for us to perceive that.”’
  • The Public Index, ‘a site to study and discuss the proposed Google Book Search settlement’.
  • Horns of a Dilemma: Open Access or Academic Freedom: Philip Davis correctly points out that author-pays OA could put a strain on university libraries’ budgets if the libraries are asked to pay the authors’ publishing fees.  He then uses this observation to construct a straw-man argument against all OA, by implying that OA is incompatible with academic freedom, and that subscription-based closed access is the best model.  I pointed out some of the flaws in this argument in the comments, until Philip cut off the discussion.  In my view, both subscription fees and author fees limit academic freedom by restricting participation to institutions and individuals who can afford to pay, and neither model places any real limits on how much money publishers can extort.  In the subscription model, the result is that only the richest institutions can afford to give their members the freedom to read the best journals; in the author-pays model, the result is that only the richest institutions can afford to give their members the freedom to publish in the best journals.  I think the best alternative is to abandon the idea that academic publishing should be financially self-sustaining, and a fortiori that it should make a profit.  In any case, there is evidence that it need not cost much to publish a journal; many OA journals are published by universities themselves, at little or no cost.  (Richard Sever argued that if universities publish OA journals, this introduces a potential conflict of interest when faculty want to publish in their universities’ journals; he didn’t explain why this isn’t a problem for the closed-access journals that, as he pointed out, many universities publish.)
  • Deepak Singh comments on PLoS’s decision to promote article-level metrics and to ignore journal impact factors: ‘If you want article level metrics, you need to be web native. You need to be able to follow the links. So please, publish journals not as pdf versions of print, but as first class web citizens.’
  • In Search of Anthropology-Friendly Subject Repositories: are there any?
  • Finding a fair price for free knowledge: Writing in New Scientist, Peter Eckersley sets out ‘a challenge to the governments of countries that want to lead the way, whether rich or poor: sit down with Google (or one of its competitors), authors and publishers, and work out a deal that offers a complete, licensed digital library free to your citizens. It would cost taxpayers something, but less than they currently spend on buying scarce books and supporting large paper collections.’
  • ACM responds to the blogosphere: Scott Delman, Group Publisher of the Association for Computing Machinery, points out a problem with self-archiving: ‘The fact that ACM charges both for access to the published information in its Digital Library and also extends the courtesy of “Green OA” to its authors is actually less important to me (while both are important aspects of what we do) than the fact that ACM and many other association publishers serve as well-intentioned caretakers of the scholarly record. I have spent too many hours trying to identify the “most up-to-date version” of an author’s article on his or her Web site or digging through the various related institutional repositories to identify a specific version of an article to believe that any other system at the present time offers the advantages of publishing with learned societies.’  The implication seems to be that only those who can afford to pay should have access to ‘the scholarly record’, and that Delman doesn’t mind if everyone else has to dig through institutional repositories only to find out-of-date versions of articles.  The assertion that Green OA is a ‘courtesy’ that publishers extend to academics is also telling; in reality, it’s authors who giving something to publishers, not the reverse.

Written by Benjamin Geer

27 July 2009 at 13:39

Posted in News, Opinion

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Why Gold OA is better than Green OA

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Imagine if there was a kind of free software called Green Free Software.  Perhaps kernel.org would be accessible only to people who paid to subscribe to it.  Authors of patches for the Linux kernel would have to submit them first to Linus Torvalds; if the patch was accepted, the author could then self-archive it in a separate OA source-code repository after an embargo of one year.  There would be many different OA repositories of Linux patches, all containing different patches.  Companies like IBM and Intel, whose employees contribute to Linux, would have OA ‘company repositories’ for their employees’ patches.  Many authors wouldn’t bother doing the extra work to self-archive their patches.  As a result, it would be impossible to get all the latest patches (and hence to get a complete, up-to-date Linux kernel) without paying for a subscription to kernel.org.  In an attempt to solve this problem, some companies would establish ‘mandates’ to require their employees to self-archive in their company’s repsoitory.  Of course these mandates would not affect independent programmers.  Even if the mandates were 100% successful, anyone wishing to assemble a complete kernel would have to download patches from hundreds of different company repositories and combine them together.

Now ask yourself: would that be a better system than the one we have now, where anyone can download the latest complete kernel from kernel.org for free?

Written by Benjamin Geer

26 July 2009 at 10:56

Posted in Opinion

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Leicester OA mandate in preparation for REF

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In preparation for the Research Excellence Framework, Leicester University Senate passed their Research Publications Policy.  More on the announcement:

The University, following a decision ratified by Senate on 27 May 2009, has joined a growing number of UK institutions, including UCL, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton, in adopting an open access mandate for research publications. Open access means that a research publication can be freely accessed by anyone using an internet connection.

Leicester has the repository manager who blogged on his role:

The repository is at the heart of the institutions preparations for REF and visibility of research.  As the repository manager increasingly my time is spent working with the Research Office, or discussing research visibility issues with our academics, helping them do more with what we have.

About their repository, Leicester Research Archive (LRE), with current total of 4095 papers. Here’s their  RSS Feed.

Written by KontraMraku

25 July 2009 at 23:30

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Westminster University Institutional OA Green mandate

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Fantastic news yesterday, UK’s 25th Green Open Access Mandate, Planet’s 94th is Westminster University. Couple of important bits: it’s an institutional mandate, across the whole university, as opposed to smaller departmental mandates. And there are already 6438 papers in the repository.

There are 999 papers in Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages category. You can use this RSS Feed to display the list of latest papers from the social sciences.

Here’s the growth graph with number of papers in repository, since 2005

Written by KontraMraku

25 July 2009 at 22:22

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