Tuesday, July 31, 2007

E-LIS: the Open Archive for Library and Information Science

E-LIS: the Open Archive for Library and Information Science, by Heather Morrison, Imma Subirats Coll, Antonella de Robbio, and Norm Medeiros, has just been published in The Charleston Advisor (TCA), Volume 9, Number 1, July 2007 , pp. 56-61(6).

As noted in the article, we are E-LIS Editors and Administrators,although we have followed the format of the peer-reviewed TCA reviews and aimed for objectivity.

In brief, E-LIS is the largest of the open access archives for LIS, by far; as of July 31, 2007, E-LIS has more than 6,200 documents. Strengths of E-LIS include support for any language (currently there are 22 languages, however more will be added if needed), strong English and Spanish language content, and high quality of contents. More than half the documents in E-LIS are peer reviewed, and many of the remainder are scholarly in nature, e.g. theses, conference proceedings. As an LIS e-prints archive, it is perhaps only natural that E-LIS is exemplary in its organization and searchability, including extensive browsing capabilities, and the JITA classification team specially developed by the E-LIS team, for E-LIS.

From a personal perspective, what is most amazing to me is E-LIS as a global, almost entirely volunteer organization. Hardware and personnel support provided by CILEA in Italy is most appreciated. The Editorial Team consists of volunteers from over 40 countries. Participating as a member of the E-LIS team is highly recommended, as a way to work collaboratively with librarian colleagues from around the globe.

This global participation highlights one of the reasons why I recommend searching E-LIS first: the results of an E-LIS search have a much broader, more diverse perspective than many of the search tools we may be more familiar with. Even though many languages are supported, every article includes an English abstract - and sometimes, the abstract is enough. Enough, at least, to give us an idea of the commonalities and differences between our efforts, and those of our colleagues.

Recently, I am proud to say, the Canadian Library Association approved a policy which included investigating a partnership with E-LIS. [Disclosure: I am the Convenor of the CLA Task Force on Open Access].

This post is part of the Creative Globalization series.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Canada: let's focus on sharing

The government of Canada is seeking the Views of Canadians to Assess Canadian Intellectual Property Interests in Selected Markets. That is, Canada is working on free trade agreements with Peru, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic.

Participatory democracy is a wonderful thing, and consultation can be an effective way to enable participatory democracy. However, this approach to consultation is biased in the extreme; that is, it presupposes that what is most important to Canadians in our trade relationships with these countries is IP protection for Canadian economic rights.

The government of Canada invites us to further discuss these initiatives or learn more about the Government's approach to intellectual property in trade and investment negotiations.

Canadians, rather than filling out this biased questionnaire, please consider e-mailing or faxing a letter to Foreign Affairs and your MP, and let them know what you think is important in these trade negotiations.

Some thoughts:

Intellectual property is about more than money.

Our collective knowledge is a public good; when the sum of all that we know is shared with everyone, we all benefit. If we are talking with other countries about IP, let's talk about open access to scholarly research funded by taxpayers in all of countries. If Canada, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Columbia, all implement OA mandate policies, we all have more knowledge.

Let's talk about respect for traditional knowledge, which often follows different forms than our current emphasis on individual title. For example, intellectual property may belong to a group of people rather than an individual.

When we are talking with developing countries, let's focus on what kinds of intellectual property policies would benefit them, not just what would benefit some of us.

Added July 29:
The Canadian Library Association's Information and Telecommunications Access Policies provides some philosophical background which may be helpful in framing a reply to this consultation. [Disclosure: I am the Co-Convenor of the Canadian Library Association's Intellectual Property and Public Access Committee / Working Group on Information Policy].

In particular:

From the Preamble:
The convergence of computers and high-speed telecommunication networks provides increased opportunity for public access to information and participation in the democratic processes of society. Conversely, access and participation could be reduced through the imposition of user fees and centralized control.

Librarians, libraries, and library organizations will work to assure the 'public good' is represented in all government and corporate initiatives for information dissemination and telecommunications policy.

Comment: a free-trade agreement that covers intellectual property will have impact on information dissemination. Focusing on protecting economic IP interests is likely to result in restriction of information dissemination.

Section 2. covers Universal, Equitable, and Affordable Access. Comment: let's make sure that the people of Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Columbia have universal, equitable, and affordable access to information and access to telecommunications (i.e., the internet), before we looking at protecing economic IP interests.

Section 3. Communicate. Individuals have the right to create, exchange, access, and receive the widest range of ideas, information, and images.

Comment: for scholarly information, the best way to achieve this is is through open access. For other types of information, what is important is that everyone have the ability to both disseminate and receive information - whether the aim is economic or not.

Section 4: Public space on the telecommunications network. Last point: Social policies accompanying the introduction of new and more efficient information technologies must emphasize benefits to the whole population, such as greater leisure time and shorter work weeks rather than narrow economic interests.

Comment: when working on trade agreements with developing countries, why not include fair trade, not just free trade?

This post is part of the Creative Globalization series.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oxford: Traditional Publisher Illustrates Leadership in Transition to Open Access

As reported on Liblicense, Oxford has announced adjusted pricing, reflecting revenue from Open Choice articles. In some cases, the cost of a subscription has decreased quite substantially - for example, the price of Bioinformatics has decreased by 19%.

This is an excellent role model illustrating the potential for a natural, evolutionary economic transition to open access. Gradually decreasing subscription funds will gradually increase the availability of library funds for open access projects. For example, if libraries use some of the savings from Oxford subscriptions to supplement the support from funding agencies for Open Choice options, this will increase the Oxford Open Choice revenue, making further subscription pricing possible, allowing for more support for Open Choice. Libraries can contribute in a substantive way to open access solutions, by funding Open Choice for authors who do not have funding grants to cover this cost.

This illustrates the potential positive spiral in the transition to open access.

Kudos to Oxford!

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access series.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Victory for the Commons: Monsanto Patents Rejected!

The Public Patent Foundation announced today that the US Patent and Trademark office has "rejected four key Monsanto patents related to genetically modified crops that PUBPAT challenged last year because the agricultural giant is using them to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some cases literally bankrupt - American farmers."

This is a victory for the rights of farmers to grow our food, to save seed from one year to the next as farmers have always done, without having to worry about going bankrupt fighting legal challenges.

For details, see the Public Patent Foundation website.

Thanks to Helen Clarke for the alert - and to the US Patent and Trademark office for a wise decision!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Needed: Open Access, Open Science

Jim Till's post on Open Access Science and Science Policy on Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure, nicely sums up one of the most important reasons why we need open access.

The most rapid advances in science come with open sharing of information, and collaboration. That is how the world's scientists accomplished the mapping of a human genome in a matter of years. If traditional publishing practices had been followed instead of open sharing, it seems likely that mapping the human genome would have taken decades, if not centuries.

Our world shares some issues on a global basis; some of these are, or will become, urgent. One example is global warming; surely this needs the kind of open sharing and focus on the problem that went into the human genome project.

Another example is bird flu. The more our neighbours know about viruses, the better equipped they are for early identification and dealing with an epidemic, the lesser the chances that the epidemic will arrive at our shores.

We will save money with an open scholarly communications system, as preventing people from reading has significant costs. However, even if it did cost more, the question would not be how could we afford OA, but rather how could we not.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

1,000 journals using Open Journal Systems

More than 1,000 journals are now using Open Journal Systems (OJS).

Of these:
99% are academic
49% are fully open access
40% are delayed open access
11% have yet to publish their first issue
NOT ONE JOURNAL USING OJS was found to be entirely subscription-bound

Disciplinary breakdown:
50% - sciences
23% - social sciences
14% - humanities
12% - interdisciplinary
1% - non academic

This comes 10 years after the beginning of the Public Knowledge Project, and 4 years after the first OJS journal, Post-Colonial Text, at Kwantlen University College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

As announced by John Willinsky at the First International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference, Vancouver, July 11 - 13, 2007. With thanks to PKP Librarian Kevin Stranack for the research.

Given the success of this conference, which sold out with minimal publicity, and which received a very great many compliments from participants - ongoing, and increasing, growth of the PKP community appears to be a fairly safe prediction.

This blogpost forms part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.

Disclosure: I was a member of the PKP conference planning committee.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Are open access journals ten times more likely to survive?

Of the scholarly journals started from 2000 - 2006 recorded in Ulrich's, the open access journals were ten times more likely to be still active, strongly suggesting an open access survival advantage for new journals.

Data from Ulrich's, July 5, 2007:
# of online, refeered, scholarly / academic journals started 2000 -
2006: 2,253
# of above ceased: 59 = .026%

# of online, refereed, scholarly / academic journals, open access
journals started 2000 - 2006: 724
# of above ceased: 2 = .0027

The period 2000 - 2006 was selected, to help control for older, subscription-only journals that would have ceased before open access was an option the journal would have considered.

It should be noted that this is a quick study, which has not explored or controlled for all variables; conclusions should be drawn with caution. The data do, however, strongly suggest an hypothesis worthy of testing.

This post emerged from a discussion on the potential positive spiral in transition to open access on Liblicense. It is part of the Transitioning to Open Access series.