Friday, April 24, 2009

Canadian Health Services Research Foundation Open Access Policy

Another Canadian OA mandate! The Canadian Health Services Research Foundation now has an open access policy. For details and expert comment, see the blogpost of Canadian health librarian - OA advocate Devon Greyson at Social Justice Librarian.

Hat tip to Open Access News.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Open Sesame to the Digital World: an open access high school library

Congratulations to teacher-librarian Judith Comfort for a fabulous website and presentation at the BC Library Conference on her Open Access School Library.


Open access, open mind

Teacher-librarians are needed more than ever.

Open Access has exploded online and captured the imagination of librarians, scholars, and students on a global scale. But how much of this has filtered down to school-age children?

Push open the door of the bricks-and-mortar school library. The place is abuzz with kids packing so many batteries, screens & wires that the security gate screams in protest. Gone are the study carrels as teachers expect collaboration amongst students.

Comment: Judith Comfort points out that teacher librarians are needed more than ever in the internet age, and I agree. While there is more information readily available on the web than anyone could ever read on virtually any topic, students need skills to know what to do with this information - basic literacy, information literacy, and media literacy skills. How to read, interpret, and evaluate the information. In the knowledge age, we will need knowledge workers, and this includes teachers, and librarians, of all types.

Thanks to Convenor Janet Mumford. This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Free access to The Cochrane Library for Canada

Announcement from The University of Ottawa's Cochrane Center:

The University of Ottawa’s Cochrane Center now offers Canadians free access to the health information found in The Cochrane Library Ottawa, April 15, 2009— The Canadian Cochrane Network and Centre announces today that everyone in Canada with access to the Internet will be able to view the full content of The Cochrane Library, an on-line resource that provides evaluations on health treatments.

The Canadian Cochrane Network and Centre, in partnership with the Canadian Health Libraries Association, has successfully secured a national license to The Cochrane Library. In essence, the license provides a subscription for every Canadian with access to the Internet to benefit from the immense volume of health information found in The Cochrane Library. Everybody will be one click away from the best available evidence on the effectiveness of treatment procedures including which ones may be harmful. “There are so many opinions and competing interests on the Internet claiming they have the best answers about people’s health care. Having access to The Cochrane Library will allow individuals to learn what the research says about what they need for better health.

This is truly ground-breaking,” remarked Dr Jeremy Grimshaw, Director of the Canadian Cochrane Network Centre (CCNC), Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Health Research Institute (the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital) and Professor at the University of Ottawa. While this new access will help inform health consumers, healthcare providers will also benefit from this pilot project. Healthcare practitioners will save valuable time to research the best patient treatment options through easy access to this wealth of health information.

“Health librarians across the country have long recognized and promoted the importance of access to the Cochrane Library as a key resource for evidence-based practice and decision-making,” said Dianne Kharouba, Canadian Health Libraries Association. To access the best on-line resource on health treatments, please visit:


This is a geographically limited form of access, not true open access. However, it should be noted that the Canadian Cochrane Centre does not have the rights to make this resource openly accessible to everyone in the world. Rather, they have extended access as broadly as they possibly could. Let's hope that all the Cochrane centers worldwide are inspired by this example, and work together to provide open access to this excellent resource to everyone, everywhere. This would be very good news indeed; the Cochrane Library brings together the best possible evidence on medical matters from around the world, and so is considered an authoritative source that health care professionals and consumers alike are well advised to consult.

This part is part of the Canadian leadership in the open access movement series.

Thanks to Sandy Slade.

Update April 20: free access is only for those who do NOT currently subscribe; institutions with subscriptions must continue their subscriptions. Thanks to Denise Koufogiannakis. While I do not know the full details, from my perspective if revenue from subscriptions is expected to continue, it is essential to involve the subscribers in the evolution towards a full open access model.

Don't leave Canada behind / open letter to Canadian government from Canadian researchers

Before research can be made open access - it has to happen! As stated in this letter from the Canadian research community: A new economy is coming out of this crisis and research and development will be the lifeblood to that new economy.. Canadian researchers are calling on the Canadian government to not leave Canada behind.


Dear Prime Minister, Dear Leader of the Opposition

U.S. President Barack Obama is taking advantage of the current financial crisis to push his country forward in new directions by greatly boosting funding to scientific research and education as a means to jump start innovation in a new economy. The scope of his vision is stunning, including an increase of more than $15 billion in scientific research, and a promise to double the funding for education in the next 10 years. For more details, see

Our government has also tried to stimulate the research / university sector in Canada, wishing to take important initiatives. At the heart of the plan is a $2 billion dollars infrastructure fund for shovel-ready renovation projects in post-secondary institutions, a fund that was actively solicited by university presidents. There is also an additional $750 million for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and $87.5 million over three years for doctoral scholarships. While these funding announcements are surely welcome, we would like to share our concerns as to the potential effect of some of these decisions, in particular in view of the bold and visionary course taken by the Obama administration south of the border.

Thanks to Danielle Dennie.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

MIT open access policy: a model for Canada?

The latest CAUT Bulletin features the article MIT Faculty to Make Articles Freely Available to Public, which I am quoted as pointing to the MIT open access policy as a potential model for Canadian faculty. The full text of the article follows:

MIT Faculty to Make Articles Freely Available to Public

Faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have voted unanimously to make their scholarly articles available to the public for free on the internet.

“The vote is a signal to the world that we speak in a unified voice; that what we value is the free flow of ideas,” said MIT faculty chair Bish Sinyal.

Under the new policy, faculty grant MIT nonexclusive permission to post their articles on an open-source institutional repository. MIT, its faculty and the public at large will have the right to use and share the articles for any purpose other than to make a profit. Authors may opt out on a paper-by-paper basis.

The MIT initiative “is a very exciting development,” said Heather Morrison, an adjunct professor
at the University of British Columbia’s school of library, archival and information studies and chair of the Canadian Open Access Working Group. “It represents faculty taking control of their work and ensuring their research is read and used by as wide an audience as possible.”

Morrison traces the roots of the new policy to changes that have occurred in scholarly communication over the last decade.

Articles published in academic journals are one of the major ways faculty authors share their research results. Under the traditional private sector publishing model, authors transfer their copyright to publishers who in turn sell the work back to universities for a subscription fee. The amalgamation of private publishers into a few large corporations has facilitated rapid increases in these fees — increases that have far outpaced the rate of inflation.

Morrison says while this model is highly profitable for publishers, it conflicts with core academic values, including the commitment to the widest possible dissemination of knowledge.

“The high cost of journal subscriptions has meant that libraries have had to cut back on the number of subscriptions and limit purchases elsewhere in their collections,” said Morrison. “In response, librarians and faculty began to explore other means of scholarly publishing.”

Aided by new forms of digital information technology, an open access movement gained momentum with the creation of free online journals and institutional digital repositories making research openly available to anyone.

Morrison also notes the open access move by MIT faculty is not devoid of self-interest.

“Public tolerance for the traditional private sector model of publishing is waning,” she said. “The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. and all the granting agencies in the UK are declaring top-down open access mandates. MIT’s policy is the first faculty-driven, university-wide initiative of its kind in the U.S. By seizing the initiative MIT faculty are making their own rules about the dissemination of their work, not having them imposed.”

The policy also means articles by MIT faculty are likely to have a higher citation factor than the works of faculty at other institutions that are locked down by private publishers.

For academic staff in Canada the decision by MIT faculty serves as a possible model for disseminating their own work. It will also have a positive economic impact. When a professor or librarian provides a student a direct link to an MIT article, the need for a course pack or photocopying fee disappears, reducing educational costs.

Link: intellectual property advisory on open access and ownership of scholarly work

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ontario contributes $4.7 million more for lab of Toronto-based open access researcher

According to an article by Megan Olivie in today's Toronto Star, Ontario is contributing about $4.7 million to the lab of open access researcher Aled Edwards, leader of one of the world's largest public-private partnerships in basic research, the International Structural Genomics Consortium, a not-for-profit organization run out of the Universities of Toronto and Oxford and Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet – is among the world's largest public-private partnerships in basic research. More than a hundred labs cooperate with the consortium, which also receives funding from the major pharmaceutical companies. By cooperating at the basic research stage, everyone benefits from advances in discovery - faster discovery of new cures and treatments benefits us all, while new drugs mean new business for the pharmaceuticals.

That so-called "big pharma" has funnelled money into the consortium, even during a recession, shows how seriously it is considering the open access philosophy, says Roderick McInnes, scientific director of the Institute of Genetics at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which has funded the Structural Genomics Consortium from the beginning...this is a Canadian success story.

This is another illustration that open access is Good for Business, and another example of Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

Thanks to Leslie Chan.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Open Access Learning: Canadian Learning Commons Conference

News from the Open Education Movement:

June 11-13, 2009, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: The Canadian Learning Commons Conference. This year's theme: Open Access Learning, "a timely and important topic for anyone whose focus is on library, learner support, faculty development, technology, or disability services".