Sunday, October 28, 2012

Open Access Week 2012 presentation

Open access: a critical perspective, a powerpoint presentation for my Communications 435 class (information rights in the information age), is posted on the CMNS 435 course blog here. To download, click where it says 435 2012 oa week (the link is not obvious).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why CC-BY will sometimes be a violation of research ethics: weight loss ad on bus example

This example is meant to illustrate one of the reasons why I recommend AGAINST CC-BY as a default for open access. CC-BY is the Creative Commons - Attribution Only license, giving blanket permission, in advance, for anyone to re-use a work, including making derivatives, as long as the work is attributed. From the user's perspective, this is great! However, it is important to note that CC-BY opens up possibilities that are both positive and negative. I am focusing on the negative, because so many of my colleagues in the open access movement appear to focus exclusively on the positive. Here is one illustration of why CC-BY is not always a good idea.

Picture a research subject in an obesity study, who agrees to allow the researcher to use their picture in a published research article. The researcher, following traditional protocols for working with research subjects, will probably have said something about the publication. However, it is at present very unlikely that the researcher has told the subject that they plan to publish with a CC-BY license, which means that their picture will be available for anyone, anywhere, to use for commercial purposes, including making derivatives. A weight loss company could take this picture and use it in an advertisement on the side of a bus, a use of a CC-BY licensed work that is arguably quite appropriate. If this kind of consequence of publishing with CC-BY (very different from traditional academic publishing) is not explained to the subject in the process of requesting permission to publish the picture, then the researcher does not have informed consent, and will be in violation of research ethics protocol if the picture is published CC-BY.

In a case like this, there are legal as well as moral issues to consider. A research subject in this position might well want to sue someone - that someone could be the researcher, the university, the journal, and/or a research funder if the policy of the latter was the reason for publishing CC-BY.

This could happen without CC-BY. However, CC-BY makes this more likely - a commercial entity might well gather CC-BY licenses to create a database of images to sell (Springer Images already does this). A CC-BY-NC and/or ND license (NC = noncommercial, ND = no derivatives) would signal to a potential user of the image that a usage like this would be appropriate, and would protect the researcher, university, etc. from legal risk by making a lawsuit less likely (with CC-BY-NC and/or ND, the fault is clearly that of the weight loss company, so they are more likely to be sued), and gives a strong argument in the case that a lawsuit does proceed.

The BOAI 10 recommendation of CC-BY is one of the reasons that I cannot support BOAI 10 as a whole. This is not a small disagreement about priorities or preferences, but rather one element of BOAI 10 that I regard as a serious error to be avoided.

Updated October 27 correcting typos and some minor proofreading.

This post is part of the Creative Commons and Open Access critique series.

Discussion can be found on Google G+

Monday, October 15, 2012

Creative Commons and Open Access Critique series

This is a series of posts critiquing the trend towards adopting a particular CC license as a standard for open access. My own views are that we don't know what the best approach for sharing scholarly and other types of work will be in the future, and cannot know until we spend some time thinking and trying things out. By "time", I mean decades, or centuries. This view is expressed most clearly in the post Articulating the commons: a leaderful approach. This topic is also addressed, although not in full, in the defense draft of my thesis Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age (see the open access chapter and the conclusion).

Creative Commons CC-BY confusions.Describes a CC mixter discussion about whether it is legal and/or ethical to sell compilations of CC-BY licensed songs, and whether the community understands the implications when licensing their work.

Chang vs. Virgin Mobile: the photo of a young minor age woman is posted CC-BY to flickr, becomes part of an advertising campaign without the family's knowledge or permission. Legal battles ensue.

The commercial overlords of scholarly rewrite copyright licenses to suit themselves

The Elsevier "open access" / exclusive license to publish hybrid

Rosie Redfield has posted results of an author survey and some of her own critique on RRResearch

Attitudes and values regarding research dissemination and licenses

Is DOAJ inadvertently promoting publisher power over scholars?

A problem with CC-BY: permitting downstream use with no strings attached is the toll access model

Wikipedia, scholarship and CC-BY

A simple definition for open access: a proposal to open the discussion 

UK BIS Committee submission

flickr and Creative Commons: the popularity of noncommercial

Why CC-BY will sometimes be a violation of research ethics

CC-BY: the wrong goal for open access, and neither necessary nor sufficient for data and text mining

PLooS, or contemplating new IJPE series: poking fun at CC-BUY

CC-BY - and/or versus - open access?

Dear Creative Commons: please drop the gratuitous insult

Are strict CC-BY publishers shooting themselves in the foot?

Copyright for expression of ideas; patent law for ideas

Research Councils UK draft new open access policy: my comments

A way of saying "this is open access"

PLoS ONE is in the lead - but could a well thought out noncommercial approach give a competitor an edge?

Should we copyleft our personal information - including our bodies?

Let's raise the floor - a proposal for Creative Commons

Is the OJS simple statement of open access enough, or should we do away with academic copyright altogether?

Why require attribution? A Creative Commons discussion item

Noncommercial means noncommercial (creative commons discussion)

Journals with good Creative Commons models

Three pictures, one small gift, to everyone, with love

To everyone, with love

Creative Commons, noncommercial and formats

Articulating the commons: a leaderful approach

Creative Commons and noncommercial: CC 4.0 discussion

Education is a public good - not a commercial activity!

Dissension in the open access ranks on CC licenses and strategy tips for publishers

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gaming the scholarly metrics - lessons for altmetrics

Thanks to Scott Timcke for a pointer to this excellent article and great summary of how to game your impact factor. This is a timely discussion, not only for impact factor but even more important for the development of altmetrics (which could easily be even more susceptible to gaming). The potential for gaming needs to be addressed along with the development of the metrics, not only as a distortion in the metrics per se, but the impact of the need to score well in metrics in how people approach their research in the first place.

From Smeyers, P., and Burbules, N. C., (2011) How to Improve your Impact Factor: Questioning the Quantification of Academic Quality, Journal of Philosophy of Education 45(1) 1–17

Offers a solid critique of I.F. and bibliometrics in general.

BUT if you do want to know how to improve your I.F. then

"• Forget about society and education in general.
• Find a research area that is flourishing and blessed with a large number of ISI journals.
• Limit your research interest to a minute aspect that is distinctly associated with you, and which can be addressed empirically.
• While you need not limit yourself to quantitative methods, bear in mind that these are always to be preferred.
• If you can at all, avoid case studies.
• Look for friends with whom you can swap cites.
• Cite your own work often, and cite lots of articles from the journal in which you want to publish.
• Do good work by all means, but above all be sure to publish findings that are controversial and widely debated … Then sit back and watch your impact factor grow."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Canada - ACT NOW if you care about democracy

Update October 14 in The Tyee - excerpt:

"By Nov. 1 three of China's national oil companies will have more power to shape Canada's energy markets as well as challenge the politics of this country than Canadians themselves…" Beers, The Tyee

Canadians - the Harper government is now involved in a number of secretive deals. Not only is the process undemocratic, but the results will be a very major erosion of our democracy. For example, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), according to Osgoode law professor Gus Von Harten the deal "allows Chinese companies to sue Canada outside of Canadian courts. Remarkably, the lawsuits can proceed behind closed doors. This shift to secrecy reverses a longstanding policy of the Canadian government." (Source: Tyee) .

This is only ONE of the major international non-democratic initiatives Harper and his government are committing Canada to - there is also the Trans-Pacific Partnership and CETA (the Canadian Europe Trade Association).

For the young people out there - before Canada entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), there was extensive public debate for years. If you haven't heard about FIPPA, TPP, and CETA, it's not you - the government really is entering us into major international agreements with major impacts on all of us, without bothering to even tell us what they are doing.

Canadians, please ACT NOW to protect our democracy. If your MP is Conservative, it is time to tell them to cross the floor, in any direction, or to become independent. We're only a dozen seats or so away from going back to a minority government. Whatever the politics of your MP, tell them to support Elizabeth May's call for an emergency debate on FIPPA (otherwise automatically takes effect November 1).

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

CC-BY: the wrong goal for open access, and neither necessary nor sufficient for data and text-mining

An argument that I see as important but missing: is CC-BY even an appropriate goal for open access at all? This is a separate question from whether it should be a short or long-term priority.

I argue that CC-BY is NOT an appropriate goal for open access. There are many reasons for this argument, too many for one post, so I'll start off by challenging the assumption that CC-BY is what is needed for data and text mining.

1.    CC-BY is not necessary for data and text-mining. Internet search engines such as google and social media companies do extensive data and text mining, and they do not limit themselves to CC-BY material. This is true even in the EU, so is not prevented by the EU's support for copyright of data. To illustrate: if data and text-mining is not permissible without CC-BY, then Google must shut down, immediately.

2.  CC-BY is not sufficient for data and text-mining. The Creative Commons licenses are designed as a means for creators to waive rights that they would otherwise have under copyright; they do not place any obligations on the Licensor. There is nothing to stop a creator from using a CC-BY license with a locked-down PDF with extra DRM designed to prevent data and text-mining.

One of the reasons that it is important to begin giving such questions greater attention and analysis is funders' policies requiring CC-BY. If authors and their publishers adopt CC-BY through coercion rather than choice, the actual practice may differ considerably from earlier open access initiatives involving voluntary use of this license.

This argument leaves aside the question of whether allowing for ubiquitous data and text-mining is actually beneficial for scholarship. My perspective is that this is unknown, and it is premature to prescribe data and text-mining for all scholarly works until after a fuller exploration of this question. As one counter-example, consider that allowing data-mining and remix of health information can compromise privacy.

This is one of the topics that I begin to address in my draft dissertation, Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age. The defence draft is available for download from here:

See chapter 4 on open access and chapter 8, conclusions. These arguments are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather an illustration of the potential of the societal trend that I call irrational rationality to actually make things worse for scholars and scholarly communication in the transition to open access.


Heather G. Morrison
Open Access Advocate / Opponent of CC-BY Coercion
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
This was posted today to the GOAL Open Access List.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thank you, open access movement! September 30, 2012 Dramatic Growth of Open Access

On this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, this issue of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is dedicated to all of the many millions of people around the world who make open access happen - the scholars who take the time for the few keystrokes to deposit their work in an open access archive and/or publish in open access journals; the editors and peer reviewers of thousands of open access journals; the journals and publishers who make their works open access, whether immediately on publication or after a bit of a delay; and all of the librarians, repository managers, research funders and advocates around the world who constantly work for a future of open access to all of our scholarly knowledge - and apologies to anyone whose important work I may be omitting. 

Highlighted this month is the dramatic growth of OpenDOAR, more than doubling from just over 800 repositories in 2006 to over 2,200 in 2012, representing substantial and impressive growth of the necessary infrastructure for open access archives. 

PubMedCentral has grown considerably in the years since the introduction of the strong public access requirement policy of the NIH in 2008, but also in voluntary participation going far beyond the requirements of the policy. In the past 4 years, the number of journals providing immediate free access to article through PMC has almost tripled, from 375 journals in 2008 to 979 today.

The number of journals the Electronic Journals Library includes that can be read free-of-charge has more than doubled from 15,000 in 2007 to over 36,000 today. This collection includes both fully open access journals and a large and growing number of journals that make their works as freely available as they can, for example providing free access to back issues, commonly after a one-year embargo.

Popcorn, anyone? 

The most amazing growth this quarter - and a milestone since the end of September!: the Internet Archive's movie collection. 49% growth in the past quarter, and now just over a million free movies!

 RePEC has been dropped for this quarter as I cannot figure out how many documents / fulltext they have. RePEC features rich statistics, but the emphasis seems to have changed from content to usage - not very useful for tracking growth of OA.

 Selected numbers

Directory of Open Access Journals 
  • 8,242 titles
  • 330 titles added this quarter
  • growth rate 3.6 titles / day
Directory of Open Access Books
  •  1,215 books / 33 publishers
  •  117 books / 6 publishers added this quarter
  • growth rate 1 book / day
Electronic Journals Library
  • 36,593 journals can be read free of charge
  • 1,297 added this quarter
  • growth rate 14 titles / day 
  • 2,207 repositories
  • 42 added this quarter
  • growth rate 3.5 / day
Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
  • 37 million documents
  • 950,000 added this quarter
  • growth rate 10 thousand / day
  • 979 journals provide immediate free access
  • 51 journals added this quarter for immediate free access
  • growth rate 4 journals / week
  • 787,000 documents
  • 20,000 documents added this quarter
  • growth rate 200 documents / day
  • 13,841 documents
  • 454 added this quarter
  • growth rate 5 documents / day
 Social Sciences Research Network
  • 360,000 full text papers
  • 12,000 added this quarter
  • growth rate 130 full text papers / day
Internet Archive
  • 997,158 movies
  • 325,000 added this quarter
  • growth rate 3,600 / day
This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.  Full data can be downloaded from here. If you would like to re-use one of the charts, please contact me for a high-resolution version (for technical reasons).