FOS Newsletter, 5/23/02
May 23, 2002 10:32 PDT
Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
May 23, 2002
More on the big koan: self-archiving
Following my essay in the last issue on why FOS progress has been slow, our
discussion forum received many thoughtful postings. Have a look.
There are two primary paths to FOS: open-access journals and
self-archiving. Progress along both paths has been slower than our
opportunities would allow. However, it's easier to explain slow movement
along the first path than along the second. All eight of the points in my
essay apply to open-access journals, but only a few apply to self-archiving
--namely, that scholars tend not to understand the problem, that they tend
to misunderstand the solution, and that slow progress itself has created a
vicious circle in which relatively few institutions have created eprints
If you want to deepen the discussion, focus on why self-archiving isn't
spreading more rapidly than it is. Creating an archive is now painless
with free software, maintaining an archive takes minimal effort, hosting
one takes server space that any university could donate without noticing,
and the benefits are immediate and cumulative.
Moreover, there is a network effect. One telephone is useless, but every
new telephone makes every existing telephone more useful. The situation is
similar though not quite so stark with eprints archives. One eprints
archive is useful for the authors who deposit their papers in it and for
the readers who happen to need access to those papers. But readers are
much more likely to find what they need as more archives join the network
of distributed archives. Cross-archive search engines make it unnecessary
for readers to know which archives exist, where they are located, or what
they contain. Researchers using these search engines will notice that they
find what they are looking for more often as more archives join the
system. As more readers and researchers find the body of archived
literature useful, more will turn to it in their research, multiplying the
benefits for authors as well. Every new archive makes every existing
archive more useful.
That is one more reason for every university and laboratory to start an
archive, in case there weren't enough reasons already. Think of it like a
matching grant. If your employer matches your charitable contributions,
you have a rare chance to amplify your donations. In this case, the
network effect matches your FOS contribution. When your institution
participates in self-archiving, the gain to all users is greater than the
set of papers in your archive.
So if it's easy, free, useful, and ready right now, why isn't it spreading
(In case your institution's administrators or tech people are misled about
the simplicity or legality of self-archiving.)
Eprints software, for creating OAI-compliant archives for self-archiving
(To get started now.)
You can advance the cause of self-archiving if you are a scholar or
represent a university, library, journal, publisher, foundation, learned
society, or government. Here's how.
(No more excuses. It's not just an opportunity for other people to seize.)
FOS discussion forum
(Anyone may read; only subscribers may post; subscription is free.)
More on the big koan: open-access journals
Here are two news stories about BioMed Central (BMC). My comments on them
appear inconsistent. But I'll argue that an aspect of the big koan
explains this deceptive appearance.
(1) BMC has launched the _Journal of Biology_, a new open-access journal
which it hopes will challenge _Nature_, _Science_, and _Cell_. JBiol will
have a distinguished editorial board headed by Martin Raff, whom ISI ranks
as one of the 10 most cited scientists in the UK. The board will include
three Nobel laureates, Harold Varmus, Michael Brown, and Joseph Goldstein,
and two former editors at _Nature_, Theodora Bloom and Peter Newmark. The
first issue will appear in June.
This is an exactly what the serials landscape needs today. There is no
reason why the world's most eminent scientists can't work for an
open-access journal, although there is a suspicion that this is somehow
unnatural. Nobody quite admits to holding the belief that journal quality
requires price barriers, or that filtering readers by wealth helps a
journal filter manuscripts by quality, but the belief has a widespread
underground existence just the same. It's a holdover from the days when
the internet was dominated by hobbyists, and serious academics looked smart
for saying, "you get what you pay for". Although the web has moved on, and
pockets of free content have long since proved their quality and
reliability, this long-refuted belief may still lurk in the subconscious
minds of people who are otherwise wide awake and informed. It may also
arise from confusing two different gate-keeping functions, one to block
unworthy manuscripts from publication and one to block non-subscribers from
reading. But if anyone still needs proof that superlative editors and
superlative quality control are compatible with open access to the
resulting papers, JBiol is providing it.
I applaud the launch of an open-access journal with a world-class editorial
board. Still, I long for the day when open access will be so ordinary that
the launch of an open-access journal with a merely competent board will
garner the interest and respect accorded to other competent journals.
Journal of Biology
BMC press release
(2) BMC has created a web page of "pioneering authors" whose support for
open-access publishing has advanced a revolution that "will be felt by the
whole world-wide scientific community". The page is an alphabetical
database of authors who have published in BMC journals.
It would be easy to draw the conclusion that BMC is simply blowing its own
horn here, and that was my first impression. But in fact the list is
useful for two reasons. First, these authors do deserve thanks for their
willingness to publish in new journals. If there is a vicious circle
dissuading first-rate authors from submitting their work to new journals
until the journals are well-respected, when the journals cannot become
well-respected without first-rate submissions, then these authors have
proved their willingness to break the circle. If you have doubts without
evidence, then you might think it more likely that these authors are
second-rate than both first-rate and courageous. But here's where the
second virtue of the list comes in. You can search it and satisfy yourself
that it includes scientists who are significant by any standard. The list
is searchable by author, institution, and nation.
* Postscript. My comments on these two stories seem inconsistent. In one
I'm saying that the quality of open-access journals can be as high as as
the quality of any traditional journal. In the other I'm thanking authors
for their willingness to publish in open-access journals. It appears that
open-access journals are strong enough to praise and weak enough to cosset.
But I stand by both sets of comments. Their juxtaposition highlights the
difference between quality and prestige, or real excellence and known or
reputed excellence. The difference matters because the incentive for
authors to submit their work to a given journal is much more a function of
the journal's prestige than its quality, at least when the two differ.
Prestige takes time to cultivate, but quality can exist from
birth. Because open-access journals are new, even those excellent from
birth must take time to earn prestige proportional to their quality. This
gap between their quality and prestige can deter submissions, which in turn
will delay the closing of the gap. All new journals face this gap and the
vicious circle it creates. There may be many creative ways to break the
circle, but BMC is using two of them here. One is to make a journal
self-evidently excellent from birth and use this fact to recruit
submissions. Another is to find authors willing to submit their work to
open-access journals even before the prestige gap is closed, and then to
thank them publicly for their insight and courage.
More on the big koan: Macchiavelli
In _The Future of Ideas_, Lawrence Lessig quotes the following passage from
Macchiavelli. It goes a long way to answer the big koan.
"Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime,
and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under
the new. Their support is indifferent partly from fear and partly because
they are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless
they have tested them by experience."
(From _The Prince_, W. W. Norton, 1992, at p. 17. Quoted by Lessig, Random
House, 2001, at p. 6.)
* I'm still investigating a handful of possible new hosts for the FOS
Newsletter and discussion forum. Please forgive any ads that Topica may
insert into the newsletter before I finish picking a new host and making
* In March the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore hosted two
workshops on electronic publishing and interoperable open archives. The
workshops addressed editors and support staff of Indian non-profit STM
journals, and focused on the advantages, economics, technology, and nuts
and bolts of electronic publishing, especially in open archives. "The
overarching concern behind the idea of the workshops is the urgent need to
increase visibility of Indian journals by making them available on the
Internet in formats that take advantage of search and retrieval procedures."
Workshops home page
(Thanks to Leslie Chan.)
The Workshops' useful page of FOS links, still under construction
* BioOne is producing a free online book in collaboration with the American
Society of Plant Biologists. The book will summarize the state of current
knowledge on the plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. Containing 100 invited
chapters, it will eventually link all gene names to sequence databases as
well as link citations to abstracts and sections to one another.
(The BioOne "news" page is not up to date.)
New on the net
* The papers presented at the recent "Access and Preservation of Electronic
Information" conference (Barcelona, May 7-8) are now online.
* The Open Content Network is an emerging P2P content delivery system for
any kind of digital content in the public domain, from music and film to
software and scholarship. Supporters can help the cause by donating
bandwidth and diskspace to the network. (PS: The generality of the
service makes me suppose that it could distribute scholarly texts, although
the site doesn't mention this possibility. I'd be interested in hearing
from anyone who uses the network for scholarly purposes.)
(Thanks to Info Anarchy.)
Share your thoughts
* The American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) is
sponsoring an essay contest on the topic, "International Digital Libraries
and Information Science and Technology Advances in Developing
Countries". Authors of the six winning papers will be awarded two-year
ASIST memberships and be invited to present their papers at ASIST's
November conference in Philadelphia. The submission deadline is July 31.
* LITC and JISC are conducting a study of commercial "library portal"
software. The study directors would welcome comments from librarians or
others who have evaluated any of these packages. To share your thoughts,
write to Andrew Cox, <coxam [at] SBU.AC.UK>
In other publications
* The June issue of Walt Crawford's _Cites & Insights_ is now online. Walt
discusses his work on OpenURL support in RLG's Eureka (and other RLG news),
the COWLZ preservation initiative (in which FOSN is participating), Tim
O'Reilly's predictions for our technological future, the demise of _The
Future of Print Media Journal_, reviews of four essays on the significance
of blogging, reviews of a handful of other "good stuff" (including three of
my recent FOSN essays), and his thoughts on mandating web filters in public
* In the May/June _Online_, Terence Huwe describes the University of
California's Labor Research Web and argues that flat web portals have
advantages and potential that sophisticated web designers often overlook.
* The May 23 _Serials eNews_ contains a summary of the discussion on
LibLicense and other discussion lists of the true costs of publishing
electronic journals (see FOSN for 4/29/02).
* In the May 20 _Information Today_, Barbara Quint reports on BioMed
Central's recent partnership with SPARC and its recruitment of
distinguished institutional members like the National Institutes of Health
(see FOSN for 5/15/02).
* The May 20 _Pandia Search Engine News_ has an anonymous review of five
free online academic search directories: the Librarian's Index to the
Internet, InfoMine, the Resource Discovery Network, and Academic Info.
(Thanks to Gary Price's VASND.)
* In the May 20 _Wired_, Michelle Delio describes James Burke's Knowledge
Web, an ambitious project to show how pieces of knowledge are connected to
* In the May 20 _Tech Central Station_, Howard Feinberg reports on the
survival of bad scientific ideas after their retraction or invalidation. A
1998 study by John Budd showed that 235 scientific articles "retracted due
to error, misconduct, failure to replicate results or other reasons" had
been cited 2,034 times after their retraction, and that most of the citing
papers did not mention the retraction. Feinberg uses the Budd study to set
up a discussion of the recent fiasco at _Nature_, in which a paper was
withdrawn after publication by the editors who faced intensive lobbying
both scientific and non-scientific. (PS: Will FOS aggravate the problem
of overlooking retractions, by keeping old studies circulating forever in
the Google cache and Wayback Machine? Or will it mitigate the problem, by
allowing more intelligent searching and indexing?)
* In the May 16 _Chronicle of Higher Education_, Jeffrey Young reports that
the Public Library of Science (PLoS) boycott was "a bust". Few journals
complied, and few signatories boycotted those that did not comply. The
PLoS organizers admit this, but express disappointment that non-profit
learned societies were not better friends to the cause. Quoting Mike
Eisen, one of the PLoS founders: "I think that even the society publishers
who in principle supported us were acting like businessmen rather than
scientists." Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of _Science_ and former
president Stanford University, defended the non-profit publishers: "We're
thinking like nonprofit organizations that are trying to balance [economic
needs with service to the community]....We think we serve our community
quite well." PLoS hasn't given up. If existing journals won't convert to
open access, then PLoS will launch a new generation of open-access
journals. The PLoS journals will cover their costs with author (or
author-sponsor) fees of about $500 per accepted paper. The first of the
new journals will appear in January 2003.
* In a May 15 story for _Planet eBook_, Sam Vaknin reviews some emerging
technologies and practices that stretch the ways in which books and ebooks
are used, owned, copied, and even defined.
* In a May 15 posting to _Slashdot_, Jason Haas interviews Siva
Vaidhyanathan, author of _Copyright and Copywrongs_ (NYU Press, 2001).
Vaidhyanathan talks about the DMCA, the CBDTPA, and his upcoming book on
P2P and encryption.
(Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)
* In a May 14 story, Reuters reports that analysts are pessimistic about
the ebook market. The only optimists seem to be Adobe and Microsoft, the
largest companies trying to make and sell them. Quoting David Card from
Jupiter Media Metrix: "We haven't issued forecasts for the industry in two
years because the market's going nowhere. E-books were a dumb idea. I am
very negative on this market."
* The _Journal of Digital Information_ has posted some accepted papers on
FOS-related topics to its web site. They will be published in the next issue.
J. van Ossenbruggen and two co-authors, "Hypermedia and the Semantic Web: A
C. Lueg, "Enabling Dissemination of User-Specific Information in the Usenet
J. Clark and seven co-authors, "Digital Archive Network for Anthropology"
X. Liu and six co-authors, "Federated Searching Interface Techniques for
Heterogeneous OAI Repositories"
* The May issue of _D-Lib Magazine_ is now online. It contains the
following FOS-related articles.
Rachel Heery and Harry Wagner, "A Metadata Registry for the Semantic Web"
Michael Wright and two co-authors, "Meta-Design of a Community Digital Library"
William LeFurgy, "Levels of Service for Digital Repositories"
Robert Sullivan, "Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights: A
Digital Library Context"
William Kilbride, "FISH Launches New Web Site" (FISH = Forum on Information
Standards in Heritage; see FOSN for 4/8/02.)
David Germano, "The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library" (See FOSN for
Mary E. Jackson, "Scholars Portal Project Launched" (See FOSN for 5/15/02.)
Richard Rinehart, "Archiving the Avant Garde: Documenting and Preserving
Variable Media Art"
Mary Lee, "Remaking Libraries for the Global Knowledge Renaissance"
Carol Priestley, "African Journals Online" (See FOSN for 12/19/02.)
* The Spring edition of _Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship_
Stephanie Bianchi reviews PubMed, and calls it "one of the world's greatest
* The American Library Association has released the 2002 edition of its
annual report, _U.S. Serials Services Price Index_. This year's report was
prepared by Nancy Chaffin and Ajaye Bloomstone.
Barbara Albee and Brenda Dingley give a brief summary of the report in the
latest _American Libraries_.
* Ernest Miller and Joan Feigenbaum have put a paper online (apparently a
preprint) arguing that copying "is necessary for normal use" of digital
works and is therefore a poor predictor of intent to infringe. Copyright
law in the digital age, then, should stop focusing on the right to control
copying and shift to the right to control public distribution.
(Thanks to Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)
* The National Academy Press has published _Access to Research Data in the
21st Century: An Ongoing Dialogue Among Interested Parties; Report of a
Workshop_. This 66 page booklet is available free online as well as in a
priced, print edition. The book is a report of a workshop on the 1999
Shelby Amendment, which requires researchers to make all the data generated
by federally funded research available to the public under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA). Chapter 5 considers methods of making data public
without using the cumbersome FOAI, for example, free online access together
with the software required to read the data.
Following up (new developments in continuing stories)
To see past coverage of these stories in FOSN, use the search engine at the
* More on the Creative Commons
It has now launched.
News coverage of its launch.
Berkman Center summary of issues facing the Creative Commons.
Berkman Center report on how artists are responding to the Creative Commons.
* More on the Elcomsoft/Sklyarov case
The BNA _Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal_ has a careful analysis of
Judge Whyte's recent ruling against Elcomsoft's constitutional arguments.
Judge Whyte has set the trial date for August 26.
* More on the CBDTPA
In _Business Week_, Jane Black reviews the ominous consequences of the
CBDTPA for the open source movement.
* More on the DMCA
At the recent information commons conference in Washington DC, Rep. Rick
Boucher outlined his plan to amend the anti-circumvention clause of the
DMCA (FOSN for 5/15/02). He has now put the text of his talk online.
Reports on Boucher's plan to submit a Digital Fair Use Bill of Rights to
amend the DMCA.
Friends of the DMCA recently gathered in Washington to toast each other and
the law that advances their interests.
* More on the DeCSS cases
After 2600 Magazine lost its previous appeal before a three-judge panel of
the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, it asked the entire panel of Second
Circuit judges to review the decision. The court just said no, in a
one-line ruling. 2600 was convicted not only of distributing the DeCSS
source code, but of linking to sites that also did so. The magazine has 90
days to decide whether to file an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Andrew Bunner (the DeCSS defendant who has so far won, in contrast to 2600
Magazine which has so far lost) will soon argue his case before the
California Supreme Court. Two months ago, the DVD CCA appealed its defeat
to the California Supreme Court and yesterday Bunner filed his reply
brief. He is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the
First Amendment Project.
* More on the Eldred case
The Berkman Center has posted the Eldred brief and all the pro-Eldred
amicus briefs to its web site.
The Berkman Center has also created a home page for news on the Eldred case.
The _Chronicle of Higher Education_ reports on the many law professors
writing amicus briefs on behalf of Eric Eldred. In addition to the
constitutional arguments, some of these briefs make the case that copyright
extension harms education and research.
Yale Law School used the Eldred case for its recent Moot Court
competition. Eldred won. LawMeme describes the real and moot court
versions of the case, and links to the moot court briefs.
Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)
* Scott Nicholson has a web page on "bibliomining", which he describes as a
"combination of data mining, bibliometrics, statistics, and reporting tools
used to extract patterns of behavior-based artifacts from library systems."
(Thanks to Gary Price's VASND.)
* EBSCO has a free online database of publishers' license agreements.
(Thanks to Library News Daily.)
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your
observations with us through our discussion forum. (Conferences marked by
two asterisks are new since the last issue.)
* Libraries in the Digital Age 2002
Dubrovnik, May 21-26
* Taking the Plunge: Moving from Print to Electronic Journals
London, May 22
* Online Submission and Peer Review. Sponsored by the Journals Committee
of the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the AAP.
New York, May 22
* CAiSE '02. Advanced Information Systems Engineering
Toronto, May 27-31
* Workshop on Personalization Techniques in Electronic Publishing on the
Web: Trends and Perspectives
Malaga, Spain, May 28
* Applications of Metadata. Sponsored by the Electronic Publishing
Specialist Group of the British Computer Society.
London, May 29
* Society for Scholarly Publishing (AAP)
Boston, May 29-31
* Fair Use Seminar
Portland, Oregon, May 30
* Off the Wall and Online: Providing Web Access to Cultural Collections
Lexington, Massachusetts, May 30-31
* Multimedia Content and Tools: Towards Information and Knowledge Systems
London, May 30-31
* Advancing Knowledge: Expanding Horizons for Information Science
Toronto, May 30 - June 1
* Electronic Theses and Dissertations 2002
Provo, Utah, May 30 - June 1
* International Association of Technological University Libraries Annual
Conference: Partnerships, Consortia, and 21st Century Library Science
Kansas City, June 2-6
* Digital Behavior: European Forum on Digital Content Creation,
Management, and Distribution
Cologne, June 4-8
* DELOS Workshop on Evaluation of Digital Libraries: Testbeds,
Measurements, and Metrics
Budapest, June 6-7
* Social Implicatoins of Information and Communication Technology
Raleigh, North Carolina, June 6-8
* Electronic Resources and the Social Role of Libraries in the Future
Sudak, Ukraine, June 8-16
* First International Semantic Web Conference
Sardinia, June 9-12
* Frontiers of Ownership in the Digital Economy: Information Patents,
Database Protection and the Politics of Knowledge
Paris, June 10-11
* IASSIST 2002: Accelerating Access, Collaboration, and Dissemination
University of Connecticut, June 11-15
** Building our Cultural Heritage --Electronically
Atlanta, June 17
* The Commons in an Age of Globalisation. Ninth Biennial Conference of the
International Association for the Study of Common Property
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, June 17-21
* Informing Science and IT Education
Cork, June 19-21
* 8th International Conference of European University Information Systems
Porto, June 19-22
* Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers: Exploiting the Online Environment for
Birmingham, June 20-21
* Transforming Serials: The Revolution Continues
Williamsburg, Virginia, June 20-23
* Delivering Content to Universities and Colleges: The Challenges of the
New Information Environment. Sponsored by JISC, PA, and ALPSP.
London, June 21
* Choices and Strategies for Preservation of the Collective Memory
Bolzano, Italy, June 25-29
* CIG Seminar: REVEALed: The Truth Behind the National Database of
Resources in Accessible Formats
London, June 26
* 4th International JISC/CNI Conference
Edinburgh, June 26-27
* Digitisation Summer School for Cultural Heritage Professionals
Glasgow, June 30 - July 5
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the
Open Society Institute.
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